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What Degree Do I Need to Become a Counselor or Therapist?

Obtaining a master's degree in counseling can widen your scope of work and open doors to more job opportunities. At Palo Alto University, we offer an online and on-campus Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling to help working professionals balance their studies with their personal and professional lives. Learn more about our admissions process today.

MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Admission Information
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MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Admission Information

Requirements for Counseling Jobs

The mandatory licensing and education prerequisite for counselors varies depending on the area of specialty. Most states require a minimum of a master’s degree in social work, psychology, or counseling. Advancing your studies can help you prepare for licensure as a marriage and family therapist or clinical mental health counselor, as well as work towards leadership roles in the industry. You can also obtain a counseling position with a high school diploma, but that may limit your duties and can impact your ability to aid clients.

The Benefits of Obtaining a Master’s Degree in Counseling

With a master’s degree in counseling, you can specialize in education, mental health, substance abuse, and behavioral disorder or rehabilitation counseling. In 2020, the U.S Department of Labor anticipates a 37% increase in mental health counselors' job openings and an increased demand for all types of counselors. Individuals pursuing a counseling master’s degree will benefit from the growth in the industry.

How to Earn a Master’s Degree in Counseling

Accredited master's-level counseling programs require a bachelor's degree, and some require specific pre-requisite coursework. Many programs offer both full-time and part-time options. In addition to coursework, students must complete between 2,000 and 4,000 hours of supervised clinical practice in order to apply for licensure. These hours are sometimes included during the master's degree, and sometimes in addition, depending on the graduate program's structure.

Our MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at PAU focuses on ten key outcomes, including: professional identity and ethical practice, social justice and cultural diversity, human growth and development, counseling and systemic practice, career development, and leadership.
Put Your Passion for Helping Others to Work. Learn More!

Discover the ways a graduate degree from Palo Alto University can help you prepare to become a counselor or therapist.