Mental Health Masters Degree Programs

Apr 24, 2020

Essential Information

Master's programs in mental health counseling combine classroom courses in psychology, counseling, community programs and professional ethics with clinical work in mental health treatment facilities. Programs train students to work in various environments, including schools, psychiatric hospitals, mental health institutions and drug rehabilitation facilities. Graduates are prepared to earn their professional counselor licenses, though students may also pursue licensure while enrolled. Both programs require a bachelor's degree, as well as Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores in order to apply. In order to graduate, many programs require the completion of a thesis.

Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling

The Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling degree will train and qualify students for the requisite professional licensing exam. Some programs require applicants to have completed specific undergraduate courses in math, science and psychology; highly selective programs will interview applicants as part of the admission process. In addition to traditional coursework in counseling, candidates gain hands-on experience via the completion of a minimum number of hours with patients in clinical rotations. Typical courses in a mental health counseling program include the following:

  • Group counseling
  • Testing and assessment
  • Research methods for counseling
  • Community mental health
  • Multicultural counseling
  • Lifespan human development

Masters of Arts in Mental Health Counseling

A Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling program focuses on many areas that include psychology, diagnostics and ethics. Often programs require applicants to have a GPA of at least 2.5 and require submission of undergraduate transcripts. In addition to clinical practice, mental health graduate students will be required to take many theoretical courses. Students may encounter the following:

  • Group dynamics
  • Psychopathologies
  • Personal psychology
  • Professional and personal ethics
  • Grief counseling
  • Clinical instruction

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( predicts the number of job openings for mental health counselors will grow at a rate of 22% between 2018 and 2018. According to BLS data from 2019, the median annual salary for mental health counselors was $46,240.

Popular Career Options

Graduates with Master of Arts and Master of Science degrees in mental health counseling are qualified for many counseling positions. Some of these job titles include the following:

  • High school counselor
  • Elementary school counselors
  • Vocational counselors
  • Rehabilitation counselors
  • Marriage and family therapist

A master's degree in mental health is often a great means of pursuing a career as a counselor. Different degree programs have different offerings and areas of specialization, so prospective students should research each specific program based on their interests and career goals.

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