Counseling Degrees & Licenses in Georgia

Most states require that counselors have a specific level of education along with meeting experiential conditions, such as how many post-graduate supervised hours of training they receive. Georgia is no different. The state of Georgia offers two levels of licensure: the Associate Professional Counselor, which is the title required for a student to complete their supervised work experience, and the fully credentialed Licensed Professional Counselor.

According to the Georgia Secretary of State, Georgia licenses school counselors, associate and licensed marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, those with a master’s in social work, and the two previously mentioned levels of professional counselors. The Georgia Professional Standards Commission indicates that Georgia does require an individual to obtain a degree from a Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredited program in school counseling.

Not every program is CACREP-accredited, so this should be a part of the decision on what school to attend. In Georgia, applicants who attend out-of-state programs not CACREP-accredited will not be eligible for Georgia certification in school counseling unless enrolled in the program prior to April 15, 2017.

According to Resources To Recover, there is a strong need for mental health professionals in Georgia. Georgia is a large state, with 10 million people. Georgia has a population of approximately 10.1 million people, making it the eighth-most populous state in the nation. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that about 3.5 percent of adults in Georgia experience serious mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression; however, less than 40 percent of adults with mental illness in Georgia receive any form of treatment from either the public system or private providers.

Read on for more information on schools to attend and more information on counseling degrees and licenses in Georgia.

Accredited Counseling Degree Programs in Georgia

Albany State University – College of Business, Education, and Professional Studies (Online)

Albany State University caters to busy parents or already-working professionals who are comfortable with online learning by offering their master of education program entirely online.

The MEd program in counselor education provides concentrations in clinical mental health counseling (CMHC), clinical rehabilitation counseling (CRC), and school counseling (SC). Students can begin classes in the summer or fall semesters, on a full-time or part-time basis. Students can work at their own pace, with options for either the traditional path or an accelerated path.

Graduates will be prepared to take the National Counselor Examination, which is a requirement for counselor licensure in many states. Although the program is 100 percent online, students can complete their fieldwork in their local area. Students are required to complete at least two four-day on-campus residencies.

  • Location: Albany, Georgia
  • Duration: 63 semester-hours
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $300 per credit plus fees for all online programs; tuition varies based on number of credits and in-state or out-of-state residency

Augusta University – College of Education

Augusta University is a public university and academic medical center in Augusta, Georgia, on the northeastern border of the state near North Carolina. With two concentrations, the master of education with a major in counselor education prepares students to become either school counselors or clinical mental health counselors. Courses are not online, but they are generally offered during evening hours or on Saturdays to accommodate those who may already be working.

  • Location: Augusta, Georgia
  • Duration: CMHC program is 60 hours; the school counseling program is 48 hours
  • Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $2,752 plus fees per semester for 12 or more hours, in-state; $9,386 plus fees per semester for 12 or more hours, non-resident

Clark Atlanta University – School of Education

Clark Atlanta University is a private Methodist historically black university, and it has a rich background as the first HBCU in the Southern United States. The Department of Counselor Education offers programs leading to master of arts (MA) degrees in both clinical mental health counseling and school counseling. Both programs meet the standards of the Licensed Professional Counselors and School Counselors based on the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. The CMHC program prepares students for the National Counselor Examination.

Clark Atlanta does have some admission requirements, including an official GRE or GMAT score, which cannot be deferred or waived. Test scores more than five years old are not acceptable. School counseling applicants must take and pass the Georgia Assessment for the Certification of Educators (GACE) Program Admission Assessments (PAA) prior to being fully admitted in the School Counseling program. Otherwise, applicants will be required to take and pass the PAA by the end of the first semester following graduation.

  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Duration: 60 hours
  • Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP); Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
  • Tuition: $823 per credit-hour plus fees

Columbus State University

At Columbus, students can choose from a master of education or a master of science to enter a counseling career. The school counseling MEd prepares students to work in schools from preschool through 12th grade. After completing the CMHC program, the student will be prepared for a job in many settings including mental health centers, community agencies, hospitals, residential treatment centers, corrections facilities, or other settings.

Both programs require clinical supervision of a 100-hour practicum and two 300-hour internships, in a school setting or in an environment related to clinical mental health. Both programs are offered in a combination of hybrid, online, and face-to-face courses. Columbus, Georgia is just 100 miles southwest of Atlanta.

  • Location: Columbus, Georgia
  • Duration: School counseling is 61 credits; CMHC is 60 credits
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $2,511 plus fees, 12+ credit hours, in-state; $9,801 plus fees, 12+ credit hours, non-resident

Fort Valley State University – Department of Behavioral and Social Science and the Department of Counseling (Online)

Fort Valley State University is a public historically black university in Fort Valley, Georgia. Fort Valley offers three programs, with options for both traditional in-person and online learning.

Rehabilitation counseling is a fully online program only, with start dates in summer and fall. The CLRC program is fully online which admits students each year in the fall and summer. Rehabilitation counselors are frequently employed in settings working with individuals with some kind of disability, either mental or physical. The work may include job training and placement or general life skills in a wide variety of settings.

The CMHC program is not an online program; however, with permission, students may be able to take an online course under special circumstances. The school counseling program meets all the educational requirements for the Professional School Counselor Certificate, Level 5.

  • Location: Fort Valley, Georgia and online
  • Duration: MSRC is 61 semester-hours; CMHC is 60 hours; the school counseling program is 48 hours
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: Online tuition rates are $219.00 per credit-hour plus fees; in-state tuition for in-person education is $181 per credit plus fees (or $672 plus fees for non-residents)

Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern is the state’s largest and most comprehensive center of higher education south of Atlanta. Their counseling education program offers two degree concentrations: school counseling and clinical mental health counseling.

Both concentrations are offered in a hybrid format at the Statesboro campus. While full-time and part-time options are offered, the program requires year-round attendance since some required courses are only offered in the summer.

  • Location: Statesboro, Georgia
  • Duration: Both programs are 60 hours; two years full-time, three to four years part-time
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: Contact the school for a customized assessment

Mercer University – School of Medicine and College of Professional Advancement

Mercer University was founded nearly 200 years ago by Georgia Baptists. Today, it is a well-respected private university with three campuses: the historic main campus in Macon, a graduate and professional education campus in Atlanta, and a four-year campus of the School of Medicine in Savannah.

The school offers four counseling programs, with three at the Atlanta campus and one, the marriage and family therapy program, at the Savannah campus. Mercer’s master of science (MS) degrees in clinical mental health counseling and rehabilitation counseling are designed for busy working professionals or households with families. Some required courses are available online and classes meet one night per week with start dates in January, May, or August.

The family therapy program is offered through the Mercer School of Medicine. MFT graduates train under the supervision of Mercer University School of Medicine faculty at the Mercer Family Therapy Centers (MFTC) located in Macon and Atlanta, Georgia.

  • Location: Macon, Atlanta, and Savannah, Georgia
  • Duration: CMHC and rehabilitation counseling degrees are typically completed in 30 to 42 months; the school counseling degree is typically completed in 30 to 36 months; the MFT degree is 48 credits; all programs have full- and part-time options
  • Accreditation: Mercer University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); the MFT program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE); the CMHC, school counseling, and rehabilitation counseling programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: MFT tuition at the School of Medicine is $960 per credit plus fees; the master of science in counseling degrees are $650 per credit plus fees

Georgia State University – College of Education & Human Development

Georgia State has seven campuses throughout the metro Atlanta area. The school is designated as a Predominantly Black Institution (PBI) and receives federal grants in order to serve low and middle-income Black Americans. Choose from programs in clinical mental health counseling (MS), rehabilitation counseling (MS), or school counseling (MEd).

  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Duration: All programs are 60 hours
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: Contact the school for a customized assessment

Richmont Graduate University – School of Counseling (Online)

Richmont is a graduate institution that provides master’s degrees in counseling, ministry, and psychological studies from a Christian perspective. The school’s master of arts in clinical mental health counseling is offered in a flexible day, evening, and weekend schedule. This degree fulfills the academic requirements in most states for licensure as a professional counselor (LPC) and certification as a national certified counselor (NCC).

Students are able to enroll in both on-ground and online coursework. The school also offers post-graduate certificates in marriage and family therapy, trauma counseling, Christian sex therapy, child and adolescent counseling, spirituality and counseling practice, and addictions counseling. CACREP approved the new online Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program, and the traditional program has been fully accredited since 2015.

  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Duration: 67 credits, two to four years
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $717 per credit plus fees

Thomas University (Online)

Thomas University is a private university offering one dual-focused counseling master of science degree: clinical mental health counseling and clinical rehabilitation counseling. The program is dually accredited by CACREP and is the only program in Georgia with this dual designation.

Thomas’s dual degree program approves students to sit for their licensure and CRC exam after 75 percent of program coursework is completed. Students who pass their exams during program completion will graduate with their NCC and CRC already earned. A specialization in alcohol and addiction counseling can be attained by completing an additional 12 credit-hours. The program is also available online.

  • Location: Thomasville, Georgia
  • Duration: 60 credits
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $655 per credit plus fees

University of Georgia – College of Education

Founded in 1785, the University of Georgia is one of the oldest public universities in the United States. Its professional counseling program is a master of education that prepares students to work in a variety of community settings, including mental health agencies, juvenile correction agencies, drug and alcohol programs, marriage and family therapy clinics, senior centers, and more. They also offer a professional school counseling emphasis which is a dual MEd and EdS program.

  • Location: Athens, Georgia
  • Duration: Full time, two years
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $417 per credit plus fees

Valdosta State University (Online)

The school that would become Valdosta State University was founded in 1906. Valdosta is located in South Georgia, approximately 20 miles from the Florida state line. They offer two degree programs: a master of education in counselor education and an education specialist (EdS) in school counseling.

The master of education in counselor education offers two tracks: school counseling and clinical mental health counseling. A master of science in marriage and family therapy prepares graduates to apply for licensure as MFTs in Georgia and other states. The school counseling EdS is available as an online option.

  • Location: Valdosta, Georgia and online
  • Duration: School counseling EdS, 27 credits; counselor education MEd, 60 credits
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $293 per credit plus fees for online courses; $3,042 for 12+ credits plus fees, in-state; $10,978 for 12+ credits plus fees, non-resident

How Much Do Counselors Make in Georgia?

These numbers represent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) from May 2019.

Marriage and Family Therapists

United StatesGeorgia
Number employed59,050130
Average annual salary (mean)$54,590$58,840
10th percentile$32,070$34,770
50th percentile (median)$49,610$49,790
90th percentile$87,700$98,710

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

United StatesGeorgia
Number employed284,5405,410
Average annual salary (mean)$49,950$47,050
10th percentile$29,520$31,920
50th percentile (median)$46,240$44,730
90th percentile$76,080$65,720

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors

United StatesGeorgia
Number employed296,4609,540
Average annual salary (mean)$61,000$57,800
10th percentile$34,380$33,170
50th percentile (median)$57,040$56,370
90th percentile$96,090$84,240

Rehabilitation Counselors

United StatesGeorgia
Number employed109,0401,460
Average annual salary (mean)$40,160$40,570
10th percentile$23,820$27,770
50th percentile (median)$39,950$37,790
90th percentile$63,790$58,960

Mental Health Counseling (LMHC) Licenses in Georgia: Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Georgia State Composite Board Of Professional Counselors, Social Workers And Marriage & Family Therapists

Counselors in Georgia are licensed as Associate Professional Counselors or Professional Counselors.

Associate Professional Counselors must:

  • Submit a complete application
  • Pay the $100 fee
  • Provide either NCE or NCMHCE scores
  • Submit transcripts showing a master’s in counseling from a CHEA accredited institution
  • Provide an affidavit of citizenship
  • Provide a contract affidavit from an employer or supervisor where work experience will be obtained
  • Submit two references from faculty or supervisors

Professional Counselors must meet the same requirements Associate Professional Counselors, as well as:

  • Provide proof of four years post-masters supervised work experience consisting of 2,400 hours of direct client contact
  • Submit two additional references from supervisors
  • Pay a $100 application fee

Licenses in Georgia are renewed biennially by September 30th on even-numbered years.

Professional Counselors are required to submit 35 hours of continuing education, five of which must be in ethics and a maximum of 10 completed online.

School Counseling Licenses in Georgia

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Georgia Professional Standards Commission

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission issues school counselor certificates. The requirements for a standard certificate are:

  • Complete a state-approved master’s in school counseling program or hold a National Certified School Counselors (NCSC) credential issued by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) or be a licensed (associate) counselor in Georgia
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $20 application fee
  • Submit official transcripts
  • Complete a Lawful Presence affidavit and provide a copy of an acceptable ID
  • Pass the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) content assessment
  • Complete a course in identifying and educating exceptional children with a grade of B or better
  • Have (or be eligible for) a Georgia teaching certificate

Renewals of school counselor certificates in Georgia are required every five years. Renewal requirements are:

  • Pass a background check
  • Pay $20 renewal fee
  • Submit a renewal application
  • Engage in continuing professional learning
  • Have “Written Professional Learning Goals” and be actively working towards them

Substance Abuse Counseling Licenses in Georgia

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Georgia Addiction Counselors Association (GACA)

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Certification Board of Georgia (ADACBGA)

The two agencies licensing substance abuse counselors in Georgia are the Georgia Addiction Counselors Association (GACA) and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Certification Board of Georgia (ADACBGA).

Certificates issued by GACA include: Counselor-In-Training Certification (CCIT), Certified Addiction Counselor, Level I (CACI), and Certified Addiction Counselor, Level II (CACII).

CCIT certification candidates must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Submit a completed application
  • Complete 20 hours of education including six hours in ethics, six in tele-mental health, six in health insurance portability and accountability act CFR42, and two in certified counselor in training
  • Submit a Georgia Crime Information Center report
  • Provide a signed contract from a clinical supervisor where supervised work experience will be completed
  • Pay the $67.50 application fee

To upgrade to a CCAI, applicants must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Have two years full-time (or 4,000 hours) of work experience as a chemical dependency/abuse counselor
  • Complete 180 hours of education and training in alcoholism and drug abuse or related counseling subjects, including six hours of ethics, 18 hours of cultural diversity training, and three hours of HIV/AIDS education (at least 100 hours must be from within the past five years, and a maximum 90 hours may be accepted from a college transcript)
  • Complete 220 hours of clinical supervision by a GACA approved supervisor
  • Pass the NCC AP (NAADAC) exam
  • Pay $150 application fee

CAAII candidates must:

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree
  • Have three years full-time (or 6,000 hours) of work experience as a chemical dependency/abuse counselor
  • Complete 270 hours of education and training in alcoholism and drug abuse or related counseling subjects, including six hours of ethics, 27 hours of cultural diversity training, and three hours of HIV/AIDS education (at least 160 hours must be from within the past five years, and a maximum 135 hours may be accepted from a college transcript)
  • Complete 144 hours of clinical supervision by a GACA-approved professional
  • Pass the NCAC Level II exam
  • Pay $150 application fee

Certificates issued by ADACBGA include Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor Levels I and II (CADC I and II), and Certified Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselor (CAADC).

To be eligible for CADC I certification, candidates must:

  • Complete 6,000 hours of work experience
  • Have 300 hours of clinical supervision at a ratio of one hour of supervision to ten hours of work experience; there must a minimum of 10 hours in each of the 12 core function areas
  • Hold a high school diploma or the equivalent
  • Complete 300 hours of substance use disorder-specific education, including six hours of ethics education, six hours of e-counseling/telehealth education, six hours of HIV/AIDS education, and six hours of trauma-informed care
  • Submit a Clinical Supervisor’s Evaluation form for every supervisor
  • Initial and sign the Assurance and Release Ethics Statement
  • Pay $150 application fee and a $180 exam fee
  • Pass the ADC or AADC exam

CADC II applicants must meet the CADCI requirements, in addition to having:

  • A bachelor’s in human service field or a graduate degree in any field
  • 4,000 hours of work experience
  • 200 hours of clinical supervision at a ratio of one hour of supervision to ten hours of work experience; there must a minimum of 10 hours in each of the 12 core function areas

CAADC applicants must meet all the CADC II requirements, in addition to having a master’s degree in a human service field with a clinical component or application.

GACA requires its certification holders to renew every two years. The fee for renewal is $145.

CCTI certifications are only valid for one year and can be renewed a maximum of three times. The cost for renewals for CAC Level I or II are $145 and CCTIs are $124.

Renewals for CAC Level I or II must include 40 hours of continuing education. They must include 20 hours in a classroom, six hours in ethics training, and six hours in tele-mental health.

ADACBGA requires renewals every two years. Applications to renew must be accompanied by a $150 fee and 40 hours of continuing education, five of which must be ethics and three must be in e-counseling/telehealth.

Rehabilitation Counseling Licenses in Georgia

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Georgia State Composite Board Of Professional Counselors, Social Workers And Marriage & Family Therapists

Rehabilitation counselors in Georgia are licensed as Associate Professional Counselors or Professional Counselors.

Associate Professional Counselors must:

  • Submit a complete application
  • Pay the $100 fee
  • Provide either NCE or NCMHCE scores
  • Submit transcripts showing a master’s in counseling from a CHEA accredited institution
  • Provide an affidavit of citizenship
  • Provide a contract affidavit from an employer or supervisor where work experience will be obtained
  • Submit two references from faculty or supervisors

Professional Counselors must meet the same requirements Associate Professional Counselors, as well as:

  • Provide proof of four years post-masters supervised work experience consisting of 2,400 hours of direct client contact
  • Submit two additional references from supervisors
  • Pay a $100 application fee

Licenses in Georgia are renewed biennially by September 30th on even-numbered years.

Professional Counselors are required to submit 35 hours of continuing education, five of which must be in ethics and a maximum of 10 completed online.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Licenses in Georgia

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) for national certification

Currently, there are no state certification or licensing requirements for applied behavior analysts in Georgia.

However, House Bill 429 passed in 2015 stipulates that in order for ABA therapy to be reimbursable by insurance, it must be provided by a certified behavior analyst (i.e., one who holds the BCBA certification from the BACB).

Those providing ABA therapy in Georgia and want to bill insurance will need to maintain a national certification such as the BCBA and meet those continuing education standards.

Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses in Georgia

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Georgia State Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage & Family Therapists

The Georgia State Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage & Family Therapists licenses Associate Marriage and Family Therapists and Marriage and Family Therapists.

Candidates for an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist license must:

  • Submit a completed and notarized application
  • Pay the $100 fee
  • Pass the Marriage and Family Therapy exam
  • Submit transcripts showing a master’s in marriage and family counseling from an accredited institution (with proof of a 12-month internship with 500 hours of direct client contact)
  • Provide an affidavit of citizenship
  • Provide a contract affidavit from an employer or supervisor where work experience will be obtained
  • Submit two references from faculty or supervisors

Professional MFTs must meet the same requirements associates, as well as:

  • Provide proof of three years post-master’s supervised work experience, with at least 180 hours of supervision
  • Send two additional references from supervisors
  • Pay $100 application fee

Licenses in Georgia are renewed biennially by September 30th on even-numbered years.

Marriage and family therapists are required to submit 35 hours of continuing education, five of which must be in ethics and a maximum of 10 completed online.

Child (Pediatric) Behavioral Therapy Licenses in Georgia

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Georgia State Composite Board Of Professional Counselors, Social Workers And Marriage & Family Therapists

Child therapists in Georgia are licensed as Associate Professional Counselors or Professional Counselors.

Associate Professional Counselors must:

  • Submit a complete application
  • Pay the $100 fee
  • Provide either NCE or NCMHCE scores
  • Submit transcripts showing a master’s in counseling from a CHEA accredited institution
  • Provide an affidavit of citizenship
  • Provide a contract affidavit from an employer or supervisor where work experience will be obtained
  • Submit two references from faculty or supervisors

Professional Counselors must meet the same requirements Associate Professional Counselors, as well as:

  • Provide proof of four years post-masters supervised work experience consisting of 2,400 hours of direct client contact
  • Submit two additional references from supervisors
  • Pay a $100 application fee

Licenses in Georgia are renewed biennially by September 30th on even-numbered years.

Professional Counselors are required to submit 35 hours of continuing education, five of which must be in ethics and a maximum of 10 completed online.

Counseling Professional Associations & Resources in Georgia

  • American Counseling Association of Georgia
  • Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia
  • Georgia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Georgia Society for Clinical Social Work
  • Georgia School Counselor Association
  • Georgia Crisis & Access Line
  • Georgia Parent Support Network
  • Georgia Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Aftercare Community Information Network
  • The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Certification Board of Georgia, Inc
  • Georgia Addiction Counselors Association
  • Georgia Council on Substance Abuse
  • Georgia Association of Recovery Residence
  • Prevention Credentialing Consortium of Georgia
  • Recovery Consultants of Atlanta
Vanessa Salvia

Vanessa Salvia

Writer

Vanessa Salvia is an Oregon-based freelance writer and editor with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. As fun as rigorous studies in math and science were, Vanessa took an independent path and developed a prolific career covering lifestyle and healthcare topics for magazines and newspapers, important industries such as concrete construction and building waterproofing, and even hard science. You can get in touch at Sage Media and Marketing.