Counseling Degrees & Licenses in Virginia

There are two avenues for licensure as a Professional Counselor in Virginia, according to the Virginia Board of Counseling. Students must either be licensed by endorsement of having equivalent licensure in another jurisdiction, or by passing the examination to receive their professional counseling license.

The first step is choosing the right educational program. To become an LPC in Virginia, your degree must be from a CACREP- or CORE-accredited school or program. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs and the Council on Rehabilitation Education merged in 2017, but many school websites also still reference CORE accreditation. Additionally, the regulations require potential licensees to complete 60 graduate semester-hours (or 90 graduate quarter-hours) of schooling, a 4,000-hour post-master’s clinical residency, and successful completion of the licensure examination.

The Virginia Board of Counselors also licenses counselors such as substance abuse counselors. In 2016, Virginia’s governor declared Virginia’s opioid abuse crisis a Public Health Emergency in the state. In order to become licensed as a Licensed Substance Abuse Treatment Practitioner (LSATP), Virginia requires that students have two years of post-licensure clinical practice in the substance abuse treatment field, or a current substance abuse treatment license from another jurisdiction, or a 60-semester-hour master’s degree in mental health.

Whether students are seeking licensure in Virginia for the first time, or are planning to relocate to Virginia, working in mental health in Virginia can be a rewarding career. Read on for a few of the many schools offering programs for counseling degrees and licenses in Virginia.

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Accredited Counseling Degree Programs in Virginia

William & Mary – College of Education

Chartered in 1693, William & Mary is the second-oldest institute of higher learning in the country. They offer several counseling programs, including on-campus master of education counseling degrees in the areas of school counseling; couples, marriage and family counseling; and clinical mental health counseling. The MEd in clinical mental health counseling (CMHC).

The CMHC program has an addictions concentration that prepares students to work in public or private human services agencies. A military and veterans counseling concentration prepares students to meet the health needs of active-duty military personnel and veterans.

Online counseling education programs are available for clinical mental health counseling (with specialization options); school counseling; and couples, marriage, and family counseling.

  • Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
  • Duration: 60 credits, two years full time, three years part-time
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: $585 per credit, Virginia resident; $1,383 non resident

Hampton University – School of Liberal Arts Education

Hampton University offers master’s-level concentrations in school counseling, student affairs/college student development, community mental health counseling, addictions counseling, and pastoral counseling. The master of arts in general counseling concentration is offered on campus and online; however, it does not meet Virginia requirements for Licensed Professional Counselor education. This overview of courses may instead be used for certification in Virginia as a Qualified Mental Health Provider.

School counseling and student affairs/college student development are master of arts (MA) degrees that prepare students to work in a school setting. The master of arts in community mental health counseling prepares students to work in communuty agencies such as youth service agencies, career training programs, correctional institutions, and community counseling settings. The master of arts in pastoral counseling builds spiritual leaders with counseling skills with a non-denominational focus.

  • Location: Hampton, Virginia
  • Duration: The MA in general counseling is 30 credits, 16 weeks
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: The MA in general counseling is $695 per credit

James Madison University – Department of Graduate Psychology

James Madison University’s school counseling master’s in education degree is obtainable in two calendar years if students begin their coursework in the summer. Students can also pursue the clinical mental health counseling program that confers both the master of arts and the educational specialist degrees after three years and 60 credits.

JMU offers small, experiential classes that rarely involve more than 10 students. Upon graduation in the CMHC program, students are eligible to pursue licensure in Virginia as a Licensed Professional Counselor.

  • Location: Harrisonburg, Virginia
  • Duration: School counseling is 54 credits (two years full time, four years part-time; will be 60 credits by fall 2023); CMHC is 60 credits (three years)
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: $29,940, estimated in-state tuition; $73,860 estimated out-of-state tuition

Liberty University – Department of Counselor Education

Liberty University offers an online 48-credit clinical mental health counseling program that is not CACREP certified, but CACREP has certified the 60-credit CMHC program. The school also offers non-CACREP certified online master of arts degrees in both addiction counseling and marriage and family therapy.

The residential CMHC program provides students with a biblical basis for counseling leadership. Liberty University is a Christian university. A 36-hour non-CACREP certified pastoral counseling program is also available. Liberty’s master of arts in marriage and family counseling degree is designed to meet the requirements for licensure as a marriage and family therapist (MFT) in Virginia.

  • Location: Lynchburg, Virginia
  • Duration: 60 credits (three years)
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: $545 per credit

Old Dominion University – Darden College of Education & Professional Studies

Students in the clinical mental health counseling program at Old Dominion have the opportunity to travel abroad to Italy and Ireland for select classes. Students in good standing can opt to take the national counselor licensing exam before they graduate. These courses are not offered online, but they are offered in late afternoons and evenings to allow students with responsibilities during the day to participate as much as possible.

Two specializations, clinical mental health counseling and school counseling, are available in the program. School counseling students who wish to become Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) in Virginia may take three additional courses to achieve this license. Students in both tracks take foundational counseling courses, then five school counseling courses and 600 hours of internship.

  • Location: Norfolk, Virginia
  • Duration: 60 credits, full- or part-time
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: $551 per credit, Virginia resident; $1,387 per credit, non-resident

Radford University – College of Graduate Studies and Research

Radford University’s counseling program has an emphasis on clinical experience and provides significant opportunities for students to engage in learning in clinical practice. Students can earn a master of science (MS) degree while learning how to work in elementary, middle, and secondary school settings along with colleges, counseling centers, agencies, or mental health clinics.

Radford prides itself on its high rate of students passing examinations as well as students finding jobs post-graduation: 97 percent of students at Radford pass their licensure or certification exams, and 95 percent of counselor education students find jobs after graduation.

  • Location: Radford, Virginia
  • Duration: 60 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: $12,409 per academic year, Virginia resident; $21,382 per academic year, non-resident

Regent University

Regent University is one of the country’s top-ranking Christian universities. Founded by Pat Robertson, the school offers three counselor education programs: school counseling; clinical mental health counseling; and marriage, couple, and family counseling.

Each program is available on campus and as an online program with a residency requirement. Two week-long residencies provide networking and mentoring opportunities for students. Waiving of residency requirements will not be considered, but the requirements may be met online also. Regent’s master of arts in pastoral counseling is only 30 credits. All courses are taught from a Christian worldview.

  • Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Duration: 60 credits, 30 credits (pastoral counseling); students may select from one of three progressions
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: $710 per credit (Virginia resident and non-resident); $595 per credit for pastoral counseling (Virginia resident and non-resident)

Virginia Commonwealth University

The Department of Rehabilitation Counseling at Virginia commonwealth offers graduate degrees at the master’s and doctoral levels. Students can earn a master of science degree in rehabilitation and mental health counseling, which allows students to become both a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and a Licensed Professional Counselor. Students have options to specialize in a certain area of interest, such as professional counseling or certified rehabilitation counseling.

Those who pursue a master of education in general counseling can specialize in college counseling and student affairs, couples and family counseling, or school counseling. The rehabilitation counseling program prepares graduates for the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential in Virginia as well as the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) national credential. The program is ranked fourth among Rehabilitation Counseling programs nationwide, according to US News and World Report.

  • Location: Richmond, Virginia
  • Duration: 60 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: Nine to 15 credits ($6,309 Virginia resident; $12,978 non-resident)

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University – College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences

Virginia Polytechnic offers two master of arts in education counseling options: school counseling and clinical mental health counseling. The master of arts in general counselor education is offered on campus at the Roanoke, Virginia, location. Students in either program complete 60 hours of graduate-level training over two-years of full-time studies. The practicum provides an opportunity to translate classroom learning into real experience.

A year-long internship is the opportunity to work in a real career setting and apply all that’s been learned. Once completed, students will have met all of the educational requirements for licensure as a professional counselor in Virginia.

  • Location: Roanoke, Virginia
  • Duration: 60 credits (2 years full time)
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: $475.75 plus fees, per credit, Virginia resident; $1,248.25 plus fees, per credit, non-resident

South University

South University, established in 1899 in Savannah, Georgia, has several campuses. In Virginia, its campuses are located in Glen Allen (Richmond) and Virginia Beach. The Virginia Beach campus is at the heart of one of the largest military and veteran populations in the nation. At either campus, students can attend the clinical mental health counseling program.

Classes generally meet each Saturday and weeknights to allow students to continue with other daily responsibilities. The program is designed for students to complete the curriculum in eight quarters. Each quarter, classes will be held on a weekly basis for a ten-week period with the 11th week designated for final exams.

Most classes at South University are 4.5 credits rather than three, and coursework is designed to meet licensing requirements in Virginia and in other states as well. For instance, the 91-credit Virginia program also meets current licensure requirements for counseling programs in Texas and Georgia.

  • Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Duration: 91 credits (8 quarters)
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: South University uses a tiered tuition model based on the number of credits completed

How Much Do Counselors Make in Virginia?

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

Marriage and Family Therapist

United StatesVirginia
Number employed59,050550
Average annual salary (mean)$54,590$57,980
10th percentile$32,070$33,670
50th percentile (median)$49,610$50,380
90th percentile$87,700$94,410

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

United StatesVirginia
Number employed284,54012,100
Average annual salary (mean)$49,950$51,610
10th percentile$29,520$32,790
50th percentile (median)$46,240$47,900
90th percentile$76,080$77,690

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselor and Advisor

United StatesVirginia
Number employed296,4607,220
Average annual salary (mean)$61,000$68,060
10th percentile$34,380$39,390
50th percentile (median)$57,040$63,200
90th percentile$96,090$105,700

Rehabilitation Counselor

United StatesVirginia
Number employed109,0403,350
Average annual salary (mean)$40,160$43,560
10th percentile$23,820$28,220
50th percentile (median)$39,950$40,060
90th percentile$63,790$63,560

Counseling Professional Associations & Resources in Virginia

  • Virginia Counselors Association
  • Virginia Association of Clinical Counselors
  • Virginia School Counselor Association
  • Northern Virginia Licensed Professional Counselors
  • Virginia Board of Counseling
  • Virginia Counselors Association Foundation
  • The Counseling Alliance of Virginia
  • The Virginia Association of Genetic Counselors
  • Virginia Association of Housing Counselors
  • Virginia Peers Speaking up for Mental Health Recovery
  • National Counseling Group Virginia
  • Postpartum Support Virginia
  • Counseling Services of Commonwealth Catholic Charities

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

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Virginia Board of Counseling

Mental health counselors in Vermont are licensed as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) or Licensed Professional Counselor – Residents (LPC Residents).

LPC Resident license candidates must:

  • Graduate from a CACREP or CORE accredited master’s in counseling program. If the program has neither accreditation, it must be regionally accredited and contain 13 core content areas. All programs must contain a minimum of 60 semester credits (or 90 quarter credits) and include a 600-hour internship with 240 face-to-face client contact hours.
  • Find a supervisor for supervised work experience and complete a Supervisory Contract agreement
  • Complete an application
  • Pay $65 application fee
  • Complete a National Practitioners Data Bank (NPDB) self-query

To qualify for as an LPC candidates must already hold an LPC Resident license and must:

  • Complete 3,400 of supervised work experience. 2,000 hours must be face to face client contact. Hours completed as part of the master’s internship in excess of the 600 required hours may be counted, up to 300 hours. There must be 200 hours of supervision at a rate no less than one hour of supervision for every 40 hours of work experience. These hours must be completed in no less than 21 months and no more than four years.
  • Pass the NCMHCE
  • Submit a completed application
  • Complete another National Practitioners Data Bank (NPDB) query
  • Pay $175 application fee

LPC Resident licenses expire annually and cost $30 to renew. As part of the renewal, LPC Residents must attest the supervised work experience is still in effect and that they have completed three continuing education hours in ethics.

LPCs must renew their licenses annually online by completing the application and paying the $130 fee.

LPCs are required to complete 20 hours in continuing education, two of which must be in ethics. LPCs are not required to submit this information to the board; however, random audits are performed so counselors must keep careful records.

School Counseling Licenses in Virginia

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Virginia Department of Education

The Virginia Department of Education issues educator licenses with a school counseling endorsement.

The requirements for the provisional license and endorsement are:

  • Complete training in the recognition of mental health disorder and behavioral distress, including depression, trauma, violence, youth suicide, and substance abuse
  • Have a master’s from an approved school counselor program or have a master’s in school counseling from a regionally accredited program (with a 100-hour internship) and complete an approved school counselor preparation program
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $100 in-state or $150 out-of-state application fee
  • Complete Dyslexia Awareness Training
  • Complete Child Abuse and Neglect Recognition and Intervention Training
  • Have current CPR certification

After two years of full-time work experience, school counselors may apply for a professional license.

Provisional educator licenses with a school counselor endorsement may not be renewed. Professional licenses are valid for five years.

To renew, school counselors must:

  • Submit a completed renewal application
  • Pay $50 application fee
  • Complete Dyslexia Awareness Training
  • Complete Child Abuse and Neglect Recognition and Intervention Training
  • Have current CPR certification
  • Complete training in the recognition of mental health disorder and behavioral distress, including depression, trauma, violence, youth suicide, and substance abuse
  • Earn 180 Professional Development Points

Substance Abuse Counseling Licenses in Virginia

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Virginia Department of Health Professions Board of Counseling

The Virginia Department of Health Professions Board of Counseling issues Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CSAC) and Certified Substance Abuse Counselor Assistant (CSAC-A) credentials to substance abuse counselors.

CSAC-A credential candidates must:

  • Graduate from high school or a have a GED
  • Complete 120 hours of education in substance abuse counseling in 13 specific areas
  • Have 180 hours of supervised work experience with clients who have a substance use disorder
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $115 application fee
  • Pass the Virginia State Constructed CSAC-A exam

CSAC credential candidates must:

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $115 application fee and $150 exam fee
  • Pass the Virginia State NCAC Level I exam
  • Have the Verification of Supervision form submitted by each supervisor, which verifies a total of 100 hours of supervision, 2,000 hours of work experience in substance abuse, and 160 hours of experimental tasks
  • Complete 240 hours of education in substance abuse counseling in 13 specific areas

Substance abuse counselor licenses in Virginia expire annually on June 30th. CSAC renewal fees are $65 and CSAC-A fees are $50.

CSACs are required to complete 10 hours of continuing education each year and CSAC-As are required to complete only five.

Rehabilitation Counseling Licenses in Virginia

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Virginia Board of Counseling

Rehabilitation counselors in Virginia are credentialed as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) or Licensed Professional Counselor – Residents (LPC Residents).

LPC Resident license candidates must:

  • Graduate from a CACREP or CORE accredited master’s in counseling program. If the program has neither accreditation, it must be regionally accredited and contain 13 core content areas. All programs must contain a minimum of 60 semester credits (or 90 quarter credits) and include a 600-hour internship with 240 face-to-face client contact hours.
  • Find a supervisor for supervised work experience and complete a Supervisory Contract agreement
  • Complete an application
  • Pay $65 application fee
  • Complete a National Practitioners Data Bank (NPDB) self-query

To qualify for as an LPC candidates must already hold an LPC Resident license and must:

  • Complete 3,400 of supervised work experience. 2,000 hours must be face to face client contact. Hours completed as part of the master’s internship in excess of the 600 required hours may be counted, up to 300 hours. There must be 200 hours of supervision at a rate no less than one hour of supervision for every 40 hours of work experience. These hours must be completed in no less than 21 months and no more than four years.
  • Pass the NCMHCE
  • Submit a completed application
  • Complete another National Practitioners Data Bank (NPDB) query
  • Pay $175 application fee

LPC Resident licenses expire annually and cost $30 to renew. As part of the renewal, LPC Residents must attest the supervised work experience is still in effect and that they have completed three continuing education hours in ethics.

LPCs must renew their licenses annually online by completing the application and paying the $130 fee.

LPCs are required to complete 20 hours in continuing education, two of which must be in ethics. LPCs are not required to submit this information to the board; however, random audits are performed so counselors must keep careful records.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Licenses in Virginia

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Virginia Board of Medicine

The Virginia Board of Medicine licenses Board Certified Behavior Analysts and Assistant Behavior Analysts.

Requirements for licensure are:

  • Submit an online application
  • Hold either a BCBA or BCaBA national certification
  • Pay a $130 application fee for a behavior analyst license or a $70 fee for the assistant behavior analyst license
  • Submit a completed Employment Activity Questionnaire

Behavior analyst licenses issued in Virginia must be renewed biennially on odd-numbered years during the license holder’s birth month. Behavior analyst license renewal fees are $135, and assistant behavior analyst license renewal fees are $70.

To renew, applicants must also complete continuing education hours. Thirty-two hours of continuing education are required for behavior analysts and assistant behavior must complete 20. Four of those hours must be in ethics.

Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses in Virginia

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Virginia Board of Counseling

The Virginia Board of Counseling crdentials Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Residents (LMFT Resident)

LMFT Resident candidates must:

  • Graduate from a regionally accredited marriage and family therapy master’s program of at least 60 semester (or 90 quarter credits), including a 600-hour internship
  • Find a supervisor for supervised work experience and complete a Supervisory Contract agreement
  • Complete an application
  • Pay $65 application fee
  • Complete a National Practitioners Data Bank (NPDB) self-query

Full LMFT candidates must already hold an LMFT Resident license and must:

  • Complete 3,400 of supervised work experience, including no less than one hour of supervision for every 40 hours of work experience (2,000 hours must be face-to-face client contact and 1,000 of those hours must be with couples or families; hours completed as part of the master’s internship in excess of the 600 required hours may be counted, up to 300 hours)
  • Pass the AMFTRB
  • Submit a completed application
  • Complete another National Practitioners Data Bank (NPDB) query
  • Pay $175 application fee

LMFT Resident licenses expire annually and cost $30 to renew.

As part of the renewal, LMFT Residents must attest that their supervised work experience is still in effect and that they have completed three continuing education hours in ethics.

LMFTs must renew their licenses online annually by completing the application and paying the $130 fee.

LMFTs are required to complete 20 hours in continuing education, two of which must be in ethics. LMFTs are not required to submit this information to the board; however, random audits are performed, so counselors must keep careful records.

Child (Pediatric) Behavioral Therapy Licenses in Virginia

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Virginia Board of Counseling

Child therapists in Virginia are credentialed as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) or Licensed Professional Counselor – Residents (LPC Residents).

LPC Resident license candidates must:

  • Graduate from a CACREP or CORE accredited master’s in counseling program. If the program has neither accreditation, it must be regionally accredited and contain 13 core content areas. All programs must contain a minimum of 60 semester credits (or 90 quarter credits) and include a 600-hour internship with 240 face-to-face client contact hours.
  • Find a supervisor for supervised work experience and complete a Supervisory Contract agreement
  • Complete an application
  • Pay $65 application fee
  • Complete a National Practitioners Data Bank (NPDB) self-query

To qualify for as an LPC candidates must already hold an LPC Resident license and must:

  • Complete 3,400 of supervised work experience. 2,000 hours must be face to face client contact. Hours completed as part of the master’s internship in excess of the 600 required hours may be counted, up to 300 hours. There must be 200 hours of supervision at a rate no less than one hour of supervision for every 40 hours of work experience. These hours must be completed in no less than 21 months and no more than four years.
  • Pass the NCMHCE
  • Submit a completed application
  • Complete another National Practitioners Data Bank (NPDB) query
  • Pay $175 application fee

LPC Resident licenses expire annually and cost $30 to renew. As part of the renewal, LPC Residents must attest the supervised work experience is still in effect and that they have completed three continuing education hours in ethics.

LPCs must renew their licenses annually online by completing the application and paying the $130 fee.

LPCs are required to complete 20 hours in continuing education, two of which must be in ethics. LPCs are not required to submit this information to the board; however, random audits are performed so counselors must keep careful records.

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.