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Graduate Programs in Counseling


Welcome to Villanova's MS in Counseling Program!

We look forward to meeting you. Please contact us to make an appointment to visit our department in the Saint Augustine Center and to take a tour of our beautiful campus.

The masters degree is offered with concentrations in two areas: 

We also offer certificates in counseling and the option to take individual courses to enhance your professional expertise.

Please view the Admission Requirements and Information page to learn more and apply. 

Our Student Manual below includes a complete description of our department, programs and policies.



 The Counsel for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), a specialized body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, has granted accreditation to both the School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health programs in Villanova's Department of Education and Counseling. The CACREP Board of Directors met in July 2015 and awarded accreditation to both our counseling programs through 2023.

CACREP Vital Statistics:

  • Number of graduates in the past year (2018-2019): 18
  • Completion rate (2018-2019): 100%
  • National Counselor Exam pass rate (2018-2019): 100%
  • Job placement rate of recent graduates (2018-2019): 89% (as of 9/13/2019)

The professional training of counselors at Villanova University reflects the faculty's view of the ultimate goal of counseling in a pluralistic society: enhancing the cognitive, affective and social/interpersonal development of individuals and groups, fostering independence in decision-making and developing effective problem-solving strategies. The realization of these goals is achieved directly through counseling and consulting and indirectly through the coordination of ancillary services.

Villanova University's counseling program emphasizes counselor skill development and personal growth which are considered prerequisites to helping others. The program reflects humanistic orientation, with an emphasis on developing counseling relationships which are open, accepting and nonjudgmental yet reality-based. We assume that clients are helped most by counselors who display candor and openness in their interpersonal relationships. Consequently, the counseling program provides experiences and training that engender such behaviors.

Through its varied and interdisciplinary courses, counselor-trainees become familiar with issues related to human development, individual differences, human behavior and diversity. They learn to appraise and select counseling materials, to use appropriate evaluation procedures, to make expedient referrals, to provide consultative services, and to counsel both individuals, families and groups regardless of age, sex, religion, ethnic or socio-economic background or physical ability/disability. Research and knowledge of current literature are stressed throughout the program. Finally, students are required to apply their acquired knowledge of counseling situations in institutional and professional settings.

In concert with the Department of Education and Counseling’s goal of supporting and advancing the Catholic identity and Augustinian Mission of Villanova University, the Counseling Program (CHR) invites its members, both faculty and students, to the common pursuit of truth. To that end the Counseling community is committed to the principle that service to the community must begin with the journey within. Through research, teaching, and reflective practice, each member of the Counseling community is prepared to provide effective counseling services to both schools and community agencies with the shared goal of enhancing the dignity of those who are served. Since its beginning nearly forty years ago, Villanova’s Counseling Program continues to prepare its students to respond effectively to the individual, family, and systemic concerns which characterize our pluralistic society.

The American Counseling Association defines the profession of counseling as: a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.  At the Department of Education and Counseling at Villanova University, we are committed to facilitating both the professional development and personal growth of our students, to ensure that our counselors are trained to be effective in their future work.

Following are core criteria for effective counseling, used in teaching and supervision of counselors in the Villanova Program

·       Multicultural Competency

·       Scientist-Practitioner Model

·       Ethical Practice

·       Systemic Perspective of Development

·       Professional Competency

·       Counseling Competency

·       Multicultural Competency

·Awareness of the meaning and impacts of your own, and others’, multiple intersectional identities and traits (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender, body shape, sexual orientation, gender roles, nationality, religion, and ability status).

·Awareness of, and willingness to continually address: a) personal cultural world views/values, and; b) biases held toward persons with varied identities, behaviors, and traits.

·Competency in working with persons who possess a diversity of intersectional identities and traits (examples of competency traits: openness, cultural humility, and the ability to collaborate, and empathize, with a diversity of clientele).

·Knowledge of individual and systemic barriers that inhibit the health, wellbeing, and socioeconomic and career status of persons with underrepresented identities or traits (e.g., racism; sexism; Christian hegemony; homophobia; etc.).

·Ability to identify and draw on clients’ strengths and resources in order to collaboratively tailor counseling interventions.

·Commitment to acting as a social justice change agent, and to empowering clients, in the redressing of systemic issues that impedes client health and wellbeing.

*Find the official document for the Multicultural Social Justice Counseling Competences, as endorsed by the American Counseling Association, at:

Scientist-Practitioner Model

·       Knows evidence-based practices and basic strategies for evaluating the counseling process and outcome in counseling.

·       A knowledge and understanding of methods of research and investigation for the purpose of keeping abreast of current developments in the field to insure the effectiveness of workplace programs and counseling outcome.

Ethical Practice

·       Demonstrates the ability to apply and adhere to ethical and legal standards in counseling.

·       A knowledge and understanding of one’s self and his or her impact upon the counseling process in order to deliver ethical and effective services (i.e., the American Counseling Association, the American School Counselors Association), and by current legal precedent.

·       Demonstrates the ability to recognize one’s own limitations as a counselor and to seek supervision or refer clients when appropriate.

Systemic Perspective of Development

·       Recognizes the importance of family, social networks, and community systems in the treatment of mental and/or emotional disorders.

·       Demonstrates appropriate application of culturally responsive treatments such as, individual, couple, family, and group in schools and community agencies for initiating, maintaining, and terminating counseling.

·       Recognizes the importance of the role of the counselor as an agent of social change and possesses skills to implement change.

·       Demonstrates an awareness of systemic inequalities.

Professional Competency

·       Demonstrates a high level of interpersonal skills such as the ability to respectfully communicate opinions with colleagues.

·       Demonstrates the ability to receive and apply feedback from supervisors and colleagues.

·       Demonstrates ability to provide appropriate feedback to others.

Counseling Competency

·       Demonstrates effective delivery and use of counseling skills.

·       Demonstrates a cognitively complex understanding of client problems and the counseling process.

·       Demonstrates competent treatment delivery.

·       Demonstrates the ability to establish working therapeutic relationships

·       Demonstrates and applies knowledge of counseling theories and approaches.

What the NCC Credential Does for You

  • Generates client referrals through NBCC's referral service linking potential clients to nearby NCCs.
  • Travels with you when you relocate in or outside the US.
  • Keeps you in touch with current professional credentialing issues and events through NBCC's newsletter.
  • Advances your professional accountability and visibility.
  • Ensures a national standard developed by counselors.
  • Supports the rights of NCCs to use testing instruments in practice through NBCC’s participation in the National Fair Access Coalition on Testing (FACT).
  • Offers liability insurance to NCCs at discounted rates.
  • Allows online access to verification of national certification through the NBCC Registry.

The three basic components of the requirements for the NCC credential are education, supervised experience, and examination.

  1. Candidates for the NCC credential must hold an advanced degree with a major study in counseling from a regionally accredited college or university. They also must meet specific semester or quarter hour requirements and content area requirements.
  2. Candidates for national certification must meet the supervised experience requirements specific to the option under which they qualify and apply. As of 2007, the requirement is 3,000 hours of work experience with 100 hours of supervision.
  3. Candidates for national certification must achieve a national passing score on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE). You may be exempt from examination if you have already taken the NCE or NCMHCE or one of the state licensure examinations accepted by NBCC. Please see your application for details.

(Information is subject to change, please refer to


Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and National Certified Counselor (NCC) are two separate entities, each having separate requirements. Both the LPC and the NCC require students to take the NCE Exam.

Students interested in becoming Licensed Professional Counselors in the State of Pennsylvania are required to meet the following requirements:

  • Attain a graduate degree in counseling from an accredited university.

  • Complete 60 graduate credits in counseling.

  • Complete a 100 hour Practicum and 600 hour Internship as part of their graduate degree in counseling.

  • Achieve a national passing score on the NCE.

Following the completion of their graduate degree and field experiences, candidates are required to have completed 3 years or 3600 hours of supervised clinical experience within a setting that is organized to prepare the applicant for the practice of counseling consistent with the applicant’s education and training.

School Counseling students interested in becoming Licensed Professional Counselors may register for the 6 additional graduate credits which are required for licensure.

(The above requirements are only applicable to the State of Pennsylvania and are subject to change; please refer to to obtain the most up to date information.)


National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)

The NBCC allows counselor education programs to hold special National Counselor Examination (NCE) testing administrations for their graduating students who apply as Board Eligible National Certified Counselors (NCC). The intent is to permit counseling students in their final semester to have the opportunity to sit for the examination. Board Eligible status allows candidates to sit for the examination without prior experience. The NCE is offered at Pearson Vue testing centers in April and October.

In order to sit for the NCE, students must complete an application as well as send in an application fee. Current Villanova students should look for an email to come to their Villanova account announcing sign-ups. Students are required to sign up one semester in advance.

Villanova Contact:
Abigail Rutledge, M.A.
Graduate Program Coordinator

Course Work:
The following courses must have been completed in order to be eligible to sit for exam:

*Note: You are required to be ‘advanced’ in your coursework to sign up for the exam, which means you must have completed at least 6 out of the 8 courses listed below. The remaining two classes should be taken the following semester.


Content Area Categories

Villanova  Course Equivalent

Human Growth & Development

CHR 8884 - Human Growth and Development

Social/Cultural Foundations

CHR 8860 - Lab in Couns Div Population

Helping Relations

CHR 8687 - Counseling Theory & Prac

Group Work

CHR 8655 - Lab in Group Dynamics OR
CHR 8686 - Group Couns Theo & Pract

Career & Lifestyle Development

CHR 8685 - Lifestyle & Career Devel


CHR 8855 - Appraisal in Counseling

Research & Program Evaluation

CHR 8604 - Research & Evaluation 

Professional Orientation & Ethics

CHR 8605 - Lab in Counseling Skills (orCHR 8680 - School Counseling Orientation or CHR 8688, Clinical Mental Health Orientation

CHR 8883 - Ethics & Professional Orientation in Counseling

Field Experience

CHR 8692 - Intern I in School Counseling
HR 8694 - Intern II in School Counseling


CHR 8850 - Intern. I Clin. Mental Health &
CHR 8851 - Intern. II Clin. Mental Health

National Certification vs. State Licensure

National certification (NCC) is a voluntary process which is entirely separate from state licensure (even though the testing instrument is the same in many states). The end product of an application for national certification is the right to call oneself an NCC. National certification has evolved to be a job search booster, especially for those who will eventually work in more than one state. NCCs benefit from other NBCC services: enforceable code of ethics, access to resource materials/newsletter for counselors, and advocacy/public education initiatives.

Licensure is now required in all states for professionals going into private practice and expecting to receive third party payments. For professionals who are only looking for state licensure, this is the most economical way to take the NCE. NBCC is not involved in this process other than to act as the “testing company” for the state. In most states, an individual must have completed his/her degree in order to sit for the exam for state licensure; and there may be other state mandated requirements as well.

Whether a person seeks state licensure or national credentials first, is a matter of personal choice. The advantage of working on the NCC credential while still a student is that NCE testing occurs while book knowledge is fresh.

*Taken from

Villanova’s faculty members have developed a professional performance review process for students in the Counseling program, whereby students are regularly assessed according to specific attributes, characteristics, and behaviors that researchers and scholars have identified as necessary for effective counseling.

Please review the Professional Performance Review document.


Tuition Discount for Educators: Current educators can receive tuition discounts of 20% to 40%. For more information please go to Tuition Reduction for Educators.