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Prepare for a career as a licensed mental health counselor with hands-on field experiences.

Program Type


Semester Start


Study Options

Online, Hybrid

Minimum Duration

2 Years

UMass Boston’s Mental Health Counseling MS focuses on a challenging and rewarding academic program to prepare you for a career as a mental health counselor. It’s designed for people interested in pursuing an advanced degree and state licensure to work in mental health counseling. The program begins with a two-week in-person study at or near the UMass Boston campus where you’ll get to know your cohort and complete two courses (6 credits) of your degree. Throughout the program, you’ll get hands-on experience as you complete some of your required clinical fieldwork hours through an approved field placement under appropriate supervision. At the end of the program, you’ll meet the academic requirements for state licensure in mental health counseling in the state of Massachusetts and will have completed all of the pre-graduation clinical fieldwork hours required for licensure.

UMass Boston's 60-credit hour MPCAC-accredited Mental Health Counseling online master's program meets the educational requirements for licensure as a Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Our students intern in diverse settings and leave with substantial skills and knowledge around mental health, counseling, and advocacy, ready for counseling positions that will prepare them to obtain licensure. At the end of the program, you will meet the educational requirements necessary for licensure in Massachusetts, provided you complete internship in Massachusetts. Please check with an admissions counselor at to determine if our program meets educational requirements for practice in your state.

Students also have the option of adding an adjustment counseling concentration to their plan of study, which requires one additional course, as well as additional internship hours. The adjustment counseling concentration allows students to be eligible for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education K-12 initial level licensure as a school adjustment counselor.

The University of Massachusetts Boston is regionally accredited through NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges). To ensure superior quality, the online program is modeled after the on-campus program, offering many of the same instructors teaching the courses.

UMass Boston's Mental Health Counseling MS program was recently ranked #6 in Guide to Online School's 2020 Best Online Master's in Counseling list.

Ranked as one of the Best Online Graduate Education Programs by U.S. News & World Report.


  • This program consists of sixteen 3-credit courses and two 6-credit courses, or 60 credits.
  • The Adjustment Counseling concentration consists of one additional 3-credit course, or 3 additional credits.
  • Visit for cost information. Note that online courses are typically billed at the CAPS course fee rate. Contact the program representative with any further questions.


  • Priority application deadline is January 2.
  • Final application deadline is April 1.

Application Checklist

  • To apply to the program, students must submit:
    • A completed application and application fee.
    • Two letters of recommendation where at least one letter should be from a person who knows your academic work. We strongly recommend getting letters from professors whenever possible but we will accept a letter of recommendation from a supervisor if you have been out of a school for some time.
    • A statement of purpose detailing your goals, professional experience, and reasons for applying to the program. Your essay should consist of your reasons for wishing to pursue graduate study in 300 words (part 1). Then, indicate your specific interests and discuss the kind of work you would like to do in your intended field in no more than 1200 words (part 2).
    • Official undergraduate and graduate official transcripts from all universities you attended. All transcripts must be official and sealed.
    • Please include an updated résumé.
    • Optional: writing sample
    • All application materials can be submitted online or mailed to UMass Boston’s Office of Graduate Admissions at:
      • Databank - UMass Boston Graduate Admissions
        PO Box 6195 Bustleton Avenue
        Philadelphia, PA 19115
  • Counseling Theory and Practice I (COUNSL 614)
    Gain an understanding of commonalities of counseling techniques and practice in the use of various techniques. Learn the essentials of interviewing, note taking, and report writing, as well as the role of diagnosis. Tapes and role playing are required.
  • Group Counseling and Group Dynamics (COUNSL 616)
    Get an introduction to group dynamics using the group process of the class to provide experience of group membership and data for interpretation. Participate as a group member and use readings and lectures to build a cognitive base for evaluating experiential learning.
  • Ethical Standards and Professional Issues in Counseling (COUNSL 606)
    Learn about counselors-in-training and your contribution in the therapeutic process and helping relationship. Explore foundations for an ethical perspective; models for ethical decision making; ethical codes of professional organizations; client rights and counselor responsibilities; ethical concerns in multicultural counseling and with special client populations; and ethical issues in specific modalities, e.g., group, marriage, and family counseling.
  • Research and Evaluation in Psychology (COUNSL 601)
    Explore several research models and strategies with respect to their various rationales and methodologies. You’ll learn relevant statistical topics as they are introduced conceptually, and especially as they are applied in research about specific academic settings.
  • Principles of Vocational, Educational, and Psychological Assessment (COUNSL 605)
    The course provides you with a survey of standardized tests used in assessing aptitudes, interests, and personality traits. You’ll learn technical and methodological principles and social, ethical, and legal implications of psychological testing and assessment.
  • Psychopathology and Diagnosis (COUNSL 608)
    Explore information relevant to the diagnosis, etiology, and treatment of mental illness. You’ll learn about psychopharmacological interventions are addressed, epistemological assumptions that ground traditional theories of psychopathology and diagnostic systems such as the DSM, and avoiding bias in psychiatric diagnosis is a major focus of the course. Throughout the course, you’ll study the following DSM categories: mood disorders, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders including schizophrenias, disorders usually first evident in childhood, and personality disorders.
  • Sociocultural Considerations in Counseling (COUNSL 653)
    Study the role of culture in counseling and psychology by looking both at history and current issues. You’ll use an interdisciplinary framework to approach the question of counseling in a multicultural society. This course seeks to contribute to both the personal and the professional development of its participants.
  • Counseling Theory and Practice II (COUNSL 615)
    This course is an extension of Counseling Theory and Practice I. Study major theoretical approaches, including dynamic, humanistic, behavioral. You’ll explore some non-traditional approaches and the use of tape recordings, films, written records of interviews, and role playing.
  • Child and Adolescent Counseling (COUNSL 617)
    Focus on facilitating the unique development and emotional growth of children through the counseling process. Enhance your theoretical and practical understanding of the major schools of child psychotherapy with an emphasis on a multidimensional view of intervention, with attention to developmental, cognitive, behavioral, educational, multicultural, and environmental issues. Through lectures, videotapes, and structured exercises, you’ll learn a distinct group of interventions, including play and communication skills, as integral components of the therapeutic process.
  • Life Span Human Development (COUNSL 620)
    Get a comprehensive view of lifespan development from childhood through adulthood from several perspectives: 1) the interaction of age with such factors as gender, cultural background, disabilities, and other significant issues encountered at particular stages of life; 2) how individuals at specific stages of cognitive development process information and experience; and 3) a structural approach to ego development.
  • Vocational Development and Career Information (COUNSL 613)
    The vocational development component of the course concentrates on the theories of Roe, Holland, Ginzberg, Super, and Tiedeman. The career information component, a major emphasis, directs you to locate and use sources of educational-vocational information, including, but not be limited to, the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the Guide to Occupational Exploration, information on local labor markets and on military careers, occupation-education information, college and vocational school guides, and catalogues.
  • Trauma and Crisis Counseling (COUNSL 665)
    Study the psychology of trauma in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, caused by child abuse and neglect, disasters, and complex environmental cultural and socio-political factors. Learn different approaches to counseling clients who have experienced trauma, as well as those in the middle of a crisis.
  • Counseling Families and Couples: Theories and Practice (COUNSL 667)
    Review the application of systems thinking, the relevance of context and process, communication, change, and circular causality, to advance an understanding of couples, families, and organizations as living systems. You’ll address the purposive family therapy models, transgenerational, interactional, Milan systemic, brief strategic, and solution-focused models. You’ll also explore original family and couples therapy applications — ecomaps, genograms, circular questions — to acquire a grounded understanding of systems thinking. The course also introduces you to work with individuals around family issues and work with couples.  
  • Psychopharmacology for Counselors (COUNSL 674)
    Examine psychopharmacology for counselors from a social justice perspective. Get an overview of the medications used for treating mental disorders and learn the basic principles of pharmacology and the interrelationships between pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics with an emphasis on practical and clinical application. You’ll explore the nature of alcohol and narcotics and the ways they affect addicts in mind and body before, during, and after treatment, as well as psychopharmacological treatment for addictions; informed consent; how to find accurate and balanced information about the efficacy and side effects of psychotropic medications; how to educate clients about the medications they are taking; and how to collaborate with prescribing providers and other mental health professionals. You’ll become conversant with regulatory standards for the approval of new medications. Social justice and bioethical issues figure predominately in this course with reference to for-profit IRB's; recruitment of marginalized groups, such as undocumented immigrants, the homeless, and people living in poverty, and discrepancies in prescription practices. 
  • Advance Practice (COUNSL 695)
  • Sex and Sexuality in Counseling (COUNSL 666)
    Counselors are often unprepared for the kinds of issues that children and adults bring to therapy that focus on sex, sexual identify, and sexual experiences. In this course, you’ll explore various approaches to understanding sex and sexuality in the counseling hour. You’ll discuss and analyze historical approaches to issues of sexual function, dysfunction, intimacy, and sexual identity in individuals, couples, and families (and to some extent societies). The courses focuses on healthy sexuality but also integrates theory and practice around victimization and sex offending. You’ll examine your own sexual history and understand your own values, biases and assumptions regarding sexuality and sexual functioning, and the potential impact of these issues on their ability to become effective, compassionate therapists.
  • Substance Abuse in Counseling Practice (COUNSL 670)
    Explore broader problems caused by substance abuse in modern society, by both presenting and analyzing data. You’ll study the physiological consequences of substance abuse and considerate the family of the substance abuser, various treatment modalities, and the relationship between the criminal justice system and substance abuse rehabilitation.
  • Advance Practice (COUNSL 699)

Additional adjustment counseling courses:

  • Principles and Practices of School Adjustment Counseling (COUNSL 631)
    Focus on the principles and practices of school adjustment counseling, addressing the history and philosophy of school adjustment counseling, professional identity and roles of the school adjustment counselor, professional ethics, organizational structures of school, knowledge of the juvenile justice systems, crisis intervention services, prevention, federal and state laws and regulations, medical conditions and learning disabilities, consultation in the schools, substance abuse counseling, and an understanding of how diversity influences the practice of school adjustment. Particular attention will be paid to interpreting concepts and knowledge for the practice of school adjustment counseling in an urban setting.

At the end of this two-year program, you’ll be awarded a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling. The degree will demonstrate your expertise in the field on your résumé, as well as in interviews and workplace evaluations. At the end of the program, you will be prepared to finish the required clinical fieldwork hours to earn your licensure* to work as a mental health counselor. Students with a concentration in adjustment counseling will be eligible for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education K-12 initial level licensure as a school adjustment counselor.

*For licensure requirements in other states, we recommend checking the state’s Board of Registration and Licensure website to make sure that you are eligible for licensure in your respective state. Our graduates have been largely successful in obtaining licensure from their local boards; however, they often have to go through an administrative process to do so. To be absolutely certain, we strongly recommend that you check with your local board as such regulation is subject to change.

Why UMass Boston Online?


Among the lowest online tuition rates of an accredited, public research university.


Study full-time to finish fast, or part-time to suit your schedule. Live sessions scheduled with the working professional in mind.


The same courses taught by the same academic departments as on campus. No third-party providers.

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Mental Health Counseling MS

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Get the inside scoop on the Mental Health MS experience, career outcomes, events, and more.