James Madison University

Considering an Application to the M.A/Ed.S in Clinical Mental Health Counseling?

Program Description

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program provides the course work necessary to become licensed professional counselors in community mental health centers, community agencies, psychiatric facilities, and private practice. The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). At the end of the three-year, 60-credit-hour program, students receive both the Master of Arts and the Educational Specialist degrees. Graduates are also eligible to become national certified counselors.

Please click on the following link to view the degree requirements for this program: http://psyc.jmu.edu/counseling/clinical/curriculum.html

For more information on potential careers in the counseling field, please click on the following links:


The Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP).

Philosophy of Training

Our national award winning counselor educators are dedicated to training successful counselors who:

  • provide effective, caring, and ethical counseling services to diverse populations;
  • pursue a life-long process of personal and professional growth; and
  • advance the counseling profession through research, innovation, training and service.

We offer small, experiential classes taught by experienced, dynamic and student-oriented faculty. Students receive constant feedback and supervision throughout their training. Great emphasis is placed on personal and professional growth and the practical application of skills at our on-campus practicum and internship sites. Due to the experiential nature of our programs, on-campus participation in classes is a necessary part of the learning experience. 

Our philosophy of training is based on five principles.

  • We learn by working together. Our program is a community of learners committed to supporting one another in the formidable enterprise of becoming a successful counselor.
  • We learn by doing. In virtually every class period, faculty members involve students in some activity that requires them to practice the craft of counseling - the process of observing, gathering information, conceptualizing, and taking action.
  • We learn throughout our lives. Counseling professionals have two simple options - to grow as persons and professionals by challenging ourselves, or to stagnate.
  • We learn by example. The heart of a counselor education program is not the curriculum, but its people. Actions do speak louder than words, so it is vital that both faculty and students exemplify the values of the counseling profession.
  • When we learn, we change. As students progress through this program, they do more than acquire knowledge and develop skills - they transform themselves professionally and personally.

Admission to Program

Successful candidates for admission to the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program must demonstrate a readiness to succeed in graduate level training to become a helping professional, an openness to feedback, emotional maturity, and the ability to relate to diverse groups of people. The initial screening is based on a comprehensive and integrated review of all the material that the applicants have submitted.

The application target date for the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is January 15. The specific criteria for admission include the following:

  • Completion of a baccalaureate degree: Transcripts for all coursework must be submitted with the application and should demonstrate readiness to succeed in graduate level coursework. Documentation of 18 credit hours of undergraduate psychology or related behavioral sciences course work is required.
  • General area Graduate Record Examination scores
  • Resume: Candidates should submit a resume detailing their counseling-related training, work experiences, and scholarship.
  • Three letters of recommendation: Three individuals must complete and submit reference forms.  These individuals should be able to discuss your potential for succeeding in
  • Completed application form
  • Personal statement: The personal statement should be at least 1,000 words describing yourself.  Go beyond the grades, honors, and work record that you have already provided on the application form. Instead, share with us the personal qualities and life experiences that form your character.  Tell us about the challenges you have faced, the dreams that you are pursuing, and the discoveries you have made.  What would you contribute to our learning community?  In what way have you felt called to become a counselor? 
  • Interview with faculty and students
  • International candidates for whom English is not their primary language must submit official test scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) of at least 550 on the written tests and 220 on the computer-based test. Applicants must have taken these tests within the past two years.

The application must be complete in order for you to be considered for the program. We complete a half-day interview with the top applicants sometime near the middle of February. Please be prepared to reserve these dates in your schedule so that you can attend if invited. As a part of the final admissions process, applicants complete a criminal history check.

Application Website: https://www.applyweb.com/apply/jmug/index.html
International Applicants: http://www.jmu.edu/grad/international/admissions.shtml
Catalog Link: http://www.jmu.edu/gradcatalog/11/

Application Timeline: The application will open on October 15 and the target date is January 15. All application materials should be received by January 15 in order to ensure consideration by the program.

Program Begins: Summer or Fall

Required by The Graduate School

Required Electronically:

  • Application       
  • Application fee         
  • Official GRE scores

Send official transcripts to The Graduate School. The preferred method is an electronic copy sent via eSCRIP‐SAFE. For more information, please check the Graduate School Website: http://www.jmu.edu/grad/prospective/admissions.shtml

If an electronic copy is not an option, unopened paper copies can be sent to:
The Graduate School
James Madison University
17 West Grace Street MSC 6702
Harrisonburg, VA 22807

If you have questions about this program or the application process, please send an email to echterlg@jmu.edu


  • Comprehensive Directory of Mental Health Services The updated 2013 directory is now available online
  • The Counseling Programs of James Madison University are pleased to offer the 19th annual Summer Institute in Counseling. This year's workshop offerings emphasize the theme of creative responses to client concerns, with a focus on creativity and self-care. Registration will open in mid-April, with more information about workshop descriptions and registration information available then. Details
  • Dr. Debbie Sturm is New Director - Beginning this fall, Dr. Sturm is the Director of Counseling Programs. She will continue as Coordinator of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program.
  • Dr. Michele Kielty and Dr. Renee Staton to Coordinate School Counseling - Drs. Kielty and Staton are now sharing the duties of coordinating the School Counseling Program.
  • Dr. Lennie Echterling Continues as Doctoral Program Coordinator - Dr. Echterling remains the Coordinator of the Ph.D. in Counseling and Supervision Program