Counseling Degree Programs in Montana

| Staff Writers

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Montana counseling degrees prepare learners to pursue lucrative career opportunities across disciplines in the field. Readers can refer to the rankings below to learn more about the best counseling programs in the state, focusing on relevant program information, such as tuition, course topics, and credit requirements.

Depending on the type of counseling they choose, professionals receive varying job responsibilities and help different types of clients. School counselors work with students, while rehabilitation counselors assist individuals with emotional, physical, and developmental challenges.

The state employs about 640 school counselors. These professionals earn a median annual wage of $45,150. In Montana, 320 rehabilitation counselors reported earning an annual median wage of $32,670. 

Montana’s Board of Behavioral Health regulates the counseling profession in the state and offers licensing opportunities. Professionals can explore five licensing opportunities that each require them to hold a master’s degree from an accredited college or university.

Top 10 Counseling Degree Programs in Montana

Rank School Location
1 Montana State University Bozeman, MT
2 University of Montana Missoula, MT
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Career Outlook for Counselors in Montana

The counseling profession allows individuals to specialize their career by pursuing a specific type of counseling, such as mental health counseling, rehabilitation counseling, or school counseling. 

In Montana, mental health counselors anticipate a projected job growth rate of 20.3% from 2016-26, while rehabilitation counselors can expect a projected employment growth of 12.7% in the same timeframe. Montana also reports a projected job growth rate of 7.8% for school counselors in this period.

Mental health counselors work with clients living with drug addiction, eating disorders, and mental health challenges. These counselors create treatment plans to help their clients maintain their mental well-being. Rehabilitation counselors work with people living with mental, developmental, or physical disabilities, helping them conduct daily activities. School counselors focus on helping students reach their academic goals.

Most rehabilitation counselors work in the community and vocational rehabilitation services industry, while mental health counselors primarily work in outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers. Professionals who work as school counselors typically work in elementary and secondary schools.

Counseling Degree Programs in Montana

  • Montana State University
    Location

    Bozeman, MT

    Department of Health and Human Development

    The Department of Health and Human Development at Montana is easily the largest such department in the state, with three graduate-level degrees that prepare counselors for success in schools, in the public sector, and in private practice. The department's programs are fully accredited by CACREP, which is both the leading and most prestigious accreditation body for counseling programs in the United States. Roughly 25 students are admitted to the program each year, with counseling or non-counseling undergraduate degrees. Minimum GPA requirements, GRE test scores, and letters of recommendation are required for admissions consideration.

    M.S. in Marital, Couple, and Family Counseling / Therapy

    Those students who elect to study an in-depth course relating to couples and marriage counseling will start off with the university's core curriculum for all counseling students. These courses will emphasize dispute resolution, group counseling, family and marital problems, youth counseling skills, and sociocultural foundations. Then, those same students will begin to study in-depth issues that most direct affect today's families and couples. Coursework in appraisal, advanced family counseling, marital and relationship counseling, and others will be pursued during this second phase of the program.

    In addition to extensive coursework that looks into the cultural and relational foundations of today's most common family and relationship problems, students will be heavily involved in research. In fact, all counseling students are required to take at least one educational research during their time at the university. They'll also participate in an internship or be trained under the supervision of an experienced counselor as they satisfy the university's key objective of health services provision. After completion of all 60 credits, students will move from the candidacy phase to full graduation with their Master's of Science degree.

    M.S. in Mental Health Counseling

    Students who opt for the university's Mental Health Counseling concentration will engage in the same foundational course of counseling courses that those in other disciplines take at Montana State University. After this initial coursework is completed, they'll move firmly into concentration-related courses that study the history of mental illness, its impact on families and individuals, and how counseling can play a role in both managing and solving the crises that arise due to mental health.

    Like their peers in the family counseling program, those who opt to study mental health counseling will be guided through significant research and professional conduct courses. The university will place counselors into mock counseling settings and instruct them in the most ethical and impactful ways to handle a variety of situations. Students will also be strongly encouraged to join the American Counseling Association and the American Mental Health Counseling Association prior to graduation. These organizations enforce professional ethics and offer excellent learning opportunities over time as graduates enter the occupation with their graduate-level training. As with the degree in family counseling, this program requires 60 credits to be completed in order for candidates to successfully petition for graduation.

    M.Ed. in School Counseling

    The M.Ed. program in school counseling is actually unique among the department's offerings, since it isn't a regular Master's of Science degree. To that end, those who elect to study this form of counseling will not be required to take the university's traditional counseling core. Instead, the coursework required of students in this program will be more focused on school administration, delivery of services to students, educational and occupational ethics, privacy and privilege, and common social situations that effect student behavior, learning ability, and leadership.

    In addition to learning about the best ways of handling common student situations and delivering one-on-one counseling, those who enroll in this program will be exposed to lesson planning as well. Many school counselors plan group coursework for younger students regarding everything from bullying to problems in the home, and Montana State's program ensures that new counselors develop, design, and deliver these courses in a way that's ethically sound and appealing to the specific age group with which they are dealing.

    Accreditations

    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

    Contact

    Health and Human Development
    Montana State University
    P.O. Box 173540
    Bozeman, MT 59717
    Phone: (406) 994-3242
    Email: hhd@montana.edu

  • University of Montana
    Location

    Missoula, MT

    Department of Counselor Education

    The University of Montana offers some of the most rigorous counseling coursework anywhere in the Mountain West, requiring students to complete 60 hours of coursework in the classroom as well as 700 hours of supervised counseling work alongside someone with extensive industry experience. The department's two Master's of Art programs are offered alongside an Educational Science program and a Doctor's in Education degree for those who intend to use their graduate-level skills in today's schools. The department's courses are primarily offered in face-to-face, offline settings. Some courses optionally offer hybrid instruction for those who are currently employed or working on their 700 hours of supervised experience.

    M.A. in School Counseling

    Students at the University of Montana who choose to study school counseling will be given a brief core in basic counseling, and then supplemental core coursework in educational design, school ethics, privacy, and youth psychology. From there, they'll specialize in one-on-one counseling with troubled students, development of bullying prevention programs, and other counseling-related efforts unique to schools in the 21st century. The university will then require students to complete 700 hours of supervised counseling work within a local school prior to graduation.

    M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

    The top-ranked clinical mental health counseling program at the University of Montana deals significantly with the problems of depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental health issues that can have a distressing effect on the workplace, families, and friends. Counselors will take a thorough course that focuses on ethics, research, and precedent, followed by coursework specific to today's mental health problems and treatments. Under the supervision of a professional mental health counselor, their capstone will involve 700 hours ofwork experiencedesigned to prepare them for the workplace upon graduation.

    Accreditations

    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

    Contact

    University of Montana
    College of Education and Health Services
    32 Campus Dr.
    Missoula, MT 59812
    Phone: (406) 243-4841
    Email: scott.richter@umontana.edu

From school counseling degrees to those that focus on mental health and families, the CACREP-accredited programs in Montana are designed to fuse classroom instruction, insightful research, and professional development in real counseling settings. For those students looking to advance their careers in this fast-growing field, there is perhaps no better than today’s accredited counseling degree programs in Montana.

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