Counseling Degrees & Licenses in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, counseling degrees and licenses will continue to be in high demand.

According to Career OneStop, there were 14,710 mental health counselors in the state of Pennsylvania in 2016. By 2026, that number was expected to reach 16,810. Throughout the entire United States, positions in mental health counseling are expected to grow from 304,500 to 373,100 between 2018 and 2028.

In the United States, that rate of growth represents a 23 percent increase and 41,500 projected annual job openings, while in Pennsylvania that correlates to a 14 percent increase and 1,820 projected annual job openings. Pennsylvania is the 33rd largest state by area, and the fifth most populous state, according to the 2010 U.S. Census count. It is the 12th-most densely populated of the 50 states, according to Statista.

While Pennsylvania’s population growth has slowed after a high a couple of decades ago, according to PennLive, the demographics in the state are becoming older. That sets up people with counseling degrees and licenses in Pennsylvania with a unique opportunity to work with older people.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of rehabilitation counselors, for example, is projected to grow 10 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. Rehabilitation counselors can work in a variety of settings, including senior citizen centers.

Specializations that are possible within the general counseling field give prospective students options of focusing on general aging along with specific populations, such as veteran or active military families or people in prisons. Rehabilitation counselors who specialize in working with the elderly or aging populations might work in hospitals, long- and short-term care facilities, retirement homes, or community senior centers.

Following is a list of just a few of the programs offering counseling degrees and licenses in Pennsylvania.

Accredited Counseling Degree Programs in Pennsylvania

University of Scranton

The University of Scranton Counseling and Human Services Department offers the following programs: a master of science in clinical mental health counseling, a master of science in rehabilitation counseling, and a master of science in school counseling. They also offer a certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) in professional counseling.

The University of Scranton is a private Jesuit university with a long history dating back to its founding in 1888. An October 2015 report by The Economist ranked The University of Scranton No. 22 in the nation (top 2 percent of four-year colleges) for the impact a Scranton education has on the earnings of its graduates. It’s also been consistently ranked high on lists of best value colleges.

  • Location: Scranton, Pennsylvania
  • Duration: All programs are 60 credits except for the certificate, which normally takes one year to complete
  • Accreditation: The clinical mental health counseling, rehabilitation counseling, and school counseling programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
  • Tuition: Tuition for the certificate is $9,084 plus fees; Tuition for the other programs is $757 per credit plus fees

Alvernia University

Alvernia University’s master of arts (MA) in clinical counseling is offered solely on-campus, but courses are offered at both the Philadelphia Center and main campus sites, in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Alvernia is a private, Franciscan-based college with 121 acres in Pennsylvania’s Amish Country, with a rich cultural history and scenic outdoor destinations not far away. Full-time students take three classes per semester. The schedule is possible to be adjusted if necessary, and Alvernia says it tries hard to accommodate working students with busy lives.

Scores from graduate entrance exam testing are not required for the MA application process. However, acceptance has stringent requirements of a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 for all previous undergraduate and graduate work. Students must complete a practicum of 100 hours, and two internship field experiences at 300 hours each. Most courses are delivered on-site with a few online and blended courses.

  • Location: Reading, Pennsylvania
  • Duration: Three years
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $845 per credit

California University of Pennsylvania

Although the name might seem like it’s a university from California in Pennsylvania, the name actually comes from a city in Pennsylvania named California. Founded in 1852, the school has about 97 acres in the southwest corner of the state, south of Pittsburgh.

This school’s graduate program in clinical mental health counseling fulfills all requirements for students to become a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC) and provides all courses needed to pursue a career as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Pennsylvania and other states.

Flexible start dates and evening classes make this an accessible program for students who are already working or have other life demands, even though the program is not available online. The school boasts a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio, with courses taught by faculty members who are all Licensed Professional Counselors with years of experience in the field. Graduate testing scores are not required for admission to the school.

The clinical mental health counseling program is a master of science. The school also has a master of education in school counseling, which is also an in-person, on-campus program. The school counseling program is available as an accelerated program which allows students to complete the degree in only four semesters and one summer, for students of any undergraduate major. No GRE or GMAT scores are required for admission if the student’s undergraduate GPA is 2.9 or above.

  • Location: California, Pennsylvania
  • Duration: Full time, two years; part-time options are available
  • Accreditation: Both programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $516 per credit, Pennsylvania resident; $774 per credit, non-resident

Edinboro University

Edinboro’s counseling programs include art therapy, clinical rehabilitation counseling and clinical mental health counseling, clinical mental health counseling, college counseling, and school counseling. Located in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, degrees can be earned both in-person and online.

The difference between the clinical mental health counseling and the clinical rehabilitation and clinical mental health counseling program is that the combination program prepares students to work with populations that experience some kind of disability, whereas the other is a more general approach to helping individuals, families, groups, and couples.

No GRE is required, but students must provide details and complete information about their past work and school history, references, and a personal statement to complete the admission process. The master of arts (MA) in counseling is available as an in-person or online program.

  • Location: Edinboro, Pennsylvania
  • Duration: The clinical rehabilitation and clinical mental health counseling program and art therapy programs are 63 credits; the school counseling, college counseling, and clinical mental health counseling programs are 60 credits
  • Accreditation: Both the clinical mental health counseling and the rehabilitation counseling program are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
  • Tuition: $516 per credit, Pennsylvania resident (in person and online); $774 per credit, non-resident (in-person and online); $568 per credit, international students (online), plus fees

Lock Haven University

Lock Haven University is a public university in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, in the central part of the state. The 200-acre main campus hosts many graduate programs but the clinical mental health counseling program is 100 percent online. Distance education courses utilize the latest technology and synchronous tools to allow every student to participate, no matter where they are, through online instruction, streaming audio, streaming video, threaded discussions, real-time chat, face-to-face interactions, and document sharing. No campus visits or on-campus residencies are required for this program.

The school has set up an interactive tutorial “test drive” so that students can experience the online platform. The program consists of 60 credits. Nine credits are required in one of three specialization areas, which are counseling military veterans and their families, counseling children and adolescents, and general clinical mental health counseling.

  • Location: Lock Haven, Pennsylvania
  • Duration: 60 credits
  • Accreditation: The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP). In addition, Lock Haven University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
  • Tuition: $1,548 (three credits), Pennsylvania resident; $2,322 (three credits) non-resident, plus fees

Messiah University

Messiah University (formerly Messiah College) is a top-ranked private liberal arts college in the south-central part of Pennsylvania. The change from “college” to “university” reflects its enhancements and expansions of its undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs.

The master of arts (MA) in counseling degree is designed to prepare students for licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor or Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Pennsylvania. Courses are eight weeks in duration, with one-week intensive courses in January and July.

For the MA, coursework is entirely online; there is no in-person requirement. The three available specialization tracks are clinical mental health counseling; marriage, couple, and family counseling; and school counseling. All coursework for those three tracks is also entirely online.

GREs are not required for admission, but basic documents such as letters of recommendation, transcripts, a personal statement, and an in-person or online interview are required.

  • Location: Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
  • Duration: 60 credits; two-, three-, and four-year timelines
  • Accreditation: All three counseling tracks are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). In addition, Messiah College is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Higher Education.
  • Tuition: $710 per credit, no-fee tuition

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

The Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a public research university in Indiana County, offers a school counseling master of education along with a clinical mental health counseling master of arts. Students who complete the school counseling program will have a strong foundation for work in pre-K-12 schools. They will also complete a 600-hour field experience under the supervision of a certified school counselor.

The general counseling program features a curriculum that prepares students to work in a variety of settings, from mental health centers, addiction treatment centers, rehabilitation programs, healthcare settings, and more. Students are ready for licensure after graduation. The Indiana University of Pennsylvania is located 55 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. The master’s in clinical mental health counseling degree is also available at the school’s IUP Pittsburgh East campus.

  • Location: Indiana, Pennsylvania
  • Duration: Both programs are 60 credits
  • Accreditation: The school counseling program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
  • Tuition: $516.00 per credit plus fees, Pennsylvania resident; $774 per credit plus fees, non-resident

Kutztown University

Kutztown is southwest of Allentown and 17 miles northeast of Reading, in the mid-southeast corner of the state. Kutztown University is a public institution that sits on 289 acres in Pennsylvania Dutch country. In fact, the campus has received an award for being one of the most beautifully-maintained college campuses in the nation.

Although the campus is in a rural area of Pennsylvania, it is close to some of the country’s other major cities: It is 100 miles from New York City, 120 miles from Baltimore, and 160 miles from Washington, D.C. The counselor education program encompasses specializations in addiction counseling; clinical mental health; and marriage, couple, and family counseling. All are master’s of arts (MA) degrees. Students admitted to the program are not required to have any specific undergraduate degree to apply. It is also not a requirement to have any psychology or education experience.

  • Location: Kutztown, Pennsylvania
  • Duration: All programs are 60 credits
  • Accreditation: The counseling programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $516 per credit plus fees, Pennsylvania residents; $774 per credit plus fees, non-resident

How Much Do Counselors Make in Pennsylvania?

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

Marriage and Family Therapist Salaries

United StatesPennsylvania
Number employed59,0501,820
Average annual salary (mean)$54,590$62,240
10th percentile$32,070$39,620
50th percentile (median)$49,610$62,320
90th percentile$87,700$80,930

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor Salaries

United StatesPennsylvania
Number employed284,54020,350
Average annual salary (mean)$49,950$47,480
10th percentile$29,520$30,730
50th percentile (median)$46,240$45,210
90th percentile$76,080$69,810

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselor and Advisor Salaries

United StatesPennsylvania
Number employed296,4608,010
Average annual salary (mean)$61,000$63,680
10th percentile$34,380$40,460
50th percentile (median)$57,040$60,770
90th percentile$96,090$95,250

Rehabilitation Counselor Salaries

United StatesPennsylvania
Number employed109,0407,390
Average annual salary (mean)$40,160$40,680
10th percentile$23,820$24,470
50th percentile (median)$39,950$36,420
90th percentile$63,790$63,440

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

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
State Board of Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapists and Professional Counselors

Pennsylvania credentials Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs).

To apply, LPC candidates must:

  • Pass one of seven national counselor exams (NCE, CRC, ATCB Certification Examination, CBMT Board Certification Examination, NAMP Exam, IC & RC/AODA Advanced Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse Counselor Examination, or NBCC Examination for Master Addictions Counselors)
  • Complete a master’s or doctorate degree in counseling from an accredited institution (at least 48 semester hours or 72 quarter hours)
  • Complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience (or 2,400 hours if the candidate has a doctorate), of which half the hours must be providing assessment, counseling, therapy, psychotherapy, other therapeutic interventions, consultation, family therapy, or group therapy. There must be two hours of supervision for every 40 hours of supervised clinical experience.
  • Submit a resume or CV
  • Complete a criminal history check
  • Complete three hours of approved child abuse continuing education
  • Pay $45 application fee
  • Complete a Databank Report

LPC licenses in Pennsylvania are renewed biennially in March of odd-numbered years. Renewals cost $95.

LPCs are required to complete 30 continuing education units per renewal cycle. One of those hours must be in suicide prevention and three must be in ethics.

School Counseling Licenses in Pennsylvania

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE)

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) issues a Educational Specialist Certificate with a Elementary and Secondary School Counselor certificate. The requirements for this certificate are:

  • A master’s degree in school counseling from an approved program
  • A 300-hour internship, including 70 hours of direct contact at the elementary school level or 75 hours at the secondary level
  • Passing scores on the Professional School Counselor Praxis exam and a basic skills test
  • A complete application
  • A $200 application fee

The first certificate a counselor receives is a level one certificate and is valid for six years.

To apply for a level two certificate, school counselors must:

  • Complete three years of work experience in a PA public school
  • Complete 24 semester hours of graduate coursework
  • Complete a two-year induction or mentorship
  • Have six satisfactory work performance assessments

A level one Educational Specialist Certificate with an Elementary and Secondary School Counselor certificate issued in Pennsylvania cannot be renewed

A level two certificate does not expire. However, school counselors must complete six semester credits of continuing education every five years in order to keep their certificate active.

Substance Abuse Counseling Licenses in Pennsylvania

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Pennsylvania Certification Board (PCB)

Associate Addiction Counselor (AAC), Certified Associate Addiction Counselor (CAAC), Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC), and Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC) are the substance abuse counselor certifications issued by the Pennsylvania Certification Board (PCB).

AAC certificate candidates must:

  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be currently employed and supervised as an addiction counselor
  • Supply a current job description
  • Complete one full year and at least 2,000 hours of supervised work experience
  • Have at least 100 hours of supervision with at least ten hours in critical domains
  • Complete 100 hours of education in substance abuse disorders
  • Pay $125 application fee

CAAC certificate candidates must:

  • Pass the ADC exam from IC&RC
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be currently employed and supervised as an addiction counselor
  • Supply a current job description
  • Complete three years and at least 6,000 hours of supervised work experience
  • Have at least 300 hours of supervision with at least ten hours in critical domains
  • Complete 300 hours of education, of which at least 100 must be in substance abuse disorders
  • Pay $375 application fee

CADC certificate candidates must:

  • Pass the ADC exam from IC&RC
  • Have earned a bachelor’s degree
  • Be currently employed and supervised as an addiction counselor
  • Supply a current job description
  • Complete two years and at least 4,000 hours of supervised work experience, if the applicant has a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field; if the degree is not in a relevant field, then applicants must complete three years (at least 6,000 hours) of supervised work experience
  • Have at least 200 hours of supervision with at least ten hours in critical domains
  • Complete 300 hours of education, of which at least 100 must be in substance abuse disorders
  • Pay $375 application fee

CAADC certificate candidates must:

  • Pass the AADC exam from IC&RC
  • Have earned a master’s degree in a relevant field
  • Be currently employed and supervised as an addiction counselor
  • Supply a current job description
  • Complete one year and at least 2,000 hours of supervised work experience
  • Have at least 100 hours of supervision with at least ten hours in critical domains
  • Complete 180 hours of education in substance abuse disorders
  • Pay $375 application fee

Certifications issued by the PCB expire every two years. AAC certificates cost $100 to renew, while CAAC, CADC, and CAADC certificates cost $200. AAC certificates may only be renewed once as it is intended to be a stepping stone to higher certification.

All counselors are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education. Three of those hours must be in ethics.

Rehabilitation Counseling Licenses in Pennsylvania

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

State Board of Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapists and Professional Counselors

Pennsylvania rehabilitation counselors must be Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs).

To apply, LPC candidates must:

  • Pass one of seven national counselor exams (NCE, CRC, ATCB Certification Examination, CBMT Board Certification Examination, NAMP Exam, IC & RC/AODA Advanced Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse Counselor Examination, or NBCC Examination for Master Addictions Counselors)
  • Complete a master’s or doctorate degree in counseling from an accredited institution (at least 48 semester hours or 72 quarter hours)
  • Complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience (or 2,400 hours if the candidate has a doctorate), of which half the hours must be providing assessment, counseling, therapy, psychotherapy, other therapeutic interventions, consultation, family therapy, or group therapy. There must be two hours of supervision for every 40 hours of supervised clinical experience.
  • Submit a resume or CV
  • Complete a criminal history check
  • Complete three hours of approved child abuse continuing education
  • Pay $45 application fee
  • Complete a Databank Report

LPC licenses in Pennsylvania are renewed biennially in March of odd-numbered years. Renewals cost $95.

LPCs are required to complete 30 continuing education units per renewal cycle. One of those hours must be in suicide prevention and three must be in ethics.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Licenses in Pennsylvania

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) for national certificationCurrently, there are no state certification or licensing requirements for applied behavior analysts in Pennsylvania.

However, holding a BCBA certification and maintaining membership with the Pennsylvania Association for Behavior Analysis (PennABA) can help with employment opportunities or job advancement.

The Better Access to Treatment (BAT) Act was introduced as HB 1900 in 2018. If passed, this law will create a path to licensure for behavior analysts in Pennsylvania.

Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses in Pennsylvania

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
State Board of Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapists and Professional Counselors

The Pennsylvania State Board of Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapists and Professional Counselors credentials Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT).

To apply, candidates must:

  • Pass AMFTRB exam
  • Complete a master’s or doctorate degree in marriage and family therapy from an accredited institution
  • Complete two years and 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience, 2,400 hours if the candidate has a doctorate, of which half the hours must be providing assessment, counseling, therapy, psychotherapy, other therapeutic interventions, consultation, family therapy, or group therapy (there must be two hours of supervision for every 40 hours of supervised clinical experience)
  • Submit a resume or CV
  • Provide two recommendations
  • Complete a criminal history check
  • Complete three hours of approved child abuse continuing education
  • Pay $45 application fee
  • Complete a Databank Report

LMFT licenses in Pennsylvania are renewed biennially in March of odd-numbered years. Renewals cost $95.

LMFTs are required to complete 30 continuing education units per renewal cycle. One of those hours must be in suicide prevention and three must be in ethics.

Child (Pediatric) Behavioral Therapy Licenses in Pennsylvania

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

State Board of Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapists and Professional Counselors

Pennsylvania child therapists must be Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs).

To apply, LPC candidates must:

  • Pass one of seven national counselor exams (NCE, CRC, ATCB Certification Examination, CBMT Board Certification Examination, NAMP Exam, IC & RC/AODA Advanced Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse Counselor Examination, or NBCC Examination for Master Addictions Counselors)
  • Complete a master’s or doctorate degree in counseling from an accredited institution (at least 48 semester hours or 72 quarter hours)
  • Complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience (or 2,400 hours if the candidate has a doctorate), of which half the hours must be providing assessment, counseling, therapy, psychotherapy, other therapeutic interventions, consultation, family therapy, or group therapy. There must be two hours of supervision for every 40 hours of supervised clinical experience.
  • Submit a resume or CV
  • Complete a criminal history check
  • Complete three hours of approved child abuse continuing education
  • Pay $45 application fee
  • Complete a Databank Report

LPC licenses in Pennsylvania are renewed biennially in March of odd-numbered years. Renewals cost $95.

LPCs are required to complete 30 continuing education units per renewal cycle. One of those hours must be in suicide prevention and three must be in ethics.

Counseling Professional Associations & Resources in Pennsylvania

  • Pennsylvania Counseling Association
  • Pennsylvania School Counselors Association
  • Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling
  • Pennsylvania Psychological Association
  • Pennsylvania Association for Addiction Professionals
  • Allegheny County Counselors Association
  • Pennsylvania Association for Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania
  • Lancaster County School Counselors Association
  • Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling
  • Lehigh Valley Psychological and Counseling Association
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.