Master of Arts Degree in
Counseling Psychology (California)
Master of Arts Degree in
Counseling Psychology (California)
Help Guide Families, Couples, and Individuals to Mental Wellness
The Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology degree at National University prepares you with the advanced knowledge and skills needed to be an effective counselor who can make difference. If you’re called to give back to the community and help others seeking mental wellness, this is an excellent path for you. Upon completion of the program, you’ll be well-prepared to sit for the Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) License mandated by the Board of Behavioral Sciences in the state of California.
You will choose from two specialization options based on your career goals: the standard Marriage and Family Therapist Option and the Combined MFT/LPCC Option.
The MA Counseling Psychology MFT option is for students committed to helping individuals, couples, families, adolescents, and children in psychotherapy. You’ll learn how to assess, diagnose, and treat psychological stress or impairment, mental disorders, or problems that arise in couples and families, and how to work in various mental health settings. Only licensed MFTs may provide counseling to families and couples.
The MA Counseling Combined MFT/LPCC option is for students interested in also being licensed as a Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) in California. It meets the academic requirements for both the LMFT and LPCC. The combined option adds three courses specific to the scope of practice for LPCCs, including career counseling, research, and assessment techniques. This option includes additional hours of practicum training experience to meet state requirements for PCC trainees. The specialization focuses on individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, and vocational counseling.
This master’s in counseling psychology degree 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.
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Eligibility requirements apply.
Program Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of National University’s MA in Counseling Psychology program, graduates will be able to:
- Demonstrate core psychological concepts and therapeutic skills that underpin counseling, psychotherapy, and mental health counseling.
- Demonstrate current professional standards of ethics, values, and laws related to the practice of professional psychotherapists.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Integrate professional development through self-reflection, emphasizing personal capacities such as self-awareness, integrity, sensitivity, flexibility, insight, compassion, imagination, and personal presence.
You will be working closely with professors who are also practicing professionals in their field, meaning you will gain skills that can be applied to your job right away. Faculty care about your success and are also mentors for you throughout your program, and even after you finish your program and progress in your career.
Although many of our programs are online and allow you the freedom to study at your own pace, you are never alone. You have access to the writing center, math tutoring, and the Veteran Center for those making the transition from military life to civilian life.
Marriage and family therapists work in a variety of settings, such as private practice and mental health centers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of marriage and family therapists is projected to grow 22% from 2019 to 2029, and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is growing by 25% — both much faster than the average for all occupations.*
LPCCs may choose to pursue opportunities within school systems or at career centers, helping clients with academic plans and employment issues. You may also pursue a career as a marriage and family therapist, rehabilitation counselor, or mental health counselor which may practice in any of the following settings:
- Private or group practices
- Community health centers
- Universities and colleges
- Substance abuse rehab facility
- Military assisting with PTSD
*Source: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth. Candidates are strongly encouraged to conduct their research.
Dr. Brian Tilley, PhD
Program Director, MA in Counseling
“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.”
Class of 2011
“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. ”
Most online master’s in psychology programs require 36 credits and take about two years to complete. The more specialized or tailored the program, or the more hours for field work or research required, the longer students take to earn their degree.
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.
Why Choose National University?
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 180,000 alumni worldwide.
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.
- Trainee Letter of Agreement
- Field Placement Evaluation
- Careers in Counseling Psychology
- Psychotherapy Experience
- Costa Mesa Approved Practicum Sites
- Redding Approved Practicum Sites
- Psychotherapy 10 hour form
- Psychotherapy 25 hour form
- Psychotherapy Inception form
- APA Guide
- Responsibility Statement for Supervisors
- San Bernardino Internship Off Campus
- 3 Month Evaluation Form
- 6 Month Evaluation Form
- Final Practicum Evaluation Form
- Stockton Approved Practicum Sites
- Fresno Approved Practicum Sites
- Rancho Cordova Practicum Sites
- Checklist of Practicum Forms
- San Bernardino Approved Practicum Sites
- LA Practicum Sites
- Max/Min BBS Requirement
- SD-Carlsbad Approved Practicum Sites
- MFT Weekly Summary of Hours- Option
- MFT Experience Verification- Option
- LPCC Experience Verification- Option
- Letter of Recommendation Form
- Regional Lead Faculty Contacts
- Psychology Career Guide
- Online Graduate Degree Options for Psychology
- Online Undergraduate Degree Options for Psychology
- Program specific course information