Aug 21, 2018  
2015-2016 Graduate Catalog 
2015-2016 Graduate Catalog

Counseling, MS (Mental Health Counseling)

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Degree Requirements

General Requirements

Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.00 in the program’s core curriculum and in all subsequent coursework. A total of 60 credits are required.

In addition, two evaluative experiences are required to monitor the progress of matriculated students. The first follows the student’s completion of 10 academic courses and precedes the internship placement. Before beginning the internship placement, each student must formally demonstrate the academic and personal readiness to be an ethical and responsible counselor-in-training, which for the mental health counseling program consists of a videotaped evaluation of the student’s counseling skills. The second is a capstone experience requiring MS candidates to demonstrate their ability to apply, integrate, and synthesize what they have learned.

Curricular Requirements

Mental Health Counseling Program (60 cr.)

The past US Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Illness notes the significance of mental health problems in the US and worldwide. Mental illness is the second leading contributor to disease burden in the US, second only to cardiovascular diseases. It is estimated that, in any given year, 20 percent of the population will have a diagnosable mental illness. The need for mental health services is significant. The mental health counseling curriculum combines theory, application of research, and practical field experiences. The theoretical basis is a focus on human development, human potential, adaptation and coping, and a contextual critical understanding of mental illness and mental health.

Accreditation and Licensure

The Mental Health Counseling Program prepares students to meet the academic requirements for licensure in mental health counseling set by the Board of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professions in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and other states (all 50 states have counselor licensure laws at the master’s level).

Required Courses (60 cr., 15 field placement supervisory and 45 content related)

The program offers graduate courses in

  • research in psychology
  • principles of assessment
  • ethical standards and professional issues in counseling
  • abnormal psychology
  • vocational counseling
  • counseling theories and practice
  • group counseling
  • lifespan human development
  • multicultural counseling
  • substance abuse in families.

In individual cases, substitutions may be approved by the graduate program director.


Also, other courses may be submitted as electives with approval of the student’s advisor.

Required field experience (700 hr., 15 cr.)

Required Capstone

The capstone for mental health counseling is a clinical case analysis that includes a tape and a transcript of a counseling session, a treatment plan, and a detailed analysis of contextual, developmental, ethical, psychosocial, treatment, and transference and counter-transference issues as they apply to the case.

Online option

The online option in the Mental Health Counseling program operates on a cohort model, with all participants completing the program of study together over a two-year period. Clinical courses are taught during the first summer at a UMass campus that can also provide housing accommodations; all participants must be present for the intensive two-week session held in June (low-cost residential accommodations at UMass Dartmouth are provided to participants). The remaining courses are delivered in a web-based, online format following the regular semester calendar with some accommodations. These courses always involve a weekly synchronous class time that lasts an hour for content courses and 2 hours for supervisory courses. The program requires a 100-hour practicum in an approved placement site and a 600-hour internship, divided evenly between two semesters and consisting of supervised field experiences in public and nonprofit mental health treatment facilities. While engaged in all field work, students participate in an online seminar course (a verbal live chat) where their experiences are examined in relation to current issues of concern in the field of mental health counseling. Students are also expected to provide audio/videotapes of counseling sessions. Internship teachers make every effort to visit the students’ internship site once during the internship year.

Admission Requirements

Please see the general statement of admission requirements for all graduate studies programs in the “Admissions ” section of this publication. Also refer to the description of admission requirements listed under “Professional Preparation Programs for Educators ” in the “Academic & Administrative Policies ” section of this publication.

The Mental Health Program faculty recommend admission of applicants who present evidence of potential both to complete a graduate course of studies with distinction and to become thoughtful and responsive practitioners. For master’s applicants, such evidence normally includes:

  1. A minimum of five social science courses.
  2. A distinguished undergraduate transcript with at least a 3.0 cumulative average.
  3. All applicants must submit strong scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  4. Three strong letters of recommendation indicating the applicant’s ability to work well with others.
  5. A statement of intent.
  6. A group or individual interview with other candidates and faculty members.
  7. At least one year of paid or volunteer work in a mental health or equivalent setting is recommended.

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