Counseling Degrees & Licenses in Illinois

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job openings in mental health counseling will grow 22 percent nationally from 2018 to 2018. This rate of growth is considered to be much faster than the average projected growth for all occupations during the same period (5 percent). And within that rate of growth is also higher-than-average growth for specialized mental health careers.

For example, the BLS (2019) career outlook for rehabilitation counselors, who help people with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities, is a 10 percent rate of growth (2018-2028). School and career counselor jobs are expected to increase by 8 percent.

Illinois is a good choice for a location in which to develop a mental health career. According to Road to Recovery, Illinois has a population of just under 13 million people. Out of those, more than 3 percent of adults live with serious mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression—that’s nearly 390,000 people living with conditions that require intervention or ongoing management.

Less than half (44.6 percent) of adults with mental illness in Illinois receive any form of treatment. According to Mental Health America, Illinois is ranked 15 out of the 50 states and Washington D.C. for providing access to mental health services.

There are two levels of mental health counseling degrees and licenses in Illinois. The Illinois Mental Health Counselors association notes that there is no experience required to become an (LPC), or Licensed Professional Counselor, in Illinois. To become an LCPC, or Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor requires 3,360 hours of work over two years along with 960 hours of face to face counseling over two years.

Illinois has specific educational requirements for licensure. Many aspiring LPCs first earn a bachelor’s degree in counseling or a social or behavioral science field such as psychology, social work, or human services. After completing the bachelor’s degree, they typically complete a master’s or doctorate program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The master’s program must meet the conditions described by the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation.

Read on for schools in Illinois that offer counseling degrees and state licensing procedures in subfields of the discipline.

Accredited Counseling Degree Programs in Illinois

Western Illinois University

Western Illinois University has two counseling programs: a school counseling program that prepares students to work in K-12 settings, and a clinical mental health counseling program that prepares students to work in a wide variety of settings where people need mental healthcare.

Both of WIU’s counseling master’s programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The Department of Counselor Education’s programs were the first counselor education program accredited in Illinois in 1987, and the counselor education programs at Western Illinois University the longest continually accredited counseling programs in the State of Illinois.

Students achieve a master of science in education (MSEd) in a speciality in counseling, with either specialty within that. Both programs require a minimum of 60 semester hours, or they may select a specialization in clinical mental health counseling, which requires a minimum of 60 semester hours. Students should consult with their advisor regarding proper sequencing of courses and specialization in either option.

  • Location: Moline, Illinois
  • Duration: Three years, full-=time
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $339.82 per credit (2019-2020)

Concordia University Chicago (Hybrid)

Concordia University Chicago is a private, liberal arts university with a Lutheran Christian outlook. Founded in 1864, the university is one of eight colleges and universities that are part of a nationwide Concordia University System.

Concordia’s clinical mental health counseling program teaches counseling through the lens of the Christian belief system. As of 2020, there are 151 students enrolled in the clinical mental health counseling program, with a graduation rate of 85 percent and an NCE examination pass rate of 60 percent. Classes here are offered as a hybrid model (online and on-campus classes), in a more traditional brick-and-mortar format at Concordia’s Grayslake campus.

  • Location: Forest, Illinois
  • Duration: three years
  • Accreditation: Council of Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $16,112 (2019-2021), full-time enrollment

University of Illinois – Springfield

Students in the human development counseling program at the University of Illinois can choose from three tracks of study for their master of arts: clinical mental health counseling; marriage, couple, and family counseling; and school counseling. Choosing from these tracks requires an additional four courses beyond the core curriculum of 49 credit hours for a total of 61 required credit hours.

UIS was established in 1969 as a state university. In 1995 it became a campus of the University of Illinois. The campus is well-located—approximately 200 miles southwest of Chicago and 100 miles northeast of St. Louis.

  • Location: Springfield, Illinois
  • Duration: Three years
  • Accreditation: The Human Development Counseling program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) in all three concentrations. The school counseling program is also approved annually by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), which is required for licensure
  • Tuition: $329 per credit plus fees, Illinois resident; $675, non-resident

Northern Illinois University – Department of Counseling and Higher Education

The masters of science in education from NIU requires a 100-hour supervised practicum and 600 hours of internship. The clinical mental health counseling program averages 50 to 60 enrolled students. The school counseling program averages 40 to 50 enrolled students.

The school prides itself on being accessible to working professionals, by offering classes in late afternoons and evenings. Most classes are offered at the main campus in DeKalb, but some classes may be offered at satellite campuses in Rockford, Naperville, and Hoffman Estates. Northern Illinois University has a long history; It was first chartered in 1895.

The clinical mental health counseling program graduated 17 students in 2019 with a 98 percent completion rate. Approximately 99 percent of the school’s clinical mental health students pass their licensure examination and 99 percent find job placement after graduation.

The school counseling program graduated 13 students in 2019 with a 98 percent completion rate. Approximately 100 percent of the school counseling students pass their licensure examination, and 46 percent find job placement after graduation. Because school counseling degree students are also eligible for mental health positions, graduates can also gain employment in non-school counseling positions.

  • Location: DeKalb, Illinois
  • Duration: Three years
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $357 per credit (2020-2021)

Northeastern Illinois University

Northeastern’s Department of Counselor Education has been one of the leading providers of master’s of arts in counseling programs for more than 40 years, and one reason is the variety of programs they offer. Unlike other schools that may offer two or three program specializations, Northeastern offers six: a master’s of arts in clinical mental health counseling, family counseling, school counseling, and rehabilitation counseling. They also offer an 18-credit certificate in couple and family counseling and a 21-credit addiction counseling certificate.

The non-degree school counselor endorsement is an option open to individuals who have completed a graduate degree in counseling or a closely-related field and are seeking to meet the academic and clinical requirements to be eligible for endorsement as a school counselor in the State of Illinois.

For those who want to be in the biggest city in the state, Northeastern is well-located on the 67-acre main campus in an attractive area on Chicago’s northwest side. Northeastern prides itself on diversity and says it is regarded as the most diverse public comprehensive university in the Midwest. Additionally, Northeastern is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution.

  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Duration: Two to three years, 48 (rehabilitation counseling) or 60 credits (CMHC, family, and school)
  • Accreditation: All counseling programs are Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs-certified (CACREP) through 2024
  • Tuition: $432.80 per credit, Illinois resident; $865.60, non-resident

Southern Illinois University – Carbondale

Southern Illinois University is located five hours south of the big city of Chicago and is the largest in the Southern Illinois University system of schools. At the master’s level, SIU offers a master of science in education with an emphasis in clinical mental health counseling. Graduates of the program may sit for the National Counseling Examination and may apply for licensure with the state of Illinois as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Supervised post-master’s degree clinical experience is required for licensure as a Clinical Professional Counselor in Illinois (LCPC).

SIU has a Rehabilitation Institute that offers a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling. This program is the oldest of its type in the country and SIU says it has been continuously ranked among the top 5 percent of the nation’s rehabilitation education programs since its inception in the 1950s.

Most of SIU’s graduate-level courses are taught in the late afternoon and evenings, to be more accessible to working professionals seeking to upgrade their skills and education. In 2018, SIU Carbondale’s rehabilitation counseling program earned a No. 4 ranking from the U.S. News & World Report on the list of best rehabilitation counseling programs.

  • Location: Carbondale, Illinois
  • Duration: 64 credits
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: Tuition rates vary based on year of first term attendance at SIU, number of credit hours, and other factors. See their tuition calculator for more information.

Lincoln Christian University (Hybrid)

Lincoln Christian University offers a 60-hour clinical mental health counseling degree with instruction centered around a Biblical worldview. As one progresses through the program with a cohort, they can prepare for the NCE and state licensure exams while also studying theology and scripture. Lincoln Christian has two locations: Lincoln and Bloomington.

Lincoln caters to working adults with a hybrid approach to coursework, which allows some to be taken online. Most courses are taken in an eight-week block, one evening a week, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Additional opportunities are available for online week-long intensive courses. No more than 15 to 20 students are in a class, which allows for a rich emphasis on face-to-face learning. Lincoln reports high scores on the licensing exam, with an average score of 128.

  • Location: Lincoln, Illinois; Bloomington, Illinois
  • Duration: Three years
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
  • Tuition: $466 per credit, plus fees

Bradley University

Bradley University, a top-ranked private, small university in Peoria, offers both a traditional and an online model for their clinical mental health counseling program. They also offer a 12-credit certificate program that can be completed in one year.

The on-campus master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling is a nine-term (including summers) progression of courses and supervised practicum. Students can take the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam and the National Counselor Exam to become eligible for licensure during their final semester. The online master’s program is the same nine-terms, with the addition of two, one-week residencies at the Bradley campus, which is three hours southwest from Chicago.

They also offer an on-campus master’s degree in professional school counseling, which is a nine-term (including summers) blend of courses and a practicum experience.

  • Location: Peoria, Illinois
  • Duration: Three years; one year for the certificate
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $930 per semester hour, plus fees (2020-2021)

Chicago State University

Chicago State’s CACREP-certified counseling graduate program, which is part of the psychology department, offers a master of arts degree in counseling. Graduates of the program are eligible to work as counselors in schools and a variety of community settings, thanks to the clinical mental health counseling and school counseling tracks. A certificate of endorsement in school counseling is available for students who already possess a master’s degree in counseling or a closely related field.

Chicago State was founded as a teacher training school in 1867. Today, the university is a fully accredited public institution located on 161 acres on Chicago’s Southside.

  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Duration: Three years; one year for the certificate
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $325 per credit

National Louis University (Online)

National Louis University’s completely online master of science in clinical mental health counseling program is designed for students who want a university experience but are unable to attend a traditional on-campus program. The school also offers a traditional on-campus clinical mental health counseling program for those who live in Illinois.

The online program is a distance learning format that combines real-time instruction with online coursework. Students meet each week for a real-time video conference classroom experience. Courses are in the evenings, usually from 6 to 7:30 p.m. or 7:30 to 9 p.m., to accommodate working students. Choose from a master of science in counseling, with an emphasis on school counseling or clinical mental health counseling. A school counseling emphasis is available for those who already have a professional educator license.

  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Duration: Three years, 68 semester hours
  • Accreditation: Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $759 per credit

How Much Do Counselors Make in Illinois?

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

Marriage and Family Therapist Salaries

United StatesIllinois
Number employed59,0501,150
Average annual salary (mean)$54,590$69,900
10th percentile$32,070$32,740
50th percentile (median)$49,610$55,610
90th percentile$87,700$121,500

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor Salaries

United StatesIllinois
Number employed284,54011,940
Average annual salary (mean)$49,950$47,320
10th percentile$29,520$27,520
50th percentile (median)$46,240$43,120
90th percentile$76,080$74,480

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselor and Advisor Salaries

United StatesIllinois
Number employed296,46013,210
Average annual salary (mean)$61,000$56,650
10th percentile$34,380$31,490
50th percentile (median)$57,040$51,540
90th percentile$96,090$91,780

Rehabilitation Counselor Salaries

United StatesIllinois
Number employed109,0403,950
Average annual salary (mean)$40,160$42,130
10th percentile$23,820$24,380
50th percentile (median)$39,950$37,490
90th percentile$63,790$70,800

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

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

Counselors must earn a license as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), who must work under supervision, and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), who can work independently, in order to practice in Illinois.

Requirements for licensure as an LPC are:

  • $150 fee
  • Official transcripts demonstrating a master’s degree in counseling, psychology or rehabilitation counseling from a regionally accredited institution
  • An NCE, NCMHCE, or CRCE exam score
  • In lieu of transcripts and test scores, counselors may submit a National Certified Counselor (NCC) or Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) certification
  • Completed application and related forms

In order to become an LCPC, candidates must meet the above requirements and:

  • Complete two full years of supervised work experience. Each year must be no less than 1,680 hours, of which 960 must be direct client contact
  • Send a completed application and related forms

Counseling licenses in Illinois expire every two years on the 31st of March of odd-numbered years.

Applicants must complete 30 hours of continuing education in order to renew.

School Counseling Licenses in Illinois

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Illinois State Board of Education

The Illinois State Board of Education issues a Professional Educator License (PEL) with a School Support Personnel Endorsement for School Counselors. The requirements for this license and endorsement are:

  • Have a master’s degree or higher in school counseling from a regionally accredited institution
  • Complete a 100-hour counseling practicum with at least 40 hours of direct service
  • Complete a 600-hour internship with 240 hours of direct service work with school-age individuals and groups
  • Pass the Illinois Licensure Testing System School Counselor Exam (minimum score: 181)
  • Complete an application online in the Educator Licensure Information System (ELIS)
  • Pay $10 for license registration for each region where the counselor plans to work

PEL licenses issued in Illinois are valid for five years. To renew, school counselors must:

  • Pay $10 for license registration for each region where counselor plans to work
  • Complete the renewal application online in the Educator Licensure Information System (ELIS)
  • Complete continuing education requirements (one of the following: an advanced degree or eight semesters of graduate coursework or 24 continuing education units [CEUs] or 120 continuing professional development units [CPDUs] or any combination of CEUs and CPDUs equivalent to 120 CPDUs)

Substance Abuse Counseling Licenses in Illinois

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Illinois Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Professional Certification Association (IAODAPCA)

The Illinois Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Professional Certification Association (IAODAPCA) certifies 20 different professions, including Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors (CADC), Certified Reciprocal Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Counselors (CRADC), Certified Supervisor Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (CSADC), and Certified Advanced Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADC).

Requirements for CADC certification include:

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • Two years (or 4,000 hours) of paid qualified work experience in the past four years (one year or 2,000 hours of work experience may be waived with a bachelor’s degree including 18 semester hours of substance abuse specific topics; six months or 1,000 hours of work experience is waived with an associate degree including 12 semester credits of substance abuse specific topics)
  • 225 hours of continuing education hours, including 100 hours of substance abuse specific coursework, 15 hours substance abuse treatment services for women and/or their families, 15 hours substance abuse treatment services for adolescents and families, six hours of ethics, and the remaining 119 hours in IC&RC Performance Domains
  • Proof of supervision of at least 10 hours in each of the 12 core skill areas in counseling
  • Signed ICB Code of Ethics
  • $75 application fee and $175 exam fee
  • Passing score on the CADC Illinois Exam

CRADC requirements include:

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • Three years (or 6,000 hours) of paid qualified work experience in the past four years (one year or 2,000 hours of work experience may be waived with a bachelor’s degree including 18 semester hours of substance abuse specific topics; six months or 1,000 hours of work experience is waived with an associate degree including 12 semester credits of substance abuse specific topics)
  • 300 hours of supervised work experience if applying with a high school diploma, 250 hours if applying with an associate’s degree in a relevant field, 200 hours if applying with a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, 100 hours if applying with a master’s degree or higher in a relevant field
  • 300 hours of training and education, including 160 hours of substance abuse specific coursework, 30 hours of treatment services for women and families, 30 hours of treatment services for adolescents, six hours professional ethics and responsibility, and the final 134 hours in IC&RC Performance Domains
  • Signed ICB Code of Ethics
  • $75 application fee and $175 exam fee
  • Passing score on the IC&RC ADC exam

CSACD requirements include holding a CRACD, as well as:

  • An additional 50 hours of training and education; there must be an additional 15 hours in both treatment services for women and families and treatment services for adolescents, and 30 hours of training in clinical supervision
  • Five years (or 10,000 hours) of paid substance abuse qualified work experience in the past seven years (two of those five years must be in clinical supervision)

CAADC requirements include:

  • A master’s degree in behavioral science with a clinical component from a regionally accredited institution
  • One year (or 2,000 hours) of paid substance abuse qualified work experience in the past four years
  • 300 hours of supervision
  • 45 hours of treatment services for women and families, 45 hours of treatment services for adolescents, and six hours professional ethics and responsibility
  • Signed ICB Code of Ethics
  • $75 application fee and $175 exam fee

Renewals for IAODAPCA certifications are due biennially. All certifications expire two years from the date of issue. Renewal fees are $160 for the CRADC, $180 for the CSADC, $190 for the CAADC, and $140 for the CADC.

Counselors must also complete 40 hours of continuing education every renewal period. Fifteen of those hours must be specific to alcohol and other drugs.

  • Passing score on the IC&RC AADC exam

Rehabilitation Counseling Licenses in Illinois

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

Rehabilitation counselors in Illinois must earn a license as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), who must work under supervision, and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), who can work independently, in order to practice in Illinois.

Requirements for licensure as an LPC are:

  • $150 fee
  • Official transcripts demonstrating a master’s degree in counseling, psychology or rehabilitation counseling from a regionally accredited institution
  • An NCE, NCMHCE, or CRCE exam score
  • In lieu of transcripts and test scores, counselors may submit a National Certified Counselor (NCC) or Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) certification
  • Completed application and related forms

In order to become an LCPC, candidates must meet the above requirements and:

  • Complete two full years of supervised work experience. Each year must be no less than 1,680 hours, of which 960 must be direct client contact
  • Send a completed application and related forms

Counseling licenses in Illinois expire every two years on the 31st of March of odd-numbered years.

Applicants must complete 30 hours of continuing education in order to renew.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Licenses in Illinois

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 Illinois. However, holding a BCBA certification and maintaining membership with the Illinois Association for Behavior Analysis can help with employment opportunities or job advancement.

Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses in Illinois

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation issues Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Associate Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist licenses.

Requirements for an Associate Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist license are:

  • Pay a $100 fee
  • Submit official transcripts demonstrating a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from a regionally accredited institution
  • Completed application and related forms

In order to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a candidate must meet the above requirements and:

  • Pay $300 application and testing fee
  • Complete 3,000 hours of work experience (at least 200 hours of supervision and 1,000 hours of clinical experience)
  • Pass the AMFTRB exam
  • Complete the application and related forms

Marriage and family therapist licenses in Illinois expire every two years on the 28th of February of odd-numbered years. Applicants must complete 30 hours of continuing education in order to renew. Renewals cost $60.

Child (Pediatric) Behavioral Therapy Licenses in Illinois

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

Child therapists must earn a license as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), who must work under supervision, and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), who can work independently, in order to practice in Illinois.

Requirements for licensure as an LPC are:

  • $150 fee
  • Official transcripts demonstrating a master’s degree in counseling, psychology or rehabilitation counseling from a regionally accredited institution
  • An NCE, NCMHCE, or CRCE exam score
  • In lieu of transcripts and test scores, counselors may submit a National Certified Counselor (NCC) or Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) certification
  • Completed application and related forms

In order to become an LCPC, candidates must meet the above requirements and:

  • Complete two full years of supervised work experience. Each year must be no less than 1,680 hours, of which 960 must be direct client contact
  • Send a completed application and related forms

Counseling licenses in Illinois expire every two years on the 31st of March of odd-numbered years.

Applicants must complete 30 hours of continuing education in order to renew.

Counseling Professional Associations & Resources in Illinois

  • Illinois Counseling Association
  • Illinois School Counselor Association
  • American Counseling Association – Midwest Region
  • Illinois Mental Health Counselors
  • Western Illinois Counseling Association
  • Schultz Foundation For Advancing Counseling
  • Illinois Association for Couples and Family Counseling
  • Coalition of Illinois Counselor Organizations
  • Northern Illinois University Counseling Association
  • Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling
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.

Counseling Schools & Licensure in Nearby States