Written by: Rachel Schneider
Last Updated: May 2020
Learners interested in earning a counseling degree in Alabama should refer to the rankings below to learn more about the best Alabama counseling programs. The in-depth rankings include information about curriculum components, course topics, credit requirements, tuition rates, and admissions requirements, allowing prospective students to choose the program that best suits their specific needs.
The counseling profession features a variety of specialty areas including school counseling, mental health counseling, and rehabilitation counseling. Annual mean wages for counselors in Alabama vary across disciplines, ranging between $42,480-$53,120.
Before professionals can practice as counselors in Alabama, they must earn their license by satisfying state-specific requirements. Before candidates can take their licensing exam and begin practicing, they must earn a master's degree in counseling from an accredited institution. All applicants must hold a master's degree from a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.
Career Outlook for Counselors in Alabama
Counselors in Alabama experience different career outlooks and employment levels depending on the discipline. Alabama reports an employment level of 4,460 for school counselors. These counselors work with students to help them achieve their educational and career goals. The state also employs 1,860 mental health counselors, who work with patients to create treatment plans for a variety of mental health conditions.
Alabama also employs 830 rehabilitation counselors. In the rehabilitation discipline, counselors work with clients dealing with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities, helping them live independently.
Counselors can pursue careers in a variety of industries with the highest levels of employment in the individual and family services industry. Professionals can take advantage of the highest salary opportunities in elementary and secondary schools. Other residential care facilities offer the highest concentration of employment for counselors.
Data from the BLS shows that Alabama is the state with the third-highest average salary for counselors, behind New Jersey and Nevada.
Alabama State University ("ASU")
College of Education Department of Instructional Support
ASU's College of Education is the oldest subdivision within its entire academic realm. Like its cohorts, the College of Education does an admirable job of adhering to the institutional motto of, "When we teach class, the world takes note." Since 1867, faculty has exhibited its collective commitment to this philosophy by preparing pupils to improve their own future students' lives through learning.
Clinical Mental Health Counseling
ASU's Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree is a 60-credit program. A bifurcated curriculum features both theoretical classroom instruction and practical skills development. The latter includes two mandatory 600-hour internships at mental health agencies and/or counseling facilities in the local community. A 100-hour practicum is also required for program completion. All curricular components strive to prepare students to address a diversity of client needs via effective professional intervention.
ASU offers a Master of Education in School Counseling degree that entails successful completion of a 48-credit program. Students develop essential academic knowledge and practical skills through a two-pronged educational delivery format. Besides classroom lecture instruction, curricular requirements include two internships of 600 clinical hours at elementary, junior high, and high schools in the local area. A 100 clinical hour practicum is also mandatory. Primary instructional focus is the American School Counselor Association Model that emphasizes counseling program formulation, implementation, and reevaluation. The overriding learning objective is equipping students with the expertise and skills required to affect effective professional counseling interventions.
Alabama State University's College of Education currently holds full accreditation of the National Council for Accreditation on Teacher Education ("NCATE"). Both of the above-described counseling degree programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs ("CACREP"). In January 2013, ASU made history by becoming one of only eight historically Black colleges and universities to achieve CACREP accreditation for both of the previously discussed graduate Counseling degree programs.
Dr. LaWanda Edwards, Coordinator
232 Ralph Abernathy Hall
Auburn University ("AU")
College of Education Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation, and Counseling
The Special Education, Rehabilitation, and Counseling Department of Auburn University's College of Education has a stated educational mission of "help[ing] students develop â¦ [necessary] tools â¦ to address psychological, social, and environmental [obstacles] to educational [attainment] and personal development." It strives to fulfill this laudable aim through a combination of traditional classroom instruction and practical skills development in clinical settings under close supervision.
Counselor Education and Supervision
This is an 86-credit doctoral program that culminates in conferral of a Counselor Education and Supervision Ph.D. The primary program focus is preparing counselors to interact and evoke effective interventions in an increasingly diverse society. It strives toward that end by training students for zealous advocacy of greater social equity. It facilitates this outcome by emphasizing relevant legal, ethical, and technological proficiency enhancement. Curricular requirements include practica and internships. The stated program objective is preparing professionals in teaching, clinical practice, research, professional development, and supervisory positions to assume responsible roles in higher clinical mental health and higher education settings.
All coursework requirements for the M.Ed. in School Counseling program are structured to accommodate both part-time and full-time study. Typical post-graduation employment settings are public or private elementary, junior high, and high schools in school counselor positions. AU's M.Ed. in School Counseling program curriculum consists of 48 or 51 credits that include two internships and a practicum custom-tailored to a student's individual career goals. Offering high-caliber graduate education is the fundamental aim of the School Counseling program. Departmental faculty strives toward that end by providing students with theoretical and practical tools necessary to dissemble clients' psychological, social, emotional, and environmental barriers to self-improvement and educational advancement.
Cultural diversity is of major emphasis in order to ensure adequate impartation of skills vital to providing competent counseling services to diverse clientele. The University of Auburn M.Ed. in School Counseling program is designed to accomplish an overall learning objective and it is thorough preparation for guidance counselor positions in K-12 educational facilities. Successful program completion also meets all academic requirements for Alabama Class A School Counseling Certification.
Students may take choose one of two approaches to pursue a M.Ed. in School Counseling at Auburn University. They are as follows:
- Traditional approach
This option is available only to prospective students with undergraduate or graduate educator certification in a teaching discipline or graduate-level educational certification in a related field.
- Expanded approach
This strategy is mandatory for applicants who lack any professional educator certification whatsoever. It is, however, optional for prospective students who have professional educator certification from another state and/or fewer than two years of work experience. Passage of the Alabama Educator Certification Teaching Program and National Counseling Examination are required for licensure of expanded approach graduates.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has accredited Auburn University and the AU College of Education. The M.Ed. In School Counseling program is CACREP-accredited and has the official approval of the Alabama State Board of Education. A noteworthy fact is that Alabama is a signatory of the National Association of State Directors of Education and Certification Interstate Agreement. Endorsement ensures the facilitation of recent graduates' teaching certification applications by all member states.
2084 Haley Center
Auburn, AL 36849
Phone: (334) 844-7676
Fax: (334) 844-7677
Jacksonville State University ("JSU")
College of Education and Professional Studies, Department of Educational Resources
JSU's stated institutional mission is to provide distinctive educational, social, and cultural experiences to a diverse student body by fostering a learning-centric, challenging, and responsive academic ambiance. Likewise, the stated Educational Resources departmental mission is providing instruction commiserate with each student's level of skill, knowledge, and propensity toward their target academic concentration. All programs offered by the Department place special emphases on institutional and instructional technological improvements.
The M.Ed. in Community Agency Counseling, Community Counseling Concentration has a mission of preparing grad students who reside in northeastern Alabama and surrounding areas to succeed while advancing toward: 1) community agency counselor positions; 2) terminal degrees in Counselor Education; and, 3) Georgia and Alabama state Licensed Professional Counselor licensure. This 30-credit program includes two compulsory internships and ongoing mentorship by an experienced faculty member. This mentor/protÃ©gÃ© relationship helps identify, train, and assist students in developing or enhancing skills and inclinations needed for competent counseling and creative decision making in response to unprecedented emergent challenges of modern times.
The stated mission of JSU's 30-credit M.Ed. in School Counseling program is training professional school counselors. Curricular requirements include two mandatory one-semester internships and classroom instruction in sub-specialty areas such as program development, individual and group appraisal, and child/adolescent counseling. A special emphasis is also placed on proficiency in applying state Education Department Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance Plans that embody national standards. Faculty ascribes high value to exemplary scholarship, teaching, and public service. Overall program focus is educating school counselors capable of effectively addressing the career, personal, scholastic, and social needs of secondary school pupils. There is also endemic encouragement of student intellectual development, social conscience enhancement, and self-awareness throughout the academic culture.
Jacksonville State University College of Education and Professional Studies is NCATE-accredited. Its M.Ed. in School Counseling degree program is also NCATE-accredited and intends to pursue CACREP accreditation in the near future. JSU's M.Ed. in Community Counseling holds dual CACREP and NCATE accreditation.
Dr. Tommy Turner, Department Head
700 Pelham Road North
Jacksonville, AL 36265-1602
(256) 782-5781 (JSU1) | 1-800-231-5291(JAX1)
The University of Alabama ("U of A")
College of Education, Department of Educational Studies in Psychology, Research Methodology & Counseling
Offering quality graduate degree programs is the concise self-stated departmental mission. Faculty members within the department tirelessly labor toward this overall objective by providing quality instruction in a broad array of academic subjects in counseling and related disciplines. Each graduate counseling degree offered by the Department of Educational Studies in Psychology, Research Methodology and Counseling at U of A's College of Education have specific emphases that vary.
Clinical Mental Health Counseling
At U of A, the Master's of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree is primarily designed to prepare students for competent professional practice in private and public mental health environments. The 60-credit program encompasses traditional coursework as well as practical skills development and application via clinical internship participation. Several specialty concentrations are available, including Play Therapy, Couple/Family Counseling, Addictions Counseling, and practice specializations involving unique counseling methods or clientele populations.
Counselor Education and Supervision
Doctoral candidates in the Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education receive intense theoretical and practical preparation for a broad range of careers in professional counseling. Notable examples of prestigious occupational options open only to Counselor Education Ph.D. conferees are college or university counseling educator, Rehabilitation or Student Personnel Administrator, Counselor Supervisor, and Counseling Specialist. Primary educational emphasis is on the development of expert research skills. Program requirements include 60 post-graduate degree credits or 90 post-undergraduate degree credits of theoretical instruction. Completion of a comprehensive research dissertation is also required for doctoral degree conferral.
All components of the Counselor Education Ph.D. program curriculum were constructed to incorporate an optimal blend of Phenomenological, Social Constructivist, and Pragmatic principles. Stated overriding program objectives include:
- Recruiting entry-level counselors for advanced graduate study that leads to conferral of a terminal doctoral degree in Counselor Education and Supervision
- Promoting knowledge acquisition and skills development in teaching, supervisory, leadership, counseling, and other related aspects to ensure successful supervisory, research, higher education, and private practice career paths
- Quality assurance of doctoral degree conferees' adequate competence in empirical analysis, independent research, and findings dissemination
- Preparing doctoral program graduates to assume positions of professional leadership in order to advance beneficial agendas of counseling and related disciplines
All curricular components of the 48-credit Master's of Education in School Counseling degree program are oriented toward providing prospective school counselors with essential skills relevant to their desired career path. These include devising and implementing effective developmental counseling and guidance programs within all levels of educational institutions.
All of the above-described graduate counseling degrees are accredited by CACREP and the Alabama State Department of Education. The M.Ed. in School Counseling program holds additional NCATE accreditation. The Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision program is holds membership in the International Registry of Counselor Education Programs ("IRCEP"). The program has also received official IRCEP recognition for its exemplary efforts in the international development and recognition of the counseling profession.
Dr. Elizabeth Wilson, Executive Director and Professor
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
University of Montevallo ("UM")
College of Education, Department of Counseling
A long-standing tradition of academic excellence is the "calling card" of UM's College of Education. In plain English, this translates into great jobs for grads. Notable departmental distinctions include: 1) Alabama's first Family and Consumer Sciences programs; 2) first educational entity to warranty first and second-year teacher performance with a cost-free guarantee; 3) Alabama's first degree program in Teacher Leadership; 4) Alabama's only National Association of Multicultural Education chapter; 5) Alabama's sole certification training program for teaching the hearing-impaired.
Clinical Mental Health Counseling
A projected growth rate of 36 percent through 2020 for mental health counselors is a persuasive point cited on the Department of Counseling website. The stated purpose for its M.Ed. track in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is preparatory training for counseling practice in agency, hospital, higher education, and mental health clinic environments. Degree conferral requires completion of a Counseling Practicum, two internships, and passage of a comprehensive exam. Successful completion of the 27 track courses in the 60-credit program satisfies education requirements for LPC state licensure.
Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling
Students who choose the Couple, Marriage, and Family Counseling M.Ed. degree track are exposed to educational content drawn from a large body of knowledge bases built by solid empirical research. They also benefit from in-depth instruction on "best practices" for professional counseling methods designed to help clients overcome major obstacles. Program curriculum consists of 60 credits that include a Counseling Practicum, Counseling Internship, and Advanced Internship in Marriage and Family Counseling. Satisfactory grades in the 21 track credits satisfy academic criteria for state licensure as an Alabama Marriage and Family Therapist.
Coursework in UM's M.Ed. degree track in School Counseling prepares students to assist elementary and secondary pupils in attaining maximum success and personal development. The 60-credit program curriculum incorporates two internships, one practicum on counseling, and 15 core track credits. Besides fulfillment of educational requirements for LPC licensure, successful degree completion leads to institutional recommendation for Alabama Class A Counseling and Guidance Certification.
UM's College of Education is NCATE-accredited and every UM Counseling degree program is CACREP-accredited.
Charlotte Daughhetee, Counseling and Leadership Chair and Professor
Montevallo, Alabama 35115
University of North Alabama ("UNA")
College of Education and Human Sciences, Department of Counselor Education
At its outset, UNA's Department of Counselor Education mission statement expresses an institutional commitment to student diversity. The school seeks to fulfill this self-imposed imperative in all of its recruitment, retention, and graduation policies and practices. The Counselor Education Department is especially concerned with this general objective to ensure that graduating class demographics are representative of the clientele and pupils they will soon serve. Faculty members in the Counselor Education Department maintain sustained devotion to their primary professional duty by developing highly skilled and well-trained counseling practitioners. These educators accomplish this through systemized serial academic activities, field and clinical experience, and experiential exercises.
All these instructional formats have a common purpose of student engagement through intellectually rigorous reflection, inquiry, and evaluation. The underlying rationale for this systematic approach is that it creates a collusive atmosphere wherein quantifiable skill and knowledge improvements occur due to collective qualitative growth of both attributes. The ultimate objective of the departmental mission and all instructional impartment methodologies is student inspiration for lifetime pursuit of personal and professional development.
The M.A. in Community Counseling is designed to prepare students to fulfill academic requisites for subsequent state LPC licensure and national certification as Certified Counselors. By strict adherence to all pertinent CACREP Community Counselor education criteria, professors impart professional skill, knowledge, and personal attributes required for adept professional interventions such as consultation, outreach, crisis, intermediate, and long-term counseling. Below is a list of Community Counseling Program learning objectives:
- Development of an adequate comprehension of a community counselor's proper professional role and ethical obligations
- Development of human growth and career knowledge necessary to formulate and facilitate supportive, preventive, and educational counseling programs
- Development and practical application of theoretical knowledge of individual, group, and systemic counseling relationships for effective treatment planning, consultation, and documentation
- Development of sensitivity to and appreciation of cultural and social diversity to best serve diverse clientele
- Knowledge development in the areas of testing tools, assessment, and client interviews
- Development and practical application of theoretical knowledge of research and evaluation methodologies
- Practical knowledge development of relevant technologies available for maximum efficiency in documentary, evaluative, and planning aspects of counseling practice
UNM's 51-credit Community Counseling M.A. degree program curriculum includes a Counseling Practicum and two Counseling Internships required for completion.
The UNA M.A. in School Counseling program is designed to prepare students to satisfy all academic requirements for School Counselor Certification. It serves this end by providing instructional content in full compliance with all CACREP and NCATE standards of school counselor training and education. Moreover, a commitment to relevant Professional Dispositions and the College of Education Conceptual Framework is the resounding common foundation of all curricular components.
The desired learning outcomes of program completion are professional acumen, disposition, and knowledge required to promulgate, implement, assess, and manage multi-faceted school counseling programs that provide contextual service to pupils. Below are the individual micro objectives implemented to facilitate the accomplishment of this macro academic agenda.
- Development of a keen comprehension of the proper professional role and ethical obligations of a school counselor to enable professional, ethical service provision
- Development of knowledge bases in the areas of career and human growth essential to the provision and documentation of comprehensive program counseling that fulfills personal, educational, and occupational needs of all pupil clients
- Development of applied and theoretical knowledge about helping relationship dynamics on individual, group, and systemic levels to deliver and document counseling services such as classroom guidance, group and individual counseling, and effective responses to school and community safety needs
- Development of an appreciation for and sensitivity to cultural, ethnic, and social diversity to ensure competent service provision and equity-centric advocacy for all clients
- Development of knowledge bases of best professional practices and evaluation concepts to ensure competent test administration and results interpretation
- Development of theoretical and practical knowledge bases relevant to research and assessment methodologies to ensure competent comprehensive program evaluations
- Practical knowledge and skills development of available technologies to ensure an acceptable level of proficient use to plan, evaluate, and manage comprehensive school counseling programs
UNA Department of Counselor Education School Counseling and Community Counseling graduate degree programs hold accreditation pursuant to 2001 CACREP Standards for Counseling Education.
Dr. Donna Lefort, College of Education & Human Sciences Professor and Dean
One Harrison Plaza
Stevens Hall 548
Florence, AL 35632