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Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Master of Science in Education

60 Credits
The School of Education
Queens Campus, Staten Island Campus


The Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program is a 60-credit program leading to a Master of Science in Education degree.  The New York State Department of Education Office of Professions has approved the program as license qualifying and thus it meets the education requirement for Licensed Mental Health Counselor. 


  • To teach mental health counselors to assume leadership and advocacy roles in the profession.
  • To adhere to CACREP standards.
  • To develop caring and competent mental health counselors who can provide efficient mental health services to children, adolescents, adults and families.
  • To teach mental health counselors to have the knowledge, awareness, and skills related to the counseling needs of culturally diverse clients and communities.
  • To educate mental health counselors regarding the etiology, diagnosis, assessment, treatment, and prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders.
  • To train mental health counselors to work collaboratively with treatment teams.
  • To inspire mental health counseling students to engage in on-going professional development.
  • To provide mental health counselors with in-depth knowledge of professional ethics, including an understanding of ethical issues and applications.
  • To encourage mental health counselors to maintain their professional identities by participating in professional organizations (e.g., ACA, AMHCA, etc.), attending conferences, and presenting at conferences.

Department Faculty

Please see a list of our Counselor Education faculty.

Department Contacts

Queens campus
Kelly K. Ronayne
Assistant Dean

Staten Island campus
Lynn Bosco


Admission to the graduate Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program requires:

  • A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university with undergraduate scholastic achievement indicating reasonable assurance of success in work for an advanced degree. Normally this will be a “B” (3.0) in the general average and in the major field.
  • A minimum of 18 credits in the behavioral and social sciences that includes a course in statistics and another in research design.  Students who do not fully meet this requirement will need to make up deficit credits by completing course work in those areas in addition to the usual program requirements;
  • Two letters of recommendation from college instructors or field supervisors.
  • The interest, ability, and personality to function successfully in the field of mental health counseling.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores no longer required.

Please view the School of Education Graduate Admission Application Requirements for detailed admission information. 


Career Outcomes

Mental Health Counseling Resources & Outcomes

Current Students in Mental Health

Supervisors in Mental Health

Stakeholders in Mental Health

The programs will prepare graduates to:

Identify the many aspects of professional functioning and professional identity.

  • Summarize the professional roles, functions and relationships of the counselor with other human service providers.
  • Identify the professional organizations and list the major benefits to members
  • Describe the different credentials, including certification and licensure, and explain the effects of public policy on each.
  • Apply the ethical guidelines of both the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the American Mental Health Counseling Association (AMHCA) to case examples to decide an appropriate course of action.
  • Use research, best practices, and standards of professional organizations (ACA, AMHCA) to strengthen and update professional practice.

Demonstrate knowledge of the cultural context of relationships, issues, and trends in a multicultural and diverse society.

  • Demonstrate knowledge of multicultural and pluralistic trends by identifying and summarizing characteristics and concerns between and within diverse groups nationally and internationally.
  • Compare and contrast the acculturative experiences of five ethnic groups.
  • Compare and contrast several theories of racial identity development.
  • Summarize the major theories of multicultural counseling.
  • Explain the role of the counselor in social justice, advocacy and conflict resolution.

Demonstrate knowledge of the nature and needs of individuals at all developmental levels.

  • Compare and contrast the major elements of each of the various stage theories of development over the life span including the major psychological, cognitive and moral development.
  • Identify the major developmental transitions across the life span and the potential developmental crises associated with each.
  • Give examples of strategies for facilitating optimum development over the life span.

Demonstrate knowledge of career development and related life  factors.

  • Analyze and compare the major theories of occupational choice and vocational development.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the purposes, historical development and unique features of major occupational classification systems.
  • Identify and explain the socio-economic and technical changes that effect occupational trends and the nature of many occupations.
  • Demonstrate vocational counseling techniques such as assessment tools, group methods of exploring occupations,  job placement techniques and technology based career development applications and strategies.
  • Demonstrate the use of career assessments with multicultural populations, including consideration of age and religious practice.
  • Use technology to investigate career interests and options for clients.

Demonstrate counseling and counsultation processes.

  • Identify the counselor and consultant characteristics and behavior that influence helping processes.
  • Summarize the essential interviewing and counseling skills necessary to develop a therapeutic relationship, establish appropriate counseling goals, design intervention strategies, evaluate client outcomes, and successfully terminate the counselor-client relationship.
  • Demonstrate the above skills in audio-taped counseling sessions with clients.
  • Compare and contrast major theories of counseling.
  • Investigate professional research to identify best practice approaches and summarize findings.
  • Outline major ethical issues of doing counseling with a variety of clients.

Demonstrate both theoretical and experiential knowledge of goup purpose, development, dynamics, counseling theories, and group ounseling methods and skills.

  • Describe the principles of group dynamics: group process components, developmental stages, and group members’ roles and behaviors.
  • Compare and contrast group counseling theories.
  • Identify approaches used in task groups, psychoeducational groups, and therapy groups.
  • Discuss the specific ethical and legal considerations involved with groups.

Demonstrate knowledge of individual and group approaches to  assessment and evaluation.

  • Distinguish between standardized and nonstandardized, norm-referenced and criterion referenced instruments and give examples of each.
  • Define basic psychometric concepts like scales of measurement, correlation, reliability, and validity.
  • Develop strategies for selecting and evaluating assessment instruments used in counseling.
  • Administer, score and interpret assessment and evaluation instruments and techniques in counseling.
  • Use general principles and methods of case conceptualization, assessment and/or diagnosis to complete a case study.
  • Identify relevant ethical standards and apply them to hypothetical cases involving assessment issues.
  • Use technology to administer and interpret client assessments.

Demonstrate knowledge of research methods, statistical analysis,  needs assessments, and program evaluation. 

  • Explain the importance of research to advance counseling as a profession.
  • Identify the opportunities and difficulties in conducting research in the counseling profession.
  • Distinguish between the types of problems appropriately addressed by qualitative, quantitative, single-case, action and outcome-based designs.
  • Apply research principles to program evaluation.
  • Discuss the ethical and legal considerations relevant to conducting research in counseling.

Additional Information

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a mental health counselor?
According to New York State regulations (Article 163, Section 8402 of New York State Education Law), a mental health counselor is a professional who evaluates, assesses, treats or works to ameliorate a disability, problem or disorder. They employ verbal or behavioral methods — including assessment instruments, counseling procedures and psychotherapy — to address developmental, emotional, personality or relationship problems experienced by individuals, couples, families or groups.  Mental health counselors may work in private practice, group or organizational settings.

2. Is a license currently required to practice counseling and psychotherapy in New York State?
Yes. Only a person licensed under NYS regulations (or exempt by law) can practice or use the title “licensed mental health counselor.” (NYS Education Law, Article 163, Sec.8402) 

3. What are the educational requirements to become a licensed mental health counselor?
To be licensed as a mental health counselor, according to Section 8402, an applicant must “receive an appropriate education, including a master’s or higher degree in counseling, from a department-registered program or one the department determines to be the substantial equivalent thereof, in accordance with the commissioner’s regulations.”  Graduate coursework shall include, but not be limited to, the following areas:

i. human growth and development
ii. social and cultural foundations of counseling
iii. counseling theory, practice and psychopathology
iv. group dynamics
v. lifestyle and career development
vi. assessment and appraisal of individuals, couples and families and groups
vii. research and program evaluation
viii. professional orientation and ethics
ix. foundations of mental health counseling and consultation
x. clinical instruction; and
xi. completion of a minimum one year supervised internship or practicum
in mental health counseling

4. Are there any other requirements that one should know about?
Yes, beyond the education necessary for licensure, an individual still needs to complete other requirements, including

(a) being 21 years of age,
(b) being of good moral character as determined by the State Education Department,
(c) completing 3000 hours of post-master’s supervised experience,
(d) passing an examination satisfactory to the Board of Regents in accordance with the commissioner’s regulations, and
(e) pay a fee of $175 for an initial license and a fee of $170 for each following triennial registration period. (Additional provisions guiding professionals licensed under Article 163 can be found in the NYS regulations.)

5. How can the master’s degree program at St. John’s University help you towards becoming a mental health counselor?
The 60-credit master’s degree in mental health counseling is registered with New York State as a licensed-qualifying program.  This means that students who finish the program will have completed the educational requirements for licensure but will still have to complete the other requirements outlined above. Note: you cannot take the examination until you have completed the supervised experience requirement and you cannot complete the supervised experience requirement until you have completed the education requirement.

6. What are the requirements for entering the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at St. John’s University?
Applicants to the Counseling program at St. John’s University must be graduates of an accredited college with a grade point average of 3.0 or better. Two letters of
recommendation are required as well as a successful interview with the counseling faculty. Students are required to have a minimum of 18 credits in the behaviorial and social sciences that include courses in research and statistics. Students can complete any deficiences during the first year in their program.

7. Where and when are courses offered and at what cost?
The master’s degree program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is available on both the Queens and Staten Island campuses of St. John’s University. Classes are generally held in the evening. Financial aid and scholarships are available. View the tuition rates.

8. How do I apply?

Queens campus
Kelly K. Ronayne
Assistant Dean

Staten Island campus
Lynn Bosco

Apply Online

9. Is there a comprehensive examination required to complete the master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling?
Students are required to successfully complete the CPCE exam prior to graduation.

10. What field experiences are required for the degree?
As a CACREP accredited program, there are three field experiences that students must complete. The first is a practicum which requires students to work in a clinical setting for 100 hours. The last two are internships that require students to work in a clinical setting for 300 hours each semester for a total of 600 hours. 

11. How long will it take to complete the program?
Students are expected to complete the program in three years. There is a five-year limit set by the University.

12. Can one work in the field upon graduation from the master’s degree program at St. John’s University?
As graduates of a licensed-qualifying program students can work to obtain the necessary 3000 hours of experience under a credential called a limited permit. According to Section 8409, the State Education Department can issue a limited permit to applicants who meet all qualifications for licensure except the examination and/or experience requirements, in accordance with specific regulations. Limited permits last for two years; they may be renewed, at the department’s discretion, for one additional year. The fee for each limited permit and for each renewal shall be seventy dollars ($70).

13. How does one qualify for a limited permit to practice under supervision?
The Education Department may issue a limited permit to an applicant who:

  • has submitted the application (Form 1) and fee ($345) for licensure
  • has been determined by the department to meet the education requirements for licensure
  • is at least 21 years of age
  • and is of good moral character, as determined by the department

14. What is the occupational outlook for licensed mental health counselors?
The occupational outlook for licensed mental health counselors is excellent. Projections suggest a 19 – 27 percent increase in job opportunities between 2004 and 2014. This projection does not include private practice figures. Salaries in 2006 ranged between $20,000 and $60,000.

15. Where can I get more information about clincal mental health counseling?

NOTE: Even if you have graduated from an approved education program, you cannot practice until the limited permit has been issued.

Program News

In August, 2013, James S. Bethea, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Counselor Education, was awarded a $960,000 Pathways to Excellence, Achievement, and Knowledge grant (PEAK) sponsored by...