Mental Health Counseling MS
Prepare for a career as a licensed mental health counselor with hands-on field experiences.
UMass Boston’s Mental Health Counseling MS focuses on a challenging and rewarding academic program to prepare you for a career as a mental health counselor. It’s designed for people interested in pursuing an advanced degree and state licensure to work in mental health counseling. The program begins with a two-week in-person study at or near the UMass Boston campus where you’ll get to know your cohort and complete two courses (6 credits) of your degree. Throughout the program, you’ll get hands-on experience as you complete some of your required clinical fieldwork hours through an approved field placement under appropriate supervision. At the end of the program, you’ll meet the academic requirements for state licensure in mental health counseling in the state of Massachusetts and will have completed all of the pre-graduation clinical fieldwork hours required for licensure.
UMass Boston's 60-credit hour MPCAC-accredited Mental Health Counseling online master's program meets the educational requirements for licensure as a Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Our students intern in diverse settings and leave with substantial skills and knowledge around mental health, counseling, and advocacy, ready for counseling positions that will prepare them to obtain licensure. At the end of the program, you will meet the educational requirements necessary for licensure in Massachusetts, provided you complete internship in Massachusetts. Please check with an admissions counselor at email@example.com to determine if our program meets educational requirements for practice in your state.
Students also have the option of adding an adjustment counseling concentration to their plan of study, which requires one additional course, as well as additional internship hours. The adjustment counseling concentration allows students to be eligible for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education K-12 initial level licensure as a school adjustment counselor.
The University of Massachusetts Boston is regionally accredited through NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges). To ensure superior quality, the online program is modeled after the on-campus program, offering many of the same instructors teaching the courses.
UMass Boston's Mental Health Counseling MS program was recently ranked #6 in Guide to Online School's 2020 Best Online Master's in Counseling list.
Ranked as one of the Best Online Graduate Education Programs by U.S. News & World Report.
Why Apply to UMass Boston's Mental Health Counseling MS Program?
Essential to the implementation of the Mental Health Counseling (MHC) program curriculum is the integration of theory presented in classrooms and its application in practicum and internship experiences. In order to integrate the curriculum content with other training experiences, the program provides information about the socio-political contexts of people’s lives as well as about information related to personality, development, psychiatric taxonomy, professional orientation and ethics, methods of inquiry and the process of change. In addition, our program provides opportunities for its students to develop professional skills and competencies and to practice them in professional settings. The program prepares students to make significant practitioner-oriented contributions to counseling and prepares them for further study at the doctoral level if they desire to do so. All of our faculty are actively involved in research and contribute significantly to the profession at both national and international levels. There are opportunities to do research with our internationally known faculty if a student so desires.
- This program consists of sixteen 3-credit courses and two 6-credit courses, or 60 credits.
- The Adjustment Counseling concentration consists of one additional 3-credit course, or 3 additional credits.
- Online tuition is $575 per credit.
- Total estimated tuition cost to complete this program is $34,500.
- Total estimated tuition cost to complete this program with the Adjustment Counseling concentration is $36,225.
- Estimate is based on completing program by minimum duration. Other fees may apply. Request Info to connect with a program representative for further details.
- This program also has an on-campus option. Visit https://www.umb.edu/bursar/tuition_and_fees for on-campus cost information.
- Priority application deadline is January 2.
- Final application deadline is April 1.
- To apply to the program, students must submit:
- A completed application and application fee
- Two letters of recommendation where at least one letter should be from a person who knows your academic work. We strongly recommend getting letters from professors whenever possible but we will accept a letter of recommendation from a supervisor if you have been out of a school for some time.
- A statement of purpose detailing your goals, professional experience, and reasons for applying to the program. Your essay should consist of your reasons for wishing to pursue graduate study in 300 words (part 1). Then, indicate your specific interests and discuss the kind of work you would like to do in your intended field in no more than 1200 words (part 2).
- Official undergraduate and graduate official transcripts from all universities you attended. All transcripts must be official and sealed.
- Please include an updated résumé
- Optional: writing sample
- Other: one year of experience in the field (preferred)
- All application materials can be submitted online or mailed to UMass Boston’s Office of Graduate Admissions at:
- UMass Boston Graduate Admissions
100 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02125
- UMass Boston Graduate Admissions
Taking the courses in the order listed below will ensure that you meet all prerequisite requirements for courses and are fully prepared to participate in the field-based experiences. Students completing the program on a part-time basis are encouraged to complete the courses in a similar sequential manner. All courses are three-credits unless otherwise specified.
- COUNSL 614 Counseling Theory and Practice I* **
Gain an understanding of commonalities of counseling techniques and practice in the use of various techniques. Learn the essentials of interviewing, note taking, and report writing, as well as the role of diagnosis. Tapes and role playing are required.
- COUNSL 616 Group Counseling and Group Dynamics**
Get an introduction to group dynamics using the group process of the class to provide experience of group membership and data for interpretation. Participate as a group member and use readings and lectures to build a cognitive base for evaluating experiential learning.
- COUNSL 606 Ethical Standards and Professional Issues in Counseling*
Learn about counselors-in-training and your contribution in the therapeutic process and helping relationship. Explore foundations for an ethical perspective; models for ethical decision making; ethical codes of professional organizations; client rights and counselor responsibilities; ethical concerns in multicultural counseling and with special client populations; and ethical issues in specific modalities, e.g., group, marriage, and family counseling.
- COUNSL 601 Research and Evaluation in Psychology
Explore several research models and strategies with respect to their various rationales and methodologies. You’ll learn relevant statistical topics as they are introduced conceptually, and especially as they are applied in research about specific academic settings.
- COUNSL 608 Psychopathology and Diagnosis*
Explore information relevant to the diagnosis, etiology, and treatment of mental illness. You’ll learn about psychopharmacological interventions are addressed, epistemological assumptions that ground traditional theories of psychopathology and diagnostic systems such as the DSM, and avoiding bias in psychiatric diagnosis is a major focus of the course. Throughout the course, you’ll study the following DSM categories: mood disorders, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders including schizophrenias, disorders usually first evident in childhood, and personality disorders.
- COUNSL 653 Sociocultural Considerations in Counseling
Study the role of culture in counseling and psychology by looking both at history and current issues. You’ll use an interdisciplinary framework to approach the question of counseling in a multicultural society. This course seeks to contribute to both the personal and the professional development of its participants.
- COUNSL 615 Counseling Theory and Practice II*
This course is an extension of Counseling Theory and Practice I. Study major theoretical approaches, including dynamic, humanistic, behavioral. You’ll explore some non-traditional approaches and the use of tape recordings, films, written records of interviews, and role playing.
- COUNSL 617 Child and Adolescent Counseling*
Focus on facilitating the unique development and emotional growth of children through the counseling process. Enhance your theoretical and practical understanding of the major schools of child psychotherapy with an emphasis on a multidimensional view of intervention, with attention to developmental, cognitive, behavioral, educational, multicultural, and environmental issues. Through lectures, videotapes, and structured exercises, you’ll learn a distinct group of interventions, including play and communication skills, as integral components of the therapeutic process.
- COUNSL 620 Life Span Human Development
Get a comprehensive view of lifespan development from childhood through adulthood from several perspectives: 1) the interaction of age with such factors as gender, cultural background, disabilities, and other significant issues encountered at particular stages of life; 2) how individuals at specific stages of cognitive development process information and experience; and 3) a structural approach to ego development.
- COUNSL 613 Vocational Development and Career Counseling
The vocational development component of the course concentrates on the theories of Roe, Holland, Ginzberg, Super, and Tiedeman. The career information component, a major emphasis, directs you to locate and use sources of educational-vocational information, including, but not be limited to, the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the Guide to Occupational Exploration, information on local labor markets and on military careers, occupation-education information, college and vocational school guides, and catalogues.
- COUNSL 665 Trauma and Crisis Counseling
Study the psychology of trauma in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, caused by child abuse and neglect, disasters, and complex environmental cultural and socio-political factors. Learn different approaches to counseling clients who have experienced trauma, as well as those in the middle of a crisis.
- COUNSL 605 Principles of Vocational, Educational, and Psychological Assessment
The course provides you with a survey of standardized tests used in assessing aptitudes, interests, and personality traits. You’ll learn technical and methodological principles and social, ethical, and legal implications of psychological testing and assessment.
- COUNSL 667 Counseling Families and Couples: Theories and Practice
Review the application of systems thinking, the relevance of context and process, communication, change, and circular causality, to advance an understanding of couples, families, and organizations as living systems. You’ll address the purposive family therapy models, transgenerational, interactional, Milan systemic, brief strategic, and solution-focused models. You’ll also explore original family and couples therapy applications — ecomaps, genograms, circular questions — to acquire a grounded understanding of systems thinking. The course also introduces you to work with individuals around family issues and work with couples.
- COUNSL 666 Sex and Sexuality in Counseling Practice
Counselors are often unprepared for the kinds of issues that children and adults bring to therapy that focus on sex, sexual identify, and sexual experiences. In this course, you’ll explore various approaches to understanding sex and sexuality in the counseling hour. You’ll discuss and analyze historical approaches to issues of sexual function, dysfunction, intimacy, and sexual identity in individuals, couples, and families (and to some extent societies). The courses focuses on healthy sexuality but also integrates theory and practice around victimization and sex offending. You’ll examine your own sexual history and understand your own values, biases and assumptions regarding sexuality and sexual functioning, and the potential impact of these issues on their ability to become effective, compassionate therapists.
- COUNSL 699 Advanced Practice (700 total hours: 100 prac/600 intern) (6 credits)
- COUNSL 674 Psychopharmacology for Counselors
Examine psychopharmacology for counselors from a social justice perspective. Get an overview of the medications used for treating mental disorders and learn the basic principles of pharmacology and the interrelationships between pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics with an emphasis on practical and clinical application. You’ll explore the nature of alcohol and narcotics and the ways they affect addicts in mind and body before, during, and after treatment, as well as psychopharmacological treatment for addictions; informed consent; how to find accurate and balanced information about the efficacy and side effects of psychotropic medications; how to educate clients about the medications they are taking; and how to collaborate with prescribing providers and other mental health professionals. You’ll become conversant with regulatory standards for the approval of new medications. Social justice and bioethical issues figure predominately in this course with reference to for-profit IRB's; recruitment of marginalized groups, such as undocumented immigrants, the homeless, and people living in poverty, and discrepancies in prescription practices.
- COUNSL 670 Substance Abuse in Counseling Practice
Explore broader problems caused by substance abuse in modern society, by both presenting and analyzing data. You’ll study the physiological consequences of substance abuse and considerate the family of the substance abuser, various treatment modalities, and the relationship between the criminal justice system and substance abuse rehabilitation.
- COUNSL 699 Advanced Practice (6 credits)
Additional adjustment counseling courses:
- COUNSL 631 – Principles and Practices of School Adjustment Counseling
Focus on the principles and practices of school adjustment counseling, addressing the history and philosophy of school adjustment counseling, professional identity and roles of the school adjustment counselor, professional ethics, organizational structures of school, knowledge of the juvenile justice systems, crisis intervention services, prevention, federal and state laws and regulations, medical conditions and learning disabilities, consultation in the schools, substance abuse counseling, and an understanding of how diversity influences the practice of school adjustment. Particular attention will be paid to interpreting concepts and knowledge for the practice of school adjustment counseling in an urban setting.
*Courses must be completed prior to beginning Advanced Practice
**Indicates two-week on-campus intensive courses
At the end of this two-year program, you’ll be awarded a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling. The degree will demonstrate your expertise in the field on your résumé, as well as in interviews and workplace evaluations. At the end of the program, you will be prepared to finish the required clinical fieldwork hours to earn your licensure* to work as a mental health counselor. Students with a concentration in adjustment counseling will be eligible for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education K-12 initial level licensure as a school adjustment counselor.
*For licensure requirements in other states, we recommend checking the state’s Board of Registration and Licensure website to make sure that you are eligible for licensure in your respective state. Our graduates have been largely successful in obtaining licensure from their local boards; however, they often have to go through an administrative process to do so. To be absolutely certain, we strongly recommend that you check with your local board as such regulation is subject to change.
Priority Deadline: January 2
Final Deadline: April 1
Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis prior to the April 1 deadline. We recommend submitting your application as early as possible for the best chance of admittance. Most spots are already filled by the application deadline of April 1.
Applicants are accepted into the online Mental Health Counseling MS program once a year, for the summer semester only.
Note: If you’re having difficulty completing or submitting any application requirements because of disruptions related to COVID-19, contact firstname.lastname@example.org before the application deadline to discuss potential submission extensions or exceptions.
|Number of applicants||209|
|Number of acceptances||81|
|Number of enrollees||44|
|% enrolled (out of acceptances)||54%|
|Number of total students||215|
|Graduates (Aug/Dec/May 2021)||8|
|Number of faculty||11|
|Courses taught by adjuncts or 4th or 5th year PhD students||22%|
- Gonzalo Bacigalupe, Professor of Counseling and School Psychology, College of Education and Human Development
- Melanie Cadet, Clinical Faculty of Mental Health, Department of Counseling and School Psychology, College of Education and Human Development
- Lisa Cosgrove, Professor of Counseling and School Psychology, College of Education and Human Development
- Sharon Horne, Professor of Counseling Psychology, College of Education and Human Development
- Sharon Lamb, Graduate Program Director, and Professor of Counseling and School Psychology, College of Education and Human Development
- Boaz Levy, Associate Professor of Counseling and School Psychology, College of Education and Human Development
- Esmaeil Mahdavi, Senior Lecturer in Counseling and School Psychology, College of Education and Human Development
- Steven Vannoy, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director of Counseling Psychology, College of Education and Human Development
- Kerrie Wilkins-Yel, Assistant Professor of Counseling and School Psychology, College of Education and Human Development