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MA Counseling Program FAQ

Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals. People have many different reasons for deciding they want to become a counselor. Some people choose this career because they once had a good experience with a counselor during a difficult time in their own life and they want to “pay it forward.” Another person may have done some volunteer work at a crisis hotline and realized that they enjoyed both the challenges and joys of working with clients facing difficult times. Yet another person may have been told that they are a good listener, and they ought to consider working as a mental health professional.

Within the state of New Mexico, once our Clinical Mental Health Counseling students pass the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and applied for and achieved the Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), they can work as Clinical Mental Health Counselor. Once School Counseling students pass the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) certification exam, they can work as School Counselor.

UNM is the flagship university and only R1-very high research activity university in New Mexico, and our counseling program is accredited by Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Program (CACREP). CACREP accredits over 940 master’s and doctoral degree programs in counseling and its specialties offered by over 450 colleges and university across the United States. CACREP Accreditation provides recognition that the content and quality of the program has been evaluated and meets standards set by the profession. The student, as a consumer, can be assured that appropriate knowledge and skill areas are included and that the program is stable, professionally and financially. You can find more information about CACREP via

UNM MA Counseling provides two different tracks, Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling, and students can choose dual track as well. Also, our program offers the Advanced Graduate Certificate for students who seek an additional counseling specialization after graduation.

Clinical Mental Health Counseling – Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs prepare graduates to work with clients across a spectrum of mental and emotional disorders, as well as to promote mental health and wellness. Clients may be seen individually, in couples, families, or group settings. Clinical Mental Health Counselors are knowledgeable in the principles and practices of diagnosis, treatment, referral and prevention and often work in interdisciplinary teams with other health professionals (e.g., psychiatrists, social workers, MDs). Employment opportunities may include private practice, community-based mental health centers, hospitals and other treatment centers. We often have interns at UNM career center since career counseling is another aspect of CMHC.

School Counseling – School Counseling programs prepare graduates to work with students ranging from kindergarten through high school. School counselors are prepared to promote the academic, career, and personal/social development of all K-12 students through understanding how to design and implement comprehensive school guidance and counseling programs that include time for individual counseling, group counseling, classroom guidance, family and teacher consultations within the school setting. School counselors work with in both private and public-school systems at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

The Advanced Graduate Certificate in Counseling is designed to prepare individuals who are seeking an additional counseling specialization concurrently or following the completion of the requirements for a master’s degree in counseling (Clinical Mental Health Counseling or School Counseling).

Another path toward fulfilling the requirements for both clinical mental health and school is to complete and graduate in one track—either clinical mental health or school—and then return to complete the second track’s requirements. (see application information at

Although our program likely meets the requirements of licensure in most states, there may be additional or different requirements. As well, some states have different exam requirements than the NCE. Students are urged to research whether our curriculum meets the licensure requirements of the state in which there are interested in working in the future.

For single-track students, our program requires 60-credit hours, which are comprised of 20 three-credit-hour courses. A dual student, completing all requirements for both the clinical mental health and the school tracks, must complete 72 credit hours. For full-time students (9 or more credit hours per semester) who take 3-4 courses each semester and several summer courses, it might take about 3 years depending on their schedule. For part-time students, it really depends on their schedule, and they have 7 years to graduate upon admission.

Yes, our program offers some online courses, but many of the counseling courses are designed as in-person courses. In fall and spring semester, we mostly offer in-person courses, while we do offer more online courses in summer. In order to take courses and graduate from our program, you need to be able to come to courses in person.

No, our program does not require a thesis for students to graduate, but we require internships since our program focuses on practice. Also, our program requires students to pass the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) to graduate, and students have two opportunities to pass the exam.

Although we require that you receive a recommendation letter from at least one faculty member. However, in this case, you can request all three letters from professional relationships. We suggest that you select a group of refences who can write about your different aspects (e.g., academic/work performance, counseling related experiences, work ethics, personality)

Our program assistantship opportunities go to our doctoral students first, so we don’t often have assistantships for master’s students. These opportunities also depend on needs of faculty or program. However, you can find some assistantship/scholarship opportunities from College of Education and Human sciences or other places. Please check the link below.

Our program does not offer campus tour, but you can schedule a campus tour from the university.

Our program is not eligible to give information about tuition, but you can find more information form Bursar’s Office.

Yes, master’s level students are welcomed to participate in faculty members’ research projects if interested. Students can contact any faculty member who has any relevant research agenda.

Practicum requires 100 hours of counseling service, which include 40 hours of direct service with clients. Internship requires 600 hours of counseling service, which include 240 hours of direct service with clients over two academic terms. Students in practicum should plan for 15 hours per week at their practicum sites; students in internship should allow for 20–25 hours per week at their sites. Summer internships may require and even greater number of hours to successfully complete the term.

Our program collaboratively works with community and has a list of the sites that are recommended. However, it’s students’ responsibility to contact the site and secure an intern position. If you have a preferred site, then you need to consult with our internship coordinator.

Our program runs the Manzanita Counseling Center on campus, and it is a counseling center, which provides free counseling services to community members including UNM students. Clinical Mental Health Counseling students complete their Practicum at Manzanita. School Counseling students need to complete their Practicum at a school site. Dual students split their time between Manzanita and a school site.

Our program has two application cycles per year. The deadline dates are 12/15 for fall and 7/15 for spring. After the deadline dates, faculty and staff start to review applications in the following semester and invite some applicants to on campus group interview. After the group interview, faculty make decisions on admissions and applicants usually contacted within 2 weeks after the group interview of admission decisions.

Letter of intent/personal statement, CV/resume, Official transcript from every institution of higher education besides UNM, and three references (references will be emailed by the university and must respond via the online system)

Any student with a bachelor’s degree before the first semester starts can be eligible to apply for our program. However, your undergraduate degree transcript must reflect 3.0 GPA or higher, and the only exception is a later completed graduate degree with 3.0 GPA or higher. While 18-credit hours in Behavioral Sciences backgrounds are preferred, but not required.

People can request to take several courses as non-degree students. The available courses are COUN510, 517, and 584. Registration priority is given to current degree-seeking students. Registration approval operates on a first-come, first-served basis and is contingent upon faculty discretion. Please note that approval for registration is not guaranteed. If your request is approved, you will be contacted approximately two weeks before the semester starts. You can find a request form from our website. If you wish to take courses as a non-degree, please complete the form and send it to

Yes, faculty will need to decide by reviewing the course syllabus after admission. If you took some counseling courses from another CACREP accredited counseling program, it usually can be easily transferred. Also, master’s or doctoral research courses can be often transferred to our program, but such transfer decisions can be made after admission and faculty review. Courses taken more than five years prior to the start date are not accepted for transfer. Up to 30 credits can be transferred.

The acceptance rate varies each semester, so we cannot give the exact information, but we can say that our program is very competitive. Each semester, we accept about 15 students.

Due to a number of requests, our program faculty cannot individually meet with potential students. However, our program offers several information sessions every semester, so please register for one of the information sessions from our website.