Montana State University’s graduate counseling program offers students an intensive training opportunity, focused on the acquisition of professional counseling knowledge and skills required to facilitate healing and growth for individuals, families, and community systems.
The counseling program offers three graduate counseling degree options: Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling, and School Counseling. The links provided below provide more detailed information regarding the distinctions between the three concentrations and how to determine which track best matches a prospective student’s career goals. Counseling students will graduate with strong foundational knowledge and experience that will facilitate their success as counselors in a variety of professional settings. All three of our programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
Program Mission Statement
The mission of the counseling program is to prepare interpersonally skilled and culturally attuned professional counselors who facilitate the psychological growth and well-being of those they serve. These counselors also help those who experience difficulties in overcoming or resolving interpersonal, vocational, and emotional processing issues associated with modern living.
The program prepares students to be employed as counselors in schools, community/mental health agencies, and private practice. The major goals of the program are to train practitioners who:
- Promote students’ personal, clinical, and professional development
- Teach students to conceptualize clients and apply concepts from the eight common core areas in their work with clients.
- Facilitate student acquisition of knowledge in the foundations of counseling.
- Facilitate student development of a primary counseling theory, and an ability to integrate with cultural and developmental considerations, and apply to clients.
- Encourage student exploration of cultural humility, social justice, and the role of advocacy in the counseling profession.
- Prepare students for acquiring comprehensive knowledge and skills needed to fulfill mental health counseling roles in Montana’s mental health care and education systems.
- Develop and maintain a healthy learning environment that promotes respectful engagement and courageous dialogue.
- Enhance the worth, dignity, and positive development of themselves and of individuals and groups within their employment and community context.
Completing either the Clinical Mental Health or Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling program leads to a Master of Science (MS) degree in Counseling. Both programs consist of 60 semester credits and are typically completed in two years, attending classes summer, fall, and spring. Completing the School Counseling program leads to a Master of Education (MEd) degree in School Counseling, which consists of 48 semester credits and is also typically completed in two years, attending classes summer, fall, and spring. Beginning with students entering the program in the summer of 2023, the school counseling program will also consist of 60 credits. Students are encouraged to attend full-time; however, some students choose to plan their program of study on a part-time basis.
Because professional counseling--whether conducted in schools, agencies or private practice--requires high levels of professional maturity and interpersonal skills, our curriculum offers several courses which are designed to foster students' personal development, relationship skills, and professional orientation. The courses include self-exploration and skill acquisition regarding personal values, professional issues, personal and professional relationships, and group dynamics. Our counseling program appeals to a broad array of learners through a variety of curriculum formats, primarily consisting of in-person or blended courses (in-person and online), or online in the case of some of our electives. Faculty use their expertise to create a learning environment to best teach the topics of study. Additionally, our program has a full summer program. All courses in the summer are offered in a blended format to allow for more flexibility with work, clinical, and home life schedules.
At MSU, we firmly believe that competent counseling practice is informed and guided
by theory. Our programs emphasize a thorough knowledge of clients' developmental and
social contexts. Theory-based approaches to individual, family, and group counseling
are covered in depth. Our training strives to provide the necessary self-awareness,
knowledge, and skills for counseling students to become competent and capable professional
This program is an approved Western Regional Graduate Program. The WRGP allows master's, graduate certificate, and doctoral students who are residents of WICHE-member states to enroll in 900+ graduate programs at 60 public institutions outside their home state, and pay up to 150 percent of resident tuition. To learn more, please see the WICHE/WRGP website.
Anna Bartkowiak, PhD
Asst Professor, Counseling
Ed Dunbar, PhD
NTT Instructor, Addictions Counseling
Anna Elliott, PhD
Graduate Coordinator; Assoc Professor; Program Leader, Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Katey Franklin, PhD
Asst Professor; Program Leader, School Counseling
Rebecca Koltz, PhD
Professor; Program Leader, Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling
Bryan Lamb, PhD
Director, Human Development Clinic; NTT Instructor
Sarah Mendoza, PhD
Asst Professor, Counseling