Counseling Program

Specializations in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling

The Master of Arts in Counseling program is a non-thesis program that prepares individuals to provide a variety of professional counseling services to diverse client populations in a wide range of work settings. The mission of the program is to prepare exemplary counselors who are committed to ethical practice in diverse global contexts. The program has a strong focus on leadership and advocacy in relationship to human development issues and the provision of quality services and programs for all people. The Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) specialization emphasizes evidence-based practice as the foundation for delivering culturally responsive interventions for clients in a variety of clinical mental health settings. The School Counseling (SC) specialization emphasizes leadership, program planning and evaluation, applied research and evidence-based interventions. 

The School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling specializations are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

The Counseling Program utilizes benchmark assessments to determine whether candidates meet the standards required to enter the program, continue in the program and complete the program. A Clinical Instruction Benchmark Assessment (CIBA) is utilized to provide students (also referred to as candidates) with personal and professional development feedback, to assess progress in the program and to determine the student’s readiness for the transition to the practicum and fieldwork/internship portions of clinical instruction. The CIBA is completed prior to approval to register for the Counseling Practicum.

The Counseling Program has a chapter of Chi Sigma Iota — the International Academic and Professional Honor Society for counseling — which students are eligible to join after completing at least nine units of graduate courses with a minimum of a 3.5 GPA.

School districts, community colleges and universities, career centers, community agencies, government and business organizations and private and public clinical settings in San Diego, all over the country and around the world, employ graduates of the Counseling Program. In addition, many of our graduates have gone on to doctoral programs in counseling psychology, counselor education, educational leadership, educational psychology and related fields.

The Clinical Mental Health specialization requires 60 units. Upon graduation students are eligible to become Associate Professional Clinical Counselor (APCC as defined by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences). In California, Associate Professional Clinical Counselors are required to complete 3000 post-graduate supervised practice hours and pass the licensing exam to become Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC). The program meets licensure eligibility requirements in most other states as well but students are encouraged to check specific requirements for licensure in the state in which they intend to become licensed.

The School Counseling specialization offers two concentrations: (1) a 48 unit program where students earn a PPS credential upon graduation; and (2) a 60 unit program where students earn the PPS credential and take additional coursework to be eligible for licensure as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. Students who opt to pursue the 60-unit PPS credential with LPCC eligibility should have an interest in working with children and adolescents, providing School Based Mental Health Services.

Additional Admission Requirements

See the Admission page for basic admission requirements.
See the Credential page for credential requirements.

Entance Semesters Fall
Application Deadlines Visit
Minimum Grade Point Average 3.0 (4.0 scale) in all undergraduate coursework
Standardized Admission Test Not required.
Additional Requirements Resume
Statement of Purpose
Two letters of recommendation
Interview The most qualified applicants to the counseling program will be invited to USD for a group interview. Applicants who are unavailable for this interview will be contacted by a faculty member for a phone interview.