Sign In
Contact Information

Graduate Studies
Sharon Paranto, Director

or Tammy Griffith, Program Assistant 


Spafford Hall 204A
1200 S. Jay St.
Aberdeen, S.D. 57401
Phone: 605-626-2558
The WolfPACT Scholarship
Guaranteed Scholarship
The largest guaranteed four year scholarship in the Midwest. Money you can count on. Get your ACT Score; find out your scholarship award. It's that simple!
Learn More!
FAQs for Admission to Northern's Counseling Education Program
Q: What are the admission times of the year? 
A: Students can be admitted and start taking classes in the Fall (August), Spring (January), Summer Session I (very end of May), or Summer Session II (very end of June). The Spring and Fall are regular semesters, and students attend classes one day per week for 15 weeks.  The Summer sessions are for four weeks only, and students attend for four days per week, but complete the equivalent of a full-semester course in each session.
Q:  How long does it take to complete the master’s degree in counseling? 
A: You can complete the program in as little as two years, but most students typically take three years to complete the program.  You can attend full time, which is considered 3 classes, or 9 credits; or, you can attend part time, with as few as one course per semester.  You have a total of six years to complete your entire degree, after which your first courses would begin to expire, and you would need to repeat any course taken more than six years prior.
Q: What counseling degree tracks do you offer? 
A: We have two tracks: the Clinical Mental Health Track and the School Counselor Track, both of which lead to state licensure.
Q: Can I take both tracks, and how much longer would that take? 
A: Yes, you can take both tracks, and many of our students do that so they have licensure as a mental health counselor as well as a school counselor.   It would take an extra year added to your program because you would need to take a separate practicum course for each (only offered in the Fall), and a separate internship course for each (only offered in the Spring).  Depending on the track you take first, it is a total of approximately 4-6 extra classes (or 12 – 18 extra credits) to complete both tracks.
Q: How many credits are required for each counseling track? 
A: For anyone who is graduating after July 1, 2013, the Clinical Mental Health track is a total of 60 credit hours.  The School Counselor track is a total of 51 credit hours.
Q: How do I know what courses to take for my plan of study, and where is this information located? 
A: A copy of the academic plan of study for each track is located under the School of Education Counselor Education Graduate Programs section in the NSU Catalog, linked below:
Q: How do I apply for the graduate programs in counseling? 
A: Obtain an application for admission for the Master’s in Counseling programs, fill it out, send it in with your application fee, and also request for an official transcript from your undergraduate degree be sent.  After a review by the graduate office of NSU, you will be notified by the professors in the Counselor Education program to set up an interview with them for consideration of admittance into the program.  You will also be notified at this juncture if you will be required to take the GRE Exam.
Q: How do you obtain licensure for the School Counseling or Clinical Mental Health Counseling tracks? 
A: After you graduate, for the School Counselor credential, you apply to your respective state education departments and submit the paperwork requested to verify completion of your degree, as well as your practicum and internship hours.  Students graduating with either the School Counselor degree or the Clinical Mental Health degree (or both) are strongly encouraged to take the National Counselor Exam (NCE) sponsored by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC).  The website for the NBCC is: http:/ .  The NCE exam is offered at least twice per year in each state, and the information for those dates is listed on the NBCC website.  Once you have passed the NCE exam, you will have the credential of National Certified Counselor (NCC).  This is a voluntary credential, but demonstrates your commitment to professionalism in our field.
 To go on and obtain your Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) designation, you first pass the NCE exam, and then obtain a mentor who has an LPC and is currently a practicing counselor.  Depending on the state in which you are located, (the requirements are listed on the NBCC website), you will log at least 2,000 hours of counseling work and meet with your LPC mentor one hour per every 40 hours of counseling work you do.  Once you have completed the total required hours (approximately 2,000, depending on the state you are located in), you submit your logs and the NCC credential to your state licensing board to then obtain your LPC licensure.  This is now the expected license to obtain as a culmination of your counseling education degree, and will help you with portability of your license if needed in future, obtaining employment in your field, submission for reimbursement from certain insurance companies, and the freedom to open up or join a private counseling office.  
Q: What time are classes offered? 
A: In the Spring and Fall semesters, our classes each meet one night per week, typically from 5:30 p.m. – 8:20 p.m.  Classes are offered Mondays – Thursdays.  A few classes meet a bit earlier in the afternoons, but these are typically for practicum and internship.  Summer Session I and II classes meet during the day, Monday – Thursdays for four days, for four weeks.  They start at 10 a.m. and run for approximately 2½ hours each.  They end at approximately 5:30 p.m.
Q: Can I take all your classes online, and how does it all work? 
A: You need to take four skill-based classes in the face-to-face format for the School Counselor or Clinical Mental Health Counseling tracks.  These are offered during the Summer sessions I and II, and during the Spring or Fall semesters.  The other courses are offered online in a synchronous fashion, which means you must attend the course in real time as it is delivered.  Other than the four face-to-face courses, you can choose to take the rest of the courses in your program in three modalities: in-person in class, via the Dakota Digital Network (DDN) in SD or the Interactive Video Network (IVN) in ND, or via a computer live web-streaming program.  We also occasionally offer one or two independent study courses via an asynchronous format.
Q: What professional organizations does the counseling program align itself with at NSU? 
A: The Counselor Education program follows the tenets, ethical guidelines, and academic standards of the American Counseling Association (ACA), the American School Counseling Association (ASCA), the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES), the Council for Accreditation of Counseling Related Educational Programs (CACREP), and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
Q: Can I take one graduate counseling course without being accepted into the program first? 
A: Yes; you can take up to 9 graduate credits (or, 3 courses) before you matriculate into the program.  If you do decide to take one or two counseling graduate courses and do want to go on in the program to get your degree and licensure, we strongly recommend that you seriously consider applying to the program so that you can be interviewed, receive an advisor, and we can help you design an effective program of study for completion.
Q: When do I get assigned a faculty advisor? 
A: Once you are fully accepted into the counseling education program, you will be assigned a temporary advisor.  This person will initially meet with you to help you select your beginning courses.  You will later decide and ask one of the Counselor Educator faculty to be assigned as your permanent advisor, as well as ask another Counselor Educator faculty to be your second chairperson on your committee.   A third chairperson will be assigned by Tammy Griffith in the Graduate Office from an outside department throughout the university.   You will also be asked to conduct a Candidacy Review - initially set up through your main advisor -  after you have completed 10-16 credits.