Why a Mental Health Counseling degree?
Mental Health counselors are similar to other master’s level counselors, clinicians, and social workers in their training and perspective, yet also are trained to contribute to the counseling profession through the promotion of social justice. We in the UMass Boston Mental Health program strongly believe that advocating for and serving underprivileged populations constitutes a crucial element in the life of any helping professional. Whereas there are many intellectual aspects to becoming a counselor, the roots of effective counseling always grow from a soil fertilized with values that seek to alleviate the stress of those in direst need. Acceptance and positive regard of others are not constants; they evolve over a life-time, feeding off and strengthening the spirit that defines our profession. In this respect, there is no better start to becoming an accomplished counselor than to train in a setting that reaches out to people with overwhelming difficulties and few resources. It is not so much about what you can actually do to help; it is the actual attempt to help that inspires hope and empowers change. We believe that the contribution of this kind of training to students, clients, and the community at large is immense, and carries value and essence that transcend quantitative measures of success.
Why a UMass Boston MHC Counseling degree?
The social justice perspective of many MH Counseling programs takes a particular form at UMass Boston. In our program, faculty members train students and do research in areas that challenge mainstream psychology and counseling ideas, develop innovative forms of treatment, uncover exploitation and conflicts of interest, and address biases that oppress groups based on sexuality, race, ethnicity, and ability. At UMass Boston, master’s level students can participate in research groups with award winning faculty and can be mentored towards their own publications and application to doctoral programs. Even when the Mental Health master’s is the final degree for a student, rest assured that UMass students go into the profession ready to address injustice as they see it systemically and in the lives of their clients.
How long does it take to complete the program?
Students can complete the program in two years attending full-time (summer course work is most likely necessary) but have the option to complete the degree part-time. Students who attend part-time typically complete the degree in 3-4 years.
What time of the day are classes held?
Classes meet once/week during the fall and spring semesters and are held at 4pm and 7pm. Summer classes are also held during these times.
How do I get licensed as a mental health counselor?
Our program prepares you to meet the educational requirements for Massachusetts licensure as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC). Upon completion of the 60-credit master’s degree program, you are eligible to take the licensure exam. In addition, Massachusetts requires students to complete 3,360 post-graduate hours employed as a mental health counselor under supervision.
Can I get licensed in another state as a mental health counselor or professional counselor?
All health care licenses (e.g., social workers, psychiatrists, mental health counselors) are granted by the state that one practices in. We have students who graduated from our program and who are licensed in other states, and because Massachusetts’ licensure requirements are quite stringent, our program may meet the educational requirements for licensure in your state.
What about accreditation?
Our university is regionally accredited through NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges).
In what type of settings do mental health counselors work in?
Mental health counselors work in a variety of settings, including community-based outpatient agencies, residential treatment facilities, schools, hospitals, private practice, etc...The Occupational Outlook Handbook provides more information about employment opportunities, prospects and salaries. In addition, you can read more about the field through reviewing the national organization for mental health counselors, called AMHCA (American Mental Health Counselors Association): and ACA (American Counselors Association).
Where can I get full course descriptions?
Please click on our plan of study page.
How many courses do I have to take to complete the master’s degree program?
Students take a total of 18 courses (including 3 field-based courses: practicum and internship).
How many courses do I have to take to complete the CAGS degree program in mental health counseling?
We only accept CAGS applications from internal candidates. After successful completion of the M.S. degree in another UMB program such as Family Therapy, Rehabilitation Counseling, or School Counseling students may apply for a CAGS. A minimum of 18 credits post M.S. is required for the CAGS. Applicants who hold a degree from another university may also apply for a CAGS, but they must have a master's degree in counseling or its equivalent and they must have already earned a minimum of 30 academic credits which meet the requirements of the MHC program as outlined above. Because the CAGS is an individualized course of study, the specific courses required for the CAGS will be identified by the Graduate Program Director he/she is matriculated in the program. The courses required will be based on the student's previous coursework. Thus, successful completion of the CAGS requires a minimum of 78 credits for all students. All applicants must show documentation regarding their previous internship experience. Students who have earned an MS from one of the programs in the DCSP will be required to take all practicum and internship courses.
Is there a final culminating project required for the master’s degree?
Yes, students complete a capstone project, which is a culminating project of the master’s degree program. The capstone is completed during the internship seminar. It is a case analysis of a client that you have worked with during the course of the internship. Students apply various theories and skills they have learned throughout their course work to a written paper and also submit a videotape of their work.
How many practicum and internship hours do I complete?
The practicum is a total of 100 hours and the internship is a total of 900 hours (450 hours/semester).
What is the difference between the practicum and internship?
The practicum is an introduction to clinical practice as a mental health counselor; therefore, students begin by observing a licensed clinician in the field. Some may also begin seeing clients. During the internship, the student is expected to see his or her own clients.
Where can I complete the practicum and internship?
Students complete the placement at a variety of locations, including outpatient clinics, hospitals, schools, and residential treatment facilities. Students are provided a list of sites where our students have completed their placements in the past. It is possible to complete the practicum and internship at two different locations or at the same location.
Can I take a class or two to see what the program is like?
It is possible to take courses as a non-degree student as long as there is space available in the course and you have met the pre-requisites. Students can transfer up to 6 graduate credits (2 courses) taken at UMass Boston into the program as long as a grade of B or better is earned and you are accepted into the program. Typically, non-degree registration is held just before the semester begins. You can contact Kevin Ziomek at email@example.com to find out more information about non-degree registration.
How much does it cost to attend?
You can get information about tuition and fees.
What opportunities for funding exist?
We offer a limited number of graduate research and administrative assistantships in our department. The assistantships fully waive tuition and provide a ¼ fee waiver and small stipend. Students receiving a graduate assistantship within our department work 5 hours/week. Students can apply once they are accepted to the program. They should be sure to indicate what research experience they have had and their particular research interests that might match the current faculty’s interests. There are also graduate assistantship opportunities offered across the university. These opportunities often provide larger fee waivers and stipends and require 10-20 hours/week of work. You can search for these positions at UMass Boston by clicking on employment opportunities. Students can also apply for financial aid by filling out the FAFSA.