Work full time while earning your master’s degree in school and mental health counseling.

The School and Mental Health Counseling program is designed for working professionals embarking on careers as school and/or mental health counselors. The program is organized around two tracks: Mental Health Counseling Licensure (LPC), and School Counseling Certification and Mental Health Counseling Licensure (LPC).

What Sets Us Apart

  The only program in the country that blends school and mental health counseling in an executive format
93% pass 93% of Penn GSE's counseling graduates pass the National Counselor Examination for Licensure on their first attempt as students in the second year of their program prior to graduation
  The program is entirely classroom-based and field-based; no online course component

About the Program

The program is organized around two tracks: Mental Health Counseling Licensure (LPC), and School Counseling Certification and Mental Health Counseling Licensure (LPC).  

Application Deadline
Rolling until May 1
Entry term(s)
Summer
Course requirements
20 course units

Practical experience componentFirst year practicum (approximately 5 hours per week)
Second year internship (approximately 20 hours per week)

Culminating experienceCapstone portfolio 

LicensureLicensed professional counselor (LPC) eligibility and school counseling certification

Format(s)
  • Executive-Style
Programs for Working Professionals
Overview

The mission of the School and Mental Health Counseling program is to provide the highest level of counselor preparation for work in schools, community mental health agencies, universities, and private practice. The program can also serve as preparation for doctoral level study.

Using an executive-learning format, students earn their degree while maintaining their full-time employment by attending two years of monthly weekend classes and one week of intense study each of the two summers. After graduating from the two-year program, students will be prepared for such careers as school counselors, college and career counselors, or mental health counseling professionals who work in schools, colleges, community agencies, or hospitals.

Please note that the program does not offer a part-time option.

Curriculum

The program is built on the faculty's contention that school and mental health counseling need to be better integrated in order to best serve children, youth, and their families, particularly those who present complex needs in both school and community settings.

Our cohort model program allows students to work closely with their peers through a sequentially structured curriculum of courses and field training. The instructional methods include an inquiry-based approach, engaged scholarship, and problem solving within context. Supervised field experiences are integral to the program.

For information about courses and requirements, visit the School and Mental Health Counseling M.S.Ed. program in the University Catalog.

Field Placements

A two-semester field placement during each year in the program provides the opportunity for students to learn and practice counseling skills in a professional and supportive environment. Students are matched with placements from our online site placement database of high-quality training sites, including mental health centers, schools, hospitals, and colleges. Students receive supervision both on-site and in a small seminar group format.

  • In Year I, the Practicum placement requires a total of 100 hours in the field, usually a site commitment of 5 hours weekly.
  • In Year II, the Internship placement requires 600 hours in the field, based on the student's choice of program emphasis. This commitment is approximately 20 hours per week over the course of the year.
  • Students who are currently teachers or work in a mental health-related site and wish to use their place of employment for the field training must secure approval both from their employers and the counseling program placement coordinator.

Schedule

The School and Mental Health Counseling master's program meets one weekend per month throughout the year (except for June, in which there is no meeting). Friday classes start at 3:00 PM and end at 9:00 PM. On Saturdays, classes start at 8:30 AM and end at 6:00 PM. Sunday classes begin at 8:30 AM and end at 3:30 PM.

In addition to the monthly weekend sessions, the program also has a nine-day intensive summer session. Summer session classes start at 8:30 AM and end at 6:00 PM, with meal breaks in between the classes. Please note that all students must begin the program in the summer session.

SMHC 2019-2022 Dates

2019 - 2020
 2020 - 2021
2021 - 2022
July 20-28 July 25-Aug. 2 July 24–Aug. 1
Sept. 6-8 Sept. 11-13Sept. 10-12
Oct. 4-6 Oct. 9-11Oct. 8-10
Nov. 1-3 Nov. 6-8Nov. 5-7
Dec. 6-8 Dec. 4-6Dec. 3-5
Jan. 10-12 Jan. 15-17Jan. 14-16
Jan. 31-Feb. 2 Feb. 5-7 Feb. 4-6
Feb. 21-23 Feb. 26-28Feb. 25-27
Mar. 13-15 Mar. 19-21Mar. 18-20
Apr. 3-5 Apr. 9-11Apr. 8-10
May 1-3 May 8-10May 6-8

 

Our Faculty

Penn GSE Faculty Michael J. Nakkula
Professor of Practice
Ed.D., Harvard Graduate School of Education
Penn GSE Faculty Ariane Thomas
Lecturer in Educational Practice
Psy.D., Widener University
Penn GSE Faculty Marsha Richardson
Senior Lecturer
Psy.D., Widener University
Penn GSE Faculty Suzanne G. Fegley
Senior Lecturer
Ph.D., Temple University
Penn GSE Faculty Kyle Schultz
Lecturer in Educational Practice
Ph.D., Widener University
Penn GSE Faculty Sharon M. Ravitch
Professor of Practice
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Linda Lucker Leibowitz
Co-Director, Executive Program in School and Mental Health Counseling
M.A., Villanova University
Penn GSE Faculty Howard C. Stevenson
Constance Clayton Professor of Urban Education
Ph.D., Fuller Graduate School of Psychology

Affiliated Faculty

Shakesha Anderson Clarke  
Clinical Psychologist  
Ph.D., Drexel University 

Meghan DeFino
Licensed Professional Counselor, Remedy Treatment Center
M.S.Ed., University of Pennsylvania

Stephen DiDonato
Associate Director and Assistant Professor, Community and Trauma Counseling Program, Thomas Jefferson University
Ph.D., Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Davido Dupree
Assistant Professor, Community College of Philadelphia
Ph.D., Emory University

Jeanne M. Felter
Chair, Counseling and Behavioral Health Department, Program Director and Associate Professor, Community and Trauma Counseling Program, Thomas Jefferson University
Ph.D., The Catholic University of America

Helen Hamlet  
Professor and Chairperson, Clinical Coordinator, School Counseling Program, Kutztown University  
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania   

Peggy Hickman
Instructor, Penn GSE
Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin

Dwight A. Hood
School Psychologist, School District of Philadelphia
Ph.D., Temple University

Charles Jacob
Lecturer
Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University

Priscilla Jeter-Iles
Director, Field Experiences and Outreach, Arcadia University School of Education
Ed.D , Arcadia University

Maximillian H. Shmidheiser
Clinical Advisor, Clinical Neuropsychologist, Drucker Brain Injury Center & MossRehab, Concussion Center, MossRehab Hospital
PsyD, Widener University

Eric Sparks
Assistant Director, American School Counselor Association
Ed.D., University of North Carolina

Thomas W. Spierling
Psychologist  
Ph.D., Michigan State University   

Jeanne L. Stanley
Adjunct Professor, Penn GSE
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Nicole Warren
School Psychologist, School District of Cheltenham Township
Psy.D./M.B.A., Widener University

Aaron R. Wheeler  
School Psychologist, White Oak School, Baltimore, MD  
Psy.D., Widener University  

"I would come into work the Monday after a program weekend energized because I was able to put what I had learned Friday, Saturday, and Sunday into practice. I saw the impact I was having."

Xavier Brown

School and Mental Health Counseling M.S.Ed., 2017

Our Graduates

A master’s in School and Mental Health Counseling will prepare you for a variety of jobs in the field of mental health and school counseling. You can work as a certified school counselor in elementary or secondary schools; a therapist in mental health agencies/clinics, residential settings, behavioral health programs, drug & alcohol rehabilitation, private practice, and hospital-based programs; and in many other areas of leadership in both school and clinical care settings.

Alumni Careers

  • PreK-12 school counselors, School District of Philadelphia
  • Associate Director of Counseling, Freire Charter School
  • Therapist, Starting Point Inc. of New Jersey
  • Licensed Psychotherapist, Remedy Treatment Center, Inc.
  • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) & Adjunct Instructor, Jefferson University Hospitals
  • Mental Health Counselors, NHS Services
  • Licensed Psychotherapist, private practice in mindfulness-based psychotherapy
  • Doctoral Student, St. Joseph’s University

Admissions & Financial Aid

Please visit our Admissions and Financial Aid pages for specific information on the application requirements, as well as information on tuition, fees, financial aid, scholarships, and fellowships.

Contact Information

Contact us if you have any questions about the program.

Office of Admissions and
Financial Aid

Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania
3700 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-6415
admissions@gse.upenn.edu
finaid@gse.upenn.edu

Program Contact

Frank Wenger
Associate Director, SMHC
(215) 573-6459
frankw@upenn.edu

Please view information from our Admissions and Financial Aid Office for specific information on the cost of this program.

Penn GSE is committed to making your graduate education affordable, and we offer generous scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships.

Licensure & Certification Information

State Counseling Licensure & National Counseling Certification

Currently, toward the end of their second year in the program, students sit for the National Counselor Exam (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Exam (NCMHCE), which the program administers at Penn GSE. Passing the NCE exam grants students the status of eligibility as a PA Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a National Certified Counselor (NCC) once their 3,000* hours of post-master’s supervised counseling work is completed. The NCC credential signals to licensing boards and employers that the program from which the student has graduated has been approved by a national credentialing board. The NBCC defines the credential as such: “National Certified Counselors (NCC) are board certified counselors who offer the highest standards of practice because they have met stringent education, examination, supervision, experience, and ethical requirements.” However, the NBCC has recently made changes to this program, so the last application cycle for our students will be the fall of 2023. Following this date, students will sit for their licensure exam after graduation but without the NCC designation.

* Each state has its own licensing requirements so please check with your state board for both the internship licensing requirements and exact number of required post-master's hours.

State School Counselor Certification: PreK-12

Toward the end of their second year in the program, students sit for the PRAXIS II Professional Counselor Exam (5421). Students can choose from a variety of testing sites both in and out of Pennsylvania. Students who pass this exam and complete all the coursework and internship requirements are eligible for certification as a Professional School Counselor (Education Specialist I) in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and can be certified as PreK-12 school counselors. Students living outside of Pennsylvania are well positioned to earn similar certification in other states but must confirm their state’s requirements in advance of their internship field experiences.