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Frequently Asked Questions

A professional counselor serves the community in a variety of counseling capacities. Training emphasizes prevention of dysfunction, interdisciplinary collaboration, and direct service. Services are typically provided in mental health agencies and clinics, substance abuse clinics, hospices, hospitals, educational settings, and private practices.

Professional counselors can assist individuals dealing with such issues as stress management, self-esteem, aging, job and career concerns, educational decisions, mental, emotional and relational issues, trauma, as well as family, parenting, and marital problems. Counselors work closely with other mental health specialists, including psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatric nurses, and school counselors.

For more information, visit the American Counseling Association, 5999 Stevenson Ave., Alexandria, VA 22304-3300 or the National Board for Certified Counselors, Inc., 3 Terrace Way, Suite D, Greensboro, NC 27403-3660.

A concentration allows you to focus on a specific area of counseling. Each area is generally aligned to professional standards in the particular field of counseling and/or state certification or licensing requirements. Note that state standards vary from state to state so you should verify the eligibility of this training to those you are trying to meet.

The Department of Counseling currently offers five concentrations in the master's program:

Clinical Mental Health Counseling (60 credit hours)

  • Traditional, ground-based on the Fort-Lauderdale/Davie Main Campus
  • Intensive 8-week weekend hybrid at the Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach, and Tampa campuses
  • Online, with a weekend campus residency required during the student’s second or third semester

School Counseling (48 credit hours)

  • Intensive 8-week weekend hybrid at the Fort-Lauderdale/Davie Main Campus, Orlando, and Tampa campuses

Substance Abuse Counseling (48 credit hours)

  • Fully online

Substance Abuse Counseling and Education (60 credit hours)

  • Fully online

Applied Behavior Analysis (51-63 credit hours)

Fully online

  1. The master’s degree in Counseling with a Clinical Mental Health Counseling concentration (60 credit hours) provides education and training for those who will seek employment in such diverse settings as social agencies, mental health clinics, hospitals, personnel offices, and schools. This program is offered on the main campus in a ground-based semester format, at one of five other NSU regional campuses in an intensive weekend format, or online. Currently, there are regional campus programs offered in Florida at Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and Palm Beach. Many graduates go on to seek licensure in Florida as mental health counselors (LMHC).

  2. The master’s degree in Counseling with a School Counseling concentration (48 credit hours) provides training to individuals seeking positions as school counselors in Pre-K to 12 grade school systems. The program is offered in Fort Lauderdale/Davie, Orlando, and Tampa, in an intensive weekend format. The School Counseling program curriculum is approved by the Florida Department of Education (DOE). Upon degree conferral, School Counseling graduates qualify for Florida certification in Guidance and Counseling.

  3. The master’s degree in Counseling with a Substance Abuse Counseling concentration (48 credit hours) or Substance Abuse Counseling and Education concentration (60 credit hours) is an innovative academic program designed for the working professional actively involved in or entering the field of Substance Abuse Counseling or related fields. The online format is particularly designed to serve the training needs of administrators and practitioners who seek advanced training, but who cannot access quality training without the interruption of ongoing work responsibilities. Upon degree conferral, Substance Abuse Counseling graduates qualify for Florida MCAP certification as a Certified Master’s Level Addiction Professional.

  4. The master’s degree in Counseling with an Applied Behavior Analysis concentration (51 required credit hours) is an innovative academic program designed for the working professional actively involved in or entering the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). The online format is particularly designed to for those who seek advanced training and the convenience of distance education. The program focuses on developing clinicians informed by science, with classes taught by professors who are active clinicians and researchers in the field. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.® (BACB) has approved the Advanced Applied Behavior Analysis course sequence as meeting the coursework requirements for eligibility to take either the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Examination. Students wishing to fulfill BACB requirements for professional certification should contact the BACB for specific information and advisement. It is recommended that students register with the BACB in order to receive monthly newsletters and stay well-informed of credentialing requirements. Please check with an academic advisor regarding course planning and selection. The Applied Behavior Analysis concentration meets the academic and experience exam eligibility requirements as per the BACB.

After completing their master’s degree, professional counselors work in many different types of mental health facilities, schools, and medical settings where individuals, families, and groups of people may seek help for a variety of personal, social, career, or emotional issues.

The program is offered in three formats:

The traditional ground-based format is offered at the Main Campus in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Courses are offered weekly for the duration of the academic semester, typically held Monday through Thursday, 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The Clinical Mental Health Counseling concentration is offered in this format.

The weekend hybrid format is offered in classroom settings throughout Florida at Regional Campuses in Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach, and Tampa. Classes are scheduled on weekends (typically on Friday 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.). The Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling concentrations are offered in this format. Please contact the Admissions Office for information about current campus cluster start-ups.

In the online format, all coursework is offered online. Courses are generally asynchronous, meaning that the student has the flexibility to self-pace their work within the course deadlines. Occasionally, some courses may have synchronous (i.e., live) class meetings, which are arranged between the instructor and the class. Note: The Clinical Mental Health Counseling concentration requires a 3-day mandatory face-to-face residency (part of PYCL 0511, Introduction to Counseling Techniques), typically taken in the second semester of the program. Currently, this residency may be completed at either the Orlando or Fort Lauderdale-Davie campuses.

Please note: The Clinical Mental Health Counseling, School Counseling, and Substance Abuse Counseling and Education concentrations all require a supervised practicum and/or internship experience in order to complete the degree (the ABA Practicum is optional). This field experience requires placement in a qualified agency where the student will provide face-to-face counseling services under the direction of a qualified supervisor. All practicum and internship courses meet synchronously (i.e., live, either in person or via videoconference, if an online course), which is a departure from the typical weekend and online schedules.

While the Clinical Mental Health Counseling curriculum is identical, currently the program cannot allow students to ‘mix and match’ their course formats. Students apply to and enter their program in a particular format/campus and remain throughout their degree. Students may apply to change formats by completing the required documentation.

Yes, though requirements vary based on licensure and certification restrictions. Please contact the Admissions Office for detailed information on dual concentrations within the department.

Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals. A professional counselor seeks to improve the overall wellbeing of clients by using a strength-based treatment approach that leads to healthy growth and development. In doing so, different interventions are used to increase independent living and promote a better quality of life. Counselors often work in mental health agencies, hospitals, college counseling centers, schools, medical settings, well-being clinics, group practices, and private practice. Other helping professions, such as marriage and family counselors, psychologists, and social workers also work toward assisting clients in gaining healthier life styles, but use different approaches. For instance, marriage and family counselors focus on family systems, while psychologists utilize testing instruments, diagnosis, and the medical model to treat clients. Depending on their specialty, social workers focus on social justice and look at community resources to assist clients with basic surviving skills including food, shelter, and safety.

Clinical Mental Health Counselors hold a master's degree in mental health or a closely related field. Many trained clinical mental health counselors work in a variety of agencies, clinics, and schools and provide counseling services.

Some graduates elect to pursue licensure as a professional counselor (LPC) or mental health counselor (LMHC) in their particular state. Most states also have specific licensing regulations for individuals wishing to have an independent practice. They typically include educational requirements at the master's level, post master's supervised experience and an examination.

For example, licensure as a mental health counselor in Florida requires "a master's degree with a major related to the practice of mental health counseling or related field. Applicants must also have two (2) years of post-master's supervised experience under the supervision of a licensed mental health counselor or the equivalent (64B4-31.007(1)a,b,c,d,e F.A.C.) who is qualified as determined by the Board."

Prospective applicants should determine the eligibility of this program with the state requirements they are seeking. Generally, states provide several options for meeting their standards.

School counselors are master-level counselors that specifically chose to work in Pre-K to 12 grade schools. Because they specialize in the personal/social, academic, career, and emotional needs of children and adolescents, they possess unique training and skills to be able to function within complex educational systems.  Their training focuses on program development, leadership, collaborative work, consultation, individual, small group, and large group counseling, and program evaluation. School counselors typically carry large student case-loads and work closely many stakeholders, including parents, school personnel, and the community at large.

Addiction professionals have a unique knowledge and set of skills to assist substance abusers (persons affected by problems related to addictions). They also inform and provide programs to the general public for whom the prevention of addiction is a major issue.

Counselors assist clients in determining whether or not their clients have a substance abuse problem, provide experienced, professional counseling; assist and support clients in developing and/or maintaining a responsible and functional lifestyle, refer individuals to appropriate resources, and assist the client’s family and supporters.
States have varied levels of certification and /or licensure requirements for substance abuse counselors, addictions professionals, supervisors and prevention specialists. In addition, there are national and international certifications.

  • State of Florida Levels of Certification

Florida CAP (Certified Addiction Professional): This classification is viewed as the title for the addiction treatment professional primarily involved in providing direct treatment services in addictions. In addition, there are international and national certifications that can be obtained. Interested students should study the regulations in their particular state and learn about national and international certifications.

Students seeking certification at the BCBA level are required to have a master's degree in education, psychology, or applied behavior analysis. The BACB also accepts degrees from programs in which the candidate completed a BACB Verified Course Sequence. The Master's of Science in Counseling degree program with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis will allow students to meet both the academic coursework and acceptable degree criteria for certification as long as the student completes a single BACB approved course sequence as part of their degree requirement. In addition, ABA is frequently used in community settings by private practitioners.

To be considered for admission to graduate study, you are required to present evidence of scholastic ability, interest in the area of counseling, personal stability, and interpersonal sensitivity, and sound moral character.

  1. Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution.

  2. An undergraduate or master’s degree in psychology, education, behavioral science, social work, or related field with a) a grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or higher in last 60 semester hours of undergraduate coursework, or b) a master's degree with an overall GPA of 2.5 or better or c) a total score of 950 or higher on the combined verbal and quantitative sections of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) taken within the past five years, or other similar measures.

  3. A two page typed statement of interest articulating career plans, capabilities, special achievements, etc.

  4. Two professional letters of recommendation.

Applicants who do not meet the criteria indicated in #2 above, may be considered on the basis of relevant academic, professional, or exceptional experience or accomplishment.

Students will be admitted to graduate study and accepted for degree candidacy after successful matriculation.

Candidates should visit the BACB website at www.bacb.com for further information on acceptable degrees.
Students may transfer a maximum of six equivalent graduate level credits taken in the past five years in which grades of B or higher were received.
There are a number of student loans available for students. Financial aid is available in the form of guaranteed low interest loans through the federal government. For additional information, please contact the office of Student Financial Assistance (800) 541-6682, ext. 23380 or email finaid@nova@edu or visit the web site at http://www.nova.edu/financialaid.
Online programs enable students to advance their careers, particularly when they are place-committed, do not live near campus based programs, provide services in rural, frontier, or off-shore communities, have positions that require frequent travel or relocation, or who simply enjoy learning through this educational option. The online environment creates a community of learning where learning is dynamic and interactive.

Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Substance Abuse Counseling and Education: The clinical mental health counseling and substance abuse counseling and education practicum/internship experiences are designed to provide students with a sequential, supervised field experience in an appropriate counseling setting. Students will be required to complete the designated clinical training experiences in their concentration. Students outside Florida are responsible for providing information on appropriate agencies in their local or surrounding areas. An NSU representative will contact the agency on behalf of the student. While many students can complete the requirement while working, they should be prepared to make whatever arrangements are necessary to complete this requirement including a leave of absence, adjustment of the work schedule, etc. Prospective students should determine in advance of their enrollment their ability to access appropriate practicum training.

Applied Behavior Analysis: The ABA practicum experiences are designed to meet the supervision requirements for the certification process. They are provided as electives in the concentration so that students have the option of getting their supervision through the concentration practica or on their own as supervised independent fieldwork experience. The BCBA requires completion of supervised fieldwork (1500 hours), practicum (1000 hours) or intensive practicum (750 hours) using the principles of applied behavior analysis with supervision from a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Successfully completing the first course of the sequence in the Advanced ABA concentration is a prerequisite for students to apply for practicum. A list of practicum sites will be provided to students once they become eligible and they may choose from these sites or identify their own. If students decide to accrue their experience hours through supervised independent fieldwork instead of a practicum (e.g., a work place), they will be responsible for outlining their clinical training experience with their supervisor and obtaining permission from their employer or on-site supervisor. Students will be required to meet with their supervisors weekly. More information about acceptable supervised experience requirements can be found at www.bacb.com

International students are required to complete their clinical training experience in the United States.

The M.S. in Counseling with a concentration in Clinical Mental Health Counseling requires a comprehensive examination at the end of the program.
Classes may be taken on a full or part time basis. A minimum of six credits per term is required to be considered full-time.

Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC) to award associate's, baccalaureate, master's, educational specialist, doctorate, and professional degrees.

For questions about the accreditation of Nova Southeastern University, contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097; Telephone: (404) 679-4500.

View all of NSU's accreditations.

According to the 2017 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, counselors held about 671,000 jobs in 2017. About 260,200 were identified as mental health and substance abuse counselors. The demand for counselors is expected to be “much faster than average” for mental health counselors, substance abuse counselors, and marriage and family therapists.

Median annual earnings of mental health and substance abuse counselors in 2017 were $43,300. The middle 50 percent earned between $37,210 and $50,600. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $27,310, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $70,840. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of mental health and substance abuse counselors in 2017 were as follows:

Government $50,600
Hospitals; state, local and private $47,000
Individual and family services $42,190
Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers $42,140
Nursing and residential care facilities $37,210

More information can be obtained in the National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates (Community and Social Services Occupations) at the site http://www.bls.gov, as well as web sites for professional counseling and substance abuse organizations.

Recently reported salary ranges for master's level graduates who are certified as BCBAs are from $40,000 to $60,000 per year. Jobs are abundant at this time and demand far outstrips the supply of trained and certified practitioners. More information about careers in behavior analysis can be found at http://www.fabaworld.org and http://www.bacb.com.

NSU’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program meets the requirements for licensure as a Florida Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC).

Most graduates elect to pursue licensure as a professional counselor (LPC) or mental health counselor (LMHC) in their particular state. Most states also have specific licensing regulations for individuals wishing to have an independent practice. They typically include educational requirements at the master's level, post master's supervised experience and an examination.

For example, licensure as a mental health counselor in Florida requires "a master's degree with a major related to the practice of mental health counseling or related field. Applicants must also have two (2) years of post-master's supervised experience under the supervision of a licensed mental health counselor or the equivalent (64B4-31.007(1)a,b,c,d,e F.A.C.) who is qualified as determined by the Board."

Prospective applicants should determine the eligibility of this program with the state requirements they are seeking. For example, California requires an additional psychopharmacology course, and Ohio requires a second assessment course. Generally, states provide several options for meeting their standards.

Students are responsible for verifying periodically their individual eligibility for licensure, certification, internship, and employment through careful review of the applicable requirements of specific states, agencies, and employers, as such requirements are subject to change without notice.

Candidates should consult their state’s licensure guidelines for their specific requirements toward obtaining a license as a professional counselor. A listing of all state counseling boards can be found at www.nbcc.org/directory. Although these requirements vary from state to state, the successful completion of the clinical mental health counseling master’s program often allows graduates to apply for the initial level of a professional counseling licensure in many states.

Yes, the successful completion of the masters in counseling program with a concentration in school counseling leads to certification as a professional school counselor in the State of Florida. Candidates should consult with their state’s department of education for the specific requirements toward a certification in professional school counseling in their respective states.

A degree conferred by any College of Psychology program may not automatically mean that any given state would accept the program curricula for the purpose of professional licensure or certification. Students are responsible for verifying periodically their individual eligibility for licensure, certification, internship, and employment through careful review of the applicable requirements of specific states, agencies, and employers, as such requirements are subject to change without notice.

Students interested in pursuing national addictions certification should review requirements of the National Association for Addiction Professionals at www.naadac.org.

Students interested in obtaining the title “Florida Certified Addiction Professional” (CAP) and “Florida Master’s Level Addiction Professional” (MCAP) should review the requirements for certification at http://flcertificationboard.org/certification/available-certifications.

The Master's of Science in Counseling degree program with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis will allow students to meet both the academic coursework and acceptable degree criteria for certification as long as the student completes a single BACB approved course sequence as part of their degree requirement.

A degree conferred by any College of Psychology program may not automatically mean that any given state would accept the program curricula for the purpose of professional licensure or certification. Students are responsible for verifying periodically their individual eligibility for licensure, certification, internship, and employment through careful review of the applicable requirements of specific states, agencies, and employers, as such requirements are subject to change without notice.

For information regarding the requirements for certification in Applied Behavior Analysis, students should review the requirements for certification at http://www.bacb.com

No. Students are able to take the ABA concentrations alone as a non-degree-seeking student without completing the master's program in counseling as long as they can provide documentation that they hold an acceptable graduate degree per the BACB’s requirements. Note that a graduate degree in psychology, education, applied behavior analysis, or a degree from a program in which the candidate completed a BACB Approved Course Sequence is required for the BCBA certification. For more details regarding current requirements for BCBA certification please consult the official website for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) at www.bacb.com.
The Behavior Analyst Certification Board has indicated that students may be advised that the course work sequence meets the BACB's coursework eligibility requirements. The academic course work is offered through the concentration. Experience requirements for certification can be met through elective practica in the program or the student can seek supervision on his or her own. Following completion of academic coursework and supervision, students will still need to pass the certification exam offered by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board. More information about certification requirements can be found at www.bacb.com.
Students may choose to work part-time or full-time while completing their master’s degree. This decision is highly personal and depends on a variety of factors, including the students’ financial need and the number of credit hours taken each semester. It also depends of the delivery format chosen. Courses are offered online, on weekends, and in the evenings during the week to accommodate student’s work schedules. However, during practicum/internship experiences, students are required to work at their placement site between 10 and 20 hours per week (depending on the concentration and the course taken). This often causes students to reduce the number of hours at their job to accommodate practicum/internship hourly requirements.
Depending on the concentration and the number of credit hours taken each semester, the master’s of counseling degree may take from two to five years to complete. Students have up to five years to complete the program.
No, the GRE is not required for admission into the master’s in counseling programs.
Please refer to the National Board of Certified Counselors’ website (www.nbcc.org) for information on how to become a National Certified Counselor and/or Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor. NSU offers qualified counseling students who are advanced in their program (approaching graduation) the opportunity to sit for the National Counselor Examination every April and October.
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