Licensed Professional Counselor Schools and Licensure Programs

Licensed professional counselors give advice and support to clients with mental, emotional and/or substance abuse disorders. At least a master's degree is required in order to work in this field. Get information on how to choose a school, see what you'll study, and learn what's required for licensing as a professional counselor. Schools offering Mental Health Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Might I Look for in a School?

To work as an LPC, you'll need a minimum of a master's degree in counseling. It likely will prove beneficial to choose a graduate program that's been credentialed by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). This agency evaluates master's and doctoral programs to make sure they meet national standards set by counseling professionals and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation ( CACREP also ensures that counseling programs meet education and experience requirements for state licensure and certain voluntary certifications, including the National Certified Counselor (NCC) designation offered through the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

Programs Accredited master's or doctoral degree in counseling; accreditation through CACREP usually preferred
Common Courses Counseling theory, group counseling, ethics, multicultural and professional issues in counseling; internships required for both master's and doctoral programs
Getting Licensed Requirements vary by state; include graduation from a graduate-level program and passing state-approved exam
Job Description Involves diagnosing, preventing and treating those with mental, emotional and/or substance abuse issues; leading group or individual sessions

What Might I Study?

Through a master's degree program in counseling, you'll learn to diagnose and treat patients with mental and emotional disorders, as well as assess their successes and failures. You'll likely explore developmental psychology and learn to counsel patients about beneficial lifestyle and career choices. Other topics of study might include counseling theories, group counseling and ethics. Most master's programs in counseling include one or more supervised internships.

In a Ph.D. in Counseling program, you might examine advanced counseling and appraisal techniques, as well as multicultural and professional issues in counseling. You also might take courses aimed at developing your supervisory and leadership skills. Most programs incorporate classes in research methodology, which you can put to use while preparing your dissertation. Your doctoral program also might include a practicum or internship.

What Are the Licensure Requirements?

Though licensure requirements for professional counselors vary by state, there are a number of commonalities. These include graduation from a master's or doctoral program in counseling with coursework in core areas such as counseling strategies and ethics, completion of an internship and at least 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience, and commitment to a code of ethics. As a licensure candidate, you'll also have to pass NBCC's National Counselor Examination (NCE) or another state-approved exam.

What is a Licensed Professional Counselor?

A licensed professional counselor (LPC) is a state-credentialed mental health professional who diagnoses and treats individuals who have mental, emotional and/or substance abuse disorders. Known in some states as licensed mental health counselors (LMHCs) or licensed clinical professional counselors (LCPCs), these mental health service providers meet with patients on an individual basis, as well as through family and group sessions. As an LPC, you also might practice techniques aimed at preventing mental and emotional disorders, in addition to researching more productive forms of therapy.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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