Popular Accredited Online Master’s in Mental Health Counseling in Massachusetts [2024]

Online master’s in mental health counseling programs in Massachusetts are designed for those who want to make a difference by supporting people through their mental health journeys.

Whether you are changing careers or advancing in your current field, online mental health counseling programs can fit into your busy schedule, setting you on the path to a rewarding career in mental health. From the comfort of your own home, you can learn from experienced professionals, gaining the knowledge and skills needed to become a licensed mental health counselor in Massachusetts.

This article explores some of the popular online master’s mental health counseling programs available in Massachusetts.

Best Accredited Online Master's in Mental Health Counseling in Massachusetts

Online Master’s in Mental Health Counseling in Massachusetts

Listed below are some of the popular schools offering online master’s in mental health counseling in Massachusetts:

  • UMass Boston
  • Bay Path University
  • Merrimack College
  • William James College
  • Sacred Heart University
  • Grand Canyon University
  • Walden University

UMass Boston

Online Master of Science – Mental Health Counseling

UMass Boston’s Mental Health Counseling Master of Science program is designed to prepare you for a fulfilling career as a mental health counselor, focusing on an academically rigorous program. It is designed for those keen on pursuing an advanced degree and obtaining state licensure to work in the field of mental health counseling.

The 60-credit hour, online master’s program in mental health counseling at UMass Boston fulfills the educational criteria for becoming a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in Massachusetts. As part of the program, you will work across varied settings, acquiring extensive skills and knowledge in mental health, counseling, and advocacy. These positions will equip you for licensure, assuming you complete your internship within Massachusetts.

The program starts with a two-week, in-person study session at or close to the UMass Boston campus, allowing you to connect with your cohort and complete two courses (6 credits) towards your degree. Throughout your studies, you will gain practical experience by fulfilling some of your clinical fieldwork hours at an approved placement under suitable supervision.

Upon completing the program, you will have met the academic requirements for state licensure in mental health counseling within Massachusetts and finished all the clinical fieldwork hours necessary for licensure.

UMass Boston holds regional accreditation through NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges), ensuring the online program’s quality mirrors that of the on-campus offering, with many of the same instructors leading courses.

This program, accredited by the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC), covers various courses:

  • Group Counseling and Group Dynamics: In this course, you will explore group dynamics and participate in group activities to understand group membership and interpret data. Through lectures and readings, you will develop a foundation for evaluating experiential learning.
  • Child and Adolescent Counseling: You will concentrate on supporting the distinct development and emotional growth of children and adolescents in counseling, incorporating various therapeutic approaches and considering developmental, cognitive, behavioral, educational, multicultural, and environmental factors.
  • Life Span Human Development: In this course, you will receive a comprehensive overview of human development across the lifespan, considering the interplay of age with factors like gender, cultural background, and disabilities.
  • Trauma and Crisis Counseling: You will examine the psychology of trauma caused by various factors, learning about counseling approaches for clients who have experienced trauma or are in crisis.
  • Counseling Families and Couples: You will learn about systems thinking and its application to couples and families, exploring different family therapy models and techniques.
  • Sex and Sexuality in Counseling Practice: This course will introduce you to different perspectives on sex and sexuality within counseling, covering topics from sexual function and intimacy to sexual identity.
  • Substance Abuse in Counseling Practice: You will investigate the impact of substance abuse on society, studying its physiological consequences, treatment modalities, and the intersection with the criminal justice system.
  • Sociocultural Considerations in Counseling: In this course, you will explore the role of culture in counseling and psychology, applying an interdisciplinary approach to counseling in a multicultural society.
  • Psychopathology and Diagnosis: This course will provide insights into the diagnosis, etiology, and treatment of mental illnesses, focusing on avoiding bias in psychiatric diagnosis.

After completing this two-year program, you will receive a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling, signifying your expertise in the field. This degree will prepare you to complete the necessary clinical fieldwork hours for licensure. If you choose a concentration in adjustment counseling, you will also qualify for initial level licensure as a school adjustment counselor by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

To graduate, you must also complete 100 hours of practicum experience, which includes direct service work with clients, individual and group supervision by an approved supervisor.

To apply, you need to submit the following:

  • A completed application along with the application fee.
  • Two letters of recommendation, with at least one from someone familiar with your academic work—preferably professors, though a letter from a supervisor is acceptable if you have been out of school for some time.
  • A statement of purpose outlining your goals, professional experience, and reasons for applying, including your aspirations for graduate study and specific interests in your field in a detailed essay.
  • Official transcripts from all attended universities, which must be official and sealed.
  • An updated resume.

The application fee is $75, but UMass Boston alumni and current students completing their degree requirements before graduate enrollment may apply without this fee.

Bay Path University

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

As a mental health counselor, you will play a pivotal role in improving the lives of those dealing with mental and emotional disorders like depression, trauma, or substance use, supporting individuals or families through life changes such as divorce, or devising strategies to assist patients in facing an uncertain future. Your influence will consistently be a source of positivity for those in need.

Bay Path University offers a Master of Science (MS) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling through an engaging, entirely online program. This program equips you with an in-depth education and training in mental health counseling. You will learn about the latest theories and models for mental health challenges and gain advanced counseling skills and techniques.

This program prepares you for the opportunity to take the licensing examination and apply for licensure as a mental health counselor in Massachusetts, as well as similar licenses in other states, like the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Connecticut.

To earn the MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Bay Path, you must complete at least 60 credit hours. This includes 48 semester hours of academic coursework and an additional 12 credits from supervised practicum and internship experiences. You have the option to specialize in one of the following tracks:

  • MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling – 60 credits, fully compliant with LMHC eligibility requirements.
  • MS in CMHC/Advanced Trauma-Informed Counseling.
  • MS in CMHC/Alcohol & Drug Use Counseling.
  • MS in CMHC/School Adjustment Counseling – 60 credits, including a 100-hour practicum and an 800-hour supervised internship in a public school setting.

You can progress through the program at your own pace, with the flexibility to take two to four courses per semester depending on your personal commitments and financial aid eligibility. This allows for the completion of the degree in approximately 2 to 3.5 years.

The 3-credit practicum course is conducted entirely within the university, allowing you to practice counseling skills with peers in supervised sessions. After completing at least 24 credits, you can enroll in this course, which requires about 8 hours weekly, totaling 100 hours including practice sessions, supervision, and additional assignments.

Following the practicum, upon completing 30 credits and securing an affiliation agreement with a site, you can begin the 600-hour Internship, selected with guidance and approval from the Program Director. This involves maintaining a daily log and completing learning agreements and supervisor evaluations for each segment of the internship.

Graduates of this program are expected to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of counseling theories, critical thinking skills, appreciation of diversity, and proficiency in ethical and professional standards.

Admissions are open throughout the year, with classes starting every January, May, and September. Applicants are recommended to have a foundational knowledge in statistics, research methods, and psychology disciplines.

To apply, you must submit:

  • A completed application.
  • Official transcripts with a preferred GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • An original essay of 300-500 words on why this program aligns with your personal and professional goals.
  • A current resume.
  • Two recommendations using the university’s form.
  • A signed program requirement form.

This comprehensive program is designed to equip you with the skills and knowledge needed to make a significant impact in the field of mental health counseling.

Merrimack College

Online Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

At Merrimack, the master’s programs in clinical mental health counseling, whether you choose to study online or on-campus, provide the same rigorous curriculum led by our expert faculty. The online format offers  100% online and asynchronous courses, enabling you to complete your studies whenever it suits your schedule.

Merrimack is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), and master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling meets the Massachusetts state licensing board requirements. Upon graduation, you will be eligible to sit for the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE).

Merrimack’s master of science in clinical mental health counseling is designed to accommodate the lives of working adults or recent college graduates. Whether you are studying online or on-campus, you have the option to complete your master’s in 3-4 years through part-time study, or in 2 years if you are studying full-time.

The program encompasses 60 credits, including coursework, practicum and internship placements, and clinical supervision. While the online courses are asynchronous, the practicum and internship group supervision course is synchronous.

Full-time students starting in the Fall semester and maintaining satisfactory academic progress can finish the program in two years, including two summer sessions. Part-time students can complete their studies in three to four years, depending on their start date.

Throughout your studies, you will engage in a comprehensive curriculum that covers counseling skills and techniques, diagnoses, assessments, and interventions tailored to the needs of individuals, families, and communities. Some of the courses that you will take include:

  • Counseling Theory
  • Group Counseling
  • Psychological Assessment
  • Trauma and Crisis Intervention
  • Counseling Skills and Techniques
  • Evaluation and Treatment of Addictions
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Career and College Counseling

The curriculum emphasizes the latest evidence-based techniques, ensuring you are proficient in diagnosis and assessment, group counseling, addiction and trauma, crisis intervention, telecounseling, research, and more. You will also gain specific competencies and learn counseling techniques through a social justice lens, recognizing the role of privilege and oppression.

Merrimack College’s mental health counseling program includes 700 hours of hands-on clinical training across various settings such as schools, rehab centers, hospitals, and correctional facilities. The university carefully selects these clinical sites and supervisors to ensure they complement the curriculum, enhance your mental health counseling skills, and qualify you for licensure as a mental health counselor.

As a student, you will be assigned a faculty mentor for personalized guidance throughout your journey in the mental health counseling master’s degree program. With a 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio, dedicated faculty are readily available to assist with any queries throughout your coursework.

The practicum is your chance to integrate what you have learned and refine your skills in individual and group counseling, case conceptualization, treatment planning, and soft skills such as warmth, genuineness, and empathy. This involves both on-site and on-campus supervision.

Following the practicum, you will complete 300 hours of internship in a variety of settings, engaging in on-site clinical supervision. Weekly meetings on campus with a faculty clinical supervisor and other graduate students/interns in a seminar format will allow you to further develop your skills.

Program learning outcomes include developing a broad sense of self-awareness, engaging in reflective practice, appreciating scientific knowledge and research methodology, forming professional relationships, demonstrating cultural sensitivity, applying ethical standards to professional activities, and more.

To apply for the M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Merrimack College, you need a Bachelor of Arts or Science degree. The application process requires:

  • Official transcripts.
  • Two letters of reference, including at least one non-academic letter addressing your readiness for therapeutic work.
  • A personal statement.
  • A resume detailing any clinical work experience.

William James College

Online Master of Arts – Clinical Mental Health Counseling

At William James College, the online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, a comprehensive 60-credit program, offers you the blend of online flexibility and essential in-person experiences. This program can be completed in 2.5–3 years depending on when you start. It uniquely combines asynchronous and synchronous online courses with necessary in-person field education and on-campus summer residencies.

Your journey through this master’s program will include most courses lasting seven weeks during the fall and spring, which you can complete asynchronously. During your second and third years, you will partake in a weekly synchronous online course linked to your field education. Each summer, you are required to attend two on-campus residencies, enriching your learning experience.

Some of the courses that you will take include:

  • Lifespan Development
  • Introduction to Family Therapy
  • Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy
  • Professional Issues and Ethics
  • Career Counseling
  • Psychological Assessment for Counselors
  • Substance Use and Addiction
  • Group Counseling and Psychotherapy
  • Diversity, Difference and Inclusion
  • Research and Program Evaluation

Clinical seminars are delivered live each week through Zoom, ensuring you engage in real-time learning. The Career Counseling course adopts a hybrid approach, involving two full days of live instruction over a weekend via Zoom. The Diversity and Group courses requires your presence during the initial two-week residency, while a four-day residency in your second summer prepares you for your internship and the comprehensive examination.

Starting with shadowing and observation in your practicum experience, you will progress to actively participating in intakes, co-leading groups, engaging in milieu therapy, and possibly conducting individual therapy sessions by your second semester’s end.

The internship, requiring at least 600 hours, is designed to prepare you to work independently as a clinical mental health counselor under supervision, managing individual cases, leading groups, and conducting intakes, among other responsibilities, all under a licensed approved field supervisor’s guidance.

William James College provides personalized assistance in finding suitable practicum and internship placements. This support extends to online students everywhere, ensuring you meet licensure requirements for your intended practice state. For those living locally, the university maintain affiliations with over 175 organizations across Massachusetts and other New England states.

The field placement experience is supported by small clinical seminars led by a faculty supervisor, involving up to eight students. These online, synchronous sessions offer a platform to share experiences and enrich your field education, with your faculty supervisor coordinating closely with your site supervisor for optimal on-site and academic training.

Upon completing the program, you will have met both the educational and pre-master’s field experience requirements necessary for licensure as a mental health counselor in Massachusetts and several other states.

The program also offers an optional co-curricular concentration in Military and Veterans Psychology, allowing you to focus part of your training on supporting military service members, veterans, and their families, and connect with peers and faculty with similar academic interests.

Throughout your program, you will engage with faculty experts in education, research, mentorship, and training, working closely with an advisor assigned during orientation to support your course planning, personal and professional development, and career goals. With each advisor overseeing just 12 students, you are guaranteed a personalized advising experience.

New cohorts start every fall and spring, seeking applicants who show academic excellence, dedication to development, and a commitment to community service.

The application process requires:

  • Completed application form.
  • Official transcripts.
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation.
  • Application essay.
  • A resume detailing any clinical work experience.

You may transfer up to 12 credits of equivalent graduate coursework towards your degree requirements, subject to program director and faculty consultation. Transfer credits apply only to classroom coursework, not previous fieldwork experience, reflecting our philosophy of integrating coursework with field education.

How Do I Become a Mental Health Counselor in Massachusetts?

To become a licensed mental health counselor in Massachusetts, you need to:

  1. Acquire a master’s degree in mental health counseling or a related field, requiring at least 60 credit hours.
  2. Fulfill a minimum of two years of supervised clinical experience post-master’s degree.
  3. Successfully clear the NCMHCE licensing board examination.
  4. Submit an application for the Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) credential via the Massachusetts Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professional Board.

How Long Does It Take to Become an LMHC in MA?

Overall, the process to become an LMHC in Massachusetts typically takes around 4 to 6 years after completing a bachelor’s degree, comprising 2 to 3 years of educational preparation and an additional 2 years of supervised clinical experience, plus the time to prepare for and pass the licensing examination and to have your licensure application processed.

Can LMHCs Practice Independently in MA?

Yes LMHCs in Massachusetts can practice independently. Once you have met all the requirements for licensure, you are authorized to provide mental health counseling services independently.

The scope of practice for LMHCs in Massachusetts includes assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental and emotional disorders, individual and group counseling, psychotherapy, and potentially consultation and education. LMHCs in Massachusetts can work in private practices, clinics, hospitals, educational settings, and various other environments where mental health services are provided.

How Much Does an LMHC Make in Massachusetts?

As of February 2024, the average annual salary for an LMHC in Massachusetts is $83,817. Entry level positions start at $55,000 per year. Experienced LMHCs in Massachusetts earn well over $100,000 per year.

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