Master of Science in Counseling

The M.S. in Counseling incorporates four specializations and/or emphases: career, college, school, and gerontology. The scope of this degree allows students the flexibility to focus their attention on specific areas of interest. The student combines the core sequence of classes with their specialization or emphasis. Counselors will be able to function in a wide variety of community agencies and work with individuals of all ages. The curriculum meets most of the educational requirements to be eligible for the Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor license.

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. Students must, however, expect that their personal and work schedules will need to be sufficiently flexible to accommodate fieldwork requirements and department class schedules (must be able to take daytime, late afternoon, and evening classes at various times in the program).

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. Submit the Cal State Apply application by January 15 including all supplementary materials.

Recommended Preparation

Prior to enrolling for classes, is is recommended that an applicant complete the following undergraduate courses: theories of personality/counseling, development through the lifespan, and a psychopathology course. The Department uses a holistic admissions process that considers past academic success, work and volunteer experience, letters of recommendation, personal statement, and other factors. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 units is required by Graduate Studies for a. 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.

Access to Counseling Courses Prior to Admission

Applicants may request to take a course in the department by submitting a formal request. These requests will be considered on a case by case basis. 

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 through a writing sample that is evaluated by the department after being admitted to the program but before enrolling. 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

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will apply concepts of normal development to counseling cases including physical, sexual, emotional, social, cultural, personality, cognitive, and career development.
  2. Students will distinguish abnormal development, including behavior disorders and substance abuse.
  3. Students will distinguish historic and contemporary theories of counseling and apply them to cases from practice.
  4. Students will acquire and demonstrate basic individual counseling skills through practice.
  5. Students will apply knowledge of group dynamics and group counseling skills.
  6. Students will develop self-understanding and a counseling framework that integrates attention to cultural and sociopolitical contexts for individual clients, their families and communities including diversity related to various cultural, economic, ethnicity, disability, gender, sexuality, age, immigration, religion/spirituality, and life style.
  7. Students will apply career theories to a range of counseling cases relevant to the settings in which they plan to work.
  8. Students will analyze assessment data and hypothesize the relationship between data gained through career assessment tools and case material and apply that to career and life decisions and challenges.
  9. Students will apply a working knowledge of assessment tools to practice as a counselor.
  10. Students will critically use research to maintain currency and cultural relevance in their practice and work.
  11. Students will articulate the professional role of a counselor including individual and systemic interventions including use of community resources, knowledge of cultures of the various agencies service the public, and advocacy.
  12. Students will distinguish and apply knowledge of legal directives and ethical standards specific to the field of counseling generally as well as specialization specific standards.

Counseling (M.S.) — 60 units

Core Curriculum (48 units)

COUN 700Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy3
COUN 702Developmental Foundations for Counselors3
COUN 703Psychological Foundations for Counselors3
COUN 705Counseling Practicum3
COUN 706Counseling Skills and Process3
COUN 715Assessment in Counseling3
COUN 720Career Counseling3
COUN 736Advanced Counseling Process3
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 890Integrative Counseling and Internship3
COUN 891Case Studies and Internship Seminar3
COUN 892Culminating Experience for Counselors3

Area of Specialization (12 units)

Career Counseling

COUN 721Applied Career Counseling3
COUN 727Advanced Career Counseling3
COUN 738Addictions3
Select one:3
Biopsychosocial Aspects of Health, Behavioral Health, Aging, & Disability
Professional Seminar I - Structural Elements in School Counseling
Seminar for Counselors in Student Personnel Services
Couple and Family Counseling I

College Counseling

COUN 738Addictions3
COUN 792Seminar for Counselors in Student Personnel Services3
COUN 793Organization and Administration of Student Services in Higher Education3
Select one:3
Biopsychosocial Aspects of Health, Behavioral Health, Aging, & Disability
Professional Seminar I - Structural Elements in School Counseling
Applied Career Counseling
Couple and Family Counseling I

Gerontological Counseling

COUN 704Biopsychosocial Aspects of Health, Behavioral Health, Aging, & Disability3
COUN 738Addictions3
COUN 820Counseling the Older Adult3
Graduate GRN Course3

School Counseling

COUN 716Professional Seminar I - Structural Elements in School Counseling3
COUN 717Professional Seminar II - Functional Elements in School Counseling3
COUN 718Professional Seminar III - Professional Issues in School Counseling3
COUN 738Addictions3
or COUN 858 Couple and Family Counseling I