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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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.

Online programs are best suited to the motivated, mature, and independent learner with basic computer knowledge. Online courses are comparable to traditional courses and therefore, require the same level of work and interactivity. Online courses should not be confused with independent study courses, or be characterized as less rigorous than "live" classes.

Be eligible for consideration, the master's program requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution in psychology, education, behavioral science, or related field and demonstration of scholastic ability and interpersonal skills to be an effective mental health counselor. See additional information below on admissions requirements.

Course work is offered online and in residential and weekend format (regional campuses); however, the practicum experience requires placement in a qualified agency where the student will provide counseling services under the direction of a qualified supervisor. Students must insure they can complete this required experience(s). Students in the online Clinical Mental Health Counseling concentration are required to attend the Residential Institute.

The College of Psychology currently offers five concentrations in the master's program: mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling, substance abuse counseling and education, and applied behavior analysis.

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 Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.® (BACB) has verified the Advanced Applied Behavior Analysis course sequence as meeting the coursework requirements for eligibility to take 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 newletters and stay well-informed of credentialing requirements. Please check with an academic advisor regarding course planning and selection.

A mental health 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.

Counselors can assist individuals dealing with such issues as stress management, self-esteem, aging, job and career concerns, educational decisions, mental and emotional health, and family, parenting, marital problems, as well as other issues.

Mental health 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.

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 abuser’s family and supporters.

Substance Abuse Counseling

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.

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.

Mental Health Counseling

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

Some graduates elect to pursue licensure as a professional counselor or mental health counselor 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.

According to the 2008 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, counselors held about 600,000 jobs in 2008. About 100,000 were identified as mental health counselors and about 80,000 were substance abuse counselors. The demand for counselors is expected to be better than average for mental health counselors, substance abuse counselors, and marriage and family therapists.

Median annual earnings of mental health counselors in 2008 were $40,270. The middle 50 percent earned between $28,930 and $48,580. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,580, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $63,100. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of mental health counselors in 2008 were as follows:

Industry Salary
Local government $47,550
Mental Health Hospitals $32,340
Outpatient Care Services $40,540
Individual and family services $39,170
Offices of other Health Care Practitioners $44,660
Home Health Care $48,550
Elementary and Secondary Schools $49,970
Junior Colleges $59,730

Median annual earnings for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors in 2008 was $39,670. The middle percent earned between $29,410 and $47,290. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,240 and the highest percent earned more than $59,460.

More information can be obtained in the National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates (Community and Social Services Occupations) at the site, 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 and

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 advanced 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 verified course sequence as part of their degree requirement. In addition, ABA is frequently used in community settings by private practitioners.

No. Students are able to take the ABA concentrations alone 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

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board has indicated that students may be advised that the course work sequence meets meet 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

Visit the BACB at 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 A or B were received.

Information on the admissions requirements is located HERE.

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.

During the formal review for matriculation, students' academic performance and professional functioning in the first four courses completed will be examined. Students need a grade point average of 3.0 or above in the four courses to be matriculated and cannot have two grades below "B-" or a grade of "F" in matriculation courses.

Additional requirements can be found in the student handbook.

The mental health counseling program and counseling with a concentration in mental health counseling require a comprehensive examination at the end of the program.

Mental Health Counseling and Substance Abuse: The mental health counseling and substance abuse practicum 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

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

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.

In addition to the online program, the master's degree in mental health counseling is offered in classroom settings throughout Florida.

  • Regional Campuses (field based format)
    The program is offered at NSU Regional Campuses in Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach, and Tampa in the State of Florida with classes scheduled on weekends.
  • Main Campus (traditional semester format)
    Classes are held on the university's main campus in Ft. Lauderdale/Davie. Courses are offered during three semesters each year. Classes are typically held Monday through Thursday, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

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.

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