Considering a career as a mental health professional? Here’s what to look for in a master’s degree program in clinical mental health counseling.

A master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling can prepare students for careers as positive change agents by teaching them to help their clients manage or overcome mental and emotional disorders—along with problems with family, relationships, jobs, and other temporary or chronic issues. Effective counselors empower their clients by helping them to discover their strengths and abilities so they can make positive changes and improve their own lives.

Is a Career as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor Right for You?

There are five key things you should ask about an MS in clinical mental health counseling degree program before you make your decision:

  1. Is the Program Accredited by CACREP?
    When you inquire about any master’s program in clinical mental health counseling, you should first ask if the program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). CACREP is an independent organization that reviews degree programs to ensure that they meet the standards set by the profession. A degree from a CACREP-accredited program can be invaluable for your career. It not only gives you a competitive edge in the job market, it shows recruiters and employers that you have received a quality education that includes the appropriate knowledge and skills for your profession. It also indicates to you as a student that the program is financially and professionally stable.

  2. Does It Offer Specialization Options?
    Robust master’s programs in clinical mental health counseling offer counseling specializations like forensic counseling, addiction counseling, crisis and trauma counseling, military families and culture, and career counseling. A specialized master’s degree allows you to focus your studies on the area that interests you most, and may give you a competitive advantage over other applicants when job hunting.

  3. What Type of Field Experience Does It Include?
    Your master’s program should offer ample room in the curriculum for actual field experience in which you engage in hands-on practice of the knowledge and skills you’re learning in class. It could be a practicum field experience, which provides a short introduction to supervised counseling, or it could be a longer internship experience consisting of a planned, supervised training series.

  4. What Career Options Are Available for Clinical Mental Health Counselors?
    Depending on your chosen master’s specialization, you may work in a broad range of settings including community mental health centers, wellness centers, inpatient/outpatient facilities, hospitals and healthcare settings, social services agencies, trauma centers, day programs, correctional facilities, shelters, and private practice.

  5. What Is the Job Market for Clinical Mental Health Counselors?
    As more insurance policies provide coverage for mental health counseling services, the job market for mental health counselors is projected to grow 29% from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average rate for all occupations. In May 2012, the median annual wage for mental health counselors was $40,080, with the top 10% earning more than $66,630.*

Explore Walden University’s online counseling degree programs to launch, advance, or change the direction of your career. Earn your graduate degree in a convenient online format that fits your busy life.


*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012 Edition, Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists, on the Internet at www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm.

Find information on costs, occupation types, completion rates, and median loan debt for this program at www.WaldenU.edu/programdata.

Walden University’s MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) as a mental health counseling program under the 2001 standards. CACREP is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), and CACREP accreditation is a requirement for licensure in many states.

The MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is designed to prepare graduates to qualify to sit for licensing exams and to meet the academic licensure requirements of many state counseling boards. Walden enrollment advisors can provide guidance on licensure issues, however, it remains the individual’s responsibility to understand and comply with all state licensure requirements. Walden makes no representations or guarantee that completion of Walden coursework or programs will permit an individual to obtain state licensure.

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