Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) Concentration FAQs

1. I have applied to the College of Graduate Studies and was notified that I have been accepted as a graduate student. Does this mean that I have been accepted into the Professional Counseling Program?

No. Admission to the program is a two-step process. First, you apply to the College of Graduate Studies by completing an application and having transcripts sent to that college. The second step is to apply for admission to the Professional Counseling Program, which involves completing a supplemental application, having GRE scores sent, submitting a vita, and having three individuals who are familiar with you (preferably at least two of whom know your academic skills) complete our recommendation form. All of this information is sent to the College of Graduate Studies. If you are then invited to our group interview in October or March, you must attend and receive a positive recommendation from the faculty for admission into our program. For additional information, please refer to our Handbook.

2. I noticed that October 1 and March 1 are the deadlines to submit my application materials for review by the Professional Counseling faculty to be considered for admission into the counseling program. What if I can't meet that deadline for some reason? May I still take classes?

Yes, you may. We do not necessarily recommend this (particularly if you have not yet taken and obtained the required GRE scores for admission), but students have the right to take up to 6 hours of coursework during any one semester prior to admission into the program. If you are not admitted during the semester when you are taking those 3 or 6 hours, you may not register for any additional coursework until you have been admitted. Because admission is not guaranteed, you may want to select your classes carefully. (Hint: To reduce your risk, review the curriculum of a counseling program at another university in the event you decide to apply there also, and select classes that could easily be transferred. Courses such as Theories and Techniques of Counseling, Multicultural Counseling. Lifespan Development, and Introduction to Professional Counseling may be wise selections.)

3. What are the pre-requisites for the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program, and must I complete these before being accepted into the program?

The pre-requisites are a basic statistics class (e.g., PSY 3020, Basic Statistics for Behavioral Science) and an abnormal psychology course (e.g., PSY 3230, Abnormal Psychology). These courses should be taken prior to applying to the CMHC program.

4. I am concerned about the GRE. What if I don't obtain the required minimum score of 900? Will I still be eligible to be admitted into the CMHC program?

A combined Verbal + Quantitative GRE score of 900 (with no less than a 400 on either the verbal or quantitative portions) on the old (i.e., pre-2012) GRE test or a combined Verbal + Quantitative score of 291 (with no less than a 140 on the Verbal section or 146 on the Quantitative section) on the updated GRE test is required for unconditional admission into the program. It is possible that some applicants who have scored slightly below the 900/291 mark, but are strong in other areas (e.g., possess a strong undergraduate GPA) may be considered for conditional admission. Students who are conditionally admitted must obtain at least a 3.25 GPA in their first 12 hours of coursework in the program.

If you took the GRE and obtained a score below 860 on the old test or 288 on the new test, then it is recommended that you retake the GRE. There are GRE preparation guides that can be purchased at bookstores such as Borders and Walden Books. In addition, you might want to consider looking over GRE preparation programs offered by companies such as Kaplan.

5. Can I take all of the classes on-line?

No. While a few of the classes are on-line and some are partially on-line (web-assisted), most classes are face-to-face.

6. When are the classes offered?

Prior to practicum and internship, the most frequent class meeting time is 4:30-7:30 PM one day per week (or not quite that often if the class is web-assisted.) A class may be scheduled to meet from 6:00-9:00 PM one day per week. One or two web-assisted classes meet one Saturday per month. A few are on-line. Some sections of classes also meet in the summer to give students another option as to when to schedule the classes.

During the practicum, which is usually during the student's third or fourth semester, you must be available to work in a mental health-related setting for 100 hours during the semester, which is the equivalent of one full day per week. In addition to this, you must come to campus by 4:30 two days per week to see one or more clients in the MTSU Center for Counseling and Psychological Services, and for individual and group supervision.

There is an academic-year-long internship at the end of the program. You must be available to work in a mental health-related setting for 600 hours over the course of two consecutive semesters (or approximately 3 days per week). While in internship, you also must come to campus approximately one evening per week for group supervision.

7. Can I work and take classes?

Most of our students work at least part-time until they begin practicum and/or internships, as they are able to arrange their work hours so that they do not conflict with class times or with the academic demands of graduate work. While most students do not to work while taking their internships, this is not always possible. Some manage to maintain part-time employment during internship. How well this works is dependent upon numerous factors such as the demands of the job and the individual's ability to cope with stressful situations.

8. How long will it take me to complete the program?

Students go through the program at different rates depending upon their individual circumstances. Students who are able to go "full-time"; and take summer classes complete the program in three years. Some students choose to take fewer classes each semester because of other obligations or personal preference, so take longer to graduate. See the program Handbook for a sample schedule.

9. Is your program accredited?

Yes. Both the Clinical Mental Health Counseling and the School Counseling Programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs or "CACREP"; ( http://www.cacrep.org). The School Counseling Program is also accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education or "NCATE"; ( http://ncate.org).

10. Do you train students to work with children and adults?

Yes. Students may select one of two specializations during their training programs: child/adolescent or adult.

11. Are there scholarships or assistantships available to help pay for my education?

Graduate assistantships (GAs) are limited and competitive. They are available for 10 or 20 hours per week although the 10-hour assistantship (which includes a small monthly stipend and the 50% tuition discount) is the norm. Graduate assistants assist faculty members with both teaching and research and perform a wide variety of other duties depending on the faculty needs and the assistant's skills and background. Information about student assistantships and a link to the application can be found on the College of Graduate Studies website at http://www.mtsu.edu/graduate/student/gtas.shtml

In addition to applying for an assistantship with our program, students may want to apply for a GA position in non-academic offices across the university. A list of these departments that do not have students of their own from which to select GAs can be found at http://www.mtsu.edu/graduate/student/gafaq.shtml.

Please see the program Handbook for scholarship information.

12. What are the job prospects for clinical mental health counselors/licensed professional counselors?

According to the federal government's Bureau of Labor Statistics, E mployment of clinical mental health counselors is expected to grow by 24 percent, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Under managed care systems, insurance companies increasingly are providing for reimbursement of counselors as a less costly alternative to psychiatrists and psychologists. In addition, there has been increased demand for mental health services as individuals become more willing to seek help. ( http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos067.htm).

The emergence of managed care companies has dramatically changed how mental health services are delivered and, more importantly, who is allowed to offer these services. Managed care companies contract with mental health providers to be part of their provider panels. Providers agree to provide services at a lower cost in exchange for an increase in the number of referrals that are sent their way by the managed care company (with the theory that an increase in volume will offset the income that is lost through lower fees). Master's level providers are very attractive to managed care companies because they offer services at a lower rate to begin with. The demand for licensed professional counselors has increased dramatically among managed care companies and insurance companies and this trend will continue in the future.

13. I already have a master's degree and just need to complete a few courses to become eligible for licensure as a professional counselor. Can I take courses at MTSU for this purpose?

Possibly, but only if you are a graduate of the MTSU School Counseling program or have graduated from a CACREP-approved program. Students who are currently enrolled in the School Counseling program may petition to take courses for this purpose. Permission to take courses is made on a case-by-case basis.