School of Education

Master of Science in Education – Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Graduate Degree Program

BVU’s two-year online/hybrid master’s program enhances the skills of practicing professionals who have goals of becoming effective clinical mental health counselors. The heart of our program is the deep connections and valuable training that students experience during a residency experience at BVU and a weekly live video class. With training and licensure, graduates with a master’s in clinical mental health counseling pursue a variety of positions at mental health agencies, college campuses, or in private practice.

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Why Should I Earn a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling?

BVU’s Clinical 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
   •  Play Therapy
   •  Trauma-Informed Counseling

The clinical 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 Friday through Thursday in Storm Lake. The residency requirement will be for each summer of enrollment. Students may stay in residence halls for a nominal fee.

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 via Zoom—virtual meetings through your computer. 


  • Program Syllabi
  • Annual Executive Report
  • Clinical Mental Health Counseling 2019 Vital Statistics
  • Program Mission, Vision, and Goals

Areas of Concentration

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Addictions Counseling

The addictions counseling concentration provides students the knowledge and experience needed to work with individuals, families, and communities that struggle with various forms of addiction (drug, alcohol, etc.), and other potentially damaging addictive behaviors. This concentration provides the education requirements for graduates to apply for certification in alcohol and drug counseling in Iowa.

Video: About addictions counseling
transforming students

Play Therapy

This concentration provides students with the experience and skills needed for a successful career in this growing field. Play therapy is a theoretically-based approach for working with children and families on behavioral health issues. There is an increasing demand for play therapists in therapeutic and educational settings. This concentration provides the education, experience and supervision needed to become a register play therapist upon licensure. 

3 hands in

Trauma-Informed Care

A systemic approach to helping, based on the idea that human distress and maladaptive behaviors are natural human responses to events and environmental circumstances rather than individual pathology or deficit. Traumatic experiences are prevalent, range in intensity and frequency, and occur at any time. Most importantly, well-intentioned clinicians may exacerbate client distress if they are not aware of these impacts.

Video: About Trauma-Informed Care

Apply now! The priority application deadline is March 15, 2022. Following the priority deadline, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Why Study Clinical Mental Health Counseling at BVU?

Learn Online and In Person

This two-year clinical mental health counseling program is designed to be taken alongside your current career. You will spend one week at the beginning of each year learning at our Storm Lake campus. Then, you will complete coursework online and participate in a virtual meeting once each week in the evenings.

On-Campus Residency

Face-to-Face Experience and Skill Building

As part of our professional school counseling and clinical mental health counseling programs, students take part in a week-long residency at our beautiful campus on the shores of Storm Lake in Iowa. This week of learning is one of the highlights of the program, where you get to know others in your cohort and gain experience working on your skills with your classmates.

Graduate Residency bonfire

Continuing Education Opportunities

Buena Vista University’s Graduate Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program is pleased to announce their recognition as an Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEP) through the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). As a newly approved provider, the department offers regular continued education presentations both remotely and on their Storm Lake campus. Social workers and licensed marriage and family therapists are also invited to attend these presentations to meet state requirements for continuing education.

Counseling session

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I fell in love with BVU’s clinical mental health counseling program. I was really blown away because even though this is a challenging discipline, the professors contribute real-life experiences. I appreciate the mentorship aspect that the instructors provide for us.

Courses & Application Requirements

Our comprehensive MSEd curriculum will prepare you for practice, developing your skills in counseling assessments, research, and advanced counseling practices. Through supervised practicums, you'll graduate with hands-on experiences that will prepare you for the real-world of counseling. And, our elective courses allow you to focus even more on topics like addictions counseling, play therapy, and trauma-informed counseling.

  • Clinical Mental Health Counseling Courses (60 Hours)
  • Application Requirements

Financial Aid

We’ll help you figure out your options for receiving financial assistance.

Learn More

Mental Health Counseling Faculty

Our instructors are committed to helping you build the future of Iowa and beyond.

See Our Faculty

No GRE Required

BVU does not require students to take the GRE for admission — saving you time and money.

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