Counseling Degrees & Licenses in North Carolina

Any person who works as a counselor in the state of North Carolina must be actively licensed by the North Carolina Board of Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselors. This board licenses three levels of counselors: Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselors Associates (LCMHCAs), Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselors (LCMHCs), and Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Supervisors (LCMHCSs). North Carolina does not have reciprocity with other states, which means that licensed professional counselors in other states need to apply for the North Carolina endorsement.

The lowest tier of licensure, the LCMHCAs, requires supervision of the licensees’ practice. The LCMHCA license is a prerequisite for the LCMHC license for new graduates and/or new counseling professionals. The middle tier, LCMHC, does not require supervision, and only the highest tier, LCMHCSs, can provide supervision to others. In order to renew a counseling license, North Carolina requires 40 clock hours of continuing counselor education.

Counseling degree graduates will find the best job prospects if they attend a counseling degree master’s program from an accredited program and/or institution. The standard for accrediting all types of counseling education programs within institutions is the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). CACREP accredits programs in the fields of addiction counseling, career counseling, clinical mental health counseling, marriage, couple, and family counseling, school counseling, and student affairs and college counseling.

Marriage and family therapy programs have a different set of accrediting standards, which are set by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) and the International Accreditation Commission for Systemic Therapy Education (IACSTE) through the International Family Therapy Association (IFTA).

Working as a counselor in North Carolina meets a dire need for improved access to mental health services. According to NAMI NC, or the National Alliance for Mental Health in North Carolina, the state has experienced years of substantial cuts in state funding for mental health services. NAMI NC is working to secure funding for long-term goals of improving the mental health of the state’s prison population, as well as helping youthful offenders get their lives back on track.

The group also recognizes a need for better mental health education for adolescents in North Carolina public schools, including suicide prevention. Working as a licensed counselor in North Carolina can lead to a satisfying and rewarding career where a caring person can truly make a difference.

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

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Accredited Counseling Degree Programs in North Carolina

Appalachian State University – Reich College of Education

Appalachian State University has various tracks for counseling and therapy degrees: a master of arts degree in clinical mental health counseling (CMHC), a master of arts in marriage and family therapy, and a wealth of graduate certificates, including:

  • Expressive Arts Therapy
  • Addictions Counseling
  • Aging, Health and Society

Additionally, the school offers an MA in professional school counseling. The program has been offered for 50 years. Appalachian also prides itself on offering the largest undergraduate teacher preparation program in North Carolina, graduating about 500 teachers a year. There is at least one Reich College of Education graduate working in every county in North Carolina.

  • Location: Boone, North Carolina
  • Duration: 60 credits; two years or more
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: $5,740 annually, North Carolina resident; $16,247, non-resident (Boone campus)

East Carolina University – College of Allied Health Sciences and College of Education

East Carolina University offers a master of science in school counseling, an MS in clinical counseling with an emphasis in addictions, and an MS in rehabilitation and career counseling. The master’s program in counselor education satisfies the educational requirements for eligibility for the National Counselor’s Examination (NCE) and to apply for a license with the North Carolina Board of Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC).

East Carolina’s College of Allied Health Sciences is the largest university-based allied-health provider in the state of North Carolina. In addition, two programs are offered completely online: rehabilitation and career counseling and clinical counseling.

  • Location: Greenville, North Carolina
  • Duration: All programs are 62 credits
  • Accreditation: All programs are CACREP accredited
  • Tuition: Online programs: $7,658 per semester, North Carolina resident; $20,807 per year, non-resident

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University- Department of Counseling

North Carolina A&T is the largest historically black university in the country, the number one awarder of degrees awarded to African Americans in North Carolina. The school is nationally recognized for its excellence in science, technology, mathematics, and engineering education.

The school’s master of science in mental health counseling offers a focus on either clinical or rehabilitation studies. Our master’s program provides flexibility for students seeking a professional career in elementary or secondary school counseling by offering high caliber evening classes. We are nationally accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

  • Location: Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: The clinical counseling program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP); the rehabilitation and school counseling programs are accredited by CACREP
  • Tuition: 9+ hours, $2,372.50 plus fees, North Carolina resident; 9+ hours $8,772.50 plus fees, non-resident

North Carolina Central University – School of Education

North Carolina Central University, a state-supported, public, historically black university. The School of Education offers three master of arts degree programs: career counseling, clinical mental health counseling (CMHC), and school counseling.

All degree programs are available as online or in-person programs, and both formats are CACREP accredited. In fact, NCCU is the first CACREP accredited online career counseling program in the United States. The CMHC program prepares students to take North Carolina licensure exams for initial licensure. With an additional three addiction courses, students also meet the addiction-specific course requirements to apply as a Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist. The school counseling program provides students with all the experiences required by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) for licensure as a professional school counselor in North Carolina.

  • Location: Durham, North Carolina / Online
  • Duration: Career counseling is 48 credits; CMHC is 57 to 63 credits; school counseling is 60 credits
  • Accreditation: All programs are accredited by CACREP
  • Tuition: NCCU provides a tuition calculator to account for all of the variables

North Carolina State University – College of Education

North Carolina State offers online, off-campus, and on-campus programs for graduate students. The master of education counseling programs are 100 percent online and include clinical mental health and school counseling. The school counseling degree can be completed on-campus or online in as little as two years. Coursework includes a 100-hour practicum and 600 internship hours.

The CMHC degree takes a minimum of two years if the student can begin full-time coursework during the summer session. Otherwise, the program takes three years because all internships are conducted during the spring term.

  • Location: Raleigh, North Carolina / Online
  • Duration: Two years for the school counseling program; two to three years for the clinical mental health counseling program
  • Accreditation: Both programs are accredited by CACREP
  • Tuition: Estimated cost of program: $30,129, North Carolina resident; $47,719, non-resident

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Department of Allied Health Sciences and School of Education

UNC’s master’s degree in clinical rehabilitation and mental health offers a 60+ credit master’s degree with a focus on working with people with developmental and psychiatric disabilities. Graduates of the program are eligible for national professional certification as Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) and can receive their North Carolina state credentials for Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).

U.S. News & World Report ranks UNC’s program No. 9 in the country. The internship consists of a full-time, 40 hours-per-week placement at a clinical site. In addition, students work eight to 19 hours per week at a counseling site during their practicum, the fall semester of the second year. The master of education in school counseling program is an intensive, 14-month program followed by a yearlong internship.

  • Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Duration: CMHC is 60+ credits; school counseling is 60 credits
  • Accreditation: Both programs are accredited by CACREP
  • Tuition: $4,421.06, 12+ credits including fees North Carolina resident; $17,925.06 12+ credits including fees non-resident

University of North Carolina at Charlotte – Cato College of Education

UNC at Charlotte’s master of arts in counseling has three concentrations: addiction counseling, school counseling, and clinical mental health counseling. The addiction specialization prepares students to work effectively in various treatment settings and with a variety of addictive behaviors. The school counseling concentration prepares students to be effective educational leaders in K-12 grades in both public and private schools.

The clinical mental health counseling concentration prepares students to provide a variety of counseling services to all age groups and family units. Students can add on a concentration in play therapy to each of these areas. Students can also complete a graduate certificate in gerontology while completing their degree in any of these areas. The program can be completed in two years if full-time courses are begun in the summer.

  • Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Duration: Two to three years
  • Accreditation: All programs are accredited by CACREP
  • Tuition: $24,451 estimated tuition per year, North Carolina resident; $38,733 estimated tuition per year, non-resident

University of North Carolina at Greensboro – Department of Counseling and Educational Development

UNC at Greensboro offers the same concentrations for a master of science in counseling as its sister location, UNC at Charlotte (profiled above), clinical mental health and school counseling, except that UNC Greensboro offers a couple and family counseling concentration. Students can also pursue a master of science in education for the same concentrations.

  • Location: Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Duration: Two to three years
  • Accreditation: All programs are accredited by CACREP
  • Tuition: $8,545 per year, North Carolina resident; $22,676 per year, non-resident

Wake Forest University – Department of Counseling

Wake Forest University is a private research university founded in 1834. Its original location was in Wake Forest, north of Raleigh. The Department of Counseling offers a master of arts in counseling with concentrations in school counseling and clinical mental health counseling (CMHC). The school counseling and clinical mental health programs are also available in part-time and online formats.

They also offer a dual degree in master of arts in divinity and master of arts in counseling which can be completed in four years instead of the usual five. This combined program is for graduates who want to enter the ministry as counselors (all classes in this dual program are offered on the Reynolda Campus of Wake Forest University).

  • Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • Duration: 60 credits
  • Accreditation: The school counseling and clinical mental health programs are accredited by CACREP. The online programs are also certified by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
  • Tuition: $38,650 full-time graduate tuition

Winston-Salem State University – School of Health Sciences

Winston-Salem State University is a historically black public university founded in 1892. Winston-Salem State University was ranked the No. 7 top college in the United States by the Social Mobility Index college rankings in 2019. The Department of Rehabilitation offers both a bachelor of science in rehabilitation studies and a master of science in rehabilitation counseling (MSRC). Undergraduate students can choose concentration areas in addictions, deaf studies, rehabilitation studies, special education, and rehabilitation services honors.

Graduate students can choose from five concentration areas: rehabilitation counseling, clinical mental health counseling, deaf and hard of hearing, transition, and vocational evaluation. The master’s program prepares students to sit for the national Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) examination. Candidates may also pursue the state Professional Counselor licensure (LPC). The MSRC Program is offered in an online learning format.

  • Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina / Online
  • Duration: 60 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: $1,700.50 12+ credits plus fees, North Carolina resident; $6,824 12+ credits plus fees, non-resident

How Much Do Counselors Make in North Carolina?

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

Marriage and Family Therapists

United StatesNorth Carolina
Number employed62,080960
Average annual salary (mean)$63,300$51,750
10th percentile$36,840$37,920
50th percentile (median)$56,570$47,180
90th percentile$98,700$81,440

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

United StatesNorth Carolina
Number employed344,9708,950
Average annual salary (mean)$56,230$55,530
10th percentile$34,580$33,280
50th percentile (median)$49,710$49,050
90th percentile$82,710$79,070

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors

United StatesNorth Carolina
Number employed308,0007,940
Average annual salary (mean)$64,200$52,120
10th percentile$38,280$35,070
50th percentile (median)$60,140$50,820
90th percentile$98,530$65,670

Rehabilitation Counselors

United StatesNorth Carolina
Number employed82,4202,440
Average annual salary (mean)$46,020$39,610
10th percentile$29,120$26,470
50th percentile (median)$39,990$38,440
90th percentile$71,270$53,600

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

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
North Carolina Board of Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselors (NCBLCMHC)

Mental health counselors in North Carolina are either Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) or Licensed Professional Counselor Associates (LPCA).

To earn an LPCA license, candidates must:

  • Pay a $200 application fee and $38 background check fee
  • Complete a criminal background check
  • Have three references submit the Applicant Reference Form
  • Submit a completed and notarized application
  • Complete a master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution; the program must be at least 60 semester-hours in nine areas of study
  • Pass the NCE, NCMHCE, or CRC exam
  • Pass the North Carolina jurisprudence exam
  • Complete a practicum and internship of a total of 300 hours, including 17 hours of direct supervision, 180 hours of direct counseling, and a rate of one hour of supervision for every 40 hours of counseling provided
  • Complete a Professional Disclosure Statement (PDS) including disclosure of supervision arrangements

To earn the LPC licensure, candidates must complete the above requirements in addition to:

  • Completing 3,000 hours of supervised work experience, of which 2,000 hours must be direct counseling

No more than 40 hours may be earned per week. Also, 100 hours must direct supervision and 75 of those must be individual. There must be one hour of supervision for every 40 hours of direct counseling.

Renewals for LPCs and LPCAs happen every two years in North Carolina and may be completed online.

Renewals cost $200 and must be accompanied by a Continuing Counselor Education Attestation form that verifies 40 contact hours of continuing counselor education. Three of those hours must be in ethics. Each renewal cycle counselors must retake and pass the North Carolina jurisprudence exam.

School Counseling Licenses in North Carolina

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction issues the Professional Educator’s License School Counselor.

The requirements for an initial license are:

  • Complete an approved program in school counseling at the master’s level or above
  • Pass the Praxis Professional School Counselor exam
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay the application fee
  • Pass a background check

School counselors are required to hold a valid state professional educator’s license.

An initial license may be converted to a Continuing Professional License after three years of full-time work experience.

Continuing Professional Licenses issued to school counselors in North Carolina are valid for five years. Renewals are completed online.

School counselors are also required to complete eight renewal credits per cycle. One credit is equivalent to 10 hours.

Substance Abuse Counseling Licenses in North Carolina

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

North Carolina Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board (NCSAPPB)

Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) and Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist (LCAS) are the certification and license issued by the North Carolina Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board (NCSAPPB).

CADCs can initially apply to be CADC Interns. Intern certification candidates must:

  • Graduate from high school
  • Complete a supervision agreement
  • Sign the ethical principles of conduct form
  • Complete three hours of ethics training
  • Submit a complete resume and job description
  • Complete a background check
  • Complete a two-month 300-hour practicum with one hour of supervision for every 10 hours of work
  • Pay the $25 application fee, $200 certification fee, $38 background check fee, and $150 testing fee

To be certified as a full CADC, applicants must meet the intern requirements, as well as:

  • Complete 270 hours of education and training in substance abuse disorders. There must be six hours in ethics and HIV/AIDS as well as other course requirements
  • Complete three years and 6,000 hours of supervised work experience in substance abuse counseling; only 4,000 hours are required if the applicant has a bachelor’s degree
  • Pass the ADC exam from IC&RC

Most LCAS applicants must first earn an Associate LCAS license. Applicants who already have a CADC or have graduated from a pre-approved master’s program are exempt.

Associate LCAS license candidates must:

  • Complete a qualifying master’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Have a completed supervision agreement
  • Sign the ethical principles of conduct form
  • Complete three hours of ethics training
  • Submit a complete resume and job description
  • Complete a background check
  • Complete a two-month 300-hour practicum with one hour of supervision for every 10 hours of work
  • Pay the $25 application fee, $200 certification fee, $38 background check fee, and $150 testing fee

For a full LCAS license, candidates must:

  • Complete 180 hours of education and training in substance abuse disorders (six hours in ethics and HIV/AIDS); this requirement is waived for CADC certificate holders and pre-approved master’s program graduates
  • Complete two years and 4,000 hours of supervised work experience in substance abuse counseling; only 2,000 hours are required if the applicant completed a pre-approved master’s program and this requirement is waived for CADC certificate holders
  • Pass the AADC exam from IC&RC

The NCSAPPB requires counselors to renew their certificate or license every two years. The fee to renew is $150. CADCs must complete 60 hours of continuing education and LCASs must complete 40 hours. These hours must include three hours in HIV/AIDS, three hours in ethics, and three hours in special topics.

Rehabilitation Counseling Licenses in North Carolina

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

North Carolina Board of Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselors (NCBLCMHC)

Rehabilitation counselors in North Carolina are either Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) or Licensed Professional Counselor Associates (LPCA).

To earn an LPCA license, candidates must:

  • Pay a $200 application fee and $38 background check fee
  • Complete a criminal background check
  • Have three references submit the Applicant Reference Form
  • Submit a completed and notarized application
  • Complete a master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution; the program must be at least 60 semester hours in nine areas of study
  • Pass the NCE, NCMHCE, or CRC exam
  • Pass the North Carolina jurisprudence exam
  • Complete a practicum and internship of a total of 300 hours, including 17 hours of direct supervision, 180 hours of direct counseling, and a rate of one hour of supervision for every 40 hours of counseling provided
  • Complete a Professional Disclosure Statement (PDS) including disclosure of supervision arrangements

To earn the LPC licensure, candidates must complete the above requirements in addition to:

  • Completing 3,000 hours of supervised work experience, of which 2,000 hours must be direct counseling

No more than 40 hours may be earned per week. Also, 100 hours must direct supervision and 75 of those must be individual. There must be one hour of supervision for every 40 hours of direct counseling.

Renewals for LPCs and LPCAs happen every two years in North Carolina and may be completed online.

Renewals cost $200 and must be accompanied by a Continuing Counselor Education Attestation form that verifies 40 contact hours of continuing counselor education. Three of those hours must be in ethics.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Licenses in North Carolina

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
North Carolina Psychology Board

In January 2022, Article 43 went into effect in North Carolina which established the NC Behavior Analyst Licensure Board. However, as of July 2022, developing the rules, regulations, and processes for licensure have not been implemented.

Until the new rules are implemented , previous rules still apply. The 2013 North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 9 states that behavior analysis therapy falls under the scope of practicing psychology; therefore, behavior analysts must be licensed psychologists. There is also a provision that allows behavior analysts to practice under the direct supervision of a licensed psychologist.

The North Carolina Psychology Board licenses psychologists. The requirements to earn this license are:

  • Submit a complete and notarized application
  • Hold a PhD in psychology or a PsyD.
  • Pay $100 application fee and $38 fingerprinting fee
  • Have two years of supervised work experience (at least one year must be post-doctoral)
  • Pass the North Carolina State Examination and the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
  • File a supervision contract form, which verifies supervision (or verifies that it’s not required)
  • Submit three personal references
  • Send a Health Services Provider (HSP) Application Form
  • Submit all official transcripts

Psychologist licenses in North Carolina expire on September 30th of even-numbered years.

Renewals cost $250 and must be accompanied by 24 hours of continuing education. At least three hours must be in ethics.

Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses in North Carolina

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
North Carolina Marriage & Family Therapy Licensure Board

The North Carolina Marriage & Family Therapy Licensure Board issues Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy Associate (LMFTA) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) credentials.

Requirements for an LMFTA license are:

  • Complete a master’s degree or higher in marriage and family therapy from a regionally accredited institution that meets curriculum requirements
  • Pay $200 application fee
  • Submit a completed application
  • Provide three professional endorsements
  • Submit a Supervision Agreement

LMFT license applicants must meet LMFTA license requirements, as well as:

  • Complete 1,500 hours of supervised clinical work experience (up to to 500 hours may be counted from a master’s program internship or practicum, and there must be an additional 200 hours of supervision)
  • Pass the AMFTRB exam

LMFT licenses in North Carolina must be renewed annually. The fee to renew is $100.

Applicants for renewal must complete 20 hours of continuing education, of which three hours must be in ethics.

Child (Pediatric) Behavioral Therapy Licenses in North Carolina

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

North Carolina Board of Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselors (NCBLCMHC)

Child therapists in North Carolina are either Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) or Licensed Professional Counselor Associates (LPCA).

To earn an LPCA license, candidates must:

  • Pay a $200 application fee and $38 background check fee
  • Complete a criminal background check
  • Have three references submit the Applicant Reference Form
  • Submit a completed and notarized application
  • Complete a master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution; the program must be at least 60 semester-hours in nine areas of study
  • Pass the NCE, NCMHCE, or CRC exam
  • Pass the North Carolina jurisprudence exam
  • Complete a practicum and internship of a total of 300 hours, including 17 hours of direct supervision, 180 hours of direct counseling, and a rate of one hour of supervision for every 40 hours of counseling provided
  • Complete a Professional Disclosure Statement (PDS) including disclosure of supervision arrangements

To earn the LPC licensure, candidates must complete the above requirements in addition to:

  • Completing 3,000 hours of supervised work experience, of which 2,000 hours must be direct counseling

No more than 40 hours may be earned per week. Also, 100 hours must direct supervision and 75 of those must be individual. There must be one hour of supervision for every 40 hours of direct counseling.

Renewals for LPCs and LPCAs happen every two years in North Carolina and may be completed online.

Renewals cost $200 and must be accompanied by a Continuing Counselor Education Attestation form that verifies 40 contact hours of continuing counselor education. Three of those hours must be in ethics.

Counseling Professional Associations & Resources in North Carolina

  • North Carolina Mental Health Counselors Association
  • North Carolina Rehabilitation Association
  • North Carolina Counseling Association
  • North Carolina Board of Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselors (NCBLCMHC) (Formally NC Board of Licensed Professional Counselors)
  • North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
  • The Licensed Professional Counselors Association of North Carolina (LPCANC)
  • The North Carolina School Counselor Association
  • Carolinas Counseling Group
  • North Carolina Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
  • North Carolina Association of Christian Counselors
  • The North Carolina Rehabilitation Association
  • The North Carolina Career Development Association
  • The North Carolina Addictions Specialist Professional Practice Board
  • Addiction Professionals of North Carolina
  • The North Carolina Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board
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.