Counselor Education

MS in Counseling with a Concentration in Clinical Mental Health

The Master of Science in Counseling (MSC) degree provides graduates with the counseling knowledge and skills used in school, clinical mental health, and rehabilitation settings. Students study human development and behavior, individual counseling theory, group theory and dynamics, research methodology, and psychological measurement and evaluation, in addition to courses in individual concentrations—school counseling, clinical mental health counseling, and rehabilitation counseling. The Mental Health Rehabilitation Technician/Community (MHRT/C) post-bachelor's certificate program may be taken independently of the master’s degree (applications through Rehabilitation Counseling). The certificate of advanced study in counseling is a post-master’s program for current counselors who are interested in pursuing advanced coursework.

Depending on the MSC concentration, we offer face-to-face, online, hybrid, blended, or any combination of for synchronous and asynchronous course delivery. Course instruction includes a variety of teaching and learning strategies, depending on the nature of the course, such as lectures, group discussion (synchronous and asynchronous), in–class exercises, supervised case review, cooperative learning, service learning, guided practice, introspection and critical thinking. In addition to coursework, each student must successfully pass the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE).

The counselor education program holds accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) for the clinical mental health and school counseling concentrations, and from the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) for the rehabilitation concentration.

Clinical Mental Health Counseling Concentration (63 credits)

The clinical mental health counseling concentration requires a total of sixty-three credit hours of coursework and is designed to allow students to learn skills specifically related to treating clients facing acute problems and developmental life issues, as well as clients interested in enriching their present life through the establishment of greater coherence and well-being. Students’ learning is accomplished through our clinical training courses and specialized electives. These specialized electives allow students to choose an area of interest in which may include: children, family systems (which may also become an area of expertise), use of the creative arts, mind-body approaches, human sexuality, spirituality, substance-abuse, or college mental health.

New students to the clinical mental health concentration will be in the program’s clinical courses in an interactive, face-to-face, real-time classroom experience on campus with some in blended, hybrid, and/or online formats.

Through our classes, students can expect a comprehensive array of studies which integrates the historical, philosophical, societal, cultural, economic, and political dimensions of the mental health and human service system.  The roles, functions, skills, and professional identity of clinical mental health counselors are highlighted. Coursework focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental and emotional disorders, psychological trauma, and the general principles and practices for the promotion of optimal mental health. During the final portion of their coursework, students will intern under the supervision of a licensed mental health clinician

Graduates are prepared to apply (or sit) for the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and prepared to apply to be licensed as a clinical professional counselor (LCPC) in Maine. Those students interested in substance abuse treatment skills may consider earning an area of expertise in Substance Abuse Counseling as part of this concentration to prepare for licensure as a drug and alcohol counselor (LADC). An area of expertise in Family Systems is also available. The clinical mental health counseling concentration holds accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP).

Core Courses (36 credits)

EDU 600 Research Methods and Techniques
HCE 500 Orientation to the Counseling Profession
HCE 604 Career Development
HCE 605 Psychological Measurement and Evaluation
HCE 612 Multicultural Counseling: Social & Cultural Foundations of Helping Diverse Families
HCE 620 Fundamentals of Counseling Theories
HCE 621 Fundamentals of Counseling Skills
HCE 626 Group Process and Procedures
HCE 627 Group Counseling Practicum
HCE 668 Human Development 
HCE 690 Individual Counseling Practicum Seminar
HCE 691 Individual Counseling Practicum Laboratory

Required Specialty Courses (21 credits)

HCE 640 Professional Issues for Mental Health Counselors
HCE 642 Perspectives in Chemical Dependency
HCE 644 Crisis Intervention
HCE 645 Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
HCE 686 Internship in Counselor Education (9 credits - 900 hours)

Electives (6 credits)

Expertise Certificate Area in Family Systems

For those persons interested in working in the area of family systems, the counselor education program offers coursework with a focus on counseling families, and in incorporating systemic perspectives even when counseling individuals. This area of expertise is available for master's and CAS students.

The following courses are required for this area of expertise:

HCE 650 Basic Concepts in Couple and Family Counseling
HCE 670 Application of Family Systems Theories
HCE 686 Internship in Counselor Education (3 credits, 300 hours focused on family counseling that is supervised by a supervisor trained in family systems approaches)

Expertise Certificate Area in Substance Abuse Counseling

For those students interested in working in the area of substance abuse, the counselor education program offers coursework which will enable students to obtain a Substance Abuse Counseling expertise area within their master's degree. This expertise certificate area is available as part of the clinical mental health counseling specialty. Students who complete this area as part of their master's degree will be prepared to sit for the licensed alcohol and drug counselor (LADC) exam in Maine.

The following courses are required for the expertise area:

HCE 642 Perspectives on Chemical Dependency
HCE 643 Psychopharmacology, Substance-Related Disorders and Integrated Co-Occurring Treatment
HCE 644 Crisis Intervention
HCE 650 Basic Concepts in Couple and Family Counseling
HCE 686 Internship in Counselor Education (6 credits - 600 hours in an in-patient/out-patient agency licensed as a substance abuse treatment facility)

Applicant Qualifications

Applicant must have a bachelor's degree, from a regionally accredited college or university, and have earned a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale) in a baccalaureate degree program; Applicants who do not have a 2.5 overall GPA must enclose a letter asking for special consideration, in which they provide evidence of an ability to complete graduate studies successfully. Without such a letter, applicants who fail to meet eligibility requirements may be automatically denied

Application Deadline

  • November 15 & March 15 (twice yearly deadline) 

The admissions process requires a formal interview. Candidates to be interviewed will be rated on three areas of personal criteria:

  • understanding of and commitment to the counseling field,
  • self-awareness, and
  • thinking skills/decision making ability.

As part of the interview, applicants will be required to provide a brief, spontaneous writing sample.

Applicants are required to provide the following materials: 

  • Application: Online Application
  • Application fee: $65.00 paid through the online application.
  • Transcripts: Official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended, excluding the seven campuses of the University of Maine System (UMS transcripts are accessible to USM). A transcript is official when sent directly from the institution.
    • International College transcripts: In addition to an official copy of the transcript, an official evaluation of college-level transcripts from a NACES (National Association of Credential Evaluation Services) approved transcript analysis agency is required
  • Resume: Submit a resume or CV that outlines professional, volunteer, and community experience.
  • Essay: see below.
  • Three letters of recommendation attesting to the applicant's knowledge of current scholarship, capacity to connect theory and practice in posing and solving educational problems, achievement of excellence in educational practice, and demonstrated capability and motivation to engage in advanced graduate study.
  • Test scores from either GRE or MAT (see below);
  • TOEFL or IELTS: Students whose first language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and submit official scores as part of the application process. See additional information below regarding test scores.

International Applicants

In addition to the standard application materials, international students must also provide the following materials:

  • College transcript evaluation: official course-by-course evaluation of college-level transcripts from a NACES (National Association of Credential Evaluation Services) approved transcript analysis agency
  • Declaration of Finances form accompanied by the appropriate financial documentation
  • International students whose first language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and submit official scores as part of the application process. Only applicants with TOEFL scores of 79 or higher on the internet-based test 550 or higher on the paper-based test, or 213 or higher on the computer-based test; or IELTS scores of 6.5 or higher will be considered for admission to a graduate program.

Applicants whose first language is not English

Students whose first language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and submit official scores as part of the application process. Only applicants with TOEFL scores of 79 or higher on the internet-based test, 550 or higher on the paper-based test, or 213 or higher on the computer-based test; or IELTS scores of 6.5 or higher will be considered for admission to a graduate program.

Where to send transcripts and application materials

Official transcripts and other supporting documents can be sent to:

Application Processing Center
University of Maine System
P.O. Box 412
Bangor, ME 04402-0412

Colleges and universities that participate in electronic submission of transcripts can send official transcripts to edocs@maine.edu. Resumes, essays, and other documents can also be sent to edocs@maine.edu.

For a transcript or recommendation to be considered official, it must be sent by the institution or the person writing the recommendation.

Special Essay Question

In addition to the general requirements of the program, candidates for the counseling master's program should provide a narrative, preferably typed, in the form of a brief autobiography that relates the applicant's experiences that have led to an interest in counseling and application to the counselor education program.

Candidates are also asked to address the following statement: "As counseling professionals, we are constantly seeking areas in ourselves that bear examination and change. As future practitioners, you will be witness to a wide variety of client experiences." Please discuss areas in yourself that may block your ability to empathically listen to client experiences that are different from your own. The entire narrative, including the autobiography and the statement, should be limited to three typewritten, double-spaced pages which will be evaluated in terms of clarity of expression, grammatical construction, and other facets of English composition, as well as the quality of responses.

Testing Requirement

Applicants to the counseling program must take the MAT or GRE. One of the tests must be taken within five years of application. For those taking the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) you must have earned a score of 398 or above. For the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) you must have earned a score of 286 or above combined verbal and quantitative scores (this requirement is waived for applicants already holding a graduate degree).

Applicants who did not score 398 on the MAT, or 286 combined on the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE must enclose a letter asking for special consideration, in which they provide evidence of an ability to complete graduate studies successfully. Without such a letter, applicants who fail to meet eligibility requirements may be automatically denied.

Transfer Credit

A maximum of six credit hours may be approved as transfer credit, provided these credits were earned no more than three years prior to matriculation and grades of B or better were received. Additional transfer credit may be approved by the program chair in exceptional circumstances, including certificates of graduate study program courses. For students who complete the MHRT-C before admission may request up to the 15 credits taken for transfer upon admission to the Rehabilitation Counseling concentration provided they meet approval criteria.

Graduate students in master's level counseling programs at other accredited universities may transfer into the program if they take their final 21 hours, including the internship requirement, in USM's counselor education program.

Professional Licensure and Certification Notice

Students with a criminal record who are pursuing degrees leading to application for professional licensure or certification should contact the appropriate licensure or certification body prior to matriculation to ensure eligibility.