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Online | Master of Arts

Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Department of Counseling & Integrated Programs

Program Overview

Program Overview

Adler University’s Master of Arts in Counseling: Specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program prepares socially responsible clinicians to provide culturally sensitive therapeutic services in a wide range of clinical settings. Students have the option of selecting either an on-campus or online modality.

Our distinctive practitioner-focused program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which recognizes programs that meet or exceed the highest standards for counselor preparation.

Students train with faculty who are experienced counseling professionals and social justice activists. Graduates are empowered and equipped to be agents of change for individuals, families, groups, communities, and society. And our innovative program is designed to prepare clinical mental health counselors to serve diverse populations in both the public and private sectors.

Online Modality

Online Instructional Modality

The online modality of our Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is designed for students who want to complete the program in a distance learning format. All courses will be delivered online using the university’s learning management system.

In addition to online engagement and learning, four courses will have face-to-face teaching and evaluation components required prior to entering practicum, which will be conducted during a 5-day residency week during the first and second years. The courses include:

  • Counseling Skills (First-year Residency)
  • Counseling Multicultural Communities (First-year Residency)
  • Group Counseling (Second-year Residency)
  • Treatment Planning & Intervention (Second-year Residency)

COVID-19 Update:
Adler is closely monitoring public health updates and following state and local guidelines. To protect the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff, Residency Weeks for the Summer 2019, Summer 2020, Fall 2019, Fall 2020 cohorts will be conducted in a virtual environment.

Residency week for the Spring 2021 cohort is currently scheduled to take place at our Chicago campus. However, this is subject to change pending further updates from public health officials.

Residency Week Schedule (Updated July 30, 2020)
Residency weeks take place:

  • During the first semester of your first year, and the first semester of the second year.
  • In the 10th week of the semester, or the 2nd week of the Second Term.
  • At the Chicago Campus: 17 North Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60602. Due to the pandemic, the residency week of fall 2020 will be conducted virtually; the format of the residency week in Spring 2021 will be determined based on the development of the pandemic.
  • From 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily during the week and evening activities if on campus.
Entering Semester (Cohort)First Year First Semester Residency Dates Second Year First Semester Residency Dates Remarks & COVID – 19
Summer 2019CompletedCompletedVirtual
Fall 2019 CompletedCompletedVirtual
Spring 2020CompletedCompletedOn campus (subject to change)
Summer 2020CompletedJuly 5-9, 2021Virtual
Fall 2020 CompletedNovember 1–5, 2021Virtual
Spring 2021CompletedMarch 7–11, 2022On campus (subject to change)
Summer 2021 July 5-9, 2021July 11–15, 2022On campus (subject to change)


The Master of Arts in Counseling: Specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is a 62-credit hour program that requires the successful completion of field training and courses from those listed below.

Core Courses
  • Adlerian Theory and Counseling
  • Professional, Legal, and Ethical Issues in Counseling
  • Counseling Theories
  • Counseling Skills
  • Diagnosis of Maladaptive Behavior
  • Counseling Multicultural Communities
  • Group Counseling
  • Treatment Planning and Intervention
  • Couple and Family Counseling
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Research and Program Evaluation
  • Appraisal and Assessment
  • Career Development Theories and Interventions
  • Addictions Counseling
  • Professional Functions of Clinical Mental Health Counselors
  • Crisis Intervention and Trauma Counseling
Field Training and Seminars

All students enrolled in the CMHC program must complete a 200-hour community-based social justice practicum experience. Students also complete a 100-hour clinical practicum experience and a 600-hour clinical internship located at an external site.

  • Social Justice Practicum I
  • Social Justice Practicum II
  • CMHC Practicum and Seminar
  • CMHC Internship and Seminar I
  • CMHC Internship and Seminar II

The Department of Counseling and Integrated Programs offers a variety of elective courses to their program students. Students are required to take two electives that are three-hour courses each*. Students can take electives offered by the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program or they can choose a course from the department elective menu, upon their faculty advisor’s approval. Please note that not all the electives are offered at the same time; it depends on the offering cycle. Canadian students will need to take the thesis series as the elective should they plan to pursue doctoral studies in Canada. The electives offered by the CMHC program include:

  • Child & Adolescent Counseling
  • Psychedelic-Assisted Counseling
  • Counseling Older Adults and Families
  • Counseling and Human Sexuality
  • Animal Assisted Therapy
  • Mind, Body, and Meditative Practices in Counseling
  • Medical and Psychosocial Aspects of Disability
  • Advanced Couple and Family Counseling
  • Advanced Couples Counseling
  • Existential and Gestalt Therapy
  • Asian Meditation Therapies
  • Special Topics for Counseling Diverse Populations in DCES
  • Leadership in Mental Health Practice
  • Counseling Difficult, Defiant Adolescents
  • Advocacy and Leadership in Higher Education
  • Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual Aspects of Addictions
  • Advanced Addictions Treatment
  • Advanced Adlerian Theory and Practice
  • Psychopharmacology in Counseling
  • Introduction to Play Therapy
  • Advanced Play Therapy
  • Introduction to Sport & Human Performance
  • Contemporary Issues in Cultural Sport Psychology

OR choose the thesis series below as one of the electives:

  • Preparation for Applied Thesis
  • M.A. Thesis I
  • M.A. Thesis II

*Online students or students who intend to be licensed from other states will want to refer to their state’s Professional Counselor licensure curricular requirements. To prevent licensure delays, you may want to consider taking these other courses as your electives while completing your degree. 

Find course descriptions and more information in the Adler University course catalog here.

Social Justice Practicum

Social Justice Practicum

Doing is learning. A unique and proven program designed to give students real world experience throughout their time at Adler University, the Social Justice Practicum is a required 200-hour internship that spans four courses (or terms for online programs). Every student is given a number of civic-minded categories to choose from. They submit their desired areas of interest. After which, they are assigned a specific and aligned community outreach site where they will work 8 to 10 hours per week.

Student Outcomes

Student Outcomes

Program Objectives

The CMHC program is designed to meet the following learning objectives. Upon completion of the program, students will:

Program Objective 1: Professional Orientation and Ethical Practice
Describe and apply all aspects of professional practice, including history, roles, professional organizations, ethic and legal standards, counselor credentials and advocacy processes.

Program Objective 2: Social and Cultural Diversity
Develop self-awareness and multicultural counseling competencies. Apply theory and research on cultural factors impacting counseling relationships in a multicultural and diverse society, and the role of social justice and advocacy to the practice of counseling.

Program Objective 3: Human Growth and Development
Apply models of individual, couples, and family development in the practice of counseling with emphasis on cultural diversity across the lifespan.

Program Objective 4: Career Development
Demonstrate knowledge and apply career development and decision-making models and strategies with multicultural and diverse populations.

Program Objective 5: Helping Relationships
Demonstrate knowledge of theories and skills to provide ethical counseling, consultation, crisis intervention services.

Program Objective 6: Group Work
Participate in, facilitate, and lead experiential group and apply group work principles and theories, methods and skills to the practice of counseling.

Program Objective 7: Assessment
Demonstrate knowledge of principles of testing and measurement, including statistical concepts and apply them to individual and group assessment and evaluation.

Program Objective 8: Research and Program Evaluation
Describe and recognize the importance of research and statistical based methods, statistical, needs assessment, program evaluation to inform evidence-based practice of counseling.

Program Objective 9: Adlerian Foundations and Principles
Apply principles of Adlerian Theory such as purposiveness of behavior, the indivisible self, goal directed behavior, and the role of social interest in counseling and treatment planning with the goals to improve well-being of individuals, couples, groups, families, and a diverse society.

Program Objective 10: Social Justice/ Social responsibility
Reflect on personal values and assumptions (privileges, disadvantages, etc.) about the nature and causes of social problems (social injustices such as poverty, racism, abuse) and gain experience and skills to advocate for systemic change through engagement and leadership in multidisciplinary, diverse community-based organizations.

Program Objective 11: Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Demonstrate knowledge, skills, and practices to address a variety of issues within the clinical mental health counseling context including prevention, diagnosis, assessment, intervention, research, diversity and advocacy roles.

Student Data

The M.A. in Counseling: Specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program surveys students, graduates, site supervisors, and employers to obtain useful information about the program on a regular basis. The following are the most recent program outcomes collected from summer 2019, and fall and spring 2020:

  • Currently (Fall 2020), there are 284 students in the CMHC program, including:
    • 236 students in full-time ground modality, 3-year online modality, or part-time format.
    • 35 students pursuing a dual degree with the MS in Sport and Human Performance program, and
    • 13 students pursuing a dual degree with the MA in Forensic Mental Health Leadership program.
  • The graduation rate of Summer 2019 was 92%. However, based on a 5-year maximum program completion period, the graduation rate of this program is 88%.
  • In Spring 2020, we achieved an 84% passing rate for the National Counselor Examination (licensure examination in Illinois)
  • Our latest alumni survey conducted in spring 2020 reported nearly 75% of 8 respondents being employed within a year of graduation.

2017-18 Clinical Mental Health Counseling Progam Annual Report.

2018-2019 Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program Annual Report (in construction).


Our innovative program is designed to prepare clinical mental health counselors to serve diverse populations in both the public and private sectors. They work in a range of settings, including:

  • Social service agencies
  • Behavioral health care organizations
  • Hospitals
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Substance abuse treatment centers
  • Military and TRICARE system
  • Government agencies
  • Private practice
Professional Development & Training

Gain the knowledge and skills to create real change with small, collaborative classes taught by leading practitioners and scholars in the field. Our diverse faculty brings together classroom learning with individualized mentorship and hands-on professional experience.

Students also complete extensive clinical training, which provides opportunities to apply theory, hone counseling skills, and formulate treatment strategies with clients in a variety of hospitals, clinics, mental health centers, community organizations, and government agencies. Throughout their fieldwork, students receive close mentorship and clinical supervision by faculty. This training consists of a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship, typically at the same site.

Admissions Requirements

Admissions Requirements

  • A baccalaureate degree earned from a regionally accredited college or university or an equivalent degree from an international college or university.
  • A recommended GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale for undergraduate and graduate coursework. Exceptions may be made for applicants who demonstrate outstanding academic performance or academic ability in other ways.
  • Approved applicants will be invited for a personal interview as the final step in the application process.

Application Requirements

Applicants are required to submit the following items to be considered for admission:

  • Application and application fee
  • Statement of Intent answering the following questions:
    • Why are you interested in your chosen field and program?
    • Why is Adler University’s program a good fit for you?
    • What are your career goals and interests?
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • Transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate schools attended (U.S and Canada)
    • Official transcripts should be sent directly to the Office of Admissions
    • Unofficial transcripts may be accepted for any schools in which a degree was not received
    • International transcripts must be evaluated by a transcript evaluation service
  • Two letters of Recommendation
    • These should be from someone who can specifically speak to your academic and professional abilities.

Please submit all materials to the Office of Admissions prior to the application deadline.

Official transcripts should be sent to:

Adler University – Office of Admissions
17 N. Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL 60602

Official electronic transcripts should be sent to [email protected].

For more information for International Applicants, click here.



Our distinctive practitioner-focused program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which recognizes programs that meet or exceed the highest standards for counselor preparation.

Adler University is a nationally recognized pioneer in graduate education, training clinicians who work to build and maintain bridges across social, economic, cultural, racial, and political systems through their practice. Our learning environment is collaborative and community-oriented, bringing together rigorous coursework with real-world experience.



Graduates of the program are also eligible to take part in the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential, after successful passage of the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and completion of required experiences.

In particular, Graduates of the program are eligible to apply for the following credentials:

  • The Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential in the state of Illinois.
  • The Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) credential in Illinois, upon completing all necessary post-graduate training and supervised experiences.
Online Learning Format

Online Learning Format

The CMHC program is offered in two learning formats, a traditional on-campus modality and an interactive online modality. The on-campus modality is designed for students who prefer learning in a traditional classroom format. Classes are offered in the morning, afternoons, and evenings. Some courses are also offered in a hybrid (online or partially online) or weekend format.

Full-time students in the on-campus modality can complete the program in 2 years; part time students can complete the program in 3-4 years.

The online modality is designed for students who want to complete the program in a distance learning format. Courses are delivered through the university’s learning management system. Most course content is taught asynchronously, allowing flexibility in scheduling. However, courses also include some synchronous meetings (e.g, zoom meets), providing opportunities for practice and building relationships with peers and professors.

In addition, students enrolled in the online modality complete a 5-day residency week during their first and second years. Residency week takes place at the Adler campus in Chicago. Students in the online modality can complete the program in 3 years.

Change the World From
Anywhere in the World

You may have a fulltime job, family obligations or other things that command your attention. We get it. That said, you have a passion to make the world a better place. We have online programs that are crafted and curated to give you skills to make it happen.

No matter where in the world or in life you are.

Adler is a tight knit community of radical thinkers and doers. Know, that as an online student, you are not alone. You are one of us. The work you will be asked to do, will be the same as every other Adler student. The skills you will learn will be just as powerful. And the degree you will receive, will speak just as loudly.

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