MS in 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.


Students earning the Master of Science in Counseling are required to specialize in one or more of the following areas:

  • Career Counseling. The Career Counseling Specialization provides students with the knowledge, theory, and skills to work as effective counselors/career development specialists, and consultants in a variety of settings: community-based agencies, schools (K-12), colleges and universities, private practice, business, industry, and government. Students are trained to facilitate a holistic career development/career decision-making/planning process with groups and individuals that integrates personal, social, and career needs. Students develop the skills to address current issues in the 21st century, such as career self-reliance, work/family/life balance, multiculturalism, diversity, and lifelong learning.
  • Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling. The Marriage, Family and Child Counseling Specialization 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, especially those of children.
  • School Counseling. The School Counseling Specialization is designed for individuals who seek to become elementary, middle, or secondary school counselors. This program meets the requirements for the K-12 California Pupil Personnel Services Credential, School Counseling (PPS-SC). Students in this program are prepared to function as key members of an educational team seeking to optimize children’s academic, socio-emotional, and career development. Students obtain the expertise necessary to lead the educational team in working collaboratively with a broad range of education and human service professionals, paraprofessionals, and community representatives to identify, develop, implement, and evaluate programs that provide key services to both the individual child as well as the systems and subsystems in which the child interacts.
  • Rehabilitation Counseling. The Rehabilitation Counseling Specialization offers students the opportunity to gain several specialized skills for working with persons with disabilities. Rehabilitation Counselors work in a wide variety of settings including community agencies, private agencies, enabling centers on college campuses, and state agencies. The program includes training in counseling techniques; the use of medical, psychological, and occupational information; and the impact of disabilities on human behavior. In addition, the skills involved in finding and intake, vocational evaluation, restoration, training, job placement, and follow-up are taught. Independent living, assistive technology and disability rights are topic areas emphasized in the program.

Students who are specializing in School Counseling and intend to be employed in California will need to obtain the Pupil Personnel Services School Counseling Credential.

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

The Career Counseling; Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling; and School Counseling specializations at Sacramento State are applying for national accreditation by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The Rehabilitation Counseling specialization is nationally accredited by CACREP through October 31, 2020. 

Note: For additional information on credentials, see the “College of Education” section of this catalog. 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.
  • The Masters in Counseling Program and participating school districts collaborate with the Migrant Education Advisor Program (MEAP), which is a collaborative partnership with the Office of Migrant Education.
  • Faculty actively support diversity and focus on multicultural counseling skills throughout the curriculum.
  • Classes are offered during the day, late afternoon, and evening.

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);
  • Submission of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE);
  • Completion of the University application materials;
  • Completion and submission of all Departmental application materials which include:
    • Application form;
    • Written statement(s) delineated in application;
    • Copies of transcripts (from all universities and colleges attended);
    • Professional letters of recommendation (2 total);
    • Relevant work experience.
  • 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. 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.

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required for admission. There is no minimum GRE score required for admission. GRE scores that are not at or above the average range will only be used to increase an applicant's ranking. GRE scores will not be used to decrease an applicant's ranking.

California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST): Although evidence of passing the CBEST is not required for admission into the Pupil Personnel Services Credential programs, the CBEST must be successfully passed prior to receiving the Pupil Personnel Services Credentials.

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 the following to the Office of Graduate Studies, River Front Center 215, (916) 278-6470:

  • an online application for admission;
  • official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, other than Sacramento State;
  • an online program supplemental application for admission, please see the department website for more information.

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 mailed 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 Studies'' and the ''Counselor Education'' sections of this catalog. Students may be disqualified when not meeting program standards (see Counselor Education Student Handbook).

Students are strongly advised to remain in communication with the Counselor Education Program (by attending group advising sessions and meeting with their assigned faculty advisor each semester) as well as with any licensing or credentialing boards related to their area(s) of specialization (i.e., Board of Behavioral Sciences, California Commission on Teacher Credentialing) since licensing and credentialing requirements may change. Catalog rights hold only degree requirements; they do not protect students from changes such as prerequisites required for a given course, field study hours, individual course requirements, or additional requirements imposed by licensing or credentialing agents. Students should note that the Counselor Education course listings are subject to modification.

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.

Note: Students must take the Writing Placement for Graduate Students (WPG) or take a Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) course in their discipline within the first two semesters of coursework at California State University, Sacramento or secured approval for a WPG waiver before advancing to candidacy.

The Advancement to Candidacy forms, by specialization, are obtained from the Department of Counselor Education Website within the “Forms and Handbooks” link. 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. (The form is also available from the Office of Graduate Studies; however, it does not include the Departmental instructions.) The completed form is submitted to the Department's Graduate Coordinator for signature, then forwarded to the Office of Graduate Studies for final approval.

Program Requirements1,2

Required Courses for All Specializations (44 Units)
EDC 210Multicultural/Ethnic Counseling3
EDC 214Dynamics of Human Development3
EDC 216Counseling Theory3
EDC 218Assessment In Counseling3
EDC 219Group Processes in Counseling3
EDC 231Diagnosis and Treatment Planning3
or PSYC 268 Advanced Psychopathology
EDC 233Substance Abuse and Addiction3
EDC 244Trauma and Crisis Counseling3
EDC 250Education Research3
EDC 252Legal and Ethical Issues in Professional Counseling3
EDC 260Career Development3
EDC 280Practicum in Communication2
EDC 475Practicum In Counseling3
EDC 480Field Study In Counseling6
Total Units44

Specialization Requirements

Career Counseling (15 units)

EDC 254Counseling and Psychotropic Medicine3
EDC 262Career Counseling Process3
EDC 264Seminar in Counseling: Career Systems Development3
EDC 266Seminar in Counseling: Career Program Development3
EDC 268Career and Job Search3
Total Units15

Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling (15 units)

EDC 212Gender Roles in Counseling3
EDC 234Seminar: Marriage and Family Counseling3
EDC 254Counseling and Psychotropic Medicine3
EDC 272Counseling Children and Youth3
EDC 476Practicum in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling1
Select 2 units of electives2
Total Units15

School Counseling (15 units)

EDC 234Seminar: Marriage and Family Counseling3
EDC 242Play and Art in Therapy with Children3
EDC 270Organization and Administration of School Counseling Programs3
EDC 272Counseling Children and Youth3
EDC 274Guidance and Consultation in School Counseling3
Total Units15

Rehabilitation Counseling (15 Units)

EDC 239Foundations in Rehabilitation Counseling3
EDC 240APsychological, Social and Medical Aspects of Disability, A3
EDC 240BPsychological, Social and Medical Aspects of Disability, B3
EDC 254Counseling and Psychotropic Medicine3
EDS 263

Culminating Requirement (1 Unit)

Written Examination. All students in the M.S. in Counseling program must enroll in EDC 5001 during their first semester in the program and complete the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE). In addition, all students must prepare a final case study paper on a selected client from their current fieldwork 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

In order to pass the final case study paper, a student must obtain a score of “Meet Standard” on all elements of the case study rubric for the student’s specialization.