Frequently Asked Questions
master of arts (m.a.) in counseling
General Masters in Counseling Questions
Is it possible to switch tracks (i.e., from mental health to school or vice versa)?
Yes, but it may extend your time in the program. You must submit an application to be accepted into the program. See the Office of Graduate Admission, Financial Aid and Student Services in Campion 135.
Can I take a course outside of BC as part of my program?
Yes. However, it's recommended that core courses be taken within the Boston College program. Consult your advisor if you're interested in substituting one of these classes, as these decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. If there is an elective you're interested in taking outside of BC, obtain a course description from the course catalog of the university or college from which you'd like to take the course and show this to your advisor. There are a number of schools in the area that offer courses that BC students can take, including Northeastern and Lesley. Courses at Tufts, Brandeis and Boston University may be taken through the Consortium (see next question). After your advisor approves your decision, complete a Graduate Transfer of Credit Form available in the Office for Graduate Student Services. Make sure this course is listed accurately on your Program of Studies Form, and if it's not, please complete the Course Substitution Form available in the Office for Graduate Student Services.
What schools are in the Consortium?
The Consortium consists of Brandeis, Tufts, and Boston University. Boston College students can enroll in one class per semester through the Consortium. This can be an excellent way of taking courses outside of BC. Consult a University Catalog, available in the Student Services Office in Lyons Hall or in the Office for Graduate Student Services for details.
If I get my Master's degree, can I get advanced standing in a doctoral program?
This depends on the doctoral program you will be entering. Many Doctoral Programs in Counseling Psychology require a Master's Degree prior to admission, and if this is the case holding a Master's Degree will probably not give you advance standing. Other programs admit applicants directly from undergraduate school, and so conferring advance standing to those with Master's Degrees might be more of a possibility. If you're considering applying for doctoral study and are wondering whether or not a Master's Degree will help you or is required, the best policy is to familiarize yourself with the doctoral programs you're interested in and contact them with any specific questions.
How can I find out about pre-practicum, practicum, and internship placements?
Dr. Sandy Morse, the Internship and Practicum Director, is available to assist you with finding pre-practicum, practicum and internship opportunities. Dr. Morse has materials about mental health and school placements that have been used in the past, as well as evaluations of the sites from previous mental health and school counseling students. Dr. Morse's office is located in Campion 313.
What electives would be helpful to me if I am applying to a doctoral program?
Doctoral programs examine a wide range of criteria when looking at applicants, and course work is just one of those. Many look for students being successful in research-related courses such as statistics, research design, and psychological testing and measurement as much of doctoral training focuses on these content areas. However, the best policy is to research the programs in which you are most interested in order to find out what coursework may be most desirable to complete during your masters program.
How do I enroll in a course outside of the Lynch School (e.g., Nursing, Social Work?)
Consult with your advisor and make sure that the course is equivalent to an elective course or a required course offered through the Lynch School. Depending on the course you want to take, you then may have to get additional approval from the specific school in which you'd be taking the course (i.e. Social Work). Also, make sure the course is included on your Program of Studies Form, and if it's not, complete the Course Substitution Form that can be obtained from Office for Graduate Student Services.
Can I complete this program as a part-time student?
Yes. Each student has 5 years from the time of admission to complete her or his degree. You must be enrolled in three classes to be considered full-time, although there are some exceptions with involvement in an internship. The program is designed for full-time participation, and internship and practicum requirements are not flexible as they are necessary for licensure. As such, students must plan on at least 20 hours in the field during that year along with additional coursework. Nevertheless, some students do complete at least part of their program on a part-time basis. If you're considering part-time study, consult your advisor or an admissions counselor to plan your program of studies in advance.
Can I "walk" at graduation if I haven't finished my coursework?
You can participate in the Commencement Ceremony as long as you have passed your Comprehensive Exam and have no more than 2 courses left to complete.
Is it possible to change from the 48 credit program to the 60 credit or vice versa?
Yes. An approved Program of Study form will be required for this change to be processed in the Office of Graduate Admission, Financial Aid and Student Services.
What's the difference between a social worker (LICSW) and an LMHC? How do I choose between the two programs?
This is a question with no simple answer that will be right for everyone. In fact, if you ask this question to different mental health professionals, you are likely to get different answers. In making the choice between the LICSW and LMHC, there are several ideas to keep in mind. One is that the LICSW and LMHC degrees have different histories behind them, and these histories in some ways influence the types of jobs and career possibilities available to you after you graduate. Licensure requirements not only differ between the LMHC and LICSW, but also vary according to the state in which one is practicing. It might be important to take into consideration whether or not you plan to pursue further graduate training. Also, there are numerous professional organizations available to both LMHCs and LICSWs. Explore these organizations. The American Counseling Association can be found on the web at www.counseling.org, and the American Psychological Association can be found at www.apa.org. The National Association of Social Workers can be found at http://naswdc.org, and the Council on Social Work Education can be found at www.cswe.org. Perusing these websites can provide very helpful information.
In general do as much homework individually as possible. Try not to foreclose on a decision prematurely. Both counseling and social work have caring professionals that will be more than happy to share their viewpoint as to which degree is optimal for you. Contact departments of counseling and social work that you might be interested in applying to, and they will be able to direct you to members of their departments and current graduate students that can further assist you. Speak with people who are doing the work you'd like to be doing. Sometimes students are reluctant to speak with current professionals because they feel that they are bothering them or wasting their time. In fact, many will be flattered that you are showing interest in their work.
When can I take the licensing exam?
You can take the licensing exam after you have graduated.
There are three requirements for licensure as an LMHC in Massachusetts. These are:
1.) The completion of a Master's degree consisting of:
a) 60 hours of graduate coursework,
b) a 100 hour practicum experience (this requirement is met through participation in PY440: Principles & Techniques of Counseling and PY 748: Practicum in Counseling), and
c) a 600-hour internship, which includes 240 direct client contact hours and 45 hours of supervision.
2.) A minimum of two years of full-time supervised clinical field experience or part-time equivalent totaling 3,360 hours, of which 960 must be direct client contact hours and 130 must be hours of supervision.
3.) Passing a licensure exam.
Licensure as an LMHC is granted by the Massachusetts Board of Allied Mental Health & Human Service Professionals. Licensing exams are usually held four times per year, and the Board can be contacted for dates and locations. For more details regarding licensure and exams in Massachusetts, see www.state.ma.us/reg/boards/mh/index.htm
If you're interested in licensure requirements in other states, see the American Counseling Association at www.counseling.org.
Where are school counseling jobs typically advertised?
School counseling jobs may be advertised on school district web pages, in local and regional newspapers (e.g., The Boston Globe), or on other job posting web pages (e.g., craigslist, monster, etc.)
Can you apply for Ph.D. programs with a Master's in School Counseling?
Yes, you can apply for Ph.D. programs with a Master's in School Counseling.
Where can I find out information about licensing requirements in Massachusetts?
The Massachusetts Department of Education website links you to information about licensing requirements.
Professional Support Personal Licenses:
School Guidance Counselor (Levels: PreK-8; 5-12)
1. Master's degree with a major in counseling
2. Subject Matter Knowledge:
1. Familiarity with the Curriculum Frameworks and their use in the advising responsibilities of the guidance counselor.
2. Understanding and interpretation of Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) and other academic test results to students, teachers, and parents.
3. Psychology of learning.
4. Understanding of the diagnosis and treatment of learning and behavior disorders.
5. Theories of normal and abnormal intellectual, social, and emotional development.
6. Knowledge of strategies used for the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, physical and sexual abuse, the spectrum of mental illnesses, and violence in PreK-12 students.
7. Philosophy, principles and practices in school guidance counseling.
8. Federal, state, municipal, and school laws and regulations.
9. Career counseling.
10. Resources within the school system or the community for referral.
11. Knowledge of statistics, research design, and research in guidance counseling.
12. Group counseling and group leadership.
13. Development of skills for consultation with parents, teachers, and administrators.
14. College counseling and use of college and other post-secondary resource materials (grades 5-12).
3. A practicum of 450 hours in an educational setting.
4. Passing score on the Communication and Literacy Skills test.
Where can I find out information about becoming licensed in a state other than Massachusetts?
Information can be found on the state Department of Education website where you intend to be licensed. Dr. Sandy Morse can also assist you with obtaining information about licensure in other states.
How will I obtain my initial license after graduation?
You will complete a check-out meeting with the BC Certification Officer and Dr. Morse. At this meeting they will review with you how to apply to the state for licensure. This application will be completed online.