The M.S. program emphasizes counseling in community and agency settings, including university and college counseling centers. The master's degree emphasizes service delivery, and its practica/internship components reflect that emphasis. The curriculum stresses knowledge and development of skills in individual and group counseling, consultation, research, ethics, multiculturalism, social justice and vocational psychology. Students are prepared to work predominantly as practitioners in community agencies, postsecondary educational institutions, business and industry. The program fulfills academic requirements to become a licensed professional counselor in the state of Wisconsin.

The sequence of required courses combined with lab and field experiences can be planned on either a full- or part-time basis, but care must be taken in proper sequencing of courses for those attending part-time. Those students enrolling on a full-time basis typically complete the program in two years, including summer classes. For more information, visit the program website.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Master’s Degrees


Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

48 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

39 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

Half of degree coursework (24 out of 48 total credits) must be completed in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to the master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison University Special

With program approval students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special students. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to the master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Credits per Term Allowed

12 credits without advisor approval. Up to 15 credits with advisor approval.

Program-Specific Courses Required

COUN PSY/​RP & SE  730 Professional Counseling Orientation3
COUN PSY 740 Abnormal Behavior and Psychopathology3
COUN PSY 791 Foundations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling3
COUN PSY 800 Theories of Counseling3
COUN PSY 801 Assessment and Testing in Mental Health Counseling3
COUN PSY 802 Group Dynamics Processing and Counseling3
COUN PSY 804 Research and Evaluation in Mental Health Counseling3
COUN PSY 805 Helping Relationships and Techniques3
COUN PSY 806 Supervised Practicum in Counseling I3
COUN PSY 807 Supervised Practicum in Counseling II2-5
COUN PSY 808 Supervised Practicum in Counseling III: Advanced2-5
COUN PSY 825 Counseling Psychology Techniques With Families3
COUN PSY/​RP & SE  850 Consultation Procedures for Counselors3
COUN PSY 860 Social and Cultural Foundations of Counseling3
COUN PSY 865 Lifestyle and Career Development3
SOC WORK 453 Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse2-4

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

3.00 GPA required.

Other Grade Requirements

Students are required to attain a minimum course grade of B for all coursework that fulfills the 48-credit requirement.

Probation Policy

When concerns arise about a student’s performance which warrants immediate attention, a non-routine review will be initiated. Concerns that would prompt a nonroutine review include: academic proficiency (e.g., grade of BC or lower in a required course); clinical competence and/or termination from a practicum placement; interpersonal functioning; and/or unethical behaviors and/or interactions. The student will be notified of the concern by his/her advisor or the training director. The Master’s Training Committee will discuss the matter to determine whether the concern will be taken to the full faculty for consultation and/or decision. An ad hoc committee will work with the student to create a "development plan" or a "remediation plan" (i.e., student is under probation), depending on the seriousness of the issue(s). If the concern persists after the remediation plan or the issue(s) are deemed irremediable, the committee may recommend dismissal from the program to the full faculty. If the full faculty vote is in agreement with the recommendation for dismissal, the student will be dismissed from the program.

Advisor / Committee

Upon admission to the master’s program, students will be assigned a faculty advisor to facilitate their entry to the program. The faculty advisor has several responsibilities, which include: assisting students with course selection; guiding students’ clinical and professional development; guiding students’ research, including master’s thesis (optional); and giving final approval for master’s work. The advisor is also available to answer other questions and concerns that may arise regarding departmental procedures, licensure issues and practicum placement.

Assessments and Examinations

The Professional Integration Exercise (PIE) is a capstone experience for all master’s students, where they have the opportunity to pull together their learning and skills and their overall professional identity. Through this oral clinical case conceptualization, they have the opportunity to demonstrate to the faculty their readiness as a master’s-level clinician. The PIE will be conducted in late spring during students’ second year of training.

Time Constraints

If students have been absent for five or more years they must petition the counseling psychology faculty, in writing, for readmission. If successful, they must file a new Graduate School application for admission and submit it with a new application fee. Master’s students who do not enroll for a period of five or more years are required to retake some or all Program coursework. All coursework, including deficiencies, must be completed within eight years of admission to the program.

Language Requirements

No language requirements.

Admission to the program is highly competitive. More than 150 master's applications are received each year. The department enrolls 12–15 master's students per year. The application deadline for the master's program is January 5.

In addition to acquired academic competencies and counseling skills, the counseling profession requires a high level of ethical behavior, self-awareness and personal maturity. All are considered in assessing a student's fitness for a career as a professional counselor. The applicant will be expected to meet minimum requirements for admission set by the Graduate School. Department requirements are more rigorous. An undergraduate degree is required for the master's program.

Applicants should have 3 credit hours of introductory psychology and 3 credit hours in statistics or measurement/psychometrics/test construction.  If the applicant has not completed the necessary requirements at the time of application, he or she may be admitted with deficiencies and complete the course work in addition to the program requirements. Prior volunteer or paid work experience in community agencies is important for placement in community agencies for practicum.

All materials listed below must be submitted to the department at the time of application and received by the application deadline:

  • The Graduate School Electronic Application and the associated Counseling M.S. Supplemental Electronic Application.
  • The general Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required and should be taken in or before October for applications during the next year. There are no set cutoff scores in the department, but average scores of admitted students are at approximately the 70th percentile in each area. The subject test in psychology is optional. Scores are considered in conjunction with other admission information in the admission decision.  Scores are to be sent directly from ETS to the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
  • Transcripts from all postsecondary institutions attended must be sent directly to the Department of Counseling Psychology Department. The GPA for the last 60 semester credits (or last two years) of undergraduate work is calculated and should be at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Average undergraduate GPAs of admitted applicants are above 3.3.
  • A statement of one to three pages should address specific goals and interests; background preparation; (both academic and professional), and reasons for graduate study in the Department of Counseling Psychology. This essay is electronically submitted through the Graduate School Application portal.
  • Letters of recommendation should include at least three current letters that address the applicant's professional and scholarly competence and potential. Letters are electronically solicited while completing the Graduate School Application online.
  • All work experiences (volunteer or paid) should be included in the Supplemental Application, whether or not they are counseling related.
  • Publications, presentations and research experiences should be included in the Supplemental Application.

The application process is subject to change.  Applicants should refer to the department website for the most up-to-date information. 

Knowledge and Skills

  • Students will develop knowledge foundational to the practice of mental health counseling including normative and nonnormative human development; individual, group, and couples/family counseling; cultural and social diversity. measurement and evaluation; and exposure to crisis, trauma, and stress.
  • Students will develop skills for effective individual, family, and group counseling for mental health concerns and well-being as well as effective consultation, evaluation and progress monitoring.
  • Students will apply principles associated with multiculturalism, polyculturalism, and social justice.

Professional Conduct

  • Students will develop understanding, identification with and comportment with the profession of mental health counseling including standards of care, moral and ethical principles, professional identity, professional relationships, professional demeanor, self-reflection, and awareness of impact on others.

Faculty:  Professors Hoyt (chair), Gloria, Quintana, Uttal, Wampold; Associate Professors Thompson, Valdez; Faculty Associate Lotta; Clinical Associate Professor Graham; Visiting Assistant Professor Budge