Apr 20, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Master of Science in Education in Counseling

The M.S.Ed. in counseling is a nationally accredited (CACREP) program, requiring a minimum of 60 semester hours, that provides preparation in the theory, techniques, and information needed by the professional counselor. The academic requirements as set forth by the Illinois State Board of Education are fully met by graduates of this program. Through individualized planning, a program may be designed to focus on one of the following areas of professional counselor preparation: school counseling and clinical mental health counseling.

Check departmental information for additional requirements.

The student learning outcomes for this degree are located at http://www.niu.edu/assessment/clearinghouse/outcomes/index.shtml.


An applicant must demonstrate satisfactory academic and professional progress as indicated by data included in the application for admission by the Graduate School the deadline posted on the program admission website. 

Applicants to the program in counseling must attend a pre-admission workshop and be selected by the faculty on the basis of aptitude, ability, professional disposition and personal qualifications requisite for the field. Prior to the pre-admission workshop, applicants must complete the supplementary data forms and take any required tests. Admission to the master’s program in counseling is competitive and takes place once a year in the spring. Students are admitted for the summer session or fall semester. All materials must be received by the Graduate School and the Department of Counseling and Higher Education by January 8. Applicants are usually notified of an admission decision within three weeks of the pre-admission workshop.

Prospective students who fail to satisfy the Graduate School’s GPA requirement may request special consideration of their applications.

Any applicant who is denied admission to the program may submit to the admissions committee a written request for reconsideration that includes information not previously submitted. Final decisions of program admissions committees may be appealed to the department’s Committee on Admissions, Retention, and Professional Standards. Appeals to this committee must be in writing and must explain the basis for the appeal.

Admitted students will be required to successfully pass a Criminal Background Check before progressing into their practicum field-based curriculum experiences.

Student-at-Large and Transfer Credit

A combined maximum of 9 student-at-large and transfer semester hours may be applied toward the master’s degree in counseling. Candidates are encouraged to apply to the counseling program and to attend the Pre-Admission Workshop as soon as possible. After admitted, students will be assigned an advisor who assists in course selection.


Students are responsible for meeting the professional standards of the College of Education and undergo periodic evaluation by the counseling faculty.


A student is assigned an advisor when admitted to the program. The advisor is a faculty member in the area of interest which the student intends to pursue. Courses of study are developed for each student. It is always the responsibility of the student to be aware of university policies and regulations affecting their program.


Students are required to take a minimum of 60 semester hours. Students are required to take 39 semester hours in the core curriculum, 12 semester hours of the specialization core, and 9 semester hours in supervised practicum and internship. Students select from one of the following: a specialization in clinical mental health counseling or a specialization in school counseling.  In consultation with an advisor, the student selects a thesis or non-thesis option.

Check departmental information for any additional requirements.

Clinical Core (9)

Specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

This area of specialization is designed for students seeking professional counseling positions in agencies that assist clients to resolve psychological disorders and/or developmental issues through crisis intervention, remediation, and/or primary prevention interventions.

Specialization in School Counseling

This area consists of course work and experiences that prepare students to do counseling in a K-12 school setting. Candidates seeking professional educator licensure must successfully complete required state mandated tests for licensure/certification prior to internship. See also “Educator Licensure information.”

Thesis Option

In addition to the requirements above, a student who wishes to write a thesis must enroll in COUN 699, Master’s Thesis, for the number of semester hours specified on the student’s official program of study.