BVU Clinical Mental Health Counseling Earns CACREP Accreditation

Five-year process culminates with Buena Vista University master’s program in clinical mental health counseling achieving ‘gold standard’ from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs through March 31, 2030.

Buena Vista University’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling master’s program (M.S.Ed.) achieved a milestone on Monday with accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) through March 31, 2030.

BVU is the first program of its size in Iowa to earn accreditation from CACREP and is one of only four Iowan institutions in total, an important step for the University, its professors and students, and the thousands of people they serve throughout the Midwest and beyond. BVU joins the University of Iowa, the University of Northern Iowa, and Drake University in possessing the CACREP seal.

“Earning accreditation is both relieving and validating, and a testament to the work undertaken by our administrators, professors, and counselors who have built BVU’s mental health counseling program,” says Dr. Kathleen Ruscitto, BVU Director for Mental Health Counseling. “To earn the eight-year accreditation shows that we aren’t just hitting the mark, we are exceeding the mark and demonstrating leadership in counselor education in Iowa.”

CACREP provides leadership while promoting excellence in professional preparation through the accreditation of counseling and related educational programs.

“CACREP conducted a thorough review of our classes, practices, and outcomes during a five-year period,” says Dr. Brittany Garling, Dean of the BVU School of Education. “Achieving accreditation puts us in elite company. Additionally, students who were enrolled in our program as far back as 2019 will benefit as the CACREP accreditation goes back to that point.”

With the right mix of online coursework, weekly live video classes, and a seven-day, in-person summer residency, BVU’s flexible 60-credit online/hybrid master’s program provides students with the skills necessary to become effective clinical mental health counselors.

“This comprehensive process has been years in the making,” says Deb Lenhart, Director of BVU Graduate Programs. “Having CACREP accreditation means that BVU offers the gold standard when it comes to preparing professionals in mental health counseling.”

BVU’s program is a Nationally Approved Continuing Education Provider, a recognition that comes from the National Board of Certified Counselors, which allows BVU to offer continuing education across the nation.

“This is an exciting and yet humbling accomplishment for BVU, as we continue to be seen as a leader in the field,” says Ruscitto, who serves as President of the American Counseling Association of Iowa. “This is a career field in which more and more quality professionals must emerge to meet demand as, nationally, there are not enough counselors. Everyone is in need. We are proud at BVU to be doing all we can to best serve our communities by collaborating with today’s professionals to help nurture tomorrow’s leaders in an area that touches us all: clinical mental health counseling.”

The program is part of a burgeoning BVU graduate school enterprise that now features an enrollment of 498 students, representing growth of some 154 percent the past five years.

For more information about BVU’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling M.S.Ed. program, and all BVU’s graduate program options, see