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school of liberal arts

Skills taught in the Upper Iowa University School of Liberal Arts, like critical thinking and problem solving, benefit everyone’s future career.

Master of Science in Counseling (MSC)

The master’s of science in counseling is offered exclusively at the Upper Iowa University-Waterloo location. The clinically-based program meets CACREP standards to ensure that students will be able to be licensed as a mental health counselor upon completion. 

Why Upper Iowa?

  • The core classes that are required are an exact match to the Iowa Code rules for licensure.  This makes the task of demonstrating equivalency much easier.
  • In addition to the core required courses, there will be a number of hands on courses where you will have the opportunity to not only learn the theories and techniques of mental health counseling, you will practice them.
  • All faculty in this program are practicing clinicians.  They have a great deal of personal experience to share that will be invaluable to your future success.
  • You will not only learn and practice the skills needed to be an effective mental health therapist, you will learn how to document your work in a manner that is acceptable by state rules and the managed care companies.  This component is unique to our program because of the practical experience of the faculty.

Goals and Outcomes

  1. Goal #1 Scholar-Practitioner:  To produce graduates who are committed to professional excellence that is grounded in theory and research, and informed by experiential knowledge, skills, and ethical conduct.
    1. Graduates will gain an understanding of the ability to engage in a disciplined process of analysis, synthesis, conceptualization, and evaluation of information across academic, research, and clinical activities.
    2. Graduates will learn about competence in understanding and adhering to the ethical, legal, regulatory, and professional quality assurance guidelines and standards of the field as they apply to academic, research, and clinical activities.
    3. Graduates will gain an understanding of competence in understanding issues of cultural and individual diversity across academic, research, and clinical activities.
  2. Goal #2 Knowledge Foundations:  To produce graduates who demonstrate mastery of the existing body of literature constituting the core content areas of mental health counseling.
    1. Graduates will gain an understanding of a broad foundation of knowledge and understanding of the scientific, theoretical, and methodological issues that support the evolving discipline of mental health counseling and the processes underlying human behavior.
    2. Graduates will gain a critical understanding of the current issues and emerging trends within the defining areas of mental health counseling.
  3. Goal #3 Professional Practice:  To produce graduates who have developed the required entry- level knowledge and skills for the practice of mental health counseling.
    1. Graduates will gain an understanding of competence in applying theory to therapeutic case conceptualization.
    2. Graduates will learn about competence in applying evidence-based clinical assessment and diagnosis to their clinical work.
    3. Graduates will gain an understanding of competence in applying evidence-based psychosocial intervention to their clinical work.
    4. Graduates will learn about effective interdisciplinary collaboration.

Program Admission

To be admitted into the Counseling program at Upper Iowa University, applicants should possess the following:

  • Application for Admission
  • Two professional and/or academic letters of recommendation that address the applicant’s potential in the profession and ability to complete a graduate program
  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • A minimum GPA of 2.75 or successful completion of another master’s degree.
  • Official copies of your undergraduate and/or graduate transcripts from any college(s) or universities you have attended.
  • Applicants who have completed a bachelor’s degree and have at least 5 years work related experiences beyond their degree are eligible to apply to the graduate counseling programs.
  • Applicants with an undergraduate GPA under 2.75 with relevant life experience may be considered for an interview and if admitted to the graduate program, would be required to achieve a 3.0 GPA or better in their first 12 credit hours to remain in good academic standing.
  • Completion of a Criminal Background Check and Child Abuse check through the Department of Human Services is not required by Upper Iowa University; however, students need to be aware that agencies that host practicum students and interns are required to do these checks before students can complete these required courses.

Deadlines for a complete application for admission to the MS Counseling Program are as follows:

  • June 30 for Fall Admission
  • January 4 for Spring Admission

Full-Time or Part-Time Option

The MS Counseling Program can be completed as a full-time student or a part-time student. 

Full-time students will follow the official academic calendar and take the classes outlined for their specific cohort. 

Part-time students develop a customized plan to complete the required courses in three years.  For example, a student begins on term 4 of the 2015-2016 academic year and ends at the end of term three of the 2018-2019 academic year. If a student is not able to maintain full-time status, he/she is able to use this process to develop an individual timeframe to complete the program.  All individualized schedules must be preapproved before beginning the program or taking additional courses if a change occurs.  The maximum time the student has to complete the program is four years. All students should monitor their progress toward completion on a degree plan. 


As part of the curriculum, students will complete a comprehensive examination, which includes to prepare a scholarly paper outlining a clearly defined statement of his/her theoretical orientation and a theoretically-based, culturally sensitive treatment plan for this client to illustrate the way in which the theory was put into practice.  Students shall identify at least three ethical dilemmas and/or decisions that were encountered in one or more practicum and/or internship sites with references from the 2014 ACA Code of Ethics as well as a discussion of how these issues were resolved. The second part of the exam is an oral, scholarly discussion of all the submitted materials that demonstrates your ability to present a clinical case to an audience of mental health professionals. 

Practicum and Internship

In addition to completing a practicum, all students must complete a graduate-level clinical supervised counseling internship of 600 clock hours in a mental health setting. The internship, completed over three eight week terms, provides an opportunity for the student to perform, under supervision, a variety of counseling activities that a mental health counselor is expected to perform. 

Master of Science in Counseling (MSC) is offered at the following Upper Iowa University location:

  • UIU Waterloo Center