Counselor Education

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. May non-matriculated students take graduate courses for credit before applying?
2. What are the criteria for admission?  When are applications due?
3. How many applicants typically apply to the program and what percentages are accepted?
4. Is the program accredited and what does that mean?
5. Once accepted, how long does it typically take to complete the program?  And how intensive is the curriculum? (For example could one expect to take a full course load as well as hold down a full time job?)
6. Are there opportunities for scholarships and graduate assistantships?
7. Are there opportunities for clinical experiences, such as practicum and internships?
8. What is the procedure to attain licensure and is the license portable from state to state?
9. What are some various job opportunities available to graduates of these programs?
10. How does a Master of Science in counseling degree (M.S.) differ from a master of social work (MSW) degree?

1. May non-matriculated students take graduate courses for credit before applying?

Non-matriculated students may take two classes that are designated as classes available to them.  They may also choose to take a third and fourth class, but only with the approval of the department chair after submitting their application.

To learn more about information sessions

2. What are the criteria for admission?  When are applications due?
The counseling program adheres rigidly to the post-marked date of November 15.  You will want to have your completed application in ahead of time.    

For application deadlines and instructions

3. How many applicants typically apply to the program and what percentages are accepted?
The overall number of applicants is 80 to 100 per year in the Counselor Education Program.  The combined acceptance rate for all concentrations is approximately 40 percent.  However, the number of applicants accepted varies each year for each concentration within the counseling program. 

4. Is the program accredited and what does that mean?
Yes. All of the counseling programs in the School of Education and Human Development are accredited.  Some concentrations are accredited by different organizations.  The masters programs in mental health counseling as well as school counseling are both accredited by CACREP, the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.  CORE, the Council of Rehabilitation Counseling, accredits the rehabilitation counseling program.  A prerequisite for taking the National Counselor Exam, (NCE), is that one has graduated from a CACREP accredited program, or a program that meets the coursework of accredited programs.  Graduates from a CORE accredited program are automatically eligible to take the  Certified Rehabilitation Counselors (CRC) Exam.  Furthermore, many job listings for school and mental health counselors across the United States require that an applicant must be a graduate of a CACREP approved program or a CORE accredited program in the case of rehabilitation counseling.

To learn more about program accreditation  

5. Once accepted, how long does it typically take to complete the program?  And how intensive is the curriculum? (For example could one expect to take a full course load as well as hold down a full time job?)
There is a tremendous amount of variability in terms of how long an individual requires completing the program.  In order to be considered a full time student, one must take at least 9 credit hours per semester.  The mental health concentration consists of 63 credit hours, the school counseling concentration is 60 credit hours, and the rehabilitation concentration is 54 credit hours.  Most students take classes at night as a part-time student while continuing to have a full-time career.  Those who are interested in becoming full-time students should not expect to be able to work full-time in addition to completing the course work.

6. Are there opportunities for scholarships and graduate assistantships?
Yes.  There are multiple scholarships available and awarded each year within the School of Education and Human Development.  These scholarships typically range from $100 to $1500.  Students can also apply for graduate assistantships.  These positions will be offered to degree students taking at least six credit hours per semester while employed.  A student may be offered a part time position (10 hours/week), or a full time position (20 hours/week).  The pay rate for graduate assistantships usually equates to approximately $15.00/hour. 

To learn more about scholarships and assistantships  

7. Are there opportunities for clinical experiences, such as practicum and internships?
Yes. Both practicum and internships are required for all counseling concentrations.  Practicum will take place towards the end of a student's course work and will involve group supervision during course time and also one hour per week of individual supervision.  In addition, each student will see 3 to 5 clients per week to conduct counseling sessions.  The course load for practicum is considered to equate to 2 regular courses.  In terms of internships, students should begin researching with their advisor what site they would like to work at 6 to 9 months prior to beginning this portion of the program.

8. What is the procedure to attain licensure and is the license portable from state to state?
There are several criteria in order to attain licensure in the state of Maine.  In order to become an Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, (LCPC), one must finish a master's degree program with no less than 45 credit hours, which typically becomes closer to 60 credit hours.  Also, the candidate must have completed 900 hours of supervised internship.  The candidate must then sit for the National Counselor Exam.  Less course work is required to become a Licensed Professional Counselor, (LPC), than an LCPC.  This includes completing 45 credit hours as well as 600 hours of supervised internship.  There are some states in which Maine's counseling licenses are reciprocal, though most states may differ a little in their requirements.  Check with each state's licensing boards for more specific information.

9. What are some various job opportunities available to graduates of these programs?
The job placements vary with each Masters of counseling degree.  The school counselor usually works in elementary, middle or high schools.  Those specializing in mental health counseling generally work in agencies or in private practice.  Rehabilitation counselors  may often work in state vocational rehabilitation agencies, or other aligned rehabilitation programs.  In the past few years job opportunities in all counseling concentrations have been excellent. 

10. How does a Master of Science in counseling degree (M.S.) differ from a master of social work (MSW) degree?
Generally speaking, the differences between these two programs stem primarily from a difference in the underlying philosophies and the corresponding coursework and training of the professions.  Counseling is based on a developmental model and focuses more on the individual, such as viewing a client first as an individual and then in their context.  Social work is based on an environmental/systemic approach and views an individual within a certain context, and may link that person's current situation to their environment.  Social workers' focus is more on systemic issues.  Although the basic philosophies of the two professions are somewhat different, the two may actually have more in common than set apart.  Actually, both counselors and social workers perform many of the same jobs in the field of mental health. 

For more information about the Masters of Social Work program at USM