Counselor Education

For detailed information regarding admission requirements for the School of Education graduate programs, please visit the Admissions Requirements website at https://www.uab.edu/education/studentservices/admission-requirements.

Overview

The program in Counselor Education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham offers concentrations in Clinical Mental Health; Marriage, Couples, and Family; and School Counseling at the Master's level.  At the master's level students acquire core knowledge and clinical skills, which enable them to enter the profession of counseling. 

All counseling concentrations (Clinical Mental Health; Marriage, Couples, and Family; and School Counseling) are designed to meet the course-work and field experiences requirements for professional licensure in the State of Alabama. A 15-credit Marriage, Couples, and Family certificate is offered to provide additional coursework for mental health and school counselors who would like to broaden their clinical expertise and knowledge in Marriage, Couples, and Family counseling. The School Concentration is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).  The School Counseling Concentration meets the course work and field experiences required by the Alabama State Department of Education for certification.

The Counselor Education program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The accreditation is through January 15, 2018.  The Clinical Mental Health Counseling concentration, a 61 hour program, is currently accredited under the 2001 standards for Community Counseling programs as a Community Counseling program. The CACREP 2009 standards combine the Community Counseling and Mental Health Counseling standards into standards for Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs. The counseling program intends to seek accreditation for this program as a Clinical Mental Health Counseling program when it comes up for reaccreditation, per CACREP guidelines. The counseling program also intends to seek CACREP accreditation for the Marriage, Couples, and Family program in the next reaccreditation process.

Admission Process

Consideration for admission to graduate study in Counselor Education will occur in the fall and spring semesters. The completed application packet must be received by the Counselor Education Program from the Graduate School by the dates shown:

Entry Term Deadline
Fall March 1
Spring September 1

Admission to graduate study in Counselor Education is initiated through the Graduate School and all required materials are to be submitted per specified instructions delineated by the Graduate School. 

Each applicant seeking admission to a Counselor Education program concentration must include with the other required materials, a typewritten statement of professional purpose that reflects the applicant’s background, development, pertinent work-related experience, professional career objectives and specified ways that completion of this program will contribute to his/her goal for becoming a professional counselor.

Standardized Test Scores and GPA Requirements

Undergraduate GPA:  (2.75 or better)

Standardized Test Scores: GRE-V (146 or better) and GRE-Q (147 or better)

Per the 2016 Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Program (CACREP) Standards, admission decisions must include consideration of each applicant’s (1) career goals, (2) aptitude for graduate-level study, (3) potential success in forming effective counseling relationships, and (4) respect for cultural differences.

Given these requirements, the admission committee considers multiple sources of information when making decisions. Because GRE test scores are one of several indicators, lower scores will not automatically disqualify applicants just as high scores do not automatically guarantee admission. Additional sources of information include previous/current grade point average, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. It should be noted that our applicants typically score above the 50th percentile on both the quantitative and verbal domains.

In addition, applicants deemed to have acceptable scores, strong references, appropriate statement of purposes, and grades will be invited for an interview that will include a series of individual interviews, a group experience, and a possible writing sample with the Counselor Education faculty. Applicants should not infer they have been admitted into the program if granted an admissions interview.

The Counselor Education faculty will make admission decisions after reviewing the applicant's credentials in their entirety, and some candidates meeting minimum requirements may not be admitted. Further, the faculty reserves the right to make subjective decisions about a candidate’s ability to appropriately complete graduate work which may influence the decision to admit. Candidates participating in the interview may be given one of two decisions: a) admit, b) denied. Students are notified of their admission status following the interview.

Non-Degree Seeking Students

Potential students may take classes prior to admission to the Counselor Education Program as "non-degree seeking" students. However, non-degree seeking students are limited to 12 hours of coursework that may be transferred into the Counselor Education Program. Non-degree seeking students may enroll in elective courses with the permission of the instructor. It would be important for non-degree seeking students to make an advising appointment with a Counselor Education faculty member prior to enrolling in Area II courses as choices made could impact on future clinical placements. Non-degree seeking students are not permitted to take Area I counseling courses without permission of the instructor. It is also important to note that students taking coursework as a non-degree seeking student do so at their own risk. Enrolling and passing non-degree seeking coursework does not guarantee admission into the program as admission criteria (e.g., test scores, undergraduate GPA, and interview) are the primary factors considered when reviewing student suitability for the program

Program Outcomes

Students in the program are required to meet specific outcomes for the program.  These outcomes involve knowledge, skills, and abilities. Outcomes are met when students pass critical “high stakes” assessments in the program. Failure to achieve the required outcomes will result in termination from the program. 

Evaluation of Candidates

There are 7 Checkpoints in the assessment system for counseling candidates: Admissions, Course-based Assessments, Comprehensive Exams, Practicum, Internship, and Eligibility for Graduation/Certification.  Evaluation of the counselor-in-training is an on-going process. The faculty reserves the right to assess the candidate's appropriateness to be a professional counselor.

Dispositions

Counselor Education faculty individually review the professional dispositions (behaviors and attitudes) of students within each course in accordance with the School of Education’s policy and procedure.  Additionally, faculty will collectively review student dispositions and overall progress in the program at the end of each semester.  Dispositional areas identified as deficient could result in termination from the program.

Clinical Experience: Master’s Level

Before admission to the program, students in the school counseling concentration must submit to fingerprinting and a Background Review conducted by the Alabama State Department of Education at the student’s cost. For information on the cost and how to complete this requirement, go to http://background.alabama.gov/.  No school counseling student shall begin a clinical placement (Practicum or Internship in an education environment) in Alabama without a suitability letter from the Alabama State Department of Education demonstrating that the student’s criminal background  has been reviewed and cleared by the Department of Education.  Clinical Mental Health counseling students are not required to submit to fingerprinting or a background review upon admission to the Counselor Education Program.  However, Clinical Mental Health counseling students are required to complete clinical placements in order to obtain the master’s degree in counseling and many of the outside agencies/entities require fingerprinting and background reviews prior to accepting a student for clinical placement.  For all counseling students, the appearance of one or more felonies and/or several misdemeanors on a student’s background review may negatively impact placement potential and/or credential obtainment.

Per CACREP standards, before beginning the first semester of their clinical experience, students must obtain and submit proof of individual liability insurance. This is to be procured by the student at the student’s expense and must be maintained throughout the student’s clinical experience. Student must submit proof of current individual liability coverage at the beginning of each semester that student is enrolled in a clinical experience. This is a requirement for all counselor education students, regardless of concentration. If proof of insurance is not provided, student will be administratively removed from the clinical course.

Prerequisites for the clinical experience include successful completion of required coursework, meeting the required outcomes and competencies in Area I, and successful completion of comprehensive exams. The practicum experience requires a minimum of 100 hours (including 40 hours of direct client contact) on-site at an appropriate setting to be determined by the Clinical Coordinator. The internship is 600 hours (including 240 hours of direct client contact) on-site over two semesters ( Each semester, students must have a minimum of 300 hours on -site and 120 hours of direct client contact.) Grading for the clinical experiences is on a Pass/Fail basis. To receive a Pass grade the counselor-in-training must be able to demonstrate basic counseling skills, behave in an appropriate professional manner consistent with the American Counseling Association's Code of Ethics, and satisfactorily complete the academic, dispositional and outcome requirements set forth in both the practicum and internship classes.

Certificate in Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling

The certificate in Marriage, Couples, and Family counseling prepares school counselors and clinical mental health counselors to position themselves to more effectively work with clients, to better align with evidence-based practice, and to increase their range of services and versatility through additional coursework in this subject area. The certificate is open to current UAB counselor education students as well as graduates of Master’s level school counseling and mental health programs. The certificate consists of 15 credits of coursework, and takes students about one year to complete on average.

Admission Process

Candidates seeking admission to the Marriage, Couples, and Family counseling certificate who are graduates of a Master’s level counselor education program, must complete an application found on the UAB Graduate School website, as well as submit a statement of purpose, and their graduate-level transcript. Equivalent completed coursework from a CACREP counseling program may be substituted for a required course for the certificate. Admission is accepted for summer and fall terms. The admissions deadline for the summer is April 1, and the deadline for the fall is June 1.The prerequisite course (ECG 691) for all other coursework for the certificate is offered in the summer term only. Applicants who do not receive a waiver for this course would apply for the summer term. Applicants who receive a waiver for the prerequisite course would apply for the fall term.

Current UAB clinical mental health or school counseling students who wish to pursue the MCF certificate should speak with their advisor to arrange to complete the required coursework.

RequirementsHours
ECG 660Relationships and Human Sexuality3
ECG 661Play Therapy I3
ECG 680The Intersections of Family and Community Systems3
ECG 685Marriage and Couples Counseling3
ECG 689Advanced Family Counseling Techniques3
ECG 691Introduction to Couples and Family Counseling3
Total Hours18

Master of Arts in Counseling with a Concentration in Clinical Mental Health

The Master of Arts in Counseling with a concentration in Clinical Mental Health counseling is designed to prepare students to demonstrate knowledge and skills with several counseling modalities appropriate for a broad range of clients in a multicultural society; interact effectively with other helping professionals and referral resources; make appropriate counselor-client related decisions in the context of professional, ethical, and legal guidelines; and fill effectively entry-level positions of professional responsibility within the specialization of agency counseling. The coursework is approved by the Alabama Board of Examiners in Counseling, which allows graduates of the program to pursue licensure as professional counselors in the state of Alabama.  This program takes no less than 3 years to complete.  For most students, it takes approximately 3 years or 9 terms (including summers) to complete the program.

RequirementsHours
Area I
EPR 590Research & Prgm Eval in Coun4
ECG 612Professional Orientation3
ECG 621Theories of Individual Counseling3
ECG 624Assessment3
ECG 626Group Counseling: Process and Procedures3
ECG 628Social and Cultural Diversity3
ECG 630Career Development: Vocational and Life Planning3
ECG 638Practicum I: Clinical Skills and Techniques3
EPR 614Lifespan Human Development3
Comprehensive Exam 1
Area II
ECG 600Intro to Community Counseling3
ECG 613Foundations of Substance Abuse 3
ECG 631Suicide Prevention3
ECG 650Diagnosis and Treatment of Psychological Disorders3
ECG 652Advanced Counseling Techniques3
ECG 653Counseling Children and Adolescents3
ECG 660Relationships and Human Sexuality3
ECG 691Introduction to Couples and Family Counseling3
Area III: Clinical Requirements
ECG 695Practicum II: Supervised Field Experience3
Counseling Internship6
Counseling Internship
Total Hours61
1

The Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam will be given the semester of successful completion or upon successful completion of Area I. This is a “high stakes” assessment.  Students who do not successfully pass this examination will be given the opportunity to re-take the exam a maximum of two times. There are no exceptions. Students unsuccessful in passing the comprehensive exam after 3 attempts will be dismissed from the program.

Master of Arts in Counseling with a Concentration in Marriage, Couples and Family Counseling

The Master of Arts in Counseling with a concentration in Marriage, Couples, and Family counseling is designed to prepare students to work with individuals, couples, or groups where interpersonal relationships are examined for the purpose of achieving more adequate, satisfying, and productive marriage and family adjustments; make appropriate ethical decisions as counseling professionals; comprehend systems theory and use it to conceptualize problems and solutions for couples and families; and fill effectively, entry-level positions of professional responsibility within the specialization of marriage and family counseling. The coursework allows graduates of the program to pursue licensure as marriage and family therapists in the state of Alabama. This program takes about 3 years to complete.

RequirementsHours
Area I
EPR 590Research & Prgm Eval in Coun4
ECG 612Professional Orientation3
ECG 621Theories of Individual Counseling3
ECG 624Assessment3
ECG 626Group Counseling: Process and Procedures3
ECG 628Social and Cultural Diversity3
ECG 630Career Development: Vocational and Life Planning3
ECG 638Practicum I: Clinical Skills and Techniques3
EPR 614Lifespan Human Development3
ECG 691Introduction to Couples and Family Counseling3
Comprehensive Exam 1
Area II
ECG 613Foundations of Substance Abuse 3
ECG 650Diagnosis and Treatment of Psychological Disorders3
ECG 653Counseling Children and Adolescents3
ECG 660Relationships and Human Sexuality3
ECG 680The Intersections of Family and Community Systems3
ECG 685Marriage and Couples Counseling3
ECG 689Advanced Family Counseling Techniques3
Area III: Clinical Requirements
ECG 695Practicum II: Supervised Field Experience3
Counseling Internship6
Counseling Internship
Total Hours61
1

The Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam will be given the semester of successful completion or upon successful completion of Area I. This is a “high stakes” assessment.  Students who do not successfully pass this examination will be given the opportunity to re-take the exam a maximum of two times. There are no exceptions. Students unsuccessful in passing the comprehensive exam after 3 attempts will be dismissed from the program.

Master of Arts in Counseling with a Concentration in School Counseling

According to the American School Counseling Association, "the purpose of a counseling program in a school setting is to promote and enhance the learning process."  The goal is to enable all students to achieve success in school and to develop into contributing member of our society.

The concentration in School counseling is designed to prepare individuals as counselors in grades K-12. The program leading to the Master of Arts in Counseling degree requires a minimum of 61 semester hours of prescribed coursework to meet the academic and field experience requirements for the SDE Class A Professional Certificate in school counseling.

Admissions: In addition to the admission requirements for the Counselor Education Program, candidates seeking admission to the school counseling concentration must possess a minimum of a 2.75 undergraduate grade point average.  Before the school counseling student can receive certification, the school counseling student must satisfactorily obtain a passing score on the following assessments: Alabama Educator Certificate Test, the Praxis II Test in School Counseling, the National Counselor Exam.

The school counseling concentration meets the course work and field experiences required by the Alabama State Department of Education for certification. The concentrations meet the academic and field experience requirements for licensure as professional counselors in Alabama.

RequirementsHours
Area I
EPR 590Research & Prgm Eval in Coun4
ECG 612Professional Orientation3
ECG 621Theories of Individual Counseling3
ECG 624Assessment3
ECG 626Group Counseling: Process and Procedures3
ECG 628Social and Cultural Diversity3
ECG 630Career Development: Vocational and Life Planning3
ECG 638Practicum I: Clinical Skills and Techniques3
EPR 614Lifespan Human Development3
Comprehensive Exam 1
Area II
ECG 619Special Issues for School Counselors3
ECG 620Foundations of School Counseling3
ECG 623Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance: M/H School3
ECG 627Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance: Elementary School3
ECG 653Counseling Children and Adolescents3
ECG 661Play Therapy I3
ECG 680The Intersections of Family and Community Systems3
ECY 600Introduction to Exceptional Learner 23
EEC 515Learning Environments through Positive Behavior Support3
Area III: Clinical Requirements
ECG 695Practicum II: Supervised Field Experience3
Counseling Internship6
Counseling Internship
Total Hours64
1

A National Comprehensive Examination will be given the semester of successful completion or upon successful completion of Area I. This is a “high stakes” assessment.  Students who do not successfully pass this examination will be given the opportunity to re-take the exam a maximum of two times. There are no exceptions. Students unsuccessful in passing the comprehensive exam after 3 attempts will be dismissed from the program. 

2

Must be taken if not taken as part of previous studies. This usually applies to students who did not go through teacher certification programs previously.