Counseling Degrees & Licenses in Minnesota

Minnesota, like most other states, requires licensure and certification in order to practice as a counselor. Credentials to practice are awarded to those who have obtained education from an accredited college or university, as well as passed any state or national certification exams. Minnesota licenses two levels of counseling practitioners: Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LCPCs).

The Minnesota Health Licensing Boards, a division of the state Board of Behavioral and Health Therapy, provides information and resources for licensed alcohol and drug counselors, licensed professional counselors, and licensed professional clinical counselors in Minnesota. The Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy regulates three license types and one temporary permit: a temporary permit for alcohol and drug counseling, the Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) license, and the two counseling licenses. Minnesota offers license reciprocity in some form or another for 45 states.

Those who pursue a counseling degree and license in Minnesota can be rewarded with a stable career, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this career field will grow 15 percent nationally from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. The need for counselors, in general, will grow as a growing population seeks mental health counseling. The BLS (2021) predicts the job outlook for substance abuse counselors to grow at an even higher rate during that same decade (25 percent). Demand for rehabilitation counselors is expected to grow 10 percent, and marriage and family therapists, 22 percent.

Read on for a few of the many schools offering programs for counseling degrees and licenses in Minnesota.

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Accredited Counseling Degree Programs in Minnesota

Capella University

Capella University is a private university. Capella was founded in 1993 and delivers most of its education online. The school offers a robust counseling and therapy program with four master of science degrees: clinical mental health counseling, marriage & family therapy, addiction studies, and school counseling.

The addiction studies program requires 10 core courses, one four-and-a-half-day on-campus residency, and an internship. The school counseling program requires six core courses, seven specialization courses, two residencies, a practicum, and two internships. The MFT program also requires two residencies and four quarters of an internship. Clinical mental health counseling requires 10 core courses, seven specialization courses, two residencies, a practicum, and two internships.

  • Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Duration: Addiction studies program comprises 48 credits; school counseling and MFT are 72 credits; the clinical mental health counseling program is 90 credits
  • Accreditation: All counseling programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP); the school counseling program is also accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP); the MFT program is also accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)
  • Tuition: The addiction studies program is $560 per credit plus fees; all other programs are $487 per credit

Minnesota State University – Mankato

Minnesota State University was established in 1858 and was designated in Mankato in 1866. The Mankato campus is the second oldest and the second-largest university in the state. The school’s College of Education offers a master of science degree in counseling and student personnel with its three emphasis areas in college student affairs, mental health counseling, and professional school counseling.

The college student affairs program is designed to prepare students for leadership roles in higher education for a variety of positions, such as academic advising, career services, diversity and inclusion, residence life, and student activities. The mental health counseling program meets all requirements for state licensure. The professional school counseling program prepares graduate students to serve in K-12 schools.

  • Location: Mankato, Minnesota
  • Duration: The counseling and student personnel program and counseling and student personnel programs are 50 credits, the mental health counseling program is 60 credits
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
  • Tuition: 1-11 credits, $444.10 per credit plus fees; 12+ credits, $5,329.20 plus fees

Minnesota State University – Moorhead

Minnesota State University in Moorhead was established in 1888. The school’s on-campus counseling education opportunities include a master of science in counseling degree with an emphasis in addiction counseling, clinical mental health counseling, or school counseling.

All of the courses in the counseling programs are offered after 4:30 p.m. and many are offered as a combination of online and face-to-face classroom learning to accommodate working, part-time, and full-time student needs. These programs prepare students to apply for state licensing and national certification in professional counseling in both Minnesota and North Dakota.

The school also offers an addiction counseling graduate certificate that is offered entirely online with face-to-face options available for some/all classes. The school counseling and professional counseling graduate certificates require students to complete the equivalent of the degree program through transfer courses and courses taken at MSU Moorhead.

  • Location: Moorhead, Minnesota
  • Duration: The clinical mental health counseling and addiction counseling programs are 60 credits; the school counseling program is 54 credits
  • Accreditation: The Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $459 per credit, plus fees

St. Cloud State University

St. Cloud State University is a public university founded in 1869. Its enrollment in 2020 was approximately 16,000 students. St. Cloud offers several master of science counseling degree options, including two post-graduate degree certificates in addictions and school counseling.

The master of science in college counseling and student development program prepares students for work in a two-year or four-year college or university setting. The clinical mental health counseling program is a cohort-model program that welcomes 18 full-time students each year.

The school’s rehabilitation counseling program boasts a 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. This program has online or on-campus options, and students who add 12 additional specialized elective credits can gain the ability to sit for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) credentialing.

A rehabilitation and addiction counseling (MS) option is one of two training programs with specialized expertise in rehabilitation counseling and addiction in the United States. Students who complete this program will have met education requirements to sit for the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor exam, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor exam, the Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor exam, and the Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor exam.

The master of science in marriage and family therapy welcomes 16 full-time students each year. Classes in this program are scheduled to limit student on-campus attendance (two to three days in the first year; one day in the second year).

  • Location: St. Cloud, Minnesota
  • Duration: Clinical mental health counseling requires 61 credits; college counseling and student development requires 42-48 credits; marriage and family therapy and school counseling both require 52-58 credits; rehabilitation and addiction counseling requires 60-63 credits; rehabilitation counseling requires 48-52 credits
  • Accreditation: The college counseling and student development program is accredited by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education; the school counseling program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE); the clinical mental health counseling program is accredited by CACREP and by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE); the master of science in marriage and family therapy program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)
  • Tuition: $8,878 for tuition and fees per year, Minnesota resident; $12,904 for tuition and fees per year, non-resident

Walden University

Walden University is a for-profit university that was established in 1970 by two New York teachers. The school specializes in online learning and is the nation’s number one conferrer of master’s degrees. The school offers several counseling degree options, including an MS in school counseling with an addiction counseling specialization, an MS in clinical mental health counseling with an addiction counseling specialization, an MS in clinical mental health counseling with a forensic counseling specialization, an MS in school counseling (with a marriage, couple and family counseling specialization), and two dual degrees: an MS dual degree in clinical mental health counseling and school counseling with a forensic counseling specialization and an MS dual degree in clinical mental health counseling and school counseling with a trauma and crisis counseling specialization.

All degrees require a four-day in-person on-campus residency experience or virtual synchronous sessions. For dedicated full-time students, Walden does have an accelerated track for the school counseling – addiction and school counseling – marriage, couple, and family counseling programs, which allow students to take three courses per quarter and finish their program in a shorter time frame but with the same curriculum, residencies, and field experience requirements.

  • Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Duration: The MS in school counseling with an addiction counseling specialization and MS in school counseling with a marriage, couple, and family counseling specialization both require 85 credits; the MS in clinical mental health counseling with an addiction counseling specialization and the forensic counseling specialization both require 100 to 106 credits; the dual degrees both require 121 credits
  • Accreditation: Walden’s clinical mental health counseling, school counseling, addiction counseling, and marriage, couple, and family counseling programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $470 per quarter-hour plus fees

Winona State University

Winona State University is a public university that was founded as Winona Normal School in 1858. It is the oldest of Minnesota’s colleges and it was the first normal school west of the Mississippi River (a “normal school” is founded for the purpose of training teachers).

The school’s counselor education options include master of science degrees in clinical mental health counseling, school counseling, and human services professional (which is open to students with a non-counseling master’s degree who want to work with students). Upon successful completion of the human services professional degree, graduates may apply for admission to one of the school’s counseling degree programs.

An addiction counseling certificate is available at the Rochester campus. Students who successfully complete the clinical mental health counseling coursework are eligible for licensure as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) in Minnesota and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Wisconsin. Successful completion of the school counseling program leads to licensure as a school counselor in Minnesota or Wisconsin.

  • Location: Winona, Minnesota
  • Duration: School counseling is 49 credits; clinical mental health counseling is 59 credits; human services professional is 34 credits
  • Accreditation: The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $428.28 per credit plus fees, Minnesota resident; $646.17 per credit plus fees, non-resident

How Much Do Counselors Make in Minnesota?

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

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors

United StatesMinnesota
Number employed292,2304,340
Average annual salary (mean)$61,000$61,220
10th percentile$34,380$41,700
50th percentile (median)$57,040$58,410
90th percentile$96,090$89,050

Marriage and Family Therapists

United StatesMinnesota
Number employed60,8501,440
Average annual salary (mean)$54,590$63,700
10th percentile$32,070$36,320
50th percentile (median)$49,610$60,560
90th percentile$87,700$97,390

Rehabilitation Counselors

United StatesMinnesota
Number employed100,2603,420
Average annual salary (mean)$40,160$42,000
10th percentile$23,820$27,700
50th percentile (median)$39,950$40,160
90th percentile$63,790$60,470

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

United StatesMinnesota
Number employed293,6207,710
Average annual salary (mean)$49,950$53,450
10th percentile$29,520$37,040
50th percentile (median)$46,240$51,270
90th percentile$76,080$69,900

All Other Counselors

United StatesMinnesota
Number employed27,310450
Average annual salary (mean)$48,800$46,710
10th percentile$27,030$27,590
50th percentile (median)$42,930$39,450
90th percentile$77,590$78,070

Counseling Professional Associations & Resources in Minnesota

  • Minnesota Counseling Association
  • Minnesota School Counselors Association
  • Minnesota Association of Resources for Recovery and Chemical Health (MARRCH)
  • Minnesota Certification Board (MCB)
  • Minnesota Department of Human Services Licensing
  • Midwest Association of Colleges and Employers (MWACE)
  • Minnesota Association of Colleges and Employers (MN ACE)
  • Minnesota Career Development Association (MCDA)
  • International Coach Federation Minnesota Charter Chapter
  • Minnesota College and University Career Services Association (MCUCSA)
  • Twin Cities Association for Psychological Type (TC-APT)
  • MMSCA-Minneapolis Metro School Counselor Association
  • Academic Advising Network (AAN)
  • Minnesota College Personnel Association (MCPA)
  • Middle Atlantic Career Counseling Association (MACCA)
  • Minnesota Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Minnesota Association for College Admission Counseling

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

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy

Mental health counselors can be licensed as Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC) or Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) in Minnesota.

Requirements to be an LPC include:

  • A background check including fingerprinting
  • Master’s or doctorate in counseling from a CACREP accredited program of at least 48 semester or 72 quarter hours 10 content areas and a 700-hour practicum
  • A passing score on the NCE exam
  • 2,000 hours of supervised work experience. These can be completed before licensure or after licensure if a supervision plan is put in place. Hours must be completed in a minimum of one year and a maximum of three. 100 hours must be direct supervision.
  • A $150 application fee
  • A $250 initial license fee

LPCC requirements include submitting:

  • Proof of an LPC credential
  • A background check including fingerprinting
  • Master’s or doctorate in counseling from a CACREP accredited program of at least 48 semester or 72 quarter hours in 10 content areas and a 700-hour practicum
  • A passing score on the NCMHCE exam
  • Proof of 4,000 hours of supervised work experience. These hours must be completed in a minimum of two years and include two hours of supervision for every 40 hours of client contact. At least 75 percent of the supervision hours must be in person, and 50 percent must be individual.
  • Pay a $150 application fee
  • Pay a $250 initial license fee

Renewals are required annually for mental health counselors in Minnesota. Renewals cost $250.

Counselors must complete 12 postgraduate semester credit hours during their first four years of licensure and 40 hours of continuing education. Each two-year cycle (after the first four years), counselors are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education.

School Counseling Licenses in Minnesota

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board

School counselors in Minnesota must earn a Tier 2 license in school counseling. The requirements for this license are:

  • Hold a master’s degree in counseling
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay a $90.25 application fee and $57 background check fee
  • Pass a background check

Applicants who have a bachelor’s with at least 24 semester credit hours in school counseling coursework may apply for this license if they verify to the board they will complete the necessary courses to achieve licensure within three years.

For a Tier 3 license, candidates must meet all the Tier 2 requirements, as well as complete a CACRE- accredited preparation program approved by the state.

Tier 4 license candidates must meet Tier 2 and 3 requirements, as well as have three years of experience as a school counselor.

Tier 2 licenses issued in Minnesota must be renewed every two years and may be renewed two times. Candidates completing their education must provide proof of making meaningful progress towards degree completion.

Tier 3 licenses expire every three years School counselors at this tier must complete 75 clock hours of continuing education, including all mandatory requirements.

Tier 4 licenses expire every five years. School counselors at this tier must complete 125 clock hours of continuing education, including all mandatory requirements.

All licenses cost $57 to renew.

Substance Abuse Counseling Licenses in Minnesota

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy (BBHT)

The Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy (BBHT) issues Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) licenses.

LADC applicants must meet general requirements, as well as either the standard method of application or the supervision alternative.

General requirements include:

  • A completed application
  • A fingerprint-based background check
  • $295 application fee and a $33.25 background check fee

For the standard method of application, candidates must:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Complete 270 hours of specific alcohol and drug counseling course work
  • Complete an 880-hour alcohol and drug counseling practicum
  • Obtain a passing score on a written exam or a written and oral exam

For the supervision alternative, candidates must:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Complete 270 hours of specific alcohol and drug counseling course work
  • Complete an 880-hour alcohol and drug counseling practicum
  • Obtain a passing score on a written exam
  • Complete 2,000 hours of post-degree supervised work experience

LADCs in Minnesota must renew their license every two years. Renewal fees $295.

LADCs must complete 40 hours of continuing education, which must include nine hours on diversity and three hours on professional ethics

Rehabilitation Counseling Licenses in Minnesota

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy

Rehabilitation counselors in Minnesota can be credentialed as Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC) or Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC).

Requirements to be an LPC include:

  • A background check including fingerprinting
  • Master’s or doctorate in counseling from a CACREP accredited program of at least 48 semester or 72 quarter hours 10 content areas and a 700-hour practicum
  • A passing score on the NCE exam
  • 2,000 hours of supervised work experience. These can be completed before licensure or after licensure if a supervision plan is put in place. Hours must be completed in a minimum of one year and a maximum of three. 100 hours must be direct supervision.
  • A $150 application fee
  • A $250 initial license fee

LPCC requirements include submitting:

  • Proof of an LPC credential
  • A background check including fingerprinting
  • Master’s or doctorate in counseling from a CACREP accredited program of at least 48 semester or 72 quarter hours in 10 content areas and a 700-hour practicum
  • A passing score on the NCMHCE exam
  • Proof of 4,000 hours of supervised work experience. These hours must be completed in a minimum of two years and include two hours of supervision for every 40 hours of client contact. At least 75 percent of the supervision hours must be in person, and 50 percent must be individual.
  • Pay a $150 application fee
  • Pay a $250 initial license fee

Renewals are required annually for mental health counselors in Minnesota. Renewals cost $250.

Counselors must complete 12 postgraduate semester credit hours during their first four years of licensure and 40 hours of continuing education. Each two-year cycle (after the first four years), counselors are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Licenses in Minnesota

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

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

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

Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses in Minnesota

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Minnesota Board of Marriage and Family Therapy

The Minnesota Board of Marriage and Family Therapy credentials Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) and Licensed Associate Marriage Family Therapists (LAMFT).

LAMFT license candidates must:

  • Be 18 years old or older
  • Complete a master’s degree or higher in marriage and family therapy from a regionally accredited school, which includes a 300-hour practicum
  • Pass the AMFTRB exam
  • Pay the $143.25 application fee
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Submit a completed and notarized application
  • Provide a recent color photo

Candidates for an LMFT license must meet the LAMFT license requirements, as well as:

  • Submit a completed and notarized application
  • Pay $110 application fee
  • Provide two endorsements, one can be from the supervised work experience supervisor
  • Complete two years and 4,000 hours of supervised work experience (must include at least 1,000 hours of direct client contact and 200 hours of supervision)

Marriage and family therapy licenses issued in Minnesota must be renewed every year. LAMFT renewals cost $75 and LMFT renewals cost $125.

Therapists must complete 40 hours of continuing education every two years. Three of those hours must be in ethics.

Child (Pediatric) Behavioral Therapy Licenses in Minnesota

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy

Child therapists in Minnesota can be credentialed as Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC) or Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC).

Requirements to be an LPC include:

  • A background check including fingerprinting
  • Master’s or doctorate in counseling from a CACREP accredited program of at least 48 semester or 72 quarter hours 10 content areas and a 700-hour practicum
  • A passing score on the NCE exam
  • 2,000 hours of supervised work experience. These can be completed before licensure or after licensure if a supervision plan is put in place. Hours must be completed in a minimum of one year and a maximum of three. 100 hours must be direct supervision.
  • A $150 application fee
  • A $250 initial license fee

LPCC requirements include submitting:

  • Proof of an LPC credential
  • A background check including fingerprinting
  • Master’s or doctorate in counseling from a CACREP accredited program of at least 48 semester or 72 quarter hours in 10 content areas and a 700-hour practicum
  • A passing score on the NCMHCE exam
  • Proof of 4,000 hours of supervised work experience. These hours must be completed in a minimum of two years and include two hours of supervision for every 40 hours of client contact. At least 75 percent of the supervision hours must be in person, and 50 percent must be individual.
  • Pay a $150 application fee
  • Pay a $250 initial license fee

Renewals are required annually for mental health counselors in Minnesota. Renewals cost $250.

Counselors must complete 12 postgraduate semester credit hours during their first four years of licensure and 40 hours of continuing education. Each two-year cycle (after the first four years), counselors are required to complete 40 hours of 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.

Counseling Schools & Licensure in Nearby States