Meteora

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Dec 14, 2015
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Hi all, hope you are well. Rather than being the one to ask questions about admissions into a graduate program for myself, I am now asking on behalf of students I am advising!

A common thing I see is: Student is finishing undergrad and wants a clinical career, and is thinking about applying to doctoral programs. First, I discuss their career goals and if it's clinically oriented, I ask why they want a doctoral degree instead of a shorter/cheaper program. If they seem set on applying to doctoral programs, I discuss the pros and cons of PhD vs PsyDs and what they would need to do to be admitted.

Recently, I've had a few students who are interested in more terminal programs after which they would be able to practice and provide psychotherapy. Some of these students have financial limitations and I know that terminal Masters programs are not usually funded. I admit that I am not too familiar with the types of terminal Masters programs out there so I was hoping for some input or suggestions on where I can look. In particular, if there are Masters programs with decent funding, I'd also be curious what one needs to be competitive for them (is research experience suggested etc.).

Thank you very much!
 

DynamicDidactic

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Here are the most common terminal master's degrees that prepare one for licensure in a state:

Clinical Social Work
Marriage and Family Therapy
Clinical/Mental Health Counseling

Social work is a big field and not all degrees are set up for licensure. However, many are and social work is the largest field of mental health. Make sure your students understand that social work is a very different field than psychology. These are broad but social work is a more social justice focused field and a much less science/empirical focused field. Again, a broad generality but good luck funding a social work program that concentrates on science-based treatments (o course, this bias is not exclusive to social work). This will always be a MSW degree and the practitioners have different acronyms when licensed (e.g., LCSW, LSW)

Marriage and Family Therapy. I am least familiar with this field, seemingly it concentrates on family systems as opposed to individuals. I really don't know about theoretical leanings or empirical foundations. Licensed almost exclusively as LMFT.

Counseling is the most varied area. The licensure is typically LPC or LCPC. These degrees typically come out of Counseling programs (notice, not Counseling Psychology programs). Sometimes they are called Mental Health Counseling or something similar. This differentiation is need since there are also School Counseling programs, which are different. HOWEVER, there are also plenty of master's-level Psychology programs that meet the requirements for LPC. I am still not clear what makes Counseling separate from Psychology. My extremely biased perspective is that it is watered down Psychology. Simply speaking, the programs well vary greatly. CACREP runs the Counseling accreditation and is trying to kick Psychology out of that area. Part of the reason APA has begun a process to accredit master's-level programs is the push from CACREP to restrict LPC licensure to only CACREP programs, which basically don't allow Psychologists to be a majority of faculty in those programs. If your students are interested in Psychology, which has a more science-orientated orientation and want to be licensed to provide treatment, I would recommend finding programs that are in Psychology departments that lead to licensure as LPC. There are plenty in each state. They could be Clinical Psychology master's, Counseling Psychology master's, Applied Clinical, and so on. The programs will differ in names but it will be clear on their website if these are purely academic or designed for licensure. You can also steer them to Counseling programs which may be very similar to Psychology programs but can also be very different.

Either way, familiarize yourself with the LPC licensure in your state. Most states DO NOT require CACREP but some do and in some its less work to get licensed. And this is a constantly evolving situations.

More about funding in the next post...
 

DynamicDidactic

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Funding:
Simply speaking, there are probably very few fully funded master's programs in the country. I also do not think programs want to advertise funding. But some will offer some funding or tuition remission.

When I advise students I always highlight that state university programs are a much wiser fiscal decision due to in-state tuition. These are typically 2-year programs that allow students to work part-time as they attend school. Programs can also be done part-time typically. I know of some programs that provide some tuition remission and stipend. There are master's-level institutions without doctoral students and master's students are used from some of the assistance in teaching/research. These are also rare but I have met people that got through grad school without loans. But again, this is going to be very competitive and rare among programs.

I've met students that tried to take 1-2 classes a semester (programs are typically 60 credits) and progress super slowly so they can avoid debt while working full-time. From my anecdotal experience, these students all regretted that decision.

There are some employers that help with grad school. That is also an option, find a bachelors-level job in a company that has such a perk (typically, 5-10K a year for school reimbursement). However, again this will vary greatly depending on state and available jobs.
 
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summerbabe

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Nov 22, 2016
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When I advise students I always highlight that state university programs are a much wiser fiscal decision due to in-state tuition.
Agreed with all of the info from this and the last post. And in particular for those students to get familiar with what local MS-level therapists are doing and whether they had to take out loans, attended part-time to pay for tuition, etc.

I was fortunate to attend a Counseling Psych MS program with great training and was able to get a competitive assistantship (e.g., grad level work study open to any grad student). In exchange for 20 hrs/week of work with a department on campus, I was given a full tuition waiver, monthly stipend that could cover all living expenses in that area if you had roommates, budgeted, didn't have a big car note, etc, and a 50% contribution to student health insurance.

I don't know how broadly other universities operate on an assistantship-based model to fund their day-to-day operations but it's worth looking into.
 

R. Matey

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Counseling is the most varied area. The licensure is typically LPC or LCPC. These degrees typically come out of Counseling programs (notice, not Counseling Psychology programs). Sometimes they are called Mental Health Counseling or something similar. This differentiation is need since there are also School Counseling programs, which are different. HOWEVER, there are also plenty of master's-level Psychology programs that meet the requirements for LPC. I am still not clear what makes Counseling separate from Psychology. My extremely biased perspective is that it is watered down Psychology. Simply speaking, the programs well vary greatly. CACREP runs the Counseling accreditation and is trying to kick Psychology out of that area. Part of the reason APA has begun a process to accredit master's-level programs is the push from CACREP to restrict LPC licensure to only CACREP programs, which basically don't allow Psychologists to be a majority of faculty in those programs. If your students are interested in Psychology, which has a more science-orientated orientation and want to be licensed to provide treatment, I would recommend finding programs that are in Psychology departments that lead to licensure as LPC. There are plenty in each state. They could be Clinical Psychology master's, Counseling Psychology master's, Applied Clinical, and so on. The programs will differ in names but it will be clear on their website if these are purely academic or designed for licensure. You can also steer them to Counseling programs which may be very similar to Psychology programs but can also be very different.
This is well done, just a few points for clarification:

1. There are two accreditation systems for counseling programs: CACREP and MPCAC. CACREP is the accreditation system associated with the American Counseling Association. The latter is counseling psychology's response to being pushed out of master's level training programs. CACREP has CHEA accreditation whereas MPCAC is currently seeking it. Until about 2010ish, Counseling psychologists were the primary training faculty in larger universities, when CACREP moved to push us out and promote their own doctorate--The Counselor Education and Supervision Ph.D. degree. MPCAC was formed as a response. See the following article.

2. The above reason one of the reasons why you have differences in titles for master's programs in counseling. CACREP is trying to standardize the term "clinical mental health counseling" whereas other programs use different terms to remain associated with scientific psychology and/or counseling psychology.

3. Requirements to be a graduate from a CACREP accredited program to pursue the LPC licensure at the state licensing board is becoming increasingly common. Though this is still not a thing in every state, the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) the organization that administers the National Counseling Exam (NCE), has recently announced that they will no longer administer the NCE to graduates of non-CACREP accredited programs as of 2022. This effectively will mean that states will need to come up with their own tests for licensure. Your students need to be 100% aware of this when selecting a program.

4. I agree with @DynamicDidactic that "counseling" has done little to establish itself as a separate discipline from clinical/counseling psychology. At the practical level, counselors receive theoretical training in psychotherapeutic systems and counseling theory developed by clinical and counseling psychologists, but the emphasis is strongly humanistic. These are taught as "essential" or basic skills. Because of the short time to degree, students often don't receive sufficient practicum training in order to practice evidenced based practices effectively with the logic being that they will receive supervision to licensure post-M.A. However, post-M.A. supervision is not standardized leading to a wide variation in quality supervision received to LPC licensure by graduates of M.A. programs. The LPCs who are great out there, put the time and money in to do it. Unfortunately, they are the minority, IME.
 

Mama Bear

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I have no idea how common funding is in masters programs. Anecdotally, it seems rare but does exist. Back when I applied, I do not remember being informed of funding opportunities until interview day (I.e., program websites didn’t mention it). The masters program I attended was fully funded, but I interviewed for some programs that didn’t offer funding.
 

Mojito_15

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Nov 23, 2015
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School psychology is another terminal degree. The Ed.S. is typically 60 hours, but can be completed full time in 2 years or part-time in 3 or more. I teach at an institution where all of our classes are offered at 5PM or later, which allows all of our students to work full time during the day. Most of our students finish in 2.5 to 3 years. We don't have funding but our program has paid practicums and internships on contracts with the school district. Also, many districts will cover some of the credits for our students if they're working in the district during their classes.

In addition, there are more traditional routes that offer funding too. Many of the Ed.S. students in my cohort had positions with grant funding where I got my doctorate, which had a more traditional full-day class schedule. I know some other school psych Ed.S. programs also offer funding.
 
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DynamicDidactic

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Though this is still not a thing in every state, the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) the organization that administers the National Counseling Exam (NCE), has recently announced that they will no longer administer the NCE to graduates of non-CACREP accredited programs as of 2022. This effectively will mean that states will need to come up with their own tests for licensure. Your students need to be 100% aware of this when selecting a program..
Wow, this is a big change. When you say not every state, it seems like every state. This will definitely lead to creation of a new national test (perhaps using the EPPP temporarily) since there are many non CACREP program across the nation. Do you have any more info on what is happening?
 

R. Matey

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Wow, this is a big change. When you say not every state, it seems like every state. This will definitely lead to creation of a new national test (perhaps using the EPPP temporarily) since there are many non CACREP program across the nation. Do you have any more info on what is happening?
This might be helpful. You're right. There appear to be paths for non-CACREP accredited graduates in every state. As a point of clarification, I was saying that the CACREP requirements are increasingly common in nearly every state. I didn't mean to imply that it's the only path.

The NBCC has a grant to fund programs applying for CACREP accreditation, but as far as I know, non-CACREP accredited program graduates are SOL unless state licensing boards come up with an alternative. As far as I'm aware, no definitive decisions have been made about alternatives.
 
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