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California State University Fullerton
Department of Counseling

Degree Program

The Degree Program

The Department of Counseling offers a Masters of Science in Counseling, with an emphasis in clinical mental health settings. Our program is approved by the California State Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) to meet all of the educational requirements preparing students for state licensure as Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) and as Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC).  We are also nationally accredited by The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

Our emphasis is on the training of clinicians who can serve the needs of individuals and families in their communities. We train students to provide evidence-based brief and long-term counseling while maintaining professional identities as counselors and marriage and family therapists. 

The program strongly emphasizes a multicultural perspective. We prepare counselors who will be sensitive to the diverse ethnic and religious heritages, lifestyles and special needs of individuals and families. Both our student body and our faculty encompass a wide range of backgrounds and values. 

Each year, we accept approximately 60 students to our Fullerton campus and every three years, we accept approximately 24 students to our Garden Grove campus. For the 2014-2015 academic year, we had 68 students graduate from the Fullerton campus. Annually we typically graduate 60 students. In the past year, our completion rate was 94% and the LMFT exam pass rate was 66% and 80% for the written and clinical vignette exams, respectively. About 79% of our alumni who respond to our annual survey find employment in the mental health field after graduation.

Our theoretical orientation is grounded in humanistic, relational, and integrative principles. This means that we are respectful of different counseling philosophies, flexible in our approaches depending on client and student needs, and united in our belief that relationships remain at the core of all helping encounters. We also believe that counselors can best help people by understanding the relationship of emotional distress to family dynamics and to the social and cultural contexts that shape our lives.

Note: The CSUF Clinical Mental Health Counseling M.S. program in the College of Health and Human Development (http://hhd.fullerton.edu/counsel/degree.htm ) is distinct and different from another CSUF program, The CSUF Clinical Psychology M.S. program in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (http://psychology.fullerton.edu/academics/ms_prog.aspx ).

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Program Objectives

As a result of successfully completing the graduate program in counseling, students can expect to have gained didactic knowledge and supervised experience in skills, functions, beliefs and characteristics of effective counseling.  The following broad goals have been developed to assist students in gaining an overview of expected accomplishments:

  1. Professional Orientation and Identity – Demonstrate an understanding of the counseling profession, develop an identity as a counselor and demonstrate a willingness to provide counseling services within the ethical guidelines of the counseling profession.
  2. Counseling Theory – Gain significant knowledge of major counseling theories in the context of individual, group, couples, families and child counseling, and to apply this knowledge to the actual counseling process.
  3. Helping Relationships – Demonstrate effective individual, group, couples, families and child counseling skills which facilitate client growth and to demonstrate the ability to evaluate progress toward treatment goals.
  4. Social and Cultural Diversity – Develop an awareness of, and an appreciation for, social and cultural influences on human behavior and to recognize the impact of individual differences on the counseling process.
  5. Human Growth and Development – Develop an understanding of developmental aspects of human growth and appreciation for the nature of human developmental behavior.
  6. Career Development – Develop an understanding of career development and related life factors and the effects on an individual’s mental health and lifestyle.
  7. Group Dynamics – Develop both theoretical and experiential understandings of group purpose, development, dynamics, counseling theories, group counseling methods and skills, and other group approaches.
  8. Assessment – Gain knowledge and skills in assessment techniques and apply basic concepts to individual, group, couples, families and child appraisal.
  9. Research and Program Evaluation – Develop the ability to read, critique, evaluate, and contribute to professional research literature.
  10. Specialization – Demonstrate sufficient knowledge and skills associated with the student’s chosen specialty (i.e., agency, school) in the areas of service, prevention, treatment, referral, and program management.
  11. Experiential Learning – Develop, through supervised practicum and internship experiences, an integration of the knowledge and skills needed to be successful as counselors.
  12. Personal Growth and Understanding – Develop, through self-reflection and insight, an understanding of oneself and the use of self in the counseling process. Develop a personal approach to counseling and client advocacy with a clear understanding of counselor functions.

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CACREP Accreditation Statement

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), has granted accreditation until March 31, 2023, to the following program in the Department of Counseling at California State University, Fullerton: Clinical Mental Health Counseling (M.S.). For more information on CACREP, please visit their web site, www.cacrep.org.

Important Facts About our Program

  • We offer a 63 unit program, which can be completed in as little as three years and up to five years, depending on the pace chosen by the student.
  • Fall and Spring classes meet once a week in late afternoons and evenings. Some daytime classes are available for students who prefer this time period. Summer classes meet twice a week.
  • We encourage students to go through the program at a pace that fits with their family and work needs.
  • Our program maintains strong links to community non-profit organizations throughout Southern California.
  • Our students begin working as therapists in non-profit community agencies by their third or fourth semesters.
  • Our graduates work in schools, community agencies, hospitals, government agencies, businesses and in private practice.

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LMFT and LPCC Licensure Preparation

To practice as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) or Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) in California, a license issued by the State Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) is required. Our 63-unit counseling program with the MFT concentration is designed to prepare students to meet licensure requirements (Business and Professions Code, Sections 4980.37 for LMFT and 4999.30 for LPCC).  Students should note that licensure requirements extend beyond those of the M.S. degree and include an internship and passing official examinations. It is the student's responsibility to keep informed about licensure requirements as they are subject to change from time-to-time. An authoritative source of information is "Laws and Regulations Relating to the Practice of Marriage, Family and Child Counseling, Licensed Clinical Social Work, Licensed Educational Psychology, and Licensed Professional Clincial Counseling" issued by the Board of Behavioral Sciences and available on the BBS web site.

Please note that upon registration as an intern, the BBS requires the reporting of any and all misdemeanors and felonies, no matter how long ago they occurred or if they have been expunged (such as a DUI). Individuals may not be eligible for licensure or may be required to be on probation as part of seeking the license. 

For further information, write to the

Board of Behavioral Sciences,
1625 N Market Blvd., Suite S-200,
Sacramento, California 95834

or call them at (916) 574-7830

The BBS may also be contacted on the World Wide Web at the following address:  http://www.bbs.ca.gov/

For the LMFT:

Students are designated trainees by the BBS and can accrue licensing hours after they have been classified by the Department and begin their fieldwork practicum. Upon graduation, students have 90 days to register with the BBS as an intern. It is advisable to write to the BBS for a registration packet early (e.g., at the beginning of the last semester).

For the LPCC:

Students are designated trainees by the BBS and must complete 280 client contact hours as part of the degree. The minimum of 3000 hours required for licensure must be accrued as an intern. Upon graduation, students have 90 days to register with the BBS as an intern. It is advisable to write to the BBS for a registration packet early (e.g., at the beginning of the last semester).

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All successful applicants are initially admitted to the program as conditionally classified graduate students. They are expected to attend an orientation session before classes begin and are encouraged to join the Graduate Counseling Students Association (GCSA).

Each student will have various advisors throughout the program. The role fo the faculty advisor is to provide information to the student about the educational opportunities within the Department, to address concerns of the student as a whole person and on all issues that impinge upon the student's academic success. Each faculty advisor has a unique style of advising and educating. The advisor is the person to see if students feel confused about University policies, registration procedures, course selection, licensure and career options, or the need to talk confidentially with someone about educational situations.  Therefore, students should address all personal and Departmental concerns to their assigned advisor. Developing a good faculty-advisor-student relationship involves meeting periodically, discuss the student's evolving interests, reviewing the student's academic and experiential background, and exploring the student's short-term and long-term goals. It is the student's responsibility to contact the appropriate advisor to schedule an appointment.

Required Advisement

Students are required to meet during their first semester with the New Student Advisor, Jeffrey Kottler for completion of their study plan, leading to University designation as a classified student. The Department requires that students take at least six units per semester. Students working full-time are strongly advised against taking more than six units per semester because of the demanding nature of the program; however, students should be aware of time limits for completion of the degree and of the possibility that they may be unable to enroll in a specific course the semester they wish to because of class size limits or other factors.  Students are not guaranteed admission to any classes during the program.

Beginning in the second semester, David Shepard, the Graduate Advisor will meet with students needing help with scheduling or other issues.  Students are required to meet with the Graduate Advisor regarding Advancement to Practicum standing the fall or spring semester prior to taking the first practicum class (COUN 530). Periodically, the study plan should be reviewed and updated to ensure that course sequencing and graduation requirements are being met. Maintaining this study plan form will make further application and petition procedures less time-consuming, and should positively impact time to graduation.

In the fall or spring semester prior to graduation, students are required to meet with the Advancement to Final Project Advisor, Matt Englar-Carlson for approval to enroll in COUN 597 (Final Project).

Students are required to attend the Exit Interview with Mary Read the semester they plan on graduating to understand procedures for graduation and licensure.

Students are invited to meet with advisors every semester, especially if they are unable to follow the study plan developed with an advisor.


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The Curriculum

The Curriculum comprises 63 units. Full-time students  typically take four courses during the Fall and Spring semesters, and one or two Summer courses. Part-time students typically take two to three courses during Fall and Spring semesters and one course in the Summer.  In the second semester students who have met all pre-requisite requirements and have completed at least 6 units are eligible for Classified Standing.

The Curriculum

COUN 500 The Counseling Profession
COUN 511 Pre-Practicum (basic counseling skills)
COUN 518 Human Development & Functioning
COUN 502 Career Counseling

COUN 520 Modes of Individual Counseling
COUN 522 Techniques of Brief Treatment & Assessment
COUN 523 Counseling & Culture
COUN 524 Child & Adolescent Counseling

COUN 525 Psychopharmacology
COUN 526 Professional Ethics & Legal Issues in Counseling
COUN 527 Systems of Family Counseling
COUN 528 Groups: Process and Practice

COUN 535 Addictions
COUN 562 Couples Counseling
COUN 530 Beginning Practicum (fieldwork in a community agency)
COUN 521 Research in Counseling (first half of the final research project)

COUN 538 Crisis Intervention & Trauma Treatment
COUN 560 Appraisal in Counseling
COUN 590 Advanced Counseling Techniques
COUN 584 Advanced Practicum
COUN 597 Final Project (second half of the final research project)

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Classification and Advancement to Candidacy

Admission into the Department as a conditionally classified student does not guarantee advancement to classified standing. Each student undergoes three comprehensive evaluations: one after the completion of 6 units to move to classified standing; one prior to taking Practicum in order to Advance to Practicum; and one at the completion of Practicum for Advancement to Final Project.

Advancement to classified standing or to candidacy requires completion of all undergraduate pre-requisites to the program, a 3.0 GPA, a completed Advisement Log demonstrating a meeting with an Advisor, the faculty's on-going assessment of the student's aptitude and suitability for the counseling profession, progress in skill development, interpersonal and cultural sensitivity, and ethical and professional conduct. A student in classified graduate standing may be declassified if his or her current academic, personal, and professional development shows a lack of suitability for continued training counseling. (See the "Graduate Regulations" section of the University catalog for details concerning advancement to classified standing or candidacy.)

Advancement to Practicum requires the completion of all pre-requisite courses, a 3.0 GPA, a minimum grade of B in Legal & Ethical Issues in Counseling (COUN 526), a meeting with the Advancement to Practium advisor, the faculty's on-going assessment of the student's aptitude and suitability for the counseling profession, progress in skill development, interpersonal and cultural sensitivity, and ethical and professional conduct. A student who has been Advanced to Practicum may be declassified and placed on probation if his or her current academic, personal, or professional development show a lack of suitability for continued training in counseling.

Advancement to Final Project requires the completion of all courses except what will be taken in the last semester with Final Project (COUN 597), a minumum GPA of 3.0, a meeting with the Advancement to Final Project advisor, and a demonstration of fitness for the profession. Students who are advanced to Final Project will be in their last year of the program and ready for graduation.


A student will be placed on academic probation if his or her graduate grade-point average falls
below 3.0. A student may also be placed on probation for reasons other than grade-point average;
this is known as administrative-academic probation. See the “Graduate Regulations” section of
the catalog for details on both forms of probation.


A student will be disqualified from the program at any time if (a) the student receives more than
two grades below (B-) (2.7) or (b) the faculty has determined that a student has failed to
demonstrate a level of professional competence or fitness commensurate with the standards of the
counseling discipline, and that this failure requires removal from the program, rather than
placement on administrative-academic probation. See the “Graduate Regulations” section of the
catalog for additional details on disqualification.

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Student Learning Outcomes

As part of an on-going evaluation of the program, the department has established six primary Student Learning Outcomes (SLO).  For each of these SLOs, assessment measures have been established to determine student progress.  Each of these assessment measures is evaluated in a particular course or in several courses, and may be measured by class participation and/or grades on particular assignments.  The department uses this data to determine areas of strengths and areas for growth to improve student learning.  The SLOs are:

  • Students understand their professional identity as a counselor.
  • Students are aware of the impact of diversity on the counseling process and are sensitive to differences.
  • Students demonstrate effective counseling skills with clients.
  • Students can conceptualization cases and write effective treatment plans for clients.
  • Students are able to conduct research and demonstrate the ability to think critically and problem solve.
  • Students are able to write papers well using APA style, proper grammar, and organization.

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