Mental Health Masters Degree Programs

Get information on master's degree programs in mental health counseling. Learn about required courses, clinical experience, job outlook and licensing requirements.

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Essential Information

Many universities offer Master of Science or Master of Arts degrees in mental health counseling. These programs combine classroom courses on psychology, counseling, community programs and professional ethics with clinical work in a mental health treatment facility. Graduates of such programs can earn their professional counselor licenses. Mental health counselors may work in various environments, including schools, psychiatric hospitals, mental health institutions and drug rehabilitation facilities.


Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling

Master's programs in mental health counseling seek to educate students in advanced concepts, like assessment, human psychology and clinical instruction. Candidates are usually expected to complete a minimum number of hours with patients in clinical rotations. Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling degrees qualify students to sit for the professional licensing exam; in some cases, candidates may pursue licensing concurrent to their attendance in the program.

Educational Prerequisites

All graduate program applicants must hold bachelor's degrees. Many programs require students to submit scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Applicants may be required to have completed specific undergraduate in math, science and psychology. Some highly selective programs interview applications as part of the admissions process.

Program Coursework

Master's degree programs in mental health counseling emphasize research, and candidates may be required to complete an original thesis as part of the curriculum. Typical courses in a mental health counseling program include the following:

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

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) predicts the number job openings for mental health counselors will exceed the number of available mental health counselors between 2010 and 2020. According to BLS data from 2012, the median annual salary for mental health counselors was $40,080.


Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling

Mental health counselors are one of five mental health professions recognized by the National Institute of Health. Similar to the Master of Science program discussed above, candidates earning Master of Arts in Mental Health degrees study a broader range of subjects including psychology, diagnostics and ethics. Candidates in this program must complete a mandatory minimum number of clinic hours with patients.

Educational Prerequisites

Students interested in a graduate degree are required to hold a bachelor's degree. Applicants to mental health counseling programs must submit GRE scores for admission. Many programs require that applicants have a minimum GPA of 2.5 for their undergraduate transcripts.

Program Coursework

In addition to clinical practice, mental health graduate students will be required to take many theoretical courses. Courses may include the following:

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

Popular Career Options

Those 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
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Top Schools for a Master's in Mental Health Counseling

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Undergraduate applicants must be a high school graduate or have completed GED; Graduate program applicants must have a master's degree or higher
    School locations:
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    Online Programs

    • Master
        • MA in Mental Health Counseling

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must complete an application online and submit transcripts for their highest degree earned.
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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Currently not accepting applications from Texas residents
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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Applicants to master's programs must have already earned a bachelor's degree. Applicants to doctoral programs must have already earned a master's degree.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Master
        • MSEd in Mental Health Counseling

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Masters degree applicants must have a Bachelors degree
    • Doctorate degree applicants must have a Masters degree
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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Applicants must have a bachelor's degree or higher
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Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Mental Health Services
        • Community Health Services
        • Medical Social Work
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences
  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Florida include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Dental
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Mental Health Services
        • Community Health Services
        • Marriage and Family Counseling
        • Mental Health Counseling
      • Nursing Professions
      • Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences

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