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Counseling Program



Program Overview

Location: Asheville

App Deadline: Feb. 1

Full Time or Part Time

Time to Complete: 60 Hours

100% Pass Rate on Licensure Exams

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The Counseling Program offers two Master’s degrees in the following specialties: School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Both programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP). In addition, the M.A.Ed. Program in School Counseling is accredited by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

play therapy techniques in a counseling class


The Master of Arts in Education (M.A.Ed.) in School Counseling prepares students for employment as a counselor in school settings at elementary, middle, and high school levels and leads to a recommendation for K-12 School Counseling licensure (certification) by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

Beginning July 2025, the North Carolina Board of Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselors will require additional clinical mental health counseling courses for school counseling graduates to be eligible for licensure as a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor-Associate (LCMHC-A). These courses can be taken while a student in the program or post-graduation. For more information, please see the Board's website.

The Master of Science (M.S.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling prepares students to work with clients of all ages and in diverse settings such as mental health facilities, substance abuse centers, community and four-year college counseling centers, non-profit organizations, domestic violence shelters, private practice, and more. Upon completion of this degree, graduates are eligible to apply for licensure as a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor-Associate (LCMHC-A).

Full-time students in both specialty tracks may complete the required 60-hours in a minimum of 2 academic years including summers. Students who plan to complete the program in 2 academic years will need to be enrolled in a minimum of 12 hours per semester. Part-time students (those enrolled in 3 or 6 hours per semester) typically complete the program in 4 years. Part-time students are required to enroll in Summer school classes and are strongly encouraged to enroll in 6-credit hours per academic semester. Students must complete the program within 6 years of their admission term.

Counseling Program Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Statement

Important Information for Applicants

Counseling classes are held at the WCU Biltmore Park Instructional Site in Asheville. The majority of classes are taught in person, in 3-hour blocks, and in both day and evening sections.

Summer classes will be required for all students to complete the program; these classes are taught at the WCU Biltmore Park Instructional Site, Asheville.

A limit of 6-credit hours of graduate credit may be transferred into the program with faculty approval upon acceptance in the program. Previous coursework taken to complete an earlier master’s degree cannot be transferred.

Practicum experience requires a minimum of 8-10 hours weekly at a mental health or school site for one semester. Practicum placements are made for Fall and Spring semesters only. Practicum includes 1-hour of individual supervision per week on campus and 3-hours of group supervision which meets every other week on campus. Practicum is a 3-credit hour course. Students apply for practicum the semester prior to enrollment. Approval for admission into practicum and the practicum placement itself are made by the faculty. Professional liability insurance is required for all students enrolled in practicum.

The Internship experience requires 40 hours weekly (full-time placement, 6 credit-hour course) for one semester, or 20 hours weekly (part-time placement, 3 credit-hour course) for two semesters, at a mental health or school site. Internship placements are made for Fall and Spring semesters only. An hour of weekly individual supervision is provided by the site. Group supervision is conducted weekly on campus for 3 hours at night. Students apply for internship the semester prior to enrollment. Approval for admission into internship and the internship placement itself are made by the faculty. Typically, internship is an unpaid experience. Professional liability insurance is required for all students enrolled in internship.

Applications to the School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling specialties may be submitted at any time during the year. Admission decisions, however, are made one time per year.

Applicants may only apply to one specialty track: School Counseling -OR- Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Applications will be received until February 1, annually, with a priority deadline of December 1. Applications that are incomplete after February 1 will not be reviewed and applicants may re-apply for the next academic year.

Applicants may apply for Summer or Fall admission. Summer admission allows students to take 1 - 2 courses, as space allows; otherwise, and if Summer course enrollment is at full capacity, newly admitted students will begin courses in the Fall semester.

Applicants from diverse cultural backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Applicants who are recovering from addiction to alcohol or drugs are recommended to have 12-months’ sobriety before entering the counseling program, and 18-months’ sobriety prior to enrolling in field experiences.


Graduate Record Exam (GRE) minimum scores of 150 on Verbal/Quantitative and 4.0 on Analytical are required. WCU School Code: 5897. The GRE may be waived if an applicant meets one of the following:

    • A conferred bachelor's degree with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher 
    • A conferred master's degree
    • (School counseling specialty track only) Two years' employment in a K-12 educational setting 

If you meet one of the criteria above, you may submit a GRE waiver request within the application.

Applicants must also submit:

  • Transcript(s)
  • GRE test scores (if applicable)
  • The WCU graduate application form
  • Three recommendations for graduate study (we prefer that recommendations be academic or employment-related)
  • Responses to 3 essay paragraph prompts (250 word count each):
    1. What attracts you to the WCU Counseling program?
    2. What kind of impact do you want to have as a professional counselor?
    3. Cultural humility is a lifelong process of self-reflection and exploration combined with a willingness to learn from others. Describe a time you enacted cultural humility and what you learned from the experience.
  • A résumé that includes your educational and employment history as well as other pertinent professional information. Please see example résumé template.

You will submit application materials in the online application portal via the Graduate School.  

Your application will be incomplete without all of the above information. All application materials must be submitted by February 1; however, the priority deadline is December 1


Qualified applicants will be invited for an in-person, group interview in mid-to-late February/early March. Interviews are offered to those whose credentials qualify them for full or provisional admission to the program. Those who qualify for the interview will be contacted by the Director of the Graduate Counseling Program. The interviews will be hosted by current students and conducted by counseling faculty. Because of the interactive and interpersonal nature of the counseling process, the interview aspect of the person's application is considered to be extremely important when considering applicants for the counseling program. 

Invitation to the interview does not assure acceptance into the program. 

More details regarding the interview will be included with the invitation to the interview.

Admission decisions are made in early March through mid-April. On average, 30-35 candidates are admitted annually (approximate 17% admission rate).

Information Packet for Counseling Program Applicants

Financial aid is available in the form of graduate assistantships, Chancellor's Fellowships, Graduate School Study Grants, and student loans. Certificate-only students are not eligible for financial aid. For more information, please see the page for Funding Sources for Graduate Students and the Financial Aid Office.

Only full-time students are eligible for graduate assistantships. These assistantships are highly competitive, are for the academic year, and carry a stipend commensurate with the number of hours the student works. With very rare exceptions, assistantships offered through the program are available only in Cullowhee and include opportunities for working with faculty, assisting in the office, and/or teaching COUN 140. 

Teaching assistants are expected to teach one or two sections of COUN 140 per semester at WCU in Cullowhee. COUN 140 is a one semester-hour college transition course for undergraduates, titled Skills for College Life. Prospective, new, or continuing students should contact the Counseling program director for more information.

The Carole Hearn Curtis Scholarship is a Counseling program scholarship, endowed by family and friends of Carole Hearn Curtis, the late mother of current WCU Counseling faculty member, Dr. Russ Curtis. This scholarship is awarded each spring semester to a student enrolled in internship. The first Carole Hearn Curtis Scholarship was awarded in 2011.

The Mary Deck/Break by the Lake Scholarship is a Counseling program scholarship endowed through the program’s Break by the Lake conference and in honor of retired WCU Counseling faculty Dr. Mary Deck. It is awarded each fall semester to a student enrolled in field experience. The first Mary Deck/Break by the Lake Scholarship was awarded in Fall 2011.  Deadline for applications is February 1st.

The Mary Wayte Scholarship is a college-wide scholarship available for international students and preference is given to those applicants from the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The Dan Saddler Scholarship was endowed by family, former students, and friends in memory of Dan Saddler, a faculty member in the counseling programs from 1973 until his death in 1988. This scholarship was awarded for the first time in 1999-2000. The annual deadline for applying for this scholarship is December 1. It is awarded to a student who has completed at least 18 hours in the program and has been actively involved in the counseling program and in community activities. Preference is given to part-time students. Applications include a letter of interest and two letters of reference from persons outside the counseling program. For more information on the Dan Saddler Scholarship, contact the program director or your advisor.  

Applicants interested in taking courses as non-degree seeking students in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling track, must possess a master’s degree in Counseling (or related field) and be in the process of applying to the NC Board of Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselors for licensure. 

Interested applicants must first seek approval from the Counseling program director and provide a copy of their letter from the NCBLPC indicating which courses are needed for their licensure application, before applying to the WCU Graduate School. For more information, contact Dr. Melodie Frick at

The Western Carolina University Counseling Program welcomes applicants for the School Counseling Licensure-Only pathway for licensure eligibility in North Carolina. Applicants must possess or be in the process of attaining a 60-credit hour Master’s level degree from a regionally accredited university with CACREP accreditation in an approved counseling area (i.e., Clinical Mental Health, Marriage and Family Therapy, College Student Development). The Licensure-Only Pathway is comprised of 12 hours of graduate study including an internship.  *Additional coursework may be required if, upon review of the applicant’s transcripts, a gap exists in the WCU’s Counseling Program degree requirements and/or a gap exists in the knowledge base needed for the ethical care of children in schools (i.e., missing CACREP Core coursework). Less than 12 additional hours may be needed in the case that a required course(s) for the Licensure Only Pathway has already been completed during the applicant’s Master’s degree program.

WCU courses are offered in the evenings, online, and during the summer to accommodate those already employed in full-time positions. The following courses must be successfully completed for the pathway to licensure.

Coursework: (12 hours)

COUN 660 School Counseling Program Development (3 credits, face to face)
COUN 620 Counseling Children and Adolescents (3 credits, face to face)
COUN 645 Consultation in Schools (3 credits, online)
COUN 687 Internship in School Counseling (3 credits, face to face)

Your first step is to apply as a non-degree seeking graduate residential student at The program is Professional School Counseling Licensure-Only. You must be admitted to the University before you can register for coursework. The cost per credit hour can be found at

Application Deadline: November 1 for Spring start; April 1 for Fall start

Upon registration as a non-degree seeking graduate student, applicants must complete or provide:

1) Graduate School application
2) Checklist for meeting master’s degree and course requirements
3) Three statements of recommendation
4) A two-question essay
5) An official copy of transcripts.

*Additional information (course syllabi) may be requested to verify content delivered toward the master’s degree.

These documents will be reviewed by Counseling Program faculty for assessing the coursework needed for recommendation to licensure.

Note: Completion of a criminal background check will be required prior to start of internship.

Questions? Contact Dr. Lisen Roberts at

Left to Right: Drs. Nancy Valverde, Loidaly Gonzalez-Rosario, Russ Curtis, Joanna Collins, Melodie Frick, Lisen Roberts, & Melissa Mecadon-Mann



Counseling Faculty

Melodie Frick


Counseling Program Director

Russ Curtis


CMHC Field Placement Coordinator

Melissa Mecadon-Mann

Assistant Professor

Counseling Program

Lisen Roberts

Associate Professor

School Counseling Field Placement Coordinator

Nancy Valverde

Assistant Professor

Counseling Program

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