Counseling Degrees & Licenses in Wisconsin

Pursuing a counseling career in the state of Wisconsin can be a rewarding professional choice. The state of Wisconsin features a number of accredited masters level counseling degree programs including several offered through schools within the University of Wisconsin system.

According to Mental Health America, Wisconsin currently ranks well in terms of outcomes for both adults and youth. In comparison to other states, Wisconsin also rates well in terms of the prevalence of mental illness as well as care access. Despite these positive metrics, Wisconsin’s mental health system does feature some significant issues. For example, a Wisconsin behavioral health system gaps report issued in 2019 noted significant gaps in issues such as integrated mental health services, medication management, and crisis intervention and stabilization services. 

Wisconsin will continue to need newly trained mental health care professionals not just to accommodate for workforce attrition but also to address pressing issues such as the lasting mental health impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on both youth and adults, as well as the state-level implications of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling overturning a woman’s right to an abortion. 

Read on to discover how to join various counseling careers in Wisconsin, including detailed information about academic programs and licensing.

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Accredited Counseling Degree Programs in Wisconsin

Marquette University

Marquette University offers two master’s degree programs in counseling. These are the master of science in clinical mental health counseling and the master of arts in school counseling. Both programs feature courses, clinical practica, and other training experiences designed to create exceptional counselors who will ultimately work in a variety of capacities including leadership and advocacy. In addition, significant emphasis is placed on social and racial justice. Students will develop the skills needed to recognize and deconstruct exclusionary systems.

The master of science in clinical mental health counseling is a 60-credit program designed to be completed in 21 months. The program offers three specializations, namely clinical rehabilitation counseling, addiction counseling, and child and adolescent counseling. These specializations are optional; students also may choose to become generalists. In addition to a traditional classroom setting, students also select a clinical placement aligned with their particular area of interest.

The master of arts in school counseling is a 48-credit program available to both full and part-time students. Program instruction utilizes the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) national model of school counseling. In addition to traditional classroom instruction and an internship, the program emphasizes leadership development and the use of data-driven practices.

  • Location: Milwaukee, WI
  • Duration: Two years, full-time; three years, part-time
  • Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $930 per credit 

Mount Mary University

Mount Mary University offers a master of science degree in counseling that features three concentrations: clinical mental health counseling, clinical rehabilitation counseling, and school counseling.

The clinical mental health concentration is a 60-credit program that features a sequence of core, concentration, and elective courses as well as a 700-hour clinical mental health practicum. Graduation from this program necessitates the completion of these requirements and the preparation of a counselor portfolio, a self-assessment, and an exam. To become a licensed professional counselor (LPC) graduates must subsequently complete 3,000 post-master’s supervised clinical counseling hours and then pass the National Counselor Exam (NCE).

The 60-credit clinical rehabilitation counseling concentration trains counselors to effectively work with people with disabilities. This particular specialization features coursework in trauma and addiction counseling. Program requirements are similar to the clinical mental health counseling specialization. This program, however, allows students the option to select an exam or a thesis as the fulfillment of one of the program criteria. 

To become a certified rehabilitation counselor (CRC), graduates complete the aforementioned requirements and 12 months of suitable employment under the supervision of a CRC and also pass the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination (CRCE).

The 54-credit school counseling concentration provides successful graduates the skills to work with a variety of personnel in K-12 school settings to assist students with their social, educational, training, and employment needs. Graduates hold the training necessary to satisfy the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction requirements to become licensed as an early childhood/adolescence school counselor. 

In addition to completion of a 100-hour practicum and 600-hour onsite internship experience, students also must pass the Praxis 2 Professional School Counselor Exam. Those seeking to also be eligible to become licensed professional counselors (LPCs) in Wisconsin must complete an additional 21 credits. Such additional training fulfills the requirements of the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.

  • Location: Milwaukee, WI
  • Duration: Two to three 
  • Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $845 per credit 

University of Wisconsin – Madison

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Counseling Psychology offers a 60 credit master of science in counseling degree. The program features coursework, practica, and a professional integration experience (PIE). The PIE is a capstone experience in which students demonstrate their skills through an oral case conceptualization. Students embarking upon study with course deficiencies may ultimately need to complete more than 60 credits. Program requirements meet the criteria for licensure in Wisconsin and Minnesota as well as several states outside the Midwest.

  • Location: Madison, WI
  • Duration: Two to three years 
  • Accreditation: Departmental accreditation provided by the American Psychological Association
  • Tuition: $790.41 per credit for residents; $1,235.19 for Minnesota residents;  $1,623.34 for all other non-resident students

University of Wisconsin – Stout

The University of Wisconsin-Stout offers four different counseling degree programs: a master of science in school counseling, a master of science in marriage and family therapy, a master of science in clinical mental health counseling, and a master of science in rehabilitation counseling.

Ranked as one of the top programs in the nation, the 56-credit master of science in school counseling degree program is a Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction approved program and offers day, evening, online, and summer coursework options. The coursework consists of foundation, research, school counseling, clinical, and selective courses. Students also must complete a 600-hour extended field placement. 

Students may complete coursework on a full or part-time basis and may seek admission twice a year. The program is designed to meet licensure requirements specific to Wisconsin and is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

The 56-credit hour master of science in marriage and family therapy is designed to fulfill licensure requirements in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Unique features of this program include its use of a cohort model and an on-campus clinic where students complete clinical practice hours. This program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy (COAMFTE).

The master of science in clinical mental health counseling is a 60-credit program designed to meet licensure requirements in Wisconsin and Minnesota. It also fulfills Wisconsin requirements to become a licensed professional counselor (LPC). Successful graduation also requires a passing grade on a comprehensive exam offered near the end of the program. Students may specialize in a number of concentrations including alcohol and drug abuse, crisis, and trauma, child and adolescent issues, eating disorders, and gerontological concerns. 

The 60-credit rehabilitation counseling program offers students two study pathways. These are combined and online cohort options. Graduates must also choose between successfully passing a comprehensive exam or completing a thesis. This program meets the requirements for licensure in Wisconsin. 

  • Location: Menomonie, WI
  • Duration: Two to three years 
  • Accreditation: See references within individual program listings above
  • Tuition: $405.47 per credit hour for residents; $876.35 per credit for non-residents

University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh

The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh College of Education and Professional Services offers a 60 credit hour master degree program in one of three emphases. These emphases are clinical mental health counseling, school counseling, and student affairs and college counseling.

The clinical mental health counseling emphasis provides the training to become a licensed professional counselor within Wisconsin. Eligibility for licensure requires satisfactory completion of coursework as well as 3,000 hours of post-degree supervised professional counseling practice in which at least 1,000 hours are face-to-face client engagement. Primary curriculum subject matter areas include family systems, addiction, neuroscience, diagnosis and treatment, and trauma. 

The school counseling emphasis incorporates a student-centered, experiential learning methodology to educate its students. The curriculum aligns with the American School Counseling Association National Model. Training emphasizes both traditional in-class course content as well as service learning. Such a combination empowers students to develop their knowledge and skills, refine their professional values and gain confidence in their capacity to serve as school counselors.

The student affairs and college counseling emphasis is designed in accordance with core values of the American College Personnel Association (ACPA). The curriculum features a combination of counseling theory, skill, clinical practice, and research. Students complete three semesters of clinical and experiential practice. Clinical training consists of a 100-hour practicum and two 300-hour internships. Students have the freedom to customize their internship experience to align with a specialization that interests them. Graduates go on to serve in a variety of settings including admissions, career and advising services, financial aid, residence life, and student activities and affairs.

  • Location: Oshkosh, WI
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $3,102 for Wisconsin residents; $4,153 for Minnesota residents; $6,266 for all other non-residents (six credits)

University of Wisconsin – Whitewater

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Counselor Education Program offers a 60 credit hour master of science degree in counseling. Two emphases are available, namely a clinical mental health counseling emphasis and a school counseling emphasis. The program is designed to be completed by full-time students over a period of eight academic terms within three years. Successful graduates hold the competencies valued by various regulatory agencies such as the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

The clinical mental health counseling emphasis provides the training necessary to become a licensed professional counselor (LPC) within Wisconsin as well as the National Board of Counselor certification. Students complete elective courses to further specialize in a number of major counseling topics including substance abuse, career and higher education, marriage and family issues, and trauma.

The school counseling emphasis trains students to become school counselors. Graduates must complete coursework as well as the Praxis II exam to become eligible for a K-12 school counseling license within Wisconsin. Coursework requirements include completion of a year-long internship in a school setting.

  • Location: Whitewater, WI
  • Duration: Three to four years
  • Accreditation: Accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $495.95 per credit for residents; $1,023.64 for non-residents

Viterbo University

Viterbo University offers two counseling programs. These are the master of science in clinical mental health counseling (MSMHC) degree and the master of science in school counseling (MSSC). 

The MSMHC program is a 60-credit program featuring three specialty areas, namely substance abuse counseling, integrative health and wellness counseling, and child and adolescent counseling. Students may choose a full- or part-time option. Designed with the flexibility often needed by working adults this program can typically be completed in two to three years. Specific curricular emphases include psych-diagnostics, psychopharmacology, family and wellness counseling, and evidence-based clinical practice. The program is designed to meet state licensure requirements for mental health counseling in the states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.

The MSSC program is a 60-credit program. Students already holding a teaching license may waive two courses from the standard curriculum and select six credit hours of elective coursework that align with their educational focus. In addition, up to 15 credits from another CACREP accredited program may be transferred towards the program requirements. The program also requires the completion of a research project focused on a topic of specific relevance to the realm of school counseling. This project requires students to design a research proposal, craft a methodology to guide data collection and analysis, and then present their project findings to the public.

  • Location: La Crosse, WI
  • Duration: Two to three years
  • Accreditation: Accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $600 per credit

How Much Do Counselors Earn in Wisconsin?

These numbers represent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from May 2021. In cases where no BLS data were available, Ziprecruiter and Salary.com were referenced to find current information.

Clinical and Counseling Psychologist Salaries

United StatesWisconsin
Number employed58,1001,800
Average annual salary (mean)$99,640$86,750
10th percentile$47,010$48,640
50th percentile (median)$82,510$78,810
90th percentile$167,460$129,380

Marriage and Family Therapist Salaries

United StatesWisconsin
Number employed54,800200
Average annual salary (mean)$59,660$60,190
10th percentile$37,050$44,090
50th percentile (median)$49,880$62,430
90th percentile$96,520$76,090

Rehabilitation Counselor Salaries

United StatesWisconsin
Number employed90,3102,110
Average annual salary (mean)$44,740$38,590
10th percentile$28,890$23,420
50th percentile (median)$38,560$37,060
90th percentile$65,880$56,080

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor Salaries

United StatesWisconsin
Number employed310,8805,570
Average annual salary (mean)$53,490$52,010
10th percentile$30,870$32,770
50th percentile (median)$48,520$48,100
90th percentile$77,980$76,650

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselor and Advisor Salaries

United StatesWisconsin
Number employed57,1103,970
Average annual salary (mean)$82,770$56,770
10th percentile$49,260$38,520
50th percentile (median)$78,780$49,980
90th percentile$124,950$77,680

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

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling, and Social Work Examining Board

Mental health counselors in Wisconsin are licensed as either Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) or Licensed Professional Counselor Trainees (LPC Trainee).

To be an LPC Trainee, candidates must:

  • Have an offer or already hold a position as a professional counselor with supervision
  • Complete and submit the professional counselor application and related documents
  • Pay the $77 fee
  • Complete a master’s or doctorate in counseling from an accredited institution of at least 60 semester hours (or 90 quarter hours). The program must include a 100-hour internship and a 600 hour practicum. Programs must meet coursework requirements.

To be an LPC, candidates must meet trainee requirements as well as:

  • Submit a completed application and forms
  • Pay the $77 application fee
  • Pass the NCE, NCMHCE, or CRC exam
  • Complete 3,000 hours of post-graduate supervised work experience. Of those, 1,000 hours must be face-to-face contact. If the candidate has earned a doctorate, only 1,000 hours are required. There must be one hour of supervision per week.

Both LPC and trainee licenses must be renewed biennially in Wisconsin. Renewals are due by February 28th of odd-numbered years and cost $62.

Thirty continuing education credit hours are required for every renewal cycle. Four of the 30 hours must be in ethics.

School Counseling Licenses in Wisconsin

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction issues a Initial Educator license in a pupil services category for school counselors.

The requirements for this initial license are:

  • Complete a master’s degree in school counseling from one of 12 programs in the state of Wisconsin
  • Have an institutional endorsement from the program where the master’s was completed
  • Pass the Praxis Professional School Counselor exam
  • Pass a background check
  • Submit a complete online application
  • Pay $125 application fee

To advance to a Professional Educator license, school counselors must:

  • Create a Professional Development Plan (PDP) that demonstrates actively working towards proficiency as a school counselor
  • Receive mentorship for a school counselor with a professional license

The initial license issued in Wisconsin is valid for five years, and is non-renewable. During those five years, school counselors must advance to a Professional Educator license.

Professional Educator licenses are valid for five years. To renew, school counselors must:

  • Submit an online renewal application
  • Pay $125 renewal fee
  • Complete a Professional Development Plan (PDP) that demonstrates actively working towards proficiency as a school counselor

Substance Abuse Counseling Licenses in Wisconsin

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Wisconsin Department of Safety and Public Services (DSPS)

The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Public Services (DSPS) licenses Substance Abuse Counselors in Training (SACIT), Substance Abuse Counselors (SAC), and Clinical Substance Abuse Counselors (CSAC).

SACIT license candidates must:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Pass the Wisconsin Statutes and Rules exam
  • Complete 100 hours of education in specific content areas
  • Provide proof of employment or volunteer work agreement in substance abuse treatment
  • Pay a $60 application fee and a $75 exam fee

SAC license candidates must:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Pass the Wisconsin Statutes and Rules and NCAC Level I exams
  • Complete 360 hours of education in specific content areas
  • Complete 3,000 hours of work experience in the five years preceding the application (1,000 hour must be in counseling, with 500 of those being individual counseling; 200 of the counseling hours must be completed in the 12 months preceding the application, of which 100 hours must be individual counseling)
  • Pay a $60 application fee and a $75 exam fee

CSAC licence candidates must:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Pass the Wisconsin Statutes and Rules and NCAC Level I exams
  • Complete 360 hours of education in specific content areas or a substance abuse counselors credential
  • Have an associate degree or higher
  • Complete 5,000 hours of work experience in the five years preceding the application (hours earned for a SAC license may be used to satisfy this requirement)
  • Pay a $60 application fee and a $75 exam fee

DSPS requires substance abuse counselors to renew their licenses every two year as they expire on February 28th of odd-numbered years. Renewals cost $60.

Counselors must complete 40 hours of continuing education, of which four must be in ethics.

Rehabilitation Counseling Licenses in Wisconsin

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling, and Social Work Examining Board

Rehabilitation counselors in Wisconsin are licensed as either Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) or Licensed Professional Counselor Trainees (LPC Trainee).

To be an LPC Trainee, candidates must:
  • Have an offer or already hold a position as a professional counselor with supervision
  • Complete and submit the professional counselor application and related documents
  • Pay the $77 fee
  • Complete a master’s or doctorate in counseling from an accredited institution of at least 60 semester-hours (or 90 quarter-hours). The program must include a 100-hour internship and a 600-hour practicum. Programs must meet coursework requirements.

To be an LPC, candidates must meet trainee requirements as well as:

  • Submit a completed application and forms
  • Pay the $77 application fee
  • Pass the NCE, NCMHCE, or CRC exam
  • Complete 3,000 hours of post-graduate supervised work experience. Of those, 1,000 hours must be face-to-face contact. If the candidate has earned a doctorate, only 1,000 hours are required. There must be one hour of supervision per week.

Both LPC and trainee licenses must be renewed biennially in Wisconsin. Renewals are due by February 28th of odd-numbered years and cost $60.

Thirty continuing education credit hours are required for every renewal cycle. Four of the 30 hours must be in ethics.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Licenses in Wisconsin

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services

The State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services licenses behavior analysts. Requirements for this license are:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Have a BCBA certification
  • Pay $59 application fee

BBehavior analyst licenses in Wisconsin expire on December 14th of even-numbered years. The cost to renew a license is $59.

Proof of current BCBA certification is required to renew a behavior analyst license.

Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses in Wisconsin

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling, and Social Work Examining Board

The Wisconsin Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling, and Social Work Examining Board credentials Marriage and Family Therapists and Marriage and Family Therapist Trainees.

To be an MFT Trainee, candidates must:

  • Have an offer or already hold a position as a professional counselor with supervision and complete an Employer Affidavit
  • Complete and submit the professional counselor application and related documents
  • Pay the $62 fee
  • Complete a master’s or doctorate in marriage and family therapy from a COAMFTE or regionally accredited program, including a 300-hour (eight-month) internship
  • Pass the AMFTRB exam

To be a full MFT, candidates must meet trainee requirements, as well as:

  • Submit a completed application and forms
  • Pay the $77 application fee
  • Complete 3,000 hours of post-graduate supervised work experience (1,000 hours must be face-to-face contact, and if the candidate has earned a doctorate, only 1,000 hours are required)

Both full MFT and trainee licenses must be renewed biennially in Wisconsin. Renewals are due by February 28th of odd-numbered years and cost $62.

Thirty continuing education credit hours are required for every renewal cycle. Four of the 30 hours must be in ethics.

Child (Pediatric) Behavioral Therapy Licenses in Wisconsin

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling, and Social Work Examining Board

Child therapists in Wisconsin are licensed as either Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) or Licensed Professional Counselor Trainees (LPC Trainee). To be an LPC Trainee, candidates must:

  • Have an offer or already hold a position as a professional counselor with supervision
  • Complete and submit the professional counselor application and related documents
  • Pay the $77 fee
  • Complete a master’s or doctorate in counseling from an accredited institution of at least 60 semester-hours (or 90 quarter-hours). The program must include a 100-hour internship and a 600-hour practicum. Programs must meet coursework requirements.

To be an LPC, candidates must meet trainee requirements as well as:

  • Submit a completed application and forms
  • Pay the $77 application fee
  • Pass the NCE, NCMHCE, or CRC exam and Wisconsin Statutes and Rules Examination
  • Complete 3,000 hours of post-graduate supervised work experience. Of those, 1,000 hours must be face-to-face contact. If the candidate has earned a doctorate, only 1,000 hours are required. There must be one hour of supervision per week.

Both LPC and trainee licenses must be renewed biennially in Wisconsin. Renewals are due by February 28th of odd-numbered years and cost $62.

Thirty continuing education credit hours are required for every renewal cycle. Four of the 30 hours must be in ethics.

Bernd Geels

Bernd Geels

Writer

Bernd Geels is a Berlin, Germany-based freelance writer and artist. He holds an undergraduate degree in atmospheric science and two graduate degrees. He completed his most recent graduate degree in international environmental studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in 2011. He is interested in healthcare, climate change, marine conservation, indigenous science and refugee issues. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

Counseling Schools & Licensure in Nearby States