School of Education
Master of Science in Education – Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Graduate Degree Program
With just the right mix of online coursework, weekly live video classes, and a four-day, in-person summer residency, BVU’s flexible two-year online master’s program provides students with the skills necessary to become effective clinical mental health counselors. As the first program of its size to gain CACREP accreditation in Iowa, 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.
Buena Vista University’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP).
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Why Should I Choose a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from BVU?
BVU’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling master's program prepares students to address the growing need for accessible, professional mental health services. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers within mental health counseling are projected to significantly grow over the next decade. This program is CACREP-accredited and meets the requirements for Iowa professional licensure under section 31.6(2) of the Bureau of Professional Licensure of the Iowa Board of Behavioral Science.
This 24-month program is offered through our online format. Classwork is completed online through Canvas, combined with one virtual class meeting in the evening each week. Classes begin in July with online assignments combined with a four-day, face-to-face summer residency held during the first and second summers of enrollment in Storm Lake. Room and board is available for a nominal fee.
To meet the requirements to become a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor, students must have a passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). Students have the option of testing 90 days before completing the program. Additionally, as a CACREP-accredited program, the six-week review process confirming degree requirements is waived, allowing BVU students the opportunity to enter their field soon after graduating.
- Program Syllabi
Program syllabi are available for review upon request. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Annual Program Report
Program goals and objectives are evaluated using multiple methods over a five-year cycle. Our annual executive report is available for your review. Download the report here.
- Annual Graduate Report
Year Number of Graduates Estimated Completion Rates Exam Pass Rates Employment Rates 2022 22 96% 87% 92% 2021 12 85% 90% 90% 2020 15 61% 93% 100% 2019 13 70% 90% 100%
Applications Accepted on a Rolling Basis
Our next cohort starts July 2023. Apply now!
Meet the Professor
A member of our core counseling faculty will tell you about the program at BVU. We will discuss the counseling profession and the benefits of our online learning environment. Learn about clinical experiences, emphasis areas, and extra-curricular opportunities. Register now for an informational session. All sessions are virtual from 6-7:30 p.m.
American Counseling Association
Buena Vista University counseling students are trained according to the ethics and professional identity outlined by the American Counseling Association (ACA) and Association for Counselor Education and Supervision.
Chi Sigma Iota Counseling Academic & Professional Honor Society International
Buena Vista University has an active chapter of Chi Sigma Iota Counseling Academic & Professional Honor Society International, Beta Epsilon Upsilon. This organization focuses on assisting members towards excellence through professional development, wellness, community engagement, and more. More information can be found on the chapter page.
Internship & Practicum Placements
Our students in the clinical mental health master's degree program enjoy practicum and internship placements at a variety of organizations across the state of Iowa.
- See our practicum & internship placements
- Family Connections, Inc
- Community and Family Resources
- Prairie Ridge Integrated Behavioral Health
- Central Iowa Recovery
- Myrtue Medical Center Behavioral Health
- Davis Psychological Services, PC
- Capstone Behavioral Healthcare
- Life Connections
- DHS Iowa Boys State Training School
- Cardinal Community School District
- Family Connection, Inc
- Southwest Iowa Mental Health Clinic (Zion Recovery)
- Youth Shelter Services
- Employee and Family Resources
- Berryhill Mental Health Center
- Prairie Crest Elementary School
- Safe Passage
- Lutheran Family Services
- Buena Vista University Counseling Services
- Riverhills Community Health Center
- Southeastern Behavioral HealthCare
- Healthy Homes Family Services, Inc
- Stephen Center, Inc
- Heartland Counseling Services
- Children & Families of Iowa
- SS Therapy and Consulting, Ltd
- Lutheran Services IA
Face-to-Face Experience and Skill Building
As part of our clinical mental health counseling programs, students take part in a four-day clinical skill-building residency at our beautiful campus on the shores of Storm Lake, Iowa. This time of learning is one of the highlights of the program, when students get to know others in their cohort and gain experience working on in-person skills with classmates.
Continuing Education Opportunities
Buena Vista University’s Graduate Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program is an Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEP) through the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). As a newly-approved provider, our program offers regular continued education presentations both remotely and on our 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.
Join a Welcoming Community.
Share Remarkable Experiences.
BVU instructors are so supportive. They’ve all given me great feedback and challenged me to promote my growth in the counseling world.
Program Mission, Vision, and Values
Counseling Program Vision
The BVU Counseling program prepares a community of ethically- and culturally-competent, trauma-informed practitioners who promote wellbeing by empowering individuals and families across the lifespan, challenging inequities, and contributing to the counseling profession and society in meaningful ways.
Counseling Program Mission
The BVU Clinical Mental Health Counseling program provides innovative, accessible, and student-centered education rooted in best practice and nationally recognized counselor education standards, as outlined by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP). We prepare students to become licensed professional counselors who are engaged practitioners, leaders, and social change agents.
Counseling Program Objectives
- The educational experiences of Buena Vista University’s Counselor Education program are grounded in evidence-based theories, wellness, and development.
- The educational experiences of Buena Vista University’s Counselor Education program cultivate culturally reflective practitioners through social advocacy and diverse learning experiences.
- The educational experiences of Buena Vista University’s Counselor Education program focus on the core elements of an effective helping relationship and counselor identity.
- The educational experiences of Buena Vista University’s Counselor Education program models lifelong professional development, self-awareness, and experiential learning.
Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE)
Students who are enrolled in the 60-credit Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program must successfully pass the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) before they continue into their internship experience. The CPCE consists of the 8 core counseling knowledge areas:
- Professional Counseling Orientation and Ethical Practice
- Social and Cultural Diversity
- Human Growth and Development
- Career Development
- Counseling and Helping Relationships
- Group Counseling and Group Work
- Assessment and Testing
- Research and Program Evaluation
The Buena Vista University Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program utilizes the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE), published by the Center for Credentialing and Education Inc. (CCE), which is an affiliate of the National Board for Certified Counselors Inc. (NBCC).Learn more
Courses & Application Requirements
Our comprehensive M.S.Ed. curriculum will prepare students for practice, by developing skills in counseling assessments, research, and advanced counseling practices. Through supervised practicums, students will graduate with hands-on experiences that will prepare them for the real world of counseling.
- Clinical Mental Health Counseling Courses
(60 credit hours)
- GMHC 510 Assessment and Appraisal Techniques
- GMHC 519 Professional and Ethical Orientation to Counseling
- GMHC 520 Counseling Couples and Families
- GMHC 525 Research Methodology and Program Evaluation in Counseling
- GMHC 529 Human Development and Learning
- GMHC 530 Theories of Counseling
- GMHC 544 Social and Cultural Foundation
- GMHC 546 Methods and Procedures in Counseling
- GMHC 548 Group Counseling
- GMHC 549 Career Development and Assessment
- GMHC 552 Counseling Children and Adolescents
- GMHC 558 Concepts in Trauma-Informed
- GMHC 560 Diagnosis and Assessment in Counseling
- GMHC 565 Overview of Pharmacology
- GMHC 570 Advanced Counseling Practices
- GMHC 580 Supervised Practicum in Mental Health Counseling I
- GMHC 581 Supervised Practicum in Mental Health Counseling II
- GMHC 590 Internship I in Mental Health Counseling
- GMHC 591 Internship II in Mental Health Counseling
- GMHC 592 Internship III in Mental Health Counseling
- GMHC 593 Overview of Substance Abuse
- GMHC 597 Internship in MHC Part IV/Capstone
- Application Requirements
- Official transcripts
- Two letters of recommendation
- Submission of a biographical essay (email to email@example.com):
- 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 or the people who raised you about people who were different from you and how your attitudes and experiences as an adult do or do not reflect those messages.
- Bias can be defined as prejudice in favor of or against a specific thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair. What do you see as your potential biases, and how will you deal with those when/if they surface?
- You are entering a field dedicated to helping others. Discuss how you will take care of yourself or attend to your own well-being.
All completed applications will be reviewed by the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Faculty. If your application meets the program's requirements, you will be asked to complete an individual and group interview. You will receive your admissions decision within three weeks of your interview date. You will either be accepted, accepted with conditions, added to the waitlist, or denied admission.
Next Start Date: July 3, 2023
Interview Dates: March 16, 2023
- Technology Requirements
BVU graduate students will need a computer with reliable internet access to complete their courses and virtual class meetings.
Recommended Computer Hardware & Software Requirements
Computer running Windows 10 or macOS 10.13 (High Sierra) or higher. ChromeBooks, iPads, and computers running Linus do not meet requirements because some coursework will not be compatible with these types of devices.
- High-Speed/Broadband internet. Some coursework may require downloading and uploading significant amounts of video so a large or unlimited data cap may be needed.
Webcam, speakers, and microphone
- Digital table for whiteboarding and collaboration
- Google Chrome web browser (latest version), zoom, and Microsoft Office. Office is available at no cost to BVU students and can be accessed here. Chrome and zoom are free to download.
Your Support Staff
We have advisors readily available to help you with your financial assistance options.Learn More
No GRE Required
BVU does not require students to take the GRE for admission — saving you time and money.