Counselor Licensing Requirements by State

Each state has specific requirements for licensure to practice as a professional counselor. Some states license certain areas of practice that others do not. Regulations are strictly enforced in each state and those practicing without a license can be punished to the full extent of the law within the respective state.

Although requirements for counselors vary from state to state, counseling professionals typically need a master's degree to become licensed. Some counseling licenses also require candidates to complete as many as 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience and pass a state-issued exam. In order to maintain their licensed status, most counselors must complete continuing education courses on an annual basis. Prospective counselors can contact the National Board for Certified Counselors to learn more about specific rules in their state.

This page provides detailed information about counseling licensure requirements in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Below you will also find links to our featured online programs for a master's in counseling. These online pathways generally follow the same curricula as brick-and-mortar programs, allowing graduates to qualify for a state-issued license and practice as counselors in their chosen niche.

It can be quite time consuming to dig around the state government websites and locate the licensure information you need. After selecting a state you will have all the information at your fingertips including links to the state's specific forms and materials you will need when applying for a counselor license.

Capella University offers three online CACREP - accredited Master's programs: Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy and School Counseling. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their programs.

The Family Institute at Northwestern University offers an online Master of Arts in Counseling Program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). CACREP accreditation ensures that the curriculum meets professional standards and makes graduates eligible for licensure as clinical mental health counselors in most states. The program is offered full time and part time and can be completed in as few as 18 months. GRE scores are not required. Request information here.

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