Counseling Degrees & Licenses in South Carolina

The South Carolina Board of Examiners licenses professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, addiction counselors, and psycho-educational specialists. According to state law, anyone who seeks a counseling degree and license in South Carolina must have a minimum of a 48-hour master’s degree in counseling or a related discipline. Approved schools must provide students with core coursework as well as a 600-hour internship and a 150-hour counseling practicum.

South Carolina recognizes the following professional licenses: Professional Counselor, Professional Counselor – Associate, Marriage and Family Therapist, Marriage and Family Therapy – Associate, Professional Addiction Counselor, and Associate Addiction Counselor. 

Additionally, a psycho-educational specialist is one who is trained to assess and treat mental issues. In order to become a Licensed Psycho-Educational Specialist, the student must complete a minimum of three graduate semester-hours in a psychopathology and diagnostics course from an approved school.

The South Carolina government website lists in-demand careers. They include caseworkers and mental health fields among their most in-demand job categories. That matches predictions by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021), which forecasts that careers in counseling fields 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 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 at a rate of 10 percent. On the other hand, the job outlook for marriage and family therapists is expected to grow at a rate of 22 percent. Overall, students who pursue counseling degrees and licenses in South Carolina can find rewarding and stable careers. 

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

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Accredited Counseling Degree Programs in South Carolina

Clemson University

Clemson University is a public research university founded in 1889. It is the second-largest university by student population in South Carolina. The school’s counselor education program offers a master of education degree that provides specializations in clinical mental health counseling or school counseling, or an educational specialist in counseling education degree. 

Courses are taught in the afternoons/evenings, Monday through Thursday. Approximately one-third of the courses are taught at Clemson University and the other two-thirds at the University Center in Greenville over the course of the program. All students will need to travel back and forth to both locations (28 miles). The program does not offer online classes. The counselor education program requires the completion of 700 hours of direct experience in mental health settings or school settings between the practicum (100 hours) and internship (600 hours).

  • Location: Clemson, South Carolina and Greenville, South Carolina
  • Duration: Counselor education degree is 60 credits; educational specialist degree is 30 credits; part-time options are available
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: $4,994 per semester, full-time South Carolina resident; $10,024 per semester, full-time non-resident

Columbia International University 

Columbia International University is a private Christian university that offers degree programs both online and on campus. Their addictions counseling program is online, and their master of arts in care and counseling degree is both on-campus and online.

The care and counseling degree is taught from a Christian perspective (non-licensure track) and offers two program tracks: one for students with no previous studies in Bible or theology, and one for students who have at least 30 semester hours of Bible, theology, or Church history. CIU is the only Christian university in South Carolina with a CACREP-accredited master’s degree program in clinical mental health counseling.

  • Location: Columbia, South Carolina
  • Duration: The addiction counseling and clinical mental health counseling degrees are 60 credits; the care and counseling degree is 36 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP (master of arts in counseling and post-graduate certificate in marriage and family counseling only)
  • Tuition: The online master of arts in addictions counseling is $595 per credit; the clinical mental health counseling degree is $515 per credit

South Carolina State University

South Carolina State University is a public, historically Black university. The school’s Department of Educational Leadership offers two degree programs in educational administration: the educational specialist (EdS) degree and the doctor of education (EdD) degree. 

The EdS degree program has two options. Option I requires a minimum of 45 semester-hours of graduate study beyond the master’s degree to complete requirements for the degree as well as principal and superintendent certification. Option II requires a minimum of 33 hours of graduate study beyond the master’s degree to complete requirements for the degree as well as principal and superintendent certification. 

The MEd program in counselor education prepares students to serve as school counselors. Program graduates are eligible to apply for initial South Carolina state certification as school counselors. Additionally, the rehabilitation counseling program trains students to help individuals with disabilities achieve equality in all aspects of their life. 

  • Location: Orangeburg, South Carolina
  • Duration: The rehabilitation counseling program is 48 credits; the MEd program in counselor education is 51 credits
  • Accreditation: The MEd program in counselor education is accredited by CACREP
  • Tuition: $5,730 full time tuition and fees, South Carolina resident; $11,285 non-resident

The Citadel – The Military College of South Carolina 

The Military College of South Carolina is commonly known simply as The Citadel. Established in 1842, this public military college is one of six senior military colleges in the United States. Students in the Citadel Graduate College (CGC) do not wear uniforms nor are they a part of or participate in any of the military structure of the college that relates to cadets. 

As of 2021, U.S. News & World Report had ranked The Citadel the #1 Top Public School in the South offering up to a master’s degree for 10 consecutive years. The school’s Graduate College Department of Psychology offers a master of arts in psychology – clinical counseling. Students may complete the program on a part-time or full-time basis. Coursework fulfills the requirements for licensure as a professional counselor in the state of South Carolina, and students can meet requirements for licensure as an addictions counselor. 

The school also offers a specialist in education (EdS) program in school psychology. The school psychology program is approved by the South Carolina Department of Education for certification at the “School Psychologist II” level. 

Completion of 75 credits of coursework is required for the EdS degree, which includes 1,200 hours of internship across two semesters. The master of education in counseling education is designed for adults who want to become school or guidance counselors, either on the elementary or secondary level. Students who successfully complete the program will obtain both a graduate degree and a recommendation for licensure through the state to become a guidance counselor.

  • Location: Charleston, South Carolina
  • Duration: The EdS degree requires 75 credits; the school counseling program is 51 credits; the MA in psychology – clinical counseling is 60 credits 
  • Accreditation: The master of arts in psychology – clinical counseling program is accredited by the Master’s in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC); the EdS degree is accredited by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)
  • Tuition: $13,140 per year, South Carolina resident; $36,396 per year, non-resident

University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina is a public research university with seven satellite campuses throughout the state. Its main campus is nearly 400 acres located close to the South Carolina State House. The school’s College of Education offers a master of arts in counseling and rehabilitation and an EdS in counselor education – school counseling. 

The EdS in school counseling track prepares students to work in K-12 settings. The EdS in counselor education – clinical mental health track fulfills licensure requirements as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of South Carolina and gives students the potential to transfer their licensure to other states. The EdS program also offers a marriage, couples & family counseling degree. This curriculum meets the standards for the state of South Carolina’s licensing requirements for Licensed Professional Counselors and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapists. 

The University of South Carolina School of Medicine offers a clinical rehabilitation counseling degree. This master’s of arts (MA) degree in counseling and rehabilitation, with a specialization in clinical rehabilitation counseling, is designed to help people who have a disability or because of societal barriers related to disability navigate daily life with greater success. 

  • Location: Columbia, South Carolina
  • Duration: All programs are 66 credits except rehabilitation counseling, which is 60 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP 
  • Tuition: $6,867 plus fees, full time South Carolina resident; $14,880 plus fees, non-resident

Winthrop University
Winthrop University is a public university founded in 1886. The school offers both an MEd in clinical mental health counseling and an MEd clinical mental health counseling – school counseling. 

Successful students who complete the clinical mental health counseling concentration are eligible to take the examination to become a National Board Certified Counselor (NCC) and to apply for the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) license in the state. Students who successfully complete the school counseling concentration requirements and receive a passing score on the PRAXIS exam will be eligible for licensure or certification as a school counselor and can work in South Carolina in PreK-12 settings. 

  • Location: Rock Hill, South Carolina
  • Duration: Both programs are 60 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP 
  • Tuition: $7,736 full-time plus fees, South Carolina resident; $14,901 plus fees, non-resident

How Much Do Counselors Make in South Carolina?

These numbers represent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from May 2020—the latest data available as of July 2021.

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors

United StatesSouth Carolina
Number employed292,2305,220
Average annual salary (mean)$61,000$53,410
10th percentile$34,380$32,500
50th percentile (median)$57,040$50,230
90th percentile$96,090$80,850

Marriage and Family Therapists

United StatesSouth Carolina
Number employed60,850160
Average annual salary (mean)$54,590$N/A*
10th percentile$32,070$N/A*
50th percentile (median)$49,610$N/A*
90th percentile$87,700$N/A*
*There were no BLS state figures available as of November 2021.

Rehabilitation Counselors

United StatesSouth Carolina
Number employed100,260850
Average annual salary (mean)$40,160$40,560
10th percentile$23,820$26,900
50th percentile (median)$39,950$36,620
90th percentile$63,790$59,440

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

United StatesSouth Carolina
Number employed293,6201,480
Average annual salary (mean)$49,950$44,390
10th percentile$29,520$21,670
50th percentile (median)$46,240$38,630
90th percentile$76,080$78,510

Counseling Professional Associations & Resources in South Carolina

  • South Carolina Association of Licensed Professional Counselors
  • South Carolina Counseling Association 
  • South Carolina Clinical Mental Health Counselor Association
  • Southern Region – American Counseling Association
  • The South Carolina Board of Examiners for Licensure
  • Palmetto State School Counselor Association
  • Addiction Professionals of South Carolina
  • South Carolina Association of School Psychologists
  • South Carolina Department of Mental Health
  • South Carolina Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors
  • South Carolina Occupational Therapy Association
  • South Carolina Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators
  • Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists

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

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
South Carolina Board of Examiners for Licensure of Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, Addiction Counselors, and Psycho-Educational Specialists

South Carolina issues credentials for Professional Counselors (LPCs) and Professional Counselor Associates (LPC Associates). Licensing is done through the Center for Credentialing and Education.

Candidates for LPC Associate licensure must:

  • Pass the NCE or NCMHCE exam
  • Complete the Plan and Arrangements for Clinical Supervision of Post-Master’s Clinical Experience in Counseling
  • Submit a completed application and education review form
  • Pay a $170 application fee and $150 licensing fee
  • Provide official transcripts demonstrating a master’s degree in counseling from a regionally accredited institution, with at least 48 semester hours or 72 quarter hours. The program must also have a 100-hour practicum and meet course requirements in nine areas. If the candidate wishes to have a greater scope of practice as a LPC Associate, then a 600-hour internship is also required.
  • Show proof of right to work in the US

To be licensed as an LPC, applicants must meet the above requirements in addition to completing 1,500 hours of supervised clinical work experience over two years. The hours must be direct counseling with individuals, couples, families or groups. Of those hours, 150 must include direct supervision.

LPC and LPC Associate licenses in South Carolina are valid for two years.

Renewals cost $150 and must be accompanied by an application and proof of 40 hours of continuing education credits, six of which must be in ethics

School Counseling Licenses in South Carolina

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
South Carolina Department of Education

The South Carolina Department of Education issues School Counselor/Guidance- Elementary and Secondary certificates.

The requirements for an initial certificate are:

  • Pass the Praxis Professional School Counselor exam
  • Have a master’s degree or higher in school counseling
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $105 application fee
  • Pass a background check

To advance from an initial to a professional certificate, school counselors must:

  • Complete the Assisting, Developing, and Evaluating Professional Teaching (ADEPT) program
  • Complete the ADEPT summative evaluation process

Once a school counselor has met all the requirements, advancement happens automatically.

Initial school counselor certificates issued in South Carolina are valid for three years and may not be renewed.

Professional certificates are valid for five years. School counselors with professional certificates must complete 120 renewal credits per renewal cycle.

Substance Abuse Counseling Licenses in South Carolina

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

South Carolina Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (SCAADAC)

The South Carolina Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (SCAADAC) certifies Alcohol and Drug Counselors (ADC) and Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselors (AADC).

ADC certification eligibility includes:

  • An online application
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher in human services from a regionally accredited institution
  • Signed South Carolina Certification Ethical Standards.
  • Two years and at least 4,000 hours of work experience in drug and alcohol counseling
  • 300 hours of education and training the four domains of addiction counseling
  • 200 hours of clinical supervision in the four domains of addiction counseling (at least ten hours in each domain)
  • Three hours of continuing education in HIV/AIDS and six hours in ethics
  • An Evaluator’s Statement from a current clinical supervisor
  • Job description for current employment
  • Passing score on the ADC from IC&RC
  • Passing an oral exam if the candidate has a bachelor’s degree
  • $175 oral exam fee and $225 application fee

If the applicant has a bachelor’s degree, then a Narrative Philosophy of Addictions Treatment and a sample case are required. This is not required if the applicant has a graduate degree.

Requirements for AADC certification includes:

  • An online application
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher in human services from a regionally accredited institution
  • Signed South Carolina Certification Ethical Standards
  • Four years and at least 8,000 hour of work experience in drug and alcohol counseling
  • 450 hours of education and training the four domains of addiction counseling
  • 200 hours of clinical supervision in the four domains of addiction counseling (at least ten hours in each domain)
  • Three hours of continuing education in HIV/AIDS and six hours in ethics
  • An Evaluator’s Statement from current clinical supervisor
  • Job description for current employment
  • Passing the AADC from IC&RC
  • Passing an oral exam if the candidate only has a bachelor’s degree. This is not required if the applicant has a graduate degree.
  • $225 application fee

ADC and AADC certificate holders in South Carolina must renew every two years.

Counselors must complete 40 hours of continuing education per renewal cycle. There must be at least six hours in ethics and for at least 20 of the hours the counselors must be an attendee. Renewals cost $225.

Rehabilitation Counseling Licenses in South Carolina

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

South Carolina Board of Examiners for Licensure of Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, Addiction Counselors, and Psycho-Educational Specialists

Rehabilitation counselors in South Carolina must be either Professional Counselors (LPCs) or Professional Counselor Associates (LPC Associates). Licensing is done through the Center for Credentialing and Education.

Candidates for LPC Associate licensure must:

  • Pass the NCE or NCMHCE exam
  • Complete the Plan and Arrangements for Clinical Supervision of Post-Master’s Clinical Experience in Counseling
  • Submit a completed application and education review form
  • Pay a $170 application fee and $150 licensing fee
  • Provide official transcripts demonstrating a master’s degree in counseling from a regionally accredited institution, with at least 48 semester hours or 72 quarter hours. The program must also have a 100-hour practicum and meet course requirements in nine areas. If the candidate wishes to have a greater scope of practice as a LPC Associate, then a 600-hour internship is also required.
  • Show proof of right to work in the US

To be licensed as an LPC, applicants must meet the above requirements in addition to completing 1,500 hours of supervised clinical work experience over two years. The hours must be direct counseling with individuals, couples, families or groups. Of those hours, 150 must include direct supervision.

LPC and LPC Associate licenses in South Carolina are valid for two years.

Renewals cost $150 and must be accompanied by an application and proof of 40 hours of continuing education credits, six of which must be in ethics

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Licenses in South Carolina

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

Currently, there are no state certification or licensing requirements for applied behavior analysts in South Carolina.

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

Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses in South Carolina

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
South Carolina Board of Examiners for Licensure of Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, Addiction Counselors, and Psycho-Educational Specialists

South Carolina issues Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy Associate (LMFT Intern) licenses. Licensing is done through the Center for Credentialing and Education.

Candidates for LMFT Associate licensure must:

  • Pass the AMFTRB exam
  • Complete the Plan and Arrangements for Clinical Supervision of Post-Master’s Clinical Experience in Counseling
  • Submit a completed application and education review form
  • Pay $170 application fee and $150 licensing fee
  • Provide official transcripts demonstrating a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from a regionally accredited institution, including a 300-hour practicum (if the candidate wishes to have a greater scope of practice as an LMFT Associate, then a 600-hour internship is required)
  • Provide proof of right to work in the US

To be licensed as an LMFT, applicants must meet the above requirements, in addition to:

  • Completing 1,500 hours of supervised clinical work experience over two years (150 must include direct supervision)

LMFT and LMFT Associate licenses in South Carolina are valid for two years.

Renewals cost $150 and must be accompanied by an application and proof of 40 hours of continuing education credits, six of which must be in ethics.

Child (Pediatric) Behavioral Therapy Licenses in South Carolina

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

South Carolina Board of Examiners for Licensure of Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, Addiction Counselors, and Psycho-Educational Specialists

Child therapists in South Carolina must be either Professional Counselors (LPCs) or Professional Counselor Associates (LPC Associates). Licensing is done through the Center for Credentialing and Education.

Candidates for LPC Associate licensure must:

  • Pass the NCE or NCMHCE exam
  • Complete the Plan and Arrangements for Clinical Supervision of Post-Master’s Clinical Experience in Counseling
  • Submit a completed application and education review form
  • Pay a $170 application fee and $150 licensing fee
  • Provide official transcripts demonstrating a master’s degree in counseling from a regionally accredited institution, with at least 48 semester hours or 72 quarter hours. The program must also have a 100-hour practicum and meet course requirements in nine areas. If the candidate wishes to have a greater scope of practice as a LPC Associate, then a 600-hour internship is also required.
  • Show proof of right to work in the US

To be licensed as an LPC, applicants must meet the above requirements in addition to completing 1,500 hours of supervised clinical work experience over two years. The hours must be direct counseling with individuals, couples, families or groups. Of those hours, 150 must include direct supervision.

LPC and LPC Associate licenses in South Carolina are valid for two years.

Renewals cost $150 and must be accompanied by an application and proof of 40 hours of continuing education credits, six of which must be in ethics

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.