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.

woman talking to female patient

CACREP Accredited

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
  • Annual Program Report
  • Annual Graduate Report

Applications Accepted on a Rolling Basis

Our next cohort starts July 2024. 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.

Jan. 22, 2024

BVU program director meets with a counseling client

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.

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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.

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On-Campus Residency

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.

Graduate Residency Students

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.

Counseling session
Alaina Ellington

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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 

  1. The educational experiences of Buena Vista University’s Counselor Education program are grounded in evidence-based theories, wellness, and development. 
  2. The educational experiences of Buena Vista University’s Counselor Education program cultivate culturally reflective practitioners through social advocacy and diverse learning experiences.  
  3. The educational experiences of Buena Vista University’s Counselor Education program focus on the core elements of an effective helping relationship and counselor identity.  
  4. 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: 

  1. Professional Counseling Orientation and Ethical Practice
  2. Social and Cultural Diversity
  3. Human Growth and Development 
  4. Career Development 
  5. Counseling and Helping Relationships 
  6. Group Counseling and Group Work 
  7. Assessment and Testing 
  8. 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).  

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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
  • Application Requirements
  • Technology Requirements

Your Support Staff

Kelli Cameron
Kelli Cameron
Student Success Specialist, Graduate Programs
Meet Kelli
Director of Graduate Programs
Deb Lenhart
Director of Graduate Programs
Meet Deb
Jordan Mikkelsen
Jordan Mikkelsen
Financial Specialist - Graduate Programs
Meet Jordan

Your Faculty

Adriana Bovee
Dr. Adriana Bovee
Assistant Professor of Counselor Education
Meet the Professor
Dr. Kathleen Ruscitto
Dr. Kathleen Ruscitto
Director of Mental Health Counseling Programs
Meet the Professor
Jennifer Werries
Dr. Jennifer Werries
Assistant Professor and Clinical Director of CMHC
Meet the Professor

Financial Aid

We have advisors readily available to help you with your financial assistance options.

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No GRE Required

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


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