Counseling Degrees & Licenses in Texas

As our national and global population grows and urbanization increases, this brings new and different pressures on mental health: there’s less family structure as people move around more, less care for older relatives, and less emotional support in general, for many people, according to research published in the Industrial Psychology Journal.

As of 2020, the state of Texas has a population of just under 30 million people. Texas has the second largest population in the nation and has grown significantly over the past ten years. The state has added people at the rate of 1.57 to 2.12 percent, or around 0.4 million to 0.59 million people each year.

The state has three cities with populations exceeding one million: Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas. Based on the known amounts of mental health issues around the country and in Texas in particular, this represents a large pool of people that need trained and competent, compassionate mental healthcare providers.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five adult Texans will experience a mental health concern at some point in a year, and more than 20 percent of children ages nine to 17 have a diagnosed mental illness. According to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, as of September 2019, there were 145 Texas counties with no licensed marriage and family therapists at all, out of 254 counties. There are also 42 counties with ratios of marriage and family therapists of less than five per 100,000 people.

Counseling is proven to be a viable long-term career choice. Not only do counselors and therapists get to enjoy the benefits of helping people work through emotional, family, school, or substance abuse issues, but they also get to enjoy a stable career. This is especially true in a state such as Texas, with a demonstrated lack of counselors to serve a large population.

The Texas Department of Health and Human Services lists educational requirements to become a professional counselor in Texas. New applicants are required to have a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling or a counseling-related field from an accredited college or university. The graduate program must be at least 60 credit hours for applicants who began their education on or after August 1, 2017. The graduate program must include a supervised practicum that is at least 300 clock-hours with at least 100 clock-hours of direct client contact. Academic credit for the practicum must appear on the applicant’s transcript.

After completion of the coursework, an applicant must take and pass the National Counselor Exam and the Texas Jurisprudence Exam. After receiving a temporary LPC license from the board, the applicant may begin the supervised post-graduate counseling experience (internship).

Read on to discover schools in Texas that offer counseling degrees, as well as how to qualify for various types of counseling licenses in the state.

Accredited Counseling Degree Programs in Texas

Texas A & M University – College Station – College of Education (Online, On-campus)

The Department of Counseling and Psychology at Texas A&M University has a main campus in Eastern Central Texas along with branch campuses in Galveston, Texas, and Doha, Qatar. The main campus is 5,200 acres; it is 83 miles northwest of Houston and 87 miles northeast of Austin.

Graduate students may pursue several degree options: a master of science (MS) in clinical mental health counseling and an MS in marriage and family therapy. The MS in educational psychology with an emphasis on experimental psychology may be completed entirely online.

They also offer a specialist degree in school psychology. This is a type of degree that is considered to be between a master’s and a doctoral degree, and it’s designed to help students achieve licensure from the state of Texas as a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology (LSSP). This educational psychology program is research-based. Program coordinators say those who are interested in obtaining research, rather than counseling skills, in the field of psychology are encouraged to apply for this program.

Texas A&M has several good rankings, including being listed first among national public universities for a superior education at an affordable cost, according to the 2018 Fiske Guide to Colleges. It was also ranked in 2018 by Money as the No. 1 public university in Texas for best value.

  • Location: College Station, Texas
  • Duration: MS in clinical mental health counseling and marriage and family therapy programs (60 credits); MS in educational psychology (36 credits, online); school psychology program (63 to 69 credits)
  • Accreditation: The clinical mental health counseling program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP); other counseling programs at other Texas A&M campuses are CACREP-certified.
  • Tuition: $290.61 per credit plus fees, resident graduate (2020-2021)

Texas Woman’s University (Online, On-campus)

The Texas Woman’s University graduate counseling and development program offers professional training leading to a master’s of science degree in counseling and development. Graduates of this program are eligible to become certified school counselors in the public school system for grades K-12 or licensed professional counselors in Texas.

The school’s MS in family studies is available 100 percent online. Potential careers following graduation with this degree include working in human services, family and social service agencies serving families, and parent or family life education.

Texas Woman’s University offers two programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE): a master’s and a PhD in marriage and family therapy. The 100 percent online master’s degree in child life prepares graduates for certification required by the Association of Child Life Professionals. The master of science in child development can be achieved in 12 to 18 months for less than $15,000. That program is designed for already-working professionals.

While TWU is primarily attended by women, it has been fully co-educational since 1994. It is the largest state-supported university primarily for women in the United States.

  • Location: Denton, Texas
  • Duration: Child development, 33 semester credits (thesis option) or

31 credits (professional option); child life, 37 credits; counseling and development, 61 credits; family studies, 34 credits (thesis option or professional paper) or 35 credits (professional portfolio option)

  • Accreditation: The family studies program has been approved by the National Council on Family Relations as meeting the Standards and Criteria required for the provisional Certified Family Life Educator designation; the master’s in counseling and development is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $276.30 per credit, Texas resident; $698.30 per credit, non-resident

Texas State University – College of Education

Texas State University has the distinction of being the only school in Texas that has graduated a U.S. President: Lyndon Baines Johnson. The graduate college offers a school psychology program along with a professional counseling program.

The professional counseling program offers specializations in clinical mental health counseling and marriage and family counseling, both with thesis or non-thesis options. GREs are required, although this may be waived if you hold a master’s or doctoral degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. (GREs are not required for fall 2020 applicants.)

They also offer a master of arts degree and professional certification program for the school counseling (60 credits) and school counselor specialization (48 credits). Both are non-thesis programs.

  • Location: San Marcos, Texas
  • Duration: School psychology, 69 credits; professional counseling, 60 or 67 credits (thesis or non-thesis); school counseling professional certification, 48 or 60 credits
  • Accreditation: School psychology program has been approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and the International School Psychology Association (ISPA); professional counseling has been approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP).
  • Tuition: $337.57 plus fees, resident; $759.57, non-resident

Texas A&M University – Commerce – College of Education

The Commerce campus of Texas A&M is located on the northeastern edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth urban area, approximately 65 miles from downtown Dallas. In addition to the main campus, the university has satellite campuses in downtown Dallas and Mesquite.

Programs available here include a master of science in counseling with a clinical mental health counseling specialty, or a school counseling specialty. The school counseling emphasis is for those students seeking certification as a professional school counselor, and the CMHC specialty is for those who seek to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Students pursuing the school counseling emphasis can also be eligible for the LPC credential by successfully completing a couple of extra classes.

The master of education in counseling is designed for students seeking a career in college and university student affairs, but also wanting a counseling foundation. Graduates of this program typically go on to work in student activities, career counseling services, academic advising, recruiting and admissions, residence life, and similar college and university situations.

  • Location: Commerce, Texas
  • Duration: Clinical mental health counseling (60 semester hours); school counseling (51 semester hours); master of education in counseling (36 semester hours)
  • Accreditation: MS in counseling (clinical mental health counseling and school counseling emphases) and the doctorate in counseling are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The master of education on counseling is accredited by the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC).
  • Tuition: $634.44 per credit, resident; $1,056.44, non-resident

University of North Texas

The University of North Texas is located in Denton, a mid-size town of 136,000 people. Denton is just 36 miles north of Dallas-Fort Worth, the country’s fourth-largest metropolitan area.

UNT is ranked a Tier One research university by the Carnegie Classification, which recognizes higher education institutions that engage in the highest levels of research activity. UNT has been on the “best buy” list of top 100 universities by U.S. News & World Report and has 77 programs ranked in the top 100 in the country.

Students can choose from a master of science in rehabilitation counseling, a master of science in mental health counseling, a master of science (or a master of education) in school counseling, or a school counselor certification. The rehabilitation courses are offered in a combination of in-person and online formats. Students who already hold a master’s degree in counseling from a CACREP-accredited program may take the School Counseling Certification Endorsement track.

The master of education (school counseling tracks) and master of science degree (clinical mental health counseling and school counseling tracks) require a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship.

  • Location: Denton, Texas
  • Duration: Rehabilitation counseling (60 credits); master of education in school counseling (60 credits); mental health (60 credits); master of science in school counseling (63 credits)
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $22,568 (nine hours per semester), Texas resident; $30,164, non-resident

Lamar University – College of Education and Human Development

Lamar University prides itself on maintaining the lowest average tuition and fees of any university system in Texas. With three online counseling degree options, Lamar is a great option for those seeking counseling degrees and licenses in Texas.

For online options, choose from a master of education in clinical mental health counseling, a master of education in counseling and development, and a certificate in mental health counseling. The counseling and development degree can be achieved with a concentration in either marriage, couple, and family counseling or in professional school counseling. A master of education in marriage, couple and family counseling is available either online or in-person.

Lamar notes that the counseling and development degree is not accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The CACREP accreditation is not a requirement in the state of Texas to be a nationally certified counselor or a certified mental health counselor (NCC or CCMHC). If you are considering online classes but do not live in Texas, check your state’s for the requirements relating to CACREP.

  • Location: Beaumont, Texas
  • Duration: 60 credits
  • Accreditation:Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is currently accredited by CACREP through the year 2020
  • Tuition: $5,441 plus fees (12 credits, resident); $10,349 (non-resident)

University of Houston – College of Education (Online, On-campus)

The University of Houston offers a master of education in counseling with an emphasis in clinical mental health. This program is also offered at the UH Sugar Land (Texas) campus. The Sugar Land campus is only a 30-minute drive from the Houston campus. While not all classes are offered online in Houston, many are, and many others are hybrid options with online elements. The last requirement is a 600-hour internship. The Sugar Land campus does not offer any additional counseling degrees or specialties.

UH is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research institution, and in 2020, the college earned a No. 8 ranking from U.S. News & World Report for its online master’s degree programs; although counseling is not an online degree option, a master’s in social work is.

How Much Do Counselors Make in Texas?

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

Marriage and Family Therapist Salaries

United StatesTexas
Number employed59,050630
Average annual salary (mean)$54,590$50,840
10th percentile$32,070$31,670
50th percentile (median)$49,610$48,860
90th percentile$87,700$74,480

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor Salaries

United StatesTexas
Number employed284,54011,570
Average annual salary (mean)$49,950$49,330
10th percentile$29,520$29,470
50th percentile (median)$46,240$47,350
90th percentile$76,080$72,670

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselor and Advisor Salaries

United StatesTexas
Number employed296,46060,470
Average annual salary (mean)$61,000$60,470
10th percentile$34,380$36,280
50th percentile (median)$57,040$60,930
90th percentile$96,090$82,190

Rehabilitation Counselor Salaries

United StatesTexas
Number employed109,0403040
Average annual salary (mean)$40,160$45,300
10th percentile$23,820$26,250
50th percentile (median)$39,950$44,830
90th percentile$63,790$65,750

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

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors

Mental health counselors can be licensed as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) or Licensed Professional Counselor Interns (LPC-Interns) in Texas.

Requirements to earn Licensed Professional Counselor Intern (LPC-Intern) licensure include:

  • A master’s or doctorate in counseling from an accredited program that is at least 60 semester credits in nine coursework areas. The program must include a 300-hour practicum, of which 100 hours must be direct client contact.
  • A completed application packet
  • A $200 application fee
  • A supervisory agreement
  • A passing score on the NCE and Texas Jurisprudence exams

LPC-Interns can apply to upgrade to a full LPC license once they have:

  • Completed 3,000 hours of supervised work experience, of which 1,500 hours must be direct client contact. Hours must be completed in no less than 18 months.
  • Submitted an upgrade application

There is no application or licensure fee if the LPC-Intern license is still valid.

Texas LPC-Intern licenses expire after two years and may not be renewed. If it expires, counselors must reapply and must retake the NCE exam. LPC licenses expire every two years during the birth month of the license holder. Renewals cost $106.

Counselors are required to complete 24 continuing education hours every renewal cycle, as well as take the Texas Jurisprudence exam. Four hours must be in ethics and passing the exam counts as one hour.

School Counseling Licenses in Texas

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Texas Education Agency

The Texas Education Agency issues a Standard School Counselor Certificate. The requirements for this certificate are:

  • Complete an approved Educator Preparation Program in school counseling
  • Pass the Texas Examinations of Educator Standards (TExES) School Counselor exam
  • Hold a master’s degree in counseling from a regionally accredited institution (at least 48 semester credit hours)
  • Have two years of teaching experience
  • Pass a background check
  • Submit a complete online application

The Standard School Counselor Certificate issued in Texas is valid for five years.

To renew, counselors must complete 200 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) every five years.

Substance Abuse Counseling Licenses in Texas

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Texas Department of State Health Services Professional Licensing and Certification Unit

The Texas Department of State Health Services Professional Licensing and Certification Unit licenses both Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor Interns (CI) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselors (LCDC).

CI licensure candidates must:

  • Be 18 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalency
  • Complete 270 hours of education and training (135 hours must be in substance abuse and the remaining 135 must be related to chemical dependency counseling); this requirement is waived if the applicant has a bachelor’s in chemical dependency counseling, sociology, psychology, or a major approved by the department
  • Complete a 300-hour practicum
  • Sign the ethics and standards agreement
  • Pass a background check including fingerprinting
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay the $65 application fee

Full LCDC license applicants must meet the requirements for a CI license, as well as:

  • Pass the exam given by the Texas Certification Board of Addiction Professionals (TCBAP)
  • Hold an associate’s degree or higher
  • Complete 4,000 hours of supervised work experience (waived for applicants who have a master’s degree or higher and at least 48 graduate semester credits)
  • Submit two letters of recommendation
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay the $65 application fee and $85 initial license fee

LCDC licenses issued in Texas expire every two years. CI licenses are only valid for five years and may not be renewed. Renewals for LCDCs are $125.

LCDCs who have earned a master’s degree or higher must complete 24 hours of continuing education per renewal. All other LCDCs must earn 40 hours per renewal cycle. There must be three hours completed in ethics, and six in HIV, hepatitis C, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Rehabilitation Counseling Licenses in Texas

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors

Rehabilitation counselors can be licensed as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) or Licensed Professional Counselor Interns (LPC-Interns) in Texas.

Requirements to earn Licensed Professional Counselor Intern (LPC-Intern) licensure include:

  • A master’s or doctorate in counseling from an accredited program that is at least 60 semester credits in nine coursework areas. The program must include a 300-hour practicum, of which 100 hours must be direct client contact.
  • A completed application packet
  • A $200 application fee
  • A supervisory agreement
  • A passing score on the NCE and Texas Jurisprudence exams

LPC-Interns can apply to upgrade to a full LPC license once they have:

  • Completed 3,000 hours of supervised work experience, of which 1,500 hours must be direct client contact. Hours must be completed in no less than 18 months.
  • Submitted an upgrade application

There is no application or licensure fee if the LPC-Intern license is still valid.

Texas LPC-Intern licenses expire after two years and may not be renewed. If it expires, counselors must reapply and must retake the NCE exam. LPC licenses expire every two years during the birth month of the license holder. Renewals cost $106.

Counselors are required to complete 24 continuing education hours every renewal cycle, as well as take the Texas Jurisprudence exam. Four hours must be in ethics and passing the exam counts as one hour.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Licenses in Texas

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation licenses Behavior Analysts and Assistant Behavior Analysts.

Requirements for licensure are:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Have a BCBA or BCaBA certification
  • Pay a $165 application fee for Behavior Analyst applications and $110 for Assistant Behavior Analyst applications
  • Provide proof of supervision, if the applicant holds a BCaBA
  • Pass a fingerprint criminal records check

Behavior analyst licenses issued in Texas are valid for two years. Current BACB certification is required for renewal. Full analyst licenses cost $165 to renew, while assistant licenses cost $110.

To renew, applicants must also complete a human trafficking prevention course.

Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses in Texas

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

The Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists issues Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate (LMFT Associate) licenses.

Requirements for an LMFT Associate license are:

  • Pass the AMFTRB exam
  • Have a master’s degree or higher in marriage and family therapy from a COAMFTE-accredited program or one accredited by an agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or a program that meets coursework requirements, including a 12-month practicum
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $47 application fee and $90 license fee
  • Submit a Supervised Clinical Practicum Supervision and Experience Verification Form
  • Submit a Supervisory Agreement Form

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

  • Complete two years and 3,000 hours of supervised work experience (at least 1,500 hours must be direct client contact and 200 hours must be in supervision, of which 100 must be individual supervision)
  • Pass the Texas state jurisprudence exam
  • Submit an application
  • Pay $90 license fee

LMFT and LMFT associate licenses issued in Texas must be renewed every two years. Licenses expire on the last day of the therapist’s birth month. Renewals cost $136.

LMFTs must complete 30 hours of continuing education per renewal cycle and associates must complete 15. Both must complete at least six hours in ethics.

Child (Pediatric) Behavioral Therapy Licenses in Texas

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors

Child therapists can be licensed as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) or Licensed Professional Counselor Interns (LPC-Interns) in Texas.

Requirements to earn Licensed Professional Counselor Intern (LPC-Intern) licensure include:

  • A master’s or doctorate in counseling from an accredited program that is at least 60 semester credits in nine coursework areas. The program must include a 300-hour practicum, of which 100 hours must be direct client contact.
  • A completed application packet
  • A $200 application fee
  • A supervisory agreement
  • A passing score on the NCE and Texas Jurisprudence exams

LPC-Interns can apply to upgrade to a full LPC license once they have:

  • Completed 3,000 hours of supervised work experience, of which 1,500 hours must be direct client contact. Hours must be completed in no less than 18 months.
  • Submitted an upgrade application

There is no application or licensure fee if the LPC-Intern license is still valid.

Texas LPC-Intern licenses expire after two years and may not be renewed. If it expires, counselors must reapply and must retake the NCE exam. LPC licenses expire every two years during the birth month of the license holder. Renewals cost $106.

Counselors are required to complete 24 continuing education hours every renewal cycle, as well as take the Texas Jurisprudence exam. Four hours must be in ethics and passing the exam counts as one hour.

Counseling Professional Associations & Resources in Texas

  • Texas Counseling Association
  • Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors Links
  • Texas Psychological Association
  • Lone Star State School Counselor Association
  • Houston Counseling Association
  • West Texas Counseling Association
  • Heart of Texas Counseling Association
  • Capital of Texas Counseling Association
  • Texas Association of Addiction Professionals
  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy – Texas State Resources
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.