Department Faculty: Professors - Oliver J. Morgan, Kevin Wilkerson (Interim School Counseling Program Assessment Coordinator), Rebecca Spirito Dalgin (Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling Program Director), Paul Datti (CHS Undergraduate Program Director), Michael Kelley; Associate Professors – Lori A. Bruch (Chair), LeeAnn Eschbach (Interim School Counseling Program Admissions Coordinator), Vanessa Ann Jensen (Program Director of Applied Behavior Analysis and Verified Course Sequence Director), Benjamin T. Willis (Clinical Mental Health Counseling Co- Program Director); Assistant Professors – Tiffany Bordonada (Clinical Mental Health Counseling Co- Program Director), Mary Troy, Sonja Lund, Dana Brookover; Counseling Training Center Director - Geri Barber.
The Department offers course work leading to Master of Science degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling, School Counseling, and Applied Behavior Analysis. The Department also offers a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) in professional counseling and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Applied Behavior Analysis. The following policies and procedures apply to all of 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 the 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 15. 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. The 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, Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling, School Counseling and Applied Behavior Analysis 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 who are 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 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.
Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling: Apply the specialized knowledge, skills, and attitudes to identify and implement evidence-based practices in collaboration with individuals who live with disabilities to achieve their personal, social, psychological, and vocational goals.
School Counseling: Design, develop, and implement all aspects of the ASCA National Model.
Applied Behavior Analysis: Demonstrate the specialized knowledge and skills to satisfy the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s (BACB) Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Option 1 coursework requirements for examination applications. Beginning in 2022, completion of a Verified Course Sequence will satisfy Pathway 2 for BCBA coursework requirements for examination applications.
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, personal and emotional characteristics, and qualities related to successful professional performance. The Department’s “Fit for the Profession” document available in each program manual or from the Department Chair or Program Directors, outlines appropriate professional 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 expectations, the student, the Department Chair, and the Dean of the program will be advised by the mentor. 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 graduate counseling students 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 actively taking 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.
Applied Behavior Analysis Students
Thesis/Capstone options: The MS in ABA degree program includes an option for a thesis or a capstone project. If students elect to do a thesis and they are not making satisfactory progress by the end of the second fall semester in the program (i.e., they have not satisfactorily proposed their topic to their committee members in a formal meeting), their faculty advisor may require that they switch to a capstone project and not complete the thesis. If this is the case, students may lose up to 3 credits of thesis and will be required to take 3 additional credits (beyond the total credits required for the degree) in order to graduate. Thesis defenses can be open to the public, at the student’s request, but they are not required to be open to the public. The portion of thesis defenses in which the committee formally evaluates student performance is always closed to the public.
Our department programs include a 100-hour counseling practicum experience (a prerequisite to internship) and a 600-hour counseling internship experience. The Applied Behavior Analysis program includes 750 intensive practicum hours. Consult with your 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 (background check)
- 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. All clearance are coordinated through the PCPS Field Office and acquired through Castle Branch, a clinical compliance platform. If a student has a criminal record or pending charges this may have implications for placements during the clinical experiences. Students must contact their Program Director and the Counselor Training Director as soon as possible to discuss implications. As a result, there may also be consequences with respect to counselor licensure, board certification 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. Counseling 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 in the counseling master’s programs are generally offered from 4:30pm to 7:10pm and from 7:20pm to 10:00pm 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 5:00pm to 10:00pm). 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.
Courses in the Applied Behavior Analysis master’s and certificate programs are offered on-line in seven week blocks. Courses include both synchronous and asynchronous components.
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Department of Labor, employment in the fields of Counseling and Applied Behavior Analysis is predicted to grow at a much faster than average pace through the year 2024. In addition, numerous openings are expected to occur due to retirement.
Students should refer to the Academic Regulations section of this catalog for additional relevant policies.