Top Universities for Mental Health Counseling Degrees in the U.S.

Mental health counselors help with the recovery of individuals with mental health illnesses and/or address issues that affect an individual’s relationship. They also help families understand, accept, and cope with the mental illness of the family member. In most places in the U.S, a master’s degree is required in order for one to become a licensed mental health counselor. Below are some of the best universities to acquire a graduate (either master’s or doctorate) degree in the United States.

University of Wisconsin – Madison

For their master’s program, a similar mix of coursework and supervised training is expected for students enrolled in the program. Practicum and internship courses allow students to develop skills in group and individual counseling, consultation, group instruction, and program management. There is also a capstone experience for each master’s student called the Professional Integration Exercise (PIE) that all students must complete in order to obtain their degree.

Offered through their School of Education in their Department of Counseling Psychology, University of Wisconsin’s the PhD degree program in counseling psychology has been accredited by the American Psychology Association. In addition to required coursework and the completion of 63 credits, supervised clinical training must also be completed in order to obtain the doctorate. It takes a minimum of six years to complete the program.

Internationally renowned, particularly for their commitment to multicultural diversity in education, research, and service, the University of Wisconsin – Madison is a definite consideration for those who want to obtain a graduate education in counseling.

University of Iowa

The master’s program in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling offered through University of Iowa’s College of Education is one of the top programs when it comes to a degree in counseling. The program focuses on assisting those with psychiatric disabilities by providing and supporting them with employment, independent living, psychological wellness, and more. An extremely small program, it only admits about 12 students each year, making it extremely competitive. From 2011 to 2015, 90% of those who have graduated from this program are employed in the field.

PhD programs are offered in Counselor Education & Supervision as well as Counseling Psychology. The counseling psychology program has been accredited by the American Psychological Association since 1980. Its PhD program prepares students to work in hospitals, universities and/or colleges, counseling centers, clinics, and private practice settings.

George Washington University

At George Washington University, a Master of Arts degree in clinical mental health counseling is offered. The program emphasizes on working with diverse populations on the social, emotional, psychological, and physical health of individuals, couples, families, and communities. With 60 credits to complete along with 100 hours of practicum as well as two 300-hour internships, the program takes about two and a half years to complete, on average.

A PhD program in counseling is also offered as well, and focuses on the advanced knowledge and skill in supervision, research, teaching, counseling, and leadership and advocacy. With clinical work, it takes around four to five years to finish the program.

Illinois Institute of Technology

Offered through their Lewis College of Human Sciences, the Master of Science in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program at the Illinois Institute of Technology has been accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Education Programs (CACREP). The program focuses on helping those with mental health or disability-related problems in a variety of settings, while respecting culture, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, and/or sexual orientation. The program takes about two years to complete, with internships and clinical work beginning in the second year.

The program is also offered as a Working Professionals Program — a part-time program designed for those who are already working with people with mental health illnesses and/or disabilities. This takes around three years to complete.

A PhD in Rehabilitation Counseling Education is also available. The program equips students to be educators, counselors, supervisors, researchers, and/or leaders in the field of rehabilitation counseling at the highest level of training, education, and knowledge.

San Diego State University

Two mental health related counseling degrees are available at the San Diego State University: the Community-Based Block Program (CBB) or the Marriage & Family Therapy (MFT) Program. Both programs takes about 2 years to complete, and prepares students to become Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors in the state of California.

The CBB program is focused on multicultural community counseling and social justice education, whereas the MFT program focuses on diverse families.

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