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, educational 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 or 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.

Program admissions is for the fall semester only. You must apply for our program through the NIU Graduate School, and if invited, attend the Pre-Admissions Workshop. For admission to graduate school, you'll need to identify your intended degree specialization and submit your application with two letters of recommendation, completion of the M.S.Ed. applicant essay, transcripts and résumé. A test of English proficiency will also be requested if you are an international applicant. The deadline for fall is Jan. 8.

Apply Today

As you have carefully considered your interests, determination, and capacities to pursue admissions consideration, respond to the following essay prompts using the writing guidelines.

Essay Prompts

  • Please share your career goals regarding why you want to become a professional counselor; including your personal experiences, interests, community engagement, and abilities that lead you to apply for a graduate program in counseling.
  • The current definition of counseling as developed and endorsed by the American Counseling Association: "Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals." How do you see your strengths and professional goals aligning with this definition of counseling? What are your areas of potential growth for attaining these goals?
  • What are your values (e.g., cultural, political, familial, social, professional, etc.) and how do you relate to and work with individuals and groups who have different values than your own?
  • What factors have led to your consideration of professional counseling as opposed to other helping professions (e.g., psychology, social work, etc.)?
  • Is there anything else that you would like for us to know which might be of help in the admission decision process?

Writing Guidelines

  • Provide critically reflective responses to the prompts as a single document, narrative essay format, without page breaks.
  • For each writing prompt, provide 1 to 2-page responses per prompt.
  • Text should be double-spaced, Times New Roman or Calibri, 12-point font with 1-inch page margins.
  • Running header should appear on each page with your name and page numbers.
  • Use these major headings for each question prompt, aligned-center, bold-font style within your response document:
    • Career Goals
    • Strengths and Growth Edges
    • Navigating Values
    • Emerging Counselor Identity
    • Conclusion
  • Save and submit your essay response as a PDF file format document.
  • Title the document with your name and “MSEd app essay.”

Mission Statement

The Counseling Faculty are committed to preparing multiculturally competent counseling professionals for school, community, and higher education settings who can facilitate positive change in the development and interactions of diverse individuals throughout their lifespans. The Faculty are also committed to the generation and application of knowledge about counseling and related issues and techniques.

Master’s Program Objectives

Objective one – common core courses: Students will demonstrate mastery of a common core of knowledge and skills in counseling. this common core involves coursework in such areas as (a) human growth and development, (b) social and cultural foundations, (c) groups, (d) career and lifestyle development, (e) research and program evaluation, (f) professional orientation and (g) appraisal.

Objective two - experiential courses: Students will be able to demonstrate effective use of counseling skills for a selected setting. Specific courses that address this objective are: Supervised Experiences (9 credit hours required)*

Objective three - specialization courses: Students will demonstrate mastery of knowledge and skills in a selected area of professional preparation (12 hours in clinical mental health counseling or school counseling coursework and electives).

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.

All M.S.Ed. Counseling students learn the core knowledge complete coursework for professional counseling licensure eligibility in the state of Illinois.

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 Professional Counseling and Counselor Education
  • 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 preparation for school counselor candidates in classroom-based intervention. Program faculty will advise you on integrating this content with core counseling coursework.

M.S.Ed. Counseling Course Rotation
Course # Course Title Fall Spring Summer
500 Professional Identity and Ethics in Counseling Combined N/A N/A
501 Diagnosis of Mental Health Issues in Counseling Combined N/A N/A
510 Counseling Skills Across the Lifespan Combined N/A N/A
511 Career Counseling N/A N/A Combined
513 Postsecondary and College Counseling for School Counselors Combined N/A N/A
521 Counseling Children Combined N/A N/A
523 School Counseling: Programs, Issues and Practices N/A Combined N/A
524 CMHC: Programs, Issues, and Practices N/A Combined N/A
525 Counseling Skills and Strategies N/A Combined N/A
530 Counseling Theories Combined N/A N/A
532 Evidence Informed Practice in Counseling N/A N/A Combined
533X Standardized Testing N/A N/A Combined
540 Group Counseling Theories and Procedures N/A Combined N/A
550 Practicum in Counseling (time intensive course) CMHC specialty section SC specialty section N/A
565 Multicultural and Social Justice Counseling N/A Combined N/A
567 Substance Use and Addictions in Counseling N/A Combined N/A
570 Consult. & Man. in Dev. School Counseling Programs Combined N/A N/A
586 Internship in Counseling (6 credit hours over two semesters) Combined Combined Combined
593 Crisis Intervention (8 week online course) N/A N/A Combined
784X Theoretical Foundations of Family Therapy N/A Combined N/A

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 (DOCX) includes:

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

Our program is designed to meet the needs of a diverse body of degree-seeking students. We offer the majority of our classes on 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 and Naperville. We take pride in helping you move swiftly through this program. Faculty and staff are available to assist with coursework, internships, practicums and assistantships. We believe a collaborative student-faculty relationship enhances your experience in our master's degree program.

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program graduated 13 students last year with a 92% completion rate. And 100% of our clinical mental health students passed their licensure examination and 100% found job placement after graduation.

The School Counseling program graduated four students last year with a 100% completion rate. Approximately 98% of our school counseling students passed their licensure examination and 100% found job placement after graduation.

Contact Us

Department of Counseling and Higher Education
Gabel 200
Counseling Admissions
Graham 416
Higher Education and Student Affairs Admissions
Gabel 201 B
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