master of science in counseling

The Master of Science in Counseling (MSC) degree program prepares students to work as professional counselors in a variety of settings. The MSC Core and Advanced Area courses are augmented by elective coursework chosen by the student and academic advisor depending on the student’s area of interest and professional goals.


The program consists of sixty (60) semester hours of courses specific to counseling, and includes required practicum and internship experiences. The content, course sequence, and contact hours of the degree program are structured to prepare students for the Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor examinations offered through the Montana Board of Social Work Examiners and Professional Counselors. The Montana Code Annotated sets additional requirements related to post-degree supervised counseling experience as part of the licensing process. 


  1. To provide participants with a broad theoretical base that serves as the basis of a personal model of counseling.
  2. To expose participants to historical, current, and emerging counseling methods that provide options for the best counseling practice.
  3. To provide participants with knowledge and skills that serves as a basis for critically consuming data- based professional literature and informs data-based counselor practice.
  4. To provide participants with opportunities to develop knowledge and skills necessary for self-growth and self-care for continued exemplary practice through time.
  5. To provide participants with clinical experience that serves as the basis for the practice of emerging counseling skills.
  6. To prepare students for passage of the state licensure exam as a basis for entering a professional counselor role.
  7. To deliver knowledge and skills necessary for a professional counselor as set forth in the eight common core areas of the CACREP criteria.  
  8. To prepare students to assume leadership positions in their professions and their communities.




The specific MSC curriculum components are designed to embrace not only the broader UGF mission, but actively incorporate the Providence Leadership Covenant, licensure law standards, and professional counselor preparation guidelines, especially the criteria set forth by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP), as set forth below:



  1. Professional Identity - studies that provide an understanding of all of the following aspects of  professional functioning, including the history and philosophy of the counseling profession, professional roles, technological competence, professional organizations and credentialing, public and private policy processes, advocacy processes, ethical standards of ACA and related entities, and applications of ethical and legal considerations in professional counseling.
  2. Social and Cultural Diversity - studies that provide an understanding of the cultural context of relationships, issues and trends in a multicultural and diverse society, including but not limited to theories, experiences, and practices that integrate multicultural and culture-specific awareness, knowledge, and skills into counseling interactions.
  3. Human Growth and Development - studies that provide an understanding of the nature and needs of individuals at all developmental levels, of various abilities, exceptionalities, and environments.
  4. Career Development - studies that provide an understanding of career development and related life factors and the career counseling processes, techniques, and resources.
  5. Helping Relationships - studies that provide an understanding of counseling and consultation processes, counselor characteristics and behaviors that influence helping processes, counseling theories, essential interviewing and counseling skills, a systems perspective that provides an understanding of family and other systems, and a general framework for understanding and practicing consultation.
  6. Group Work - studies that provide both theoretical and experiential understandings of group purpose, development, dynamics, counseling theories, group counseling methods and skills, and other group approaches.
  7. Assessment- studies that provide an understanding of individual and group approaches to assessment and evaluation, including basic concepts of standardized and non-standardized testing and other assessment techniques, statistical concepts, strategies for selecting, administering, and interpreting assessment and evaluation instruments and techniques, and case conceptualization.
  8. Research and Program Evaluation - studies that provide an understanding of research methods, statistical analysis, needs assessment, including principles, models, and applications of needs assessment, program evaluation, and use of findings to effect program modifications, as well as the use of research to improve counseling effectiveness.


Initial Admission Process and Criteria


To be admitted to the MSC program, all application materials must be submitted at least six weeks before the first semester of intended enrollment in the program.  Course registration will not be permitted until admission to the program is approved.


In addition to the Graduate Studies admission requirements outlined in the Admissions section of this catalog, all prospective MSC students must submit a Statement of Purpose which addresses:


  1. Applicant’s interest in graduate counseling studies in relation to the applicant’s desire to become a counselor.  This should include why the University of Great Falls MSC program is suitable for the applicant.
  2. Assessment of applicant’s personal and professional strengths and experiences, which  would contribute to success in gaining a graduate counseling degree.


After the application file is complete, the applicant may be interviewed by the MSC Program Coordinator.  The purpose of the interview is to provide another source of information regarding the applicant’s appropriateness for training as a counselor.  Based on the information gained from the admission materials and interview, the MSC Coordinator will recommend admission to the program or denial of the application.  


Transfer Credits


Because the MSC program is a 60-credit degree program, up to twelve (12) semester hours of post-baccalaureate credit from an accredited institution of higher education may be transferred toward the MSC degree, provided those hours are not older than 5 years when the student begins the UGF graduate degree program, and those hours are relevant to the student’s academic program as determined and approved by the Coordinator of the MSC program.
The following courses must be taken within the MSC degree program at the University of Great Falls:

MSC 512 Theories of Counseling and Personality Assessment
MSC 517 Techniques of Counseling
MSC 526 Professional Ethics
MSC 607 Group Counseling
MSC 617 Advanced Techniques of Counseling
MSC 695 Counseling Practicum
MSC 696 Advanced Counseling Internship


Admission to Advanced Candidacy


In order to enroll in Advanced Area core classes and to apply for Practica and Internship, students must apply for and be accepted into Advanced Candidacy.  The Advanced Candidacy application should be completed at least three weeks before the start of the semester in which the student intends to enroll in Advanced Core classes.  Applications are available from the MSC Coordinator’s office and from the Academic Program Assistant for Graduate Studies.  To qualify for degree candidacy, a student must:

  • have a GPA of 3.0 or better, and
  • have completed all of the following courses:
            MSC 500     Professional Orientation
            MSC 508     Psychopathology
            MSC 512     Theories of Counseling *
            MSC 516     Statistics and Research Methods
            MSC 517     Techniques of Counseling *
            MSC 526     Professional Ethics*
            MSC 529     Developmental Psychology
  • have completed at least 12 semester hours of the above courses at the University of Great Falls
  • have a B or better.


The Candidacy Committee will review the Application for Advanced Candidacy and inform the student of his/her candidacy status before the student will be allowed to enroll in Advanced Core classes.


Qualified Continuation


Professional counseling is a combination of knowledge, skill, and art, in which the uniqueness and personality of the counselor have enormous influences on relationship building and counselor effectiveness. It is imperative that each student progressing through the MSC degree program be willing to grow in self-awareness and be open to direction from faculty. Students are also expected to exhibit the highest professional and ethical standards of practice and to actively contribute to the well-being of clients and other students.


Successful completion of the Master of Science in Counseling program is based on the demonstration of competence in academic, professional, and personal areas as they relate to a student's professional objectives. The faculty has a professional responsibility to assess the academic, professional, and personal development of every student in the MSC program.  As part of the student review and retention policy of the UGF Graduate Studies, faculty may share information about student progress with one another.


All students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 to graduate from the MSC program. Only two (2) grades of C or below are accepted for degree completion.  If a student’s cumulative grade point average falls below 3.0, the student is placed on academic probation and has until the completion of the next semester of enrollment to restore the GPA to at least a 3.0. Failure to do so will result in dismissal from the MSC program.


In addition to maintaining a cumulative grade point average of 3.0, specific courses are considered essential to successful progression through the MSC program. Students must earn a minimum of “B” in Techniques of Counseling, Professional Ethics, Group Counseling, Advanced Techniques of Counseling, and the Counseling Practicum. Internships are graded on a Pass or Fail basis. If the student does not achieve the minimum requirement, the student cannot enroll in sequence courses until the student retakes the course and completes it with a grade of “B” or better.


Assessment is an ongoing process that begins with admission to the MSC program, and continues through a final comprehensive review.  Accumulation of credits and satisfactory grades are not a guarantee of successful program completion.  MSC students are assessed for fitness as counseling professionals.  Assessed characteristics include but are not limited to: self-awareness, self-confidence, resilience, balance, emotional stability, communication skills, professional presentation, and interpersonal skills.  


Personal Growth Experience


Effective counselors strive for self-awareness, personal congruence, and their own continual personal growth.  Prior to or during the practicum and internship, all students are required to participate in a personal growth experience, which includes receiving a minimum 12 hours of personal counseling, either individual or group in nature.


Many students choose to remain in personal counseling beyond the minimum 12-hour requirement.  During the internship, many students have recognized the value of working through personal issues so that they do not interfere with professional performance and service to clients.  Participating in a personal growth experience will be documented by the student in the form of a written evaluation of the experience.


Program of Study


The MSC program requires 60 credit hours of the outlined course work.  The program typically takes two calendar years (Fall, Spring, and Summer sessions) of full-time study to complete.  Students who are employed full-time, and/or have other outside obligations are strongly encouraged to attend MSC courses on a part-time basis.  Part-time attendance will extend the length of time required to graduate, but will enhance academic and personal success.


It is important for students be familiar with the sequential course structure of the MSC program.  Course emphases move from a focus on foundations in the history and theories of counseling and related fields, to skill acquisition and practical experiences. The MSC curriculum sequence is designed so that students gain competency and integrate the content into a meaningful, practical body of professional knowledge and skills.  Students are expected to become increasingly autonomous in their professional activities, academic and otherwise, as they progress through the program.


The clinical practicum course undertaken near the end of the program is designed to facilitate development of higher levels of counseling skills.  Before enrolling for Practicum credits, students must complete a Practicum Application, for approval by the Program Coordinator, and have completed a minimum of 40 credit hours.  These 40 hours must include the Core Courses.  Proof of professional liability insurance must be provided by the student prior to enrollment in Practicum.


Practicum and Intership Handbook 



Course Prerequisites


Prerequisites must be completed successfully before enrollment in the next course in the series.  Concurrent enrollment of a course with its prerequisite is not permitted.


MSC 516     Statistics and Research Procedure is a prerequisite to
MSC 510     Outcome and Program Evaluation, and
MSC 515     Standardized Testing and Individual Assessment.
MSC 512     Theories of Counseling and Personality Assessment is a prerequisite to
MSC 517     Techniques of Counseling.
MSC 517     Techniques of Counseling is a prerequisite to
MSC 607     Group Counseling, and
MSC 617     Advanced Techniques of Counseling
MSC 512, 517, and 607 must be completed prior to enrollment in
MSC 695     Counseling Practicum.
MSC 695     must be completed prior to enrollment in
MSC 696     Advanced Counseling Internship




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