Welcome to the Counselor Education M.Ed. Program at Penn State

Counselor Education at Penn State is a graduate program within the College of Education that offers professional preparation at the master's degree level (M.Ed. only) for qualified persons wishing to become a professional counselor in a range of emphases, each accredited by national and, where appropriate, state credentialing boards. See links below for more information on specific emphases within the program.

The Counselor Education master's program advocates for the provision of services to all people, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion sexual orientation, ability level, or values. As such, our program prepares you to honor and respect human diversity. Our program emphasizes professional competency, a respect for human diversity, and evidence-based practices. Our program provides students the opportunity for experiential learning that often results in significant changes. The Counselor Education faculty expects our students to change as they develop in the program. We aim to instill in each student the capacity to not only understand and respect his or her own experiences, values, and identity, but the capacity to respect others' experiences, values, and identities that are unlike their own. We believe the capacity to know and respect self, and to know and respect another is a cornerstone of our profession. Counselors use a range of evidence-based interventions with individuals, groups, and in communities, to facilitate meaningful change in the lives of people seeking our services.

Our Herr Clinic is a state-of-the-art facility that both serves clients and trains our students to become successful counselors. Faculty supervises all students as they complete their practicum in the Herr Clinic. Students also complete full time internships in the field under supervision of both on site supervisor and faculty member. See more about the Herr Clinic here.


Master's Application Information

University Park Campus Only

Program Evaluation Summary

CACREP Accreditation

Emphasis Areas Under the Counselor Education M.Ed. Degree

The Career Counseling emphasis in the Counselor Education M.Ed. Program at Penn State is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The curriculum also reflects training in all career counseling competencies identified by the National Career Development Association. It takes two-years of full-time graduate study, or its equivalent, to complete this 60 credit hour master’s degree.

The school counseling emphasis in the Counselor Education (M.Ed.) Master's Program at Penn State is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). The curriculum is also consistent with standards and guidelines of the American School Counselors Association and the American Counseling Association. The school counseling emphasis also meets the academic requirements for Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Pennsylvania.

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling in Schools and Communities emphasis in the Counselor Education (M.Ed.) Master's Program at Penn State is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs (CACREP). This program prepares professionals to work with and in schools as well as other community settings such as non-profit organizations, government agencies, and hospitals. This emphasis does not lead to certification as a school counselor in Pennsylvania. Students interested in working as a school counselor should consult the Elementary or Secondary master's emphases. It takes two-years of full-time graduate study, or its equivalent, to complete this 60 credit hour master’s degree.

The Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling (60 credits) emphasis in the Counselor Education (M.Ed.) Master’s Program at Penn State has a dual accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Professions (CACREP) in both Clinical Rehabilitation and Clinical Mental Health Counseling. This emphasis prepares professionals to work with people with chronic illness, mental health and/or other disabling conditions (sensory disability, traumatic brain injury, amputation, substance abuse, developmental disability, physical disability) in a variety of government agencies (e.g., state vocational rehabilitation, Veterans Administration, state corrections facilities) as well as a range of community settings (e.g., non-profit rehabilitation agencies, hospital settings, substance abuse clinics, corrections re-entry programs, nursing homes and services for individuals with developmental disabilities. 

The mission of our rehabilitation counseling emphasis area is to prepare rehabilitation counselors with knowledge and skills to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities.

The Rehabilitation Counseling (51-60 credits) emphasis in the Counselor Education (M.Ed.) Master’s Program at Penn State is accredited by Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) in Rehabilitation Counseling. This emphasis prepares students for employment in vocational rehabilitation settings such as State Vocational Rehabilitation, Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services, Vocational Rehabilitation within the Veterans Administration, Workers Compensation Rehabilitation, Human Resources Settings, Forensic/Private-for-Profit Rehabilitation and in settings that provide career services for people with disabilities.

As one of the earliest rehabilitation counseling programs which started in 1958, Penn State has a distinguished history of producing a well-trained workforce serving people with disabilities. We have consistently been ranked as one of the top programs in the nation and, according to the most recent survey by U.S. News & World Report, our program is ranked 6th nationally with 5 faculty members with expertise in rehabilitation who have won national awards for their teaching, research and service to the profession.

Program and Course Information

The Counselor Education master's degree program prepares students to work as counselors in public and private agencies in a wide variety of settings. The program is intended to provide the necessary theoretical background, technical knowledge, and skills in interpersonal relations to function effectively as counselors. To provide a proper balance between theory, technical knowledge, and skill, students are provided opportunities to use acquired knowledge under careful supervision in practical situations. After successfully completing the program, students are expected to:

  1. Understand programmatic philosophy, legislation, and history.
  2. Understand counseling theory and techniques to facilitate a therapeutic relationship toward client problem resolution.
  3. Understand casework principles and methods relating to counseling.
  4. Know effective individual and group counseling practices.
  5. Establish and maintain effective relationships with clients, staff, and other professionals to perform the duties expected of counselors.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to make clear and pertinent statements, orally and in writing, with regard to counselor roles and functions.
  7. Be aware of appropriate use of ethical codes and decision-making.
  8. Understand current knowledge and projected needs concerning counseling practice in a multicultural and pluralistic society.

Pennsylvania laws require all prospective employees of agencies serving children (Act 33) and public and private schools (Act 34) to acquire criminal history clearance and child abuse history clearance (Act 151) prior to employment. Many school districts require volunteers and others working directly with children to have these clearances. Accordingly, the College of Education requires all students enrolled in field experiences to have both Act 34 and Act 151 clearances. Out-of-state residents must, in addition, present evidence of an FBI background check. These Acts were intended to cover employees of agencies and schools, however, some agencies and school districts are also requiring these background checks for interns. All practicum and internship students must also maintain professional liability insurance.

A maximum of 10 (appropriate) credits earned at another accredited graduate school or 15 credits through continuing education and/or non-degree work at Penn State may be transferred into a Penn State degree graduate program. Credits earned in these ways may be used only if they meet program requirements and are approved by the Penn State faculty adviser as well as by the Graduate School.