M.S.Ed in Counseling


Some of us are just natural helpers. If you're ready to channel your compassion for others into a career, our M.S.Ed. in Counseling can prepare you to empower diverse individuals, couples, families and groups to accomplish their mental health, wellness, education and professional goals. Our program equips you with a variety of skills and strategies that will make a difference in schools, hospitals, communities and the private sector. Areas of study include Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling. Graduate certificates are available in Trauma-Informed Counseling. We are approved by the State Department of Public Instruction to endorse school counselors for professional educator licensing in Illinois. We are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

Real-world Learning

  • Our program requires a supervised practicum (100 clock hours) and internship (600 clock hours). You are responsible for finding and securing an internship site placement.
  • Our Community Counseling Training Center is used to provide comprehensive training for counselors and counseling supervisors through the delivery of outstanding, culturally responsive counseling services to NIU students, faculty, staff and community members.

You must apply for our program through the NIU Graduate School, and if invited, attend the Pre-Admissions Workshop. The GRE is not required for admissions application to the M.S.Ed. counseling programs. For admission to the counseling program, you'll need to submit a Graduate School application, two contacts for submitting their letters of recommendation, your brief written statement of goals, current résumé and completion of the M.S.Ed. applicant essay (PDF). The annual application deadline for fall matriculation is Jan. 8.

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We take pride in helping you move in a timely manner through our program regardless of full- or part-time status. During your program of study, you will:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of common core areas in counseling, which include ethics, diagnosis of mental health, career, theories, group work, assessment, crisis intervention, substance abuse, counseling skills and strategies, and multiculturalism.
  • Demonstrate effective counseling competencies.
  • Demonstrate general dispositions toward self-reflection and being non-judgmental, and openness to supervision.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and skills in Clinical Mental Health or School Counseling.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of multicultural counseling skills and social justice issues.

We promote best practices in the preparation of educators, advocates and leaders. Our alumni are committed to what graduate preparation should encompass: understanding the past, advancing the present, and modeling for the future. In Clinical Mental Health Counseling, you'll learn to assist clients in resolving psychological disorders and/or developmental issues through crisis intervention, remediation and/or primary prevention interventions.

In School Counseling, you'll become eligible to sit for the Professional Educator License with an Endorsement in School Counseling that allows working in the areas of social/emotional development, academic success and career readiness as a K-12 school counselor in Illinois.

Both the Clinical Mental Health and School Counseling degree specialization programs are 60 credit hour CACREP accredited programs under the 2016 standards. Program courses are offered on a standard curriculum course rotation.

  • COUN 500 Professional Identity and Ethics in Counseling
  • COUN 501 Diagnosis of Mental Health Issues in Counseling
  • COUN 510 Counseling Interventions Across the Lifespan
  • COUN 511 Career Counseling
  • COUN 513 Postsecondary and College Counseling for School Counselors
  • COUN 521 Counseling with Children
  • COUN 523 School Counseling: Programs, Issues and Practices
  • COUN 524 Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Programs, Issues and Practices
  • COUN 525 Counseling Skills and Strategies
  • COUN 530 Counseling Theories and Practices
  • COUN 532 Evidence Informed Practices in Clinical Mental Health
  • COUN 540 Group Counseling
  • COUN 550 Practicum in Counseling
  • COUN 565 Multicultural Counseling
  • COUN 567 Substance Abuse Issues in Counseling
  • COUN 570 Consultation and Management in Developmental School Counseling Programs
  • COUN 586 Internship in Counseling
  • COUN 593 Crisis Intervention
  • COUN 784X Theoretical Foundations of Family Therapy
  • ETR 520 Introduction to Research Methods in Education

The Illinois State Board of Education requires additional training courses in classroom management, curriculum development, and working students with specific needs for the Professional Educator License: School Counselor endorsement.

On an annual basis, 70-100 eligible applicants apply for admissions to the master's level counseling degree programs. The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program averages 50 to 60 degree program enrolled students. The School Counseling program averages 40-50 degree program enrolled students.

Counseling faculty work to recruit and admit diverse student populations. Note: NIU collects race/sex demographic information based on students' legal classifications. However, in alliance with NIU's stated commitment to diversity and inclusion, we recognize that our students, faculty and staff may identify beyond the demographics listed.

Self-reported counseling student race and sex last year included:

Race/Ethnicity Women Men
African-American or Black 11% 2%
Asian-American 2% 3%
Caucasian or White 48% 25%
Hispanic, Latino or Spanish-American 6% 1%

The NIU Counselor Educator team includes seven full-time faculty and two instructors of counseling. Professors of counseling represent not only diversity of multicultural intersectionality, but also diversity of counseling approaches and research interests.

Counselor education program faculty review various program and student outcome data points each year to determine the continuation of our changes in program delivery design. This annual review report includes:

  • Summary of the program evaluation results
  • Subsequent program modifications
  • Any other substantial program changes

Why NIU?

Our program is designed to help students develop awareness, knowledge and skills in counseling and advocacy for those who are intending to become licensed professional counselors in clinical or school counseling.

Our faculty and current students work consistently to create a collegial and collaborative community of acceptance, mentorship and professional networking within the university, regionally and nationally.

Working for You

Our program is designed to meet the needs of a diverse body of degree-seeking students. The majority of our classes are offered late afternoons and evenings to serve the working population of our students. Most classes are offered at our main campus in DeKalb, but some classes may be offered at our satellite sites in Rockford, Naperville and Hoffman Estates. We take pride in helping you move swiftly through the program. Faculty and staff are available to assist with coursework, internship, practicum and assistantships. We believe a collaborative student-faculty relationship enhances your experience in our master's program.

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program graduated 20 students last year with a 100% completion rate. Approximately 92% of our clinical mental health students pass their licensure examination and 94% found job placement after graduation.

The School Counseling program graduated 19 students last year with a 100% completion rate. Approximately 99% of our school counseling students pass their licensure examination and 94% found job placement after graduation.


"My preparation was excellent because of the professors I had. They provided valuable real-life experiences to help make learning fun and interesting. Every day, I am using some counseling technique I learned in class or during my internship. My favorite professor pushed me to be better and to get out of my comfort zone."by Robin Enders, Counselor and WEB Coordinator, Clinton Rosette Middle School, DeKalb Community Unit School District 428


"Attending NIU has broadened my horizons, expanded my knowledge and fostered a 'knowledge is an ongoing process' philosophy. In doing so, I have been able to ascertain my educational aspirations, pursue higher-level occupational opportunities and continue to reciprocate the generosity and mentorship I experienced to future generations of students."by Rheon Gibson,School Counselor, Huntley Middle School, DeKalb Community Unit School District 428