Apr 23, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Clinical Mental Health Counseling, M.S.

Alar Lipping, Ph.D., Interim School of Kinesiology, Counseling, and Rehabilitative Sciences Director

Christopher Lawrence, Ph.D., Graduate Program Director


The Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, a CACREP-accredited program, prepares students to be eligible for licensure as clinical mental health counselors. Specifically, this program prepares individuals to provide counseling services to children, adolescents, and adults in private practice, hospitals, community and government agencies, and other mental health settings. Graduates are equipped to help individuals navigate normal life challenges, as well as those struggling with more severe interpersonal and mental health difficulties.

Contact Information

School of Kinesiology, Counseling, and Rehabilitative Sciences Graduate Office - MEP 203, counselored@nku.edu, 859-572-7892

The Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is administered by the School of Kinesiology, Counseling, and Rehabilitative Sciences, located in the Mathematics-Education-Psychology Center (MEP), Suite 203. 

Admission Requirements

Individuals applying must meet all requirements for admission to graduate study at Northern Kentucky University as defined by the Graduate Catalog at the time of application in addition to the following:

To be eligible for admission applicants must have the following qualifications: A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university with an overall minimum 2.75 undergraduate grade point average on a 4.0 scale. Undergraduate coursework must contain 48 semester credits (or equivalent in quarter hours) in the liberal arts.

Application Process:

  1. Submit an online application and application fee to the Office of Graduate Education.
  2. Submit official transcripts of undergraduate and any graduate coursework sent directly from all institutions of higher education previously attended.
  3. Applicants with an undergraduate GPA lower than 3.0 must submit official scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). This requirement will be waived for those individuals who have already completed a master’s degree.
  4. Submit the supplemental application, including a 500-700-word essay demonstrating evidence of one’s potential to work effectively with people, reasons for pursuing education to become a professional counselor, any relevant work or volunteer experiences, and professional goals. This essay will be evaluated for clarity, grammar, and structure/organization. Supplemental application is available on the Office of Graduate Education website.
  5. Submit a writing sample. This may be a paper from the applicant’s undergraduate/graduate studies that evidences their academic capacities or a new paper (3-5 pages in length) in response to one of the prompts available on the Office of Graduate Education website. Submissions will be evaluated for clarity, grammar, and structure/organization.
  6. Three recommendations from people (former instructors, supervisors, colleagues, etc.) who are qualified to evaluate academic and professional potential in the field of counseling. These must be submitted on counseling recommendation form.  Counseling Recommendation Form is available on the Office of Graduate Education website.
  7. Submit a professional resume tailored to educational goals, including educational background, employment history, awards, and accomplishments.
  8. Successful completion of an interview with the program faculty and a positive recommendation from the admissions committee for admission to the program, to ensure the candidate possesses the interpersonal characteristics and personal dispositions to uphold ethical standards of the counseling profession.

A criminal background check (state and federal), although not required for admission to the program, will be required prior to enrollment in the counseling practicum and internship classes.

The counseling program admits new students for the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Admission to the counseling program is competitive, and admission decisions are based on a holistic evaluation of each applicant’s admission file.

♦ Indicates prerequisite.

Curriculum Requirements

Completion of the 60-hour master’s program in clinical mental health counseling at NKU corresponds with the academic and experiential standards outlined by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP - http://www.cacrep.org/template/index.cfm), the Kentucky Board of Licensure for Professional Counselors (http://www.lrc.ky.gov/KRS/335-00/525.PDF) and the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage & Family Therapist Board (http://cswmft.ohio.gov/FormsC.stm). The Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (http://in.gov/pla/2888.htm) requires an additional 300-hours of internship, which can be added to the curriculum at NKU. Finally, NKU’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program meets the requirements for many other states though each state has unique application and licensure requirements; please review the counseling licensure requirements for the states in which one might be interested. 

Program Retention

The counseling program has additional academic standards, beyond those of the minimum university standards for graduate students. No student will be allowed to begin Practicum or Internship while on academic probation.  Furthermore, a student who receives an F in any counseling course, or any grade lower than a B- in (COU 600 , COU 601 COU 602 COU 640 , COU 641 , COU 650 , COU 690 , or COU 691 ), will not be permitted to continue in the program without the approval of the respective program director. 

Timeline of Clinical Practice Experiences:

1. Prior to enrollment in practicum (COU 690 ), students must have completed the following courses:

2. Application to Practicum or Internship. The semester prior to the expected start date for practicum (COU 690 ), students must submit an Application for Clinical Practice and Criminal Background Report to the Clinical Director or the respective Program Director.

3. Practicum:

  • The practicum course provides counseling students with direct opportunities to enhance their counseling skills within a structured, supportive environment. Students will be expected to demonstrate the intentional use of their counseling skills with clients in an ethical and culturally responsive manner.
  • Students will complete supervised counseling practicum experiences that total a minimum of 100 clock hours over a full semester; at least 40 of these hours must involve direct service with actual clients that contributes to the development of counseling skills.
  • Each week, practicum students will participate in one hour of individual and/or triadic supervision by a counselor education program faculty member, as well as one hour of weekly supervision by an onsite supervisor, as applicable.
  • Practicum students will also participate in an average of 1½ hours per week of group supervision on campus throughout the practicum course. 

4. Internship:

  • Building on the competencies developed in practicum (COU 690 ), internship students will be expected to increasingly demonstrate the full range of competencies expected by a professional school or clinical counselor.
  •  After successful completion of the practicum course, students must complete 600 clock hours of supervised counseling internship in settings relevant to their specialty area; at least 240 of these clock hours must involve direct service with actual clients.
  • Internship students will have weekly interaction with site supervisors that averages one hour per week of either individual and/or triadic supervision throughout the internship.
  • Internship students will also participate in an average of 1½ hours per week of group supervision on campus throughout the internship provided by a counselor education program faculty member.

Exit Requirements

  1. Application to graduate submitted by posted deadlines by candidate through the myNKU student portal.
  2. Students will complete all coursework with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
  3. Completion of all required courses used for the degree with a C or better.
  4. Signed Counselor Education Handbook Acknowledgment.
  5. Signed Code of Ethics for Counselor Education Programs.
  6. Signed copy of Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling curriculum contract.
  7. Students will complete all coursework following the academic policies of the university. At the conclusion of their plan of study, all students must take a comprehensive exam (usually within their last two semesters of their courses) prescribed by the counseling education program faculty. A passing score on the prescribed exam, in addition to the academic coursework, is required.
    • Students must receive a total score at or above the 35th percentile on the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE®). If a student fails the CPCE®, the student may retake the exam in the next available administration. However, if the student fails the CPCE® a second time, they will be dismissed from the program.
      • In such instances, the student cannot enroll in counseling courses as a non-degree seeking student.  However, such a student may petition for reinstatement into the program after a period of 12 months.
      • In the event that a student is dismissed from the program, the student will be informed of this decision in writing. The policies and procedures for pursuing an appeal of such a decision are available here: http://scra.nku.edu/policies/student-rights.html