Counseling Degrees & Licenses in New Jersey

New Jersey, also known as the Garden State, has over 23,000 mental health counselors working in a variety of disciplines including in education, rehabilitation, substance abuse, and marriage and family therapy. Each specialization has unique education, work experience, and licensing requirements.

For example, licensed mental health counselors in New Jersey can be licensed as either Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) and Licensed Associate Counselors (LAC). The LAC license is an initial license for counselors who must still complete their supervised work experience. Upon completion of the required number of supervised hours, counselors can then apply to become LPCs.

Overall the field of mental health counseling is in high demand across the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019), there is an anticipated 25 percent increase in jobs for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors between 2019 and 2029. Specifically, in New Jersey, there is an anticipated 19.6 percent growth in jobs for substance abuse mental health counselors between 2018 and 2028, according to Projections Central (2020).

This increased demand is primarily driven by an increase in court-mandated substance abuse counseling versus jail time. In New Jersey, mental health counselors earn the fifth-highest mean wage in the country, with an average of $53,410 per year.

In New Jersey, there is a strong need for quality, experienced mental health counselors. The National Council for Behavioral Health estimates that 274,388 people in New Jersey have a serious mental health disorder. According to the New Jersey Department of Human Services, in 2019, there were 95,387 people treated for substance abuse disorders.

Mental health counselors work in many different settings. Place of employment is largely determined by the type of counseling a particular mental health therapist performs. Typical employment places can include private offices, government agencies, outpatient clinics, inpatient treatment centers, substance abuse clinics, schools, long term care facilities, retirement homes, community health centers, and even prisons.

There are numerous programs prospective counselors can pursue. Here is a list of accredited counseling degrees aspiring therapists can complete in New Jersey.

Accredited Counseling Degree Programs in New Jersey

Fairleigh Dickinson University – School of Psychology and Counseling

The School of Psychology and Counseling Fairleigh Dickinson University offers a master of arts in clinical mental health counseling. This 60-semester credit program is CACREP accredited and meets the requirements for licensure as licensed associate counselors (LAC) in New Jersey. Graduates of this program are well prepared to enter the field of counseling, with 100 percent of the graduating class of 2019 passing their licensing exam.

Students can choose to complete a general counselor track or earn a specialization in school counseling or addiction. In addition to extensive classroom coursework in many different aspects of counseling, students will also complete a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship. This program’s admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, three letters of recommendation, copies of official transcripts, a personal statement, and an interview.

  • Location: Madison, NJ
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $1,100 per credit

Caldwell University – School of Psychology and Counseling

The Caldwell University School of Psychology and Counseling offers three master’s degrees in counseling. Students can earn either a master’s of arts in clinical mental health, art therapy, or school counseling. While the core courses overlap in all three programs, students will take specialized classes such as multicultural counseling, art-based assessment in counseling, and assessment measures and practices in schools.

This program is CACREP accredited, and graduates are eligible for licensure in New Jersey. Graduates will have the skills to provide mental health counseling, diagnose mental illnesses, read and evaluate research, and write clearly about mental health issues. In order to be considered for admission, candidates must have at least 15 semester-hours of undergraduate psychology coursework, provide a five to ten-page research-based writing sample, have a 3.2 undergraduate GPA, supply two letters of recommendation, and complete an interview with the program coordinator.

  • Location: Caldwell, NJ
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $995 per credit

Kean University – Nathan Weiss Graduate College

There are four distinct master of arts counseling specializations students can earn at Kean University Nathan Weiss Graduate College. These include school counseling, alcohol and drug abuse, clinical mental health, and college counseling and student services. All programs prepare students for state licensure by the pertinent board. To offer students the ability to work while completing their degree, courses at Kean University are offered in the evenings, with occasional weekend classes.

To meet state licensing requirements and provide students necessary hands-on experience, students are required to complete a practicum and two internships. Admission requirements to this program include an undergraduate degree with at least a 3.0 GPA, two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a current resume. International applicants will need to provide proof of English proficiency with a TOEFL or IELTS test score. GRE scores are not required.

  • Location: Union, NJ
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $987.40 per credit

Monmouth University – Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences

The master’s of science in clinical mental health counseling at Monmouth University Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences provides the foundation for a variety of careers in mental health. Graduates are eligible for licensing in the state of New Jersey. This 60-semester-credit program was the first CACREP accredited program in the state. Graduates will have the skill to counsel patients, provide interventions when necessary, assess mental health status, and evaluate research and literature pertinent to the field.

In order to accommodate the needs of working adults, this program offers classes in the evenings. Students must take their courses on campus. The school has partnerships with over 100 clinical internship sites, allowing students to complete their hands-on experience in a variety of settings.

To be considered for admission, candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and submit a complete application, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Applicants must also participate in a group interview.

  • Location: West Long Branch, NJ
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $1,267 per credit

Georgian Court University

The master’s of arts in clinical mental health counseling at Georgian Court University places a strong emphasis on self-reflection under the premise that only a well-aware individual can help another heal. Many of the assignments students will complete as part of this program will involve personal analysis and self-disclosure in order to help process personal experiences and mold graduates into effective counselors.

Courses completed in this program can be used as a stepping stone to pursue a doctorate in counseling. Students who wish to earn a dual license as a mental health counselor and addiction counselor can complete their electives in addictions and treatments and meet the licensing requirements for both specialties. Graduates of the master of arts in clinical mental health counseling are eligible for licensing in New Jersey.

  • Location: Lakewood, NJ
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $893 per credit

Montclair State University

Montclair State University offers a master’s of arts in counseling with a specialization in clinical mental health counseling, addictions counseling, school counseling, or student affairs and higher education. A strong emphasis on multicultural awareness helps prepare graduates to work with a diverse patient population in a variety of settings. Montclair also boasts a diverse faculty that provides a unique perspective for students. These faculty members hold leadership positions in prominent professional organizations such as the American Counseling Association (ACA).

Courses are offered in several different formats to best accommodate student needs, including in-person, online, or evening and weekend classes. This flexible format makes this program ideal for working professionals or students with families. All students completing a master’s in counseling must pass a comprehensive exit exam upon completing their program. This comprehensive exam is not a licensing or certification exam and covers eight content areas. Graduates of this program are eligible for licensure in New Jersey.

  • Location: Montclair, NJ
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $700 per credit hour

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey – School of Health Professions

The master’s in rehabilitation counseling clinical mental health counseling track at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey School of Health Professions is a comprehensive program that combines research, theory, counseling skills development, and supervised clinical experiences. As this is a rehabilitation counseling program, students will gain the skills to counsel patients with psychiatric, developmental, physical, or sensory disabilities.

This program offers students the flexibility to complete their studies at their own pace. Students can choose from full-time or part-time enrollment, online or in-person coursework, or any combination they may need. Regardless of the format selected, students must take some coursework over the summer as some classes are only offered at that time.

Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and completing an interview with a member of the faculty. Volunteer or work experience is not required, although highly recommended, and can improve the chance of admission.

  • Location: Piscataway, NJ
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $1,060 per credit

How Much Do Counselors Make in New Jersey?

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

Marriage and Family Therapist Salary in New Jersey

United StatesNew Jersey
Number employed59,0504,300
Average annual salary (mean)$54,590$75,930
10th percentile$32,070$54,930
50th percentile (median)$49,610$75,660
90th percentile$87,700$99,150

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor Salary in New Jersey

United StatesNew Jersey
Number employed283,54010,130
Average annual salary (mean)$49,950$60,120
10th percentile$29,520$36,200
50th percentile (median)$46,240$56,820
90th percentile$76,080$90,170

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisor Salary in New Jersey

United StatesNew Jersey
Number employed296,4607,010
Average annual salary (mean)$61,000$73,160
10th percentile$34,380$48,340
50th percentile (median)$57,040$71,080
90th percentile$96,090$103,040

Rehabilitation Counselor Salary in New Jersey

United StatesNew Jersey
Number employed109040940
Average annual salary (mean)$40,160$65,540
10th percentile$23,820$43,950
50th percentile (median)$35,950$63,970
90th percentile$63,790$93,820

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

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Professional Counselor Examiners Committee

New Jersey issues licenses for Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Associate Counselors (LAC).

Candidates apply for licensure prior to completing supervised work experience. They are then granted an LAC license to earn the work experience.

LAC license candidates must:

  • Complete an application
  • Graduate from a regionally accredited institution with a master’s degree or doctorate in counseling. The program must be at least 60 semester hours, 45 of which must be in eight key areas.
  • Pass the NCE
  • Pay a $75 application fee and a $90 to $180 initial licensure fee, depending on when in the biennium the application is submitted
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Submit a Proposed Plan of Supervision

To earn an LPC license, candidates must meet the LAC requirements in addition to:

  • Completing three years and 4,500 hours of supervised work experience, two years of which must be completed post-graduate school. They must be completed within six years. If a candidate earns 30 semester hours beyond the 60 required for the master’s degree, it may substitute for one year of work experience.
  • Paying a $75 application fee and a $125 to $250 initial licensure fee, depending on when in the biennium the application is submitted

Renewals for LPC and LAC licenses in New Jersey are required in November of even-numbered years. The fee is $250 for LPCs and $180 for LACs.

Counselors are exempt from continuing education requirements in their first biennium, but every renewal cycle after that, they are required to complete 40 continuing education units.

School Counseling Licenses in New Jersey

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
New Jersey Department of Education Office of Certification and Induction

The New Jersey Department of Education Office of Certification and Induction issues a School Counselor Standard Certificate. The requirements for this certificate are:

  • Hold a master’s degree
  • Complete at least 48 semester credits in school counseling (including a six-credit supervised counseling practicum in a school setting)
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $170 application fee
  • Complete the Oath of Allegiance online through the Teacher Certification Information System (TCIS)
  • Pass an examination in physiology and hygiene, including the effects of narcotics and alcohol

Standard school counselor certificates issued in New Jersey do not need to be renewed.

School counselors are expected to maintain professional standards by completing 20 hours of state-approved professional development each year.

Substance Abuse Counseling Licenses in New Jersey

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Consumer Affairs, State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners’ Alcohol and Drug Counselor Committee

The New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Consumer Affairs, State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners’ Alcohol and Drug Counselor Committee issues Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) certifications and Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC) licenses.

CADC certification candidates must:

  • Complete two years and 3,000 hours of supervised work experience which includes 300 hours of supervised practical training
  • Complete 270 hours of alcohol and drug education
  • Attend and document 30 self-help meetings, including at least five AA meetings, five NA meetings, and five ALANON meetings.
  • Pass an oral exam on a written case prepared by the applicant
  • Pass an ADC written exam from IC&RC
  • Submit a signed and notarized application
  • Submit two passport-sized photos
  • Submit a Proposed Plan of Supervised
  • Pay $75 application fee
  • Have a high school diploma or GED

LCACD applicants must meet the same requirements as CADCs, as well as:

  • Complete a master’s degree from an accredited institution with at least 18 semester hours in counseling or related subjects

LCADC licenses and CADC certifications issued in New Jersey are valid for two years and expire on July 31 of even-numbered years. Renewal fees are $180 for CADC and $250 for LCADC.

CADCs are required to complete 60 continuing education hours per renewal period while LCADCs are only required to complete 40 hours.

Rehabilitation Counseling Licenses in New Jersey

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Professional Counselor Examiners Committee

Rehabilitation counselors in New Jersey must be either Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) or Licensed Associate Counselors (LAC).

Candidates apply for licensure prior to completing supervised work experience. They are then granted an LAC license to earn the work experience.

LAC license candidates must:

  • Complete an application
  • Graduate from a regionally accredited institution with a master’s degree or doctorate in counseling. The program must be at least 60 semester hours, 45 of which must be in eight key areas.
  • Pass the NCE
  • Pay a $75 application fee and a $90 to $180 initial licensure fee, depending on when in the biennium the application is submitted
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Submit a Proposed Plan of Supervision

To earn an LPC license, candidates must meet the LAC requirements in addition to:

  • Completing three years and 4,500 hours of supervised work experience, two years of which must be completed post-graduate school. They must be completed within six years. If a candidate earns 30 semester hours beyond the 60 required for the master’s degree, it may substitute for one year of work experience.
  • Paying a $75 application fee and a $125 to $250 initial licensure fee, depending on when in the biennium the application is submitted

Renewals for LPC and LAC licenses in New Jersey are required in November of even-numbered years. The fee is $250 for LPCs and $180 for LACs.

Counselors are exempt from continuing education requirements in their first biennium, but every renewal cycle after that, they are required to complete 40 continuing education units.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Licenses in New Jersey

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
State Board of Applied Behavior Analyst Examiners

In 2020, the Behavior Analyst Licensing Act became law in New Jersey. This law establishes a State Board of Applied Behavior Analyst Examiners that will license behavior analysts. This board has yet to be appointed.

However, according to the law, requirements for licensure will include:

  • Holding BCBA or BCaBA certification is a requirement
  • Being 21 years old
  • Being of good moral character
  • Providing proof of supervision (if the applicant holds a BCaBA)

To maintain licensure, behavior analysts in New Jersey will need to renew their licenses every two years. They will need to pay a fee (TBD) and provide proof of current BCBA and BCaBA certification.

Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses in New Jersey

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners

The New Jersey State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners credentials Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) and Associate Marriage and Family Therapists (AMFT).

Requirements for an AMFT license are:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Include a recent 2×2-inch photo
  • Pay $75 application fee
  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from a regionally accredited institution that meets coursework requirements and includes a two-semester internship or practicum
  • Submit a plan for supervision and include the supervisor’s resume or CV
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Pay an initial license fee of $90 to $180

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

  • Pass the AMFTRB exam
  • Complete two years of supervised work experience as a marriage and family therapist, with a minimum of 50 hours of supervision per year at a rate of one hour per week (a maximum of 1,150 hours of client contact and 300 hours of other work experience to be completed per year)
  • Pay an initial license fee of $125 to $250

Renewals for marriage and family therapy licenses in New Jersey are required every two years. Associate licenses cost $180 to renew and full LMFT licenses cost $250.

Associate license holders must complete 20 hours of continuing education per renewal and full LMFTs must complete 40 hours.

Child (Pediatric) Behavioral Therapy Licenses in New Jersey

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Professional Counselor Examiners Committee

Child therapists in New Jersey must be either Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) or Licensed Associate Counselors (LAC).

Candidates apply for licensure prior to completing supervised work experience. They are then granted an LAC license to earn the work experience.

LAC license candidates must:

  • Complete an application
  • Graduate from a regionally accredited institution with a master’s degree or doctorate in counseling. The program must be at least 60 semester hours, 45 of which must be in eight key areas.
  • Pass the NCE
  • Pay a $75 application fee and a $90 to $180 initial licensure fee, depending on when in the biennium the application is submitted
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Submit a Proposed Plan of Supervision

To earn an LPC license, candidates must meet the LAC requirements in addition to:

  • Completing three years and 4,500 hours of supervised work experience, two years of which must be completed post-graduate school. They must be completed within six years. If a candidate earns 30 semester hours beyond the 60 required for the master’s degree, it may substitute for one year of work experience.
  • Paying a $75 application fee and a $125 to $250 initial licensure fee, depending on when in the biennium the application is submitted

Renewals for LPC and LAC licenses in New Jersey are required in November of even-numbered years. The fee is $250 for LPCs and $180 for LACs.

Counselors are exempt from continuing education requirements in their first biennium, but every renewal cycle after that, they are required to complete 40 continuing education units.

Kimmy Gustafson

Kimmy Gustafson

Writer

Kimmy Gustafson is a freelance writer with extensive experience writing about counseling careers and education. She has worked in public health, at health-focused nonprofits, and as a Spanish interpreter for doctor’s offices and hospitals. She has a passion for learning and that drives her to stay up to date on the latest trends in healthcare. When not writing or researching, she can be found pursuing her passions of nutrition and an active outdoors lifestyle.