Master of Science in Counseling

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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 is 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 in Burk Hall 524 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 Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling. This course should be taken prior to admission into the program or can be taken concurrent with 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

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 Emphasis (12 units)

Career Counseling

COUN 721Applied Career Counseling3
COUN 727Advanced Career Counseling3
COUN 738Addictions3
COUN 858Couple and Family Counseling I3

College Counseling

COUN 738Addictions3
COUN 792Seminar for Counselors in Student Personnel Services3
COUN 793Organization and Administration of Student Services in Higher Education3
COUN 858Couple and Family Counseling I3

Gerontological Counseling

COUN 704Psychosocial Aspects of Disability and Chronic Illness3
COUN 738Addictions3
COUN 766Medical, Functional, and Environmental Aspects of Disability and Chronic Illness3
COUN 820Counseling the Older Adult3

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