Toddler PointingHand weight with apple and measuring tapeWoman focused laying on lawnBasket of TomatoesSnowboarder in air grabbing the tail of the snowboardTeens smiling at a tablehappyhydratebluesky

We have one application and enrollment period each year. Applications are due on February 1st of each year, and successful applicants begin their course of study in June of the same year. MSU counseling students progress through our programs as a cohort, meaning that students in all three concentrations take most of their classes together in a prescribed sequence. After the first year, students begin to branch out into track specific courses.

The Department of Health and Human Development prioritizes equity and strives to accept and train students from a spectrum of backgrounds and cultural identities. We value the variety of perspectives and experiences our students, clients, and colleagues bring. We invite applications from all racial and ethnic groups, sexual identities, ages, and persons who need accessibility accommodations. Counseling faculty are dedicated to recruiting and accepting a diverse body that is sensitive to the needs of our increasingly pluralistic society. We seek to add depth and richness to our program by admitting students with a variety of perspectives and life experiences.

Application Requirements: Due February 1

You may only apply for one concentration (clinical mental health, marriage, couples & family, or school). The following list of requirements must be submitted with your application to the counseling program.  Failure to include all the application materials by the stated deadline could hinder chances of review and acceptance by the selection committee.

  • Personal essay (no more than four typed, double-spaced pages) answering these questions:
    • What has contributed to you selecting this career path?
    • How have your personal and professional experiences influenced your decision to pursue a career in the counseling profession?
    • What strengths or assets do you bring to the program?
  • Unofficial transcripts from former college/universities are acceptable for application purposes only; once the applicant has been admitted, official transcripts, either in sealed envelope or e-script form directly from the institution, must be received before student will be officially admitted
    • MSU undergraduates' transcripts are an exception since the transcripts are already on file and do not need to be sent
  • Three letters of professional recommendation
  • Undergraduate GPA must be 3.0 or above

MSU accepts approximately 30 students each year or approximately 10 students per program.

After reviewing applications, admissions committees for each of the programs decide which students will be asked to complete an interview with them.  Successful applicants will be offered positions in one of the three programs.  Once all available positions in our programs have been filled, applicants will be notified of their admission status.  Students may apply to the program in subsequent years.

Application FAQs

The specialty you choose determines the focus of your foundational clinical training, and you can select only one. There will be training opportunities you can seek out to expand upon your specialty after graduation, so this is not a fixed trajectory, however it is important to pick the program that best suits your interests and career goals. 

The clinical mental health track is focused on learning how to work with adults (18+) in individual and group formats, across a variety of delivery systems (community agencies, non-profit, private practice). The marriage, couples, & family track is designed to train students to work with children, adolescent, couples, and families, as well as individuals. If you are interested in working with any combination of these populations in agency, non-profit, or private practice settings, marriage, couples, & family would most likely be the best fit for you. If you are interested in working with children and adolescents, specifically in school settings, then school counseling is likely the most appropriate track for you.

Some students do choose to work part-time during their first year of the program, but most usually opt to not work during their second year, as students are managing a full course load, in addition to 19 hours/week at your internship placement. If students need to work more than part-time during the program, we may recommend attending on a part-time basis, and completing the program in 2.5 to 3 years, to allow one’s schedule to accommodate the varied responsibilities.

We do offer 3-4 graduate teaching assistantships to select second year students, who assist the faculty in teaching and supervising first year courses, as well as serving as teaching assistants for select undergraduate classes in the department.

We have also been successful in helping students find research or teaching assistantships outside of our program. This typically involves receiving a monthly stipend, tuition coverage, and working up to 19 hours/week. If you are interested in securing an assistantship, please reach out to the graduate coordinator once you have been accepted into the program, and we will work to help you find a position. You are also welcome to seek out your own opportunities for assistantships through the university.

Given that there are no undergraduate programs offered in counseling, we are willing to review applicants with a wide variety of undergraduate majors. Certainly, psychology, family science, and teacher education programs are natural feeder degrees for our programs; however, we do review and accept students with other academic backgrounds.

Our counseling classes are restricted to those admitted to the program.  In specific cases, some students have been allowed into a course with permission of the instructor.

There are no required prerequisites for the program. However, if you have been out of school for a while, if your GPA is lower than a 3.0, or if your undergraduate major was in a significantly different field, it may be useful to take the following undergraduate courses in preparation for the counseling curriculum:

  • EDSP 306 Exceptional Needs
  • HDFS 101 Individual and Family Development: Lifespan
  • HDFS 359: Theories and Skills for Human Services
  • HDFS 371: Research Methods

If sending transcripts by mail:

HHD Graduate Program
PO Box 173540
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT  59717-3540

If sending electronically:

[email protected]

For our programs, the essay should follow the following format. The essay will be no more than four typed pages, double-spaced, 12-point font, and answer the following questions:

  • What has contributed to you selecting this career path?
  • How have your personal and professional experiences influenced your decision to pursue a career in the counseling profession?
  • What strengths or assets do you bring to the program?
If a candidate's application is complete, it qualifies for review.  Once faculty have finished their reviews, select candidates will be contacted for an interview.  Approximately 2-3 weeks following the interview, students will be notified of acceptance or denial.
Failure to include all of the above application materials by the stated deadline could hinder chances of review and acceptance by the selection committee.
Courses start summer semester and students go through the program in a cohort.  There is no exception to the summer start.
No; however, your application is valid for one calendar year, and you're welcome to reapply the following year.
Yes, your application is valid for one calendar year.  If you applied to start the program in summer 2021, you would be eligible for consideration for summer 2022.  You might consider revising your personal essay and having your letters of recommendation updated.

No, we do not provide feedback to candidates on their applications.


MSU counseling students progress through our programs as a cohort, meaning that students in all three programs take most of their classes together in a prescribed sequence. After the first year, students in the three programs begin to branch out into program specific courses.The Department of Health and Human Development honors diversity and appreciates the variety of perspectives and experiences our students, clients, and colleagues bring.

We invite applications from all racial and ethnic groups, both genders regardless of sexual orientation, and from persons with disabilities. Counseling faculty are dedicated to recruiting and accepting a diverse body that is sensitive to the needs of our increasingly pluralistic society. We seek to add depth and richness to our program by admitting students with a variety of perspectives and life experiences.

Choosing a graduate counseling program is a challenging process and we hope you make your application decisions based on your life plans. Those of us who train counselors at Montana State University believe that we offer exceptional programs of study and hope that you will consider us as you make decisions about graduate school. On a lighter, but nonetheless important side, we would also suggest that Bozeman, Montana, is a wonderful place to live for two years while you pursue your career training.