Master of Arts Degree
in Counseling Psychology
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Help Guide Families, Couples, and Individuals Through Emotional and Psychological Situations
If you’re a compassionate individual who cares about helping people and feel a calling to make a difference in their lives, becoming a marriage and family therapist can be a very satisfying career choice.
National University’s Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology is designed to prepare you to work with couples, children, and other family members and help them manage various emotional situations and/or psychological issues. Our program challenges students to understand and practice therapy from both the client’s and the practitioner’s perspectives in order to gain a deep understanding of how the process works and to become an effective counselor.
Students in this online MFT program choose between two specialization options based on their career goals: the standard Marriage and Family Therapist Option and the Combined MFT/LPCC (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor) option.
Upon completion of the program, you’ll have the education necessary for Marriage and Family Therapists in California. You’ll be well-prepared to move on to the next step of completing the post-graduate associateship required to take the licensing exam.
NU’s online MFT program is designed for California only. Either option may not meet requirements in other states. Students should consult the licensing boards of the appropriate states for information about licensure outside of California. For detailed course information, please click here.
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accredits public and private schools, colleges, and universities in the U.S.
Program Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to:
- Demonstrate core psychological concepts and therapeutic skills that underpin counseling, psychotherapy, and mental health counseling, including critical evaluation of the relevant methods of research used in the study of behavior and their limitations.
- Demonstrate current professional standards of ethics, values, and laws related to the practice of professional psychotherapists.
- Demonstrate cultural competence, including recognition of one’s own potential biases, intersectionality (including systems of power, privilege, and oppression), and appreciation of cultural diversity in addressing the mental health needs of people of diverse backgrounds and circumstances with an emphasis on historically underserved populations.
- Assess and diagnose psychological distress and client problems according to stated theoretical principles of conceptualization while integrating and adjusting for the client’s cultural and social identities, and physical ability.
- Establish, maintain, and evaluate the therapeutic relationship to serve the mental health needs of diverse clients.
- Develop culturally appropriate strategies, treatment plans, and interventions for work with diverse client groups in various clinical contexts and using a variety of psychotherapeutic models and modalities, including telehealth.
- Evaluate outcomes of clinical work and demonstrate an ability to integrate supervisor feedback into the student’s treatment planning.
- 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 expression and sexuality, and trauma/crisis, including suicidality.
- Evaluate norms and principles of public mental health work including (but not limited to) case management, collaborative treatment, evidence-based practice, strength-based model, resiliency, trauma-informed care, and recovery-oriented care to work with clients.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of practicing self-care, with particular awareness of the impact of vicarious trauma on the therapist’s wellbeing, as the student develops a professional identity.
- Integrate personal and professional development through self-reflection emphasizing capacities such as self-awareness, integrity, sensitivity, flexibility, insight, compassion, imagination, personal presence, and the impact on the therapeutic relationship.
Hear From Our Faculty
Watch our video to learn more about the Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program from Dr. Brian Tilley, PhD, Program Director.
“If you care about helping people, really feel a calling to make a difference in your community and with those around you, then this is the program for you.”
-Dr. Brian Tilley, PhD, Program Director, MA in Counseling
Enrolling in a university is a big decision. That’s why our dedicated admissions team is here to guide you through the admissions process and help you find the right program for you and your career goals.
To that end, we’ve simplified and streamlined our application process, so you can get enrolled in your program right away. Because we accept and review applications year round, you can begin class as soon as next month, depending on your program and location of choice.
Learn more about undergraduate, graduate, military, and international student admissions, plus admissions information for transfer students. You can also learn more about our tuition rates and financial aid opportunities.
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We’re proud to be a veteran-founded, San Diego-based nonprofit. Since 1971, our mission has been to provide accessible, achievable higher education to adult learners. Today, we educate students from across the U.S. and around the globe, with over 200,000 alumni worldwide.
“The MAC program excelled at exposing students to a variety of different clinical styles among its professors. This is incredibly important for a therapist in training to experience a variety of different clinical modalities and styles in order to shape their own. The MAC program has faculty that genuinely care and are invested in the well-being and growth of their students. The lasting relationships formed among students, peers, and faculty is invaluable.”
-Mary Papagolos., Class of 2011
Frequently Asked Questions
Most online master’s in psychology programs require 36 credits and take about two years to complete. However, at NU, students may be able to complete the MA in Counseling Psychology in as little as 22 months, or 23 months with the added PCC.
If you want to advance in the field of psychology, then yes, a master’s is worth it. However, if you don’t have strong motivation, then the challenge of a graduate degree may not be for you. It helps to talk to others in the field and gauge your level of interest prior to enrolling.
Students interested in earning the degree can choose to complete an online master’s in psychology rather than a traditional on-site program.
Master’s programs in psychology will give you the foundation you need to conduct or apply psychological research that ultimately improves the lives of others. If you’d like to pursue a career as a psychologist, you must start with a graduate degree in psychology before earning your doctorate or sitting for a state licensure exam.
While a Master’s in Psychology is a typical path in obtaining a doctoral level degree in psychology, an MA in Counseling Psychology meets state licensing requirements and is a typical path to licensing.
Year of You Scholarship
Do you qualify for a needs-based scholarship? Learn more about the NU Year of You Scholarship and other scholarship opportunities to unlock the door to your dreams!
Successful completion and attainment of National University degrees do not lead to automatic or immediate licensure, employment, or certification in any state/country. The University cannot guarantee that any professional organization or business will accept a graduate’s application to sit for any certification, licensure, or related exam for the purpose of professional certification.
Program availability varies by state. Many disciplines, professions, and jobs require disclosure of an individual’s criminal history, and a variety of states require background checks to apply to, or be eligible for, certain certificates, registrations, and licenses. Existence of a criminal history may also subject an individual to denial of an initial application for a certificate, registration, or license and/or result in the revocation or suspension of an existing certificate, registration, or license. Requirements can vary by state, occupation, and/or licensing authority.
NU graduates will be subject to additional requirements in a program, certification/licensure, employment, and state-by-state basis that can include one or more of the following items: internships, practicum experience, additional coursework, exams, tests, drug testing, earning an additional degree, and/or other training/education requirements.
All prospective students are advised to review employment, certification, and/or licensure requirements in their state, and to contact the certification/licensing body of the state and/or country where they intend to obtain certification/licensure to verify that these courses/programs qualify in that state/country, prior to enrolling. Prospective students are also advised to regularly review the state’s/country’s policies and procedures relating to certification/licensure, as those policies are subject to change.
*Positions may require additional experience, training, and other factors beyond successfully completing this degree program. Depending on where you reside, many positions may also require state licensure, and it is the responsibility of the student to ensure that all licensure requirements are met. We encourage you to also review program-specific requirements. Any data provided on this page is for informational purposes only and does not guarantee that completion of any degree program will achieve the underlying occupation or commensurate salary.