counseling degree

Online Master's Degrees in Counseling

The Counseling Degree Program at GMercyU

Earn your Master in Counseling from Gwynedd Mercy University. Professional counseling is a rewarding profession. You can help individuals navigate difficult times or learn to manage mental illness. You will also be fulfilling a real societal need: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the nation will need an additional 36,500 mental health counselors over the 2016-2026 period, and another 36,700 school and career counselors.

If a career in counseling speaks to you, GMercyU can help. Our Master of Science in Counseling programs offer comprehensive preparation to help you start your career as a professional counselor. Delivered online with two weekend residencies and supervised field experience, this 60-credit degree can be completed in as little as three and a half years.

The Mission Statement of the Counseling Program

The Master of Science Program in Counseling at GMercyU is designed to help you become a professional practitioner in community mental health, primary and secondary schools, or higher education settings.  

Using a scientist-practitioner model, we help you prepare to act as a competent and ethically motivated entry-level counselor in many different practice settings. Upon acceptance to the program, faculty and staff will immediately regard you as a professional in the field who can meet the high academic, clinical, and ethical standards the role requires. In addition to developing your counseling skills, we aim to empower you as an advocate of your clients and a supporter of causes that support mental wellness for all.

Program coursework, peer interaction, and faculty mentorship help you develop your counseling knowledge while establishing your identity as a professional counselor. Two weekend residencies and faculty-supervised field practice requirements give you multiple opportunities to synthesize theory and practice.

Counseling Program Learning Outcomes

Our counseling master’s program utilizes a CACREP- and PDE-based curriculum to promote the knowledge and skills necessary for you to gain certification and licensure as a competent professional entry-level counselor.

Academic and clinical training in this program is rigorous, to stimulate your critical thinking faculties, reflective practice, and overall professional competence. As a graduate, you will:

  • Establish a counseling identity.
  • Exhibit a strong, consistent counseling disposition.  
  • Demonstrate proficiency in counseling knowledge and skills as outlined in the 2016 CACREP Standards as applicable to each student concentration area.  
  • Demonstrate multicultural sensitivity, knowledge, and competency.  
  • Implement the ethical guidelines of the American Counseling Association and its divisions in all counseling practice.
  • Use evidence-based intervention and assessment techniques.
  • Articulate the necessity of counseling advocacy and engage in advocacy activities with regard to the Mercy tradition.  
  • Engage in life-long learning.  

Eligibility for License as a Professional Counselor (LPC) in the State of Pennsylvania

To become eligible for Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) status in the state of Pennsylvania, you must successfully complete 60 semester hours of graduate coursework that meets the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Program (CACREP) curriculum requirements.  

After graduation, you must pass the National Counselor Exam (NCE) and fulfill post-degree supervision requirements to earn the LPC credential in the State of Pennsylvania. Gwynedd Mercy University’s Master of Science in Counseling degrees meet state requirements across all concentrations of study. 

*Licensure: This program was designed to meet the licensure requirements of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If you reside in a different state, you should carefully review your home state’s licensure requirements prior to enrolling in this program. For more information, please visit our Program Licensure Requirement page.

Admission Requirements – Master’s Degree in Counseling

We will consider you for admission to our counseling programs based on your academic ability, expression of interests and goals, life experience, and personal interview.

To apply, you must:

  1. Hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution of higher education;
  2. Demonstrate completion of the following undergraduate prerequisites:
    1. 3 credits in General Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Theory or another foundational course
    2. 3 credits in Research Methods or Statistics;
  3. Submit official transcripts from all academic institutions attended;
  4. Demonstrate achievement of a minimum grade point average (GPA) of a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (see below if your GPA was lower than 3.0 and you do not currently hold a graduate degree);
  5. Complete of the Gwynedd Mercy University Graduate Application and pay the application fee;  
  6. Submit two letters of recommendation from:
    1. An academic who can attest to the applicant’s academic ability (preferred), and
    2. A professional or supervisor who can attest to the applicant’s professional qualification, abilities, and temperament for the field.  
  7. Complete a personal statement (3-5 pages maximum) that address the following:
    1. Who you are and your reasons for choosing a career in counseling;
    2. Why you have chosen GMercyU’s counseling program;
    3. What being a counselor means to you, and personal characteristics that make you uniquely suited for such a career;
    4. Your expectations of learning in an online program and your ability to meet those expectations;
    5. How you plan to complete the field placement demands of the program.
  8. Attend a personal interview with program staff.

NOTE: If your GPA was lower than 3.0, you must provide proof of acceptable scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).  We require a combined score of 292 or higher, and you must also complete the analytical writing test.

The GRE requirement is waived for applicants who currently hold a graduate degree or applicants who achieved a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Transfer Credits for Counseling Degrees

You may transfer up to six (6) credits of graduate work completed at an accredited institution for comparable courses in the GMercyU program, provided you earned at least a B in each course. Transfer credit decisions are made on an individual basis.   

Counseling Program Concentration Descriptions

Our MS in Counseling program offers you a choice of concentrations so you can develop a specific area of expertise:

Master's in School Counseling
Our Pennsylvania Department of Education-approved school counseling certification program aligns with the components of the American School Counseling Association’s (ASCA) National Model.  After graduation, you will be eligible to apply for certification as a K-12 school counselor in the State of Pennsylvania.  

Clinical Mental Health Concentration  
This concentration prepares you for a career counseling adolescents, families and adults and/or gaining the credentials to assume supervisory positions in mental health community agency settings.  

Post-Master’s Certificate in School Counseling
If you hold a counseling master’s degree and want to expand into school counseling, we offer a post master's certificate program that prepares you for licensure. Please see the School Counseling Concentration page for more details.

Post-Master’s Certificate in Clinical Mental Health
If you hold a counseling master’s degree and want to expand into clinical mental health, we offer a post master's certificate program that prepares you for licensure. 

Format of the Master’s in Counseling Program

No matter which concentration you choose, you will complete 60 credit hours of course work delivered in an online learning environment.
Each term, you will complete six credits of coursework, taking one course every seven weeks in an accelerated, asynchronous format. You will have the opportunity to connect live with classmates and instructors in synchronous class meetings, held on weekday evenings (EST).

We require two weekend residencies: one during your first term and the second in the spring of your second year. Most students can complete the program in about 42 months (three and a half years).

The Central Core Curriculum

30 of your 60 credits are the core curriculum, which covers a broad base of professional skills relevant to every concentration practice area. In addition, this core provides a solid foundation for future doctoral-level education in the field.

  • CNS 501: Counseling Skills - 3 credits
  • CNS 504: Human Development - 3 credits
  • CNS 505: Foundations of Counseling - 3 credits
  • CNS 510: Research Methods - 3 credits
  • CNS 513: Practicum - 3 credits
  • CNS 520: Theories in Counseling - 3 credits
  • CNS 521: Assessment Techniques in Counseling - 3 credits
  • CNS 527: Social Justice, Multicultural & Diversity Issues in Counseling - 3 credits
  • CNS 531: Career Development - 3 credits
  • CNS 533: Substance Use and Abuse - 3 credits

For concentration curriculum, please visit the individual concentration pages.

Our Outstanding Faculty

Career Outcomes

There are many different career options for people with a master's degree in counseling services.

Possible careers for counseling majors:

Rehabilitation Counselor

Clinical Therapist

Mental Health Counselor

Chemical Dependency Counselor

School and Career Counselor

Marriage and Family Counselor