Licensed Professional Counselor Rules and Regulations in South Dakota

South Dakota has two levels of licensing: Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Professional Counselor-Mental Health (LPC-MH).

Although you must be licensed first as an LPC, you may save time by completing education requirements simultaneously for the higher license. The process begins when you enroll in a graduate program that meets South Dakota's curricular standards.

The following information is a guide to counseling licensure in South Dakota. If at any point along the way you have questions about LPC requirements in South Dakota or want to make sure you are on the correct path, contact the South Dakota Board of Examiners for Counselors and Marriage & Family Therapists by calling (605) 331-2927 or emailing [email protected]

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Education Requirements for LPC Status

You will need a master's, doctorate, or educational specialist degree ( Your school should hold institutional accreditation from a regional accrediting agency. The following are acceptable accrediting agencies. (When you fill out your course worksheet for licensing purposes, you will identify which of these accreditations your school holds.)

  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools
  • New England State Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools
  • Northwest Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools
  • Western College Association

Your degree should include, at minimum, 48 semester hours.

If your program holds program level accreditation through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), it will meet South Dakota’s curricular requirements. You will find CACREP-accredited programs at South Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota.

Antioch University offers a new Online MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program that is in the CACREP accreditation process and mirrors the CACREP-accredited program delivered on campus. Specializations in: Substance Abuse and Addictions Counseling (SAAC) and Counseling Military Service Personnel and their Families (MSPF). Antioch is a private, not-for-profit university. (*This program is NOT available to students in CA, IL, IA, KS, MO, NH, ND)

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If your program does not hold CACREP accreditation, you must have a sequential program of study that includes coursework in each of the following content areas:

  • Counseling theory
  • Counseling techniques
  • Human growth and development
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Helping relationships
  • Group counseling
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Appraisal of the individual
  • Research and evaluation
  • Professional, legal, and ethical considerations

You will also need a practicum and internship.

Prior to beginning your practicum, you will need to have completed courses in counseling theory and counseling techniques. Your practicum must include100 total hours; at least 40 of these must be direct service. You will need face-to-face evaluation.

Your internship must include at least 600 total hours with at least 240 hours of direct client contact.

Education for LPC-MH Status

To become an LPC-MH, you will need a graduate program in mental health counseling that is CACREP-accredited or that is considered equivalent. You should have 60 semester hours of coursework. See: ( If your program is not CACREP-accredited, it must develop the following competencies:

  • It must teach the etiology of mental disorders and dysfunctional behavior; it must also teach how to promote mental health and diagnose, prevent, and treat illness and dysfunction.
  • It must cover methods for assessing mental states and identifying mental illness or deviant behavior. (You will need to learn various techniques for obtaining data and then translating your findings into DSM categories.)

Additionally, you must also have course content in each of the following:

  • Theories for initiating, maintaining, and terminating psychotherapy across settings and modalities
  • Mental health promotion, education, and outreach
  • Psychopharmacological medicines (classification, indications, contraindications)
  • Guidelines for intake and mental health history

Supervised Practice for LPC Licensing

You will need to work under clinical supervision until you have accrued 2,000 hours of work experience. At least 800 hours must be direct patient care. During this time, you must have 100 hours of direct supervision. At least 50 of these must be face-to-face.

Your clinical supervisor must be board approved. If you will be doing supervised training within South Dakota, you must have a supervisory plan in place before you begin accruing your hours. Moreover, you will need to notify the board if you change supervisors.

Supervised Practice for LPC-MH Certification

In order to be licensed at the LPC-MH level, you will need to obtain 2,000 direct client service hours within a clinical setting.

Your supervisor must hold the highest level of licensing within his or her discipline. In other words, if s/he is a South Dakota Counselor, s/he will need to be an LPC-MH.

You may simultaneously apply up to 1,000 hours of work experience and up to 50 hours of supervision toward both LPC and LPC-MH requirements – as long as the experience meets all requirements for the higher license.


To become a Licensed Professional Counselor, you will need to take the National Counselor Examination. To become a Licensed Professional Counselor-Mental Health, you will need to take the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination as well.

You will take your licensing examination(s) through the National Board for Certified Counselors (

You will apply directly to the NBCC for authorization. The process is the same for both exams. You will download the application from the NBCC site and send it with official sealed transcript and a $195 fee to the following address:

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

You will wait to hear back from the NBCC before scheduling your exam. You may schedule by calling 866-904-4432 or visiting Pearson VUE at There is one testing center in South Dakota, in Sioux Falls. You may, however, test in another state if you prefer.

You may email [email protected] if you have questions about the process.

If you test as a South Dakota candidate, score verification will be sent automatically, approximately a month after you test.

The Application Process

You will need to have official transcripts sent.

You will also identify, on a supplemental worksheet, which courses meet specific curriculum requirements. If the course title does not make the content clear, you should include a course syllabus or course catalog description.

You will attest to the veracity of your application and have the affidavit notarized.

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

You will also need to include a copy of your driver’s license (as an ID).

You application should be mailed to the following address:

SD Board of Examiners for Counselors and Marriage & Family Therapists
PO Box 2164
Sioux Falls, SD 57101-2164

You will make your application to the board after you have completed all requirements. Here is a link: LPC Licensure Application

Out of State Applicants

If your state has similar requirements, you may be granted a license by endorsement. You will submit an LPC endorsement application, and, when qualified, a general LPC-MH application.

You will have the state where you are currently licensed fill out a verification form. You will find an endorsement application package on the board site: Click Here.

License Maintenance

You will need to renew your LPC license each year ( You must complete 40 hours of approved continuing education every two years. At least four must be in ethics.

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 South Dakota.

You may contact the Board of Examiners for Counselors and Marriage & Family Therapists by calling (605) 331-2927 or emailing [email protected]

For additional professional resources, you can seek out the South Dakota Counseling Association.

For School Counselors in South Dakota: South Dakota School Counselor Association

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