Written by: Staff Writer
Last updated: May 2020
Earning a North Dakota counseling degree ensures that graduates possess the abilities and knowledge required to work on the frontlines of mental health in the Peace Garden State. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that roles for marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors, and substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors may expand in the coming years, making now a great time to consider this professional path.
All therapists and counselors working in North Dakota must hold licensure. The North Dakota Board of Counselor Examiners requires each applicant to hold an accredited master's degree in counseling, provide three letters of recommendation, submit to a criminal history background check, and pass the national counselor exam. They must also complete 100 hours of direct supervision.
Career Outlook for Counselors in North Dakota
North Dakota needs counselors now more than ever, and Projections Central estimates that roles for marriage and family therapists may grow by an impressive 35.7% from 2016-26. This projection data also indicates that employment for mental health counselors will expand by 33.3%, while substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors will see an 18.2% increase in available roles in the same period.
Counselors and therapists find employment in many different settings, including hospitals, inpatient and outpatient care facilities, and social service agencies, along with local/state governments. Many also set up private practices. These professionals also earn substantially more than similar professionals in other states. Substance abuse and mental health counselors in North Dakota brought home an annual median wage of $56,290 in 2019 compared to the national median pay average of $46,240 in the same period.
Counseling Degree Programs in North Dakota
North Dakota State University – Fargo
School of Education – Counselor Education Programs
North Dakota State University in Fargo is highly regarded as a national institution of higher learning. The Carnegie Commission on Higher Education noted it as one of the 108 best private and public universities in the country and several NDSU programs were ranked in the Top 100 by the National Science Foundation for extensive research activity. NDSU is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Its programs in counselor education have been recognized as well, receiving the prestigious Innovative Counselor Education Program award in 2011, bestowed by the North Central Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (NACES). NDSU counseling programs focus upon research, application and supervision, depending upon the degree awarded.
Master's of Science (M.S.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling or in School Counseling
The M.S. graduate degree emphasizes research and is available in two different disciplines: Clinical Mental Health Counseling or School Counseling. Initial coursework covers similar topics of growth, human development, social relationships and assessment techniques, but becomes more specialized for clinical vs school settings as the program progresses. For example, those studying Clinical Mental Health Counseling will take a course on marital counseling while those interested in becoming a school counselor will complete a course on professional counseling for grades K-12.
Both M.S. programs are 60 credits and will take approximately three years to complete. Requirements include 600 hours of internship and a written thesis based on pertinent research. Each degree is a foundation for entry level positions as mental health practitioners in clinics or schools. They also prepare the candidate for national certification and state licensure exams.
Master's of Education (M.Ed.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling or in School Counseling
The M.Ed degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling have less emphasis on research based practices and more on practical applications for the job setting. Coursework for the first year covers much of the same material as for the M.S. degree before branching off into more specific areas related to providing counseling in clinical or school settings.
Each M.Ed. program is 48 credit hours in length and there is no thesis required. However, the M.Ed. internship is longer at 900 practicum hours of field experience. Like the M.S. programs, these degrees are foundational for entry level positions in specialty areas and will prepare candidates for national certification and state licensure exams.
Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision
This accredited counseling degree program in North Dakota is for those with an interest in counseling practice, teaching, leadership, research, and professional service. Candidates must possess a master's degree in counseling and will take 71 credit hours of coursework. Many of the holders of a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision will go on to teach at the college level. A major emphasis for this Ph.D. program has been to raise awareness about the increase of multiculturalism and diversity in society and their effects upon communities and relationships. As such, the NDSU Counselor Education and Supervision program has attracted a wide variety of doctoral students from diverse backgrounds, at least 18% of those from underrepresented groups.
- Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
- North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
Counselor Education office – SGC C117
School of Education, North Dakota State University
P.O. Box 6050
Fargo, North Dakota 58108-6050
Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program Coordinator:
James S. Korcuska, Ph.D.,NCC
School Counseling Program Coordinator:
Dr. Carol E. Buchholz Holland, Ph.D.
Doctoral Program Coordinator:
Jill R. Nelson, Ph.D. Associate Dean/Human Development and Education & Associate Professor/School of Education
With North Dakota's population growth and the increased need for counseling services statewide, the Master's and Doctoral degrees offered through North Dakota State University fit the bill for qualified candidates. If you have an interest in helping others, desire to hone leadership skills and enjoy the challenges of academic life, seek out accredited counseling degree programs in North Dakota today.