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Counseling Psychology Program

Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology

Our Counseling Psychology degree prepares students to obtain their LPCC or MFT license.

Units: 90 quarter units (3 quarter units = 2 semester credits)
Program Length: 3 years(full-time)
Tracks: LPCC, MFT, LPCC/MFT, and No Track
Emphasis Options: Latino counseling, correctional psychology, and health psychology
Start Dates: Fall, Winter, Spring, or Summer
Instructional Method: On campus

The Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology provides an intensive 90-unit Master of Arts program for students. This program offers students the opportunity to obtain a license to practice psychotherapy in the State of California (e.g. LPCC, MFT, combination). Students may opt to include any of our four emphasis areas in Correctional PsychologyHealth Psychology, Latino Counseling or LGBT Counseling to their degree. An emphasis functions like a minor. Students not electing an emphasis may choose from a variety of electives to expand their knowledge in various areas.

 The Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology Tracks

The California Board of Behavioral Sciences bases the MFT Track on California State regulations, guidelines suggested by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and curriculum approval. Students choosing this track are qualified to sit for a MFT license exam after completing course work, practicum, and clinical hours in the State of California. 

90-unit MFT Course Plan

More specific information about the MFT process

The California Board of Behavioral Sciences bases the LPCC Track on California State regulations, guidelines from the California Coalition for Counselor Licensure, and curriculum approval. Students choosing this track are qualified to sit for a LPCC license exam after completing course work, practicum, and clinical hours. The LPCC is a portable degree, meaning that coursework and clinical training in California will allow a student to sit for licensure in any other state; based on any residency requirements of that state. LPCC licensing requirements include a national, rather than state-centric, exam.

The LPCC program is primarily focused on individual adult clients. Students pursuing this program who wish to work with couples, families and children will need to take classes in these specialties to work legally and ethically with these populations.

A major difference between the MFT and the LPCC is that a significant number of the required 3,000 training hours can be completed prior to receiving the Masters degree for the MFT license. The required 3,000 hours for the LPCC must all be accrued after graduation with a Masters degree.

90-unit LPCC Course Plan

The joint MFT/LPCC track is available for students who wish to apply for both licenses. This combined program can be completed within the 90 units. Students can also opt for one of the four emphases; however, students completing this track with an emphasis in Health Psychology or Correctional Psychology will need to complete 91.5 units and students completing this track with an emphasis in Latino counseling will need to complete 93 units to obtain all the necessary courses. Students who wish to explore this joint track option are encouraged to meet with a Faculty Advisor.

90-unit MFT LPCC Course Plan

Course Requirements - Counseling Psychology Degree Programs

Learn more about the differences between a LMFT, LCSW, LPCC and LEP

Students may also opt for neither the MFT nor the LPCC track. This track is for individuals who desire more extensive training and experience than the 52.5-unit M.A. of Counseling affords. This track does not lead to licensure.



We offer four optional emphases, Correctional PsychologyHealth PsychologyLatino Counseling, and LGBT Counseling are available to all students in the 90-unit degree program. An emphasis functions like a minor. Students not electing an emphasis may choose from a variety of electives to expand their knowledge in various areas.

CPSY Emphases Course Requirements


The Emphasis in Corrections is designed for individuals with a combined interest in counseling and corrections. Graduates of the program work in agencies and private practice, schools, correctional institutions, law enforcement agencies, community settings, mental health facilities, group homes and rehabilitation facilities.

The emphasis in Correctional Psychology offers a concentration and focus on the population of youth and adults who are connected with the various formal or informal adjudication options in today’s society. The program deals with practical methods of working with those who lead alternative life styles, involved in gangs, those seeking vocational and life transitions, at-risk, antisocial and non-conventional youth and adults, mental health issues, social services, community work, juvenile justice, correctional and school programs. Coursework concentrates on the development of knowledge and practical skills in the following areas: dealing with youth and adults who are considered to be at-risk, working within institutions; including, but not limited to, schools, group homes, social service agencies, law enforcement and the prison system, developing rapport with this clientele and the application of applied behavior analysis.

Coordinator: Dale G. Larson, Ph. D. (

The emphasis in Health Psychology is designed for individuals with a combined interest in counseling and health psychology. Graduates of the program work as agency and private practice counselors; health promotion specialists in industry, schools, and hospitals; counselors in employee assistance programs; and counseling and health specialists in other settings.

The Health Psychology emphasis focuses on applications of psychology to issues of health, disease, and prevention at individual and societal levels. Coursework concentrates on the development of knowledge and practical skills in the following areas: maintaining and promoting personal health, preventing disease, exploring the individual and social contexts of health problems, counseling healthy and ill individuals regarding health-related problems and issues, counseling for grief and loss, developing stress management programs, addressing interpersonal issues in health care settings and the emerging field of Positive Psychology.

Coordinator: Lucila Ramos-Sánchez, Ph.D. (

The emphasis in Latino Counseling offers a concentration and focus on counseling the large component of the population that defines itself as Latinx. The program focuses on applications of psychology with reference to issues of culture, ethnicity, acculturation, and assimilation. Implications of counseling within a Latinx family system and issues of language are explored. Coursework concentrates on the development of knowledge and practical skills in the following areas: reaching clients from this normally underserved population, developing rapport with clients from these cultures, intervening in culturally sensitive and appropriate ways, and counseling at various times throughout the life cycle. Some of the classes will stress the importance of language and may be instructed partially or substantially in Spanish. Students who choose the Latinx counseling emphasis may be eligible for a special scholarship.

Coordinator: Donald St. Louis, D.Min.

The LGBT Counseling emphasis will provide training to serve the LGBT population. It will focus on the application of clinical practice relevant to issues of gender, diversity in sexual identity and expression, oppression, discrimination, acculturation, and assimilation. The coursework for the emphasis concentrates on the development of knowledge and skills in the following areas: current theories regarding the etiology of same sex orientation; the evolving language of LGBT; developmental challenges for LGBT persons; homophobia and its many faces; the coming out process; relationships with parents and families of LGBT people; issues of support and socialization; the dynamics of gay relationships; gay marriage; gay families and gay parenting; the impact of AIDS; social, cultural, political and religious considerations and their impact; the many and unique issues affecting the transgender community; available resources; research opportunities.




Many people are puzzled by the fact that some professional psychologists identify themselves as “counseling” psychologists, while others describe themselves as “clinical” psychologists. Counseling and clinical psychologists often perform similar work as researchers and/or practitioners and may work side by side in any number of settings, including academic institutions, hospitals, community mental health centers, independent practice, and college counseling centers, where they may have overlapping roles and functions. The differences between counseling and clinical psychologists are rooted in the history of each specialty, which has influenced the focus and emphasis of the training they receive. Both counseling and clinical psychologists are trained to provide counseling and psychotherapy. To learn more, visit the APA web site.

The Masters in Counseling Psychology is considered the "journeyman's" degree for most students. In addition to being a more thorough study of the dynamics of counseling, the Masters in Counseling Psychology allows you a broader range of career options than the Masters in Counseling. It is important to note that should you ever choose to go into private practice as a therapist, the state of California requires you obtain the designated licensure in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) or Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC). The Masters in Counseling Psychology offers a track designed specifically for those who wish to obtain one or both of these licensures. As an MFT or LPCC, not only can you set up private practice, but you are able to work for a variety of clinics, hospitals, hospices, non-profit social service organizations, county facilities, schools, etc. A select few of the aforementioned institutions do hire non-licensed individuals. So, if you do not plan to become licensed, it is recommended you contact the employer for whom you wish to work and ensure the Masters in Counseling is sufficient. The Masters in Counseling may be a good choice for those who are interested in bettering their relational skills in the environment in which they already work or intend to pursue a doctorate and have no previous academic experience in psychology.

In 2010, California passed into law a new Master’s level license called the LPCC. The LPCC is actually the single largest Master’s level license in the United States; and with the passing of this law California is that last state to enact it. As with all such realities, it is difficult to assess at this early time how the practical differences between the two licenses will be realized in professional practice 5 – 10 years from now.

One of the few ways of assessing the difference at this time is to cite how the law defines the scope of practice of the two licenses:

California state law defines the scope of practice for the MFT practitioner as:

  • For the purposes of this chapter, the practice of marriage and family therapy shall mean that service performed with individuals, couples, or groups wherein interpersonal relationships are examined for the purpose of achieving more adequate, satisfying, and productive marriage and family adjustments. This practice includes relationship and premarriage counseling.

    The application of marriage and family therapy principles and methods includes, but is not limited to, the use of applied psychotherapeutic techniques, to enable individuals to mature and grow within marriage and the family, the provision of explanations and interpretations of the psychosexual and psychosocial aspects of relationships, and the use, application, and integration of the coursework and training required by Sections 4980.37, 4980.40, and 4980.41.

California state law defines the scope of practice for LPCC practitioners as:

  •  "Professional clinical counseling" means the application of counseling interventions and psychotherapeutic techniques to identify and remediate cognitive, mental, and emotional issues, including personal growth, adjustment to disability, crisis intervention, and psychosocial and environmental problems. "Professional clinical counseling" includes conducting assessments for the purpose of establishing counseling goals and objectives to empower individuals to deal adequately with life situations, reduce stress, experience growth, change behavior, and make well-informed, rational decisions.
  • "Professional clinical counseling" is focused exclusively on the application of counseling interventions and psychotherapeutic techniques for the purposes of improving mental health, and is not intended to capture other, nonclinical forms of counseling for the purposes of licensure. For purposes of this paragraph, "nonclinical" means nonmental health.
  • "Professional clinical counseling" does not include the assessment or treatment of couples or families unless the professional clinical counselor has completed all of the following additional training and education, beyond the minimum training and education required for licensure.

Yes. The Board of Behavioral Science has reviewed and approved our program.

You have many options in the Department of Counseling Psychology. If you haven’t already you will choose what degree program to apply to; those options are:

  • Master of Counseling Psychology (90 Unit)
  • Master of Psychology (52.5 Unit)

If you are pursuing the 90 Unit Master of Counseling Psychology program, your work continues. You now need to define your Track; these options are:

  • Non-Licensure Track
  • MFT Track
  • LPCC Track
  • Combined MFT/LPCC Track

Once you have chosen your Track, you can then add further depth to your training by choosing an Emphasis program. The Emphases are available to both 90 unit and 52.5 unit students; these options are:

  • Health Emphasis
  • Latino Emphasis
  • Correctional Psychology Emphasis
  • LGBT Counseling

First, you do not have to choose your Track or Emphasis until you have completed 21 credit units. For most students, this translates to 2-3 quarters of coursework. During this time you should explore the pros and cons of each option as well as clarifying whether you would like to pursue an Emphasis program.

There are extremely helpful course grids available in the Department that are invaluable to you. Look at the courses that will need to be fulfilled for both the Tracks and Emphasis. The course grid and your advisor will be the best sources of planning available to you. Don’t leave the Department without one!!

If you are in the 90 unit Master of Counseling Psychology degree program, the answer is Yes.

The Emphases programs are optional for 52.5 unit and 90 unit students.

It really depends how far along you are in the program. The best option is to meet with your academic advisor and evaluate the options available to you and how to accomplish your goals.

There is a cooperative atmosphere at SCU. The learning is both challenging and supportive. Santa Clara University abides by a Jesuit-inspired philosophy centered around developing the whole person, justice and service to people in need. The life of SCU is founded on challenging individuals to make a commitment towards personal growth in competence, conscience, and compassion. The counseling department is a leader in pursuit of this tradition. In addition to developing professional competence students are encouraged to take a sincere look at themselves in many different capacities.

Counseling Psychology is an extremely diverse field comprised of many different facets and understandings, all of which have a degree of relevance and merit. The faculty of SCU's counseling program feel it is in the best interest of the students as well as the field at large to offer a poly theoretical-integrative perspective of the therapeutic arts. Students study numerous types of therapy and are directly and indirectly asked to take a personal and often very soulful and emotional inventory of the different ways of working with clients. The ultimate goal is for students to discover the therapy that resonates best with their personal values will be the most effective and honest approach when dealing with others.

Programs at other schools have their own philosophies - some adhere to one particular therapeutic theory and teach only from that standpoint, others have a more transpersonal orientation and tend to focus on the spiritual, still others may have a style comparable to SCU. It is important that you research and become familiar with the programs of greatest personal interest and choose to apply to those that seem the best fit for your personality.

At SCU, there is a full time faculty of eight professors and two lecturers. Each faculty member is an experienced clinician and an active researcher. In addition, over twenty adjunct lecturers with specific expertise in certain clinical areas regularly teach their specialty classes in our program.

There are approximately 350 students enrolled in our Masters programs. Although there is a generally preferred class sequence (see below), students do not funnel through the courses within a cohort. Individuals are encouraged to take classes as their schedules allow; some people are full-time students (3 classes), others attend school part-time (1-2 classes).

In the past three years, the average class size was approximately 18 students; although class sizes can range from less than 10 students to 25 students.

Classes usually meet once a week for three hours. The majority of our classes are held in the evenings: typically, 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. An increasing number of classes are held in the day: 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Summer classes are on a different schedule. Most summer classes meet twice a week for three hours, but there are also opportunities to take weekend, morning, or Monday - Friday classes that meet for a two week period.

No. You can fulfill the degree requirements by only taking evening classes. Daytime classes are offered when two sections of the same course are being offered in the same quarter. One will be in the day and the other at night.

It will not be possible for you to complete the degree if you are unable to take evening courses.

Depending on the Master degree you intend to complete and whether you attend classes full or part-time, the program length varies. You are free to set the pace of your program, bearing in mind the recommended course sequences/prerequisites and five-year limit on program completion. If you choose to do the 52.5 unit masters (18 classes), plan for about 2 years. A reasonable time-line for completing the 90 unit program (26 classes) is 3 years.

Licensure is granted by individual states, not the University. Every state has its own requirements to determine eligibility to sit for MFT or LPCC examination. In California, for example, a candidate must complete the 90-unit Master degree and 3,000 hours of supervised training.

  • MFT students are required to accumulate 550 hours at a site that includes 150 hours of face to face time and an additional 75 hours client advocacy hours. Up to 1,300 hours of the required 3000 hours of supervised training may be obtained pre-degree as long as the student is enrolled in a practicum course.
  • LPCC students are required to accumulate 550 hours at a site to meet the practicum requirement. No hours may be obtained pre-degree