Counseling Degree Programs in Minnesota

| Staff Writers

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Students who earn counseling degrees in Minnesota can help individuals with behavioral, emotional, mental health, and relational issues. Professionals can pursue many roles in the field, all of which the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects will grow in Minnesota over the next few years.

Anyone who plans to practice professionally as a counselor or therapist must hold licensure through the Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy. A licensed professional counselor (LPC) must supply a completed application, a non-refundable $400 processing fee, and evidence of a criminal background check. They must also supply official transcripts demonstrating the completion of an accredited master’s in counseling program, proof of supervised clinical hours, and passage of the national counselor examination.

Top Counseling Degree Programs in Minnesota

Rank School Location
1 Capella University Minneapolis, MN
2 Minnesota State University Mankato Mankato, MN
3 Minnesota State University Moorhead Moorhead, MN
4 St. Cloud State University Saint Cloud, MN
5 Walden University Minneapolis, MN
6 Winona State University Winona, MN
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Career Outlook for Counselors in Minnesota

Earning a counseling degree in Minnesota appeals to many students looking for job stability. Projections Central data indicates that roles for marriage and family therapists will grow by 19.6% from 2016-26. Employment for other counselors should grow by 11.4% during this period. 

Professionals in this field may also earn higher-than-average salaries. Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in Minnesota brought home annual median wages of $49,630 in 2019, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found the national average wage for this position totaled $46,240 the same year. Factors like education level, experience amount, job title, and employer type can all influence this number.

Counselors work with individuals across the lifespan who face a wide spectrum of counseling needs. Most specialize their services to a particular population or counseling topic. They can find work in inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities, local and state government agencies, hospitals and clinics, and established counseling organizations. These professionals can also start their own practices after gaining experience.

Counseling Degree Programs in Minnesota


  • Capella University
    Location

    Minneapolis, MN

    Department of Counseling and Psychology

    Founded in 1993 as a proprietary institution by the publicly traded Capella Education Company, Capella University is an accredited online university based in the state's capital of Minneapolis that offers flexible and quality online degree programs to meet the academic needs of working adults. The Department of Counseling and Psychology offers a variety of programs so that graduate students can focus their studies in an area that fuels their passion for helping others.

    Master of Science in Marriage and Family Counseling

    Intended to prepare graduate students for expanding career opportunities and job satisfaction in the counseling field with a flexible online format, the Master of Science in Marriage and Family Counseling program places an emphasis on developing students' proficiency in addressing emotional, mental, behavioral, and social disorders from a family systems perspective. With a rigorous combination of face-to-face preparation and distance education, the program requires the completion of at least 92 quarter credits of online coursework, residential colloquia, and clinical field experiences. At completion, graduates are well-prepared to apply research and theories in the practice of marriage and family therapy with state licensure eligibility.

    Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling

    Ideal for graduate students wishing to pursue an online degree to become a behavioral disorder counselor, clinical mental health counselor, substance abuse counselor, or vocational counselor, the Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling program aims to develop students' ability to treat emotional, mental, behavioral, physical, and social disorders in order to promote optimum mental health. Within the 92-quarter credit program, students will actively participate in online coursework and clinical field practices to fully understand how to apply counseling theories to contemporary clinical practice. Students are also expected to attend two six-day residential colloquia to provide valuable face-to-face interaction with other counselors.

    Master of Science in School Counseling

    Designed for graduate students seeking to gain the essential skills and knowledge to take on an expanded role and make a significant contribution to students' well-being in elementary, middle, or high schools, the Master of Science in School Counseling program prepares professionals to advocate for students' personal, educational, and social needs. Built on the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Model, the program involves the completion of at least 72 quarter credits of online coursework, residencies, and field training in school-based settings. Graduates will be well-prepared with the skills to deliver culturally and ethnically sensitive individual and group counseling services to children or adolescents.

    Accreditations

    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)
    • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA)

    Contact Information

    225 South Sixth Street 9th Floor
    Minneapolis, MN 55403
    (866) 283-7921

  • Minnesota State University Mankato
    Location

    Mankato, MN

    Department of Counseling and Student Personnel

    Situated on a 303-acre urban campus overlooking the Minnesota River Valley around 85 miles southwest of the state capital in Minneapolis, Minnesota State University Mankato is a comprehensive public research institution with more than 15,400 students. According to the U.S. News and World Report, MSU Mankato is ranked as the 75th best college and 24th top public school in the Midwest. Within the College of Education, the Department of Counseling and Student Personnel is internationally registered for providing the face-to-face interactions that are the heart and soul of the counseling professions.

    Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling

    With the mission of preparing individuals to serve as leaders in mental health centers, family counseling agencies, career counseling facilities, hospitals, or private practices, the Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling program focuses on counseling theories, specialized skills, socio-cultural factors, research methods, assessment techniques, and treatment planning for counseling throughout the lifespan. Students may also choose to specialize their skills with concentrated elective coursework in Play Therapy. Through a blend of on-campus coursework and off-campus supervised internship experiences, the 60-credit program fulfills the academic requirements for taking the National Counseling Exam (NCE) and the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Exam (NCMHCE) for licensure.

    Master of Science in Professional School Counseling

    Designed to prepare graduate students for being the direct link for elementary, middle, and high school students to career, academic, social, and mental health information, the Master of Science in Professional School Counseling program aims to develop professional school counselors with Minnesota state licensure for counseling students individually and in groups. Particular emphasis is placed on facilitating the personal, educational, and career development for children and adolescents as well as the early identification of potential mental health concerns. For completion, students must complete at least 50 credits of coursework, 100 clock hours of practicum experience, and two 300-hour internships.

    Master of Science in College Student Affairs

    As a broad program designed to prepare qualified individuals for positions on a university campus in admissions, counseling, financial aid, student activities, student housing, career services, or student affairs administration, the Master of Science in College Student Affairs degree provides a comprehensive overview of the field of student affairs with the opportunity to work in several areas. The program is highly focused on the developmental issues confronting college students in transition, the philosophical bases, and the multi-disciplinary foundations of student affairs. Graduates must complete at least 51 credits of advanced coursework, including a practicum in student development, student affairs internship, and Master's thesis.

    Doctor of Education in Counselor Education and Supervision

    Intended for graduates who are seeking to be part of the next generation of counselor educators and leaders, the applied Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Counselor Education and Supervision program serves as a gateway for opportunities in the fields of higher education, advanced clinical practice, and professional counseling supervision. As a cohort program to ensure personalized student-faculty collaboration, the curriculum focuses upon the development of advanced competencies for increasingly complex professional practice, faculty, and leadership roles. Within the program, students must actively participate in advanced practicum, a pre-doctoral internship, and a doctoral dissertation research project.

    Accreditations

    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA)

    Contact Information

    107 Armstrong Hall
    Mankato, MN 56001
    (507) 389-2423
    richard.auger@mnsu.edu

  • Minnesota State University Moorhead
    Location

    Moorhead, MN

    School of Graduate Studies

    Located on a 119-acre campus in the rich farming land of the Red River Valley within a hub for retail trade, transportation, and medical care in the Upper Midwest, Minnesota State University Moorhead is a comprehensive public institution included as part of the higher education system established by the state of Minnesota. According to the U.S. News and World Report, MSU Moorhead is currently ranked as the 108th best college and 39th top public school in the Midwest. The School of Graduate Studies is committed to delivering diverse quality programs with national accreditation to develop professional skills in a flexible format for working adults.

    Master of Science in College Counseling

    Designed to prepare individuals to work in college counseling centers or college career counseling services, the Master of Science in College Counseling program places an emphasis on developing graduate students' knowledge on the development of college students and their unique concerns during one of the most momentous transitions of their lives. Throughout the 51-credit program, graduates are trained on the high level of empathic counseling skills needed to facilitate client emotional, social, educational, career, and personal growth. In addition, the program requires all participants to complete a practicum with college students and an internship in a college counseling center to foster practical application of counseling theories.

    Master of Science in School Counseling

    Ideal for graduate students who are seeking licensure or certification as a professional school counselor in Minnesota or many other states, the Master of Science in School Counseling program is focused on developing the knowledge, skills, values, and dispositions needed to serve as advocates and leaders in the support of youth in elementary and secondary schools. The program has the mission of developing ethical professional school counselors who can use evaluation and intervention skills to help students reach their fullest academic, social, emotional, and career potential. Along with 48 credits of advanced coursework, the curriculum requires one semester of practicum and two semesters of internship in K-12 school-based settings.

    Master of Science in Student Affairs

    Unique in its flexibility and individual attention with a great deal of interaction between students and professionally trained faculty members, the Master of Science in Student Affairs program is designed to prepare individuals for positions in colleges and universities in the areas of admissions, residential halls, student unions, financial aid, advising centers, or career services. Throughout the 48-credit program, graduate students are actively engaged in coursework on counseling theories, individual appraisal, career development, human growth, group counseling, ethical issues in counseling, higher education, and student affairs administration. Furthermore, the program requires one semester of supervised practicum and one semester of internship within an approved college or university setting.

    Accreditations

    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA)

    Contact Information

    Lommen Hall Room 113H
    1104 7th Avenue South
    Moorhead, MN 56563
    (218) 477-2699
    lisa.karch@mnstate.edu

  • St. Cloud State University
    Location

    Saint Cloud, MN

    Department of Community Psychology, Counseling, and Family Therapy

    As Minnesota's second largest comprehensive public institution with more than 16,200 students, St. Cloud State University is located on a 100-acre campus between downtown St. Cloud and the Beaver Islands about an hour northwest of Minneapolis along the oak-crowned west bank of the Mississippi River. According to the U.S. News and World Report, SCSU is currently ranked as the 83rd best college and 29th top public school in the Midwest for 2014. The Department of Community Psychology, Counseling, and Family Therapy offers undergraduate and graduate degrees specifically for students interested in the application of psychological principles in individual, community, or organizational settings.

    Master of Science in College Counseling

    With the goal of providing individuals with the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and tools needed to serve as competent and thoughtful student affairs professionals, the Master of Science in College Counseling program is designed to deliver a comprehensive view of college student services within university settings. Offering a proper balance between theory, research, and hands-on supervised field experience, the program prepares students for positions in higher education settings, including admissions, residential housing, career development, academic advising, international student services, financial aid, registration, community service, and student activities. Students can decide to enroll in the Thesis option for a total of 54 credits or the Comprehensive Examination option for a total of 48 credits.

    Master of Science in Community Counseling

    With national accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the Master of Science in Community Counseling program aims to prepare culturally responsive, competent, and ethical counseling professionals who adhere to the highest standard of curriculum and clinical experience. As a two-year cohort degree requiring at least 52 semester credits, the intensive counseling program prepares students with strong clinical skills for becoming a licensed professional counselor (LPC) for individual, group, couple, family, community, and multicultural practice. Students in the program have the option of also gaining a certificate in the specialty areas of Marriage and Family Therapy, Chemical Dependency, or Gerontology.

    Master of Science in School Counseling

    Known for having a proud tradition of more than 40 years as the longest existing counseling program at St. Cloud State, the Master of Science in School Counseling program is committed to preparing highly qualified helping professionals to serve the educational, social, mental health, career development, and emotional needs of students in K-12 elementary and secondary school environments. The program places a strong emphasis on the importance of using a developmental approach, multicultural competence, and interpersonal skills in the provision of school counseling services. At the conclusion of the engaging 58-credit program, graduates are eligible for licensure as professional school counselors in Minnesota.

    Accreditations

    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA)

    Contact Information

    Education Building Room B210
    720 Fourth Avenue South
    St. Cloud, MN 56301
    (320) 308-2160
    ccp@stcloudstate.edu

  • Walden University
    Location

    Minneapolis, MN

    School of Counseling

    Headquartered in the heart of the state capital city of Minneapolis, Walden University is an accredited online proprietary institution owned by Laureate Education Inc. with more than 46,500 students pursuing their bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degrees online. Within the college recognized for having the 111th best online graduate education programs, the School of Counseling is committed to offering flexible nationally accredited degrees so that graduate students can focus on their interests in culturally and contextually relevant specializations for professional expertise.

    Master of Science in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling

    Designed to reflect professional criteria published by leading counseling organizations and national accrediting agencies, the Master of Science in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling program helps prepare individuals for the evolving method of evidence-based counseling practice with a focus on diagnosing mental and emotional disorders related to the family system. Focused on delivering the knowledge and skills to resolve marriage or family conflicts related to divorce, mediation, child rearing, school problems, and family violence, the curriculum prepares graduates for working in community or state agencies, hospitals, private practices, and mental health centers. Graduates are well-prepared with the qualifications to sit for licensing exams as a professional counselor with expertise in couples and families.

    Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling

    Intended to prepare graduate students with the knowledge and skills needed to address and treat clients' mental health needs ethically, the Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling program is designed to deliver the confidence, qualifications, and critical thinking skills necessary for seeking licensure as a change agent in the counseling profession. While students can follow a generalist mental health track, others have the option of concentrating their studies in Forensic Counseling or Trauma and Crisis Counseling depending on career goals. Throughout the program, students benefit from online coursework focused on practical skills, interactive simulations, face-to-face residencies for personal collaboration, and challenging supervised fieldwork experiences.

    Accreditations

    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA)

    Contact Information

    100 Washington Avenue South Suite 900
    Minneapolis, MN 55401
    (866) 492-5336
    help@waldenu.edu

  • Winona State University
    Location

    Winona, MN

    Department of Counselor Education

    Standing proudly as the oldest higher education institution in Minnesota with a long tradition of academic excellence tracing back to 1858, Winona State University is a comprehensive public liberal arts institution nestled in the Upper Mississippi River Valley on a 58-acre urban oasis adorned with every native state tree species. Home to more than 8,500 students in 80 disciplines, WSU is currently ranked as the 65th best college, 17th top public school, and 20th best university for military veterans in the Midwest by the U.S. News and World Report. Within the College of Education, the Department of Counselor Education aims to prepare effective counselors, leaders, advocates, and agents of change for a variety of counseling settings.

    Master of Science in Community Counseling

    As an intensive nationally recognized program designed to prepare graduate students for careers as competent and ethical professional counselors in community-based settings, including community mental health clinics, residential care facilities, and social services agencies, the Master of Science in Community Counseling degree leads to eligibility for counselor licensure in Minnesota and many other states. Throughout the 46-credit program, students are engaged in advanced coursework on human relations, counseling theories, diversity, life development, group dynamics, research design, assessment, family systems, career development, ethical practice, individual appraisal, and diagnosis. Furthermore, students are required to complete a 150-clock hour counseling practicum experience, a 600-clock hour field based internship, and a capstone project.

    Resource:What is Community Counseling?

    Master of Science in School Counseling

    With the mission of preparing graduates for employment in K-12 elementary, middle, and high school settings as professional school counselors, the Master of Science in School Counseling program is part of the Transforming School Counseling national initiative sponsored by the Education Trust. Since the completion of the master's degree leads to state licensure with or without a teaching certificate, the program focuses on the directed knowledge and skills needed to help children and adolescents reach their fullest academic, social, personal, career, and emotional mental health potential. All enrolled students are required to satisfactorily complete a 150-clock hour school-based practicum, a 600-hour internship, and capstone project or Master's thesis.

    Accreditations

    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA)

    Contact Information

    Gildemeister Hall Room 117A
    P.O. Box 5838
    Winona, MN 55987
    (507) 457-5338
    mfawcett@winona.edu

As a thriving profession that seeks to empower diverse individuals, families, couples, groups, and communities to accomplish mental health, wellness, academic, and career goals, counseling may be the perfect option for individuals who have a desire to help people work through life’s challenges. In order to help you fine-tune your interpersonal and listening skills with a solid foundation of counseling theories, be sure to check out these top-notch accredited counseling degree programs in Minnesota to get on the right track to a successful counseling career.

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