Online Master's Degrees in Counseling

Change lives with a career as a professional counselor

Gwynedd Mercy University offers 2.5 year distance-learning, 60-credit Master of Science degree in Counseling that prepares students to assume professional roles in community mental health and primary and secondary schools.

The bulk of our program is completed online, allowing maximum flexibility while ensuring quality preparation. Counseling Skills (CNS 501) and Group Counseling (CNS 535/536) — which blend asynchronous coursework with some synchronous course meetings — and faculty-led group supervision throughout Practicum and Internship provide important opportunities to synthesize theory and practice.

For students who begin their degree in Fall 2024 or later, the program’s required three-day on-campus residency will take place during the 7-week course, CNS 537: Special Topics Residency. The on-campus residency gives students the chance to meet and learn from the program’s faculty, connect with their faculty mentor, strengthen relationships with fellow students, and stay current with new developments in the counseling field.

We find that this hybrid learning blend offers a nice balance between the convenience of distance education and the rewarding connections that come from contact with faculty and fellow students.

Students choose between two program concentrations: School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

Read our Counseling Department's Fall 2023 newsletter

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The program features two residencies.

The Core Curriculum

33 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 540 Ethics and Legal Issues in Counseling 3 credits
CNS 537 Special Topics Residency 3 credits

For concentration curriculum, please visit the individual concentration pages for Clinical Mental Health Counseling or School Counseling. 

Syllabi for enrolled or prospective students are available for review. Please contact our program director or our CACREP Liaison for any specific syllabus.

Mission Statement

In service of developing well-prepared, competent, and ethical counselors, the Counseling Program at Gwynedd Mercy is committed to providing a strong academic foundation augmented by top-notch clinical training.  This holistic approach encourages students to synthesize their academic and experiential learning in service of helping persons experiencing mental health challenges while also working for positive change in the contexts in which they live, learn, and work. We are dedicated to preparing graduates who can not only successfully work as counselors, but who can transform lives through service and advocacy. 

We believe that both self-awareness and respect for others are critical attributes for an effective, ethical counselor.  Understanding one’s own social and cultural lens, exploring different points of view, learning to engage in meaningful conversation around difference, and promoting the mental wellness afforded by a more just society are all important facets of counselor education at GMercyU.

Faculty at Gwynedd are passionate about the field of counseling and believe in the importance of a strong professional identity. In today’s fast-paced, demanding world, we also recognize the value of community and are continually looking for ways to create connection with our students. Students, therefore, are assigned a mentor who will serve as a personal and professional resource throughout their program.  Whether sharing advocacy opportunities, disseminating information about trainings and workshops, or serving as a sounding board, faculty mentors are dedicated to student well-being and professional development.

Why Choose GMercyU’s Counseling Program

Our counseling program is primarily delivered online via asynchronous coursework, which means you will work independently throughout the week, while enjoying the structure provided by regular due dates.

The program’s three-day on-campus residency provides an important opportunity for meaningful engagement with faculty and fellow students. It is offered in summer as part of the 7-week course, CNS 537: Special Topics Residency. Practicum and Internship classes, which require you to find a placement in a school or mental health setting, offer experiential learning and solidify your preparation for professional practice.

We recognize that students may need flexibility with regard to the pacing of their fieldwork. Fortunately, at GMercyU, students may elect to complete their fieldwork hours in either two semesters or three semesters, depending on the scheduling that works best for them and their fieldwork site.

Having access to a professional in your field of study is a valuable resource.

At GMercyU, from your first day as our student, you are assigned a faculty mentor who will see you through the program. Faculty mentors hold optional group mentoring meetings once per semester and are also available to discuss individual issues or concerns.

Students who graduate from our program have the foundational skills, knowledge, and training they need to be successful as new counselors. In fact, it is not uncommon for our students to be offered post-graduate positions with their fieldwork placements, which is a testament to their preparation for the counseling field.

  • 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.   
State Licensure Notification

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.  

Our curriculum was designed in accordance with the core course requirements outlined by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), though Gwynedd’s program is not currently accredited by CACREP.  

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. 

*Important: Licensure laws and policies vary by state. Please look up the specific requirements for licensure in your state of residence, as well as states in which you may want to independently practice. 

 
Meet Our Counseling Faculty and Staff
Elizabeth Brokamp, PhD


Elizabeth Brokamp, PhD

Assistant Professor and Program Director

"Thank you so much for your interest in the Graduate Counseling Program at Gwynedd Mercy University! We know this is a big choice and are invested in making sure you feel connected and as comfortable as possible along the way.... ."

Read her entire Welcome Letter here.

 

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Sarah Smalarz, MEd
Academic Advisor, Student Success Center
smalarz.s@gmercyu.edu or nontermadvising@gmercyu.edu
267-485-1630

Did You Know? Every student in the Counseling program has access to our dedicated Academic Advisor throughout their time in our program.


Meet the rest of our faculty and staff. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Classes

Fieldwork courses are capped at 12 students per class and academic courses are capped at 18. However, it is not uncommon for academic courses to have 14 to 16 students in them.

While we don’t formally assign you to a cohort, you will find that students who begin the program at the same time often overlap in terms of course enrollment. This program model allows you to develop relationships with your fellow students without sacrificing the flexibility for which our program prides itself.

Clinical Training

Yes!  Practicum and Internship experiences have hourly requirements that require flexibility while working full-time. These hourly requirements are designed to meet state and licensure standards. Our fieldwork coordinator will work with you in advance to make a plan.  

Please note that for the school counseling track, Practicum and Internship will always happen during the school day and during the school year.  

Yes, we have an expectation that students will locate their own fieldwork. This allows you to choose the setting of greatest interest to you, in the location that works for you, and with the schedule that aligns with your availability.  However, our fieldwork coordinator plays a supportive role for students in giving them the tools they need to reach out to sites and is always available for questions or concerns. 

This issue needs to be addressed on an individual basis by talking with the fieldwork coordinator and carefully considering the workplace’s ability to handle your changing role and needs as an emerging counselor. As a program that is endorsing graduates for entry into the counseling profession, we need to be sure that you are getting a full and rich clinical experience that allows you to practice the new counseling skills you are learning.

Some places of employment have those kinds of opportunities available and understand that the fieldwork experience must comply with a different set of standards than your day-to-day work. Other workplaces could struggle with maintaining good boundaries between your fieldwork role and your paid role and would therefore, not be a good fit.

Program Completion

Most students complete the program between 2.5 and 3.5 years, depending on how many semesters of Internship (2 or 3) they choose.

You will have completed coursework and fieldwork that are requirements for licensure in Pennsylvania. However, it is important to know that licensure as a counselor is governed by individual states and typically involves several years of post-graduation/pre-licensure experience and supervision. Therefore, no university or counseling program can guarantee that you can get your license immediately upon graduation.  

Do familiarize yourself with the licensure requirements for the state in which you reside and/or in which you hope to seek licensure, as some policies can vary from state to state.   

Admissions

Our approach to admissions is personal, nuanced, and holistic. There are many different types of people who could be successful counselors, therefore, we make an effort to get to know more about what makes you you. Along with getting a sense of who you are from your interview and personal statement, we consider transcripts and references from two individuals who know you and your academic and/or professional work.

Complete this form, then an admissions counselor will contact you to answer any questions and help as you assemble all the components of your admissions file.  

Once your file is ready and submitted, our program will reach out with a date and time for a group interview. These interviews are typically held on Wednesday evenings at 5:00 pm EST once per month throughout the school year.  Admissions decisions are typically communicated to applicants within two weeks of interviewing.  

You can find information about graduate tuition here. Learn about our 10% alumni discount on graduate tuition for GMercyU graduates.

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;  
  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 group nterview with program faculty.

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.

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.  

Grant Opportunity

Dear School Counseling Practicum and Internship Students,

Are you a current resident of Pennsylvania and placed for your internship in a PA school district, intermediate unit, area career and technical school, charter school, regional charter school, or cyber charter school? Would you agree to work at a Local Education Agency (LEA) in Pennsylvania as a school counselor for a minimum of three years following the completion of your master’s program in school counseling?

If so, we want to make you aware of a grant program that we recently learned about called PA HELPS. This grant provides the opportunity for internship students to be compensated for the school counseling internship with the stipulation of agreeing to work at an LEA in PA for three years.

To be considered for the grant, your HR or District office of your LEA where you are placed for your internship must complete and execute a PA HELPS LEA Application and Agreement and provide PHEAA with a copy of the agreement establishing the internship between the LEA and the school you are attending for your Educational Specialist Preparation Program (Gwynedd Mercy University, in your case).

Here is the grant website so you can read about eligibility and benefits. 

We would like to emphasize that the application window will remain open until August 31, 2024 or until funds are exhausted. Awarding is a first-come, first- served basis upon receipt of the application. If you are interested in participating, please ask your site supervisor for help in identifying the appropriate person(s) in your District to complete and submit the application on your behalf. The website has a link to the application.

We at the University have no role in the grant program or application process and have no additional information other than what is on the website. All questions related to the grant program must be addressed to the email located on the program website. We are unfortunately unable to answer any questions you may have: pahelps@pheaa.org 

Possible Career Paths

Those with a master's degree in counseling services can pursue these fulfilling careers and more:

  • Rehabilitation Counselor
  • Clinical Therapist
  • Mental Health Counselor
  • Chemical Dependency Counselor
  • School and Career Counselor
  • Marriage and Family Counselor

 

Post-Graduate Certificates

The Post Master’s Certificate in Clinical Mental Health Program affords graduates of Gwynedd Mercy University’s Master in School Counseling Program (48 credit - suspended) to sit for the NCE leading to both the NCC credential and LPC. 


The Post Graduate Certification in School Counseling program creates a pathway for individuals with a master’s degree (from an accredited higher education institution) to meet the curriculum requirements for certification in PreK-12 School Counseling in PA.