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Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology

Lead Faculty: Dr. Brian P. Tilley

The Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology degree provides the academic pathway for students who are committed to the practice of professional counseling. The program includes core courses that all MA Counseling Psychology students must take and two Areas of Specialization options. Each student must choose one of the following specializations:

The MA Counseling Psychology – MFT Area of Specialization emphasizes marriage and family therapy and is designed for students who are committed to the practice of individual, couples, family, adolescent, and child psychotherapy. This version of the degree meets the academic requirements necessary to sit for the Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) License mandated by the Board of Behavioral Sciences in the state of California. Students who wish to also take the LPCC specialization must take the three LPCC track courses and complete the additional practicum hours required for the LPCC license in order to meet the educational requirements for both licenses.

The MA Counseling Psychology – LPCC Area of Specialization emphasizes counseling techniques and theories, including those related to career development, and is designed for students who are committed to the practice of individual and group counseling. This version of the degree meets the academic requirements to be eligible for licensing as a licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC) by the Board of Behavioral Sciences in the state of California. Students may take courses from the MFT Area of Specialization as their electives if they want to qualify for both licenses or want to qualify to work with couples, families, and/or children as an LPCC. Students who wish to also take the MFT specialization must take the three MFT track courses in order to meet the educational requirements for both licenses.

The degree with either specialization may not meet requirements in other states. Students should consult the licensing bo,ards of the appropriate states for information about licensure outside of California. The degree also prepares students for the pursuit of doctoral studies in practitioner-oriented programs such as counseling or clinical psychology.

Application Requirements

Students interested in enrolling in this program should contact the appropriate campus for further information regarding the application process.

To be considered for admission, applicants must meet the University graduate admission requirements listed in the general information as well as the MAC program criteria. All applicants are evaluated for the psychotherapy profession, regardless of career goals. Students must submit an application packet, pass a personal interview, and attend the program orientation before they may begin classes.

Students for whom English is not their primary language must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam and receive one of the below scores before beginning the program:

  • Paper-based - 550
  • Computer-based - 213
  • Internet Based - 79

Students must submit their TOEFL score with their application.

Students should consult the regional faculty to determine at what point in the sequence they may enter the program. Entrance points may differ in each region.

Program Fees

For students in the MFT Specialization: $350 for materials that assist students in the preparation for the California Marriage and Family Therapist examination for licensure.

Program Requirements

  • Students must complete a minimum of 10 hours of individual, marital, family, and group psychotherapy before taking PSY 611B and another 15 hours before graduation for a total of 25 hours.
  • Students must obtain a total of 225 hours (MFT) or 280 hours (LPCC) of face-to-face counseling experience at an approved practicum site with a designated practicum site supervisor during the practicum clas,s.
  • Students who want to complete both MFT and LPCC practicum requirements will take PSY 680C and the 280 hours requirement.
  • Students who do not have an undergraduate degree in psychology must take PSY 501A and PSY 501B as the first two courses in their program. These courses will serve as the elective credit for those students. Under exceptional circumstances requests for independent studies in courses without experiential clinical work may be considered for approval by the department.
  • Students seeking licensure in California must register with the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) after graduation and fulfill all BBS licensing requirements for the license relevant to the student's MAC specialization.
  • Students are also urged to join a professional association. Students in the MFT track should consider joining the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapy and/or the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Students in the LPCC track should consider joining the American Counseling Association. Students must obtain malpractice insurance, which may be obtained through the relevant association listed above or another professional organization.
  • Students must complete all coursework within seven years. Any courses taken more than seven years ago must be repeated.

The program is guided by the standards of the California Board of Behavioral Sciences for academic training relevant to licensing as a Marriage and Family Therapist in the State of California (MFT Specialization) or as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC Specialization), and by contemporary scientific, professional, and public practice. At the completion of the program students will achieve the following outcomes required for successful practice of Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT Specialization) or Professional Clinical Counseling (LPCC Specialization):

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate core psychological concepts and therapeutic skills that underpin counseling, psychotherapy, and mental health counseling.
  2. Critically evaluate the relevant methods of research used in the study of behavior and their limitations.
  3. Understand and demonstrate current professional standards of ethics, values, and laws related to the practice of professional psychotherapists.
  4. Demonstrate cultural competence in addressing the mental health needs of people of diverse backgrounds and circumstances, including an appreciation for the wide cultural diversity among California's multiple diverse communities.
  5. Evaluate psychological distress and/or impairment, mental disorders, and problems in living in diverse individuals and systems within various mental health settings.
  6. Develop culturally appropriate strategies, treatment plans, and professional relationships for successful interventions with diverse client groups in various clinical contexts.
  7. Apply related therapeutic interventions with diverse clients using a variety of psychotherapeutic models.
  8. Apply a working knowledge of a range of topics important to mental health practice including (but not limited to) psychopharmacology, addictive and compulsive disorders, structured psychological assessment, relational violence, gender and sexuality, and trauma/crisis.
  9. Understand norms and principles of public mental health work including (but not limited to) case management, collaborative treatment, evidence-based practice, strength-based model,resiliency, and recovery-oriented care to work with clients.
  10. Integrate professional development through self-reflection emphasizing personal capacities such as self-awareness, integrity, sensitivity, flexibility, insight, compassion, imagination, and personal presence.


To receive the Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology, students must complete at least 90 quarter units of graduate work. A total of 13.5 quarter units of graduate credit may be granted for equivalent graduate work completed at another institution, as it applies to this degree and if the units were not used in earning another advanced degree. Students for whom English is a second language must take and pass an English Language Proficiency exam prior to beginning any coursework.  Students should refer to the section on graduate admission for specific information regarding additional application and evaluation requirements. 

Prerequisites for the Major (2 courses; 9 quarter units)
Students who hold a bachelor's degree in Psychology may request these courses to be waived. Please contact the Lead Faculty. These courses will count towards the 90 quarters units of graduate work.
Core Requirements Sequence I (6 courses; 27 quarter units)
In cohort system locations students will take classes from this sequence then take 3 area of specialization courses, Core Course Sequence II, and any electives required. Students in open enrollment locations should consult their regional lead faculty for the sequence of their courses.
Core Requisite(s):
LPCC Specialization
Students in the LPCC specialization will take these courses between Core Sequence I and II.
MFT Specialization
Students in the MFT specialization will take these courses between Core Sequence I and II.
Core Requirements Sequence II (9 Courses; 40.5 quarter units)
Core Requisite(s):
Approved Electives (2 courses; 9 quarter units)