Counseling Degrees & Licenses in South Dakota

South Dakota has similar requirements to North Dakota for regulating counseling degrees and licenses. The South Dakota Department of Social Services, the agency that manages licensure, requires applicants to have a master’s degree in counseling from a CACREP-accredited school (or a regionally accredited school that requires at least 48 credits). The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accreditation is bestowed on programs that are at minimum 60 credits (or 90 quarter-hours) along with a 100-hour counseling practicum and a 600-hour supervised internship. 

CACREP accredits master’s and doctoral degree programs in counseling and its specialties in the United States and throughout the world. CACREP certifies all counseling specialties, including rehabilitation counseling, school counseling, clinical mental health counseling, marriage and family counseling, and addiction counseling. 

Marriage and family counseling programs can also be accredited by COAMFTE, or the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. While South Dakota requires that marriage and family therapists have a degree from an accredited school, their licensing board does not require it to be from a COAMFTE-approved school. There are currently no COAMFTE-approved programs in South Dakota.

South Dakota’s licensing FAQs explain that the state has a two-tier counselor license system consisting of an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), which must be achieved before the applicant can qualify for the LPC-MH (Mental Health). In order to get the LPC, the applicant must have a minimum 48-credit master’s degree in counseling from an accredited institution, a board-approved LPC Plan of Supervision on file, at least 2,000 hours post-graduate supervised experience, 100 hours of supervision, and a passing score on the National Counselor Examination (NCE). 

Requirements are similar for the LPC-MH, which requires a Plan of Supervision on file, at least 2,000 hours of direct client contact in a clinical setting and 100 hours of supervision, and a passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE). 

The Board issues marriage and family therapist licenses (LMFT) separately. To get the LMFT. applicants must have at least a 48-credit master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from an accredited institution, an approved LMFT Plan of Supervision on file, 1,700 hours of post-graduate supervised experience in conjunction with 200 hours of supervision, and a passing score on the Marital and Family Therapy Examination. An approved Plan of Supervision must be provided to the state before supervision can begin. Passing the exams is required prior to the approval of a Plan of Supervision. 

Read on for accredited schools offering programs for counseling degrees and licenses in South Dakota.

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Accredited Counseling Degree Programs in South Dakota

Northern State University – School of Education

Northern State University is a public university that was established in 1901. The school has two counseling programs with specializations in clinical mental health or school counseling. 

The NSU counseling program leads to a master’s of science in education degree, which allows the graduates to work in K-12 school settings or pursue clinical mental health counseling certification and licensure in South Dakota. A forensic counseling specialization can be added to the degree in clinical mental health counseling with the completion of 72 total credits. 

  • Location: Aberdeen, South Dakota
  • Duration: 60 credits (two years plus two summers); forensic counseling is 72 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: $6,735 estimated yearly total for SD, ND, IA, NE, CO, WY, and MT residents

South Dakota State University – School of Education, Counseling & Human Development

South Dakota State University is a public research university founded in 1881. It is the state’s largest and most comprehensive university and the oldest continually-operating university in South Dakota. The school offers four master’s of science in counseling and human resource development degrees. 

The student can choose from a clinical mental health counseling specialization, a student affairs and college counseling specialization, a marriage and family counseling specialization, a rehabilitation counseling specialization, or a school counseling specialization. The clinical mental health counseling specialization meets the requirements of the South Dakota Board of Counselor Examiners. 

Upon graduation, marriage and family counseling specialization students are eligible to take the National Marriage and Family Therapy Examination. The MFT program meets the requirements of the South Dakota Board of Counselor Examiners. 

Students in the rehabilitation counseling program are eligible to begin the process for the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor certification by taking the CRC exam after completion of coursework. 

All master of science graduates are eligible for National Certified Counselor certification by taking the NCE within six months of graduation (before or after). Graduates are eligible for training supervisee status upon completion. Students have the option of choosing to complete their degree with a thesis, a research paper, or coursework only.

  • Location: Brookings, South Dakota
  • Duration: 60 credits for all programs, except college counseling, rehabilitation counseling, and school counseling, which are 48 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP accredits all programs except marriage and family counseling, which has CACREP accreditation pending; the rehabilitation program is accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE)
  • Tuition: $340.15 per credit plus fees, South Dakota resident; $654.05, non-resident

University of South Dakota 

The University of South Dakota is a public research university established by the Dakota Territory legislature in 1862, 27 years before the establishment of South Dakota as a state. It is the state’s oldest public university. The school offers several counseling-related programs. 

Students can choose from a master of arts in counseling and psychology in education in which they can specialize in school counseling or clinical mental health counseling. A master of arts in addiction counseling and prevention is offered online only. This addictions program is one of only eight accredited master’s programs in the nation. The addiction MA has 33- and 45-credit tracks, dependent upon the student’s addiction credentials and academic background. 

A counseling and psychology in education counseling degree is available for students who plan to pursue an EdS or PhD with a specialization in counselor education, human development and educational psychology, or school psychology. 

Occupational therapy is offered as a doctorate program. Also, a disaster response and mental health program is offered as a graduate certificate. 

  • Location: Vermillion, South Dakota
  • Duration: The addiction counseling and prevention program is 33 or 45 credits; the counseling and psychology in education program is either 60 or 64 credits 
  • Accreditation: The addiction counseling and prevention program is accredited through the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC); all school-related programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP); the school psychology program is accredited by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP); all the counseling program’s degrees are accredited by CACREP
  • Tuition: $340.15 plus fees, South Dakota resident; $654.05, non-resident

How Much Do Counselors Make in South Dakota?

These numbers represent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from May 2020—the latest data available as of January 2022.

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors

United StatesSouth Dakota
Number employed292,230760
Average annual salary (mean)$61,000$45,020
10th percentile$34,380$33,540
50th percentile (median)$57,040$44,290
90th percentile$96,090$60,790

Marriage and Family Therapists

United StatesSouth Dakota
Number employed60,850110
Average annual salary (mean)$54,590$42,760
10th percentile$32,070$29,970
50th percentile (median)$49,610$40,670
90th percentile$87,700$55,320

Rehabilitation Counselors

United StatesSouth Dakota
Number employed100,260390
Average annual salary (mean)$40,160$45,690
10th percentile$23,820$33,470
50th percentile (median)$39,950$43,710
90th percentile$63,790$61,940

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

United StatesSouth Dakota
Number employed293,6201,290
Average annual salary (mean)$49,950$44,200
10th percentile$29,520$31,380
50th percentile (median)$46,240$41,880
90th percentile$76,080$61,850

Counseling Professional Associations & Resources in South Dakota

  • South Dakota Counseling Association
  • South Dakota School Counselor Association (SDSCA)
  • South Dakota Board of Examiners – Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists
  • South Dakota Board of Addiction and Prevention Professionals
  • South Dakota Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (SDAMFT)
  • South Dakota Mental Health Counseling Association 
  • The Dakota Association for College Admission Counseling

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

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Board of Examiners for Counselors & Marriage and Family Therapists

South Dakota issues two licenses to mental health counselors: Licensed Professional Counselor – Mental Health (LPC-MH) and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).

To be licensed as a LPC, candidates must:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $100 application fee and $100 licensing fee
  • Provide a quality photograph
  • Graduate from a CACREP accredited master’s in counseling (or other 48 semester hour regionally accredited counseling master’s). The program must include a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship
  • Have a passing NCE score
  • Submit a plan for work experience supervision with a board-approved supervisor
  • Complete 2,000 hours of post-master’s supervised work experience, of which 800 hours must be direct client contact and 100 hours must be direct supervision, at least 50 hours of which shall be face-to-face
  • Submit an application for full licensure once supervised work experience hours are complete

To be licensed as an LPC-MH, candidates must already hold an LPC. They must also:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $100 application fee and $75 licensing fee
  • Have a passing NCMHCE score
  • Submit a plan for work experience supervision with a board-approved supervisor
  • Complete two years and 2,000 hours of supervised work experience, including 100 hours of supervision, 50 of which must be face-to-face. Up to 1,000 hours of work experience and 50 hours of supervision earned for the LPC license may be used.
  • Submit an application for full licensure (once supervised work experience hours are complete)

South Dakota requires LPC-MHs and LPCs to renew their licenses annually. Both license renewals cost $100.

Counselors are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education hours biennially, four of which must be in ethics. Continuing education hours are due on odd-numbered years.

School Counseling Licenses in South Dakota

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
South Dakota Department of Education

The South Dakota Department of Education issues School Counselor Education Specialist Endorsements and Mentor School Counselor Endorsements.

The requirements for a basic endorsement are:

  • Complete an approved school counselor preparation program or have a master’s degree (or higher) in counseling, pass the Praxis Professional School Counselor exam, and complete one year of work experience supervised by a mentor school counselor
  • Complete one clock hour of suicide awareness and prevention training
  • Submit a completed online application
  • Pay $60 certification fee

School counselors can upgrade to a mentor school counselor endorsement once they have completed three years of work experience.

School counselor endorsements issued in South Dakota are valid for five years.

To renew, counselors must submit a completed application and pay a renewal fee. Counselors must complete six education-related transcripted credits and an approved training on suicide awareness and prevention.

Earning or renewing the National Certified School Counselors (NCSC) certificate through the NBCC meets all continuing education requirements.

Substance Abuse Counseling Licenses in South Dakota

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

South Dakota Board of Addiction and Prevention Professionals (BAPP)

The South Dakota Board of Addiction and Prevention Professionals certifies Certified Addiction Counselors (CAC) and Addiction Counselor Trainees (ACT) and licenses Licensed Addiction Counselors (LAC).

ACT certificate candidates must:

  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be employed or volunteer at an agency where the applicant can gain the necessary work experience to become a CAC or LAC
  • Pay the application fee of $12.50 per month from the month of the application to the last day of the month of your birth not to exceed $150
  • Submit a completed application
  • Sign the professional code of ethics

CAC certificate candidates must:

  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Complete three semester credits at an accredited institution in each of nine specific alcohol and drug abuse-related courses
  • Complete qualifying work experience (a high school diploma or GED, 8,000 hours; an associate’s degree, 6,000 hours; a bachelor’s degree, 4,000 hours; and a master’s degree, 2,000 hours)
  • Complete 300 hours of supervision with at least ten hours in each of the 12 core functions
  • Pass the written exam from the IC&RC
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $250 application and testing fee

LAC licensure candidates must:

  • Have a master’s degree in behavioral science from an accredited institution
  • Complete three semester credits at an accredited institution in each of seven specific alcohol and drug abuse-related courses.
  • Complete 2,000 hours of qualifying work experience.
  • Complete 300 hours of supervision with at least ten hours in each of the 12 core functions
  • Pass the written exam from the IC&RC
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $250 application and testing fee

The BAPP requires ACTs to renew annually and CACs and LACs to renew every two years. Renewal fees are $150 for ACTs, $175 for CACs, and $200 for LACs.

CACs and LACs are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education per renewal cycle. ACTs do not have continuing education requirements.

Rehabilitation Counseling Licenses in South Dakota

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Board of Examiners for Counselors & Marriage and Family Therapists

Rehabilitation counselors in South Dakota must be either Licensed Professional Counselors – Mental Health (LPC-MH) or Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC).

To be licensed as a LPC, candidates must:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $100 application fee and $100 licensing fee
  • Provide a quality photograph
  • Graduate from a CACREP accredited master’s in counseling (or other 48 semester hour regionally accredited counseling master’s). The program must include a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship
  • Have a passing NCE score
  • Submit a plan for work experience supervision with a board-approved supervisor
  • Complete 2,000 hours of post-master’s supervised work experience, of which 800 hours must be direct client contact and 100 hours must be direct supervision, at least 50 hours of which shall be face-to-face
  • Submit an application for full licensure once supervised work experience hours are complete

To be licensed as an LPC-MH, candidates must already hold an LPC. They must also:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $100 application fee and $75 licensing fee
  • Have a passing NCMHCE score
  • Submit a plan for work experience supervision with a board-approved supervisor
  • Complete two years and 2,000 hours of supervised work experience, including 100 hours of supervision, 50 of which must be face-to-face. Up to 1,000 hours of work experience and 50 hours of supervision earned for the LPC license may be used.
  • Submit an application for full licensure (once supervised work experience hours are complete)

South Dakota requires LPC-MHs and LPCs to renew their licenses annually. Both license renewals cost $100.

Counselors are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education hours biennially, four of which must be in ethics. Continuing education hours are due on odd-numbered years.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Licenses in South Dakota

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
South Dakota Board of Social Work Examiners

The South Dakota Board of Social Work Examiners licenses Behavior Analysts. Requirements for this license are:

  • Submit a completed and notarized application
  • Have BCBA certification
  • Pay a $350 application fee

Behavior Analyst licenses issued in South Dakota must be renewed annually. The fee to renew is $300.

Renewal applicants must maintain current BABC certification.

Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses in South Dakota

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Board of Examiners for Counselors & Marriage and Family Therapists

The South Dakota Board of Examiners for Counselors & Marriage and Family Therapists issues Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) licenses.

To be licensed as an LMFT, candidates must:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $100 application fee and $100 licensing fee
  • Provide a quality photograph
  • Complete a master’s in marriage and family therapy from a COAMFTE or CACREP MFT program, including a 300-hour practicum
  • Have a passing AMTRB score
  • Submit a plan for work experience supervision with a board-approved supervisor
  • Complete two years and 1,700 hours of post-master’s supervised work experience (200 hours must be direct supervision and at least 100 hours individual and face-to-face)
  • Submit an application for full licensure once supervised work experience hours are complete

South Dakota requires LMFTs to renew their licenses annually by December 31st. Renewals cost $100.

Therapists are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education hours biennially, four of which must be in ethics. Continuing education hours are due on odd-numbered years.

Child (Pediatric) Behavioral Therapy Licenses in South Dakota

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Board of Examiners for Counselors & Marriage and Family Therapists

Child therapists in South Dakota must be either Licensed Professional Counselors – Mental Health (LPC-MH) or Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC).

To be licensed as a LPC, candidates must:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $100 application fee and $100 licensing fee
  • Provide a quality photograph
  • Graduate from a CACREP accredited master’s in counseling (or other 48 semester hour regionally accredited counseling master’s). The program must include a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship
  • Have a passing NCE score
  • Submit a plan for work experience supervision with a board-approved supervisor
  • Complete 2,000 hours of post-master’s supervised work experience, of which 800 hours must be direct client contact and 100 hours must be direct supervision, at least 50 hours of which shall be face-to-face
  • Submit an application for full licensure once supervised work experience hours are complete

To be licensed as an LPC-MH, candidates must already hold an LPC. They must also:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $100 application fee and $75 licensing fee
  • Have a passing NCMHCE score
  • Submit a plan for work experience supervision with a board-approved supervisor
  • Complete two years and 2,000 hours of supervised work experience, including 100 hours of supervision, 50 of which must be face-to-face. Up to 1,000 hours of work experience and 50 hours of supervision earned for the LPC license may be used.
  • Submit an application for full licensure (once supervised work experience hours are complete)

South Dakota requires LPC-MHs and LPCs to renew their licenses annually. Both license renewals cost $100.

Counselors are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education hours biennially, four of which must be in ethics. Continuing education hours are due on odd-numbered years.

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.

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