Frequently Asked Questions - Professional Counseling Program

What can you tell me about your graduate programs?

The Womack Educational Leadership Department offers an Ed.S. (i.e., Specialist in Education) in Professional Counseling degree with concentrations in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling. Both concentrations are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling concentration is a 61-hour degree program designed to train students to work with children, adolescents and/or adults in mental health settings. Students who complete the concentration will have met the educational requirements for licensure as a professional counselor with mental health service provider designation (LPC MHSP). Dr. Christopher Quarto is the coordinator of this concentration ( Click here to learn more about the field of clinical mental health counseling:

The School Counseling concentration is a 61-hour degree program with an emphasis on developmental school counseling. Students who complete the concentration will have met the educational requirements necessary for licensure as a school counselor in elementary, middle and high school settings. Dr. Tiffany Wilson is the coordinator of this concentration ( Click here to learn more about the field of school counseling:

In both concentrations, students start off by taking foundations courses to orient them to the field of counseling as well as their areas of focus – clinical mental health counseling or school counseling. As students progress through the program they take skills courses to learn the fundamental skills of counselors such as listening, paraphrasing, empathizing and summarizing; helping clients through the different stages of counseling in a practicum experience at the MTSU Center for Counseling and Psychological Services; and diagnosing and treating mental disorders. During the final phase of the program students continue to take courses that are specific to their concentrations and complete a two-semester internship in a mental health or school setting.

The MTSU program is a trauma-informed program meaning that faculty believe it is important for students to understand the impact of trauma (with a “Big T” or a “little t”) on human development. As such, they infuse trauma content into every class.

Do you offer a master’s degree program?

Our master’s degree programs – clinical mental health counseling and school counseling – have been phased out. Starting in Fall, 2019 they became Ed.S. (i.e., Specialist in Education) degrees.

An Ed.S. is a degree located between a master’s degree and a doctoral degree in length and is specific to programs that are located in a university’s college of education.  Students must complete a minimum of 60 hours of graduate coursework to earn it.  One of the primary reasons Professional Counseling faculty made this change was to better reflect the amount of time students put into their graduate studies.  In other departments, for example, one can earn a master’s degree by completing 30 hours of graduate coursework while counseling students are required to complete double that amount of coursework.  Another reason faculty made the change was for financial reasons.  For school counseling graduates an Ed.S. degree oftentimes means being paid at a higher level by the school district that employs them.  This is not usually the case for clinical mental health counseling graduates, however, in that agencies that employ them are more interested in whether they are license-eligible (i.e., LPC), regardless of degree type.

An Ed.S. degree/a degree that is earned in a college of education is looked at no differently than a master’s degree by licensure boards for licensure purposes.  Licensure boards simply want to verify that a student a) earned a graduate degree in the appropriate field (i.e., counseling/school counseling) and b) that they completed graduate coursework required for licensure purposes. 

Click here to learn about the differences between a master’s degree and specialist in education degree:  

Do you offer an online program?

No. Only one class in our program is totally online. We offer several hybrid classes meaning that some of the content is offered online and some of it is offered in-person.

When do classes meet?

The majority of our classes (during the fall and spring semesters) are offered one night a week from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. A couple of classes are offered on the weekends. Summer classes are essentially “accelerated” meaning that a large amount of content is covered within a relatively short period of time (anywhere between three and five weeks depending on the class). Summer classes can meet Monday – Friday for three hours (during the May session) or in various permutations (including weekends) depending on the class.

Where do classes meet?

Classes are offered at the College of Education building (on-campus) and the MTSU Center for Counseling & Psychological Services (off-campus: 503 E. Bell Street).

How can I see what classes are being offered during a particular semester?

You can search for classes here:

  1. Select your term/semester and click on “Submit.”
  2. Under “Subject” scroll down to “COUN – Counseling.”
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Class Search.”

Do I have to take an admissions test to be accepted into the program?

It depends. If you have an undergraduate GPA that is 3.0 or above then no admissions test is required. If your undergraduate GPA is below 3.0 then you may take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) – in which case we will only consider the Verbal subtest score from this test for admissions purposes (minimum test score required = 146) – or the Miller Analogies Test (minimum test score required = 385).

My undergraduate GPA is 2.75, but as I understand it you require a 3.00 to get into your program. Should I bother applying?

In cases where applicants have undergraduate GPAs that fall below 3.00 the Professional Counseling faculty will consider how they performed during the final 60 hours/two years of their undergraduate programs. If the GPA is 3.00 or above during this time period then the faculty may determine that this is sufficient. However, a graduate admissions test would be required to evaluate an applicant’s potential for doing graduate work. It is possible that other application materials (e.g., admission test score; recommendation forms; supplemental application/written essay; resume) that are particularly strong could offset the low GPA. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

How many students do you accept per year?

We accept between 25 and 30 students per year in our program.  Approximately 60% of the students who apply to our program are accepted.

I see that the application deadlines for your program are February 10 and September 10. What if I miss the deadline?

February 10 is the application for students who intend on starting their studies in the summer or fall. September 10 is the application deadline for students who plan on starting their studies in the spring.

From time to time, prospective students miss the application deadlines. However, they are still eligible to take a couple of classes. The Professional Counseling faculty allow students to take up to two graduate classes – which must be taken during the same semester - when they register with the College of Graduate Studies as non-degree seeking students. This means that a student has not been accepted into a graduate program, but has been granted permission by the graduate school to take a limited number of graduate classes (with the understanding that faculty have the final say as to whether a student can take a course). These classes would apply toward the degree if students apply and are accepted into the program. Typical counseling classes that are taken early on in the program include:

  • COUN 6110 – Introduction to Professional Counseling
  • COUN 6830 – Theories and Techniques of Counseling
  • COUN 5655 – Foundations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • COUN 6160 – Foundations of School Counseling

Students who take classes as non-degree seeking students (in hopes they will be accepted into a program) are taking a risk as there is no guarantee they will be accepted into the program. It is based on a positive review of their application materials and a successful interview.

Where can I find additional application information?

How many classes do students take per semester?

Three classes (i.e., nine credit hours) is considered to be a full load at the graduate level. Most students take three classes while others take two classes per semester if their circumstances do not allow them to take as many classes.

How long does it take to complete the program?

It takes two-and-a-half to three years to complete the 61-hour program, which includes taking classes during the summer months.

Do I have to complete an internship as part of this program?

Yes.  All students complete a one-semester practicum experience at our counseling training clinic - the MTSU Center for Counseling & Psychological Services - prior to internship.  This involves counseling MTSU students, faculty & staff members as well as residents of the Murfreesboro community.  Students  must complete a 100-hour experience; 40 of those 100 hours must include direct services to clients.  The Center is open from 1:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Students arrange their schedules with the practicum instructor.

Following practicum students complete a 600-hour internship experience which is usually completed across two semesters.  This entails working at the internship site (a mental health agency or school) three days a week.  Paid internships are not guaranteed (and school counseling interns are the only ones who possibly may receive payment as part of a “job-embedded” internship/work position at the school – see next point below).  Clinical mental health counseling students complete their entire experience at one mental health setting.  School counseling students normally complete one semester at an elementary school and one semester at a high school.  However, opportunities are available to complete a one-semester internship at one school level.  Students must spend 240 of the 600-hour requirement providing direct services to clients/students.

I know someone who got a job as a school counselor while they were still completing their internship. Do you allow students to do this?

From time to time, students are able to do this if they are in the right place at the right time. Because in recent years there have been more school counseling jobs available than there have been licensed applicants to fill them, the state has allowed students to work as school counselors under a “job-embedded license” while they are completing their degree in school counseling, if the program faculty agree to the arrangement. This is decided on a case-by-case basis. The MTSU Professional Counseling program policy permits students to do this only in the last year of the program (i.e., the internship year) and preferably during their final semester of internship. If a school district is unable to find a fully-licensed school counseling applicant and offers a student a position, then they must send an “Intent to Hire” form to Patti Agnew in the MTSU Office of Professional Laboratory Experiences. Potential students can also contact Patti for more information on the full process of working under the Job- Embedded-School-Counseling-Licensure-Track provisions. The school counseling coordinator will present the prospective student’s request to the Professional Counseling faculty for consideration.

I already have a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling (or a similar mental health field) or school counseling and just need to complete a few courses to become eligible for licensure as a professional counselor (LPC MHSP) or school counselor. Can I take courses at MTSU for this purpose?

Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Graduates of the MTSU school counseling program are eligible to take classes to meet the licensure requirements as a professional counselor (LPC MHSP) with the approval of the Professional Counseling faculty. Students who are not graduates of MTSU’s school counseling graduate may be eligible to take some classes for LPC purposes, but not internship (which is a requirement for licensure). Prospective students should contact Dr. Robin Lee ( so she can review their transcripts and let them know which courses they would need for licensure purposes. They would register with the College of Graduate Studies as a “non-degree seeking student” to take classes.

School Counseling

Prospective students may apply to take courses to meet the licensure requirements as a school counselor. They are not required to have graduated from MTSU’s clinical mental health counseling program for this purpose. The admissions requirements are the same as for those seeking the Ed.S. degree although the admissions test (i.e., GRE or MAT) score may be waived on a case-by-case basis.

First, prospective applicants should contact the school counseling coordinator – Tiffany Wilson, Ph.D. ( - and send her a copy of their undergraduate and graduate transcripts. She will let them know what courses they need in order to meet the Tennessee requirements for school counseling licensure. If prospective applicants decide to pursue this coursework then they should apply online to the College of Graduate Studies and select, “Addition of School Counseling Classes to Previous Masters” from the pull-down box choices. The prospective applicant should subsequently follow the steps to apply to the school counseling program.

How much does it cost to attend MTSU?

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.

In addition to applying for an assistantship with the 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 by clicking on the "Non-Academic Offices Offering Graduate Assistantships" link on the College of Graduate Studies website.

Please see the Handbook for scholarship information specific to the Professional Counseling program.  In addition, students may search and apply for scholarships here:

Do I need a teaching degree/license to be accepted into the school counseling program?

No. An undergraduate degree in any field will suffice. However, applicants who do not have a teaching background are required to complete an observation experience in a school as part of the Foundations of School Counseling class.

Are there any pre-requisites for program admission?

Yes. For both the clinical mental health counseling program and school counseling program an undergraduate course in Abnormal Psychology is required. This can be taken at MTSU or any accredited university. If the course wasn’t taken prior to applying to the program then it should be taken within the first or second semester following admission into the program. Online universities that offer Abnormal Psychology class:

Can I transfer credits from another MTSU graduate program (or a graduate program taken at another university) to be applied to the Ed.S. program?

According to the College of Graduate Studies you may not use any courses to fulfill the requirements of the Ed.S. if those courses were used to fulfill the requirements of another graduate degree. It is possible to transfer a maximum of 12 credits of select courses if courses were taken, but not used to fulfill the requirements of a graduate degree. Faculty determine if a course is transferable. Skills classes such as Pre-Practicum in Counseling (i.e., counseling techniques), Practicum in Counseling and Diagnosis & Treatment Planning in Counseling are not transferable. (Note: Although a prospective student may desire to transfer in 12 credits the faculty may only approve 9, 6, 3 or 0 credits.) Individuals who wish to transfer to MTSU’s Professional Counseling program must meet the same admissions requirements as anyone else who is applying to the program.

What courses must I complete to earn an Ed.S. in clinical mental health counseling?

View degree requirements on the official Professional Counseling, Ed.S. program page.

What courses must I complete to earn an Ed.S. in school counseling?

View degree requirements on the official Professional Counseling, Ed.S. program page.

What are the employment opportunities like for graduates?

Most of our clinical mental health counseling students find jobs in local mental health agencies upon graduating from the program. School counseling graduates are in high demand given the reputation of the program and new schools that are continually being built in the middle Tennessee area.

What's the difference between a psychologist and a counselor?

Infograph needed 

What do clinical mental health counselors and school counselors do and how do their activities differ from what clinical psychologists, social workers, marriage/couples therapists, and school psychologists do?

What does a clinical mental health counselor do?

What does a school counselor do?

 What does a clinical psychologist do?

What does a social worker do?

What does a marriage/couples therapist do?

What does a school psychologist do?


Who can I contact if I have additional questions?

You may contact the clinical mental health counseling program coordinator – Dr. Christopher Quarto or school counseling coordinator – Dr. Tiffany Wilson for additional information.

Online universities that offer Abnormal Psychology class



Professional Counseling

MTSU Professional Counseling Program Facebook page  MTSU Counseling Program Instagram account  MTSU Professional Counseling Program Twitter feed  MTSU Professional Counseling Program LinkedIn account  MTSU Professional Counseling Program YouTube channel

Donate Now