CACREP Accredited Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program

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Ranked #1 for Top Value Counseling Master’s Degrees and Reaccredited Through 2025

Fairfield University’s Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree is a Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredited 60 credit hour program which offers counseling courses under the guidance of faculty members who are nationally recognized in the field. The program fulfills the 60 credit hour requirements for licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Connecticut. We also offer a Sixth Year Certificate of Advanced Study (SYC) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. The SYC is a 30-credit hour degree designed for students with a master's degree in a counseling field seeking to be licensed as a Professional Counselor in Connecticut.

Fairfield’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program is ranked #1 for top value counseling master’s degrees in Connecticut.

What is Professional Counseling?

Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals (American Counseling Association, 20/20 Consensus Definition of Counseling). This degree is unique in the mental health marketplace in that the emphasis is on the helping relationship and the client's ability to heal promoted through a mental wellness perspective.

How are Professional Counselors Trained?

Professional Counseling framework is based on culturally relevant, normal life span development with a focus on wellness to empower individuals to reach their potential. Within this perspective, licensed professional counselors are trained to build authentic, therapeutic relationships, to empower clients through identification of strengths, and to provide appropriate diagnoses when necessary to facilitate client development. Professional Counselors incorporate work and personal client goals into treatment planning.

The Fairfield University Clinical Mental Health Counseling program training centers on the nationally recognized nine core areas of knowledge and skills:

  1. Human growth and development
  2. The helping relationship
  3. Lifestyle and career development
  4. Research and evaluation
  5. Social and cultural foundations
  6. Group counseling
  7. Individual appraisal
  8. Professional orientation
  9. Clinical skills

In addition to these basic training, we offer courses on Trauma and Crisis Intervention and Addiction required for Connecticut Licensed Professional Counselors as well as Grief and Loss, Spirituality and Wellness, Co-Occuring Disorders and other specialized courses.

Where do Professional Counselors Work?

Our students are provided with an excellent educational foundation that leads to licensure (i.e., LPC) and work in counseling settings including mental health agencies, college counseling centers, hospitals, and private practice. The LPC license is a broad license that facilitates providing counseling services to individual groups, couples, and families. Further, Professional Counselors are the only mental health providers trained in career counseling.

Application deadlines for the Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling programs are October 1 and January 15.

We are extremely proud of our student body in the Counselor Education Department. They are dedicated and consistently achieve at the very highest levels. Our graduates:

  • Have a 100% employment rate at 1-year followup
  • Have authored articles published in peer-reviewed counseling journals.
  • Regularly present at state and local conferences.
  • Consistently score well above the national average on the National Counselor Examination.
  • Participate in numerous outreach projects to serve the underrepresented
  • Have received grants focused on training in integrated care and tele-mental health
  • Serve in state counseling association leadership positions.

View the Counselor Education Department Fairfield University Program Outcomes Report (PDF) for the academic year 2020-21.


CACREP Accredited Logo

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) has accredited the MA programs in School and Clinical Mental Health Counseling. In January 2017, after being reviewed on all 241 2009 Standards, CACREP accredited the School and Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs for eight years through March 31, 2025. CACREP accredited the Fairfield counseling programs in 1986, the first programs in Connecticut to receive this accreditation.

An extension of accredited status was granted for the specialty areas in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling in order to allow the counselor education department’s self-study to address the CACREP 2024 Standards. The new expiration date is March 31, 2026.

Training & Preparation

Professional Preparation

Delivery systems used for program instruction are publicized for students in the Student Handbook. The program uses didactic in-person instruction for core courses which are all held in Canisius Hall on campus. Most skills courses (Counseling Relationships and Skills, Practicum, and Internship) are held in the Counselor Education Lab and Training Center located in Dolan West on campus. Faculty use Blackboard to post syllabi, submit assignments, and share resources. Delivery systems used for teaching core courses are described in the syllabi.

As students increase and refine their clinical skills they are encouraged to: participate as coaches in several core courses; participate as process observers for the group, career, and theories courses; and engage in research, writing, and professional presentations with faculty. Combined with ongoing supervision, these various opportunities solidify a set of teaching, research, and supervision skills, that when added to the high level of clinical training, create a bridge for entry into the professional field or post-master's studies.

Counselor Education Lab and Training Center

The Counselor Education Lab and Training Center is housed in Dolan West on the Fairfield University Campus. This state-of-the-art facility was created with the purpose of training our Counselor Education students.

Our training facility includes an office for the clinical coordinator, two seminar classrooms, an observation room with a two-way mirror, and six rooms equipped with iPad technology allowing faculty to observe and monitor students practicing counseling skills and interventions.

Mission Statement

As a program within a Jesuit community, the Counselor Education Department’s mission is to prepare professional counselors and leaders who, through commitment to diversity, equity, social action, and advocacy, will have a meaningful and lasting impact in their communities and beyond. Rooted in Ignatian pedagogy and with the input of our stakeholders, we seek to cultivate a culture of academic and clinical excellence, as well as attunement to and affirmation of the dignity and worth of all persons.

Departmental Values

We believe in the need to develop a greater sense of self-realization throughout the lifespan and the need to cultivate personal and communal wellbeing for all. We are committed to serving individuals and communities in their varied manifestation of diversity both for the prevention and remediation of life’s problems. Through their knowledge, skills, an engaged professional identity, and the pursuit of the highest standards of excellence, our students will strive to become leaders and advocates in the counseling profession.

We are committed to training our students to meet the needs of diverse communities by providing community-engaged-learning opportunities throughout their training. Within these experiences we provide students with support and opportunities for challenges that encourage them to become compassionate, reflective, and critical advocates and practitioners as they work with individuals and communities in the pursuit of increased self-awareness and well-being.

We as faculty members in Counselor Education acknowledge our obligation as gatekeepers to students who will pursue professional preparation as clinical mental health counselors or school counselors and to the larger public to be served by our graduates. In our role as gatekeepers, we value the need to create a climate of professional care and consistency from a compassionate, supportive view. We are committed to ethical and effective counseling and require our students to adhere to the American Counseling Association’s (ACA) Code of Ethics 2014. We champion a commitment to cura personalis and promote such a stance with our students, within the broader School of Education and Human Development, Fairfield University and surrounding communities and global contexts.

Student Learning Outcomes


Professional Orientation and Ethical Practice

Graduates will identify as a professional (school) counselor aligned with ethical and legal standards of practice and dispositions as indicated by CCS-R.


Social and Cultural Diversity

Graduates will demonstrate understanding of, sensitivity to, and advocacy for equity, diversity, and inclusion issues in counseling.


Human Growth and Development

Graduates will incorporate theories and models for optimal lifespan development to empower and promote resilience and wellness across the lifespan.


Career Development

Graduates will apply career theory and models to serve and advocate for career development of diverse clients’ career, vocational, and educational needs across the lifespan.


Counseling and Helping Relationships

Graduates will apply theories, models, and principles in developing a therapeutic relationship and in providing assessment, case conceptualization, and intervention to promote client empowerment and change.


Group Counseling and Group Work

Graduates will demonstrate use of group work theoretical foundational knowledge to achieve experiential efficacy of facilitating groups.


Assessment and Testing

Graduates will demonstrate ability to assess client/student issues for appropriate and effective delivery of services.


Research and Program Evaluation

Graduates will demonstrate the fundamental ability to conduct, access, and critique evidence-based research, to improve treatment and program outcome.


Professional Practice Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Graduates will demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions to effectively assess, conceptualize, diagnose, and treat clients in a variety of settings.


Professional Practice of School Counseling

Graduates will demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions to effectively promote the academic, career, and personal/social development of all P–12 students through data-informed school counseling programs.

Course Offerings

Required Courses

Multicultural Issues in Counseling
Lifespan Human Development
Psychopathology and Classification II
Professional Issues in Counseling
Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy
Counseling Relationships and Skills
Group Work: Theory and Practice
Career Development: Theories and Practice
Assessment in Counseling
Research Methodology
Counseling Practicum*
Clinical Mental Health Counseling*
Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Management, Delivery, and Evaluation
Introduction to Substance Abuse and Addictions
Trauma and Crisis Intervention
Introduction to Clinical Supervision
Introduction to Marriage and Family Therapy
Two (2) elective courses (in consultation with advisor)
Comprehensive Exam in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
(May be taken during the last semester of study or one semester prior)

*Grades of B or better are required in all clinical coursework.

A detailed list of course requirements, offerings, and more can be viewed in the University’s course catalog.


Applicants to the Counselor Education Program must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university (or the international equivalent) and give promise of meeting the standards set by the School.

Matriculation to the program is through an application process. The process begins with the application packet submitted to Graduate Admissions. After successful review of a completed application, the candidate will be invited to attend both an individual and a group interview process during interview day. Successful candidates are then invited to the program. Those who confirm attendance post invitation are invited to a new student orientation.

Stag Spotlight

Krista Dobson

Class of ’18

Get to Know Krista
"I came to Fairfield on the recommendation of an alum. While researching the program, I became increasingly impressed by the academic rigor, faculty interests/specialty, location, class size, and flexibility of class schedules. What I liked most about my education at Fairfield is that I received the foundational knowledge to craft a career that is reflective of my interests. An advanced degree is required in my field and I would recommend Fairfield as the majority of the faculty are very supportive and engaged. An advanced degree has allowed me to work in a number of diverse environments that have been both professionally and personally enriching."

— Krista Dobson '18

James Geisler headshot

James Geisler

Class of ’14

Get to Know James
James Geisler headshot
"The quality of education I received at Fairfield University is unlike any educational experience I have had thus far. What I valued the most was how much the faculty value relationship-building with students. The quality of education students receive is among the highest in the state for Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I left Fairfield University with an ability to lean into new experiences and to grow in professional and personal ways that I feel confident to say would have been absent without this education. My mentor and former professor, Dr. Diana Hulse, encouraged me to pursue my PhD in Counselor Education and I applied and was accepted into Oregon State University's PhD program."

— James Geisler MA'14

Latest Clinical Mental Health Counseling News

Counselor Education Department Innovates to Best Prepare Students to Meet the Needs of Clients

Faculty members continue to offer new coursework to address the needs of clients in a post-Covid world and are active leaders in the field.

More About Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Message from the Chair

Read the Message

Message from the Chair

Dilani Perera headshot

Welcome to the Counselor Education program!

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling programs at Fairfield University are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Our training following the humanistic narrative which recognizes the major role that the counselor-client relationship plays in promoting therapeutic change. As such, the program faculty emphasize interpersonal learning as a core competency, along with academic and clinical skill competencies.

The Counselor Education faculty are dedicated to preparing our graduates for licensure and certification aligning with the mission of the American Counseling Association “to enhance the quality of life in society by promoting the development of professional counselors, advancing the counseling profession, and using the profession and practice of counseling to promote respect for human dignity and diversity.”

Our programs provide opportunities that serve to further our students' professional development or increase their readiness for post-master’s studies. Our commitment to our three-tier practicum supervision model; a model often seen only in doctoral training programs, is evidence of our focus on training professional and school counselors. In addition to the standard coursework aligning with CACREP accreditation, our students have many opportunities to gain additional preparation in supervision, research, group work, substance abuse counseling, and spirituality in counseling.

We welcome you to join and experience our program.

Dilani Perera, PhD
Chair and Professor of Counselor Education

Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

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Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

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As a Jesuit, Catholic university, Fairfield is dedicated to diversity and inclusion; to radical hospitality in service of racial, social, and economic justice.

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Career & Professional Opportunities

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Career & Professional Opportunities

Connecticut Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) are trained “principles of psycho-social development and behavioral science to the evaluation, assessment, analysis, diagnosis and treatment of emotional, behavioral or interpersonal dysfunction or difficulties that interfere with mental health and human development. "Professional counseling" includes, but is not limited to, individual, group, marriage and family counseling, functional assessments for persons adjusting to a disability, appraisal, crisis intervention and consultation with individuals or groups” (Connecticut General Statues Chapter 383c. Sec. 20-105aa). Connecticut offers a tiered licensing system.

At Fairfield University, our counseling graduates are trained to provide the above services from a perspective that is sensitive to race/ethnicity, age, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and other cultural variables.

Upon completion of a minimum of a 60-credit hour master’s degree M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, passing the state required licensure examination, and necessary background checks, graduates are eligible to seek Licensed Professional Counselor Associates (LPC-A) credential that leads to paid mental health positions.

Professional Counselors may be employed in a wide variety of settings, including:

  • Commercial Settings
  • Correctional Facilities
  • Detoxification and Rehabilitation Facilities
  • Educational Institutions
  • Government Agencies
  • Hospitals and Other Medical Facilities
  • Mental Health Facilities
  • Private Practice

Professional Counselors provide the following services:

  • Assessment
  • Career Counseling
  • Crisis Counseling
  • Consultation
  • Group Counseling
  • Marriage and Family Counseling
  • Individual Counseling

Please visit the Department of Public Health's page for more information on Professional Counselors in Connecticut.


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Our faculty in the Counselor Education Department is second to none, receiving some of the highest accolades in the profession. Our faculty:

  • Have authored books and numerous published scholarly journal articles covering topics including clinical supervision, spirituality, school counseling advocacy, and multiculturalism.
  • Have served as presidents of the Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling and the North Atlantic Region Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, and the Connecticut Association of Counselor Education and Supervision, vice president of the Connecticut School Counseling Association.
  • Are currently involved in research integrating mindfulness into counseling curriculum, campus climate regarding Mental Health Initiatives, sexual assault on campus, School Counseling Students' Social Advocacy, and Sexual Abuse among Girls and Women in Jamaica.
Meet the Faculty

Frequently Asked Questions

When you are ready to apply, you can create an online application. Please plan to spend about 10 - 15 minutes completing the application. You can create the application and return to the platform in the future to submit it if you require additional time. You should be prepared to answer a series of questions pertaining to your biographical information, program of interest, and educational/ work background. Additionally, you will be required to enter the names and contact information for two references. As part of the application process, you will be required to submit all official college transcripts (sent directly from your institutions), two recommendations (submitted directly from your references who will receive a unique email link), a personal statement, and resume. Please note, you may submit the online application prior to submitting the required supplemental materials. For any questions about the online application please contact Fairfield University Graduate Admission.

In 1-2 pages, please respond to the following questions:

  • What aspects of the Counselor Education Department and Fairfield University do you find attractive and why?
  • What personal or professional skills and work experiences do you bring that would be helpful to become a school or professional counselor?
  • What do you plan to do with a degree in CMHC or School Counseling?

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Accreditation from CACREP is voluntary. Those institutions who wish to receive this accreditation are required to meet a rigorous set of program and faculty standards.

For the incoming student, a CACREP accredited program is beneficial for a few reasons:

  • An assurance that the educational activities of an accredited institution or program have been found to be satisfactory and therefore meet the needs of students
  • Assistance in the transfer of credits between institutions or in the admission of students to advanced degrees, through the general acceptance of credits among accredited institutions when the performance of the student has been satisfactory and the credits to be transferred are appropriate to the receiving institution
  • A prerequisite in many cases for entering a profession

Applicants for the Master of Arts degree must hold an earned Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. A minimum cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 2.67 is strongly recommended. Applicants for the Sixth Year Certificate of Advanced Study must hold an earned Master's degree from an accredited college or university, completed with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00.

Yes, you are able to take up to six (6) credits in the School Counseling program and up to nine (9) credits in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program as a non-matriculated student before being accepted into the program.

At a minimum, it takes 2 years. On average, it takes our students approximately 2.5 to 3 years to complete the program.

Classes will cover various topics including counseling theories, fundamental counseling skills, group counseling, multicultural issues, research, assessment, ethical and legal codes, and career counseling.

Yes. Once you are accepted into the program, you will receive a letter notifying you of your advisor's name. You will then be asked to contact your advisor to set up a meeting to discuss and design your plan of study.

Elective classes are offered in the program; however, depending on your plan of study, you may or may not have an opportunity to take them.


Classes are offered with the graduate student's schedule in mind. We offer weekday classes at night from 4:55-6:55 p.m. and from 7:15-9:15 p.m., as well as weekend classes.

The program's Clinical Coordinator will assist you in finding a practicum and internship site.

To begin the practicum process, you must first turn in a completed, signed, Application for Practicum to the Clinical Coordinator by the date indicated on the Departmental Calendar. Then, you and the Clinical Coordinator will arrange to meet to discuss your career objectives and the availability of practica sites within your area of interest. Once the availability of a practicum site is confirmed, you will be asked to contact the site to arrange an interview.

For internships, some students will stay at their practicum sites. In other cases, students will have identified sites through contacts that they have made during practicum experiences. Others will require assistance from the Clinical Coordinator in finding and securing an internship site. In all of these cases it is the student's responsibility to take the appropriate steps to secure a site within a timely manner, which will require meeting with or contacting the Clinical Coordinator to ascertain that a particular course of action or setting is appropriate.

Practicum cannot be taken over the summer. Clinical Mental Health Counseling students have the opportunity to take one semester of internship during the summer. School Counseling students do not.

Internships are a two-semester (10-month), full-time commitment for those school counseling students who do not hold a Connecticut Teaching Certificate but wish to be certified as school counselors. For all others, the internship will consist of a 600-hour experience that can be completed in either one or two semesters.

You do not need to be licensed to work at a clinical mental health agency. You only need to be license-eligible, which you will be after completing the program.

Counselors in the state of Connecticut are licensed through the Department of Public Health. Please visit the Department of Public Health for a list of requirements.

Yes, please see the Office of Financial Aid.

Please come to one of our Graduate Information Sessions. Visit the Graduate Admission page for the schedule.

NC SARA Disclosure

In accordance with the Fairfield University Online Compliance and Disclosure Statement, please visit the American Counseling Association  or NC SARA professional licensure directory to find state-specific contact information for Licensed Professional Counselor Regulatory Departments and Boards.

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