Counselor Education

The Counselor Education Department offers the master of arts degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling. The Counselor Education Department also offers a Sixth Year Certificate (SYC) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling.

The Clinical Mental Health concentration prepares candidates to work in a variety of human service settings, including community and mental health counseling centers, career centers, substance abuse centers, crisis counseling centers, and other community agencies offering counseling services. The School Counseling concentration prepares candidates to work as counselors in elementary, middle, and secondary schools. Candidates are endorsed for certification and/or job placement only in their area of concentration.

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredits the MA programs in School and Clinical Mental Health Counseling. In January 2017, after being reviewed on all 241 of the 2009 Standards, CACREP accredited the School and Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs for eight years, through March 31, 2025. As Dr. Carol Bobby, President and CEO of CACREP, observed, "Programs receiving accreditation for an eight-year period deserve to be commended for the work completed throughout the accreditation process. This is indeed a worthy achievement."

CACREP accredited the Fairfield counseling programs in 1986, the first programs in Connecticut to receive this accreditation. CACREP accreditation affirms:

  • to the public that our programs conform to general expectations for the counseling field
  • to our students that our educational activities are satisfactory and that they meet the needs of those wishing to enter the counseling profession
  • to Fairfield University that our department is committed to self-evaluation and program improvement

Professional Preparation

In addition to preparing our graduates for certification and licensure, our programs provide opportunities that can serve to further our students' professional development or increase their readiness for post-masters studies. Many of these opportunities occur in the Counselor Education Lab and Training Center, a state-of-the art campus facility, is home to our 3-tier practicum supervision model; a model often seen only in doctoral training programs. In addition to the standard coursework, our students have many opportunities to gain additional preparation in supervision, research, group work, substance abuse counseling, and spirituality in counseling.

As students increase and refine their clinical skills they are encouraged to participate as coaches in several core courses; participate as process observers for the group, career, and theories courses; and engage in research, writing, and professional presentations with faculty. Combined with ongoing supervision, these various opportunities solidify a set of teaching, research, and supervision skills, that when added to the high level of clinical training, create a bridge for entry into the professional field or post-masters studies.

Counselor Education Department Position on Dispositions

The Counselor Education programs in School and Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) at Fairfield University align with the humanistic narrative; a narrative that recognizes the major role that the counselor-client relationship plays in promoting therapeutic change. As such, the program faculty emphasize interpersonal learning as a core competency, along with academic and clinical skill competencies.

Central to the mission of the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions (GSEAP) are the personal and professional qualities and characteristics of students who aspire to be practicing school and clinical mental health counselors. Therefore, the Counselor Education Department reviews students’ professional dispositions during the application process, in all courses, and in practicum and internship experiences. Faculty factor students’ professional dispositions into the awarding of final grades, as noted in all syllabi.

As gatekeepers for the counseling profession, the Counselor Education faculty have adapted items from the Evaluation of Counselor Behavior Checklist to assess counseling students’ proficiencies in:

  • recognizing defensive behavior
  • accepting and applying feedback from instructors and supervisors
  • exhibiting a balance between self-assurance and awareness of the need for supervision
  • recognizing personal feelings while handling them appropriately
  • demonstrating awareness about how one’s behavior impacts others
  • communicating responsibility for self
  • behaving in an ethical manner

In view of the responsibilities and role of the counselor in school and clinical settings, candidates whose work is of marginal quality in pertinent courses or who demonstrate personal qualities that are not conducive to the role of counselor may be removed from the program. Candidates are expected to abide by the policies and procedures described in the student handbook and to behave in accordance with the American Counseling Association code of ethics. In addition, the disposition statement is applicable to these programs as it is to all programs in the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions.

Admission to the Department

Application deadlines are listed online.

The formal admission application process consists of 3 steps.

  1. Applicants complete an online application which includes required additional questions. Once the application has received a positive faculty review the applicant proceeds to the next step.
  2. Applicants are invited to Admissions Day where they interact in small and large groups and participate in individual interviews with faculty members and current students. Application decisions are made at the end of Admissions Day.
  3. The final step in the application process is attendance at a New Student Orientation where newly admitted students meet their advisors and receive important information about the program's policies and procedures.

Testing Requirements for Programs Leading to Initial Certification (School Counseling): Candidates must take PRAXIS CORE, SAT, ACT or the GRE. Candidates who do not have passing scores on one or more sections of the test may be required to remediate any deficient area. Remediation may include re-taking and passing the sections that were not passed, taking additional coursework, or other remediation activities. If additional courses are required, the candidate must complete the coursework at a grade of B (3.0) or above and provide an official transcript to the Dean's office prior to internship. Please see advisor for additional details and recommendations.

Prior to admission review, qualified school counseling candidates may take a maximum of six credits; qualified clinical mental health counseling candidates may take a maximum of nine credits.

School Counselor Certification

Candidates who have no prior teaching experience but wish to be certified in Connecticut as school counselors may do so by completing 700 clock hours of supervised internship over 10 months in a public, private, or charter school setting prior to completion of the MA.

Advanced Training Certificates

Students are required to have earned a prior master’s or higher degree in a relevant field.

Preparation for Connecticut State Licensure and National Counselor Certification

Candidates who graduate from the clinical mental health master's degree program will have completed the requirements to sit for the National Counselor Exam and the 60 credit hours required to become a licensed professional counselor within the State of Connecticut. School counseling candidates graduate with 48 credits. If they want to seek licensure, they must complete additional courses specified in the Connecticut licensure law that include: Introduction to Substance Abuse, Introduction to Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Trauma and Crisis Intervention, and an internship in a clinical mental health setting. They must have 60 credits in counseling related coursework and also must sit for the National Counselor Exam.

Candidates graduating with a SYC are not covered under these guidelines and need to obtain national certification and state licensure on an individual basis according to guidelines outlined by the National Board of Certified Counselors and Connecticut Department of Public Health.