Degree Program


About the Program


The Department of Counseling offers a Master of Science in Counseling, and we prepare students to become clinical mental health counselors. Our program is approved by the California State Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBSOpens in new window ) to meet all educational requirements preparing students for state licensure as Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCCs) in California. We are also nationally accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) in clinical mental health counseling. 

[Please note: The same courses also qualify students to seek the Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) credential in California.]

Our emphasis is on training clinicians who can serve the needs of our diverse communities. We train students to provide evidence-based brief and long-term counseling while maintaining professional identities as clinical mental health counselors.

The program strongly emphasizes anti-racist practices to facilitate equity for all communities by maintaining cultural humility and engaging in social justice advocacy. We train students to be sensitive to clients from any social location and respect clients’ values and identities, including, but not limited to all: races and ethnicities; sexual/romantic/affectual identities; gender and gender identities; religious or spiritual identities; and types of abilities/disabilities. Our faculty members and student body represent the broad spectrum of diversity.

Our theoretical orientation is grounded in humanistic, relational, and integrative principles. This means that we respect different counseling philosophies, are flexible in our approaches depending on client and student needs, and are 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 and larger systemic issues that result in oppression (e.g., racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, etc.) of historically marginalized groups as well as interpersonal, intrapersonal, and biological factors.

Each year, we accept approximately 60 students to our M.S. in Counseling Traditional Program and every three years, we accept approximately 24 students to our M.S. in Counseling Evening Cohort. Annually we typically graduate 60 students.  

Admission into programs leading to licensure and credentialing does not guarantee that students will obtain a license or credential. Licensure and credentialing requirements are set by agencies that are not controlled by or affiliated with the CSU and requirements can change at any time. For example, licensure or credentialing requirements can include evidence of the right to work in the United States (e.g., social security number or taxpayer identification number) or successfully passing a criminal background check. Students are responsible for determining whether they can meet licensure or credentialing requirements. The CSU will not refund tuition, fees, or any associated costs, to students who determine subsequent to admission that they cannot meet licensure or credentialing requirements. Information concerning licensure and credentialing requirements are available by emailing

Please Note: The CSUF Clinical Mental Health Counseling M.S. program in the College of Health and Human Development is distinct and different from another CSUF program, The CSUF Clinical Psychology M.S. programOpens in new window in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

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, 2024, to the following program in the Department of Counseling at California State University, Fullerton: Clinical Mental Health Counseling (M.S.). Learn more information at the CACREP site.Opens in new window

Important Facts About our Program

  • We offer a 63-unit program, which can be completed in as little as three and up to five years, depending on the pace chosen by the student. Most students complete the program in four years. Students can take up to nine units in the fall and spring semesters and up to six units each summer session. Students are required to complete at least one summer session toward the end of the program when students are seeing clients during their fieldwork experience. Students needing to complete prerequisites in their first semester may require 3½ years.
  • Fall and spring classes meet once a week, mostly at 4 pm and 7 pm, and are 2.75 hours in length. Some 1 pm classes are available for students who prefer this time period. Summer classes meet twice per week Mondays-Thursdays, with each class running 2.75 hours at 3:30 pm and 6:30 pm.
  • Study Plans are personalized based upon each student’s time availability to dedicate to completing homework and attending classes and their practica experience.
  • Our program maintains strong links to community non-profit organizations throughout Southern California.
  • Most of our students begin practice as clinical mental health counseling trainees in non-profit community agencies by their third or fourth semesters.
  • Our graduates work in school, community colleges, universities, clinical mental health agencies (including government agencies), hospitals, businesses, and private practice.

Student Learning Outcomes (Program Objectives)

As part of an on-going evaluation of the program, the department has established five primary Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs). For each of these SLOs, assessment measures have been established to determine student progress. Each of these learning outcomes is evaluated across several courses and may be measured by grades/scores on particular assignments or evaluations by professors and practicum supervisors. The department uses this data to determine areas of strengths and areas for growth to improve student learning. 

SLO: Professional Counseling Orientation and Ethical Practice

Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of: (a) the historical and philosophical underpinnings of the counseling profession; (b) ethical and legal guidelines of the profession; and (c) professional counseling credentialing, certification, and licensure.

SLO: Diversity Awareness and Sensitivity

Students will be able to: demonstrate awareness of the major cultural influences on human behavior, how those intersect with the mental health of their clients, and how they influence their own perceptions and biases regarding clients. 

SLO: Clinical Skills

Students will be able to: demonstrate awareness of the social and cultural influences on human behavior; demonstrate effective counseling skills; evaluate clients’ progress; recognize and mitigate countertransference; and conduct counseling with appropriate awareness of ethical and legal issues. 

SLO: Conceptualization and Treatment Planning

Students will demonstrate knowledge of counseling theories and a bio-psycho-sociocultural framework and apply them to case conceptualization. They will demonstrate the ability to appropriately use the DSM-5 (diagnostic manual of mental disorders). They will construct relevant treatment plans.

SLO: Research and Professional Writing

Students will be able to: critically analyze research methodology and the professional literature regarding a counseling topic; construct an original research project; and demonstrate professional writing skills in accordance with APA guidelines.

Dispositions and Professionalism

Students are also evaluated throughout the program for their fitness for the field, which involves their dispositions and professionalism. The Department defines a counselor’s disposition as having four components: (a) Effective and professional communication and collaboration: (b) Emotional maturity, self-awareness, and counselor presence: (c) Dependability, reliability, and ethical behavior; and (d) Respect for diversity and openness to other worldviews.


The Curriculum comprises of 63 units, most of which are in a traditional face-to-face format. The one exception is COUN 538 Crisis Intervention and Trauma Treatment, which is a hybrid modality and requires students to attend two full day Saturdays;  for this particular class, all other coursework will be completed on-line.  Students can attend full time or part time, depending on their individual needs. Students can choose to take up to two courses per semester. The one course all students must take in the summer is COUN 590 Advanced Counseling Techniques, which must be taken in the year students are seeing clients during their practicum experience. Students complete the program in three to five years depending on their study plan.