Counseling Degrees & Licenses in Massachusetts

According to Resources To Recover, Massachusetts is the third most densely populated state in the nation with a population of nearly seven million people. They say that close to 4 percent of the adults in Massachusetts live with serious mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression.

Just over half of the adults with mental illness in Massachusetts receive any form of treatment, despite the fact that according to Mental Health America, Massachusetts is ranked second out of the 50 states and Washington DC for providing access to mental health services.

Massachusetts closely regulates the people who receive counseling degrees and licenses. Public mental health services in Massachusetts are administered and provided by the Department of Mental Health. Substance use and addiction treatment services in Massachusetts are overseen by a separate agency, the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services.

In Massachusetts, marriage therapists and mental health counselors must have master’s degrees in order to practice in the state. For those who have decided that a career in the mental health field is definitely their calling, the first step is to achieve a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. Massachusetts requires a 60-credit master’s degree from a regionally accredited graduate program in mental health counseling or a related field.

The state also requires that licensees accrue 3,360 hours of supervised post-master’s work in the mental health counseling field and a passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination followed by applying for the LMHC License through the state of Massachusetts. Note that the state of Massachusetts requirements on counseling degrees and licenses do not accept more than 35 hours per week for 48 weeks a year. Thus, licensees cannot count more than 35 hours per week even if they worked more than one job at the same time.

Read on to discover the many schools offering programs for accredited counseling degrees and licensure in Massachusetts.

Accredited Counseling Degree Programs in Massachusetts

Assumption University

Assumption University is a small private, Roman Catholic university with an enrollment of about 2,000 students. Assumption offers online and in-person classes for some of its programs.

Their rehabilitation program is both in-person and online, conferring either a master of arts or a certificate of advanced graduate study (CAGS). The school counseling program is available as an on-campus or blended (online/on-campus) program, conferring the same degree options. The master of arts in clinical counseling psychology is a 60-credit, in-person program.

Notably, Assumption has the only master of arts (MA) offering a fully integrated curriculum based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in the United States.

  • Location: Worcester, Massachusetts
  • Duration: 60 credits, full- or part-time, two or three years
  • Accreditation: Assumption University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Education, the Council on Rehabilitation Education (part of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, or CACREP)
  • Tuition: $762 per credit, $2,286 per three-credit course

Boston University – School of Medicine

Graduate Medical Sciences (GMS) is the center of graduate education in biomedical sciences at Boston University School of Medicine. Students benefit from the school’s collaboration with the Boston Medical Center.

The master of arts in mental health counseling and behavioral medicine is a two-year, full-time, in-person program and is the only accredited program that is housed in a medical school. The program requires a semester-long clinical practicum and a year-long internship that culminates in the graduate being eligible for mental health counseling licensure in Massachusetts and in some other states.

  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Duration: 60 credits, two years
  • Accreditation: the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $56,854, approximate tuition per year for a full-time student

Bridgewater State University

Bridgewater State University is a public university and is the largest of nine state universities in Massachusetts. The school offers several counseling degree program options. Students can choose from the following:

  • A master of education in counseling with a concentration in mental health counseling
  • A master of education, dual license concentration in counseling and mental health counseling
  • A master of education in counseling with a concentration in school counseling
  • A master of education in counseling with a concentration in student affairs counseling
  • A master of education in counseling with a mental health counseling concentration for international (i.e., non-U.S. citizens) non-licensure track
  • A counseling and school counseling post-master’s option

Bridgewater’s graduate programs are designed for working students, with classes and faculty office hours held at night and courses that may be taken online or in a hybrid (onsite/online) format. Students can take up to two classes at Bridgewater before formally applying to the graduate programs.

  • Location: Bridgewater, Massachusetts
  • Duration: 60 credits or 66 credits for the dual licensure
  • Accreditation: the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $10,732, plus fees, annual cost, Massachusetts resident; $16,872, non-resident

Springfield College

Springfield College is a private college in Springfield, Massachusetts. The college calls itself the birthplace of basketball, stating that the sport was invented there in 1891 by a student.

The school offers a general counseling degree that is designed for students who wish to earn their master’s degree in counseling but are not interested in professional licensure. The clinical mental health counseling degree is designed to prepare a student for licensure. That program offers the options of traditional in-person weekday classes or weekend/hybrid classes at regional campuses in Boston, Milwaukee, or Wilmington.

The clinical mental health counseling master of education program allows students to select from concentrations in clinical mental health counseling, school counseling, or rehabilitation counseling. With an additional three credits, students can apply for licensure in Florida.

  • Location: Springfield, Boston, Milwaukee, or Wilmington, Massachusetts
  • Duration: The general counseling program is 30 credits; the master of education in counseling is 60 credits
  • Accreditation: Springfield College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC); the rehabilitation counseling program is accredited by the Council of the Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $1,105 per credit, plus fees

University of Massachusetts Boston

The University of Massachusetts Boston is a public research university in Boston, Massachusetts, and they pride themselves on being the third most diverse university in the United States. Undergraduate students studying human services, psychology, social psychology, sociology, or criminal justice can save time and money by starting work toward a master of science in rehabilitation counseling while still an undergraduate.

This accelerated master’s program allows students to take rehabilitation counseling master’s-level courses as electives during their junior and senior years. Students who follow a careful plan can earn a BA and an MS after a total of five years. The on-campus master of education in mental health counseling or certificate of advanced graduate study (CAGS) in counseling offers blended courses with both on-campus and online coursework. Summer classes are delivered online. The online program requires the completion of two in-person two-week intensive residency courses completed during the first summer semester.

  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Duration: 60 credits
  • Accreditation: The University of Massachusetts Boston is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE); the counseling program is accredited by the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) and the Council of the Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $2,590 for 12 or more credits plus fees, Massachusetts resident; $9,758 non-resident

Lesley University

Lesley University is a private university with programs focusing on education, counseling, and the visual arts. Lesley’s counseling program includes clinical mental health counseling; a holistic clinical mental health counseling program that incorporates spiritual interconnectedness; a professional counseling concentration; a school and community counseling concentration; and a trauma studies concentration.

In addition, the school also has a counseling psychology program and a school counseling psychology program. Please note that the 48-credit master of arts in counseling psychology (without the school counseling specialization) is not a licensure preparation program.

  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Duration: The school counseling program is 48 credits; the clinical mental health counseling program is 60 credits
  • Accreditation:
  • Tuition: $1,190 plus fees

William James College

William James College, formerly known as Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, is a private college of psychology. The school offers an on-campus and an online master of arts in clinical mental health counseling. They offer an area of emphasis in couples and family therapy for those students who have an interest in pursuing licensure as a marriage and family therapist. The program can be completed full-time in five semesters (two years that include the summer session) or part-time in three years.

Online students attend asynchronous courses lasting seven weeks each, but students will be required to attend a live first-time live Zoom meeting for each course with the instructor and their classmates. There are two required residencies for the online program. The first one happens the summer before the beginning of practicum and requires two weeks in person. The second residency takes place the summer prior to the internship, and requires four days on campus, covering internship preparation.

  • Location: Newton, Massachusetts
  • Duration: 60 credits, two or three years, full-time or part-time
  • Accreditation: William James College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Tuition: $1,130 plus fees

Westfield State University

Westfield State University is a public university founded in 1838 as the first public co-educational college in America to admit any students without barriers to race, gender, or economic class. Among the graduate degrees that Westfield offers are a master of arts in forensic mental health counseling; a master of arts in mental health counseling; a master of arts in school counseling, initial; and a master of arts in school adjustment counseling. Courses are offered during the evenings and/or late afternoon to accommodate working students.

The forensic mental health counseling program is designed to prepare graduates to work with the offender population. The school counseling, initial degree program is formerly known as school guidance counseling. While that program is a more traditional overall school counseling program, the school adjustment counseling prepares students to work more specifically within the fields of individual and small group counseling such as lunch groups or social skills groups; mediation and conflict resolution for students, parents, and school staff; bullying prevention, crisis intervention, and transitional services

  • Location: Westfield, Massachusetts
  • Duration: 60 credits
  • Accreditation: Westfield State University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Tuition: $32.33 per credit plus fees, Massachusetts resident; $235.00 per credit plus fees, non-resident

Regis College

Regis is a coed, Catholic university in Weston, Massachusetts, 12 miles west of Boston. Once students complete Regis’s counseling program, pass the national exam, and complete the required supervised training hours, students are eligible for independent licensure designations of Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) or Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).

Further, the addictions counseling degree option includes the recommended coursework to apply for the Licensed Addiction and Drug Counselor (LADC-I) exam for mental health addictions professionals, once fieldwork requirements are met. Regis College has applied for designation as an Addictions Education Program with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Regis’s master of arts in counseling degree meets the educational requirements to qualify students to sit for the exam for Allied Mental Health Professional licensure in Massachusetts and in most U.S. states.

  • Location: Weston, Massachusetts
  • Duration: 60 credits
  • Accreditation: Regis College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Tuition: $43,716 plus fees per year

University of Massachusetts Online

UMassOnline is the University of Massachusetts’s online education consortium featuring certificates and degree programs from UMass Amherst, UMass Boston, UMass Dartmouth, UMass Lowell, and UMass Medical School. The school’s master of education in counseling meets the academic requirements for certification in the state of Massachusetts as a School Counselor.

Although the programs are online, two weeks of on-campus study are required to complete two clinical courses that are taught the first summer of the program, generally during the middle of July. The master of science in mental health program meets the academic requirements for mental health counseling licensure. With an additional three credits, students can obtain additional licensure as a school adjustment counselor.

UMass Boston’s Rehabilitation Counseling MS consists of two tracks: clinical rehabilitation counseling and vocational rehabilitation counseling. Both tracks in rehabilitation counseling are fully accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The program is designed for people interested in pursuing an advanced degree and national certification as a rehabilitation counselor, as well as partial requirements for state licensure as a rehabilitation counselor and/or mental health counselor. Rehabilitation counselors support people with disabilities to lead productive and fulfilling lives, including working at integrated and competitive jobs in their communities.

  • Location: Online, with in-person campuses in Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell, Massachusetts
  • Duration: 60 credits
  • Accreditation: The University of Massachusetts is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Tuition: $575 per credit plus fees

How Much Do Counselors Make in Massachusetts?

These numbers represent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from May 2020.

Marriage and Family Therapists

United StatesMassachusetts
Number employed60,8501,250
Average annual salary (mean)$56,890$54,150
10th percentile$33,140$34,230
50th percentile (median)$51,340$49,230
90th percentile$92,930$84,290

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

United StatesMassachusetts
Number employed293,62014,670
Average annual salary (mean)$51,550$50,590
10th percentile$30,590$31,830
50th percentile (median)$47,660$46,620
90th percentile$78,700$76,680

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors

United StatesMassachusetts
Number employed292,2307,950
Average annual salary (mean)$62,320$72,780
10th percentile$35,620$41,950
50th percentile (median)$58,120$69,730
90th percentile$97,910$106,490

Rehabilitation Counselors

United StatesMassachusetts
Number employed100,2606,120
Average annual salary (mean)$42,080$48,830
10th percentile$25,660$28,460
50th percentile (median)$37,530$43,220
90th percentile$66,180$79,430

All Other Counselors

United StatesMassachusetts
Number employed27,310440
Average annual salary (mean)$50,800$58,310
10th percentile$29,120$34,090
50th percentile (median)$45,760$56,740
90th percentile$79,030$98,060

Counseling Professional Associations & Resources in Massachusetts

  • Massachusetts Association for Mental Health
  • Massachusetts Mental Health Counselors Association
  • Massachusetts School Counselors Association
  • Massachusetts Psychological Association
  • Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership
  • Massachusetts Association of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Counselors
  • Western Massachusetts Counselors Association
  • Massachusetts Affiliate of the National Association for Addiction Professionals
  • Counseling Associates of Massachusetts & New Hampshire
  • Massachusetts Psychological Association
  • New England Association for College Admission Counseling

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

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Massachusetts Board of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professions

Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) is the primary license issued to counselors in Massachusetts.

The requirements are:

  • A master’s degree in counseling of at least 60 semester hours including a seven-week and 100-hour practicum, consisting of 40 hours of client contact and 25 hours of direct supervision, and a 600-hour internship, consisting of 240 hours of client contact and 45 hours of direct supervision. A Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) certificate can be substituted for education
  • 3,360 total hours of post-graduate supervised work experience, with a minimum of 960 hours of direct client contact and 130 hours of supervision.
  • A background check
  • A passing NCMHCE score
  • A photo of the applicant
  • A $117 application fee
  • Two professional references

Counseling licenses must be renewed biennially on December 31st of odd-numbered years. Renewals cost $155. Counselors must complete 30 hours of continuing education each renewal cycle.

School Counseling Licenses in Massachusetts

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education issues professional support personnel licenses to school counselors.

The requirements for an initial license are:

  • Complete a master’s degree in counseling
  • Meet the Subject Matter Knowledge Guidelines
  • Complete a 450-hour practicum in an educational setting
  • Have a passing score on the Communication and Literacy Skills test

The requirements for the professional license are:

  • Hold an initial license
  • Complete three years of work experience as a school counselor
  • Complete either 60 semester credits of graduate coursework in school counseling, mental health or psychology or earn a National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) National Board for School Counseling certificate

Professional school counselor licenses issued in Massachusetts are valid for five years. The cost to renew is $25. School counselors must complete 150 professional development points (with a minimum of 15 in ESL, sheltered English Immersion or bilingual education) and another 15 in special education or diverse learning styles.

Initial licenses are also valid for five years but may only be renewed at the discretion of the board.

Substance Abuse Counseling Licenses in Massachusetts

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Massachusetts Board of Substance Abuse Counselor Certification (MBSACC)

Certified Alcoholism Counselor (CAC), Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor, (CADC), and Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor – Advanced (CADC – II) are the three levels of substance abuse counselor certificates issued by the Massachusetts Board of Substance Abuse Counselor Certification (MBSACC).

CAC certification candidates must:

  • Pass the ADC exam from IC&RC
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay the $300 exam fee, $125 application fee, and $60 certificate issuance fee
  • Sign the professional code of conduct and ethics form
  • Complete 180 hours of continuing education training related to the substance abuse field (70 hours must be in counseling techniques and training, another 70 hours in alcohol and drug specific studies, and six hours must be in ethics)
  • Complete two years (4,000 hours) of work experience in alcohol and drug abuse treatment; a minimum of six months must be completed in one facility under one supervisor
  • Have 220 hours of documented supervision with a minimum of ten hours in four specific domains

CADC certification candidates must:

  • Pass the ADC exam from IC&RC
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay the $300 exam fee, $125 application fee, and $60 certificate issuance fee
  • Sign the professional code of conduct and ethics form
  • Complete 300 hours of continuing education training related to the substance abuse field (120 hours must be in counseling techniques and training, another 120 hours in alcohol and drug specific studies, and 10 hours must be in ethics)
  • Complete one year (2,000 hours) of work experience in alcohol and drug abuse treatment; a minimum of six months must be completed in one facility under one supervisor (applicants with an associate degree in behavioral sciences may waive 1,000 hours; those with a bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences may waive 2,000 hours; and those with a master’s degree or higher may waive 4,000 hours)
  • Have documented supervision hours with a minimum of ten hours in four specific domains (300 hours of supervision are required for candidates with a high school diploma or GED; 250 hours for those with associate’s degree in the behavioral sciences field; 200 hours of supervision for those with a bachelor’s degree in the behavioral sciences field; and 100 hours of supervision for those with a master’s or higher degree in counseling or a closely related field)

CADC- II certification candidates must:

  • Pass the AADC exam from IC&RC
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay the $300 exam fee, $125 application fee, and $60 certificate issuance fee
  • Sign the professional code of conduct and ethics form
  • Earn a master’s in behavioral health with a clinical application from an accredited institution
  • Complete 180 hours of alcohol and drug counselor specific continuing education; six hours must be specific to counselor ethics
  • Complete one year (2,000 hours) of work experience in alcohol and drug abuse treatment; a minimum of six months must be completed in one facility under one supervisor
  • Have 300 hours of documented supervision with a minimum of ten hours in four specific domains

All substance abuse certificates issued by the MBSACC expire after two years.

Renewals cost $100 and counselors must complete 40 hours of continuing education every two years. A minimum of 20 hours must be completed in formal courses, workshops, or classes.

Rehabilitation Counseling Licenses in Massachusetts

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Massachusetts Board of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professions

Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) is the primary license issued to rehabilitation counselors in Massachusetts.

The requirements are:

  • A master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling (or a related field) of at least 60 semester hours, including a seven-week and 100-hour practicum, consisting of 40 hours of client contact and 25 hours of direct supervision, and a 600-hour internship, consisting of 240 hours of client contact and 45 hours of direct supervision. A Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) certificate can be substituted for education.
  • 3,360 total hours of post-graduate supervised work experience, with a minimum of 960 hours of direct client contact and 130 hours of supervision.
  • A background check
  • A passing NCMHCE score
  • A photo of the applicant
  • A $117 application fee
  • Two professional references

Counseling licenses must be renewed biennially on December 31st of odd-numbered years. Renewals cost $155. Counselors must complete 30 hours of continuing education each renewal cycle.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Licenses in Massachusetts

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professionals

The Massachusetts Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professionals licenses Assistant Applied Behavior Analysts and Applied Behavior Analysts.

To qualify, Assistant Applied Behavior Analyst license applicants must:

  • Have a BCaBA certification
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $117 application fee and $155 initial licensure fee
  • Send a recent 2×2 color photograph
  • Meet coursework requirements
  • Complete 1,000 hours of fieldwork, 670 hours of a university supervised practicum, or 500 hours of a university supervised intensive practicum
  • Submit completed and notarized Criminal Offender Record Information Request form

The requirements for an Applied Behavior Analyst are:

  • Have a BCBA certification
  • Submit an online application
  • Provide official transcripts of all graduate education
  • Pay $117 application fee and $155 initial licensure fee
  • Send recent 2×2 color photograph
  • Submit a completed and notarized Criminal Offender Record Information Request form

Both Assistant Applied Behavior Analyst and Applied Behavior Analyst licenses issued in Massachusetts expire on December 31st of odd-numbered years. The cost to renew is $155.

All behavior analysts are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education per renewal cycle.

Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses in Massachusetts

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Massachusetts Board of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professions

The Massachusetts Board of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professions credentials Marriage and Family Therapists.

Candidates must:

  • Hold a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy of at least 60 semester hours, including a practicum of 300 hours of client contact and 100 hours of direct supervision (clinical membership with the AAMFT can be substituted for education)
  • Have two years and 3,360 total hours of post-graduate supervised work experience with a minimum of 200 hours of supervision
  • Pass a background check
  • Pass the AMFTRB exam
  • Send a photo
  • Pay a $117 application fee
  • Provide two professional references

Marriage and family therapy licenses issued in Massachusetts must be renewed by December 31st of odd-numbered years. Renewals cost $155.

Counselors must complete 30 hours of continuing education each renewal cycle.

Child (Pediatric) Behavioral Therapy Licenses in Massachusetts

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Massachusetts Board of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professions

Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) is the primary license issued to child therapists in Massachusetts.

The requirements are:

  • A master’s degree in counseling of at least 60 semester hours including a seven-week and 100-hour practicum, consisting of 40 hours of client contact and 25 hours of direct supervision, and a 600-hour internship, consisting of 240 hours of client contact and 45 hours of direct supervision. A Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) certificate can be substituted for education
  • 3,360 total hours of post-graduate supervised work experience, with a minimum of 960 hours of direct client contact and 130 hours of supervision.
  • A background check
  • A passing NCMHCE score
  • A photo of the applicant
  • A $117 application fee
  • Two professional references

Counseling licenses must be renewed biennially on December 31st of odd-numbered years. Renewals cost $155. Counselors must complete 30 hours of continuing education each renewal cycle.

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.