Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling

students collaborating in class

Graduate Degree
School of Arts and Sciences
Three-Year Program


The Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling program provides an important theoretical framework and hands-on professional training for students interested in becoming clinical mental health counselors. With a strong base of ethical behavior, counseling theories, professional counseling identity, treatment planning, counseling research, assessment, and professional development, students graduate with a capacity for critical thinking and counseling effectiveness that can be translated into practice with individuals, families, and groups from diverse backgrounds. Clinical internships and practicum sites provide opportunities for students to receive supervised training, while cultivating relationships with licensed clinical mental health counselors and other mental health professionals.

Who It's For

The Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling is designed for students who are interested in becoming clinical mental health counselors. MSMHC courses and clinical training help students develop the skills necessary for licensure as a clinical mental health counselor and employment in hospitals, agencies, and private practice settings.
Entering students must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, or a recognized international college or university.

Key Benefits

  • MSMHC faculty are licensed mental health professionals who are actively engaged in the practice of counseling.
  • Each core faculty member has around 20 years of professional counseling experience. You’ll also learn from adjunct faculty—who are licensed professionals currently in practice—who typically teach elective courses.
  • Faculty work closely with their students to provide training, supervision, instruction, and feedback.
  • The broadly based curriculum is based on nationally recognized training standards and delves into many counseling theories, including cognitive behavioral, psychodynamic, humanistic, and multicultural counseling.
  • An entering cohort of 14 students each year provides the opportunity for close, supportive peer relationships and one-on-one mentoring from faculty.Carefully selected clinical internship placements and practicum sites give you valuable hands-on training and help you build a professional network in the mental health field. Connections with the Utah Mental Health Counselors Association and International Psychotherapy Institute allow you to draw from the clinical expertise of professionals from around the world.

CACREP Accreditation

CACREP Accredited Program

The Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling (MSMHC) program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). This is a prestigious accreditation for counseling programs that is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Westminster's MSMHC program is the only CACREP-accredited clinical mental health counseling program in the state of Utah that is admitting new students. There are a variety of reasons to attend a CACREP-accredited counseling program, including:

  • A guarantee that you are being taught a nationally agreed upon counseling curriculum
  • Curriculum aligns with state licensure exams
  • An advantage when applying to doctoral degree programs
  • A streamlined state licensing application process
  • Increased likelihood of being accepted on some insurance provider panels
  • The ability to meet an eligibility requirement for becoming a National Certified Counselor—the premier counselor credential—and to work as a counselor for the Veterans Administration
  • Enhances/improves the "portability" of your license to other states
  • The ability to meet an eligibility requirement for becoming a National Certified Counselor—the premier counselor credential

Beginning in 2024, the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) will require that all applicants must earn their degree from a CACREP-approved program. While the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential is not required for state licensure, many counselors seek it because it is considered the premier counseling certification. This policy change will be relevant for incoming students beginning in 2019.

Learn more about CACREP and the importance of applying to a CACREP-accredited program.

How Long It Takes

This three-year program requires 60 hours of graduate work on a full-time basis during the academic year. Classes typically run Monday–Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.


“The Westminster program gave me a far greater clinical-knowledge base than comparative programs. We learned to really relate and engage in a therapeutic relationship. As I have interacted with other programs, I have seen the difference that makes in providing counseling, decision making, treatment planning, and conceptualizing a client. I am able to engage with a client in ways that other programs don't even teach.”

Dave Wilde (’10), correctional program administrator
MSMHC Students Outside
Two MSMHC Students Talking

About the Program

The MSMHC program—accredited under CACREP—offers a broad curriculum that meets or exceeds national standards as well as Utah licensure requirements for clinical mental health counselors, and balances professional knowledge with practical experience and skill development. Based on a scientist-practitioner model, the program helps students understand the relationships between counseling theory, research, and practice as they relate to effective mental health counseling.

What You'll Learn

  • Articulate the fundamental knowledge of research, theory, and practice in the field of counseling in areas including professional counseling orientation and ethical practice, social and cultural diversity, human growth and development, career development, counseling and helping relationships, group counseling, assessment and testing, and research and program evaluation.
  • Assess clients and apply appropriate intervention strategies to help clients resolve their problems of living.
  • Establish your professional identity as a clinical mental health counselor.
  • Engage in critical thinking and demonstrate a heightened self-awareness.
  • Practice counseling with an acute sensitivity to issues of diversity.
  • Seek ongoing professional consultation with colleagues and supervisors to foster the development of a professional network.

Plan of Study

Throughout the program, you’ll study a broad range of content areas in counseling, taking classes including Counseling Ethics, Individual Counseling, Statistics and Research Methods, Human Growth and Development, Substance Abuse Counseling, and Group Counseling. To complete your degree, you’ll participate in clinical training where you’ll receive supervised training from licensed mental health professionals and expand your applied counseling knowledge and skills.

Sample Courses

Multicultural Counseling

An appreciation and understanding of diverse cultures and systems is critical to all mental health counseling fields. This course explores the complexities of culture and its influence on the client/counselor relationship. You’ll develop cultural sensitivity, learn culturally responsive intervention strategies, and increase your awareness of how cultural backgrounds, experiences, belief systems, attitudes, values, and biases influence the counseling process.

Human Sexuality and Counseling

This course examines the role of sexuality in human life, including the influences of cultural, familial, psychological, biological, and spiritual factors. We’ll explore the dynamic complexities of sexuality through a variety of mediums from text and film, to dialogue and experiential exercises.

Psychopathology and the DSM

In this course, we’ll provide an overview of adult psychopathology, including major psychological disorders, associated symptom clusters, etiological factors, accepted treatments, and relevant research findings. We will also examine the empirical challenges to diagnostic accuracy and the social and cultural factors that affect diagnosis and counseling.

Want to learn more about the Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling program?

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Career Opportunities

Our curriculum prepares students for clinical practice and licensure as a clinical mental health counselor. Students will graduate with a solid understanding of a broad range of theoretical perspectives, research knowledge, and clinical skills they need to provide counseling to diverse treatment populations.

Upon completing your degree, you will be qualified to pursue a career as a clinical mental health counselor, clinical director, administrator, or owner of a private practice, mental health clinic/agency, intensive outpatient treatment/day treatment program, residential program, college counseling center, or hospital.

Student Success

2017 Program Completion Rates

15 students enrolled in fall 2014. By May 2017, 9 graduated with a MS in Mental Health Counseling (60%), 2 graduated with a MS in Applied Psychology (13%), 2 delayed graduation one year (13%), and 2 withdrew from the program during the first year.

2017 Employment Rates

By May 2017, 7 graduates had part- or full-time work in the counseling profession (78%), 1 graduate enrolled in a full-time PhD Program (11%), and 1 graduate deferred employment until fall 2017 (11%).

2017 Pass Rates on the NCMHCE (Utah Licensure Exam)

The 2014 graduates were eligible for licensure sometime during 2016, assuming they worked full time during the 2 years post-graduation.

In the 2017 survey completed by alumni, 7 graduates took the exam. Of those, 7 passed the first attempt (71%), 1 passed the second attempt (14%), and 1 passed the third attempt (14%).

2018 Program Completion Rates

11 students enrolled in fall 2015. By May 2018, 9 graduated with a MS in Mental Health Counseling (82%) and 2 delayed graduation one year (18%).

2018 Employment Rates

By May 2018, 100% of graduates were employed in a part- or full-time job within the counseling profession. Many were hired by their internship sites and received multiple offers.

2018 Pass Rates on the Counseling Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE)

A passing grade on the CPCE is required for graduation. If students do not pass the exam, the faculty require them to complete remedial work before graduating. In 2018, every third-year student passed the CPCE.

2018 Pass Rates on the NCMHCE (Utah Licensure Exam)

The 2015 graduates were eligible for licensure sometime during 2017, assuming that they worked full time during the 2 years post-graduation.

In the 2018 survey completed by alumni, 10 of the 2015 graduates passed the exam (91%), 5 passed the first attempt (50%), 5 passed the second attempt (50%), and 1 did not take the exam.

2012–2018 Alumni Data (N=46)

  • 94% of alumni are working in a job related to counseling.
  • 98% of alumni are licensed as clinical mental health counselors or associate clinical mental health counselors (or the equivalent in another state).
  • Of those who took the National Counselor Exam, 78% passed (74% on the first attempt). Of those who took the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination, 73% passed (54% on the first attempt). Those who did not pass were preparing to retake the test.
  • Alumni work in a variety of settings. The majority work in outpatient/private practice (58%), while others work in day treatment programs (23%), residential treatment programs (20%), hospitals (11%), and college counseling centers (4%).
  • Alumni provide a variety of clinical services. Specifically, 100% provide individual counseling, 76% provide group counseling, 72% provide family counseling, 74% conduct assessments, 51% provide couples counseling, and 16% do administrative work.
  • Alumni work with a variety of clinical populations. In terms of developmental stages, 100% work with adults, 69% work with adolescents, 41% work with children, and 25% work with the elderly. 
  • Alumni are members of professional counseling associations. Specifically, 65% are members of the American Counseling Association, 37% are members of the Utah Mental Health Counselors Association, and 32% are members of the American Mental Health Counselors Association.

Learn more from the 2017-2018 MSMHC Annual Report and Program Evaluation.


“I loved everything about my time in the MSMHC program: the small, collaborative cohort; professors who were highly educated and professional; thorough and intensive studies; and exposure to incredible clinical internships in the community. I graduated with a strong foundation that helped me feel confident and prepared to enter the counseling field.”

Aarika Maisak (’11), clinical director at Alpine Academy
MSMHC Student Studying Outside

Learn More About the Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling Program

Check Out the Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling Department

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Tuition and Fees

60 credits at $780/credit

$46,800 total tuition


Merit scholarships, alumni scholarships, and loans are available.

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