Counseling Degree Programs in North Carolina

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North Carolina counseling degrees provide graduates with the tools and credentials needed to fill in-demand roles in the field. Whether working as marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors, or substance abuse counselors, professionals can pursue many different roles in the Tar Heel State. 

Those with counseling training and licensure can pursue many employment opportunities. Counselors and therapists account for more than 19,000 professionals in the state, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects these numbers to grow in the coming years.

To work as a licensed clinical mental health counselor in North Carolina, each candidate must submit an application, official transcripts demonstrating completion of an accredited master’s degree, and evidence that the learner passed the national licensing exam. They must also pass a criminal background check and provide a disclosure of supervision statement. 

Top 10 Counseling Degree Programs in North Carolina

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Career Outlook for Counselors in North Carolina

Demand continues to grow for graduates with counseling degrees in North Carolina. Data from Projections Central indicates that employment for these professionals will increase substantially, with mental health counselors seeing an astonishing projected growth rate of 25.5% from 2016-26. Roles for marriage and family counselors should grow by 19.5%, while substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors will see their numbers increase by 19.9% in the same period.

These individuals also stand to earn above-average salaries. Mental health and substance abuse counselors in North Carolina earned an annual mean wage of $49,350 in 2019, as compared to the national average salary of $46,240 for those in the field. Many of these professionals work in outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers, while others find employment in public and private hospitals, inpatient facilities, social service agencies, and private practice.

Counseling Degree Programs in North Carolina


  • Appalachian State University
    Location

    Boone, NC

    Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling

    Based on a vast 1,300-acre rural green campus in Boone within the Blue Ridge Mountains of northwestern North Carolina, Appalachian State University is currently ranked as the 9th best college, 3rd top public school, 10th best value university, and 5th top up-and-coming college in the South by the U.S. News and World Report. Within the 135th best graduate education school in the nation, the Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling is dedicated to providing instructional programs in counseling and other human development functions.

    Master of Arts (M.A.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

    Designed to meet the need for advanced preparation of mental health counselors and other helping professionals who will gain employment in a variety of human service agencies, the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program provides a challenging and embracing environment for professional counselor preparation leading to licensure. The curriculum enables students to select a concentration area in Addictions Counseling, Marriage and Family Counseling, Expressive Arts Therapy, Body Centered Therapy, or General Clinical Mental Health Counseling. As a two-year full-time program, students are required to complete 54 credits with a thesis or 60 credits without a thesis.

    Master of Arts (M.A.) in School Counseling

    Ideal for graduate students seeking eligibility for North Carolina School Counseling Licensure to work in K-12 elementary, middle, or high school settings, the MA in School Counseling program provides students with the opportunity to further develop their practical counseling skills and graduate at the specialist level. Following a multicultural perspective that emphasizes differing experiences, cultures, histories, and backgrounds, the program requires the completion of a minimum of 60 semester credits with practical application of learning in at least 700 clock hours of professional school counseling internship experience.

    Accreditations

    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)

    Contact

    Education Building Room 304F
    151 College St.
    Boone, NC 28208
    (828) 262-2055
    baruthlg@appstate.edu

  • East Carolina University
    Location

    Greenville, NC

    Department of Higher, Adult, and Counselor Education

    As a large nationally recognized institution preparing nearly 28,000 students to be the leaders of tomorrow, East Carolina University is a comprehensive public research institution located in Greenville about 80 miles west of the state's capital city in Raleigh. With an outstanding reputation for academic excellence, ECU is currently ranked as the 181st best college, 101st top public school, and 48th best university for military veterans in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report. Within the 181st best graduate education school, the Department of Higher, Adult, and Counselor Education is committed to empower students with the skills, knowledge, and practical experience needed to be successful in their service to others.

    Master of Science (M.S.) in Counselor Education

    With the mission of promoting human development by preparing competent professional counselors to work with children, adolescents, and adults with important academic, social, personal, and career decisions, the MS in Counselor Education program is developmental in nature to fulfill the learning needs of students interested in working in a variety of educational or human service settings. Offering an overview of many counseling theories of practice to encourage students to develop their own personal approaches, the program provides flexibility in designing elective studies to suit career interests. Within the 60-credit program, graduate students are given the opportunity to concentrate their elective coursework in School Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, or Student Affairs and College Counseling.

    Accreditations

    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)

    Contact

    Ragsdale Hall Room 223A
    121 East Fifth St.
    Greenville, NC 27858
    (252) 328-5277
    blakek@ecu.edu

  • Gardner-Webb University
    Location

    Boiling Springs, NC

    School of Counseling and Psychology

    Established with a strong commitment to a Christian heritage, Garden-Webb University is a comprehensive private institution with a small-town atmosphere of just 2,750 students on a rural campus in Boiling Springs. Consistently recognized among the nation's top "character-building colleges," Garden-Webb is currently ranked as the 41st best college in the South with the 55th best online graduate education programs in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report. The School of Counseling and Psychology endeavors to provide professional studies within a caring community based on Christian principles and values.

    Master of Arts/Education Specialist (M.A./Ed.S.) in Mental Health Counseling

    Intended to develop skilled clinicians and well-educated leaders in the field of mental health, the MA/EdS in Mental Health Counseling program strives to facilitate the acquisition and application of counseling skills to prepare graduates for making significant contributions to diverse clients, institutions, and society at large. Following a scientist-practitioner model with an emphasis on the integration of theory with practice, the program is offered at both the Boiling Springs and Statesville campuses as a three-year 60-credit graduate program. Upon completion, graduates have satisfied the requirements for licensure in North Carolina to practice in prevention, early intervention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health disorders to promote healthy living.

    Master of Arts (M.A.) in School Counseling

    Dedicated to promoting Christian values in an environment of intellectual curiosity for encouraging lifelong learning of the whole person, the MA in School Counseling program is designed to prepare students to fulfill the role of school counselor as both theorist and practitioner in today's diverse society. Within the 48-credit two-year program, individuals are trained to develop comprehensive school counseling programs with academic, social, personal, and career services that align with the ASCA National Model. Although teacher licensure is not required, candidates without a teaching certificate will be required to complete extra undergraduate courses in classroom management prior to admissions.

    Accreditations

    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)

    Contact

    110 South Main St.
    Boiling Springs, NC 28017
    (704) 406-4437
    dcarscaddon@gardner-webb.edu

  • Lenoir-Rhyne University
    Location

    Hickory, NC

    School of Counseling and Human Services

    Founded by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in the urban setting of Hickory western North Carolina as a comprehensive private Christian institution, Lenoir-Rhyne University is currently ranked as the 15th best college in the South by the U.S. News and World Report survey. The School of Counseling and Human Services is fully accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) to prepare professional counselors for effectively helping others work through their challenges and reach a healthier mental state of mind.

    Master of Arts (M.A.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

    The MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is focused on preparing competent ethical professional counselors who will be able to effectively analyze, synthesize, and apply their counseling knowledge in a variety of practical mental health settings. With specialized training in counseling military service members, victims of violence or trauma, children and adolescents, couples and families, and substance abuse patients at clinical partnership sites, the 61-credit program enables students to develop a strong professional portfolio for both licensure and future employment. With a non-cohort flexible delivery to accommodate individualized needs, non-traditional students can achieve the degree in the evening, on weekends, online, or in an innovative hybrid format.

    Master of Arts (M.A.) in School Counseling

    Based on the model that competent counselors must be more than technicians, the MA in School Counseling program is devoted to producing knowledgeable professional counselors who are aware of their personal values, beliefs, and biases to effectively function as a practitioner-scientist in K-12 school settings. With the goal of preparing graduates as well-rounded counselors through the experiences gained in the classroom, schools, and the community, the 52-credit program is available on-campus in Hickory, Asheville, or Columbia in South Carolina. Upon completion of the program and receiving a passing score on the PRAXIS specialty examination, graduates are eligible for licensure as school counselors in the state.

    Accreditations

    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)

    Contact

    625 7th Avenue NE
    Hickory, NC 28601
    (828) 328-7728
    amy.wood@lr.edu

  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
    Location

    Greensboro, NC

    Department of Human Development and Services

    Located on a 713-acre urban main campus in Greensboro with a total enrollment of over 8,900 students, the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is a historically black public land-grant research institution committed to public service. As the first historically black college or university to earn accreditation for counseling degree programs by the CACREP, the Department of Human Development and Services strives to create a supportive instructional community with meaningful professional partnerships and rich supervised field experiences to motivate students to become highly effective practitioners.

    Master of Science (M.S.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

    Designed to prepare dedicated graduate students to work in counseling related roles to empower diverse individuals, families, and groups to achieve optimal mental health, the MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is focused on providing curricular experiences encompassing the core areas of professional identity, cultural diversity, human growth, career development, helping relationships, group work, assessment, research, and program evaluation. Along with the completion of at least 60 semester credits inside the classroom, the curriculum provides clinical instruction with a required 100-hour practicum and 600-hour internship in a community setting with a qualified supervisor.

    Master of Science (M.S.) in School Counseling

    Available in online, hybrid, and evening formats to provide students with a flexible matriculation schedule to accommodate their individual pace, the MS in School Counseling program is designed for graduate students who are seeking a professional counseling career working in elementary, middle, or high school settings. Within the 60-credit program, students are actively engaged in coursework on counseling exceptional children, human development, multicultural counseling, appraisal, group dynamics, family counseling, research methodology, and counseling program administration. For completion of the degree for licensure, students must successfully complete a 100-hour practicum experience, 600-hour internship in a school setting, and a Master's comprehensive examination.

    Accreditations

    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)

    Contact

    1601 East Market St.
    Greensboro, NC 27411
    (336) 334-7916
    wagnerm@ncat.edu

  • North Carolina Central University
    Location

    Durham, NC

    Department of Counselor Education

    Founded in 1910 as the nation's first state-supported public liberal arts college for African Americans in the heart of North Carolina's Research Triangle in Durham, North Carolina Central University is currently recognized as the 68th best college, 12th best historically black university, and 29th top public school in the South by the U.S. News and World Report. Within the College of Education, the Department of Counselor Education is committed to preparing counselors who promote social justice, serve as leaders in a diverse global community, and respond to the complexity of human health needs across the age spectrum.

    Master of Arts (M.A.) in Career Counseling

    Structured to prepare graduate students to work as career development professionals with clients of all ages in a variety of human service settings, the MA in Career Counseling program focuses on the counseling techniques needed to support clients in initiating life-work role transitions and instruct clients to acquire a set of employability or job searching skills. After completing the program, graduates are well-prepared for state licensure to find employment in career service offices in colleges, universities, community college, non-profit organizations, secondary schools, and private corporations.

    Master of Arts (M.A.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

    In order to prepare professionals to work as counselors in a wide range of mental health facilities, the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program provides students with comprehensive curricular and supervised field practice experiences to satisfy the licensing requirements as dictated by the North Carolina Board of Licensed Professional Counselors. With an emphasis on counseling individuals, groups, and families with cultural competence to advocate for equality in today's diverse world, the curriculum aims to ensure that graduates can effectively identify the presence of emotional or mental health disorders to lead clients on the pathway towards optimum well-being.

    Master of Arts (M.A.) in School Counseling

    Fulfilling all of the educational and practical experiential learning requirements demanded by the Department of Public Instruction for licensure as a professional school counselor in the state of North Carolina, the MA in School Counseling program track prepares graduate students for assuming the role of school counselor in elementary and secondary school settings. Through an integration of theoretical counseling foundations and hands-on application in a semester-long internship experience, students build the necessary skills to evaluate the academic, social, career, and personal development of all K-12 students, including those with exceptional needs.

    Accreditations

    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)

    Contact

    1801 Fayetteville St.
    Durham, NC 27707
    (919) 530-7289
    programinfo@nccucounseling.com

  • North Carolina State University
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Department of Counselor Education

    Designated as the largest four-year public university in the state with a total enrollment of over 34,000 students on its main campus in the capital city of Raleigh, North Carolina State University is currently ranked as the 101st best college, 47th top public school, 41st top value school, 8th best up-and-coming university, and 15th top college for veterans in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report. Within the 51st best education school in the United States, the Department of Counselor Education is committed to training competent counselors through a scientist-practitioner approach to effective serve the state's diverse needs.

    Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

    Intended to provide graduate students with the professional knowledge, skills, values, and counseling practices needed to effectively address a wide variety of circumstances found within mental health counseling contexts, the M.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is primarily designed for offering important experiences in human services to prepare competent and ethical practitioners in the field. Through the 60-credit program leading to the master's degree, students are actively engaged in coursework on career development, cross-cultural diversity, group counseling techniques, lifespan growth, clinical assessment, substance abuse addictions, research applications, test measurement, and practicum.

    Master of Education (M.Ed.) in College Counseling

    As a unique program specifically geared towards graduate students who are interested in working as student developmental professionals to help guide young adults through one of life's most tremendous transitions, the M.Ed. in College Counseling program is focused on developing the professional knowledge, skills, and practices that are most essential for promoting the educational, career, and social development of college students. Despite the fact that the 60-credit program can be completed either full-time or part-time, all college counseling interns must be enrolled full-time during the final internship semester on a college campus.

    Master of Education (M.Ed.) in School Counseling

    Ideal for graduate students with or without prior teaching experience who are preparing for a rewarding career as a school counselor to help K-12 youth develop to their fullest academic, career, social, and personal potential, the M.Ed. in School Counseling program applies the principles of adult education to accommodate working professionals who are employed full-time or have family responsibilities. As a 54-credit program with a profound emphasis on counseling exceptional children, the master's degree can be completed within two years full-time or three to four years part-time.

    Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Counselor Education and Supervision

    With the mission of preparing devoted, knowledgeable, skillful, culturally competent, and ethically responsible mental health professionals for the 21st century, the Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision program is available for individuals with a master's degree in counseling who are seeking the advanced leadership roles of administrator, program director, consultant, or supervisor. Focused on a commitment to the empowerment of marginalized populations for the promotion of equity, the 63-credit program consists of theoretical foundations, research methodologies, professional applications, and specializations.

    Accreditations

    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)

    Contact

    Campus Box 7801
    Raleigh, NC 27695
    (919) 515-1772
    snassar@ncsu.edu

  • University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
    Location

    Chapel Hill, NC

    School of Education

    Since it was first founded as the country's first public institution in 1789, the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill has earned the distinction for being one of the best universities in the world with one of the strongest student bodies in the nation. Consistently recognized as a "Best Value College" by Kiplinger's Personal Finance, UNC Chapel Hill is currently ranked as the 30th best college, 5th top public school, and 17th best value university in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report. Even more importantly, the School of Education is acclaimed for being the 36th best graduate education school in the United States.

    Master of Education (M.Ed.) in School Counseling

    Based on an innovative strengths-based school counseling framework pioneered by the program's experienced faculty members, the M.Ed. in School Counseling program is focused solely on preparing high-quality professional counselors for serving the diverse needs of students in K-12 school settings. Within a tight-knit cohort format, the 60-credit program consists of four semesters of full-time graduate study over the course of a 14-month period beginning in May and finishing by August of the following year. After selecting their preference at the elementary, middle, or high school level, individuals are required to spend three days per week at an assigned school placement for the entire academic year to gain field experience.

    Accreditations

    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)

    Contact Information

    CB 3500 Peabody Hall
    Chapel Hill, NC 27599
    (919) 966-5266
    belton@email.unc.edu

  • University of North Carolina – Charlotte
    Location

    Charlotte, NC

    Department of Counseling

    Situated on a beautiful wooded 1,000-acre suburban campus on the outskirts of one of America's fastest growing cities, the University of North Carolina – Charlotte is a metropolitan public research institution that provides high-quality education for over 22,000 students. According to the U.S. News and World Report, UNC Charlotte is ranked as the 201st best college and 117th top public school in the entire United States. Within the nation's 86th best education school, the Department of Counseling is dedicated to preparing exceptional counseling professionals who are proactive, compassionate, reflective, and effective change agents for the promotion of increased human well-being.

    Master of Arts (M.A.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

    Designed to prepare graduate students for providing a wide range of counseling services to diverse clients throughout the age spectrum through community agencies, private practices, corporations, non-profit organizations, hospitals, and other mental health settings, the M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is focused on the qualifications needed to meet the challenges of providing high-quality care in a cost-effective manner. Throughout the 60-credit program, graduate students are trained in the core areas of diagnosis, psychopathology, psychotherapy, psychological assessment, professional orientation, research, group counseling, human growth, counseling theory, career development, and supervised practicum.

    Master of Arts (M.A.) in School Counseling

    With the goal of preparing graduates to provide a variety of counseling services to youth in elementary or secondary schools to help them reach their fullest academic, social, career, and personal potential, the M.A. in School Counseling program is designed with a multicultural focus to foster culturally competent professionals who advocate for all students. Based on the guidelines from the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Model, the 60-credit program fulfills all requirements leading to K-12 school counseling licensure in the state of North Carolina. For those who wish to work with children who are 10 years and younger in a developmentally appropriate way, the program also offers a Certificate in Play Therapy.

    Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Counselor Education and Supervision

    At UNC Charlotte, the Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision program is strongly committed to preparing graduate students as a multiculturally competent, ethical, clinically skilled, and knowledgeable professional for positions as counselor educators at university campuses or as supervisors in clinical or school settings. For completion of the doctoral degree, students must complete a minimum of 60 credits of advanced coursework, 150 clock hours of doctoral practicum, and 600 clock hours of internship experience. This program is offered exclusively to students who have a master's degree in counseling with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher and two years of counseling-related work experience.

    Accreditations

    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)

    Contact Information

    Education Building Suite 241
    9201 University City Blvd.
    Charlotte, NC 28223
    (704) 687-8964
    lpabrams@uncc.edu

  • University of North Carolina – Greensboro
    Location

    Greensboro, NC

    Department of Counseling and Educational Development

    Strategically positioned on a 210-acre urban campus in the central region of the state as the midway point between our nation's capital and Atlanta, the University of North Carolina – Greensboro is a comprehensive public learner-oriented institution with a population of over 15,000 diverse students. According to the U.S. News and World Report, UNC Greensboro is ranked as the 190th best college and 108th top public school in the entire nation. Within the 70th best education school, the Department of Counseling and Educational Development is also acclaimed for offering the 3rd best student counseling program in the United States.

    Master of Science/Education Specialist (M.S./Ed.S.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

    With training in appropriate diagnosis techniques, assessment procedures, comprehensive treatment planning, and counseling approaches, the M.S./Ed.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is designed to specifically prepare students seeking employment working with community clients who are experiencing mental health disorders. Within the 72-credit curriculum, individuals are trained as counseling professionals to provide competent therapeutic services to clients who need relief from problems that vary greatly from everyday worries to significant mental or behavioral concerns. Using individual and group counseling formats in direct service, all students are required to complete a 600-hour internship over two semesters to clarify their career path in the dynamic field of mental health counseling.

    Master of Science/Education Specialist (M.S./Ed.S.) in College Counseling and Student Development

    Ideal for graduate students who wish to become counseling professionals to provide comprehensive support to college students as they seek to maximize their own personal and academic achievement, the M.S./Ed.S. in College Counseling and Student Development program includes perspectives specific to the developmental concerns of this diverse young adult population. At an individual, group, and programmatic level, graduates are well-prepared to work with students experiencing normal developmental transitions as well as college students facing crisis. Within the 60-credit program, students are given the opportunity to apply their skills at internship and practicum experiences in a university's student development office.

    Master of Science/Education Specialist (M.S./Ed.S.) in Couple and Family Counseling

    Designed to develop competent counseling professionals who can provide extensive therapy services to clients dealing with problems rooted principally in their family or couple relationships, the M.S./Ed.S. in Couple and Family Counseling program follows a scientist-practitioner model to incorporate both research and practical application. At the conclusion of the 72-credit program, graduates have the skills needed to work as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) with clients who are experiencing relational challenges, including poor communication, financial stress, divorce, or differing parenting styles. Many graduates go on to find employment in inpatient treatment centers, outpatient care clinics, community agencies, substance abuse facilities, and their own private practices.

    Master of Science/Education Specialist (M.S./Ed.S.) in School Counseling

    In addition to common core of helping skills for professional counselor preparation, the M.S./Ed.S. in School Counseling program specifically prepares professionals to work in K-12 school settings to provide the support services that positive affect the academic, career, and personal development of children. The program has a strong focus on training students to effectively collaborate with teachers, school administrators, parents, and community members to create comprehensive school counseling programs for the success of all students. Throughout the 60-credit program and 600-hour clinical internship experience, students are well-prepared with the most current knowledge on school counseling trends, techniques, services, skills, and interventions.

    Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Counselor Education and Supervision

    For students who already possess a broad academic foundation with successful clinical experiences from the completion of a CACREP-accredited master's degree program, the Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision program prepares graduate students for faculty positions as well as clinical, advocacy, administration, consultation, supervision, and other leadership roles in counseling. Within the three-year developmental sequence of coursework, individuals take part in integrated internships and research experiences to develop a high level of critical thinking skills. For completion of the degree, students must pass a written and oral comprehensive examination, complete a dissertation research project with an oral defense, and successfully participate in a culminating advanced internship.

    Accreditations

    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)

    Contact Information

    Curry Building Room 228
    P.O. Box 26170
    Greensboro, NC 27402
    (336) 334-3423
    ced@uncg.edu

As the demand for qualified individuals in the mental health and counseling fields continues to drive upwards, it is highly recommended that you further investigate these accredited counseling degree programs in North Carolina to get on the right track towards leading a rewarding career with abundant areas of specialization.

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