Master's in Counseling Degrees in California - Explore 23 Online and On-Campus Options

Master's in Counseling Degrees in California

A master’s degree in counseling may help to prepare you for a career that focuses on helping others. Professional counselors provide valuable services to clients during challenging times or life transitions, with an impact that may extend from individuals to families and communities. Whether you hope to help couples and families heal, treat mental health disorders or guide students searching for the right career path, a master’s degree in counseling can open the door to a variety of careers in the field.

In California alone, there are over 20 schools that offer master’s in counseling programs, with options to specialize in fields like career counseling, rehabilitation counseling, mental health counseling or marriage and family therapy. Whether you choose to pursue licensure as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC), a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) or another type of counselor, California’s Master of Counseling programs may help to equip you with the skills and training necessary to assist others through pivotal moments of their lives.

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PROGRAM: MASTER'S IN CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY - (LICENSED PROFESSIONAL COUNSELOR)

Bachelor's holders can prepare to become a licensed professional counselor online. With no GRE scores required to apply, the 27 month online MA in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine allows you to advance your career and be a catalyst of change.

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Compare 16 Mental Health Counseling Degree Programs in California

Upcoming Webinar Events
University Name Location Type of Degree GRE Requirement Time to Complete Program Characteristics
Alliant International University San Diego, San Francisco Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling None 2 years Online or On-campus
California State University, Fresno Fresno, CA Master of Science in Counseling, Specialization in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling None 2-2.5 years On-campus
California State University, Fullerton Fullerton, CA Master of Science in Counseling None 3.5 years On-campus
California State University, San Bernardino San Bernardino, CA M.S. in Counseling, Specialization in Professional Counseling None 3 years On-campus with online components
Chapman University Orange, CA M.A. in Counseling, Specialization in Professional Clinical Counseling None 2-3 years On-campus
Concordia University Irvine, CA M.A. in Counseling, Specialization in Clinical Mental Health None 2-3 years Online
La Sierra University Riverside, CA M.A. in General Counseling None 2 years On-campus and online
Loma Linda University Loma Linda, California M.S. in Counseling with LPCC None 2-3 years On-campus
Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA M.A. in Counseling, Specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling None 2 years On-campus
Point Loma Nazarene University San Diego, CA M.A. in Clinical Counseling None 2-3 years On-campus
Saint Mary’s College of California Moraga, CA M.A. in Counseling None 2-3.5 years On-campus
San Francisco State University San Francisco, CA M.S. in Counseling, Specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Not required for Fall 2021 2-3 years On-campus
Saybrook University Oakland, CA M.A. in Counseling, Specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling None 3 years Hybrid
Sonoma State University Rohnert Park, CA M.A. in Counseling, Specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling None 2-3 years On-campus
University of Redlands Redlands, CA M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling None 2 years On-campus
University of San Diego San Diego, CA M.A. in Counseling, Specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling None 2 years On-campus

Compare 14 School Counseling Degree Programs in California

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University Name Location Type of Degree GRE Requirement Time to Complete Program Characteristics
California State University, Fresno Fresno, CA Master of Science in Counseling, Specialization in School Counseling; Specialization in Student Affairs & College Counseling None 2-2.5 years On-campus
California State University, Long Beach Long Beach, CA Master of Science in School Counseling None 2 years On-campus
California State University, Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA Master of Science in Counseling, Specialization in School-Based Family Counseling None 2.5-3 years On-campus
California State University, Northridge Northridge, CA M.S. in Counseling, Specialization in School Counseling; Specialization in College Counseling and Student Services May be required depending on specialization chosen 2-3 years On-campus
California State University, Sacramento Sacramento, CA M.S. in Counseling, Specialization in School Counseling with PPS-SC-Credential Required 3 years On-campus
California State University, San Bernardino San Bernardino, CA M.S. in Counseling, Specialization in School Counseling None 3 years On-campus with online components
Chapman University Orange, CA M.A. in Counseling and Pupil Personnel Services Credential in School Counseling None 2 years On-campus
La Sierra University Riverside, CA M.A. in Counseling with PPS in School Counseling None 3 years On-campus and online
Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA M.A. in Counseling, Specialization in School Counseling None 2 years On-campus
San Diego State University San Diego, CA M.S. in Counseling, Specialization in School Counseling & PPS Credential Suspended for 2021 2 years On-campus
Saint Mary’s College of California Moraga, CA M.A. in Counseling, Specialization in School Counseling None 2-4 years On-campus
San Jose State University San Jose, CA M.S. in Counseling & Guidance, Specialization in School Counseling None 2 years On-campus
Sonoma State University Rohnert Park, CA M.A. in School Counseling None 2-3 years On-campus
University of San Diego San Diego, CA M.A. in School Counseling with PPS credential or LPCC credential None 2 years On-campus
University of Southern California

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Los Angeles, CA Master of Education in School Counseling None 2-3 years Online

Compare 5 Rehabilitation Counseling Degree Programs in California

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University Name Location Type of Degree GRE Requirement Time to Complete Program Characteristics
California State University, Fresno Fresno, CA Master of Science in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling None 2-2.5 years On-campus
California State University, Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA Master of Science in Counseling, Specialization in Rehabilitation Counseling None 2.5-3 years On-campus
California State University, Sacramento Sacramento, CA M.S. in Counseling, Specialization in Rehabilitation Counseling Required 3 years On-campus
California State University, San Bernardino San Bernardino, CA M.A. in Rehabilitation Counseling None 3 years On-campus
San Diego State University San Diego, CA M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling Suspended for 2021 2.5-3 years Online or on-campus

Insights into Counseling Degrees in California

Alliant International University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60-unit curriculum
  • 6 units of selective coursework in a concentration area
  • 100-hour practicum
  • 600-hours internship

Admission Requirements

  • Completed online application with $65 application fee
  • Official transcripts from baccalaureate degree
  • Two letters of professional recommendation
  • Professional resume or curriculum vitae
  • Faculty interview
  • One admissions essay
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0

California State University, Fresno

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 48-60 units depending on which specialization you choose
  • 700 hours of supervised counseling practicum and field practice

Admission Requirements

  • Program application
  • Proof of application to Fresno State
  • Statement of purpose
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Pass Writing Competency
  • Certificate of Clearance
  • Faculty Interview
  • Official or unofficial transcripts
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0
  • Three letters of recommendation

California State University, Fullerton

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 63 units (21 courses)
  • Practicum hours

Admission Requirements

  • Online application with $70 application fee
  • Official transcripts
  • Bachelor's degree (or equivalent) with a minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Three letters of recommendation with at least one letter from an academic reference
  • Personal statement
  • Faculty interview
  • Completion of prerequisite courses with a minimum 3.0 GPA

California State University, Long Beach

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 51 units
  • 100 practicum hours
  • 600 fieldwork hours

Admission Requirements

  • Completed online application with $70 application fee
  • Official transcripts
  • Admissions interview
  • Minimum 2.85 GPA in last degree

California State University, Los Angeles

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 55-76 units, with half at the 5000-level
  • 18 units of fieldwork

Admission Requirements

  • Minimum 2.75 GPA
  • Application form
  • Interview
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Copies of transcripts of all colleges and universities attended
  • Personal history (no more than 5 double-spaced pages)

California State University, Northridge

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 48-72 units, depending on option

Admission Requirements

  • Minimum 2.5 GPA from baccalaureate degree
  • Official transcripts
  • Pass Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Admissions interview
  • Complete all prerequisite courses with minimum grade of “B”

California State University, Sacramento

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 units
  • 100-hour clinical practicum
  • 600 hours of field experience
  • Maintain 3.0 GPA

Admission Requirements

  • Minimum 3.0 GPA from baccalaureate degree
  • Submission of the GRE scores
  • Completion of application form
  • Copies of transcripts
  • Two professional letters of recommendation
  • Relevant work experience
  • Participation in an In-Person Admission Evaluation

California State University, San Bernardino

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Minimum 60 units (may go up to 78 units)
  • GPA of 3.0
  • Comprehensive examination, culminating experience, and/or through completion of a master’s degree project

Admission Requirements

  • Attend a Counseling Program information meeting
  • Submission of an Admissions Portfolio that contains:
    1. Admission to CSUSB Graduate Studies
    2. Application and current resume
    3. Transcripts of all higher education coursework
    4. GPA of 3.0
    5. Written personal statement
    6. Three professional letters of recommendation
    7. Evidence of current negative TB test
    8. Evidence of CTC clearance or possession of a valid California teaching credential

Chapman University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 51 units
  • 200-hour practicum
  • 600 hours of internship
  • Pass Praxis Exam for Professional School Counselor
  • Program Exit Interview

Admission Requirements

  • Online application with $60 fee
  • Statement of intent
  • Current resume that includes information on experiences working with children and/or families
  • One set of official transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation

Concordia University Irvine

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 units

Admission Requirements

  • Application with $50 fee
  • One official undergraduate transcript from regionally accredited college or university
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • One essay
  • Two professional references
  • Resume
  • Group interview with program faculty

La Sierra University

Program Overview

  • Program: Master of Arts in Counseling from La Sierra University
  • Degree Options:
    • MA in Counseling (General)
    • MA in Counseling MFT/LPCC
    • MA in Counseling & EDS, PPS
    • MA in Counseling BCBA
    • MA in Counseling PPS School Counseling
    • MA in Counseling Forensic Mental Health
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Instruction Method: On-campus

Program Requirements

  • 45 units minimum (may go up to 96 units depending on specialization chosen)

Admission Requirements

  • Application
  • Official college transcripts
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Departmental interview

Loma Linda University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 90 quarter units
  • Minimum of 450 clinical hours

Admission Requirements

  • Online application
  • Bachelor’s degree with minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • Faculty-applicant interview

Loyola Marymount University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 48-60 units

Admission Requirements

  • Online application form
  • Two official copies of transcripts
  • Cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0
  • Letter of intent
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Certificate of Clearance
  • Interview by Academic Program Director or Assistant Director
  • CBEST exam for those pursuing the master’s degree with the PPS credential

Point Loma Nazarene University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 63 units
  • 700 hours of supervised training, includes 20-24 practicum hours per week
  • 20 hours of personal psychotherapy
  • Complete Comprehensive Examination to graduate

Admission Requirements

  • Online application with $50 fee
  • Official transcripts with proof of bachelor’s degree from regionally accredited institution and a cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Personal essay
  • Resume
  • Three professional references
  • Department interview
  • Completion of MMPI 2 personality assessment

Saint Mary’s College of California

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 40 units

Admission Requirements

  • Application and $50 fee
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Personal statement of academic and professional goals
  • Current resume
  • Official transcript
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Evidence of health insurance

San Diego State University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60-64 units
  • For School Counseling concentration, work at school sites during entirety of program is a requirement

Admission Requirements

  • Submit Cal State Apply application
  • Official transcripts
  • GRE (suspended for 2021)
  • Personal statement
  • CBEST exam (for applicants to School Counseling program)
  • Three letters of recommendation

San Francisco State University

Program Overview

  • Program: Master of Science in Counseling from San Francisco State University
  • Degree Options:
    • Master of Science in Career Counseling
    • Master of Science in College Counseling
    • Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
    • Master of Science in Gerontological Counseling
    • Master of Science in School Counseling
    • Master of Science in Counseling with a concentration in Marriage Family Therapy Counseling
  • Program Length: 2-3 years
  • Instruction Method: On-campus

Program Requirements

  • Minimum of 60 units of coursework
  • 2 years of internship in specialization setting (in 2 different sites)

Admission Requirements

  • Cal State Apply application with $70 fee
  • Department application with $25 department fee
  • Resume
  • Unofficial transcript
  • Personal statement
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • GRE scores (Not required for Fall 2021 admission)
  • In-person interview (if required by program)

Saybrook University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credits
  • 700 hours of field experience

Admission Requirements

  • Online application with $50 fee
  • Bachelor’s degree with minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Personal Statement
  • Resume or CV
  • One letter of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • Faculty interview

San Jose State University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 48-60 units, depending on credential option
  • 600 hours of fieldwork

Admission Requirements

  • Cal State Apply application with $70 fee
  • Bachelor's degree with 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Professional Goals Statement
  • Resume
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts

Sonoma State University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 units
  • 600 hours of supervised field experience for students enrolled in master’s program with concentration in school counseling

Admission Requirements

  • Cal State Apply application
  • Bachelor’s degree in psychology or related science preferred, with 3.0 GPA
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Individual and group interviews

University of Redlands

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 units
  • 450-hour supervised clinical practicum/600 fieldwork hours for students pursuing school counseling track

Admission Requirements

  • Application
  • Bachelor’s degree with 3.0 GPA
  • Official transcript issued by the registrar of each institution attended
  • Two letters of recommendation 
  • Personal statement
  • Certification of clearance for school counseling candidates

University of San Diego

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 48-60 units
  • 600-700 hours of supervised practicum

Admission Requirements

  • Online application and $45 fee
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA in all undergraduate coursework
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Resume
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • Group interview

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, California

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 49 Units

Admissions Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • GPA of 3.0 or above
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Sealed, official post-secondary transcripts
  • Current resume or curriculum vitae
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), if applicable
  • Application fee of $90
Discover USC's online master of education in school counseling, request information from USC Rossier.

Western Seminary

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 71 credits (may be fewer)
  • 280 hours counseling experience

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree with cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Foundational knowledge of psychology
  • Completed application
  • Interview
  • Program Readiness Examination may be required

Education and Other Requirements for Counseling Licensure in California

In order to become a counselor in California, there are several common requirements you must meet. Below is a general overview of the education and steps required. It is highly encouraged that you also carefully review the information listed on the Board of Behavioral Sciences’ website for LPCC requirements.

  1. Complete a graduate degree that includes the LPCC requirements linked above. Note that California licensure does not require you to attend a school accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Refer to the list put together by the BBS of approved schools with LPCC programs and LMFT programs to confirm eligibility for licensure.
  2. Apply to register as a Professional Clinical Counselor Intern (PCCI) with the BBS to earn your required 3,000 supervised hours. These must be completed over a minimum of two years and a maximum of six years, and under the supervision of an approved professional.
  3. Undergo Live Scan fingerprinting, a criminal background check, and pass the California Law & Ethics Exam.
  4. Take and pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam (NCMHCE). The exam can only be taken once all supervised hours are completed.
  5. Obtain official licensure as a LPCC.

Aspiring LPCCs who are licensed in other states will need to have their education and supervised experience approved by the BBS before they are eligible to take the California LPCC Law and Ethics Exam and the NCMHCE, if they have not already passed it. This information is included in the BBS Guide to LPCC Out-of-State Applicant Requirement (PDF, 705 KB). For both in-state and out-of-state applicants, all these requirements must be met in order to be eligible to obtain your official LPCC license.

Salary and Career Outlook for Counselors in California

There are multiple roles to pursue in California, once you complete your degree and become licensed. Counselors in California are expected to see a 16% increase in demand until 2026, according to California’s Employment Development Department (EDD). Additionally, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that California has more counselors employed than any other state. According to the BLS, counselors in California make an annual mean salary of $55,150, compared to the national average counselor salary which was $48,800.

California is also the highest-paying state for educational, guidance and career counselors, with an average salary of $78,250, which is well above the national mean of $61,000. These licensed professionals have an anticipated 14% increase in job outlook from 2016 to 2026, according to the EDD.

The EDD also reports that substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors in California have a higher-than-average job outlook, with an expected 19% growth through 2026. BLS pay data reveals that these professionals earned an average salary of $54,580 in 2019.

Marriage and family therapists in the state follow close behind in both outlook and income, with an expected 23% job growth from 2016 to 2026, and a mean annual salary of $51,950.

Another type of licensed professional in the field—rehabilitation counselors—have the highest rate of employment in California than any other state, according to the BLS. They earned a mean annual wage of $37,320 in 2019. Rehabilitation counselor jobs in California are poised to grow 12% through 2026, according to the EDD.

FAQs

Find below a few questions and detailed answers covering counselor education and employment in California.

What degree do I need to become a marriage and family therapist in California?
To become an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT) or Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), you need a qualifying master's or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy, or a related topic with equivalent coursework. Your degree must include six-semester or nine-quarter units of practicum, and a minimum of 150 hours of direct client contact and 75 hours of either client-centered advocacy or face-to-face counseling experience.

How much do mental health counselors make in California?
According to the BLS, substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors in California earn an average yearly salary of $54,580.

What jobs can I get with a master’s degree in counseling in California?
Graduates of a master’s program in counseling often work as a clinical counselor in the following areas: substance abuse, mental health and therapy, marriage and family therapy and long-term rehabilitation and care. Others may open a private practice or even work in fields such as social services, humanitarian work or in professional research for public or private organizations.

Is mental health counseling a good career in California?
California has the highest employment level of mental health counselors in the country, showing that it may be possible to find a rewarding career in this area. But whether or not it is a good fit for you depends on your personal goals. Maybe you prioritize the opportunity to work with individuals and groups to promote mental and emotional health over other factors like earning potential.

What is the job outlook for school counselors?
Rising student enrollment has led to a projected 8% increase in demand nationally for school counselors through 2029, according to the BLS. That growth rate is nearly double in California, at 14 percent, according to the EDD.

How much does a school counselor with a master's degree make in California?
California requires all school counselors to have a master’s degree. The annual mean wage for school counselors in California is $78,250, according to the BLS.

Last updated: November 2020