Master’s in Clinical Counseling – Master of Science (M.S.)
Train to perform a vital role as a counselor with specialized knowledge and skills in mental health and rehabilitation service delivery.
A dynamic master’s in clinical counseling degree with specializations in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
Clinical counselors, especially those with specialized skills, play a crucial role in helping individuals facing mental health or disability-related problems reach their vocational, social, and personal goals. In Illinois Institute of Technology’s Clinical Counseling M.S. program, you’ll gain expertise in serving individuals with various needs in several clinical settings.
Our program provides a comprehensive education in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling and encompasses multicultural factors such as culture, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. In addition to counseling theory and evidence-based practices, you’ll develop a strengths-based approach to clinical counseling, ultimately learning how to empower clients to reach their optimal mental health and personal wellness.
Mission and Objectives
The mission of the M.S. in Clinical Counseling program (CCP) at Illinois Tech is to offer a student-focused and evidence-based counseling curriculum that prepares students to become professional counselors trained to assist a diverse group of people who experience a mental illness, disability, and/or a chronic illness across the lifespan. The CCP prepares prospective clinical rehabilitation and clinical mental health counselors for employment in numerous settings including mental health agencies, private counseling practice, public/private rehabilitation agencies, hospitals, correctional institutions, public schools, rehabilitation centers, social service agencies, and other organizations serving individuals with disabilities and mental health issues. It also provides advanced training for individuals presently employed in agencies and facilities offering professional counseling services.
The mission of the program is accomplished by training future professional counselors in the skills, research, evidence-based practices, and knowledge most relevant to the practice of clinical rehabilitation and clinical mental health counseling—based on the student’s chosen track specialization. Before students can graduate, they must demonstrate learning and competence in the following foundational areas:
- History, philosophy, and trends of both rehabilitation and mental health counseling
- Professional, ethical, and legal considerations that influence the practice of rehabilitation and mental health counseling
- Intake, assessment, and evaluation skills
- Diagnosis of mental disorders
- Individual, group, and family counseling interventions
- Rehabilitation and mental health counseling theory and evidence-based interventions
- Role and function of clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling within the context of a variety of clinical practice settings
- Employment trends, career counseling, and job demands in a dynamic twenty-first century workforce
- Medical and psychological implications of chronic illness and disability, including substance abuse, dependence, and the potential for coexistence with other disorders
- Case management skills, including the utilization of community resources and multidisciplinary team approaches in multiple clinical settings
- Multicultural counseling competencies
- Professional organizations, preparation standards and credentials relevant to the practice of clinical rehabilitation and clinical mental health counseling
- Crisis, disaster and trauma assessment, intervention, and emergency preparedness
- Research methodology, including program evaluation
- Critical evaluation of research and the ability to incorporate the evolving fund of knowledge in the professional literature into clinical counseling practice
- Theory and etiology of addictions and addictive behaviors
- Evidence-based counseling strategies and techniques for prevention and intervention of addictions
The Clinical Counseling Program has specialization tracks in two areas: (1) Clinical Mental Health Counseling and (2) Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling. Specific learning objectives for each of these specializations are as follows:
- Clinical Mental Health Counseling
- Intake interview, mental status evaluation, biopsychosocial history, mental health history, and psychological assessment for treatment planning and caseload management.
- Techniques and interventions for prevention and treatment of a broad range of mental health issues.
- Strategies for interfacing with the legal system regarding court-referred clients.
- Strategies for interfacing with integrated behavioral health care professionals.
- Strategies to advocate for persons with mental health issues.
- Ability to apply multicultural competencies to mental health counseling.
- Ability to apply and adhere to ethical and legal standards in counseling practice.
- Ability to utilize a variety of theoretical approaches (cognitive, behavioral, etc.) and treatment modalities in order to assist individuals with behavioral and mental health-related distress.
- Ability to apply effective strategies to promote client understanding of and access to a variety of community-based resources.
- Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling
- Diagnostic interviews, mental status examinations, symptom inventories, psychoeducational and personality assessments, biopsychosocial histories, assessments for treatment planning, and assessments for assistive technology needs.
- Career- and work-related assessments, including job analysis, work site modification, transferrable skills analysis, job readiness, and work hardening.
- Strategies to advocate for persons with disabilities.
- Strategies for interfacing with medical and allied health professionals, including interdisciplinary treatment teams.
- Strategies to consult with and educate employers, educators, and families regarding accessibility, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, and accommodations.
- Ability to apply multicultural competencies to rehabilitation counseling.
- Ability to appropriately use assistive technology principles to enhance client quality of life.
- Ability to apply and adhere to ethical and legal standards in rehabilitation counseling.
- Ability to apply knowledge of disability policy, financing, and regulatory processes to improve service delivery opportunities in rehabilitation counseling.
- Ability to apply effective strategies to promote client understanding of and access to a variety of community-based resources.
As a student in the master’s in clinical counseling program, you’ll experience the following benefits:
- A CACREP-accredited Clinical Counseling M.S. The program length (60 credit hours) is required by the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) and is necessary to meet most counseling licensure laws in the United States. Following the program, you’ll be prepared to take the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) exam or become a professional clinical counselor.
- Two in-demand specializations. Choose from the Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling Specialization or the Clinical Mental Health Specialization, according to your interests and career goals.
- Internships and practica opportunities. Apply what you’ve learned in practica and internships that align with your specialization to gain preparation for work as a practitioner. You’ll also connect with valuable contacts in the field and learn skills that cannot be taught in a classroom.
- Part-time option. If you’re currently working in the field and want to pursue your degree at a slower pace, you can choose a part-time option with evening or distance courses. You’ll also be able to complete the required fieldwork at your place of employment. The part-time program takes approximately three years to complete.
- Courses are primarily live and in-person. There are remote options available for students who cannot attend in person, as well as evening, weekend, and distance course options for working professional students.
After graduating from the master’s in clinical counseling program, you’ll be prepared to become a rehabilitation counselor or a professional clinical counselor—two essential roles within the mental healthcare field.
Rehabilitation counselor opportunities
As the population ages and the number of individuals with disabilities increases, rehab counselors are increasingly in demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that growth for rehabilitation counselors from 2020 to 2030 will be greater than average, with 10% projected growth in the United States and 7% projected growth for Illinois.
Clinical counselor opportunities
Professional clinical counselors are in high demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2020–2030 projections, projected growth for mental health counselors will be much greater than average, with 23% projected growth in the United States and 16% projected growth for Illinois.
Both rehabilitation and clinical counselors work in a variety of settings, including:
- State and federal rehabilitation agencies (e.g., Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services)
- Community rehabilitation programs
- Veterans Administration
- Rehabilitation centers
- Correctional institutions
- College and university disability resource centers
- Organizations serving individuals with physical, psychiatric, mental, social, or emotional disabilities
- Private practices
Disclaimer for prospective students, please read.
Master’s in clinical counseling curriculum
In the clinical counseling master’s program, you’ll learn clinical counseling principles with an emphasis on the following (and others):
- Psychiatric rehabilitation
- Individual and group counseling skills
- Assessment in rehabilitation and mental health counseling
- Evidence-based treatment of mental disorders
- Medical and psychosocial aspects of disability
- Ethical and professional issues, including leadership and advocacy
- Diversity and multicultural considerations
You’ll also complete fieldwork at a mental health or rehabilitation facility to gain practical work with clients.
Clinical Counseling M.S. admissions requirements
Applications are accepted for the fall and spring terms and are considered on a rolling basis. Minimum requirements for admission include:
- Bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 18 credit hours in psychology or a closely related field
- Minimum GPA of 3.0
- Two letters of recommendation (academic and/or employer)
- Professional statement
- Transcripts from all post-secondary institutions (transcripts must be uploaded into the online application system)
All applications are evaluated holistically based on GPA, recommendations, and the professional statement. GRE scores are not required. Finalists will be contacted for a virtual interview.
Certification and Licensure
As a graduate of the clinical counseling master’s program, you will be eligible for certification and licensure relevant to your specialization:
- Students completing the program with the Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling specialization are eligible to sit for the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) examination and become a CRC, a distinguished national certification required by most rehabilitation settings.
- Students completing the Clinical Mental Health Counseling specialization are eligible to sit for the National Certified Counselor (NCC) exam through the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).
- Once the student passes the CRC and/or NCC exam, they are eligible to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Illinois. After working for a minimum of two years under the supervision of a qualified clinical supervisor, individuals are eligible to become a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) in Illinois.
Students who intend to move outside of Illinois are strongly encouraged to understand licensure laws in their intended state of residency. If the state requires coursework not contained in our curriculum, please let your adviser know so we can work with you.
Programs Features and Data
The clinical counseling program is designed to prepare students to function as counselors for persons with a variety of needs, including mental health issues impacting the individual and/or family, and persons with physical or mental disabilities to address psychosocial and vocational adjustment. The program is grounded in a strengths-based philosophy of client empowerment where the counselor’s role is to assist individuals to realize their optimum level of functioning to include mental health and personal wellness, vocational adjustment, educational adjustment, and independent living. This is done through the use of a variety of therapeutic interventions, including individual, group and/or family counseling, diagnosis, case management, and the provision or coordination of evaluation, training, placement, and follow-up services. The demand for rehabilitation and clinical mental health counselors has exceeded the supply in recent years in public, private, nonprofit, and for-profit sectors.
Why Choose Illinois Tech’s Clinical Counseling Master’s Program?
Beyond our distinctive, CACREP-accredited education in clinical counseling, you’ll benefit from:
- A Chicago location with hundreds of opportunities for networking, internships, and fieldwork.
- A high-value degree from an institution with a career placement rate of 92.8%.
- A one-of-a-kind Elevate program that offers real-world experiences to help you secure a strong career. Learn more about Elevate.
Assistantships and Scholarships for the Master’s in Clinical Counseling Program
- Graduate pathway scholarship: All students admitted to a master’s program at Illinois Tech are automatically considered for a merit-based scholarship at the time of admission. Award amounts vary based on reported cumulative GPA.
- Graduate research funding: Individual faculty members may have research grants that fund student effort. Although not guaranteed, the Department of Psychology often offers funding opportunities to help cover costs of student research projects (e.g., recruitment expenditures, material costs, participant incentives). It also often offers funds for student travel to conferences to facilitate the presentation of student-authored research.
- Grants from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA): These allow Illinois Tech to provide funding for students pursuing the rehabilitation counseling specialization with an interest in vocational rehabilitation counseling and who are eligible to work in the United States. To learn about the availability of grant-funded training opportunities through RSA, contact the program director.
- Partial-tuition scholarships: Sometimes available for international students in either specialization.
- Graduate assistantships: Sometimes available. Graduate assistants receive partial tuition remission and a monthly stipend, along with assessment, teaching, or research experience. Request information to learn more.
- For students interested in financial aid, please see the Illinois Tech Office of Financial Aid website.
Clinical Counseling Master’s Program Tracks
Track 1: Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling
Learn how to work with persons with disabilities or in state vocational/private sector rehabilitation. In this track, you’ll conduct research projects on disability and complete your fieldwork experiences in service to the disability community. Practicum and internship experiences for the rehabilitation counseling track include placements in the state VR agency, the VA, private sector rehabilitation facilities, rehabilitation center, hospitals, and more.
Track 2: Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Train to become a professional clinical counselor. In this track, you’ll learn how to empower persons with mental health and/or behavioral issues, conduct relevant research, and complete fieldwork related to these experiences. Practicum and internship experiences include placements in mental health and counseling centers, private practices, outpatient mental health facilities, mental health and behavioral health hospitals, substance abuse treatment facilities, and others.
Illinois Tech's CCP program is CACREP-accredited through October 31, 2024.
“Illinois Tech thoroughly prepared me to provide integrative and strength-based counseling to individuals with diverse mental health and rehabilitation needs. Specifically, the rehabilitation graduate faculty supported me and encouraged me in many roles—as a student, staff, leader, and human. As the first woman in my family to graduate with a professional degree, it was an honor to do that at Illinois Tech among a diverse student population, many of whom could relate to my moral and cultural values.”