Clinical Mental Health Counseling student counseling a client

Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Commonwealth University's 100% online CACREP accredited Clinical Mental Health Counseling program will enable you to become license-eligible for the counseling profession in many states throughout the country. The program’s primary goal is to prepare you to function independently and successfully as a clinical mental health counselor in a variety of professional settings.

Degrees & Offerings
  • M.S.
Location
  • Online
Illustration of Mountain

Program Details:

  • Program Delivery: Offered in a flexible 100% online (synchronous and asynchronous) format with part-time and full-time delivery options. No residencies; therefore, no need to come to campus.
  • Flexible Start Dates: Flexible start times to include August, January, and May cohorts.
  • Accreditation: The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP). In addition, Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
  • Program Length: Students can complete the program in 2.5 to 3 years as a full-time student or 3.5 to 4 years as a part-time student. Students will have the option to complete their 600 hours of internship in 1 semester, thus allowing them the opportunity to complete the program a half of a year early (e.g. 2.5 years for full-time or 3.5 years for part-time). 
  • Incoming Cohorts: Our Fall 2024 and Spring 2025 cohorts have reached capacity. The Summer 2025 application is available now online. The application deadline for the Summer 2025 cohort is 10/15.

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a photo of the CMHC Team including Dr. Weaver, Dr. Tomlin, Dr. Kuniak, Dr. Vincenzes, Dr. Romero-Lucero, Mrs. Hershberger, Dr. Pecheck, Dr. Gitonga, Dr. Pytel, and Dr. de Raet

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

a photo of the 2023 Outstanding Counselor Education Program award

Outstanding Counselor Education Program: The MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) is an online, CACREP accredited 60 credit degree program that is designed to be consistent with the requirements for licensure as a professional counselor in Pennsylvania (049 PA Code § 49.13). The program’s online, year-round (fall, spring, summer) web-based delivery enables working adults, as well as those with families, the flexibility to progress through the program on a part-time or full-time basis, at a reasonable pace, without interrupting their personal or professional responsibilities.

During the final semester of a student's program, they will be offered the opportunity to complete the National Counselor Examination. If the student passes the exam, they will meet two of the requirements for licensure and be ready to fulfill the supervised hours required by the state of Pennsylvania to be a licensed professional counselor (LPC). The program is consistent with many other state licensure educational requirements; however, it is strongly recommended for applicants to review their state licensing board prior to applying. In addition, upon successful completion of the program and passing the National Counselor Examination, you will be able to submit your final transcript to NBCC and receive your National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential.

Courses and Curriculum

This 60-credit CACREP Accredited, three year full-time (or four year part-time) graduate program is offered primarily online and consists of common core courses related to professional orientation, human development, counseling, assessment, differential diagnosis, treatment planning, and research. Students may choose from specializations such as counseling military/veterans and their families, counseling children and adolescents, or a general clinical mental health counseling. Within the common core curriculum is a 100-hour practicum and 600-hour internship requirement that is conducted in the student's local area with face-to-face supervision in a site approved by the university faculty.

Cohort Model

The CMHC program uses a cohort model to help establish a learning community amongst the students. The CMHC program will accept a maximum of 25 students for each fall, spring, and summer semester. Students can choose to enter the full-time (three courses each semester including summers) or part-time cohort (two courses each semester including summers).

While students can change from part-time to full-time status or vice versa, classes are not offered every semester; therefore, changing the status may impact the student’s program of study. All students entering the program with a GPA below a 3.0 will automatically be placed in the part-time cohort. If there is any doubt that the full-time cohort may be too much given a student’s additional personal and professional responsibilities, it is highly recommended that the student enters the part-time cohort in order to be successful in the program, maintain other personal and professional responsibilities, and attend to one’s own self-care needs.

The program runs on semesters: fall and spring semesters are 16 weeks and summer semesters are broken into 6 weeks or 12 weeks.

Minimum Program Requirements

Students must successfully complete and earn a minimum overall 3.0 GPA in 60 credits of coursework to include: a 100 hour practicum and 600 hours of internship. Students must meet clinical skill and disposition competencies as evaluated by program faculty throughout the curriculum. Site supervisors must also provide positive feedback that students are meeting expectations in clinical skills and disposition competencies while in their practicum and internship. Finally, all students will be required to take a comprehensive final exam during their practicum.

Coursework

Shared Core

For full descriptions of the courses listed below, visit our course descriptions website.
If you are interested in reviewing a recent syllabus, please contact the program director directly.

  • CMHC505: Clinical Mental Health Counseling as a Profession
  • CMHC510: Counseling Theories
  • CMHC515: Assessment in Mental Health Counseling
  • CMHC520: Lifespan Development Implications for Counseling
  • CMHC525: Skills and Techniques in Mental Health Counseling
  • CMHC530: Research and Evaluation in Counseling
  • CMHC535: Multicultural Counseling
  • CMHC540: Career Development in Counseling
  • CMHC545: Addiction Counseling
  • CMHC550: Psychopathology & Differential Diagnosis
  • CMHC555: Advanced Skills in Mental Health Counseling
  • CMHC560: Family and Couples Therapy
  • CMHC565: Group Skills in Mental Health Counseling
  • CMHC570: Trauma and Crisis Counseling
  • CMHC585: Ethical, Legal and Professional Issues in Counseling
  • CMHC590: Practicum in Mental Health Counseling
  • CMHC595: Internship I in Mental Health Counseling
  • CMHC596: Internship II in Mental Health Counseling

Counseling Military Veterans and Their Families

Courses include:

  • CMHC575: Counseling Military Veterans (offered every summer)
  • CMHC580: Reintegration and Recovery for Veterans and their Families (offered every summer)
     

Counseling Children and Adolescents

Courses include:

  • CMHC562: Child and Adolescent Counseling (offered every summer )
  • CMHC564: Creative Therapies for Children and Adolescents (offered every summer)

Generalized Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Courses include:

  • One course from Military/Veteran Specialization
  • One course from Children/Adolescent Specialization

All Graduate Certificates are 100% Online

All courses must earn a 3.0 or higher to earn the certificate. Graduate Certificates in Clinical Mental Health Counseling are intended for individuals who have already completed a Master's degree in counseling (or related field) or need additional graduate course work in order to have the sixty credits required for state licensure as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC). Candidates seeking licensure are advised to read the regulations and requirements of the state's board where they intend to practice.

Telemental Health Counseling Certificate (3 Credits)

The purpose of the Telemental Health Counseling Certificate program is to provide mental health practitioners the knowledge to competently and ethically provide services using technology. The certificate is one graduate course and is offered in Summer 1 semesters.

Foundations of Trauma Informed Care Certificate (6 Credits)

The foundations of trauma-informed care certificate is geared toward anyone in the human services field that may work with or around trauma. This includes, but is not limited to: ER personnel, doctors, nurses, first responders, police, case managers, child and youth workers, counselors, educators, individuals working in the criminal justice system, and many others. Students will comprehend the history of trauma theory to include various types of trauma that may impact an individual and the trauma-informed care model.

Furthermore, students will conceptualize trauma and crisis situations to include assessment procedures, crisis interventions, trauma-informed, and community-based strategies such as Psychological First Aid.

Certificate Courses Include
  • CMHC571 Foundations of Trauma-Informed Care
  • CMHC572 Grief and Loss Counseling

Trauma-Informed Counseling Certificate (12 Credits)

The trauma-informed counseling certificate builds off the first certificate and includes two more courses specifically geared toward mental health therapists as it focuses specifically on therapeutic techniques.

The program will include: a history on trauma informed care to include death and dying issues, assessments, diagnoses, evidence-based treatment strategies for trauma-informed care, crisis intervention and grief counseling, and self-care for mental health professionals working with trauma.

Certificate Courses Include:
  • CMHC570 Trauma and Crisis Counseling
  • CMHC571 Foundations of Trauma-Informed Care
  • CMHC572 Grief and Loss Counseling
  • CMHC573 Advanced Interventions in Trauma-Informed Counseling

Military Resilience and Trauma Counseling Certificate (9 Credits)

The purpose of the Military Resilience and Trauma Certificate Program is to expand professionals’ knowledge and training to work with military clients and their families. This program will focus on both the resilience and trauma that military families may experience.

Certificate Courses Include
  • CMHC570 Trauma and Crisis Counseling
  • CMHC575 Counseling Military Veterans
  • CMHC580 Reintegration and Recovery for Veterans and Their Families

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Online Digital Synchronous Learning Delivery

Program delivery will consist of asynchronous and synchronous learning.

Asynchronous learning will require students to complete activities and assignments on their own time within pre-determined deadlines. Asynchronous learning may include, but is not limited to, any of the following activities: reading, pre-recorded mini-lectures and/or videos, threaded discussions, research papers, reflection papers, group activities outside of the classroom, quizzes, and/or exams. Asynchronous delivery utilizes the Desire2Learn Brightspace learning management system and the SonicFoundry Mediasite media delivery platform.

Synchronous learning will require students to meet simultaneously in real-time with the instructor and their peers. Synchronous learning may include, but is not limited to, any of the following activities: class discussions, skills practice, engagement in a processing group, group supervision, and guest presentations. Content courses meet every other week and skills courses meet weekly. Synchronous classes are held between 5:00-6:30pm EST or 7:00-8:30pm EST on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays. Synchronous delivery utilizes the Zoom platform and may utilize either or both the Zoom desktop or mobile applications or purpose-built Zoom classrooms.

This delivery model enables working adults the flexibility to progress through the program at a reasonable pace, without interrupting their career or other commitments. The delivery methods are designed to maintain a personal, one-to-one mentoring and supervision relationship with degree candidates and make it possible to create active and engaged learning communities.

No campus visits or on-campus residencies are required.

Some requirements to participate effectively in our online program through Desire2Learn include:

  • Integrated Webcam and Audio System
  • Updated version of Java Script
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Test Drive Online Course Delivery

A interactive tutorial program has been built to allow interested students to Test Drive our Online platform with an interactive guide through a variety of features of our course software.

Once you get to the server you will login using the information below:

Login: lhuguest
Password: lhuguest
(Login and Password are case sensitive)

Click on the Link that says: LHU000 – Example LHU Desire2Learn Course

All the tabs at the top of the course are active and and you can view them to get a feel for the online environment.

Please log out after you are finished with the test drive.

To access the tutorial follow this link to our course web server: Test Drive Online Delivery

Our Fall 2024 and Spring 2025 cohorts have reached capacity. The Summer 2025 application is available now online. The application deadline for the Summer 2025 cohort is 10/15.

To complete the application process, students must submit:

  1. Online application
  2. Official college transcripts with a confirmed degree awarded (3.0+ GPA)
    * The CMHC program welcomes students with any undergraduate degree.
  3. Current Resume or CV
  4. Three letters of recommendation that include the following:
    (a) Letters must be professional and diverse (please include letters from individuals who can attest to your professional and educational experience).
    (b) Letters need to be personal to the candidate and our program.
    (c) Letters must discuss the applicant's inter and intra personal skills.
    (d) Letter must discuss the applicant's aptitude for success in an online graduate program.
  5. Statement of professional goals
    (a) Describe your preparation for online graduate school work (education, work and/or volunteer experience in the mental health field, skills that will be influential to your success in an online program).
    (b) Your professional career goals.
    (c) How this graduate program will help you meet your goals.
  6. Successful completion of a faculty and group interview

Transfer Students

The CMHC program welcomes students interested in transferring. Students can transfer up to 12 credits (4 courses) into the program. Transfer courses must have: 1. earned a B or higher; 2. core courses must be from a CACREP accredited program; and 3. taken within the past three years from beginning the program. Eligible courses for transfer will be formally reviewed by faculty prior to approval.

Matriculation Requirements

Students who successfully meet all of the application requirements with a GPA of 3.0 or higher will be fully matriculated into the program. All students accepted with an undergraduate GPA less than 3.0 will begin the program on probational acceptance. This means that students will start part-time and must earn a GPA of 3.0 or higher in their first 6 credits before they can be matriculated into the program.

If admitted to the program, students have two (2) weeks from the date of the offer to accept their seat.

During the application process, applicants will enter the name and email of their references. References will receive an email from Commonwealth University to upload a recommendation letter via a secure link.

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PROGRAM OBJECTIVES 

  • Outcome 1: Professional identity and ethical practice. Graduates will identify with the mental health counseling profession by understanding the roles and responsibilities of mental health counselors’ professional functioning as well as demonstrating ethical and legal practice and dispositions related to effective practice to include self-care, flexibility, insight, empathy, and integrity (CACREP, 2016, 2.F.1.b., 2.F.1.i., 2.F.1.l.). This will be measured with a success rate of 80% over a minimum of two different points in time. 
  • Outcome 2: Diversity and advocacy. Graduates will identify and apply cultural considerations relevant to counseling clients (CACREP, 2016, 2.F.2.a, 2.F.2.c.). This will be measured with a success rate of 80% over a minimum of two different points in time. 
  • Outcome 3: Human growth and development. Graduates will identify and apply considerations for human development to promote resilience and wellness across the lifespan (CACREP, 2016, 2.F.3.a., 2.F.3.i.). This will be measured with a success rate of 80% over a minimum of two different points in time. 
  • Outcome 4: Career Development. Graduates will demonstrate the ability to assess the implications of a client’s work environment on their life experiences as well as use theories, models, and strategies to support a client’s career development (CACREP, 2016, 2.F.4.a., 2.F.b., 2.F.4.d.). This will be measured with a success rate of 80% over a minimum of two different points in time. 
  • Outcome 5: Counseling and clinical practice. Graduates will apply theories and models of counseling through interviewing, counseling, and case conceptualization skills to develop effective treatment plans (CACREP, 2016, 2.F.a., 2.F.5.g., 2.F.5.h.). This will be measured with a success rate of 80% over a minimum of two different points in time. 
  • Outcome 6: Group counseling and effective leadership. Graduates will incorporate theoretical frameworks and factors to become effective group leaders and facilitate group counseling (CACREP, 2016, 2.F.6.a., 2.F.6.c., 2.F.6.d.). This will be measured with a success rate of 80% over a minimum of two different points in time. 
  • Outcome 7: Assessment and testing. Graduates will demonstrate the ability to assess client issues for diagnosis and treatment planning (CACREP, 2016, 2.F.7.b., 2.F.7.e.). This will be measured with a success rate of 80% over a minimum of two different points in time. 
  • Outcome 8: Research and program evaluation. Graduates will demonstrate the ability to evaluate research in order to inform practice (CACREP, 2016, 2.F.8.a., 2.F.8.b.). This will be measured with a success rate of 80% over a minimum of two different points in time. 
  • Outcome 9: Clinical mental health counseling. Graduates will demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to effectively conceptualize, assess, diagnose, and treat clients in various settings. (CACREP, 2016, 5.C.1.c., 5.C.1.e., 5.C.2.d., 5.C.3.b.). This will be measured with a success rate of 80% over a minimum of two different points in time.

The Master of Science (M.S.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) Program is consistent with the mission and strategic plans of Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). Through the use of synchronous and asynchronous modalities, the CMHC Program follows the ACA Code of Ethics (2014) and promotes students’ educational, professional, and personal development by supporting their overall wellness and encouraging a lifelong journey of professional learning and self-reflection.

The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP). In addition, Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

The CMHC program welcomes individuals interested in taking additional courses to apply for their state license or for continuing education. Individuals interested in doing this need to have successfully completed a Master's degree in counseling with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Those interested in the licensure track option are encouraged to apply to their state's licensing board and identify exactly what courses/requirements need to be met prior to taking additional courses. The program cannot assess transcripts and guarantee any license requirements. Practicum and internship cannot be taken within the CMHC program without students taking various courses that allow faculty to assess their clinical skills and preparation.

  • Q: When can I start?
    A. Applications are accepted for the Summer, Fall, and Spring semesters.
  • Q: How is the program delivered?
    A. Taught 100% online.
  • Q: Do I need to take the GRE in order to apply?
    A. No - the GRE is not required for admission 
  • Q: How many transfer credits do you accept?
    A. 12 from a CACREP accredited program, taken within 3 years of starting the program.
  • Q: Are there any on-campus visits required?
    A. No, there are not any required on-campus visits for the CMHC program.
  • Q: Can I take classes as a non-degree seeking student? If so, how many credits can I take? 
    A. Yes you can take courses as a non-degree seeking student. You can take up to 4 classes (12 credits).
Illustration of Mountain

Program Highlights

Professional Preparation

The MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) is an online, 60 credit degree program designed to be consistent with the educational requirements for licensure as a professional counselor in Pennsylvania. In addition, students will have the opportunity to take the National Counselor Examination during their internship experience.  Once the student passes the NCE, they can apply for their National Certified Counselor credential.  If seeking licensure, additional supervised hours will be required post-graduation and is not connected to the program.  If you will be seeking licensure outside Pennsylvania, you will want to contact your state licensing board for requirements. Find your state requirements here.

Practicum & Internships

As part of this program you will complete nine credits of practicum and internship experience. Practicum will consist of 100 hours onsite and internship will consist of 600 hours onsite. These requirements will be completed in your local area with face-to-face supervision in a site approved by university faculty. You will be responsible for identifying an approved site but the program does provide an on-going list of approved sites to help you in finding one that will meet your interests as well as the program requirements. The practicum and internship coordinator, Dr. Weaver, also works with students to identify and solidify an approved site and site supervisor.

214
As of September 2023, there were 214 students enrolled
in the CACREP accredited Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program
100%
Employment Rate
100% of our graduates who were actively looking gained employment within 6 months of graduation.
85%
Pass Rate
Our students consistently score well on the National Counseling Exam (NCE) with a pass rate of 85%.
25
Cohort Size
Allowing you personalized attention from expert faculty throughout your degree.

Careers

As a graduate of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, you will be equipped to provide therapeutic interventions to a diverse population across the spectrum of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral disorders. You will be able to work in a variety of settings such as:

Potential Job Opportunities

  • Mental Health Agencies
  • Prisons
  • Private Practice
  • Veterans Outreach Sites
  • Hospitals
  • College Campuses
  • Substance Use Agencies
  • Outpatient Therapist
  • Telehealth Counselor

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Clinical Mental Health graduate student

This program provides the opportunity to grow as a practitioner and a person. The professors and students create a cohesive unit that brings out the best in you and every semester that passes just enhances my gratitude that I joined CU-Lock Haven’s CMHC program.

Tiffany Sims, Class of 2024
M.S. Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Clinical Mental Health graduate student

As a new CMHC program student at CU-Lock Haven, I have felt supported, challenged, and enriched by the content and interactions with my professors. Our faculty members’ direct clinical experience combined with their expertise in educating CMHC students is evident in the lectures, assignments, and discussions. I have already learned so much and look forward to my continued growth as a future counselor through this program.

Nicole Palman, Class of 2026
M.S. Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Clinical Mental Health graduate student
Clinical Mental Health graduate student
Clinical Mental Health Counseling faculty receiving an award

Commonwealth University Named Outstanding Counselor Education Program

The Commonwealth University's program in clinical mental health counseling (CMHC) was the recipient of the Outstanding Education Program award during the Pennsylvania Counseling Association's 55th annual conference in Harrisburg.

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