Department Faculty: Professors - Oliver J. Morgan, Kevin Wilkerson; Associate Professors – Lori A. Bruch, Rebecca Spirito Dalgin (Rehabilitation Counseling Program Director), Paul Datti (CHS Undergraduate Program Director), LeeAnn Eschbach, Vanessa Silla, Benjamin T. Willis (Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program Director); Assistant Professors – Tiffany Bordonada, Julie A. Cerrito (School Counseling Program Director), Mary Troy; Counseling Training Center Director - Geri Barber; Faculty Specialist - Brandice Ricciardi.
The Department offers course work leading to Master of Science degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling, and School Counseling. The Department also offers a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) in professional counseling. The following policies and procedures apply to all these curricula. Specific curricular requirements are listed under the respective programs.
The applicant for admission to any departmental program must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and provide the Office of Admissions with evidence of satisfactory undergraduate preparation. The ordinary standard for admission is an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.00 on a grading scale of 4.00. Students falling below this level may submit other evidence of their ability to successfully complete a graduate program, such as grades in other graduate-level courses, a record of progressively higher work responsibilities, or scores from the Miller Analogies Test or Graduate Record Examination. These students may be accepted on a probationary basis. Students accepted on probation cannot enroll for more than six credits in a semester and must obtain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00 after completing nine credits of course work to be removed from probation. International students whose native language is not English must demonstrate their proficiency in English. Please refer to International Student Section for information on acceptable English proficiency tests and test score requirements.
New students may start course work in the fall semester. Students must submit their completed application to the Office of Graduate Admissions for early consideration and decision by November 1. March 1 is the cut off for regular review and decisions. Applications received after March 1 may also be considered at the Program Director’s discretion. Program Directors review applications and pay particular attention to each applicant’s ability to address program specific professional goals and professional identity in the statement of intentions. All students will be informed of an admission decision by April 15. Personal interviews with program faculty members prior to acceptance are required. Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling, School Counseling applicants participate in a group interview. All interviews are scheduled by program faculty shortly after the application deadline. All applicants must complete the specially developed recommendation forms for the program and respond to program specific essays in order to finalize their admissions packets. Online application materials for each graduate program can be accessed on the web. Preference for admission will be given to persons with undergraduate majors in social and behavioral sciences, education and other related fields. Additional preference is given to those persons possessing relevant work and/or volunteer experience. Applicants are expected to have completed a course in each of the following areas: Introduction to Statistics (Descriptive Statistics or Basic Inferential Statistics), Introduction to Theories of Personality, Counseling or Psychotherapy and Lifespan Development (Developmental Psychology, Adulthood, Adolescence, Childhood, Growth and Development).
The admissions process is highly competitive and faculty will select only those applicants best qualified for the program. Students will meet with their advisors prior to beginning the program and set up their first semester schedules. Faculty will annually review each student’s professional and academic development. Suggestions for continued student growth and plans for remediation will be presented and discussed with students by their Program Director.
Program Learning Outcomes
Our three graduate counseling programs are guided by curricular experiences designed towards student achievement of the following Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs):
- Demonstrate master’s level professional counseling dispositions;
- Demonstrate master’s level theoretical knowledge and competencies in all core counseling domains;
- Demonstrate, apply, and evaluate master’s level theoretical knowledge and competencies in clinical practice;
- Use of research and program evaluation to inform professional counseling practice; and
- Program specific outcomes:
- Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Demonstrate knowledge pertaining to the provision of evidence-based clinical mental health counseling services that enhance the emotional, cognitive, behavioral, relational, and spiritual well-being of individuals, families, and groups seeking help with either everyday life concerns or significant challenges.
- Rehabilitation Counseling: Apply the specialized knowledge, skills, and attitudes to identify and implement evidenced-based practices in collaboration with individuals who live with disabilities to achieve their personal, social, psychological, and vocational goals.
- School Counseling: Demonstrate the knowledge and skills to function as a comprehensive Professional School Counselor.
Standards of Progress and Transfer of Credits
Satisfactory progress in professional and academic performance is required for continuation in the program. Please refer to Academic Regulations regarding standards of progress and transfer of credits. Students who wish to waive a required course may petition their Program Director who will make a recommendation to the Dean of the program. Courses waived will not reduce the number of credits required for graduation.
In addition to academic competence, the student is continuously evaluated on commitment to the program and the profession, and on personal and emotional characteristics and qualities related to successful professional performance. The Department’s “Fit for the Profession of Counseling” document, available in each program manual or from the Department Chair or Program Directors, outlines appropriate counselor qualities. Feedback on progress is provided by the student’s mentor on a regular basis.
When faculty identify deficiencies in progress which make a student unsuitable for performance of the professional role, the student and the Dean of the program will be advised by the mentor of such an evaluation. Utilizing the “Fitness for the Profession” document available in each Program Manual, mentors will assist the student in developing a plan to remediate the deficiencies which have been identified and a suitable time frame for remediation will be established. Completion of one semester following notification will be considered the minimum time frame to be allowed for remediation of deficiencies. At the conclusion of the time designated, the faculty shall review the student’s performance and recommend to the Dean of the program that the student should be retained, given additional time for remediation, or dismissed from the program. The student shall have the opportunity to present evidence to the program faculty prior to the recommendation to the Dean.
All students in the graduate programs of the Department of Counseling and Human Services are expected to demonstrate both theoretical and clinical competence prior to graduation. Evidence of clinical competency is demonstrated through end of semester evaluations in clinical courses. Evidence of theoretical competence is demonstrated through performance on the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam (CPCE). The comprehensive exam may be completed when the student has completed coursework in six of the eight core areas and is currently enrolled in coursework in the other two core areas as outlined in the Program Manuals.
Students matriculating into a graduate counseling program will be required to take the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) near the conclusion of their program. Students must score greater than or equal to one standard deviation below the national mean for that test administration to pass the exam. Students will have two opportunities to pass the exam successfully. Students who do not pass the exam after the second administration may be required to meet with their program director to develop a time limited plan that allows them to demonstrate competency and proficiency as set forth in the Program Manuals. Ultimately, students who are unable to demonstrate competency and proficiency within the specified timeline will not successfully finish their program of study or earn a master’s degree.
Our counseling programs include a 100-hour practicum experience (a pre-requisite to internship) and a 600-hour internship experience. Consult with mentor and program director prior to registering. Prior to a student’s clinical experience which includes practicum and internship students will be required to obtain the following clearances:
- FBI fingerprints
- Pennsylvania Criminal Records Check
- Child Abuse Clearance
- TB test
These clearances must be obtained prior to the practicum semester even if the student has previously secured valid clearances. If a student has a criminal record or pending charges this may have implications for placements during the clinical experiences. There may also be consequences with respect to counselor licensure and/or future employment. All graduate counseling students are required to provide proof of individual professional counseling liability insurance while enrolled in practicum and internship. Students can gain access to liability insurance through HPSO (www.hpso.com) or the American Counseling Association.
Application for Degree
Application for degree should be made during Advance Registration for the last semester of course work. Degrees are conferred in May, August, December and January, but commencement exercises are held in May only.
Endorsement of Students
Students who successfully complete all their curricular and clinical training requirements for the Master of Science degree will receive formal endorsement in their areas of specialization by the faculty of their programs. Formal endorsement includes recommendation for state and/or national certification and employment in settings consistent with the training provided in their programs. Students will receive formal endorsement only in that program for which they have successfully completed all requirements and will be recommended only for certification and employment consistent with training provided. In cases in which a certifying body allows a student to sit for a certification examination, the program faculty shall endorse the student as a candidate for that examination if the student has completed that portion of the program required by that certifying body.
The Department has a limited number of graduate assistantships available. Students must be accepted as a student in one of the departmental programs to be considered for an assistantship for the following fall semester and complete an application for a graduate assistantship by the University deadline.
Classes are generally offered from 4:30 p.m. to 7:10 p.m. and from 7:20 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays during the fall and spring semesters. Courses are scheduled to enable full-time students to attend classes two or three nights a week; part-time students usually attend one or two nights a week. Each course meets one night per week in the fall and spring semesters and twice weekly during intersession and summer sessions. (Note: intersession and summer courses generally meet from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.). Some courses are offered in alternative formats (e.g. weekender schedule). These are published early in the registration process. Internships may be spread over two semesters to accumulate the needed number of clock hours.
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Department of Labor, employment in the fields of counseling is predicted to grow at a much faster than average pace through the year 2024. In addition, numerous openings are expected to occur as many counselors reach retirement age.
Students should refer to the Academic Regulations section of this catalog for additional relevant policies.