Counseling Degrees & Licenses in Washington, DC

Many people who live in or near Washington, DC work for our nation’s government in some way or another. This type of work brings with it a lot of prestige and power, but it can also quickly develop into negatives such as working long days, lack of time to spend with friends and family, commuting stress, and more. According to Census.Gov data from July 2021, Washington, DC is home to 670,050 people, making it the 50th least populated area out of 50 states and territories, including Puerto Rico.

DCHealthMatters.org states that Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA) undertaken in 2013, 2016, and 2019 identified mental health as a priority. The 2019 study found that depression, anxiety, alcohol, and opioid abuse were prevalent among DC residents, leading to poorer health outcomes and earlier death. In 2018, 12.8 percent of the population self-identified as having “frequent mental distress,” for more than two weeks out of a month. 

In 2020, the site shows that there are only 514 mental health providers per 100,000 people. Mental health providers include psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, counselors, and advanced practice nurses specializing in mental health care. This places the District of Columbia among the best providers of mental health in the country: cities in the best 50 percent have a value higher than 261, while cities in the worst 50 percent have a value less than 189. 

Nonetheless, given DC’s high care provider rating, it is in the second-worst category of the number of people who state their mental health is “not good.” In 2018, DCHealthMatters.org said out of 30 days, respondents said their mental state was “not good” for 4.2 days on average. Of course, that was before the pandemic, which may have greatly increased that number. For that metric, cities in the best 50 percent have a value lower than 4.1, while cities in the worst 25 percent have a value higher than 4.7. 

In Washington, DC, the DC Health Regulation and Licensing Administration‘s Board of Professional Counseling regulates the practice of professional counseling. Educational requirements to become a licensed counselor in Washington, DC include the completion of a master’s degree or higher from an accredited institution of higher education which was (at the time of the degree) recognized by the Secretary of the United States Department of Education, the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation (which existed until 1993), or its successor, which is currently the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). 

DC also has a Marriage and Family Counseling licensing board. The board requires completion of a minimum 60-credit master’s degree program in marriage and family therapy. 

Washington, DC accepts applications from prospective counselors who have completed a minimum of 60 semester-hours (or the equivalent) after earning a bachelor’s degree. That degree program must consist of suitable coursework, as well as 3,500 hours of professional counseling performed over a period over at least two years. Two hundred of the required hours must have been under supervision by a qualified supervisor. 

Counseling degree programs of all types, including rehabilitation counseling, school counseling, clinical mental health counseling, marriage and family counseling, and addiction counseling, are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP). CACREP and CHEW collaborate on accreditation standards of programs and schools. 

CACREP approves counseling programs that require students to take a minimum of 60 semester-credit-hours (or 90 quarter-credit-hours) of coursework. Those who wish to pursue a counseling degree and license in Washington, DC will no doubt find their expertise in demand, as a population grows and challenges are continuously placed on everyone’s mental health. Read on for accredited counseling degree programs in Washington, DC.

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Accredited Counseling Degree Programs in Washington, DC

Gallaudet University

Gallaudet University is a private research university founded in 1864 for the education of the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Gallaudet University was originally a grammar school for deaf and blind children and now is still the world’s only liberal arts university for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. 

The graduate program in clinical mental health counseling was established in 1986 specifically to teach skilled counselors to provide mental health services to deaf and hard-of-hearing adults, children, and adolescents in mental health centers, psychiatric hospitals, community programs, addiction programs, and psychosocial rehabilitation programs. 

The clinical mental health counseling program is offered as a hybrid program with the first year (including the summer session) being in residence at Gallaudet with courses taught primarily in the face-to-face classroom setting. The second year consists of a fieldwork placement with coursework online. 

In the second semester of the program, a 200-hour practicum is served in a mental health setting with deaf and hard-of-hearing clients with additional special needs, in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. During the second year of the program, students complete a 600-hours internship in a mental health agency with deaf, hard-of-hearing, and deaf with additional special needs people outside of the Washington, DC area. Students must have at least 280 client contact hours before graduation.

Students can earn a master of arts in clinical mental health counseling or school counseling. Students are eligible to take the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) during their last semester of studies. 

The school also has a summers and online school counseling program. This option is a hybrid program, requiring three years to complete. Students attend classes on campus three summers and take courses online for four semesters. The final year of the program requires one semester of practicum and one semester of a full-time internship in a school setting. This program is geared towards professionals who are either changing careers or are enhancing their education, and the admissions officers give preference to applicants with prior experience in educational programs serving deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Duration: The school counseling is 75 credits; clinical mental health counseling is 71 credits; summers and online school counseling program is 63 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: Estimated annual cost for US citizens and permanent residents, $38,426; international students, $52,938

George Washington University – Graduate School of Education and Human Development 

George Washington University is a private research university chartered in 1821. It is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia. The school offers more than 230 master’s degree programs including clinical mental health counseling, school counseling, and rehabilitation counseling. 

Students in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development can earn a master of arts in education and human development in the field of clinical mental health counseling, along with a master of arts in education and human development in the field of rehabilitation counseling with or without licensure eligibility. The clinical mental health counseling program requires the completion of 600 hours of internships and 100 hours of a practicum. 

Graduates of the rehabilitation counseling program that leads to licensure are eligible to sit for the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) credential exam, the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential exam, and are eligible to pursue the Licensed Professional Counselor credential (LPC). The school counseling program requires a 600-hours internship and a 100-hour practicum. The rehabilitation counseling program is also available online. 

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Duration: 60 credits, the non-licensure rehabilitation counseling program is 48 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: On-campus $1,765 per credit; online $875 per credit

University of District of Columbia – Division of Education, Health, and Social Work

The University of the District of Columbia is a public historically black university. It was established in 1851 and is the only public university in the city. Students in the College of Arts and Science within the Division of Education, Health, and Social Work are eligible to sit for the national certification examination administered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) after completing 75 percent of the coursework. Passing this exam enables the student to be credentialed as Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC). Graduates are also eligible to prepare for state licensure as licensed professional counselors. 

Students in the counseling program can choose to earn a master of science degree in counseling with a concentration in school counseling. The school counseling specialization prepares students to meet the certification requirements of the District of Columbia Public School System and surrounding states. The master of science in counseling clinical mental health counseling concentration prepares students for licensure as licensed professional counselors and national certified counselors. 

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Duration: The master of arts degree in rehabilitation counseling is 60 credits
  • Accreditation: The master of arts degree in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling is accredited by the CACREP 
  • Tuition: Graduate residents of the DC are taking nine or more credits pay $5,047; graduate non-residents pay $9,304

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology – Washington, DC

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (The Chicago School) is a private university with campuses across the United States. The university offers more than 30 academic programs in a variety of professional fields such as psychology, business, health care, health services, education, counseling, and nursing. The Chicago School was established in 1979 by psychologists and educators. Its East Coast campus in Washington, DC opened in summer of 2010, three blocks from the White House. 

The clinical mental health counseling program offers full- and part-time options for students to earn a master of arts. Graduates meet educational requirements for licensure as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) in Washington, DC and Virginia and as Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors (LCPC) in Maryland. 

The program is delivered in two formats at the Washington DC campus. Classes are offered in a traditional on-campus format with each class meeting for three hours per week over the course of 14 weeks in fall and spring and for six hours per week over the course of summer. Classes are also offered in a weekend format with each class meeting for three full weekends over the course of a semester. MA student fieldwork requires a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour (minimum) internship. 

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Duration: 60 credits, 2.5 years full-time, five years part-time
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: On-campus and online, $1,253 per credit

Trinity Washington University

Trinity Washington University is a private Catholic school. Trinity was founded in 1897 as the nation’s first Catholic liberal arts college for women. Trinity became Trinity Washington University in 2004. Trinity’s graduate programs include clinical mental health counseling, school counseling, and a post-master’s counselor program. 

Students in the clinical mental health counseling program will be prepared to take the examination to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). The school counseling programs gives students the option of a career as a counselor in elementary and secondary schools, or as a counselor for urban students. This track prepares students to work as a counselor outside of schools, such as in foster care or nonprofit youth programs. This option also meets licensure requirements for the LPC exam. 

Students who already have a master’s degree in school counseling can complete the additional 12 credits to meet eligibility requirements for the LPC credential in the post-master’s counselor program. Students in this program are given a discounted rate on the tuition and have 12 months to complete the four courses.

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Duration: 60 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: $825 per credit

How Much Do Counselors Make in Washington, DC?

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

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors

United StatesWashington, DC
Number employed292,2301,350
Average annual salary (mean)$61,000$69,720
10th percentile$34,380$40,090
50th percentile (median)$57,040$67,600
90th percentile$96,090$104,910

Rehabilitation Counselors

United StatesWashington, DC
Number employed100,260760
Average annual salary (mean)$40,160$52,210
10th percentile$23,820$30,990
50th percentile (median)$39,950$44,430
90th percentile$63,790$82,930

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

United StatesWashington, DC
Number employed293,620No number given
Average annual salary (mean)$49,950$56,200
10th percentile$29,520$29,970
50th percentile (median)$46,240$53,330
90th percentile$76,080$87,580

All Other Counselors

United StatesWashington, DC
Number employed27,310210
Average annual salary (mean)$48,800$49,040
10th percentile$27,030$33,590
50th percentile (median)$42,930$43,950
90th percentile$77,590$75,820

Counseling Professional Associations & Resources in Washington, DC

  • DC Mental Health Counselors Association 
  • Maryland Counseling Association
  • District of Columbia Counseling Association (DCCA)
  • American Counseling Association 
  • American Mental Health Counselors Association 
  • American School Counselor Association
  • DC Psychological Association (DCPA)
  • Northern Virginia Licensed Professional Counselors
  • American Association for Marriage And Family Therapy
  • Virginia Counselors Association
  • American Art Therapy Association
  • The Bowen Center for the Study of the Family/Georgetown Family Center
  • Capitol Hill Consortium for Counseling & Consultation LLC (CCCC)
  • National Register of Health Service Psychologists
  • Kennedy Counseling Collective
  • National Social Anxiety Center
  • Pastoral Counseling and Consultation Center
  • Life Christian Counseling Network
  • Wendt Center For Loss and Healing
  • Washington Therapy Guild
  • Capital Therapy Project
  • Housing Stability Counseling Program
  • Vietnam Veterans Counseling of Washington, DC
  • National Veterans Center Counseling Station
  • Georgetown Counseling Associates
  • Couple Counseling DC
  • National Council for Mental Wellbeing
  • Family Preservation Services of DC
  • Gay Men’s Counseling Collective
  • Transcultural Counseling & Psychotherapy Center of DC
  • Capital Center for Psychotherapy and Wellness
  • International Gambling Counselor Certification Board
  • National Coalition For Asian Pacific American Community Development
  • Washington Psychotherapy Institute
  • NeighborWorks America
  • Washington Foundation For Family Life
  • National Youth Advocate Program
  • Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC)
  • The Capitol Hill Center For Individual And Family Therapy
  • Center For Child Protection
  • National Council on Problem Gambling
  • Eating and Body Image Therapy Center

Mental Health Counseling (LMHC) Licenses in Washington, DC: Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Department of Health, Health Regulation & Licensing Administration Board of Professional Counseling

The District of Columbia Department of Health, Health Regulation & Licensing Administration Board of Professional Counseling licenses Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) and Licensed Graduate Professional Counselors (LGPC).

The requirements for an LGPC license include:

  • Submitting a completed application
  • Providing two recent passport-sized photos
  • Passing the NCE, NCMHCE, or CRC exam
  • Having a master’s degree or higher in from a CACREP or substantially equivalent accredited program. It must be at least 48 semester credits long and include a 100-hour practicum and 600 hour internship.
  • Paying $230 application fee
  • Passing a criminal background check

The requirements for an LPC license are:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Provide two recent passport-sized photos
  • Pass the NCE, NCMHCE, or CRC exam
  • Have a master’s degree or higher in from a CACREP or substantially equivalent accredited program. It must be at least 60 semester credits long and include a 100-hour practicum and 600-hour internship
  • Pay $230 application fee
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Complete 3,500 hours of supervised work experience. There must be 200 hours of supervision.

LPC and LGPC licenses issued in Washington DC expire on December 31 of even-numbered years. To renew counselors must submit an online application and pay a $145 renewal fee.

Counselors must complete 40 hours of continuing education per renewal cycle. Six hours must be in ethics and four hours must be in trauma counseling.

School Counseling Licenses in Washington, DC

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Office of the State Superintendent of Education

Washington DC’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education issues School Service Provider (SSP) certificates with school counselor credentials.

The requirements for initial certification and credential are:

  • Submit an Identity History Summary Check (IHSC) through the FBI
  • Send a complete online application and pay the applicable fee
  • Show proof of a master’s degree in school counseling from an accredited institution (applicants can be deficient up to 12 semester credits and still receive an initial certification)
  • Complete 300 hours of supervised work experience as part of a graduate program or two years of full-time teaching experience

Candidates for a standard license must meet the requirements for an initial license as well as:

  • Provide proof of a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field
  • Complete two years of work experience
  • Pass the Praxis Professional School Counselor exam

An initial school counselor endorsement is valid for two years and may not be renewed.

A standard license is valid for four years and is renewed through an online application. To renew, school counselor must either complete 120 clock hours (or eight college credit hours) of professional learning units or one of the following:

  • Submit satisfactory performance rating reports for each year, if your employer issues them
  • Submit passing scores for Praxis Professional School Counselor exam

Substance Abuse Counseling Licenses in Washington, DC

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Department of Health, Health Regulation & Licensing Administration Board of Professional Counseling

The Washington DC Department of Health, Health Regulation & Licensing Administration Board of Professional Counseling certifies Certified Addiction Counselor I or Certified Addiction Counselor II.

The requirements for a Certified Addiction Counselor I certificate are:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Provide two recent passport-sized photos
  • Pass NAADAC NCAC Level I exam
  • Pass the District Jurisprudence exam
  • Have an associate degree in health or human services that meets coursework requirements
  • Complete 500 hours of supervised work experience, with 40 hours in each of 12 domain areas
  • Pay $240 application fee and $125 jurisprudence test fee
  • Pass a criminal background check

A Certified Addiction Counselor II applicant must meet all the Certified Addiction Counselor I requirements (except work experience), as well as:

  • Complete 180 hours of supervised work experience with 10 hours in each of 12 domain areas
  • Pass the NAADAC NCAC Level II exam
  • Pay a $85 fee

Certified Addiction Counselor certifications issued in Washington DC expire on December 31 of even-numbered years. Renewals cost $155.

Counselors must complete 40 hours of approved continuing education credit. Six hours must be in ethics and three must be in trauma counseling.

Rehabilitation Counseling Licenses in Washington, DC

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Department of Health, Health Regulation & Licensing Administration Board of Professional Counseling

Rehabilitation counselors are licensed by the District of Columbia Department of Health, Health Regulation & Licensing Administration Board of Professional Counseling as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) and Licensed Graduate Professional Counselors (LGPC).

The requirements for an LGPC license include:

  • Submitting a completed application
  • Providing two recent passport-sized photos
  • Passing the NCE, NCMHCE, or CRC exam
  • Having a master’s degree or higher in from a CACREP or substantially equivalent accredited program. It must be at least 48 semester credits long and include a 100-hour practicum and 600 hour internship.
  • Paying $230 application fee
  • Passing a criminal background check

The requirements for an LPC license are:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Provide two recent passport-sized photos
  • Pass the NCE, NCMHCE, or CRC exam
  • Have a master’s degree or higher in from a CACREP or substantially equivalent accredited program. It must be at least 60 semester credits long and include a 100-hour practicum and 600-hour internship
  • Pay $230 application fee
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Complete 3,500 hours of supervised work experience. There must be 200 hours of supervision.

LPC and LGPC licenses issued in Washington DC expire on December 31 of even-numbered years. To renew counselors must submit an online application and pay a $145 renewal fee.

Counselors must complete 40 hours of continuing education per renewal cycle. Six hours must be in ethics and four hours must be in trauma counseling.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Licenses in Washington, DC

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

Currently, there are no local certification or licensing requirements for applied behavior analysts in Washington DC.

However, BCBA certification and membership with the District Association of Behavior Analysis (DCABA) can help with employment opportunities and career advancement.

Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses in Washington, DC

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Department of Health, Health Regulation & Licensing Administration Board of Marriage and Family Therapy

The Washington DC Department of Health, Health Regulation & Licensing Administration Board of Marriage and Family Therapy licenses Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT).

The requirements for an LMFT license are:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Provide two recent passport-sized photos
  • Pass the AMFTRB exam
  • Have a qualifying master’s degree or higher in marriage and family therapy
  • Complete two years of full-time supervised work experience as a marriage and family therapist; it must include at least 2,000 hours of supervised practice and 1,000 hours of direct client contact
  • Pay $262 application fee
  • Pass a criminal background check

LMFT licenses issued in Washington DC expire on December 31 of even-numbered years.

To renew, therapists must submit an online application and pay a $177 renewal fee. Therapist must complete 30 hours of continuing education per renewal cycle, of which 15 must be face-to-face. At least six hours must be in ethics and 10 percent of the hours must be in subjects determined by the Department’s Director.

Child (Pediatric) Behavioral Therapy Licenses in Washington, DC

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Department of Health, Health Regulation & Licensing Administration Board of Professional Counseling

Child therapists are licensed by the District of Columbia Department of Health, Health Regulation & Licensing Administration Board of Professional Counseling as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) and Licensed Graduate Professional Counselors (LGPC).

The requirements for an LGPC license include:

  • Submitting a completed application
  • Providing two recent passport-sized photos
  • Passing the NCE, NCMHCE, or CRC exam
  • Having a master’s degree or higher in from a CACREP or substantially equivalent accredited program. It must be at least 48 semester credits long and include a 100-hour practicum and 600 hour internship.
  • Paying $230 application fee
  • Passing a criminal background check

The requirements for an LPC license are:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Provide two recent passport-sized photos
  • Pass the NCE, NCMHCE, or CRC exam
  • Have a master’s degree or higher in from a CACREP or substantially equivalent accredited program. It must be at least 60 semester credits long and include a 100-hour practicum and 600-hour internship
  • Pay $230 application fee
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Complete 3,500 hours of supervised work experience. There must be 200 hours of supervision.

LPC and LGPC licenses issued in Washington DC expire on December 31 of even-numbered years. To renew counselors must submit an online application and pay a $145 renewal fee.

Counselors must complete 40 hours of continuing education per renewal cycle. Six hours must be in ethics and four hours must be in trauma counseling.

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.