Empower Others

Register For Open House ButtonCounselors have the power to lead social change by improving the mental health of individuals, couples, families, and groups at every stage of life. Through real-world experience, Governors State’s Master of Arts in Counseling equips you to diagnose, consult, and evaluate clients; provide preventive intervention; and bring about life-changing results through counseling. To read more about our program, here is a link to the MA Counseling Handbook (2024).

In the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredited MA in Counseling program, you will choose from one of three sequences to concentrate your studies in your primary field of interest: Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC); Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling (MCFC); or School Counseling (SC). Our curriculum for each of these specialty areas is structured around CACREP’s standards for master’s (entry-level) programs. Many of our students will gain practical experience through our on-campus counseling lab that serves the surrounding community. In addition to completing a minimum 100-hour of a practicum experience in our on-site Counseling Lab or in school systems for school counseling students, every student will also complete a minimum 600-hour internship.

Reach Your Career Goals

As a graduate student your program sequence will guide you towards your professional goals. Counselors work in a variety of settings, including mental health clinics and hospitals, corporations, governmental social agencies, public and private schools, community colleges, community intervention programs, and correctional institutions. As a mental health counselor, you can aim to provide therapeutic support to individuals, helping them manage and overcome emotional and psychological challenges. Additionally, you can work towards specializing in areas such as substance abuse counseling, family therapy, or school counseling, each offering unique opportunities to make a significant impact in people's lives.

Why get a Master of Arts in Counseling?

Counselors make a difference through every stage of life and at all levels of society. Receive real-world preparation with our Counseling M.A. Your impact on the community starts here. Data collected from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2023 reflected the national median salary for licensed mental health counselors to be $53,710. They also reported that employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is projected to grow 18 percent from 2022 to 2032. Salary.com reports that the average Licensed Mental Health Counselor salary in Chicago, IL is $77,648 as of April 24, 2024, but the salary range typically falls between $70,075 and $86,324. That's higher than the national average!


The mission of the Master of Arts in Counseling program at Governors State University is to prepare culturally competent, socially just, ethical professional counselors who possess knowledge and skills to practice and advocate effectively in clinical mental health, marriage, couple, and family, or school counseling settings.


The counseling program maintains an etic and emic perspective committed to serving the diverse local and global populations between community agencies and other service providers, and schools.

Goal and Objectives

The Goal of the Counseling Program is to prepare professional counselors with personal and professional integrity. This endeavor includes, at a minimum, institutional and departmental support, a programmatic structure meeting credentialing requirements, qualified faculty, and dedicated students. In order to help prepare students to enter the field of counseling, they will be provided with curricular, experiential, supervisory, and professional experiences related to general counseling practices and specialized counseling services.

These preparations include coursework, practicum, internship, supervision, and opportunities for professional experiences. Students are encouraged to work with faculty on presentations and in research. Faculty and students are expected to participate in local, state, and national professional activities and associations such as the American Counseling Association (ACA), its divisions and branches, the American School Counseling Association (ASCA), the Illinois Counseling Association, and the Chi Sigma Iota (CSI) honor society for qualifying students.

The Master of Arts in Counseling program strives to meet the following objectives for the program and graduates, including our three specialty sequence/tracks (Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling, and School Counseling):

Common-Core Learning Objectives for all Specialty Tracks:

  • • Professional Orientation and Ethical Practice

    • o Explain professional functioning and identity, including collaborating with other helping professionals in an ethical and socially just manner.

  • • Social and Cultural Diversity

    • o Demonstrate multicultural competence working with individuals from diverse backgrounds

  • • Human Growth and Development

    • o Assess client’s growth and development across the lifespan related to individual and family experiences along with cultural influences.

  • • Career Development

    • o Explain current theories of career development and how they can be applied in counseling practice.

  • • Counseling and Helping Relationships

    • o Employ theoretically grounded counseling interventions to establish theory-based client outcomes.

  • • Group Counseling and Group Work

    • o Facilitate group dynamics and application of group theory in group counseling practice.

  • • Assessment and Testing

    • o Employ ethical and culturally responsive assessment practices, strategies, and interventions in counseling practice with diverse clients.

  • • Research and Program Evaluation

    • o Integrate ethical, culturally competent, and socially just practices into counseling research processes.

Specialty Sequences/Tracks Learning Objectives:

  • • CMHC Specialty

    • o Apply ethical and socially just counseling theories and interventions to clients presenting problems and diagnoses.

  • • MCFC Specialty

    • o Apply systems theories in an ethical and socially just manner to couples, marriages, and families from a diversity of cultural backgrounds.

  • • SC Specialty

    • o Create, implement, and evaluate data-driven school counseling programs designed to meet the academic, career, and social/emotional development of all students.

Delivery Format

Achieve your Master of Arts in Counseling in as little as three years. Governors State’s 60-credit hour MA in Counseling program is predominately delivered with courses taught on campus, while some classes are offered in a hybrid format.

Graduate Assistantships Opportunities

Limited Graduate Assistantships are available within the Counseling Department. These constitute a waiver of up to six credits per semester plus a semester stipend evaluated on a semester-by-semester basis. For more information on Counseling Department Graduate Assistantships, contact the PhD in CES program coordinator: Kent B. Provost, Ph.D. (kprovost@govst.edu) or Leonis S. Wright, Ph.D. (lwright11@govst.edu). For general information on Graduate Assistantships, or to explore current Graduate Assistantship openings for all departments at Governors State University, please visit the Student Employment Resources webpage and the Jobs for Jaguars database system.


  • Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC)
    • In this sequence, students examine clinical mental health and community counseling issues, lifestyle and career development, workplace and vocational counseling, group dynamics, as well as counseling program management.
    • For specific required courses, course descriptions, and specialty sequence contact information, click here.
  • Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling (MCFC)
    • This program studies all facets of marriage and family counseling, including children, adolescents, couples, and family counseling. Additional attention is paid to group dynamics, intervention, prevention, and sexual issues.
    • For specific required courses, course descriptions, and specialty sequence contact information, click here.
  • School Counseling (PK-Age 22SC)
    • The mission of the school counseling program at Governors State University is to prepare students for PK-Age 22SC settings so they can assist students in maximizing their educational, vocational, social, and personal growth.
    • - Professional Educator Licensure (PEL) - School Counselor: PEL School Support

      - School Counselor test Info Center (235 Exam): 235 Exam Information;

    • For specific required courses, course descriptions, and specialty sequence contact information, click here.

For a list of courses, general FAQs, and track leader contact information for each specialization sequence, please click on the below links:


The M.A. in Counseling program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) through March 31, 2031. Please visit CACREP’s website for more details.


Program Contacts

Leonis S. Wright

Leonis S. Wright, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Division of Psychology & Counseling
MA in Counseling Program Coordinator
Office: G326

For Admissions and Academic Advising Information:
Naomi Fenton

Naomi Fenton
Academic Advisor
Office: G323


Ruth Shannon, MA School Counseling Alum

Ruth Shannon

"The GovState counseling program taught me the why and how of who I am, while simultaneously teaching me skills to eliminate self-doubt and fear to develop the courage to conquer my dreams. As a wife and mother of 10, the professors' holistic approach to the development of future counselors is unmatched. I am graduating with the effective skills and confidence to be a change agent for ALL students. I am forever grateful!"

Nicolette Karl, MA School Counseling Alum

Nicolette Karl

"At Governors State, you have the ability to connect and build relationships with professors who care about your development. Not only do they enrich their classes with experiential activities, but they are pillars of strength and fortitude you can lean on for support during your most difficult times. Each class provided me with the confounding realization that the field of counseling is expansive and rich with content. In working through each class, I was encouraged to self-reflect and become a better counselor. As a byproduct, I also became a better person."