A student with a therapy dog

1. What is Professional Counseling? 

According to the 20/20: A Vision for the Future of Counseling, 31 organizations representing the counseling profession defined Professional Counseling as "a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals." To learn more about the profession of Counseling, visit the ACA website (https://www.counseling.org/)

2. How many classes do most graduate students take a semester in the Masters of Science Professional Counseling Program? 

Course load varies depending on individual circumstances such as employment and family responsibilities, but the majority of our students take two or three courses a semester. Anything more than five course credits is considered full-time in the graduate school. A small percentage of student complete one course a semester (part-time) and 15-20% take four courses.

3. Can I work full-time and still attend graduate school? 

Yes, the large majority of our graduate students work full-time and still manage to take two or three courses per term. Courses are offered in the later afternoon and evenings Monday through Thursday. Classes starting at 4:30pm typically meet twice per week for 1.25 hours per class. Classes starting at 6pm typically meet for about 2.5 hours and meet once per week. Be mindful, students working full-time may have to adjust their job schedule to accommodate the fieldwork requirements. 

4. What is the typical age of Counseling Graduate student? 

Graduate students range in age from the early 20s to the 50s and older. Some students are newly graduated from their undergraduate programs, while others have been in the workforce for many years and have decided to return to enhance their job prospects or overall knowledge of the discipline. 

5. My undergraduate degree is not in psychology, will this hurt my chances of being accepted into the Counseling program? 

Not at all. Though a majority of our students have undergraduate degrees in the social sciences (psychology, sociology, human development, social work), at least 1/3 of our student body have degrees outside of this general field of study. Whether your undergraduate degree is in English, biology, or accounting, many other factors such as work experience, personal essay, and letters of recommendation impact a student’s admission into the program.

6. Are online courses available? 

Yes, we offer a few online courses within the curriculum. Students who prefer this method of instruction will find a few options that are available and the Addictions concentration courses are entirely online. However, students are not able to complete all their required courses online.

7. How long does it take to complete the program? 

Depending on how many courses students take, the program can be completed within the following time frames:

  • A student taking two (2) courses a semester including summer session (18 credits per year), would complete the program in 3.5 to 4 years.
  • A student taking three (3) courses a semester including summer session (27 credits per year), would complete the program in 2 to 2.5 years.
  • A student taking four (4) courses a semester including summer session (36 credits per year), would complete the program in less than 2 years.

8. What are the differences between core courses, concentration-specific courses, and electives? 

There are three types of courses in the Professional Counseling Program:

    These courses are required of all students regardless of which concentration they are pursuing. There are 17 courses (51 credits) that comprise the core requirements and the foundation of a professional counselor’s education at Carlow University. These courses are connected to state licensure standards, the National Counselor Examination (NCE), and the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
    These courses are required to complete the student’s selected specialization track within the program. (Child & Family, Trauma, Addictions, or Forensic). These courses are required for specific concentrations, but may also be used as electives by those pursuing a concentration. Students may choose to forgo a concentration and choose three electives that fit their interests. Each concentration is comprised of a three course sequence that can be taken at any time during the masters.
    These courses are open to all students and are not required. Electives cover a wide-array of topics and are scheduled on a yearly or every-other year schedule. If students pursue a concentration, they will not have room in their schedules to complete electives.

9. What is the difference between licensure and certification? 

Licensure at the master’s level refers to the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Counselors meet the educational requirements for the LPC once they have completed a minimum of 60 credits in counseling or a closely related field. In addition to the course work, students must pass an exam (typically it’s the National Board of Certified Counselor’s National Counselor Exam), and complete a minimum of 3000 hours of supervised experience (see your advisor or the licensing board website for more details on specific supervision requirements). This license is required for independent practice in the state of Pennsylvania.

Certification can refer to certification as a school counselor, or it can refer to the National Certified Counselor (NCC). The NCC designation is earned by counselors who pass the National Counselor Exam (NCE). The NCC is a voluntary credential, but since passing the NCE is a step in qualifying for the LPC, many LPC’s also earn the NCC designation.

Graduates of the program are often eligible for and pursue additional certifications and licensure options in the state. These include Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC) and the Licensed Behavioral Specialist (LBS). While you will learn about these options in your coursework, it is a good idea to discuss this further with your advisor.