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Counseling M.S. with An Emphasis In Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Aug. 21, 2024

Next Start Date


Courses Required


Cost Per Credit Hour


Total Credit Hours

Online Synchronous, Online Asynchronous, Low-Residency

Learning Formats

Milestones and Beyond, the Inspiration to Spread Joy in Learning

The Master of Science in Counseling with an emphasis in Clinical Mental Health, digitally delivered by the College of Applied Human Sciences, prepares counselors to work in inpatient, outpatient, non-profit, private practice, community agency, governmental, and educational settings. The scope of practice for graduates of this degree is expansive, covering a wide spectrum of coursework that will prepare you for the practice of individual, couple, family, and group counseling. Graduates of our program may provide services, such as child, youth, couple, family, employment, health, gerontological, substance abuse, and wellness counseling. The degree requires 60 credit hours for completion. This is a low-residency program, requiring two site visits to campus. The remainder of the program is completed online.

Students who complete the program are eligible to take the National Counselor Examination (NCE) offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) to qualify for National Certified Counselor status. They are also eligible to become members of the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA). Our graduates work all over the country for community mental health organizations, addiction recovery centers, the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as in private practice.

Young man talking to a rehabilitation counselor.

Most importantly, the education provides excellent background for working in the world of integrative healthcare. Graduates can provide a comprehensive counseling approach for people in recovery from traumatic injuries, neurological events or disorders, mental health disorders, and chronic health conditions, to include addictions. This may include counseling or related interventions in mental health, lifestyle, social connection and finding work and purpose as part of habilitation, rehabilitation or recovery. All of their efforts address the process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.

The digitally delivered counseling program emphasizes academic excellence, competence in counseling skills and personal growth. The low-residency model creates an environment in which students form strong bonds as they progress through the advanced coursework together and enter the workforce. The counseling faculty at West Virginia University endeavor to reflect the university’s vision by providing a purposeful program whose curriculum prepares students to partner with their communities — both near and far — to bring needed and valued solutions to real-life problems within the pillars of education, healthcare and prosperity.

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Thank you for your interest in the Counseling M.S. with An Emphasis In Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at West Virginia University! Attend a Virtual Information Session and learn more about the Counseling M.S. with An Emphasis In Clinical Mental Health Counseling program.


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Ann Clayton, Your Personal Online Admissions Coach

"I am a graduate of Michigan State University, with a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. I have worked in an advising setting for over 15 years and am here to help answer any questions you may have about the enrollment process in our online programs. Our online programs are designed to allow everyone the opportunity to earn a degree, while balancing school, family and life, and I am happy to help you as you go through that journey."

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Digitally-Delivered Counseling M.S. Admission Requirements

  • Interested applicants must possess a Bachelor’s degree.
  • Individuals whose undergraduate GPA are less than 2.75 are encouraged to apply but if accepted will remain on a probationary status until they successfully complete 18 graduate credit hours while maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA.
  • Three letters of reference; The Graduate School Application process includes forms that are emailed to your references.
  • Submit resume/C.V.
  • A personal statement as outlined in the department application. Your personal statement must include what it means for you to have a commitment to diversity and social justice.
  • TOEFL or IELTS Scores for International Students
  • Request official transcripts from all institutions attended (other than WVU) and
    1. Mail to:
      WVU Office of Graduate Admissions
      One Waterfront Place
      PO Box 6510
      Morgantown, WV 26506-6510
    2. or Email to:
  • Students may start in fall or spring of each year. The Application Deadline is February 15 for Fall admissions and October 1 for Spring admissions

The objective data (undergraduate major, grade point average, work experience, letters of recommendation, and quality of application) are given weightings. These scores are used to select applicants for interviews. Final selection is made following structured personal interviews which assess the applicant’s knowledge of the field, goals, motivation to pursue a degree, interpersonal skills, and intellectual ability.

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CACREP Accredited

The program is approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). This accreditation allows you to gain competence in counseling knowledge and skills, personal growth, and development of a professional counselor identity and dispositions. The program meets initial eligibility requirements for licensure as a licensed professional counselor in West Virginia and in many other states (please consult your state licensure board for specific academic and experiential requirements).

Being a graduate of a CACREP program means you can be confident you received a high-quality, well-rounded education and may provide you with a competitive career advantage and a greater chance for acceptance into a doctoral program in counseling.

To ensure a high-quality program, the counseling faculty has developed twelve program objectives. The objectives are applicable to both the school and clinical programs:

  1. Professional Orientation and Identity – Students will demonstrate an understanding of counseling as a profession, develop a professional identity, and demonstrate their ability to function effectively within the ethical guidelines established by both the American Counseling Association and the American School Counselors Association, in settings rendering counseling and related services to diverse populations
  2. Counseling Theory – Students will learn a range of counseling theories that are applicable when working in a pluralistic society with individuals, groups, couples, families, children, and those experiencing disability in the counseling process, and demonstrate the ability to apply this knowledge in a therapeutic manner within rural and diverse communities.
  3. Helping Relationships – Students will develop skills to work with individuals, groups, couples, families, children, and those experiencing disability that promote therapeutic change and demonstrate their ability to evaluate progress in meeting counseling objectives.
  4. Social and Cultural Diversity – Students will develop an awareness of the impact of social and cultural factors on human behavior and recognize the role of individual differences in establishing and working toward counseling objectives.
  5. Human Growth and Development – Students will learn stages of development throughout the life span and the importance of assessing and considering developmental goals when working with both children and adults.
  6. Career Development – Students will learn the role of career development theory as applied to working with both children and adults and the impact of economic and cultural factors on career decisions, job performance, and lifestyle.
  7. Group Dynamics – Students will learn the purpose and function of groups, group dynamics, and the application of counseling theories and leadership skills within the group setting to promote decision making and growth.
  8. Assessment – Students will learn to determine appropriate assessment techniques when working with individuals, groups, couples, families, children, and those experiencing disability and to utilize relevant information within the counseling process.
  9. Research and Program Evaluation – Students will develop the ability to read and evaluate professional research literature and incorporate such information into their professional development.
  10. Specialization – Students will develop specific knowledge relevant to the student’s area of interest (e.g., addictions, mental health, children, school, etc.) and will learn from their area of interest how to provide professional services including assessment, prevention, referral, and program development, implementation, management, and evaluation.
  11. Experiential Learning – Students will demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to be an effective professional counselor through supervised practicum and internship experiences.
  12. Personal Growth and Understanding – Students will be provided the opportunity to explore values and beliefs as they pertain to their evolving roles as professional counselors and develop a level of self-understanding that leads to an integrated personal approach to counseling and client advocacy.

Zabrya Robson profile image.

Zabrya Robson

Counseling M.S.
"Plan my days around what I needed."

Zabrya Robson chose to study for a master’s degree in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling from WVU Online because it fit better with her specific needs and interests than the in-person learning options she was considering.

"Having my classes online helped me to plan my days around what I needed, rather than it being only on the school’s terms," she said.

She also liked the fact that she could get Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accreditation, which helped her to make the most her field with instructors who had much more experience and expertise.

"Although it was an online program, I got to have internships that gave me first-hand experience and helped me really prepare for my field and learn by doing," she says.
"My practicum and internship experiences gave me a hands-on component with professionals in my field that has been very helpful."

Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid

Financial aid is available. Students are encouraged to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to determine their eligibility for federal and state funds as well as scholarships. WVU’s FAFSA Code is 003827. Please contact the WVU Financial Aid Office at (304) 293-5242 or for additional information.

The tuition rate per credit hour listed above is for the 2024-2025 academic year. Tuition and fees increase beginning in the fall term of each academic year.

Tuition and fees are usually not the only educational expenses you may have while pursuing a degree. You may have other costs such as books, supplies and living expenses. Please see the Estimate Costs and Aid webpage for how to estimate and plan for other potential expenses.

Your future in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

The counseling program the College of Applied Human Sciences offers a curriculum at the master’s degree level. All students will complete coursework in core counseling knowledge and skill development as well as knowledge associated with addiction, couples/families, and grief. The clinical mental health counseling specialization prepares students in individual and group counseling with a diverse population across a wide scope of developmental stages and backgrounds in various community settings such as correctional facilities, treatment centers, mental health agencies, etc.

The Benefits to Choosing Our Program

  • The program is available for both full and part-time students in a hybrid modality that uses asynchronous online courses coupled with two residencies on campus for counseling skill development.
  • The program is fully accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and is a WVU Program of Excellence.
  • Program faculty are leaders in areas such as virtual reality in academic settings, rural wellness, vocational rehabilitation, and violence prevention.

Career Outlook for Clinical Mental Health Counseling

According to O*NET mental health counselors will also see a bright job outlook with pay range for this occupation ranging from $31K to $78K. The projected growth rate for 2022-2032 is much faster than average (9% or higher).

Counseling M.S. Requirements

A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required in all courses
A grade of C- or higher is required in all courses

Course Title Credit Hours
COUN 510 Orientation to Mental Health Counseling 3
COUN 610 Medical and Psychological Aspects of Disability 3
COUN 536 Theories of Human Development 3
COUN 620 Career Development and Job Placement 3
COUN 501 Counseling Theory and Techniques I 3
COUN 606 Counseling Theory and Techniques II 3
COUN 609 Group Counseling Theory and Techniques 3
COUN 505 Theory and Practice of Human Appraisal 3
COUN 665 Diagnosis and Treatment Planning 3
COUN 634 Cultural Issues 3
COUN 640 Addictions Counseling 3
COUN 645 Couples and Family Counseling 3
COUN 664 Ethical Issues in Counseling 3
COUN 668 Crisis Trauma Grief Counseling 3
COUN 612 Research and Evaluation 3
COUN 685 Practicum 3
COUN 686 Counseling Internship 9

Total Hours: 60

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is this program best suited for?

This program is best suited for individuals interested in pursuing a graduate degree in counseling in an online format. Admitted students have the option of attending full-time or part-time. While the majority of our students do have an undergraduate degree in a Human Services related field we accept students from a variety of academic backgrounds. Further, our program is especially well-suited for professionals looking to advance in their current field such as individuals working in case manager who are interested in transitioning to a counseling position.

Why does the program require two site visits to campus?

Our program requires all students to attend two, week-long residencies. The first residency is during your first semester of the program while enrolled in COUN 501. This residency allows you to get to know your program faculty and staff as well as your peers. With an emphasis on learning and practicing counseling skills, this residency allows you to get in-person feedback. Further, it gives you a chance to explore campus and develop relationships with your peers that go beyond responses on a discussion board.

The second week-long residency is completed during the spring semester in which you take COUN 609 (this varies depending on if you are full-time or part-time). This residency allows you to practice your group counseling skills including multiple opportunities to be both a small group facilitator as well as participant. Further, it allows you to reflect with your program faculty, staff, and peers on how far you’ve come since initially being admitted to the program.

What states does your program prepare students to be licensed in?

Some of the states that our program currently meets the licensure requirements in include West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Students are encouraged to review their state counseling board website to determine their licensure requirements as they do vary. The program provides the foundational education for licensure in most states, but students may have to complete additional coursework and/or clinical experience hours depending on their state requirements. For example, this program would prepare an individual to be licensed as Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of South Dakota, the first license tier in the state, but an individual would need to complete coursework in Psychopharmacology to be credentialed as a Licensed Professional Counselor – Mental Health (the second/independent license tier). Admitted students can work with their advisor as well as program faculty to review state licensing requirements.

What sets your program apart?

As a land-grant, R-1 university, West Virginia University is a pioneer in online education. Our program has been digitally delivered for over 2o years and has prepared counselors from across the country including Texas, Wyoming, North Carolina, and Vermont. From our week-long residencies to our weekly office hours, program faculty endeavor to not only prepare you as a professional but to know you as a human being. Further, our specialized coursework related to disability prepares students to truly serve a diverse range of clients including those with developmental or acquired disabilities.

What does it mean for you to have a commitment to diversity and justice?

West Virginia University has a commitment to cultural humility, diversity, advocacy, and social justice which we strive for within the Counseling program. We emphasize preparing students to provide ethical and effective counseling services to clients across the developmental spectrum.

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WVU Online
West Virginia University
PO Box 6800
Morgantown, WV 26506-6800

Phone: (800) 253-2762

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