Counseling, MA

The Lindenwood University Master of Arts in Counseling program is accredited by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE, and the Illinois School Board of Education (

IMPORTANT NOTE: Counseling, MA Professional Counseling Track – Illinois Practitioners and Counseling, MA School Counseling Track – Illinois Practitioners are no longer accepting new students to the programs.

The programs leading to a Master of Arts in counseling are designed to prepare master’s level counseling practitioners. The clinical mental health counseling and school counseling programs provide students with a broad base of psychological knowledge and theory integrated with extensive training and practice in the use of counseling skills. Graduates of professional and school counseling programs are qualified to work in a variety of school and/or mental health settings with individuals, groups, and families.

The clinical mental health counseling and school counseling programs are intensive and comprehensive, requiring a minimum of 48 credit hours of coursework and applied experience. Admission to the counseling program is selective, yet flexible. The Master of Arts in counseling program requires completion of the university’s admissions process, a 3.0 undergraduate GPA, in addition to all subsequent coursework. Candidates who do not meet the 3.0 GPA, but exceed a 2.75 GPA may be considered for further evaluation by the counseling department through a program interview.

The American Counseling Association code of ethics (2014) requires that institutions providing counselor education screen students for professional, personal, and academic fit within the profession of counseling. Completion and graduation from the MA in counseling program requires successful completion of all graduate courses with appropriate academic success; development of appropriate interpersonal and counseling skills evidencing competency as a counselor; and being deemed fit for the counseling profession by program faculty as determined by development of counseling knowledge, skills, and counselor formation, interpersonal relations with others in the program, and openness to supervision and feedback.

Acceptance into the MA in counseling program is required in order for potential counseling candidates to enroll in the preliminary courses, IPC 51000 Foundations of School Counseling (3) or IPC 51100 Foundations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling (3). These foundations classes will be considered screening classes. Foundations instructors will evaluate all students using the Pre-Service Counselor Candidate Disposition Assessment introduced at the beginning of the Foundations class (see Program Handbooks at Any student identified by Foundations instructors as lacking clinical or academic potential to develop a career as a clinical mental health or school counselor will be referred to the counseling review board to determine whether or not the candidate will continue in the program or receive remedial actions (e.g., personal counseling or an action plan developed by the candidate and his or her advisor). This review board will be made up of the head of the department, a full-time faculty member, an adjunct faculty member, and an alumnus of the program. The review board will make recommendations to remediate the student. Efforts at remediation will be reviewed again the following semester. If sufficient progress has been made, the student will continue in the program. If the student demonstrates the same or additional deficits, as described above, the student may be removed from the program.

Students admitted to the MA in counseling degree program must attain a 3.0 GPA for the first 12 hours of graduate course work with no grade less than a B nor a report from any instructor for deficits according to the Pre-Service Counselor Candidate Disposition Assessment. Failure to maintain such standards will result in the candidate being referred to the counseling review board to determine if the student will continue in the program. It is the objective of the counseling program to, as early as possible, identify students who demonstrate difficulty achieving the standards for competent practice and to initiate appropriate intervention to assist them. Thus, the faculty of the counseling program reserves the right to review students at any stage of their coursework. A student earning any grade less than a B in IPC 51000 or IPC 51100, IPC 52400, IPC 55100 or IPC 55300, or IPC 62000 (professional internship) or IPC 62100, IPC 62200, IPC 62300, or IPC 62400 (school field placements) will be allowed to repeat the course one time and must earn a grade of B or better to continue in the program. Any instructor may submit a Pre-Service Counselor Candidate Disposition Assessment form to the counseling review board to ensure appropriate clinical skills at any time during the program. The counseling review board process, however initiated, may result in the termination of the student’s degree program or other required or recommended remedies to address deficiencies judged by the counseling review board as related to the skills that are essential to the development of competent and ethical practices as a clinical mental health counselor.

After a candidate has successfully completed the first 12 hours of coursework, completion of the counseling program is contingent on meeting the following criteria:

  1. Maintaining a minimum GPA of 3.0 in Counseling coursework; and

  2. Completing the required number of courses, based on the current curriculum; and

  3. Completing an electronic portfolio (school) as a project of Field Placement 1 or 2; and

  4. Satisfactory resolution of any disposition documentation provided by candidate's instructors; and

  5. Receiving satisfactory evaluations from site supervisors during internship or field placement experiences; and

  6. Passing the comprehensive examination Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) for clinical mental health counseling candidates. Missouri School Counseling students must pass the Educator Gateway Assessments (MEGA): Missouri Content Assessment, test MO056] as an exit requirement. Illinois School Counseling students must pass the Illinois School Counseling Content Test (181) as an exit requirement. 

Note: Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has raised the criteria for certification as a school counselor. State regulations can and do change and all counseling candidates must meet Missouri DESE requirements to complete this Missouri approved certification program. Current Missouri requirements can be found online at and your counseling advisor will help you understand what you are required to do to meet those standards. Currently, a minimum GPA of 3.0 is required for all school counseling coursework. 

All students are periodically reviewed to assess their academic progress. Only those students who meet program standards will be allowed to continue.

Students completing the clinical mental health counseling track must obtain a minimum of 600 hours of supervised internship experience (700 hours are required for Illinois practitioners in school and professional tracks.) Internship placements may be arranged with a variety of mental health agencies that provide counseling services to clients. Internship students receive individual supervision from qualified professionals at their field sites and will also participate in a group supervision course conducted by a faculty member of the Counseling Department. The Clinical Mental Health Counseling Handbook specifies the details for the internship experience. 

Students completing the school counseling track must obtain a minimum of 450 hours of field placement experience in a school setting in Missouri. Students completing their field placement experiences receive individual supervision from a certified school counselor at their site and will also participate in a group supervision course conducted by a faculty member of the Counseling Department. The School Counseling Handbook specifies the details for both field placement experiences.

Exit requirements vary by program. Brief descriptions of the exit requirements are provided in the following sections. Further information regarding exit requirements is provided in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Handbook and the School Counseling Handbook.

Background Check

Some states will not provide a clinical mental health counseling license to those with a failed background check. If an applicant or student has questions regarding such, he or she should check with the state clinical mental health counseling licensure board, preferably prior to applying to the MA in counseling program. A conviction, guilty plea, or nolo contendere plea involving a crime involving drugs, moral turpitude, or other criminal charges may prohibit licensure or employment as a school or professional counselor.

Students submitting applications for MO field placements in school counseling are required to apply for a MO substitute certificate, Type 70 and a Family Care Safety Registry application. Students are responsible for all associated fees.  
Students submitting applications for IL field placements in school counseling are required to apply for an IL Background Check and Fingerprints. Students are responsible for all fees.

Also, note that some professional internship sites require completion of a background check prior to commitment to the field experience. All background checks are at the expense of the student. See the assistant dean for more information.

Citizenship/authorized alien/immigrant status is now a prerequisite for a professional license by an agency of a State or local government under Title 8 US Code Section 1621.

Early Access to the MA in Counseling

With the approval of a committee of counseling faculty, students maintaining an undergraduate cumulative and major GPA of 3.0 may take up to nine semester credit hours at the graduate level during their senior year. These hours will count towards the Master of Arts counseling degree but not toward the bachelor’s degree. Students in the early access program must maintain a 3.0 or higher in all IPC courses. A student must be enrolled in at least 12 semester hours of undergraduate classes each semester that he or she is taking IPC credits under this option.

Application for MA counseling early access is electronic and can be found at this website:


MA Counseling Early Access Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is there an overload fee? As long as you do not exceed a combined enrollment of more than 18 hours in the semester there is not an overload fee. If you receive approval and enroll in more than 18 hours you will be charged the standard overload fee as stated in the Lindenwood Undergraduate Catalog.

2. How does this affect financial aid? It will not affect your financial aid – you are required to be enrolled in a minimum of 12 undergraduate hours.

3. What forms and signatures do you need? You will need to complete an application to the Early Access to the MA counseling program. This form can be obtained from the School of Education. You will need to submit this form to Dr. Michael Rankins in the Department of Counseling. Your academic records will be reviewed by a committee, and if you meet the requirements, your paperwork will be sent to the vice president for academic affairs for approval. You will be notified of your status and your counseling advisor’s name via email after the process has been completed. You will then need to meet with your advisor to complete an enrollment form and create a plan for completion of the MA counseling after your undergraduate degree has been conferred.

4. Why would I want to do this? If you enter the Lindenwood MA in Counseling program after graduation, both the total cost of the program and the time to complete the degree will be reduced, especially if you take MA in counseling courses in the summer term.

5. What is the maximum number of courses I can take prior to receiving my bachelor degree? Students are permitted to enroll in no more than six credit hours of IPC course work per semester and to complete no more than nine credit hours graduate work prior to receiving a bachelor’s degree.

6. Who can apply to the early access program? Any Lindenwood student in an eligible bachelor’s degree program who has completed a minimum of 84 undergraduate credit hours with a minimum cumulative and major GPA of 3.0 is eligible to apply.

7. What bachelor’s degrees work for this program? Students who intend to focus on graduate studies in clinical mental health counseling may complete a bachelor’s degree in any area. Students who intend to focus on graduate studies in school counseling who do not complete a bachelor’s associated with teacher certification will need to complete nine credit hours of education coursework in order to be eligible for the MA in counseling degree, and for Missouri certification in school counseling. This is a Missouri state requirement.

8. How much does this cost? Six credit hours per semester and no more than a total of nine credit hours will be included in your undergraduate full time tuition. Book expenses and lab fees for any IPC courses will be at your expense.

9. Is there a minimum GPA to remain in the program? Yes. You must maintain a minimum undergraduate cumulative and in major GPA of 3.0 and a minimum cumulative graduate GPA of 3.0.

10. Am I automatically accepted to the Graduate School once I have completed my undergraduate program? No. This allows you the opportunity to enroll in the Early Access MA in Counseling Program. You will need to complete the process of applying to the Lindenwood Graduate Program.

11. Which IPC courses can I take for Early Access? You may only enroll in IPC 51000 Foundations of School Counseling or IPC 51100 Foundations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling, IPC 51200 Ethics & Professional Issues, and IPC 52100 Human Growth & Development.

12. How much longer will it take me to finish my MA in counseling after my undergraduate degree is conferred? This depends on the number of credit hours you take each semester. When you are admitted into the graduate program for School of Education, you will create a customized plan for completion with an advisor. A typical “streamlined” timeline is below for the MA in Counseling Early Access, including IPC coursework taken before and after the student obtains the bachelor’s degree.

Fall Senior Year:

IPC 51000 Foundations of School Counseling or IPC 51100 Foundations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling

IPC 51200 Ethics & Professional Issues

Undergraduate Coursework

Spring Senior Year:

IPC 52100 Human Growth & Development

Undergraduate Coursework

Summer Graduate Semester I

Emphasis Area Course

Emphasis Area Course

Fall Graduate Semester II

Emphasis Area Course

Emphasis Area Course

Spring Graduate Semester III

Emphasis Area Course

Emphasis Area Course

Emphasis Area Course

Summer Graduate Semester IV

Emphasis Area Course

Elective Course

Fall Graduate Semester V

Elective Course

Internship or Field Placement

Spring Graduate Semester VI

Elective Course

Internship or Field Placement (Second Semester)

Comprehensive Exam

List of Eligible Undergraduate Degrees

In general, completed bachelor’s degrees are acceptable regardless of the area of emphasis. For students who have not completed a bachelor’s degree associated with teaching, and who are intending to complete graduate studies in school counseling, it may be necessary to complete nine credit hours of EDU coursework in addition to the 48 credit hours of core and elective coursework.