Accredited Counseling Psychology Masters Programs in California [2024 Guide]

Here is a list of some of the popular schools offering counseling psychology master’s programs in California:

  • California State University, Fullerton
  • University of Southern California
  • Pepperdine University
  • University of San Diego
  • Grand Canyon University
  • California State University, Fresno
  • California State University, Los Angeles
  • Capella University

California State University, Fullerton

California State University, Fullerton, a prestigious public university, is situated in Fullerton, California. It has the distinction of being the largest campus in the California State University system, with over 41,000 students enrolled. Furthermore, the university has one of the biggest graduate student populations in California, exceeding 5,000 students.

Located in Orange County, approximately 30 miles from Los Angeles, CSUF offers a wide variety of academic programs, including more than 50 undergraduate and close to 50 master’s degrees. As an institution that serves Hispanic students, CSUF also has the potential to be recognized as a university catering to Asian American, Native American, and Pacific Islander students.

Extracurricular activities are abundant at CSUF, with over 50 clubs, Greek life, and intramural sports available for students. Many students also take advantage of the region’s beautiful weather, visiting nearby beaches and exploring the vibrant city of Los Angeles.

Master of Science in Counseling

The Department of Counseling at California State University, Fullerton delivers a Master of Science degree, focusing on clinical mental health environments. This curriculum is approved by the California State Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS), fulfilling educational requirements for students pursuing licensure as Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) in California.

The program also holds national accreditation through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) in clinical mental health counseling.

The department’s goal is to educate professionals who can effectively meet the needs of individuals and families within their communities. Students acquire the skills to deliver both brief and long-term evidence-based therapy while preserving their professional identities as counselors and marriage and family therapists.

Emphasizing a multicultural viewpoint, the program aims to develop counselors who are aware of the varied ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs, lifestyles, and unique needs of different individuals and families. The diverse backgrounds and values of both students and faculty reflect this commitment.

The program’s theoretical framework is rooted in humanistic, relational, and integrative principles. This approach respects various counseling philosophies, adapts techniques based on client and student requirements, and upholds the belief that relationships are crucial to all supportive interactions.

The program also acknowledges that understanding the links between emotional distress, family dynamics, and societal and cultural contexts is essential for counselors to effectively help others.

The program consists of 63 units, allowing students to progress at a comfortable pace and complete the degree within three to five years.

University of Southern California

Established in 1880 by Robert M. Widney, the University of Southern California (USC) stands as the first private research institution in California, located in Los Angeles. The university is renowned for its diverse and sizeable student population, with over 21,000 undergraduates and 28,000 postgraduates originating from all corners of the U.S. and over 115 countries worldwide.

USC is a proud member of the Association of American Universities since 1969 and consistently ranks high among top academic institutions in the nation. Gaining admission to USC is quite competitive, given its esteemed reputation.

The main University Park campus can be found within the vibrant Downtown Arts and Education Corridor of Los Angeles. In addition, USC operates several other campuses throughout Los Angeles and other parts of Southern California, as well as in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

Students at USC enjoy a thriving campus life, with access to over 1,000 clubs and organizations that cater to a wide array of interests, including religious affiliations and athletic pursuits.

Online Master of Education in School Counseling

The online Master of Education in School Counseling program caters to those aiming to make a difference as school counselors in K-12 environments. This comprehensive program addresses the various challenges faced by contemporary schools while prioritizing the holistic development of children by considering their social, emotional, and academic needs. Graduates are equipped to seek school counselor credentials.

Program highlights include:

  • Obtaining a degree in school counseling from a reputable institution
  • Participating in weekly live virtual classes, supplemented by engaging self-directed coursework
  • Refining skills through community-based field experiences
  • Preparing to secure a school counselor credential

The online school counseling program is accredited as a credentialing program, enabling students to be recommended for the Pupil Personnel Services: School Counseling (PPS-SC) Credential by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

To work as a school counselor in California, the PPS-SC Credential is mandatory. All students must fulfill the California Basic Skills Requirement before commencing field experience to graduate.

The program’s curriculum is based on professional competencies and standards from the American School Counselor Association’s National Model for School Counseling, as well as essential research in counselor education, sociology, philosophy, education, counseling, and community psychology fields.

Additionally, students engage in fieldwork in K-12 schools, enabling them to apply their knowledge to real-world situations involving children, families, and school administrators.

The program requires students to complete a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship. A dedicated team of placement specialists assists students in finding suitable sites for their field experiences.

California State University, Fresno

California State University, Fresno, situated in Fresno, California, is a public educational institution within the California State University network. The university presents a diverse selection of academic opportunities, including 60 undergraduate degree programs, 45 master’s programs, 3 doctoral programs, 12 advanced study certificates, and 2 unique teaching credentials.

The campus, occupying 363 acres in an urban setting, hosts over 20,000 undergraduate students and follows a semester-based schedule.

As an “R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity” institution, Fresno State is both an Hispanic-serving institution (HSI) and eligible for designation as an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander serving institution (AANAPISI).

Among its facilities, the campus boasts a 50,000-square-foot Student Recreation Center and the California State University system’s third-largest library by area.

Fresno State students appreciate the scenic campus and its proximity to natural wonders like the San Joaquin Valley and Yosemite National Park, which is approximately 60 miles away.

For weekend trips, students can explore urban environments in San Francisco and Los Angeles, each about 200 miles from the university. The city of Fresno itself offers various entertainment options, such as theaters, shopping centers, and dining establishments.

Master of Science in Counseling

The Kremen School of Education and Human Development at California State University, Fresno provides a Master of Science degree in Counseling, featuring two focused pathways: School Counseling and Student Affairs and College Counseling. These tailored options enable students to concentrate their expertise in a specific area, resulting in better preparedness in the counseling field.

Specialization in School Counseling

The 48-unit M.S. in Counseling with a focus on School Counseling is designed for those seeking advanced training for careers in educational environments (K-12).

The graduate program in school counseling complements the Pupil Personnel Services Credential (PPS) curriculum, further enhancing the preparation of counselors in public and private schools. The PPS credential is necessary for those pursuing K-12 public school counseling positions.

The School Counseling option demands an understanding of individual and group dynamics, specialized advising practices, and developmental issues associated with students’ growth. It also requires knowledge of organizational dynamics, a solid foundation in counseling theory, and the development of counseling skills suitable for diverse student populations and backgrounds.

The PPS Credential, essential for K-12 public school counseling roles in California, can be earned alongside a master’s degree or as the primary educational goal.

Specialization in Student Affairs and College Counseling

The 48-unit Master of Science in Counseling, concentrating on Student Affairs and College Counseling (SACC), readies individuals for vital roles in student affairs and other essential positions that foster student achievement in higher education.

The SACC program provides participants with the necessary academic foundation and training to effectively support college students’ scholastic, professional, and personal counseling needs.

SACC students undergo extensive instruction and guidance in the fundamental aspects of Person-Centered Counseling through coursework, practicums, and field experiences. The incorporation of these core principles in the work of student affairs specialists is crucial for cultivating solid working relationships and comprehending the requirements of diverse students in higher education.

The blend of classroom learning and practical opportunities enables SACC students to acquire, refine, and utilize their counseling expertise in a variety of higher education environments.

University of San Diego

Located in San Diego, California, the University of San Diego (USD) is a private Roman Catholic research institution.

Established in July 1949 as the autonomous San Diego College for Women and San Diego University (which included the College for Men and School of Law), the two schools merged in 1972.

Since the merger, USD has expanded to include nine undergraduate and graduate schools, such as the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, School of Leadership and Education Sciences, Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, and Knauss School of Business.

The university offers 89 academic programs and enrolls over 9,000 students, including undergraduates, paralegals, graduates, and law students.

USD falls under the “R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity” classification.

Master of Arts in Counseling

The Master of Arts in Counseling program at the University of San Diego involves a tailored course sequence and hands-on experience, preparing students to seek licensure as professional clinical counselors (LPCC) via the California Board of Behavioral Sciences and other state boards across the nation.

The program entails 36 units of coursework, adhering to recommendations from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC).

Students undergo core and specialized courses specific to their professional interests. To fulfill program requirements, they must also complete three terms of practicum or fieldwork at an approved site aligning with their career objectives.

A minimum of 700 supervised practicum hours is mandatory over three semesters, with at least 240 direct service hours, including group leadership experience. In the first semester, students should complete a minimum of 100 hours, featuring 40 direct service hours.

A capstone research project defense evaluates students’ readiness to conclude the program. This entails completing a research project under their advisor’s guidance, followed by a public presentation of the project and its findings. Alongside the presentation, students submit a formal written research brief project report. The research defense typically occurs during the final semester.

Admission to the Master of Arts in Counseling program does not necessitate GRE scores or specific coursework. While professional experience is suggested, it is not mandatory for entry. Other admission requirements include:

  • Official degree-granting transcripts
  • Current resume or curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose
  • Interview

California State University, Los Angeles

Established in 1947, California State University—Los Angeles, commonly referred to as Cal State LA, is a public university located in a bustling urban setting. The campus spans across 175 acres and follows a semester-based academic calendar. Cal State LA has a sizable undergraduate student population of over 23,000 and is ranked No. 24 in the 2022-2023 US News edition of Best Colleges.

Cal State LA is a convenient option for commuting students, thanks to its Metrolink train stop and access to nearly 20 bus lines. For those who wish to reside on campus, the university offers a variety of housing options such as dormitories and apartments.

The institution boasts a wide selection of academic programs, with approximately 100 undergraduate, graduate, pre-professional, and certificate options. Graduate students at Cal State LA can enroll in degree programs across various fields, including rehabilitation counseling, social work, nursing, fine arts, and others.

Cal State LA provides numerous student services, such as non-remedial tutoring, a women’s center, job placement support, child care facilities, health services, and health insurance coverage.

Master of Science in Counseling

Cal State LA’s Master of Science in Counseling, with a focus on Rehabilitation Counseling, trains future counselors to help individuals with disabilities lead satisfying lives. The comprehensive curriculum addresses the medical, psychological, and social aspects of disability.

Each fall, 36 students are admitted for full-time graduate studies, taught by two full-time and six adjunct faculty members. The 70-unit program takes three years to complete, boasts an exceptional graduation rate, and equips counseling professionals for a specialized range of work.

Many students receive job offers before finishing their graduate studies. Graduates find employment in various rehabilitation-related settings, earning competitive salaries with opportunities for growth.

The program holds accreditation from the CACREP. This accreditation is acknowledged as the training standard for counselors by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, enabling students to access competitive job opportunities.

CACREP-accredited programs align with state counselor licensure laws, including California, providing a route to licensure and the ability to transfer that license.

The mission of the Master of Science in Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling focus, is to attract, retain, and graduate students from a diverse urban setting, preparing them as rehabilitation counselors capable of performing the full scope of the profession.

The program fosters a learning environment that develops a professional rehabilitation counselor identity. Graduates are qualified to offer a comprehensive range of rehabilitation counseling services to individuals with disabilities, helping them reach their personal and professional potential.

To apply, applicants must submit the following:

  • A completed Cal State LA Apply application
  • Two letters of recommendation, submitted electronically by the recommender
  • Transcripts from all attended colleges and universities (including community colleges)
  • A personal history (maximum of 5 double-spaced pages)

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Copyright © 2024 All Rights Reserved. Program outcomes can vary according to each institution's curriculum and job opportunities are not guaranteed. This site is for informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional help.