Counseling Degrees & Licenses in Kentucky

As with most states that license counseling degrees, the state of Kentucky requires counselors to have completed a master’s degree at a minimum. And when choosing schools, prospective students should carefully consider their options. Kentucky requires that the graduate complete a degree from an accredited school. It is possible for a student to find employment if they do not complete a counseling degree and license from an accredited school, but students will likely face obstacles. 

The main accreditation entity is the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), and there are more specialized accreditation organizations such as the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).

Kentucky offers licensure for two levels: Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCCs) and Licensed Professional Counselor Associates (LPCA), which are those who are still in the supervision portion of the licensure process. An accredited degree program gives graduates assurances that their education matches the industry standards and that they have been trained in the best possible way to embark on their careers. 

The need for counselors, in general, will rise as a growing population seeks mental health counseling. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2021) predicts that job openings for substance abuse counselors will grow 25 percent between 2019 and 2029. During the same period, the demand for rehabilitation counselors is expected to grow at a rate of 10 percent, and for marriage and family therapists, 22 percent. 

Overall, students who pursue counseling degrees and licenses in Kentucky can find rewarding and stable careers. Read on for a few of the many schools offering accredited programs for counseling degrees and licenses in Kentucky.

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Accredited Counseling Degree Programs in Kentucky

Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University is a public university with campuses in Corbin, Hazard, Lancaster, and Manchester. EKU offers more than 40 online undergraduate and graduate degree options. They offer a master of arts in clinical mental health counseling, a master of arts in education in school counseling (MAEd), and a master of science in occupational therapy. 

The MA in clinical mental health counseling prepares individuals to be licensed as Licensed Professional Counselors in Kentucky and most other states. CACREP’s standards require nine hours of electives, a practicum, and an internship conducted in a mental health setting. 

Certified school counselors must achieve their Standard Certificate and Rank 1 in school counseling. EKU’s school counseling program helps certified school counselors meet the 60-credit hour requirements for Rank I in school counseling in Kentucky. 

For those who want a career as an occupational therapist, EKU’s Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy offers a unique combined BS in occupational science/occupational therapy doctorate degree. 

  • Location: Richmond, Kentucky
  • Duration: The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is 60 hours; School Counseling is 48 hours
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: $550 plus fees per credit, Kentucky resident; $750 per credit plus fees, non-resident

Murray State University 

Murray State University is a public university in far western Kentucky founded in 1922. The most popular majors at Murray State University include health professions and related programs. 

Students in the school’s College of Education and Human Services can choose from school counseling and clinical mental health counseling programs. Program options include a master of arts in school counseling, education specialist (EdS) in school counseling, and education specialist in clinical mental health counseling. 

A Provisional School Counseling Certification (P-12) requires completion of the MA in school counseling program. Provisional certificates must be renewed every five years. The Standard School Counseling Certification (P-12) requires completion of two years of school counseling experience (one year for counselors with teaching certification) and six credit hours of approved counseling coursework, post-masters degree. Standard Certifications must be renewed every five years.

  • Location: Murray, Kentucky
  • Duration: The EdS in clinical mental health counseling is 60 hours; the school counselors master’s program is a 42-credit program that enables students to achieve their Provisional School Counseling certificate (P-12); the education specialist program builds on the masters’ coursework for a total of 60 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: $378.50 plus fees per credit, Kentucky resident; $808 plus fees per credit, non-resident (education programs only; all others are $549 and $808 per credit, respectively)

Northern Kentucky University 

Northern Kentucky University is a public university established in 1968. NKU is primarily an undergraduate institution with roughly 12,000 of 14,000 students registered as undergraduates. 

The school does also offer numerous graduate programs, including three counseling options for those seeking master’s degrees. The following programs are offered by the College of Health And Human Services: a master of arts in school counseling, a master of science in clinical mental health counseling, and a dual-degree program in school counseling (MA) and clinical mental health counseling (MS). 

The clinical mental health counseling program meets Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana coursework specifications for state licensure as a professional clinical counselor, as well as licensure standards in many other states. School counselors in Kentucky must have a minimum of a master’s degree in school counseling, meet the state certification/ licensure standards, and abide by the laws of the states in which they are employed. 

The school counseling program prepares students to become Professional School Counselors through a degree program that meets coursework specifications for professional school counselor certification/licensure in numerous states. Students who complete the dual-degree program are eligible for licensure as clinical mental health counselors and certification/licensure as school counselors. 

  • Location: Highland Heights, Kentucky
  • Duration: The clinical mental health counseling program MS degree is 60 credits; the school counseling MA is 60 credits; the dual-degree program is 72 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: $613 plus fees per credit, Kentucky resident; $943 plus fees per credit, non-resident (masters of counseling & masters of social work only; general graduate degrees are $550 and $845 per credit, respectively)

University of Kentucky – Lexington

The University of Kentucky is a public research university founded in 1865 by John Bryan Bowman as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky. The school has the state’s highest enrollment. 

The University of Kentucky counselor education program prepares students to practice in the areas of rehabilitation and clinical mental health counseling. Graduates will receive a master of arts in counseling with a concentration in either rehabilitation counseling or clinical mental health counseling. 

This program is approved by the Kentucky Council on Higher Education and is the only master’s program in rehabilitation counseling in the Commonwealth. This program also consistently ranks among the top 10 rehabilitation counseling programs in the country by U.S. News and World Report

Either track can lead to licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor in most states.  

  • Location: Lexington, Kentucky
  • Duration: 60 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: $700.50 per credit

University of Louisville

The University of Louisville is a public research university founded in 1798. It was the first city-owned public university in the United States and one of the first universities chartered west of the Allegheny Mountains. 

Its accredited graduate counseling degree programs include a counseling & personnel services master’s (MEd), which includes five concentrations: art therapy, clinical mental health counseling, college student personnel, counseling psychology, and school guidance counseling (grades K-12). The coursework for the program fulfills the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) educational requirements to sit for the National Counselor Examination (NCE) for National Counselor Certification. 

The coursework and clinical practice experiences allow graduates to be licensed in most states. A graduate of the program can apply to the Kentucky Board of Licensed Professional Counselors to have their credentials evaluated to become a licensed professional counselor associate (LPCA). 

Louisville’s Kent School of Social Work also offers a master of science in couple and family therapy. The couple and family therapy (CFT, formerly MFT) program was the first and is currently one of only two programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) offering combined training in M/CFT and social work. The CFT program curriculum meets course requirements for Kentucky licensure and clinical membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). 

The MSCFT program is offered as an on-campus two-year program. A new dual-degree MSCFT/MSSW is offered as either a two- or three-year program. This dual program offers training toward both LMFT and Licensed Clinical Social Work (LCSW) professional licensure and is accredited by both COAMFTE and CSWE (Council on Social Work Education). 

  • Location: Louisville, Kentucky
  • Duration: 60 credits; school Counseling is 48 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP, COAMFTE, and CSWE (couple and family therapy only)
  • Tuition: $6,762 full-time tuition (nine or more credits), Kentucky resident; $13,819 full-time, non-resident

University of the Cumberlands 

The University of the Cumberlands is a private university founded by Baptist ministers in 1888 as Cumberland College. It changed its name in 2005. Notably, Cumberlands is designated as a Military Friendly School. 

The school’s counselor education program offers a master’s in addiction counseling and a master’s in clinical mental health counseling. The school’s online master’s in education degree (MEd) offers specializations in the following areas: literacy specialist (30 hours; these students will also receive a Literacy Specialist P-12 Endorsement which offers the opportunity to become not only a literacy teacher but also a resource teacher, coach, mentor or consultant in the areas of reading and writing); school counseling; principal (30 hours); special education; and teacher leader. 

The online master’s in addiction counseling degree operates on a bi-term schedule: two in fall, two in spring, and two in summer. Qualified applicants can start their addiction counseling degree classes at the beginning of any bi-term. 

The online master of arts in clinical mental health counseling requires 48 credit hours of core coursework plus 12 additional credit hours of specialized courses in clinical mental health counseling. All programs are grounded in a Christian worldview. 

  • Location: Williamsburg, Kentucky
  • Duration: 60 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: $9,875 per year, full-time, Kentucky resident, military, and non-resident

Western Kentucky University 

Western Kentucky University is a public university founded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 1906. WKU’s College of Education and Behavioral Sciences offers a master of arts in education in counseling with two concentrations. This program meets the educational requirements for licensure as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Kentucky and in many other states. 

Students can choose between concentrations in clinical mental health counseling (CMHC) or marriage, couple, and family counseling (CMCF). The school also offers a Joint Undergraduate Master’s Program (JUMP). The JUMP degree provides students the opportunity to complete both an undergraduate and graduate degree in approximately five years. 

  • Location: Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Duration: 60 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP accredits both the Clinical Mental Health Counseling and the Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling concentrations
  • Tuition: $607 plus fees per credit, Kentucky resident; $917 plus fees per credit, non-resident 

Asbury Theological Seminary

The Asbury Theological Seminary is an evangelical Christian seminary that is the largest seminary of the Wesleyan-Holiness movement. For those who wish to provide counseling from a Biblical worldview, the school offers master of arts degrees in mental health counseling, marriage and family counseling, and pastoral counseling. 

The Asbury Theological Seminary’s marriage and family counseling degree integrates a biblical and theological foundation for relationships and meets academic requirements for eligibility as a licensed marriage and family counselor for many states. Other than pastoral counseling, these degree programs require 60 credits of core classes plus a required 15-credit series of seminary courses. 

Students who received a religion major or minor from an accredited college or university can receive 12 credits toward one of these master of arts degrees. The pastoral counseling degree is designed for those who plan to pursue vocations in congregation-based ministries or non-profits. 

  • Location: Wilmore, Kentucky
  • Duration: Marriage and Family Counseling and Mental Health Counseling are 75 hours; Pastoral Counseling is 60 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP (mental health counseling only)
  • Tuition: $675 per credit plus fees

Lindsey Wilson College

Lindsey Wilson College is a private United Methodist college founded in 1903. The school offers a master of education in counseling and human development, which meets the academic licensure requirements for Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The program has a specialization in mental health counseling, which requires a minimum of 60 semester-hours and participation in a non-credit group experience of not less than ten hours facilitated by the program. 

Requirements include 30 hours from nine core areas, nine hours of clinical instruction, and an additional 21 hours of specialized training in mental health counseling.

  • Location: Columbia, Kentucky
  • Duration: 60 semester hours
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: $690 per credit, plus fees

How Much Do Counselors Make in Kentucky?

These numbers represent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from May 2020, the latest data available as of August 2021.

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors

United StatesKentucky
Number employed292,2303,890
Average annual salary (mean)$61,000$56,860
10th percentile$34,380$34,430
50th percentile (median)$57,040$56,970
90th percentile$96,090$80,400

Marriage and Family Therapists

United StatesKentucky
Number employed60,850890
Average annual salary (mean)$54,590$56,860
10th percentile$32,070$32,770
50th percentile (median)$49,610$48,240
90th percentile$87,700$76,990

Rehabilitation Counselors

United StatesKentucky
Number employed100,2601,220
Average annual salary (mean)$40,160$36,070
10th percentile$23,820$25,150
50th percentile (median)$39,950$34,120
90th percentile$63,790$51,980

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

United StatesKentucky
Number employed293,6202,960
Average annual salary (mean)$49,950$43,500
10th percentile$29,520$26,050
50th percentile (median)$46,240$38,730
90th percentile$76,080$70,310

All Other Counselors

United StatesKentucky
Number employed27,31050
Average annual salary (mean)$48,800$59,540
10th percentile$27,030$18,380
50th percentile (median)$42,930$56,770
90th percentile$77,590$101,970

Counseling Professional Associations & Resources in Kentucky

  • Kentucky Counseling Association
  • KY Board of Licensed Professional Counselors (KYBLPC)
  • American Counseling Association – Kentucky Chapter
  • Kentucky Mental Health Counseling Association
  • Kentucky School Counselor Association
  • Kentucky Association of Adult Development and Aging
  • Kentucky Association for Multicultural Counseling and
  • Development
  • Kentucky Association for Counselor Education and Supervision
  • Kentucky Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Counseling
  • Suicide Prevention Consortium of Kentucky (SPCK)
  • Kentucky Higher Education and Assistance Authority (KHEAA)
  • Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky

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

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Board of Professional Counselors

Mental health counselors in Kentucky are first licensed as Licensed Professional Counselor Associates (LPCAs) and then as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs).

Requirements to be licensed as an LCPA include:

  • Graduate from a CACREP accredited master’s program in counseling. The program must be at least 60 semester hours and a 600-hour practicum
  • Pay the $50 application fee
  • Complete a criminal background check

Once licensed as an LCPA, counselors can work towards their LPC licensure. Requirements include:

  • Completing 4,000 hours of supervised work experience. Of those hours, 1,600 must be direct counseling and 100 must be direct supervision. Counselors are encouraged to complete 10 hours of counseling in correctional facilities or jails
  • Passing an NCE or NCMHCE exam
  • Paying a $150 application fee

Renewals for counseling licenses in Kentucky are required annually and must be accompanied by a $150 fee.

Licensed counselors are required to complete 10 hours of continuing education per renewal cycle. During the first year of renewal, counselors must complete six hours of continuing education in suicide prevention and then every six years thereafter. During the first three years of licensure, they must also complete three hours of domestic violence continuing education.

School Counseling Licenses in Kentucky

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board

The Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board issues a Certificate for School Counselors.

The requirements for a provisional certificate are:

  • Complete an approved master’s in school counseling
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $85 application fee

To apply for a standard certificate, applicants must:

  • Complete an approved master’s in school counseling
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $85 application fee
  • Complete an additional three to six credit hours of education in school counseling
  • Have either two years of full time work experience as a school counselor or have a valid Kentucky teaching certificate and have one year of experience each as a school counselor and classroom teacher

Both standard and provisional school counselor certificates issued in Kentucky are valid for five years. Applications to renew must be submitted online along with an $85 renewal fee.

Provisional certificate holders must complete nine semester credit hours of additional graduate coursework in the areas of counseling or school counseling.

Standard certificate holders must complete 21 hours that meet the requirements of the Effective Instructional Leadership Act (EILA).

Substance Abuse Counseling Licenses in Kentucky

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Kentucky Board of Alcohol and Drug Counselors

The Kentucky Board of Alcohol and Drug Counselor issues a Certification as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC), Licensure as a Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC), and Licensure as a Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor Associate (LCADCA).

CADC candidates must:

  • Be 18 years old
  • Submit a completed application
  • Provide two reference letters
  • Submit a completed Supervision Evaluation
  • Complete 6,000 hours (three years) of work experience with clients who have a substance use disorder; a bachelor’s in related field can substitute for 2,000 hours, a master’s in a related field can substitute for 3,000 hours, and a master’s with specialization in addictions or drug and alcohol counseling can substitute for 4,000 hours
  • Have earned at least a bachelor’s degree
  • Have 300 hours of direct supervision
  • Complete 270 hours of education or training, including six hours in ethics, six hours in domestic violence, and three hours in HIV
  • Complete a training program in suicide assessment, treatment, and management
  • Pass the ADC exam from IC&RC
  • Sign the ethics and standards of practice form
  • Pay the $50 application fee, $200 testing fee, and $200 initial license fee

LCADCA candidates must:

  • Be 18 years old
  • Submit a completed application
  • Provide two reference letters
  • Complete a Supervisory Agreement for supervised work experience
  • Have earned at a master’s or doctorate degree
  • Complete 180 hours of education or training including six hours in ethics, six hours in domestic violence, and three hours in HIV
  • Complete a training program in suicide assessment, treatment, and management
  • Pass the AADC exam from IC&RC
  • Sign the ethics and standards of practice form
  • Pay the $50 application fee, $200 testing fee, and $200 initial license fee

LCADC candidates must:

  • Be 18 years old
  • Submit a completed application
  • Provide two reference letters
  • Complete a Supervisory Agreement for supervised work experience
  • Have earned at a master’s or doctorate degree
  • Complete 180 hours of education or training including six hours in ethics, six hours in domestic violence, and three hours in HIV
  • Complete a training program in suicide assessment, treatment, and management
  • Complete 2,000 hours (three years) of work experience with clients who have a substance use disorder
  • Have 300 hours of direct supervision
  • Pass the AADC exam from IC&RC
  • Sign the ethics and standards of practice form
  • Pay the $50 application fee, $200 testing fee, and $200 initial license fee

Substance abuse counselor certificates and licenses issued by the Kentucky Board of Alcohol and Drug Counselors expire every three years. Renewals cost $100.

CADCs and LCADCs must complete 60 continuing education hours per renewal term and LCADCAs must complete 20. Six hours must be in suicide prevention and three must be in ethics.

Rehabilitation Counseling Licenses in Kentucky

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Board of Professional Counselors

Rehabilitation counselors in Kentucky are first licensed as Licensed Professional Counselor Associates (LCPAs) and then as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs).

Requirements to be licensed as an LCPA include:

  • Graduate from a CACREP accredited master’s program in counseling. The program must be at least 60 semester hours and a 600-hour practicum
  • Pay the $50 application fee
  • Complete a criminal background check

Once licensed as an LCPA, counselors can work towards their LPC licensure. Requirements include:

  • Completing 4,000 hours of supervised work experience. Of those hours, 1,600 must be direct counseling and 100 must be direct supervision. Counselors are encouraged to complete 10 hours of counseling in correctional facilities or jails
  • Passing an NCE or NCMHCE exam
  • Paying a $150 application fee

Renewals for counseling licenses in Kentucky are required annually and must be accompanied by a $150 fee.

Licensed counselors are required to complete 10 hours of continuing education per renewal cycle. During the first year of renewal, counselors must complete six hours of continuing education in suicide prevention and then every six years thereafter. During the first three years of licensure, they must also complete three hours of domestic violence continuing education.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Licenses in Kentucky

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Applied Behavior Analyst Licensing Board

The Applied Behavior Analyst Licensing Board of Kentucky issues both Licensed Behavior Analyst and Licensed Assistant Behavior Analyst licenses.

To qualify for the Licensed Assistant Behavior Analyst credential, applicants must:

  • Have earned a bachelor’s or higher
  • Pay $100 application fee and $200 initial license fee
  • Submit a completed application
  • Submit official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
  • Hold BCaBA certification
  • Complete five hours of board-approved training in reporting abuse, neglect, and exploitation
  • Complete an annual supervisory plan. This report must be submitted annually if the applicant has been working in the field for fewer than five years. If the applicant has more than five years of experience, the report only needs to be submitted every two years.

To qualify for the Licensed Behavior Analyst credential, applicants must:

  • Have earned a master’s or higher
  • Pay $100 application fee and $300 initial license fee
  • Submit a completed application
  • Submit official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
  • Hold BCBA certification
  • Complete 5 hours of board-approved training in reporting abuse, neglect, and exploitation

Renewals for Licensed Behavior Analyst and Licensed Assistant Behavior Analyst credentials issued in Kentucky are required every two years. Assistant licenses cost $200 to renew while behavior analyst renewals cost $300.

Although there are no continuing education requirements, license holders must maintain BACB certification which has continuing education requirements.

Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses in Kentucky

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Board of Licensure for Marriage and Family Therapists

The Kentucky Board of Licensure for Marriage and Family Therapists credentials Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associates.

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

  • Submit a complete application
  • Pay $50 application fee and $25 initial license fee
  • Submit official transcripts verifying a master’s degree or higher in marriage and family therapy from a COAMFTE-accredited program or equivalent, including a practicum with at least 300 hours of direct client contact

To apply for a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist credential, candidates must meet the associate license requirements, as well as:

  • Complete two years of supervised work experience as a marriage and family therapist with at least 200 hours of supervision
  • Take and pass the AMFTRB exam
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $50 application fee and $175 initial license fee

Marriage and family therapists licensed in Kentucky are required to renew their licenses annually. The fee to renew is $150.

To renew, applicants must complete 15 hours of continuing education. Three hours must be in ethics.

Child (Pediatric) Behavioral Therapy Licenses in Kentucky

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Board of Professional Counselors

Child therapists in Kentucky are first licensed as Licensed Professional Counselor Associates (LCPAs) and then as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs).

Requirements to be licensed as an LCPA include:

  • Graduate from a CACREP accredited master’s program in counseling. The program must be at least 60 semester hours and a 600-hour practicum
  • Pay the $50 application fee
  • Complete a criminal background check

Once licensed as an LCPA, counselors can work towards their LPC licensure. Requirements include:

  • Completing 4,000 hours of supervised work experience. Of those hours, 1,600 must be direct counseling and 100 must be direct supervision. Counselors are encouraged to complete 10 hours of counseling in correctional facilities or jails
  • Passing an NCE or NCMHCE exam
  • Paying a $150 application fee

Renewals for counseling licenses in Kentucky are required annually and must be accompanied by a $150 fee.

Licensed counselors are required to complete 10 hours of continuing education per renewal cycle. During the first year of renewal, counselors must complete six hours of continuing education in suicide prevention and then every six years thereafter. During the first three years of licensure, they must also complete three hours of domestic violence continuing education.

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.