MA in Counseling—advice on grad. programs & jobs?

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moscatomg1 in Las Cruces, New Mexico

24 months ago

[Part. 1] Given all the folks here on the job market search, I thought this would be a good place to voice these concerns.

My background: Since it’s relevant, my background is that I have no background in counseling or psych. I have a BA in English and MA in communication. I am an adjunct faculty, and I feel I need to go back to grad. school in order to leave academia. I do want to listen to and try to help troubled individuals like my own students—but I also want to help myself get out of the black hole of the humanities in academia. I *think* I am most interested in adult mental health counseling (for substance abuse or anxiety/depression) or, preferably, student mental health counseling at a college/univ. setting. Given what I see just in these forums, I don’t know how realistic either of these is in the current job market. (However, online US. govt. resources indicate large future growth in substance abuse counseling.)

Applying to grad. programs: For any MA Counseling program I apply to, I need to find three crucial components given my background: 1. a program that does not require several counseling/psych.-related prerequisites, as so many seem to demand 2. a program that offers solid funding for the MA or MEd (assistantship plus tuition waiver), and 3. a program whose admissions process is not too competitive (I have a 3.88 GPA and solid professor lors for my MA but very low GRE scores). So far Bowling Green (School of Intervention Services, not the Ed. Dept.) and NMSU look like possibilities. (And Canada in general looks good as far as no GRE needed, though most programs require a previous psych./counseling degree). But I am anxious to know of more potential programs given these variables.

[post cont.]

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moscatomg1 in Las Cruces, New Mexico

24 months ago

[cont., Part 2]

Finally, thank you so much for any help or advice on these issues. I am clearly having a bit of difficulty in my search for this information, so that’s why I am bringing this to you—the experts.

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Georgewduke in Upper Marlboro, Maryland

20 months ago

I too have a bachelor's in English, and I also have a JD, and no background in Psychology other than one random course in undergrad. After a lot of research I found that pursuing a Master's in Clinical and Mental Health Counseling was the best fit for me. From what I found, most Clinical and Mental Health Counseling programs do not require any prior academic preparation per se. They're more interested in your ability to demonstrate a genuine interest in the profession, through formal and informal counseling experience, as welll as your ability to demonstrate how well your personal traits match with the counseling profession. An even bigger bonus is that most do not require applicants to submit GRE scores if you already have at least one graduate degree, and you typically only need a 3.0 overall GPA from undergrad to be eligible for admission to most programs.

So, to answer your questions: (1) look at Clinical and Mental Health Counseling Programs- there are usually no academic prequisites; (2) I did not find many Clinical and Mental Health Programs that offered much in the way of graduate assistanceships. There are none available at the school where I enrolled. The majority of these programs are in the School of Ed and they don't typically have much money for such niceities. Tuitiion remission might be your best option here, but the practical benefit of the discount will obviously depend on the amount of your tuition. I am still working full-time and going to school part-time, so it's not as pressing of an issue for me. But if I were to find a full-time job at my school and work there for at least 120 days, I would receive just over $5,000/year in remission, which would be the equivalent of 1.5 graduate courses; (3) in my experience, admission to most counseling programs is not at all competitive- I estimate it exceeds 60% at even the Ivy League schools.

Be sure to choose a program that is CACREP accredited.

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