Counselor License Requirements in North Dakota

North Dakota licenses counselors at three levels. If you're just beginning your career and haven't satisfied the requirement for supervised practice, you will be credentialed as a Licensed Associate Professional Counselor (LAPC). Later you will become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).

You may eventually become a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor or LPCC. LPCC is a specialty designation. You will need to become an LPC first, but it's not a simple matter of moving up the ranks. Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors have more stringent requirements at multiple stages along the way, beginning with education.

The information below is designed to serve as an easy to navigate guide to counselor licensure in North Dakota. At any point you have questions, contact the North Dakota Board of Counselor Examiners (NDBCE) to make sure you are on the right path: [email protected]

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Select an LAC or LPC requirement topic below...

group counseling

Education for LAP or LPC Status

The foundation for licensing at all levels is a master’s level education. In order to become an LAC, and later an LPC, you'll need to demonstrate that you have completed a graduate program of at least 48 semester hours, or 72 quarter hours. The requirement will increase to 60 semester hours July 1, 2017.

Your degree should be in counseling or some variant like counselor education or counseling and guidance.

Whether your degree is in counseling or a related field, you will need to demonstrate coursework in the following areas:

  • Counseling theories
  • Counseling methods
  • Human growth and development
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Career and lifestyle development
  • Professional orientation and ethics
  • Group counseling
  • Research methods or statistics
  • Individual appraisal or testing

Your program will also need to include a counseling practicum or internship.

The North Dakota board will allow you to take most of you coursework through distance learning. However, you must take a course in Group Process and Counseling Techniques on the physical campus. Additionally, you will need to make sure that your institution is able to approve and supervise the counseling practicum.

You can find accredited programs at North Dakota State University.

There are also online programs that have been accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

Learn more about selecting a Master's in Counseling program here.

Additional Requirements for LPCC Status

In order to become a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, you'll need a master’s degree of at least 60 semester hours. It must include clinical counseling skills, abnormal psychology and psychopathology, and diagnostic assessment and appraisal (utilizing the DSM IV). Your practicum and internship hours must total 700 hours. 12 of your 60 semester hours must consist of courses or other experiences that are consistent with clinical guidelines set by the NBCC.

In addition, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must have a total of 3,000 hours of supervised experience in a clinical setting.
  • You will need to videotape a counseling session that’s at least 30 minutes in length.
  • You’ll need to have three letters of recommendation.
  • You will need to pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination.


The licensing exam you take depends on the level of licensing you seek. To become a Licensed Professional Counselor, you will need to take the National Counselor Examination (NCE).

If you're working toward Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor status, you will need to take the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). Both exams are offered through the same organization: the National Board for Certified Counselors.

You will need to be approved by the North Dakota Board of Counselor Examiners before you can schedule an examination. You will get your approval by turning in a licensing application. The board will send you a registration form, which you will mail to the NBCC at the following address:

CCE Assessment Dept.
PO Box 7407
Greensboro, NC 27417-0407

You will need to include a $195 fee with your registration. Your fee will be processed first, then your application. This will take about four weeks. After you receive confirmation, you can call Pearson VUE to schedule an examination or visit

You can test in North Dakota in Bismarck or Fargo. You can select a location in a different state if you prefer. Examinations are administered during the first two weeks of the month. Scheduling early can help you get the session you want.

The North Dakota Board of Counselor Examiners will receive your scores approximately four weeks after the end of the testing week.

Supervised Practice

You will need to work under supervision for two years. You will need to have at least 400 client contact hours a year and see at least ten different clients. You will need to have a supervisory plan on file with the board. The board notes that social service agencies, hospitals, and mental health centers are better than private practice settings for developing the needed skills.

Your supervisor will be a professional counselor. The board recommends that your supervisor be someone who is on site where you work.

You will need to have at least 100 hours of direct supervision during your two years as an associate. Meetings should be held at regular intervals. At least 60 of the supervision hours will need to be individual.

In cases of hardship, you may ask the board to allow you to do a nontraditional form of supervision. Electronic supervision is permissible if it meets requirements for security and HIPAA compliance.

Although your associate licensure is good for only two years, you may ask for an extension under certain circumstances. You will need to have your supervisor, a counseling professor, and two other professional counselors join with you in making the request.

If you do plan on becoming an LPCC later, you will want to look ahead and be aware of the supervision requirements.

The Application Process

Here is a link to the application forms for all counselor licensure levels: Applications and Forms

Applying for Associate Status

You will need three recommendations as a supplement to your application LAPC application. One must be from a contact person at the agency where you did your practicum. One must be from the program advisor at your school. The third should be from a counseling professor or teacher.

Applying for LPC Status

You will fill out an abbreviated application form when transitioning from associate to professional status: Click Here for the Application.

You will summarize your supervised experience and make a self-assessment.

At this stage, you will also need to write a statement of professional intent. You will identify your intended client population and work settings. You will also describe your counseling approaches and what you have based them on.

You will need to include a $100 fee with your application.

Your supervisor will document your experience and mail the form separately.

Application materials are to be mailed to the following address:
North Dakota Board of Counselor Examiners
2112 10th Ave. SE
Mandan, ND 58554

Out of State Applicants

You may be licensed by reciprocity as an LPC if you are licensed in a jurisdiction that has similar (or more stringent) requirements. You will need to provide the following documentation to the North Dakota board:

  • An application and application fee
  • A copy of your license
  • A copy of your state's statutes and rules regarding licensure
  • The name and address of the licensing body
  • NCE test scores

License Maintenance

You will renew your license every two years, whether you have LPC or LPCC status ( As an LPC, you will need to do 30 continuing education hours.

As an LPCC, you'll have to meet the same basic requirements, plus an additional ten extra hours that relate directly to your practice intent. These ten hours will need to be pre-approved.

Additional Information

If you are still in High School, hold a High School Diploma/GED, or hold a bachelor's degree, check out suggested steps to take along the path to becoming a counselor in North Dakota.

You may email the board’s executive secretary with questions ([email protected]).

You can find additional contacts at

You may also want to explore joining professional organizations like the North Dakota Counseling Association and the North Dakota School Counselor Association.

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