Counselor Education

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Beyond the Classroom: Counseling Practicum and Internship

After exploring counseling theories and techniques through core courses, you’ll participate in your practicum and then your internship. Through these fieldwork experiences, you’ll begin meeting with clients and developing your counseling skills — with support and supervision in a mental health or education setting.

Site Placement

Through our community partnerships, we have partnered with more than 200 agency and school sites for students’ practicum and internship experience. Our program coordinators work with students to select fieldwork sites that align with their location, their schedule, and their career paths.

For our out-of-state students completing the low-residency Rehabilitation concentration, we will work with you to select a fieldwork site close to your home.

When does fieldwork begin?

  • Students begin their practicum after completing roughly 21-39 credits hours, depending on their selected concentration.
  • The internship usually begins in the semester following the completion of practicum.

Learn More: 


About Your Practicum

The practicum experience is your first opportunity to meet with clients one-on-one. Practicum is all about personal growth and development — we’ll encourage you to develop attitudes, values, and beliefs that enhance and facilitate the counseling process. As you progress, you’ll learn to combine your counseling skills and your personality into an effective therapeutic style.

As part of your preparation for practicum, you’ll take the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) and you’ll also secure Liability Insurance.

Amount of Hours in Practicum

Practicum lasts one semester for both part-time and full-time students. The hours listed below include your work within the agency or school, meetings with your faculty supervisor (this is called Practicum Lab), as well as your seminar course.

  • Total practicum hours: 100
  • Direct client work: 40 hours
  • This amounts to roughly 10 hours per week over the course of one semester.

Support and Supervision

In each of our concentrations, students receive support and supervision on three levels:

  • On-site Liaison: A staff member at the agency or school site will assist you in finding appropriate clients or students and with seeking referrals.
  • Faculty Supervisor: You’ll be paired with a faculty member for one-on-one supervision.
  • Practicum Seminar: In this small-group course, you’ll have an opportunity to review your experiences with your peers.

Direct Client Work

Clinical Mental Health and Rehabilitation students will see at least 3 clients per week. You’ll see adult clients only, unless you have completed HCE 622 Counseling Children and Adolescents.

School Counseling students will see 3-4 children or adolescents at both primary and secondary schools. At least one client will be elementary age (K-5), one client will be middle school age (grades 6-8), and one client will be high school age (grades 9-12 or freshman in college).

Recording and Review

A key element of the practicum experience is reviewing your interpersonal interactions with clients. Students in each concentration will maintain video or audio recordings of their direct client work. You’ll then review the recordings with your faculty supervisor so that you can each evaluate your techniques and your progress.

What You’ll Do in Your Practicum:

  • Develop procedures for meetings with clients, such as establishing a safe and accepting environment.
  • Elicit information from the client and determine external and internal resources to work toward a solution.
  • Formulate treatment plans.
  • Experiment with a variety of counseling techniques, including: psychodynamic, cognitive/behavioral, humanistic/existential, developmental, solution-focused, and systematic.

About Your Internship

The internship is the capstone experience of the Master of Science in Counseling program — it provides an opportunity for you to enhance and refine the knowledge and skills gained over the entire program.

Through your internship, you’ll develop confidence in a broad range of counseling skills, learn to work effectively with other professionals, and evaluate yourself and your career goals.  

Amount of Hours in Internship

The number of semesters you’ll spend in your internship is flexible depending on your schedule. Please note that the amount of required internship hours varies by concentration — see details below.

Internship Hours by Concentration

The hours listed below include your work within the agency or school as well as your seminar course.

  • Clinical Mental Health Counseling
    • Total internship hours: 900 hours.
    • Hours of direct client work: 360 hours, out of the total 900 hours.

  • Rehabilitation Counseling: Clinical Track
    • Total internship hours: 900 hours.
    • Hours of direct client work: 360 hours, out of the total 900 hours.

  • Rehabilitation Counseling: Vocational Track
    • Total internship hours: 600 hours.
    • Hours of direct client work: 240 hours, out of the total 600 hours.

  • School Counseling
    • Total internship hours: 600 hours.
    • Hours of direct student work: 240 hours, out of the total 600 hours.

How Much Time Will it Take?

  • Part-time students: It is possible to complete as little as 200 internship hours per semester, which would require 8-10 hours per week.

  • Part-time and full-time students: Many students choose to complete 300 internship hours per semester, which requires 15-20 hours per week.

  • Full-time students: It is possible to complete as many as 600 internship hours per semester, which would require roughly 35 hours per week.

Support and Supervision

In each of our concentrations, students receive support and supervision on site and through a seminar course.

  • On-site supervisor: Your on-site supervisor will assist with integrating you into the agency or school’s procedures and staff meetings. They’ll also support you with the referral process and with your self-evaluation.
  • Internship seminar: In this small-group course, you’ll receive guidance and insight from a faculty member, and you’ll also engage is case review with your peers.

What You’ll Do in Your Internship

The internship immerses you in the workplace — you’ll get to know what it’s like to work in the particular agency or school atmosphere, and develop an understanding of policies, procedures, and philosophies.

Clinical Mental Health Counseling Students

  • Individual Counseling and Service Integration: This includes an intake interview, assessment, analysis of client information, and consultation with other providers to assure the integration of services.
  • Assessment: You’ll engage in intake, assessment, and diagnosis; provide follow-up and interpretation of standardized tests; and assist with program evaluation and research.
  • Education: If you select the Substance Abuse Area of Expertise, you’ll also be involved with education on intervention strategies and processes.
  • Prevention: You’ll provide support during expectable life transitions and developmental challenges, in order to prevent a loss of optimal functioning. Examples include support for entering college students, new parents, adult children coping with aging parents, or employees coping with work-related transitions.
  • Counseling and Psychoeducational Groups: You’ll engage in both psychoeducation groups, with a focus on learning; and counseling groups, with an emphasis on the practice of interpersonal change.

Rehabilitation Counseling Students

  • Clinical Track and Vocational Track Students:

    • Group Counseling: After on-site training, you’ll act as a facilitator or co-facilitator in group counseling sessions.
    • Case Management and Psychosocial Rehabilitation: You’ll work with your clients to foster their community and peer support.
    • Vocational Skills: You’ll engage clients in job-readiness and job-seeking skills training in addition to job placement, contacting employers, and follow-up services.

  • Clinical Track Students: 

    • Along with the items listed above, you’ll complete an additional 300 internship hours in a clinical setting. This will include:
      • Individual Counseling: This includes an intake interview, assessment, and analysis of client information.
      • Assessment: You’ll engage in intake, assessment, and diagnosis; provide follow-up and interpretation of standardized tests; and assist with program evaluation and research.

School Counseling Students

  • Case Management and Individual Counseling: You’ll meet with students, parents, and staff members, providing direct services, consultation, and referrals.
  • Assessment: You’ll administer and interpret the instruments used in school systems to ensure career and college readiness. You will use data to measure the results of a specific intervention as well as to determine the needs of the students and school.
  • Group Work: This will include developing small group activities and facilitation of large group lessons in the classroom. You may participate in a transition workshop and/or career night at the Middle and High School levels.
  • Collaboration: You will work with parents, teachers, and community members to advocate for your students and to address their academic, social/personal and career readiness needs.
  • Advocacy: You will work on developing a program focus and a comprehensive School Counseling Program which promotes student success.


Learn more about our MS in Counseling Program