Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) program prepares counselors to address the wide array of intersecting psychosocial, cultural, vocational and systemic circumstances that are barriers to the health, wellness, and quality of life of those served. Clinical Mental Health Counseling students are trained to work with some of the most vulnerable, marginalized communities who experience disabling health and behavioral health conditions that are often complicated by histories of poverty, trauma, homelessness, substance abuse, oppression and criminal justice involvement. Students entering our program are social-justice oriented, embrace difference and inclusion, exhibit a desire for ongoing self-examination, and are expected to continually work towards cultural and disability competency.

Trained through a biopsychosocial and pluralistic lens, students are oriented towards conceptualizing clients' multiple, intersecting identities, contexts, vulnerabilities, and assets, using contemporary classification systems relevant to today's practicing counselor. Students learn and apply a broad spectrum of traditional and post-modern theories and modalities, including the Mental Health Recovery Model, and are expected to integrate health promotion, wellness, and evidence-based practices into their work. Our program strives to graduate students who are not only therapeutically skilled and culturally competent counselors, advocates and clinical case managers, but who also understand and challenge the political, sociocultural, and systemic factors that negatively impact the health and well-being of our clients, their families, and their communities. 

Students graduating from the CRMH program work in a diverse range of community-based health and behavioral health organizations, agencies serving particular populations (e.g., LGBTQ, Transition Age Youth, College Students, Older Adults), or persons with specific conditions or circumstances (e.g., substance abuse, homelessness, HIV/AIDS, and other health or behavioral health conditions), county behavioral health agencies, hospital-affiliated programs, educational settings, state and federal institutions, and private practice. Graduates meet all the academic and fieldwork requirements for the California Professional Clinical Counselor License (LPCC) as set forth in Section 4999.33 of the Business and Professional Code for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors. To become an LPCC, graduates must obtain 3,000 post-graduate hours under a qualified supervisor, and pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE) and the California Law and Ethics Exam. Please refer to the CALPCC for more information. Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduates are also positioned to become a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC) and a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC)

Graduate Programs in Counseling

General Information

At least 60 units of approved graduate work are required for the Master of Science degrees. All students go through a basic core sequence of academic courses including four semesters of supervised counseling practicum and internship. Students select electives according to their area of specialization. Two different academic year field placements are required. The department works collaboratively with over 150 community agencies that provide service and training opportunities for our students. These agencies are carefully screened to meet our standards. Fieldwork placements are viewed as an integral part of the training of prospective counselors.

Once admitted to the program, students may petition the department’s program coordinator and chair for up to 12 units of appropriate post-baccalaureate degree work taken in other institutions within seven years from the date students plan to graduate. Courses taken for another degree or credential may not be counted toward the master’s degree. Courses taken at other institutions after admission to the graduate program may not be counted toward the master’s degree. Refer to Graduate Admissions and Graduate Studies, Transfer Credit from Other Institutions for more information.

It may be possible to complete the M.S. program either as a full-time student or as a part-time student taking daytime, late afternoon, and evening classes. Students must, however, expect that their personal and work schedules will need to be sufficiently flexible to accommodate fieldwork requirements and department class schedules.

Admission to Program

Applicants are admitted as conditionally classified graduate students in the fall semester only - there are no spring admits. Admission to the department involves the following procedures:

  1. Complete the GRE General Test1, paying particular attention to the Written Analytical Section of the GRE. See note below.
  2. Complete two separate applications:
    1. Department of Counseling program application available on our website and
    2. San Francisco State University Graduate Studies online application available on the Division of Graduate Studies website.
  3. Submit the counseling program application to the Department of Counseling by January 15.
  4. Submit the SF State Graduate Studies online application by January 15.

Please note: Your GRE scores will not determine our recommendation to either admit or deny you admission to our program. We will review the Analytical Writing score so that we may determine your writing needs before you enter the program. Those who do not meet the minimum writing expectation, that is a 4.0 on the Analytical Writing Section of the GRE General Test, upon admission will be required to take a writing course, HSS 700. Refer to for all GRE and GRE test related questions.


Prior to enrolling for classes, an applicant must successfully complete three undergraduate prerequisites with a grade of C or better: theories of personality/counseling, development through the lifespan, and a psychopathology course. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 units is required for admission to the program. Paid or volunteer experience working with people is an important factor for admission. Selection of students is based on academic as well as personal background.

COUN 690 is a prerequisite for all students except those specializing exclusively in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. This course should be taken prior to admission into the program or can be taken the first semester in attendance. Students who do not earn a grade of B minus (B–) or better in the repeated course will not be considered for classified status.

Access to Counseling Courses Prior to Admission

Applicants may take, on a space available basis, and by permission of the instructor, any of the following courses through Open University:

COUN 690Field of Counseling I3
COUN 700Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy3
COUN 702Developmental Foundations for Counselors3
COUN 703Psychological Foundations for Counselors3

Students shall not take any courses numbered 700 or above and count them toward their SF State bachelor's degree; however, SF State students may indicate on their graduation application that they wish to have these courses applied to their graduate work if taken in the final semester before graduation. Completion of these courses does not guarantee admission into the program.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One

All applicants must successfully demonstrate writing proficiency with a score of 4.0 or better on the Analytic Writing section of the Graduate Record Examination. This must be taken prior to applying to the program. The score must be submitted in your application package. Those who do not meet the minimum writing expectation upon admission will be required to take a writing course, usually at an additional cost.

Level Two

Satisfied by demonstration of English competency on the culminating experience paper for COUN 892.

Clinical Proficiency Requirement

Students must earn a grade of B or better in the following courses:

COUN 705Counseling Practicum3
COUN 706Counseling Skills and Process3
COUN 736Advanced Counseling Process3
COUN 890Integrative Counseling and Internship3
COUN 891Case Studies and Internship Seminar3

Clinical Mental Health Counseling  — Minimum 60 units

Required Courses (60 units)

COUN 700Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy3
COUN 702Developmental Foundations for Counselors3
COUN 703Psychological Foundations for Counselors3
COUN 704Psychosocial Aspects of Disability and Chronic Illness3
COUN 705Counseling Practicum3
COUN 706Counseling Skills and Process3
COUN 715Assessment in Counseling3
COUN 736Advanced Counseling Process3
COUN 720Career Counseling3
COUN 737Psychopharmacology in Counseling3
COUN 738Addictions3
COUN 741Crisis Counseling for Counselors3
COUN 794Seminar in Research3
COUN 811Group Counseling Process3
COUN 833Social and Cultural Foundations in Counseling3
COUN 857Law and Ethics for Counselors3
COUN 870Case Management and Special Topics in Rehabilitation Counseling3
COUN 890Integrative Counseling and Internship3
COUN 891Case Studies and Internship Seminar3
COUN 892Culminating Experience for Counselors3