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Stories | 04.24.23

MA in Psychology or Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Which degree is right for me?

Graphic on Mental Health Counseling or Psychology

Should I pursue a master’s degree in psychology or counseling?

It’s a question frequently asked by prospective students seeking a career in mental health.

Adler University offers a Master of Arts in Counseling in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) both online and on-campus in Chicago. It also offers a Master of Arts in Psychology (MAP) online.

Both degrees open up career paths that offer exciting opportunities to help others and change the world, but there are some critical differences, according to CMHC faculty member Amie Manis, Ph.D., associate chair for Online Curriculum and Teaching, and Tricia Mazurowski, Ph.D., MAP program director.

“Our CMHC Online Modality allows for flexibility in coursework and scheduling, while also engaging students in targeted synchronous meetings to bridge important topics in clinical mental health,” said Jennifer Bonino, Ph.D., CMHC Online Modality program director. “We believe our curriculum provides excellent training to enter the field as a clinical mental health counselor.”

To help prospective students better understand which career path is the right one for them, here’s a comparison that looks at the highlights and key differences of each program:

Career opportunities

Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Graduates are prepared to work in mental health careers within a variety of clinical settings, including but not limited to community mental health agencies; social service agencies; hospitals; employee assistance programs; substance use treatment centers; behavioral health care organizations; private practice; government agencies; military and TRICARE system. This degree leads to clinical state licensure.

Psychology

Behavioral health specialist; child and adolescent caseworker; victim advocate; health and wellness coach; wellness coordinator

The program also prepares specialists in psychology to advance their career across a variety of roles, including mental health professional; sexual trauma advocate; curriculum designer; mental performance coach; forensic identification specialist; family support advocate; sports psychologist; research data analyst.

Length of program

Clinical Mental Health Counseling

3-4 years.

Psychology

1-year option and 2-year option.

Campus location

Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Chicago or Online campuses.

Psychology

Online Campus.

Overview

Clinical Mental Health Counseling

The program trains skilled and socially responsible counselors to meet the mental health needs of diverse communities. This degree is required for licensure as a professional counselor in the United States (LPC, LCPC, LMHC, etc.). Specific requirements, such as the number of post graduate supervised experience vary by state.

Psychology

The program offers a variety of course concentrations to help students develop their career interests. Concentrations include gender and sexuality studies; crisis management; child and adolescent development; and health and wellness.

Graduation requirements

Clinical Mental Health Counseling

The program requires a total of 62 credits, which includes completing eight core Council for Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) content areas, Adlerian foundations, one elective, social justice practicum, and supervised counseling experiences. The program requires two week-long residencies on campus. The clinical field experience is conducted through a supervised practicum (100 hours) and internship (600 hours) at an approved clinical site.

Psychology

The program requires a total of 36 credits, which includes core courses, social justice practicum, three elective courses, and a thesis/capstone final project.  Student must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

Social Justice Practicum

Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Designed to give students real world experience. Includes 200-hour internship that spans four terms. Students work at community outreach sites (live and online) for 8-10 hours/week.

Psychology

Designed to give students real world experience. Includes 200-hour internship that spans four terms. Students work at community outreach sites (live and online) for 8-10 hours/week.

Additional information to consider

Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Students enrolled in either modality (on ground or online) become part of an inclusive and diverse community of practitioners and scholars.

Psychology

Students in the MAP program will be prepared to serve as socially responsible practitioners in the field of psychology.

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