Professor Sciarra, Graduate Program Director, 516-463-7451
The Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling degree is designed to provide students with the educational preparation to qualify as a licensed mental health counselor in the state of New York. The curriculum is designed to provide students with a critical knowledge base comprised of 11 content areas identified by the New York State Education Department in compliance with Article 163 of the Education Law which established mental health counseling as a licensed profession in New York state in 2006. As part of this 60 semester hour program of study, students will complete 48 credits of required coursework and, under advisement, 12 semester hours of elective coursework from an approved listing of courses, 6 credits of which are considered “preferred electives.” Each student will complete 600 hours of supervised internship experience in one or more approved mental health settings. An additional internship of 300 hours can be taken as a preferred elective. Graduates of this program will stand academically prepared to take the qualifying examination for mental health counselor licensure utilized in the state for license application.
The Mental Health Counseling Program is designed as a clinically focused experience aimed at building the knowledge, skills and dispositions/attitudes essential for mental health counseling practice in an increasingly diverse society. The counseling program has a state-of-the-art training lab that is centrally utilized for the skills development practice of its students. The sequenced curriculum is designed to be undertaken over the course of 2.5 years (including summer study); the final semesters of graduate study will be devoted to the clinical internship.
Upon completion of the master’s degree, students will qualify to meet the examination requirement for licensure and apply for a limited permit to practice for a period of not more than 24 months, with potential for a 12-month extension request, while completing the 3,000 hours of post-master’s supervised clinical experience that are required for full licensure.
Mental health counselors practice in a variety of settings, including private practice, community agencies, managed behavioral health care organizations, government and not-for-profit organizations, integrated delivery systems, hospitals, employee assistance programs and substance abuse and rehabilitative centers.
Application for admission is made to the Graduate Admission Office where directions are given for securing transcripts of previous schooling and other necessary information. The review of the application and the admission decision is made by program faculty and is based on a comprehensive review of multiple criteria including the following:
- Bachelors degree from an accredited institution, preferably with a major concentration in psychology, the behavior sciences and/or human services.
- Minimum undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0.
- Writing sample (to be completed at time of personal interview).
- Three (3) letters of recommendation for academic and character references.
- Personal essay describing professional intent and pertinent background.
- Admission interview with the program director and/or faculty representative.
- Personal experience in counseling or growth-oriented processes are highly desirable.
The department understands that any single criterion may not reliably predict a candidate’s potential for success in a graduate program. As such, candidates who do not fully satisfy one of the quantified criteria are still open to apply.
Note: Preferred application deadline for fall semester is June 1st and for spring semester is December 1st. All others will be reviewed on a space available basis.
Prerequisite Requirements - Semester Hours: 18
Note: Students must complete all prerequisite course work listed below prior to beginning the first sequence course in the counseling curriculum (COUN 223, Theories and Principles of Counseling). The courses may be satisfied at either the undergraduate or graduate level, and online courses are accepted as long as they are from nationally accredited institutions and documented on transcripts.
- child psychology - 3 semester hours
- adolescent psychology - 3 semester hours
- personality theory or abnormal psychology - 3 semester hours
- psychology and behavioral sciences (three other courses from areas such as social psychology, learning theory, behavioral science research methods, statistics for the social sciences, psychology of exceptionalities, family development theory, socio-cultural foundations, etc.) - 9 semester hours
Program of Study - Semester Hours: 60
A. Required Courses - Semester Hours: 48
B. Program Electives - Semester Hours: 12
In addition to considering registration in the “preferred electives” noted above, student can select general elective courses from the following list (under advisement) to total 12 s.h. of elective course work:
- Completion of all program requirements.
- A minimum grade point average of 3.0 in overall graduate course work.
- Comprehensive Exam demonstrating proficiency in program knowledge base or receiving passing grade on the NBCC National Counselor Exam (NCE).
Additional Certification Option: Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC)
Students in the Mental Health Counseling program have an additional educational opportunity to pursue a specialized track in the area of alcohol and substance abuse practice. Interested students can complete the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services’ (OASAS) educational requirements for the Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) designation. Those graduates who complete this specialization track would be eligible to register for the CASAC designation and thus qualify for the clinical experience component of the certification. This is an exceptional benefit because students who complete this specialization track as part of their graduate degree program of study will be credited with 4000 of the 6000 total hours required for full CASAC certification. Furthermore, if these students complete their 600 hours of MHC internship in a facility affiliated with OASAS, the 600 hours will count toward the remaining 2000 hours needed for full CASAC certification. This would serve to further lower the balance to 1400 post-graduation hours; as such, the time required for attaining full CASAC certification in NYS is decreased for these graduates.
The Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) prepares students to work with individuals, families, groups in a range of settings focusing on mental health and substance abuse. Students interested in earning the education portion toward their CASAC credential should speak to their faculty adviser regarding taking the addiction-related electives as well as applying to an OASAS-affiliated internship site.
Required Course Work for Additional Certification
To earn CASAC eligibility MHC students would need to successfully complete the following required courses:
Elective Course Work for Additional Certification
In addition to the MHC curriculum, students pursuing CASAC must take two of their four program electives focusing on Addictions: