This article talks about the Master of Science (M.S.) degree program in Mental Health Counseling and its education requirements, coursework, career options, job and wage outlook, and continuing education options.
Master of Science Degree Program in Mental Health Counseling
Students enrolled in the MS degree program in Mental Health Counseling are prepared to work with families, individuals, and groups by providing intervention and treatment for mental and emotional disorders. The opportunity of specializing in a particular client population or counseling area is available in some programs. Students take about two years to complete the program. Graduates qualify to apply for counseling licensure. A teaching certificate may also be necessary for those aspiring to become mental health counselors.
Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a related baccalaureate degree, along with submitting a transcript of previous post-secondary education, a resume, and a statement of purpose and meeting a grade point average standard.
Program coursework may cover counseling theory, ethics, diagnostic strategies, career development, and group counseling. A specialty area, such as youth or families, may be the focus of students’ studies. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:
•Diagnostic measuring tools
•Group and individual counseling
Program graduates can seek careers in family service centers, mental health clinics, schools, prisons, and courts. They may choose from possible career options such as:
•Substance abuse counselor
•Mental health counselor
•Vocational rehabilitation counselor
Job and Wage Outlook
Over the 2016-2026 decade, mental health counselors are expected to see a faster-than-average job growth of 20% (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
In May 2016, mental health counselors brought in an average annual wage of $42,150. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors are predicted to enjoy a 20% job growth as well. In May 2016, these counselors brought in an average annual wage of $42,150.
Continuing Education Options
Program graduates who seek continuing education may enroll in a doctorate program. Nearly every state makes it compulsory for mental health counselors to hold a master’s degree and pursue continuing education to maintain licensing. Master’s degree program graduates can also pursue advanced graduate certificate programs in various subject areas. Counselors can also seek voluntary certification offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors and other credentialing agencies.