Master of Science in Education - Mental Health Counseling

Master's Degree Program - 60 Credit Hours

2018 applications will be reviewed until the cohort is full


BVU’s three-year program enhances the skills of practicing professionals who have goals of becoming effective mental health counselors. The heart of our program is the deep connections and relationships that students develop with faculty and other students in the program. With training and licensure, graduates pursue a variety of positions at mental health agencies, college campuses, or in private practice.

Program Description:

BVU’s Mental Health Counseling master's program prepares students to address the growing need for accessible, professional mental health services. Licensure in mental health counseling includes options for concentrations in:

  • Addictions Counseling
  • Child and Adolescent Counseling
  • Couple and Family Counseling. 

The mental health counseling program is designed to meet the curricular requirements for Iowa professional licensure under section 31.6(2) of the Bureau of Professional Licensure of the Iowa Board of Behavioral Science standards for a content-equivalent program. 

The program is offered in a combination of online and face-to-face classes. Classes begin in July with online assignments combined with a summer residency held from Saturday through Thursday in Storm Lake. The residency requirement will be for each summer of enrollment.  Students may stay in the dorms for a small fee during this time.

Classwork throughout the rest of the terms/semester will be completed in a hybrid format with some online coursework through Canvas, combined with one class meeting in the evening each week through Zoom—virtual meetings through your computer

  • Storm Lake

M.S.Ed. Core

  • GEDU/GMHC 519 Professional and Ethical Orientation to Counseling
  • GEDU/GMHC 528 Research Methods in Counseling
  • GEDU/GMHC 544 Social and Cultural Foundations of Counseling
  • GEDU/GMHC 546 Methods and Procedures in Counseling

Mental Health Counseling Coursework Degree Requirements

  • GEDU/GMHC 519 Professional and Ethical Orientation to Counseling
  • GEDU/GMHC 528 Research Methods in Counseling
  • GEDU 529 Human Development and Learning Through the Lifespan
  • GEDU/GMHC 544 Social and Cultural Foundations of Counseling
  • GEDU/GMHC 546 Methods and Procedures in Counseling
  • GEDU 549 Career Development and Assessment
  • GEDU 548 Group Counseling
  • GEDU 552 Counseling Children and Adolescents
  • GMHC 510 Assessment and Appraisal Techniques in Counseling
  • GMHC 520 Counseling Couples and Families
  • GMHC 530 Theories of Counseling
  • GMHC 535 Program Evaluation and Consultation in Counseling
  • GMHC 540 Psychopathology and Psychological Disorders
  • GMHC 550 Diagnostics and Treatment Planning
  • GMHC 570 Advanced Counseling Practices and Crisis Interventions
  • GMHC 580 Supervised Practicum in Mental Health Counseling
  • GMHC 583 Introduction to Perspectives on Aging (elective)
  • GMHC 590 Internship I in Mental Health Counseling
  • GMHC 591 Internship II in Mental Health Counseling
  • GMHC 593 Overview of Substance Abuse and Addictive Disorders
  • GMHC 598 Capstone Portfolio

Mental Health Counseling Electives (3 credit hours required)

  • GMHC 521 Advanced Couple and Family Counseling
  • GMHC 553 Play Therapy Theories and Techniques
  • GMHC 592 Internship III in Mental Health Counseling
  • GMHC 593 Overview of Substance Abuse and Addictive Disorders
Admissions criteria for the Master of Science in Education - Mental Health Counseling program
  • Bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree
  • A minimum undergraduate college grade point average (GPA ) of 2.75 (on a 4.0 scale)
  • The BVU analytic writing assessment (administered by BVU staff)
  • Three letters of recommendation from specified sources
  • Official paper transcripts, from any institution attended as well as any graduate transcripts, sent directly to:

    Graduate Programs
    Buena Vista University
    610 W. 4th Street
    Storm Lake, IA 50588
  • Access to minimum technology requirements
  • Acceptance by the admissions committee into the program
  • Following review of application materials, selected applicants will be invited for face-to-face interviews
Admissions process for the Master of Science in Education - Mental Health Counseling program
  1. Complete the online application form, including auto-biographical statements.
      Autobiographical questions:
    • Describe significant personal and/or professional experiences that influenced you to pursue the counseling profession.
    • Describe a time when you advocated for or demonstrated leadership in something that mattered to you.
    • Discuss messages you have received from your family of origin about people who were different from you and how your attitudes and experiences as an adult do or do not reflect those messages.
    • Discuss what you anticipate will be the most challenging aspect of becoming a counselor.
    • In entering a field dedicated to helping others, discuss how you would take care of yourself or attend to your well-being.
  2. Obtain 3 letters with supportive endorsement or recommendation from:
    • Three letters of recommendation from supervisors, colleagues or former university instructors are required to complete your application package. References'contact information will be gathered when you complete the application, and the request will be emailed to them.
  3. Prepare for and take the BVU analytical writing assessment test. Complete the analytical writing assessment online through Canvas. Log-in information will be emailed to you from the graduate recruiter.

Application Timeline

A new cohort begins each July. Applicants are encouraged to submit application materials as early as possible. Priority will be given to applications submitted before March 15. After March 15, applications will be considered on a rolling basis.

Tuition & Fees

BVU offers a quality, affordable education, and our financial specialists are here to help as you navigate the costs of your educational investment so you can move forward with your career.

Financial Aid

BVU's Institution code: 001847

Don't miss the opportunity for financial aid. Fill out the FAFSA at and use BVU's institution code.

The G.I. Bill & Yellow Ribbon Program

All Buena Vista University programs are approved for the G.I. Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program.

Federal Teach Grant

The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program provides up to $4,000 per year in grants for graduate and undergraduate students who intend to teach full-time in high-need subject areas for at least four years at schools that serve students from low-income families. Students must meet all eligibility requirements.

Get full details on the TEACH Grant and learn how to apply

Technology Requirements for Online Courses

BVU’s graduate program uses computer technology to deliver course information over the internet through e-mail and web sites. Student access, whether at home or school, is essential to graduate study at Buena Vista University.

Recommended Computer Hardware & Software Requirements:

  • A PC or Macintosh with Core 2 Duo or higher processor
  • 2GB RAM or more
  • Windows 7 or Macintosh Lion Operating Systems
  • Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox 9
  • Access to Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010 (Work, Excel, Powerpoint)
  • High-Speed/Broadband internet connection
  • Some courses may require a webcam and microphone

Students who do not have recent versions of Microsoft Office may purchase the software at significant savings through an agreement between BVU and Microsoft. A student ID is required. For more information, follow the “Student Resources” link at


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