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Master of Arts/Ed. Specialist




Mental Health Counseling is a professional counseling specialty which involves the application of principles of counseling, human development, learning theory, group dynamics, and the assessment of mental illness and dysfunctional behavior. Mental Health Counseling includes the practice of prevention, early intervention, and treatment of mental and emotional disorders for individuals, families, and/or groups and consultation and education for community groups interested in promoting healthy lifestyles in the community.


The School of Psychology and Counseling offers a three-year degree culminating in a Master of Arts and Education Specialist degree (M.A./Ed.S.). Students are required to complete all 60 hours of required coursework before the degrees are conferred. Upon graduation, the student will have satisfied the educational requirements for pursuit of the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential.



The M.A./Ed.S. program in mental health counseling is designed to develop skilled clinicians and well-educated leaders in the field of mental health. Within a caring and challenging environment, the 60-semester-hour Mental Health Counseling program strives to facilitate the acquisition and application of knowledge and skills which will help prepare graduate students to make appropriate contributions to diverse clients, institutions, and society. To do this, using a scientist practitioner model, the program emphasizes integration of theory and practice, critical thinking and decision making, as well as the examination of personal values and experiences as they influence clinical practice. Students have strong theoretical and technical training which is applied in field-based counseling practica and internships.



  1. In accordance with CACREP standards, curricular experiences, and demonstrated knowledge in each of the following areas of mental health counseling will be required: mental health foundations, contextual dimensions, clinical principles, general practice, and specific strategies of mental health counseling.
  2. Graduate students will develop skills appropriate to beginning counselors in each of the areas specified above as required by state and national professional associations and by credentialing bodies.
  3. Graduate students will demonstrate their understanding of the importance of continuing professional development, an underlying code of ethics, legal considerations, and standards of professional conduct in classes and in appropriate agency-based practicum and internship experiences.
  4. Students will be prepared to take the National Counselor Examination and complete all educational requirements for the LPC license.
  5. Students will understand theory and appropriate standards of practice with identified special populations in mental health facilities.
  6. Character and maturity will be nurtured throughout the program as moral, ethical, spiritual, and psychological dimensions of all areas of work are addressed.

Hours: 60 semester hours



The requirements for the role of a mental health counselor are both personal and intellectual. During an admissions interview the faculty will assess the academic background and personal qualities and goals of applicants. Applicants will be admitted who meet the personal and academic requirements of the program. Recognizing the need to accept students who have the greatest likelihood of success in this role, the following standards will be used for admission to the mental health counseling program.


  1. A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education with a minimum 3.00 grade point average.
  2. A minimum of 12 hours of psychology or related areas to include general, abnormal/psychopathology, personality theory, developmental.
  3. Satisfactory test scores on either the Graduate Record Examination or the Miller Analogies Test within the past 5 years.
  4. Three positive letters of academic and/or professional reference.
  5. A successful interview by faculty within the program.
  6. A questionnaire requiring applicants to respond to questions relative to the pursuit of a counseling graduate degree.
  7. Proof of satisfactory criminal background record check for all states of residence for the past five (5) years with a residence verification statement. (See pp. 66-67 under Admission Requirements for the School Counseling
    program for more detailed information.)



A. Professional Component

CEDU 610Counseling Theories 3 hrs.
CEDU 620Methods of Research and Program Evaluation 3 hrs.
CEDU 650Legal, Ethical and Professional Issues in Counseling 3 hrs.
CEDU 665Multicultural Counseling 3 hrs.
CEDU 640 The Counselor as Professional,
Practitioner, and Consultant 3 hrs.
CEDU 635Advanced Psychopathology 3 hrs.
CEDU 605Advanced Human Growth and Development 3 hrs.
CEDU 699Professional Development of the Mental Health Counselor 3 hrs.
(CEDU 699 is the Capstone Experience for the program)


B. Skill Component

CEDU 616Methods of Assessment and Evaluation 3 hrs.
CEDU 615The Helping Relationship 3 hrs.
CEDU 625Group Counseling 3 hrs.
CEDU 655Psychodiagnostics and Treatment Planning 3 hrs.
CEDU 645Career Development: Theory and Practice 3 hrs.
CEDU 621Crisis Intervention Counseling 3 hrs.
CEDU 646*Couples and Family Counseling 3 hrs.
CEDU 630*Individual Psychological Assessment and Measurement 3 hrs.
CEDU 647*Child and Adolescent Counseling 3 hrs.
CEDU 660*Substance Abuse Counseling Seminar 3 hrs.
CEDU 667*Seminar on Contemporary Issues in Counseling 1-3 hrs.
CEDU 692*Internship in Mental Health Counseling 3 hrs.
* Electives: Students choose three courses for a total of nine semester hours credit. Courses listed in BOLD print are core classes.


C. Applied Component

CEDU 670Practicum in Mental Health Counseling 3 hrs.
CEDU 690Internship in Mental Health Counseling 3 hrs.
CEDU 691Internship in Mental Health Counseling 3 hrs.


All courses in both the school and mental health counseling curricula are open to all counseling students who have prerequisites and permission of the professor. All core courses should be completed before any student enters the practicum or internships and may be required for other courses by the professor. Graduate students should talk with their advisors when planning a course of study to be sure that they include courses required to become licensed as professional counselors.



Gardner-Webb offers a combined M.Div./M.A./Ed.S. in Mental Health Counseling. For details about this degree and for the policy on dual degree programs, see the Master of Divinity section of the catalog (pp. 145-150).


Dual degree students must apply to the Graduate School as well as to the School of Divinity, following the admission requirements of the respective programs, and be accepted to each in order to pursue both degrees. Also, when academic policies and standards differ between the two schools (e.g., grades required for maintaining good academic standing and for graduation), the policies and standards of the appropriate school apply to the respective portion of the dual degree.


Click here to view the courses for Master of Arts/Ed. Specialist in Mental Health Counseling.