Online Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Degree Program

Master's Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling


Argosy University recognizes the need to offer human services providers the extensive knowledge and range of skills necessary to serve effectively in the profession. Programs have been developed by Argosy University faculty members to enable students to pursue personal and professional goals through completion of a Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree program. Courses and curricula are designed to parallel prevailing licensure and certification requirements as closely as possible. Because of variations among states, each student should check with regional authorities to confirm such requirements.

Gainful Employment Information

Program Outcomes

  • Program Outcome One: Professional Orientation and Ethical Practice
    Value all aspects of professional functioning, including history, roles, organizational structures, ethical standards, legalities, advocacy, and credentialing.
  • Program Outcome Two: Social and Cultural Diversity
    Apply core theory and research of the cultural context of relationships, issues, and trends in a multicultural and diverse society to the counseling profession.
  • Program Outcome Three: Human Growth and Development
    Interpret and apply core theory and research of the nature and needs of individuals at all developmental levels and in multicultural contexts.
  • Program Outcome Four: Career Development
    Apply core theory and research of career development, the psychology of work, and related factors in career planning and decision making.
  • Program Outcome Five: Helping Relationships
    Deliver ethical and effective counseling and consultation services consistent with professional research and practice across a range of settings in a multicultural society.
  • Program Outcome Six: Group Work
    Apply methods, skills, and other group approaches in a multicultural society using theories of group counseling, principles of group dynamics, facilitation styles, and direct experiences.
  • Program Outcome Seven: Assessment
    Analyze principles of testing and measurement, and incorporate social, ethical, and cultural factors in both individual and group methods of assessment and evaluation.
  • Program Outcome Eight: Research and Program Evaluation
    Apply research methods, statistical analysis, needs assessment, and program evaluation to inform ethical and culturally relevant evidence-based practice and to advance the counseling profession.

Course List

Core Course Requirements—Students Are Required to Take the Following


PC6000 - Counseling Theory


PC6025 - Human Growth and Development


PC6104 - Counseling Skills I


PC6105 - Counseling Skills II


PC6106 - Foundations of Mental Health Counseling


PC6300 - Professional and Ethical Issues


PC6505 - Group Counseling


PC6515 - Multicultural Diversity and Advocacy


PC6521 - Research and Program Evaluation


PC6525 - Appraisal and Assessment


PC6600 - Career and Lifestyle Development


PC6700 - Couples and Family Counseling


PC6712 - Diagnosis and Treatment of Behavioral and Emotional Disorders


PC6803 - Trauma Impact and Counseling


PC6900 - Substance Abuse Counseling


Core Course Requirements—45 Credit Hours


Elective Course Requirements—Students Choose Two of the Following


PC6030 - Psychopathology and Assessment


PC6200 - Human Sexuality


PC6440 - Child and Adolescent Counseling


PC6814 - Forensic Counseling


PC6816 - Psychopharmacology for Counselors


PC6818 - Integrating Spirituality in Counseling


Elective Course Requirements—6 Credit Hours


Practicum and Internship Requirements—Students Are Required to Take the Following


PC6410 - Counseling Practicum


PC6416 - Counseling Internship I


PC6417 - Counseling Internship II


Practicum and Internship Requirements—9 Credit Hours


Practicum and Practicum Internship Seminar Requirements

Practicum and Internship experiences are a required and essential part of counselor training. They provide students with the opportunity to practice and learn counseling and other professional skills under the guidance of an appropriately licensed supervisor. Practicum and internship students apply their theoretical knowledge, implement and develop clinical techniques based on this knowledge, and develop the professional and personal attitudes important to counseling practice. All students enrolled in the practicum and internship are concurrently enrolled in a seminar.

Students typically complete all coursework before beginning the training experience. Students may be eligible, with faculty advisor approval, to begin their training experience during the second year of study. The practicum and internship carry 3 credit hours per semester and 9 credit hours per academic year. A practicum and internship must last a minimum of 9 months and can typically last for 12 months. Throughout the year, students will be required to spend a minimum of 100 hours in practicum and up to 600 hours in internship for a maximum required total of 700 hours. Total hours required vary by campus to align with state licensure. Consult with the campus for the specific hours required. A Practicum and Internship may not be done in a student's place of past or present direct employment, nor may students waive the practicum and internship requirements. A professional liability insurance is included in the cost of the practicum and internship. However, students may be required to purchase additional personal liability insurance before beginning practicum/internship.

Practicum Prerequisites and Eligibility

Students enrolled in the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree program at Argosy University, are required to successfully complete all core courses (see Program Requirements section) prior to beginning practicum.

To be eligible for practicum, students must be in good academic and professional standing after completing all core coursework, having a minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. The student must apply for practicum to the clinical director and be approved prior to contacting any sites to set up an interview.

Practicum and Internship Evaluation

The goal of the field experiences is to focus on the formation and training of competent counselors capable of providing basic and effective counseling and therapeutic intervention. Evaluation of student progress in supervised field training focuses on three areas:

  • Theoretical Knowledge Base
  • Counseling and Interpersonal Skills
  • Professional Attitudes and Ethics

A thorough review of site and seminar evaluations is conducted by the Director of Training, and an overall grade of "Credit" or "No Credit" is included in the student's academic record.

The Practicum and Internship Handbook is available from the Clinical Training Department or the department chair of the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree program. This manual describes the practicum and internship processes, procedures, and requirements in detail.

Program Assessment and Checkpoints

Students undergo formative and summative assessments throughout the MA Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. Students will be evaluated at designated program benchmarks as outlined below.

Potential Intervention

If issues are identified, they can result in the following:
  1. Follow up by the course faculty for intervention.
  2. Follow up by the faculty advisor and development of an intervention plan.
  3. Referral to the Student Professional Development Committee to develop a formal remediation plan.
  4. Referral to the Student Conduct Committee for more severe cases such as plagiarism, ethical violations, or harm.
Initial Five Courses Requirement

The first five courses of the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree program must be completed satisfactorily before a student may take additional courses in the program.

After successful completion of these courses, a formal evaluation process is used to review each student's academic performance and professional conduct. Students who earn a GPA of 3.0 or above (on a scale of 4.0) and have satisfactory faculty evaluations will be considered for continuation in the program. Students who receive a grade below "B-" in any course must retake the course and improve the grade.  Any of the five courses in which a grade below "B-" is received must be repeated. Any student who receives two grades below "B-" in the first five courses (including grades received on courses retaken) will be dismissed from the program. To graduate, a student must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a scale of 4.0).

Initial Five Courses Requirement — Students Must Complete the Following Courses before Taking Additional Courses in the Program

  • PC6000 - Counseling Theory (3)
  • PC6300 – Professional and Ethical Issues (3)
  • PC6025 - Human Growth and Development (3)
  • PC6106 - Foundations of Mental Health Counseling (3)
  • PC6104 –Counseling Skills I (3)

Initial Five Courses Requirement — 15 Credit Hours

Note: Students will receive details of the required course sequence upon admission to the program from their respective campuses.

Portfolio Requirement

Student in the MA Clinical Mental Health Counseling program are required to create a portfolio documenting both their academic work and professional activities completed during their time in the program.

Portfolio Review

Designated faculty members will review and evaluate student portfolios at specific program points. The first portfolio review will occur at the end of the term in which students complete their first five courses in the recommended program sequence. This will allow faculty to meet with students and provide additional guidelines in helping them prepare for the second portfolio review. The second portfolio review occurs at the end of the term in which students complete their first ten courses in the recommended program sequence. The third portfolio review occurs at the end of the term in which students complete all core coursework and before they begin PC6410, Counseling Practicum. The final portfolio review will occur at the end of the program, which will be concurrent with the completion of PC6417, Counseling Internship II. It is students' responsibility to submit their portfolio for each review by the posted deadlines and as instructed by the designated faculty. Additional details are provided in the Portfolio Guide that will be provided to students by their faculty advisor.

Clinical Application Evaluation Requirement

The Clinical Application Evaluation (CAE) requires each student to present a case study and conceptual analysis in writing, resulting in a case formulation, conceptual formulation, and recommendations for treatment relevant to the case conceptualization. The purpose of the CAE is to monitor the growth and development of the school's standard of competency for mental health counselors.

The CAE ensures that students are prepared to demonstrate their conceptual abilities, theoretical knowledge, and applied counseling skills in class and in supervised field training. Faculty evaluators assess the student's knowledge base regarding the foundations of mental health counseling, the student' s ability to manage an interview, and the student's ability to arrive at an accurate diagnostic and case formulation. Students are also evaluated on their ability to make appropriate and individualized treatment recommendations based on their case formulation. The document is written in either one or two semesters (PC6410 - Counseling Practicum and PC6416 - Counseling Internship I / or just PC6416 - Counseling Internship I), and the oral examination of the CAE is taken during the second semester of the student's internship.

The CAE requirement is met by submitting a written diagnostic case formulation report, including a self-critique along with a digital recording and transcript. The CAE is submitted to the student's seminar faculty at a designated date. The digital recording cannot have been submitted either in the school or outside of it for review, supervision, or critique.

Students should refer to the Clinical Application Evaluation Handbook for complete information concerning the requirements and process for completing the CAE.

Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE)

All students who are enrolled in the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree program are required to complete the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) successfully. The information tested by the exam covers the end-of-program learning outcomes required of students in the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree program. Students must have successfully completed all required coursework, with the exception of practicum and internship, to be eligible to take the Comprehensive Exam. Additional information regarding registration, qualification, format, and dates of the exam can be obtained from the department chair.

A student who fails the Comprehensive Exam is required to contact his/her faculty advisor who will assist in developing a remediation plan. Any student who fails the Comprehensive Examination a third time is automatically dismissed from the program.

Recommended Course Sequence

All coursework is scheduled according to a specific sequence. Students should make every effort to follow the recommended sequence and complete the first block of courses before moving to the next block of courses. The course sequence can be obtained through the Admissions Department, faculty advisor, or the department chair.

Admissions Requirements

  • A bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, a nationally accredited institution approved and documented by the faculty and dean of the College of Counseling, Psychology and Social Sciences, or an appropriately certified foreign institution.
  • A grade point average (GPA) on a scale of 4.0 as described below. Additional requirements may apply.
    • 3.0 for the last 60 hours of coursework (including graduate work).
    • Applicants with grade point averages lower than the stated program minimums may be considered for admission with significant evidence of academic and professional potential demonstrated by the career and/or professional accomplishments indicated in the statement of academic and professional goals, the career summary, and academic or professional letters of recommendation. Such Admission must be recommended by the Admissions Committee and department chair and must be justified, documented, signed, placed, and retained in the student's academic file.
  • A minimum score on an Argosy University pre-approved English language proficiency test is required for all applicants whose native language is not English or who have not graduated from an institution at which English is the language of instruction as specified in Section Five, Admission Policies, "English Language Proficiency Policy."
  • Completion of an interview with a member of the program Admissions Committee.

All applications for admission must be submitted to the Admissions Department. An admissions representative is available to help interested applicants complete the following required documentation:

  • Completed Application for Admission Form.
  • Personal/professional goal statement with a self-appraisal of qualifications for the profession.
  • Current résumé (or career summary).
  • Three completed Applicant Recommendation Forms.
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary schools attended.