MS in Counseling (Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling)

Total units required for MS: 60

Program Description

The 60-unit Master of Science in Counseling prepares professional counselors for employment in a variety of settings such as public and private agencies, universities and colleges, schools and private practice. This degree meets the educational requirements for becoming a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and/or a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) in the State of California. The 59-unit Pupil Personnel Services, School Counseling Credential prepares professional counselors to work within the K-12 educational system.

The programs are clinically oriented, with didactic and experiential courses, a 100-hour clinical practicum, and 600 hours of field experience. The program is a full time three-year program and students will take between 9-12 units each fall and spring to complete within the three years. Students are admitted into a cohort and will follow the course sequence designated by their program concentration. The cohort model allows students to advance together throughout their education while building support and connections within their peer group. Students are encouraged to advance their advocacy and professional experiences through such activities as participation in professional organizations, research, and presentations at the state, regional, and national level; involvement in the CSUS Multicultural Conference; and/or involvement in the Counselor Education Student Counseling Society. Both leadership and research opportunities are supported through faculty mentorship. The curricular experience is organized around core foundation courses, an intensive on-campus practicum training clinic experience, interpersonal growth experiences, advanced theory and practice courses, and a culminating field study placement.

Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling Concentration

  • The Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling Concentration is designed to provide students with all the educational competencies required by the California State Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). The program trains professionals to work in a variety of settings, including community agencies, county and state agencies, hospitals and private practice, and prepares students to provide consulting to businesses and agencies. Emphasis is placed on developmental and preventative concerns from a holistic perspective.

Note: Only students who are already enrolled in the School Counseling concentration at California State University, Sacramento may apply to the Pupil Personnel Services School Counseling Internship Credential Program.

The Career Counseling; Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling; Rehabilitation Counseling; and School Counseling concentrations at Sacramento State are nationally accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling concentration is both CACREP accredited, and COAMFTE aligned, in order to help students with licensure in California and other states.

Note: For additional information on credentials, see the “College of Education” section of this catalog. For program specific information, see the Counselor Education webpage. Program requirements are subject to change in order to maintain compliance with relevant state and national certification, licensure, and/or accreditation requirements.  Interested parties should refer to the current student handbook for up to date program information.

Special Features

  • An on-campus Center for Counseling and Diagnostic Services brings clients from off campus to be counseled by students in the program and provides opportunity for video and audio feedback.
  • Trainees provide off-campus counseling in local agencies, school districts, hospitals, and non-profit organizations.
  • Faculty actively support diversity and focus on multicultural counseling skills throughout the curriculum.
  • Classes are offered during the day, late afternoon, and evening.
  • Opportunities to collaborate with school districts.

Admission Requirements

Admission as a classified graduate student in the Master of Science in Counseling program requires:

  • A baccalaureate degree;
  • Good academic standing at the last college attended;
  • A grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) in the last 60 semester (or 90 quarter units);
  • Completion of the University application materials;
  • Completion and submission of all Departmental application materials which include:
    • Application form;
    • Written statements delineated in application, including Personal Statement and Writing Prompt;
    • Copies of transcripts (from all universities and colleges attended);
    • Professional letters of recommendation (2 required);
    • Relevant work experience via a Resume/CV.
  • Participation in an In-Person Admission Evaluation, which may include (but is not limited to) interviews, experiential activities, and writing samples.

Selected applicants, based on paper screening of completed applications, will be invited for an In-Person Admission Evaluation via an Interview Day. Decisions for admission into the Master of Science in Counseling program are made based on a comprehensive assessment of all application materials and performance in the In-Person Admission Evaluation.

Admission Procedure

The M.S. in Counseling accepts applications each fall for admission the following year. The program does not offer spring admissions. Applicants must complete a university application and program supplemental application by the posted application deadline date for the term applying.  

For more admissions information and application deadlines, please visit the Office of Graduate Studies website ( 

Prospective applicants, including Sacramento State graduates, must submit one set of official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, other than Sacramento State, to the Office of Graduate Studies either electronically to or physical transcripts for those institutions that do not send official transcripts electronically can be addressed to: 

Office of Graduate Studies 
California State University, Sacramento 
Riverfront Center, Room 215, MS 6112 
6000 J St. 
Sacramento, CA 95819 

Admission is competitive with a limited number of students admitted each year. At the end of the application and screening period, a program recommendation will be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies for further review. Decisions regarding admission are then emailed to each applicant. Following admission, students are assigned to a faculty advisor who assists with academic advising.  

The Master of Science in Counseling and the Pupil Personnel Services credentials are subject to general University and requirements. These requirements are explained in the ''Graduate Degree Requirements'' and the ''Counselor Education'' sections of this catalog. Students may be disqualified when not meeting program standards (see Counselor Education Student Handbook). 

Minimum Units and Grade Requirement for the Degree

Units required for the MS: 60

Minimum Cumulative GPA:  3.0

Advancement to Candidacy

Each student working toward a Master's degree must file an application for Advancement to Candidacy for the Master's degree. The purpose of this application is to provide certification to the Office of Graduate Studies that the student will complete or has completed the necessary requirements and acceptable electives for the Master's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The Advancement to Candidacy application should be filed upon completion of 30 units in the program but typically our students complete this in their final year of our program.

Note: Students must meet the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) before advancing to candidacy. Our EDC 250 serves as our Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) course to advance to candidacy.

The Advancement to Candidacy form is submitted online. Students should complete the relevant form in consultation with their assigned academic advisor. Once the form is endorsed by the student and the advisor, it will be verified by the Department’s Graduate Coordinator and then forwarded to the Office of Graduate Studies for final approval. An Advancement to Candidacy must be on file prior to registration for culminating experience (EDC 500) and prior to submitting a Petition to Graduate to the Office of Graduate Studies.

For Counselor Education information please visit the College of Education: Master's Programs Website where you will find the Counselor Education webpage and under the “Current Students" link, the Forms and Handbooks page where you can obtain the Student Handbook. It is highly recommended that students read the Student Handbook.

Program Requirements1,2

Required Courses for All Specializations (44 Units)
EDC 210Advocacy, Social Justice, and Cultural Foundations in Counseling3
EDC 214Dynamics of Human Development3
EDC 216Counseling Theory3
EDC 218Assessment In Counseling3
EDC 219Group Processes in Counseling3
EDC 231Diagnosis and Treatment Planning3
EDC 233Substance Use and Addiction Counseling3
EDC 244Trauma and Crisis Counseling3
EDC 250Education Research 3
EDC 252Legal and Ethical Issues in Professional Counseling3
EDC 260Career Development3
EDC 280Counseling Skills Lab2
EDC 475Counseling Practicum3
EDC 480Field Study In Counseling Taken twice, 3 units each, over two separate semesters, in order to meet accreditation requirements. 6
Total Units44

Concentration Requirements

Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling  (15 units)

EDC 212Gender and Sexuality in Counseling3
EDC 234Seminar: Marriage and Family Counseling3
EDC 254Counseling and Psychotropic Medicine3
EDC 476Advanced Skills in Marriage and Family Counseling1
Elective: Select ONE of the following 2-unit courses: EDC 236 or EDC 238
EDC 238Professional Issues in Marriage Couple and Family Counseling2
EDC 236Couples Counseling2
Elective: Select ONE of the following 3-unit courses: EDC 272 or EDC 242
EDC 272Counseling Children and Youth3
EDC 242Play and Art in Therapy with Children3

Culminating Requirement (1 Unit)

All students in the M.S. in Counseling program must enroll in EDC 5001 during their final semester in the program and complete the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE). Students must have an Advancement to Candidacy on file prior to enrollment in this culminating experience.

In order to pass this multiple choice examination, a student must meet the minimum criterion score set by the Counselor Education Program. Categories covered include:

  • Human Growth and Development
  • Social and Cultural Foundations
  • Helping Relationships
  • Group Work
  • Career and Lifestyle Development
  • Appraisal
  • Research and Program Evaluation
  • Professional Orientation and Ethics