What is Counseling Psychology?
- According to the American Psychological Association, “Counseling Psychologists help people recognize their strengths and resources to cope with everyday problems and serious adversity. They do counseling/psychotherapy, teaching and scientific research with individuals of all ages, families and organizations (e.g., schools, hospitals, businesses). Counseling psychologists help people understand and take action on career and work problems, they pay attention to how problems and people differ across the lifespan, and they have great respect for the influence of differences among people (such as race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability status) on psychological well-being. They believe that behavior is affected by many things, including qualities of the individual (e.g., psychological, physical or spiritual factors) and factors in the person’s environment (e.g., family, society and cultural groups).” (Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/careers/resources/guides/careers.aspx)
What is the difference between Counseling Psychology and Clinical Psychology?
- “The differences between counseling and clinical psychologists are rooted in the history of each specialty, which has influenced the focus and emphasis of the training they receive” (APA Division 17). Counseling Psychology has historically had a larger emphasis on psychotherapy and guidance in lifestyle and vocational issues, while Clinical Psychology has historically had a larger emphasis on diagnostics and psychiatry. Murdock et al. (1998) outlined several themes of counseling psychology that typically differ from clinical psychology:
- An emphasis on working within a developmental perspective across the full range of psychological functioning.
- Working with assets and strengths across all levels of functioning
- Use of relatively brief counseling and interventions
- Broad focus on person-environment interactions not one or the other
- An emphasis on educational, vocational, and career development
- Focus on prevention and psycho-educational interventions
- An essential commitment and valuing of the integration of individual and cultural diversity and the vital importance of multiculturalism within US society today
- An essential attitude of critical and scientific inquiry accentuating the importance of evaluating and improving services, and the integration of research to practice.
- Today both fields provide some similar services to clients in varying degrees. To read a more extensive comparison between the fields, please visit the American Psychological Association’s Division 17 (Society of Counseling Psychology) website.
What distinguishes this program from other programs in Counseling Psychology?
- The Counseling Psychology program at the University of Denver is distinguished by a small student-faculty ratio, small class size, opportunities for both research and clinical experience, and a variety of quality practicum opportunities in the Denver Metro area.
- Another unique feature of the program are the concentrations (clinical mental health counseling, school counseling, and research) and the specializations (adolescent counseling, addictions counseling, diversity & counseling, and couple and family counseling).
Is this program accredited?
- The Master’s program in Counseling Psychology holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and is accredited by the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (http://mpcacaccreditation.org/).
What kind of Careers can I pursue with this degree?
- The Counseling Psychology program prepares students to work with adolescents and adults in a variety of settings including community counseling agencies, hospitals, schools, and many other types of agencies. Selecting a practicum or internship site that corresponds with the setting in which you would like to work after graduation will give you experience in a particular setting.
- Counseling psychologists encourage individuals to better understand themselves and their behavior, to develop an increased repertoire of adaptive coping skills, and to more effectively approach life problems in light of this understanding and skill development. Life crises such as those that normally occur in the aging process – developing an identity, mid-life reevaluation, retirement, and grief or loss – are of concern to the counseling psychologist.
- Counseling psychologists also help individuals make vocational-educational decisions, take productive action in marriage or family systems, and assist individuals with health-related crises. Within such roles, they may teach communication and other interpersonal skills, time and stress management, parenting, as well as help with normal developmental processes. Problems such as these are the primary province of counseling psychology, although counseling psychologists may also work with issues involving atypical or disordered development.
- Focusing on developmental issues or those involving atypical development, counseling psychologists may target individuals, families, groups, systems, or organizations. They may do remedial work with individuals or groups in crisis, or work in a developmental, preventative role by providing information and training to prevent crises or more serious mental health problems. In these roles, they often function as educators.
- Counseling psychologists may also function as researchers in agencies, organizations, or academic settings. They may evaluate current practices and programs, develop and test new interventions, or study the characteristics of the populations they serve. They may also do basic research on human development, behavior change, or related issues.
Are there Career paths in Denver for Counseling Psychologists?
- The Denver area is a very desirable city for our alumni to live and work, which also results in a competitive market for psychologist positions. Even with the competitive nature of positions, our alumni have been very successful in obtaining positions in the local community as staff psychologists at hospital/medical centers, community mental health centers, university counseling centers, faculty at universities, directors of behavioral health centers, consulting firms, and other settings.
What programs lead to licensure in the state of Colorado?
- With additional post-graduation hours, the MA with a concentration in Clinical Mental Health Counseling prepares students for licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). The MA with a concentration in School Counseling, with some additional post-graduation hours, prepares students for licensure as a Licensed School Counselor.
Will I be able to obtain a license in another state after receiving my degree in Colorado?
- Licensing requirements vary from state to state. Check with the licensing board for the state you are interested in. Some states may require specific classes or degrees for licensure that are not required for Colorado.
Is there a place online with a complete list of classes that are required for students to take?
- All degree requirements for each concentration are in the coursework plans posted on our website in the Handbooks section (Programs: Counseling Psychology: Coursework Plans) for the current academic year. For coursework plans from previous or future years, please contact the program Academic Services Associate.
How does the program experience differ from those interested in a doctoral program vs. those who plan to practice at the MA level?
- The in-class experience will be similar, as the coursework requirements and clinical training requirements will be the same for all students, depending on concentration, but there are many opportunities to actively participate in faculty research for all Master’s students. If you do plan to apply to doctoral programs after the Master’s degree, we suggest joining a research team by directly contacting the faculty member with whom you’d like to work.
I’m interested in eventually applying to a Ph.D. program; what can I do to ensure that the master’s program prepares me for that?
- To prepare for your application to the Ph.D. program, it is helpful to make connections with faculty, be involved in research (including attending conferences and working on presentations and papers) during your M.A. program.
Are there opportunities to be involved in research during my program?
- MA students are encouraged to participate in research; this is a good way to form professional relationships with faculty and help prepare for a PhD program. Relationships often continue after graduation.
Are there opportunities to teach during this program?
- Teaching opportunities are not available to MA students.
Does every student get a paid internship?
- No, not all internships are paid. Program faculty will work with you to set up an internship in the community or school of your choice. Some internships are paid and some are not. All internship sites must meet all program standards and must be approved officially by the Program Chair or designee.
Does the program arrange for the internship placements?
- Program faculty help mentor and facilitate the internship placement process, but students generally must apply and be selected by the organization as interns. Students are required to actively pursue particular internships they desire and complete the interviewing process. All internships must be approved by the program director or designee prior to the beginning of the internship year.
Can I take an internship out of state?
- Yes. It is possible to complete your internship in another state for most programs; however, it does require extra work and planning to ensure that the internship site and supervisor meet our internship requirements. To determine if this is an option for your program, contact the Morgridge Office of Admissions at email@example.com.
What types of practicum and internship placements are available?
- For the M.A. concentrations in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling, there is a required practicum and M.A. Internship. The Counseling Psychology Program has relationships with many sites in the Metro Denver area where practicum and internship placements are available. Students have an opportunity to work with adult and adolescent clients in schools, hospitals, residential centers, and community counseling centers.
What are standard practicum/internship hours?
- Practicum and internship sites will vary quite a bit in their requirements for availability. The majority of our students complete their training during weekly business hours, but that is up to the site, and the contract that you and your site supervisor sign should clearly dictate your schedule and the times that you must be available to the site. If your current schedule dictates that you complete field hours outside of regular business, you’ll need to find a site that has the ability to accommodate your schedule, and ensure that there are enough hours of direct client contact and supervision hours available during the times that you are there.
What should I do to prepare for my practicum placement?
- You will begin the practicum application process in your first quarter in CNP 4743 Fieldwork, and your instructor for that class, as well as your academic advisor, are great resources to discuss your options. You can also review our growing list of practicum and internship sites, which is available through the program Academic Services Associate. Please reach out to your ASA directly for a link to that list.
Can I enroll in this program part time?
- The M.A. program is full time (full time = 8 or more credits per quarter), but arrangements can be made for part-time enrollment.
Can all concentrations in the Counseling Master’s program be completed in 2 years?
- Yes, the majority of full-time students complete the MA in 2 years across concentrations (Clinical Mental Health Counseling-90 credits, School Counseling- 72 credits, Research Counseling- 72 credits).
When does this program begin?
- Students begin during the fall quarter.
What does a typical schedule look like for M.A. students?
- More complete information about typical schedules can be found in the Handbooks section. Your advisor can help you create a comprehensive schedule that fits your needs.
What days and times are classes typically offered?
- Our classes are currently offered throughout the day (morning classes that start as early as 8:00am and evening classes that end as late as 9:30pm) Monday-Thursday, with the occasional special format weekend class. While we do offer a few evening options each quarter, many required courses (i.e., CNP 4740 Basic Counseling Techniques, CNP 4750 Counseling Psychology Beginning Practicum) are primarily offered in the morning and afternoon.
Can I select my own academic advisor?
- Academic advisors are assigned based on mutual research interests, students’ professional goals and interests, and the needs of faculty members and the department. Academic advisors will be assigned at the discretion of individual faculty members and the Department Chair, but if you have a strong preference, you can reach out to the faculty member and the program Academic Services Associate and we will consider your preferences in our assignments. We’ll do our best to accommodate your request, but not all requests can be honored.
What are the best ways to actively clarify my goals along the way to determine the best concentration and specialization to pursue?
- Speak with your advisor who can help you to determine what courses would best fit your needs.
What is the best way to select a concentration/area of study in the Counseling program?
- It is best to speak with an advisor to discuss what concentration (as well as specialization) would best suit your needs and career goals.
Can I change my concentration once I start my program?
- Yes, with approval from your academic advisor and the department chair, you can change concentrations once you’ve already started your coursework, however it is best to make this change early in your program, as not all coursework is applicable to every concentration. Make sure to review the coursework plans for both the concentrations, and review the courses you’ve already completed to make sure that a concentration change won’t impede your ability to graduate on time.
Can I combine concentrations?
- No, you must select one concentration (Clinical Mental Health Counseling, School Counseling, Research); however, within the Clinical Mental Health Counseling concentration, there are several specializations available (Addictions Counseling, Adolescent Counseling, Couple and Family Counseling, Diversity and Counseling), which you can combine and pick and choose from. The specializations are flexible and many combinations and variations are available, but you do have to meet the requirements of one specific concentration for degree completion.
Which concentration do you recommend for students interested in pursuing a doctoral program after graduation?
- It depends on what your goals and interests are and what the requirements are of the particular doctoral program you plan to pursue. Most Counseling-specific PhD programs prefer clinical training and a formal internship, which is offered in the CMHC concentration and not the Research concentration. If you plan to practice and/or apply for state licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor, the CMHC concentration leads to licensure, while the Research concentration does not. The Research track prepares students for research-based careers as well as doctoral work (see page 5 of the Counseling Psychology Handbook), but does not provide as much clinical counseling training. It’s always a good idea to speak with your academic advisor to determine the best option for you.
When does the program start? Can I begin anytime?
- Most programs begin each year in the Fall Quarter which is typically the first or second week of September. Some programs, such as the Teacher Preparation Programs and the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Programs, begin in the Summer Quarter (early June). On rare occasions, students can begin their studies in a different quarter, however, this is arranged on a case-by-case basis only. Students should contact the Morgridge Office of Admissions at MCE@du.edu to explore this option.
What does full-time enrollment mean?
- Full-time enrollment status in a graduate program is achieved by taking a minimum of 8 credit hours per quarter. However, specific funding may require a student to complete 9 credit hours per quarter.
Are classes offered online?
- The majority of our classes are offered on campus; however, there are a few courses that are offered either in a blended format (online with some on-campus meeting times) or online. Blackboard is an online tool used by most faculty at DU to provide access to selected course materials, no matter the setting of the class meetings.
How many students are in a typical class?
- Our average class size is generally between 20 and 25 students, but many classes will have 8 to 10 students.
What factors are considered for acceptance into the program?
- The admissions committee will consider your transcript(s), letters of recommendation, statement of goals, GRE scores, and prior experience, including volunteer work in the field or any training in counseling.
Do I need an undergraduate degree in Psychology to apply to the program?
- A major in Psychology is not required for acceptance into either program.
Are there prerequisite courses that I need to take before gaining admission?
- No, there are not prerequisite courses required in undergraduate study.
Is there a minimum GPA requirement?
- There is not a minimum GPA requirement. We review all applicants comprehensively, and while GPA is an important factor in the decision-making process, your personal statement, previous experiences (both educational and professional), letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and general fit for the program are also important factors that are considered.
What is required for application to Morgridge College of Education?
- The application materials may include: a completed online application, a 2 to 3 page statement of goals, resume, official transcripts from every higher education institution attended, letters of recommendation (2 for MA), a $65 application fee, and GRE scores for specific programs (which should be sent directly to the university).
How important are my GRE scores for admission?
- Not all programs require a GRE score. In most programs, GRE scores are not the deciding factor for admittance; they are only one of many criteria used for admissions evaluation.
Is there a minimum GRE score requirement?
- There is not a minimum GRE score requirement. We review all applicants comprehensively, so your GRE scores are one factor of many that are considered in the application process.
What if I do not have GRE scores? Can I use another test I took?
- When required for admissions consideration, the GRE is the only test accepted. Regardless of the requirement to submit GRE scores, all international applicants/non-native English speakers are required to submit an official, valid TOEFL score.
From whom should I get letters of recommendation?
- It is best to obtain letters of recommendation from professors or professionals who know you well. For recent graduates, ask for recommendation letters from former professors that can speak to your academic abilities as well as your character. For individuals entering the program with years of work experience, letters of recommendation from professionals who have seen your ability to work with children, adolescents and/or families are recommended. Most importantly, choose individuals that are knowledgeable about your past experiences as well as your goals for the future and who know you well enough to adequately discuss your accomplishments and potential.
Is an interview required as part of the application process?
- Yes. Individuals who cannot attend Interview Day will be scheduled for a phone or Skype interview with a faculty member.
When will I hear about the status of my application?
- Applicants will receive an email that their application was received by the DU Graduate Studies Admissions Office and will be notified if there is any missing information. Students are encouraged to check on the status of their application materials by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Once an application file is complete, the file is sent to the Morgridge College of Education Office of Admissions to be reviewed by program faculty. Typically, decisions about acceptance into a program are made two to three weeks following the on-campus interview day. To check on admission decisions, you may contact the Morgridge College of Education Admissions office at (303) 871-2509 or (800) 835-1607 or email at email@example.com.
Can I defer my admissions or change my entry term if necessary?
- Some graduate programs allow deposited students to request a one-time change of admit term to indicate a start term one quarter early or a deferment to the date of his/her intended enrollment for up to one academic year. Contact the Morgridge Office of Admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about changing your admissions term.
What is the age/education demographic of the average student who applies to this program?
- We have a wide variety of applicants based on experience, age, and education. Many applicants enter the program directly out of undergrad, while some applicants are changing career paths after working in another field or entering the workforce anew. One of the core principles of our program is inclusive excellence and diversity, which includes diversity of thought and experience. We find that a student body that has varied experiences contributes to the depth of knowledge in class and to an inclusive environment in general.
Can I transfer credit from an undergraduate class?
- No, only graduate-level courses can be transferred, and the course must have been taken within the last five years from an accredited program. Transfer credits cannot have been used toward another degree. There is a limit to the number of graduate credits you can transfer into DU based on the degree you are applying to (see below). If it is appropriate to waive a course (e.g. similar course already taken, content knowledge demonstrated, or successful test-out for certain research courses), the course credit hours must still be utilized for another course. A waived course does not mean a reduction in credit hours required. If your undergraduate work is similar in content to a required graduate course, you may be able to waive a required course after a review of the content with your advisor. A waived course allows you to take another graduate course in place of the one we require if you have already taken a course with very similar content. Transfer courses are different than waived courses since they reduce the number of credits you take at DU.
What graduate coursework is accepted as transfer credit?
- Transferring graduate coursework into DU is discussed on an individual basis with your advisor. If you wish to transfer in comparable graduate-level coursework, you will need to bring in the syllabus, text, other course materials, and you must have an official transcript on file from the institution. The transfer must be initiated through your advisor in the first quarter of your program. The graduate coursework you wish to transfer must be no more than five years old, cannot have been counted toward another degree, and must be transferred in your first quarter of enrollment at the University of Denver. A maximum of 10 quarter hour credits may be transferred into the MA. Graduate coursework that is transferred in will reduce the total number of DU credits you will need to graduate.
Will I be able to waive a course based on previous graduate coursework?
- Some graduate courses that you have taken in the past 5 years with a grade of B or above can be waived with documentation that you’ve already taken a similar course. Waiving a course does not give you the credits but allows you to use those credits to take a different course. To have a course waived or substituted with previous graduate coursework, you should speak with your advisor and provide syllabi with which to compare course content and your program ASA for the necessary forms. To have a course transferred (graduate level courses that were not used for a degree and which you do receive the credit) into the program, you need to provide a transcript showing that you completed the course with a B or better, a syllabus, and it will need to accompany the transfer form and be approved by the Department Chair in the first quarter of the program.
Will my graduate coursework for my previous graduate degree count?
- Credits that have already been applied to a degree cannot be counted again toward another degree. If the credit was not used toward another degree, see above for information on transfer credits. For more information or to discuss your specific situation, contact the Morgridge Office of Admissions at email@example.com.