The MS program emphasizes counseling in community and agency settings, including university and college counseling centers. The master's degree emphasizes service delivery, and its practica/internship components reflect that emphasis. The curriculum stresses knowledge and development of skills in individual and group counseling, consultation, research, ethics, multiculturalism, social justice, and vocational psychology. Supervised practicum experiences are available through the training clinic, university counseling centers, community mental health centers, and numerous other campus units and community agencies. Students are prepared to work predominantly as practitioners in community agencies, post-secondary educational institutions, business and industry. The program fulfills academic requirements to become a licensed professional counselor in the state of Wisconsin.

The sequence of required courses combined with lab and field experiences can be planned on either a full- or part-time basis, but care must be taken in proper sequencing of courses for those attending part-time. Those students enrolling on a full-time basis typically complete the program in two years, including summer classes. For more information, visit the program website.


Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline January 5
Spring Deadline The program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not exclusively in English, must provide an English proficiency test score earned within two years of the anticipated term of enrollment. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Requirements for Admission policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1241.
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Admission to the program is highly competitive. Approximately 150 master's applications are received each year, and the department enrolls 10–12 new master's students per year. The Department of Counseling Psychology accepts applications for fall enrollment between early September and the fall deadline listed above for the MS in Counseling program. There is no option for spring or summer initial enrollment in the department.  The applicant is responsible for collecting, assembling, and submitting all the pieces of the application by the fall deadline.  Applicants must upload materials to the online application.


In addition to acquired academic competencies and counseling skills, the counseling profession requires a high level of ethical behavior, self-awareness and personal maturity. All are considered in assessing a student's fitness for a career as a professional counselor. The applicant will be expected to meet minimum requirements for admission set by the Graduate School. Department requirements are more rigorous. An undergraduate degree is required for the master's program.


Applicants should have 3 credit hours of introductory psychology and 3 credit hours in statistics or measurement/psychometrics/test construction.  If the applicant has not completed the necessary requirements at the time of application, he or she may be admitted with deficiencies and complete the coursework in addition to the program requirements. Prior volunteer or paid work experience in community agencies is important for placement in community agencies for practicum.

Informational Meetings

Several informational meetings are hosted each fall by the department. A schedule of these meetings and other information can be found on the Information for Prospective MS Applicants page.

Questions can be directed to the Student Services Coordinator. See the People tab for contact information.


Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources


Racial and ethnic minority students are encouraged to apply for the American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship Program. Information is available at https://www.apa.org/pi/mfp.


The Department of Counseling Psychology has a limited number of Project and Teaching Assistantships. Although master’s students occasionally receive assistantships in the department, assistantships within the department are primarily awarded to doctoral students. Master's students are encouraged to seek other forms of financial assistance. Other departments on campus do offer assistantships at the master's level and occasionally to students from outside their individual department; you may inquire to other departments directly or view the "UW Graduate Assistant" jobs available on the Student Jobs website.

Financial Aid

Information and application materials for financial aid, loans, scholarships, and student employment may be obtained by contacting the Office of Student Financial Aid at 333 East Campus Mall, Room 9701, Madison, WI 53706, 608-262-3060. International applicants are encouraged to seek other forms of financial assistance as international students are not eligible for loans and scholarships.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements

Mode of Instruction

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.

Curricular Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement 60 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 30 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1244.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required. Refer to the Graduate School: Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirement policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1203.
Other Grade Requirements Students are required to attain a minimum course grade of B for all coursework that fulfills the 60-credit requirement.
Assessments and Examinations The Professional Integration Exercise (PIE) is a capstone experience for all master’s students, where they have the opportunity to pull together their learning and skills and their overall professional identity. Through this oral clinical case conceptualization, they have the opportunity to demonstrate to the faculty their readiness as a master’s-level clinician. The Professional Integration Exercise (PIE) will be conducted in late spring during students’ second year of training.
Language Requirements No language requirements.

Required Courses

The MS degree in counseling requires that students satisfactorily complete coursework, practica experiences, and a professional integration experience. Students earn a minimum of 60 graduate credits. Coursework beyond the 60- credit minimum may be required of students entering with course deficiencies, as enumerated in their letters of admission. Students seeking licensure or certification out of state should check with those states’ particular requirements.

The curriculum has been revised in accordance with changes in Wisconsin State licensing requirements with courses only offered once each year. The master’s program is a two-year plan that students should follow. The offering of courses is designed for students following the course sequence. Students who depart from the course sequence may be delayed in completing the program and need to consult with their advisors to determine the best course sequence. Students are expected to complete any program deficiencies before they begin the program or during the first semester, at the latest.

The following is an outline of the required courses:

COUN PSY 700 Practicum Activities (1 credit fall; 1 credit spring)2
COUN PSY/​ED PSYCH  723 Developmental Processes Across the Life Span3
COUN PSY/​RP & SE  730 Professional Counseling Orientation3
COUN PSY 740 Abnormal Behavior and Psychopathology3
COUN PSY 745 Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Diagnosis and Treatment Planning for Counselors3
COUN PSY 777 Crisis and Trauma Counseling3
COUN PSY 791 Foundations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling3
COUN PSY 800 Theories of Counseling3
COUN PSY 802 Group Dynamics Processing and Counseling3
COUN PSY 805 Helping Relationships and Techniques3
COUN PSY 806 Supervised Practicum in Counseling3
COUN PSY 808 Supervised Internship in Counseling (take in fall and spring) 110
COUN PSY 825 Counseling Psychology Techniques With Families3
COUN PSY 860 Social and Cultural Foundations of Counseling3
COUN PSY 865 Lifestyle and Career Development3
COUN PSY 810 Professional Development and Clinical Practice (optional; if needed for additional internship hours)1-6
RP & SE 700 Research Methods in Rehabilitation, Mental Health, & Special Education3
RP & SE 720 Clinical Rehabilitation & Mental Health Counseling - Assessment3
RP & SE 721 Addictions Counseling3
Total Credits60

The vast majority of students take 5 credits in fall and 5 credits in spring. Occasionally a student under certain circumstances may be allowed to take fewer credits; please consult with the program coordinator for more information.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions

With program approval, students may transfer no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions towards the minimum credit requirement. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to the master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Undergraduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions or UW-Madison

Coursework taken as part of a student's undergraduate program of study will not transfer towards the minimum credit requirement.

Credits Earned as a Professional Student at UW-Madison (Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Veterinary careers)

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.

Credits Earned as a University Special Student at UW–Madison

With program approval, students may transfer no more than 9 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to the master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


When concerns arise about a student’s performance which warrants immediate attention, a non-routine review will be initiated. Concerns that would prompt a non-routine review include: academic proficiency (e.g., grade of BC or lower in a required course); clinical competence and/or termination from a practicum placement; interpersonal functioning; and/or unethical behaviors and/or interactions. The student will be notified of the concern by their advisor or the training director. The master’s training committee will discuss the matter to determine whether the concern will be taken to the full faculty for consultation and/or decision. An ad hoc committee will work with the student to create a "development plan" or a "remediation plan" (i.e., student is under probation), depending on the seriousness of the issue(s). If the concern persists after the remediation plan or the issue(s) are deemed irremediable, the committee may recommend dismissal from the program to the full faculty. If the full faculty vote is in agreement with the recommendation for dismissal, the student will be dismissed from the program.

Advisor / Committee

Upon admission to the master’s program, students will be assigned a faculty advisor to facilitate their entry to the program. The faculty advisor has several responsibilities, which include: assisting students with course selection; guiding students’ clinical and professional development; guiding students’ research, including master’s thesis (optional); and giving final approval for master’s work. The advisor is also available to answer other questions and concerns that may arise regarding departmental procedures, licensure issues and practicum placement.

Credits Per Term Allowed

15 credits

Time Limits

If students have been absent for five or more years they must petition the counseling psychology faculty, in writing, for readmission. If successful, they must file a new Graduate School application for admission and submit it with a new application fee. Master’s students who do not enroll for a period of five or more years are required to retake some or all Program coursework. All coursework, including deficiencies, must be completed within eight years of admission to the program.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

School of Education Grievance Policy and Procedures

The following School of Education Student Grievance Policy and associated procedures are designed for use in response to individual student grievances regarding faculty or staff in the School of Education.

Any individual student who feels they have been treated unfairly by a School of Education faculty or staff member has the right to file a grievance about the treatment and receive a timely response addressing their concerns. Any student, undergraduate or graduate, may use these grievance procedures, except employees whose complaints are covered under other campus policies. The grievance may concern classroom treatment, mentoring or advising, program admission or continuation, course grades (study abroad grade complaints are handled through International Academic Programs), or issues not covered by other campus policies or grievance procedures. 

For grievances regarding discrimination based on protected bases (i.e., race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, etc.), contact the Office of Compliance (https://compliance.wisc.edu/eo-complaint/).

For grievances or concerns regarding sexual harassment or sexual violence (including sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, stalking, and sexual exploitation), contact the Sexual Misconduct Resource and Response Program within the Office of Compliance.

For grievances that involve the behavior of a student, contact the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards in the Dean of Students Office at https://conduct.students.wisc.edu/).

For grievances about, or directed at, faculty or staff in a School of Education department, unit, or program, students should follow these steps:

  1. Students are strongly encouraged to first talk with the person against whom the concern is directed. Many issues can be settled informally at this level. If students are unable to resolve concerns directly or without additional support, step 2 or 3 should be pursued.
  2. If unresolved after taking or considering step 1:
    1. If the concern is directed against a teaching assistant (TA), and the student is not satisfied, the student should contact the TA's supervisor, who is usually the course professor. The course professor will attempt to resolve the concern informally.
    2. If the concern involves a non-TA instructor, staff member, professor, academic department, or School of Education office or unit, the student should contact the chair of the department or the director of the office or unit, or their designee. The chair or director, or their designee, will attempt to resolve the concern informally. If the concern is about the department chair or office/unit director, the student should consult the School of Education Senior Associate Dean for guidance.
  3. If the concern remains unresolved after step 2, the student may submit a formal grievance to the chair or director in writing within 30 business days1 of the alleged unfair treatment. To the fullest extent possible, a formal written grievance shall contain a clear and concise statement of the issue(s) involved and the relief sought.  
  4. On receipt of a written grievance, the chair or director will notify the person at whom the grievance is directed with a copy of the written grievance. The person at whom the complaint is directed may submit a written response, which would be shared with the student.
  5. On receipt of a written grievance, the chair or director will refer the matter to a department, office, or unit committee comprised of at least two members. The committee may be an existing committee or one constituted for this purpose. The committee, or delegates from the committee, may meet with the parties involved and/or review any material either party shares with the committee.  
  6. The committee will provide a written description of the facts of the grievance and communicate recommendations to the department chair or office/unit head regarding how the grievance should be handled.
  7. The chair or director will offer to meet with the student who made the grievance and also will provide a written decision to the student, including a description of any related action taken by the committee, within 30 business days of receiving the formal grievance.

    For the purpose of this policy, business days refers to those days when the University Offices are open and shall not include weekends, university holidays, spring recess, or the period from the last day of exams of fall semester instruction to the first day of spring semester instruction. All time limits may be modified by mutual consent of the parties involved.

If the grievance concerns an undergraduate course grade, the decision of the department chair after reviewing the committee’s recommendations is final. 

Other types of grievances may be appealed using the following procedures:

  1. Both the student who filed the grievance or the person at whom the grievance was directed, if unsatisfied with the decision of the department, office or unit, have five (5) business days from receipt of the decision to contact the Senior Associate Dean, indicating the intention to appeal.   
  2. A written appeal must be filed with the Senior Associate Dean within 10 business days of the time the appealing party was notified of the initial resolution of the complaint.
  3. On receipt of a written appeal, the Senior Associate Dean will convene a sub-committee of the School of Education’s Academic Planning Council. This subcommittee may ask for additional information from the parties involved and/or may hold a meeting at which both parties will be asked to speak separately (i.e., not in the room at the same time).
  4. The subcommittee will then make a written recommendation to the Dean of the School of Education, or their designee, who will render a decision. The dean or designee’s written decision shall be made within 30 business days from the date when the written appeal was filed with the Senior Associate Dean.  For undergraduate students, the dean or designee’s decision is final.

Further appealing a School of Education decision – graduate students only

Graduate students have the option to appeal decisions by the School of Education dean or designee by using the process detailed on the Graduate School’s website.

Questions about these procedures can be directed to the School of Education Dean's Office, 377 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-1763.




Professional Development

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Learning Outcomes

  1. Develop knowledge foundational to the practice of mental health counseling including normative and nonnormative human development; individual, group, and couples/family counseling; cultural and social diversity. measurement and evaluation; and exposure to crisis, trauma, and stress.
  2. Develop skills for effective individual, family, and group counseling for mental health concerns and well-being as well as effective consultation, evaluation and progress monitoring.
  3. Apply principles associated with multiculturalism, polyculturalism, and social justice.
  4. Develop understanding, identification with and comportment with the profession of mental health counseling including standards of care, moral and ethical principles, professional identity, professional relationships, professional demeanor, self-reflection, and awareness of impact on others.


Faculty: Professors Thompson (Chair), Gloria, and Quintana; Associate Professors Budge, Goldberg, and Wright; Assistant Professors Frost and Kim; Faculty Associate Lotta; Clinical Associate Professor Graham; Clinical Assistant Professors Ramirez Stege and Her.

Graduate Program Manager: Andrea Burdick.
Department Administrator: Nancy Jaeckle


Professional Certification/Licensure Disclosure (NC-SARA)

The United States Department of Education (via 34 CFR Part 668) requires institutions that provide distance education to disclose information for programs leading to professional certification or licensure. The expectation is that institutions will determine whether each applicable academic program meets state professional licensure requirements and provide a general disclosure of such on an official university website.

Professional licensure requirements vary from state-to-state and can change year-to-year; they are established in a variety of state statutes, regulations, rules, and policies; and they center on a range of educational requirements, including degree type, specialized accreditation, total credits, specific courses, and examinations.  

UW-Madison has taken reasonable efforts to determine whether this program satisfies the educational requirements for certification/licensure in states where prospective and enrolled students are located and is disclosing that information as follows.

Disclaimer: This information is based on the most recent annual review of state agency certification/licensure data and is subject to change. All students are strongly encouraged to consult with the individual/office listed in the Contact Information box on this page and with the applicable state agency for specific information.

The requirements of this program meet certification/licensure requirements in the following states:

Colorado, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin

The requirements of this program do not meet certification/licensure requirements in the following states:

Not applicable

Updated: 1 June 2024