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  • M.S. in Mental Health Counseling

    Specified programs to fit your career goals
    Satisfy your educational requirements to work as a counselor in school settings (48-credits) or in public and private agencies (60-credits).
    School of Social and Behavioral Sciences
    Dobbs Ferry & Bronx

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Mental Health Counseling M.S. Curriculum

The 60-credit Master of Science Degree Program in Mental Health Counseling is organized as follows:

Core Courses 24 Credits
Advanced Core Courses 24 Credits
Supervised Internship I and II 12 Credits
Total 60 Credits

Core Courses

  • CNSL 630 Counseling and Ethics
  • CNSL 640 Human Development I
  • CNSL 648 Diagnosis and Treatment
  • CNSL 650 Counseling and Application I
  • CNSL 651 Mlticltrl Prspctives in Cnslng
  • CNSL 655 Counseling and Application II
  • CNSL 660 Practicum in Group Work
  • CNSL 665 Career Devlpmnt and Cnslng

Advanced Core Courses

  • CNSL 601 Crisis Counseling/Mental Hlth
  • CNSL 614 Intro Cnslt & Fam/Comm/Mn Hlt
  • CNSL 620 Psychl Dysfnctn in the Family
  • CNSL 625 Domestic Violence
  • CNSL 654 Psychopathology
  • CNSL 667 Diagnostic Tools: Measurement
  • CNSL 673 Research Methodology
  • CNSL 678 Aspcts Alchlsm & Sbstnc Abuse

*formerly Psychological Dysfunction in a Family Setting

Internship Courses

  • CNSL 686 Intrnshp I: Mntl Health
  • CNSL 687 Intrnshp II: Mntl Health

Course Load

Students must consult with the program director and/or interview with the program director or designee regarding required courses and electives for the Counseling Program. Full-time students may register for up to 12 credits per semester. Part-time students may register for either three or six credits per semester. 

Transfer Credits

Graduate courses taken at other institutions prior to admission at Mercy College may, if pertinent to the plan of study, be credited to the graduate degree. Permission to transfer credits must be requested at the time of admission and official transcripts and course descriptions must be submitted to the program director for evaluation.

Transfer credit will be granted only for courses taken in the five-year period prior to acceptance in the Mercy College Program and for courses in which the student earned a grade of B or higher. Transfer credit is normally limited to six credits. Courses with a grade of B- or lower are not acceptable for transfer. 

Maintenance of Matriculation

It is expected that students will fulfill the requirements for their graduate degree by registering over successive sessions. Registration is accomplished by either enrolling in classes or maintaining matriculation. The Maintaining Matriculation fee is $100 per session and is processed as a registration.

Students who have not maintained matriculation and wish to return to their program within one year after their last course will be charged the Maintenance of Matriculation fee of $100 for each missed session. Maintenance of matriculation without attending classes is limited to one year. Activated U.S. Military Reservists are not required to pay the Maintenance of Matriculation fee. 

Maintenance of Good Academic Standing

The cumulative GPA for both good academic standing and degree conferral is a 3.0. A student admitted as a Special Matriculant is required to achieve a 3.0 average or better after completing a certain number of credits as stipulated by their respective program. Grades are subject to review by the faculty advisor and program director at the end of each semester. If the academic average for the semester falls below 3.0 the student will be placed on academic probation. If the student fails to achieve a 3.0 GPA in two consecutive semesters, the students will be subject to dismissal from the program. 

Academic Probation

All students who have a cumulative GPA of below 3.0 will be placed on academic probation. If a student will not be able to achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.0 within a reasonable time, the student will be dismissed from the program. If a student receives a grade of F or FW in any course the student will be subject to dismissal from the College.

For all students on probation, future registrations must be reviewed and approved by the director of the student’s program as well as the school dean.

In all subsequent terms in which the student is on probation the student is required to achieve a term GPA of 3.0 or better. If the 3.0 or higher is not achieved the student will be dismissed. Students who receive a grade of less than B may be required to repeat the course. Students will be allowed to repeat a course only once. 

Time Limit

Requirements for the master's degrees in counseling programs must be completed within five years from the date of the candidate’s admission (exclusive of time spent in the Armed Forces). Exceptions will be made only if a student requests in writing an extension of time in advance and receives the approval of the director. 


Students in the counseling programs may meet with the program director, associate director or faculty advisor to plan his/her courses and to review the plan of study prior to course registration. Students will choose their elective courses in consultation with their advisor and in consideration of individual interest. 

Application Deadlines for Internship Placement

Fall Placements - February 15

Spring Placements - October 15

A 3.0 GPA is required to register for internship placement.

Completion of at least 30 credits, including CNSL 630, 640, 642*, 650, 651, 655, 660, 665, 667 and 673 as well as Violence Prevention and Child Abuse Workshops, is required prior to registration in either of the internship courses in School Counseling. Mental Health Counseling students must also complete 614 and 654 in order to be eligible for Internship. Supervised Internship placement must be applied for the semester prior to course registration.

Note: For students who entered in Fall, 2012 and thereafter, CNSL 642 was replaced by CNSL 643 for School Counseling students and by CNSL 648 for Mental Health Counseling students. 

Are certification and licensure the same?
Certification and licensure are not the same. Certification is done by specific certifying bodies, such as the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). Licensure is established by individual states.
What is the difference between matriculation to the Mental Health Counseling program and probationary admission?
Admission to the graduate program requires: (1) two professional letters of recommendation, (2) a two to three page essay stating the applicant's reason(s) for pursuing a degree in counseling, (3) a resume, (4) completion of a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an approved institution, (5) an undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above (on a 4.0 scale), including grades of B or better in one three-credit mathematics or statistics course. If you do not meet all these requirements you may be admitted on a provisional basis until you have fulfilled the prerequisites or (in the case of GPA), demonstrated your ability to do adequate graduate-level work. You must complete the prerequisites within the first two semesters (or nine credits) of study. Master's Degree in Counseling or a Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling.
What will this degree prepare me to do?
Fulfill partial requirements for licensure as a Mental Health Counselor. The 60-credit course of studies prepares you for licensure in counseling at public and private agencies or in private practice. The Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling is a licensure-qualifying 60-credit program. Graduates are eligible to seek initial employment towards meeting the 3,000-hour externship required for licensure as a mental health counselor in New York State.
How long does the Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling usually take?
Generally two to three years, with a maximum of five years allowed for degree completion (exclusive of time spent in the armed forces).
Is Mercy College a nonsectarian institution?
Yes. Qualified applicants are admitted without regard to race, religion, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age or physical disability.
Mark Sirkin Associate Professor, Mental Health Counseling
Carolyn Cullen Adjunct Faculty

Mental Health Counseling Overview

The Mental Health Counseling program will prepare you for licensing as a mental health counselor, as determined by the Committee of Higher Education and Professional Practice of the New York State Education Department. Graduate students who complete the 60-credit Mental Health Counseling program are eligible to sit for the professional licensing examination. Nearly 20% of our past degree recipients plan to work in mental health counseling.

Mental Health Counseling FAQS

How long does the Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling usually take?
Generally two to three years, with a maximum of five years allowed for degree completion (exclusive of time spent in the armed forces).
Is Mercy College a nonsectarian institution?
Yes. Qualified applicants are admitted without regard to race, religion, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age or physical disability.

Mental Health Counseling Fast Facts

  • Eligible to sit for the professional licensing examination with 60-credit Mental Health Counseling program
  • Usually degree is completed in 2-3 years

Career Opportunities

The Master of Science Degree in Mental Health Counseling qualifies students to sit for the national counseling examination and to apply for a New York State license as a mental health counselor.


The master’s programs in counseling offer graduate education in counseling preparation. The 48-credit Master's in Counseling prepares students to become New York State Certified school counselors in urban and suburban school settings. The 60- credit Masters in Mental Health Counseling prepares students to become New York State licensed Mental Health counselors in public and private agencies.

The Master of Science in Counseling offers two certifications within the degree program. Successful completion of the School Counselor Program leads to recommendation to the New York State Education Department for provisional certification as a school counselor. Students completing the Bilingual School Counselor Program will be recommended for provisional certification as a school counselor and also for a bilingual extension to the certificate.

The Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling is a licensure-qualifying program. Upon program completion, graduates are eligible to seek initial employment towards meeting the 3,000-hour externship required for licensure as a mental health counselor in New York State. According to the state laws regulating mental health counseling licensure, graduates will have up to two years to meet the 3,000 hours of experience and pass a licensing examination to complete the licensure requirements.

Note: While all but two courses (CNSL 655 – Counseling and Applications II and CNSL 660 – Practicum in Group Work) may be completed as distance learning courses for the School Counseling program, New York State will not permit more than 27 credits of distance learning courses to be counted toward the 60-credit Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling. New York State also requires students pursuing a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling to take the following courses in a traditional classroom environment: CNSL 650, CNSL 655 and CNSL 660.

Admission Requirements

Please refer to the general requirements for admission and matriculation in the Graduate Admissions section of this catalog.

Program Requirements for Admission to Application to the Mental Health Counseling Program

  1. Two professional letters of recommendation on letterhead (letters from friends, neighbors, acquaintances, or clergy are welcome but do not replace the two professional letters).
  2. A two- to three-page essay on the applicant's reason(s) for becoming a mental health counselor.
  3. A current resume
  4. In-person interview with the program director (or designee) once above requirements have been accepted.

Degree Requirements

  1. Successful completion of 60 graduate credits for Mental Health Counseling
  2. A 3.0 cumulative GPA
  3. Successful completion of a written comprehensive examination

Mental Health Counseling Objectives

Graduates of the Master of Science in Counseling Degree Programs will be prepared to assume a professional school counseling role in a school setting. Graduates will be expected to do the following:

  • Meet identified professional and ethical standards required to work as a school counselor in New York State.
  • Be cognizant of the concerns, issues, and challenges relevant to today’s students in urban and suburban and schools.
  • Apply current knowledge and research from social and behavioral sciences, including the use of technology, to the practice of counseling.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the impact of cultural diversity on counseling techniques and applications.

Program Outcomes

By the end of this program, students should be able to: 

  • Identify and apply the American Mental Health Counseling Association standards to qualify to take the licensing examination in Mental Health Counseling required by New York State
  • Demonstrate mastery of the eight CACREP Core Counseling Competencies: Human Growth and Development, Social and Cultural Foundations, Theories of Counseling, Groups, Lifestyle and Career Development, Appraisal, Research and Program Evaluation, and Professional Orientation and Ethics
  • Identify and treat symptoms presented by clients
  • Define, explain, and apply counseling methods for the assessment, diagnosis & treatment of mental disorders
  • Apply current knowledge and research from social and behavioral sciences, including the use of technology, to the practice of counseling
  • Identify and explain the impact of cultural diversity on counseling techniques and make appropriate applications