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College of Education and Allied Professions

Counseling Program


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. Students may also be eligible to apply for licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate (LPC-A).

The Master of Science (M.S.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling prepares students to work in diverse settings such as mental health facilities, substance abuse centers, community and four-year college counseling centers, non-profit organizations, domestic violence shelters, and more, as well as private practice under supervision, moving toward state licensure.

Full-time students in both programs complete the required 60 hours in a minimum of two academic years including summers. Students who plan to complete the program in two academic years will need to be enrolled in 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 hours per academic semester.

Important Information for Applicants

Classes & Scheduling

The majority of counseling classes during the academic year are taught in three-hour blocks in the evening from 5:30 to 8:20 p.m. at the WCU Biltmore Park Instructional Site, Asheville. Day classes are available as space allows.

Summer School

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

Transfer of Credit

A limit of six (6) hours of graduate credit can be transferred into the program with the approval of the student’s advisor. Previous coursework taken to complete an earlier master’s degree cannot be transferred.

Practicum Experience

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 one hour of individual supervision per week on campus and three hours of group supervision which meets every other week on campus. Practicum is a 3-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. Practicum placement contacts are initiated by the field placement coordinator. Professional liability insurance is required for all students enrolled in practicum.

Internship Experience

The Internship experience requires 40 hours weekly (full-time placement) at a mental health or school site for one semester. 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 three hours at night. Internship is a 6-hour course. Students apply for internship the semester prior to enrollment. Approval for admission into internship and the internship placement itself are made by the faculty. Internship placement contacts are initiated by the field placement coordinator. Typically, internship is an unpaid experience. Professional liability insurance is required for all students enrolled in internship.

Information Packet for Counseling Program Applicants

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. The application deadline is February 1 annually. Applications that are incomplete after February 1 will be considered the following year. Minority applications are encouraged.

To be eligible for consideration for admission to the M.A.Ed. in School Counseling or the M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling specialty areas, applicants must meet at least one the following requirements:

    • A bachelor's degree with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher
    • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) minimum scores of 150 on Verbal/Quantitative and 4.0 on Analytical
    • An earned masters degree

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 4 essay paragraph prompts (2000 character count each):
    1. Explain what attracts you to counseling versus social work or psychology. Explain what attracts you to specifically the WCU Counseling program.
    2. Explain what you believe are the most important interpersonal skills for helping individuals who are culturally different than you.
    3. Explain what facets of your personality contribute to your becoming an effective counselor. Explain what facets of your personality that, if changed, would lead to you becoming an even more effective counselor. What plans, if any, do you have for making such changes?
    4. Explain the difference between being right versus being effective in interpersonal relationships.
  • An accompanying education/work history résumé. Applicants should follow these guidelines in formatting the résumé:

2 pages maximum
1-inch margins
12-point type
Times New Roman font
Include your educational and employment history as well as other pertinent professional information.

You will submit your essay paragraphs directly into the online application and you will upload your resume.  

These items will be reviewed as part of your application for admission to the master's program in counseling at Western Carolina University. Your application will be incomplete without this information. All application materials must be submitted in full on or prior to February 1.


Qualified applicants will be invited for an admission interview.

Interviews are offered to those whose credentials of grade point average, Graduate Record Examination scores, recommendations, and personal goal statements qualify the person for full or provisional admission to the program. Those who qualify for the interview will be contacted by the School Counseling Program Leader, the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program Leader, or the Director of the Graduate Counseling Program. The interviews will be hosted by current students and conducted by counseling faculty through group interviews. 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.

Financial aid is available in the form of graduate assistantships, Chancellor's Fellowships, Graduate School Study Grants, and student loans. 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.  

Counseling Faculty

Name Role
Dr. Russell C. Curtis Professor; Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program Leader
Dr. Melodie Frick Associate Professor; Program Director
Dr. Elizabeth Graves Assistant Professor; School Counseling Field Placement Coordinator and Leader
Dr. Elizabeth Likis-Werle Assistant Professor; Clinical Mental Health Field Placement Coordinator
Dr. Lisen Roberts Associate Professor; Department Head
Dr. Phyllis Robertson Professor
Dr. Heather Thompson Associate Professor

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