Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology – Everything You Need to Know


Counseling Psychologist is a mental health professional who helps individuals overcome emotional, behavioral, and interpersonal challenges through counseling and psychotherapy.

A Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology is a graduate-level program that typically takes 2 years to complete and is an important stepping stone on the path to becoming a licensed clinical psychologist but it also opens the doors to a wealth of counseling roles.

The program is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to work in counseling as well as preparing them for further education at the doctoral level.

A Master’s degree program in Counseling Psychology typically covers; counseling theories and techniques, human development, abnormal psychology, group counseling, assessment and diagnosis: and professional ethics and standards.

I can’t imagine a more rewarding career than being a counseling psychologist. It’s a chance to help people navigate some of the toughest challenges of their lives, and to be there for them in moments of crisis and vulnerability. It requires patience, empathy, and a deep commitment to helping others, but the rewards are immeasurable. Every day brings new challenges and new opportunities to make a positive difference in someone’s life.
Dr. Nadine Kaslow, Professor and Vice Chair of Emory Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Why get a Master’s in Counseling Psychology?

A Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology can provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to pursue a fulfilling career in the mental health field, while also acting as a stepping stone on the path to becoming a licensed psychologist.

Career opportunities

A Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology can prepare students for a variety of careers in the mental health field, such as licensed professional counselors, school counselors, and marriage and family therapists.

Specialization & Clinical experience

Students can often choose to specialize in a particular area of counseling psychology, such as substance abuse counseling or trauma-informed counseling. This combined with the valuable hands-on experience on offer with many programs can ensure excellent career prospects and really set you apart from other job seekers for specialist roles.


Many students will study for their Master’s degree around employment. A Master’s in Counseling is no different with many programs offering part-time or evening classes.

What’s covered in a Master’s in Counseling Psychology?

Graduate school is demanding, but studying to become a counselor can be incredibly rewarding. You will be exposed to a wealth of information about human behavior and relationships that can be helpful in both your personal and professional life. You will also be challenged to reflect on your own values, biases, and assumptions, which can be a difficult but important process in becoming an effective therapist. While there will be times when you feel overwhelmed or uncertain, the support and guidance of your professors and peers can help you navigate these challenges and grow both personally and professionally.
Dr. Ryan Howes, a licensed psychologist
  1. Counseling theories and techniques: learn about the major theories of counseling and psychotherapy, and are trained in a range of counseling techniques, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and humanistic therapy.
  2. Human development: learn about the physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development of individuals across the lifespan, and how this development impacts mental health.
  3. Abnormal psychology: learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of various mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and personality disorders.
  4. Group counseling: learn how to facilitate group therapy sessions and develop the skills needed to manage group dynamics and help group members achieve their goals.
  5. Assessment and diagnosis: learn about the various psychological tests and measures used in counseling psychology, and how to use them to assess and diagnose mental health disorders.
  6. Ethics and professional issues: learn about the ethical and legal standards that govern the practice of counseling psychology, as well as issues related to diversity, inclusion, and social justice.

In addition to classroom instruction, Master’s degree programs in Counseling Psychology typically include a supervised practicum or internship component, in which students gain hands-on experience working with clients under the supervision of licensed professionals.

Here is a sample curriculum for a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology:


First Year

  • Counseling Theories and Techniques
  • Human Development Across the Lifespan
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Group Counseling and Dynamics
  • Professional Ethics and Standards
  • Practicum in Counseling Psychology

Second Year

  • Assessment and Diagnosis in Counseling Psychology
  • Multicultural Counseling
  • Family and Couples Counseling
  • Substance Abuse Counseling
  • Elective Course (e.g., Trauma-Informed Counseling, Child and Adolescent Counseling, Career Counseling)
  • Advanced Practicum in Counseling Psychology

Entry requirements for a Counseling Psychology Master’s program

  1. A Bachelor’s degree: While a degree in psychology or a related field is often preferred, it is not always required.
  2. Minimum GPA: Many programs require a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  3. Letters of recommendation: Most programs require letters of recommendation from professors, employers, or other individuals who can speak to academic abilities, work experience, or personal characteristics.
  4. Personal statement: Applicants are typically required to submit a personal statement that outlines their career goals, academic background, and reasons for pursuing a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology.
  5. Experience: While not always required, some programs may prefer or require applicants to have prior experience in counseling or related fields.
  6. Interview: Some programs may require an interview as part of the admissions process.

How much does a Master’s in Counseling Psychology cost?

The American Psychological Association Graduate Study in Psychology report states that the average cost of a master’s program in counseling psychology is $24,129 per year for public institutions and $34,179 per year for private institutions.

These figures do not include other costs associated with attending a master’s program, such as fees, books, and living expenses.

What to look for in a Counseling Psychology Master’s program

The Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs lists over 900 accredited masters and doctorate degree programs for counseling so it can be overwhelming choosing the right one for you.

Here are some key considerations to help you compare:

  1. Program location: the location of a program is important from a financial perspective considering the cost of living varies considerably across the country. This should however be balanced with proximity to potential job opportunities, internships, and other resources.
  2. Program focus: Some master’s programs in counseling psychology may focus on specific areas of the field, such as marriage and family therapy, substance abuse counseling, or school counseling. Students should consider their career goals and interests when choosing a program.
  3. Clinical experience: Many master’s programs in counseling psychology require students to complete a practicum or internship component. Students should consider the types of clinical experiences offered at each program, the quality of supervision provided, and the potential for networking and job opportunities.

What jobs can you do with a Counseling Psychology Master’s?

You will not be able to practice as a counseling psychologist without a doctorate degree in counseling psychology however there are still a number of mental health roles and career paths available to you:

  1. Licensed professional counselor (LPC): With a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and proper licensure, individuals can work as licensed professional counselors in a variety of settings, such as private practice, community mental health centers, and hospitals.
  2. School counselor: School counselors work in elementary, middle, or high schools, and provide support to students in areas such as academic achievement, social and emotional development, and career planning.
  3. Licensed Marriage and family therapist (LMFT): With specialized training, individuals with a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology can work as marriage and family therapists, providing counseling services to couples and families.
  4. Addiction counselor: work with individuals struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, and provide support and treatment to help them overcome their substance use disorder.
  5. Licensed mental health counselor (LMHC): Mental health counselors work with individuals struggling with a range of mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and trauma, and provide counseling and support to help clients manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

How much can you earn with a Counseling Psychology Master’s?

According to the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), individuals with a Master’s degree in Psychology have the potential to earn higher salaries than those with only a Bachelor’s degree. The BLS reports that the median annual wage for individuals with a Master’s degree in Psychology was $68,790, while the median annual wage for those with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology was $50,470.

See below for average annual salaries for the jobs you can do with a Master’s in counseling.

  1. Licensed professional counselor: $49,610 per year
  2. School counselor: $58,120 per year
  3. Marriage and family therapist: $51,340 per year
  4. Substance abuse counselor: $47,660 per year
  5. Mental health counselor: $47,660 per year
  6. Crisis counselor: $50,620 per year