North Carolina has about 20 schools offering graduate counseling degrees and certificate programs. Some programs are geared towards individuals seeking licensure as school counselors or as substance abuse and addictions specialists, while others cater to the needs of rehabilitation and mental health professionals. Qualifications earned towards licensure vary by program and school; students can find details for each available option below. Program lengths vary, but those pursuing master's degrees or higher will need to hold a baccalaureate degree prior to admission.
Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University is home to more than 1,800 graduate students and is located in Boone. The university's Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling offers a M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Students in this program can choose between concentrations in addictions counseling, body centered therapy, clinical mental health counseling, expressive arts therapy, or marriage and family counseling. Additionally, program graduates are qualified to sit for the NCE, and therefore meet educational requirements for state licensure as LPCs.
The university's professional school counseling M.A. program can also prepare students for state licensure, while those in the college student development program train for positions in residence life, advising, or career services departments at postsecondary institutions. Additionally, students seeking a short-term course of study can pursue a graduate certificate in addiction counseling. Students who complete this program in conjunction with the school's master's degree can qualify for the LCAS designation.
East Carolina University
Located in Greenville, East Carolina University enrolls close to 5,800 graduate students annually in more than 100 programs. The College of Allied Health Science at ECU offers three programs for prospective counselors. Both the M.S. in Rehabilitation and Career Counseling and the M.S. in Substance Abuse and Clinical Counseling help graduates meet educational requirements for the LPC credential. The latter option can also prepare graduates to work as LCASs.
Students looking to take on roles as clinical education program administrators or faculty members can pursue a Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Counseling and Administration. There are also graduate certificates in substance abuse counseling for aspiring LCACs or CSACs.
North Carolina A&T State University
North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro offers three M.S. programs to students who want to focus on school counseling, rehabilitation counseling, or clinical mental health counseling. All of these focus areas meet the state's educational requirements for school counseling or LPC licensure. The curriculum is 60 credit hours in length and includes a 100-hour practicum and up to 600 hours of internship experience.
The university also offers a Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Counseling and Rehabilitation Counselor Education. Furthermore, for those who've completed a master's degree and want to extend their counseling expertise, there are post-master's certificate programs in marriage and family counseling as well as rehabilitation counseling and behavioral addiction. The latter option qualifies graduates for the LCAS designation.
North Carolina Central University
North Carolina Central University is located in Durham. Its graduate school serves close to 2,000 students each year and offers three counseling master's degree programs through its School of Education. The M.A. program in school counseling qualifies students for state licensure and prepares them to work with K-12 students in educational settings. The career counselor program is for graduates who'd like to work with school age children, adults, and postsecondary students in community, nonprofit, or educational organizations. The mental health counseling program allows completers to fulfill educational requirements for the LPC designation. All programs include practicums and internships that place students in such settings as colleges, high schools, and mental health facilities.
North Carolina State University at Raleigh
Raleigh is home to this campus of the North Carolina State University system. This school is the largest school in North Carolina with over 25,000 undergraduate and almost 10,000 graduate students.
Its College of Education offers students the opportunity to earn a counseling M.Ed. in three areas. The clinical mental health counseling program prepares students for employment in healthcare or community institutions and qualifies graduates to take the NCE and earn state licensure as LPCs. The school counseling and college counseling and student development degrees are for students who plan to pursue licensure as school counselors or work in postsecondary settings. All programs have the same core coursework covering areas like group counseling and clinical assessment. The department's Ph.D. in Counseling and Counselor Education has a combined focus on the practice, research, and theory of counseling. This program prepares doctoral candidates for leadership positions as practitioners or educators in the field.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina serves almost 11,000 graduate students each year. Its School of Education offers the M.Ed. in School Counseling, which qualifies graduates for state licensure. Students in this program are placed in an educational setting where they complete three days of field experience each week. Additionally, there's a M.S. in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program offered through the Department of Allied Health Sciences. This program prepares students to work with individuals who have chronic psychiatric or developmental disabilities, and graduates are eligible for the LPC credential.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
The University of North Carolina's Charlotte campus is home to about 5,000 graduate students. Students earning a counseling master's degree can complete the school counseling track and qualify for state licensure. However, those who pursue the clinical mental health counseling option only qualify for the Licensed Professional Counselor Associate designation from the state. These professionals can only perform counseling services under supervision of an approved counselor.
Also available is a substance abuse counseling graduate certificate for prospective LCASs, as well as a school counseling post-master's certificate program designed for current educators or counselors looking to earn state licensure and move into this field. Students who'd like to prepare for leadership positions in this field can pursue a Ph.D. in Counseling.
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
The University of North Carolina's Greensboro campus offers four M.S. programs to students who want to focus on college counseling, school counseling, couple and family or clinical mental health counseling. All of these focus areas meet the state's educational requirements for school counseling or LPC licensure. The curriculum is 60 credit hours in length and includes a 100-hour practicum and up to 600 hours of internship experience. Four Specialist in Education in Counseling degrees are also available in clinical mental health, school, college, and couple and family counseling. The university also offers a Ph.D. in Counseling and Counselor Education.
Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University is located in Winston-Salem. There are about 2,600 graduate students enrolled at this large private school, and there are more than 30 graduate programs currently available. The Master of Arts in Counseling program is available both on campus and online, and offers an emphasis in either school counseling or clinical mental health counseling. Another degree related to counseling that may not be offered at other schools in the state is the Master of Divinity/M.A. in Counseling. This dual degree program provides training for individuals who'd like to enter the ministry with a background in both counseling and theology. Both of Wake Forest's master's degree programs meet educational requirements for LPC licensure.
Western Carolina University
Located in the small town of Cullowhee, Western Carolina University serves around 1,700 graduate students. WCU offers the M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and the M.A. in Education in School Counseling. Both of these 2-year programs allow students to fulfill educational requirements for licensure as LPCs or school counselors. The M.S. program in clinical mental health counseling requires the completion of at least 60 semester hours of academic study and field experience. This course of study prepares graduates for work in a variety of settings, including community mental health centers, substance abuse rehabilitation facilities, juvenile courts, and career planning centers. Students enrolled in the school counseling program must also complete 60 units of field-based training and academic study.
In North Carolina, those who wish to work as school counselors are required to complete an approved master's degree program and earn passing scores on the School Guidance and Counseling Praxis exam.
Other graduate programs prepare aspiring counselors for licensure through the North Carolina Board of Licensed Professional Counselors. This board's LPC designation is required of counselors who offer their services to the public, and applicants must earn a master's degree that meets curriculum requirements and pass a state jurisprudence exam. They must also complete 3,000 hours of supervised field experience and pass a national certification exam, such as the National Counselor Exam (NCE) administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors.
There are even graduate certificate programs designed for students who'd like to meet education and clinical experience requirements necessary for the Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CSAC) and Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist (LCAS) designations.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Graduate Counseling Programs Offered||Estimated Graduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)*|
|Appalachian State University||4-year, public; distant town|| Graduate Certificate in Addiction Counseling,
Master of Arts in Professional School Counseling,
Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
| $7,961 in-state
|East Carolina University||4-year, public; small city|| Graduate Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling,
Master of Science in Rehabilitation and Career Counseling,
Master of Science in Substance Abuse and Clinical Counseling ,
Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Counseling and Administration
| $7,485 in-state
|North Carolina A&T State University||4-year, public; large city|| Master of Science in School Counseling,
Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling with concentrations in Clinical Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling,
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Rehabilitation Counseling and Behavioral Addictions,
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Marriage and Family Counseling,
Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Counseling and Rehabilitation Counselor Education
| $7,817 in-state
|North Carolina Central University||4-year, public; midsize city|| Master of Arts in Career Counseling,
Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling,
Master of Arts in School Counseling
| $7,476 in-state
|North Carolina State University at Raleigh||4-year, public; large city|| Master's Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling,
Master's Degree in School Counseling,
Master's Degree in College Counseling and Student Development,
Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling and Counselor Education
| $11,495 in-state
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||4-year, public; small city|| Master of Education in School Counseling,
Master of Science in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling
| $12,212 in-state
|University of North Carolina at Charlotte||4-year, public; large city|| Graduate Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling,
Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling,
Master of Arts in School Counseling,
Post-Master's Certificate in School Counseling,
Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling
| $7,378 in-state
|University of North Carolina at Greensboro||4-year, public; large city||Ed.S. in Counseling (College, Clinical Mental Health, School, Couple and Family),
Master of Science in Counseling (College, School, Clinical Mental Health, Couple and Family,
Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling and Counselor Education
| $8,128 in-state
|Wake Forest University||4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city|| Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling,
Master of Arts in School Counseling,
Master of Divinity/Master of Arts in Counseling
|Western Carolina University||4-year, public; rural fringe|| Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling,
Master of Arts in Education in School Counseling
| $7,361 in-state
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics.