Mental Health Counseling, MS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What do mental health counselors do?

According to the New York State Office of Professions:
Practitioners, called mental health counselors, are trained in counseling and psychotherapy to treat individuals with mental and emotional disorders and other behavioral challenges. Mental health counselors address mental health, human relationship, education and career concerns within ethical, developmental, preventive and treatment contexts. Mental health counselors demonstrate a concern for the short-term and long-term well-being of individuals, couples, families, groups and organizations.

Application process and prerequisites

How do I apply?
Apply online

What undergraduate major is required?
There is no specific undergraduate major that is required for the MHC Program. However, undergraduate courses in psychology, counseling, and/or human development are highly recommended.

What is the minimum undergraduate GPA that is required? And, what is the average GPA of successful applicants?

  • The required UB-GSE minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA is 3.0.
  • From 2013 to 2016, the average GPA of successful applicants to our program has been 3.33.

Will my application still be reviewed if I have less than the minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0?
Yes, your application can still be reviewed if you have less than the minimum undergraduate GPA. In some cases, the minimum GPA requirement can be waived if there are extenuating circumstances and strong evidence for potential success in graduate school, such as your performance in graduate level courses.

For more information, see how to apply or GSE application FAQs.

Are there additional or different MHC program application requirements for international students?

Yes, there are three additional requirements for international applicants:

  1. The TOEFL/IELTS/PTE exam is required.
  2. The University at Buffalo requires all international students to show proof of sufficient financial means to cover all costs of their education.
  3. The MHC program requires that prospective international applicants have first-hand familiarity with the American English language and American culture. It is strongly recommended that applicants have lived at least one year in the United States.

For more information, please see Admissions Frequently Asked Questions: International Students.

How many letters of reference are required? / Who should my letters of reference be from? / What information should be included in my letters of reference?

The application requires three letters of reference that attest to your ability to be successful in graduate school and/or the field of mental health counseling. At least one letter should be from an academic faculty member who can talk about your ability to complete graduate level work, to think critically and integrate new information. At least one letter should be from someone who can attest to your interpersonal abilities.

How competitive is admission to the mental health counseling program?

From 2013 to 2016, the MHC program has received from 41 to 56 applications annually for 12-17 spots.

Will I be able to transfer coursework? If so, how many credits may I transfer?

Yes, you can transfer appropriate graduate-level coursework into the Mental Health Counseling program to be used toward the MS degree. The transfer of any prior graduate-level coursework must be petitioned and approved. The maximum number of transfer credits possible for the M.S. degree in Mental Health Counseling is 12, which represents 20% of total of 60 required degree credits.

When are applications reviewed?

Complete application folders will begin being reviewed soon after February 15.


When do interviews typically occur?
Interviews typically occur in late February or early March. Those applicants to be interviewed will be contacted by email approximately one to two weeks ahead of time to schedule the interview.

If selected, with whom will I interview? And, where will interviews take place?
Interviews are conducted on-campus individually with faculty from the MHC Program. In some cases, an interview via Skype may take the place of an on-campus interview.

When can I expect to receive an offer of admission?
Offers are generally extended within two weeks following the interview process.

Where is the UB MHC program located?
The MHC program is housed within the Department of Counseling, School and Educational Psychology (CSEP) located on the fourth floor of Baldy Hall, North Campus. The CSEP department’s main office is located in room 409, Baldy Hall.

How do I get to UB North Campus?

  • Traveling west on the I-290 (Youngman Expressway) take exit 5A, Millersport Highway north. Exit onto Millersport Highway, proceed through one traffic light, pass the Maple Road exit and continue to the next exit, Flint Road, to UB’s North Campus.
  • Traveling east on the I-290 (Youngman Expressway) exit onto the 990, which is just after the Niagara Falls Boulevard exit. Once on the 990, keep right and take Exit 1, the UB exit.
  • Visiting UB
  • Campus Maps

Program Length and Format

Can the MS in MHC program be done part time?
Currently, we do not admit students to the MHC program on a part-time basis. Full-time graduate enrollment consists of 12 or more credits per semester.

Are courses for the MS degree in MHC available online?
The MS degree in MHC is an on-campus program so students are expected to take required courses on campus. In some cases, however, a student may be permitted to take a required course online. Elective courses may be taken online.

Are summer courses offered?
A limited number of courses are offered during summer sessions.

How long does it take to complete the degree?
Our students typically complete the program in 4 to 5 semesters of full-time study. The average time to completion for students admitted from 2011 to 2014 is 4.7 semesters. The normal program length is five semesters, while the accelerated program is four semesters, plus coursework taken during the summer between the first and second years.

What is the program’s graduation rate?
The graduation rate for students admitted from 2011 to 2014 is 94%.

What is the employment rate of graduates?
Approximately 89% of graduates from 2013 and 2016 are either employed or have gone on to pursue doctoral studies, while 11% are unknown.

Non-Matriculated Coursework

May I take courses in the mental health counseling program as a non-matriculated student?
Yes. A limited number of courses in the mental health counseling program are available to non-matriculated students with instructor permission. You must first obtain non-matriculated student status.
More information on how to obtain non-matriculated status

Which courses are available to non-matriculated students?
There are a variety of courses within the MHC program and CSEP Department that can be taken as a non-matriculated student. Instructor permission is required before enrolling in any courses as a non-matriculated student. In addition, you must first apply for non-matriculated graduate student status.

The following courses in the MHC program are available to non-matriculated students, with instructor permission:

CEP 504 Introduction to Rehabilitation of Substance Abuse
CEP 521 Introduction to Mental Health Counseling
CEP 532 Understanding Statistical Research
CEP 541 Human Growth and Development
CEP 634 Multicultural Counseling
CEP 653 Foundations of Counseling Theory
CEP 680 Career Development

Is there a limit to how many courses I can take as a non-matriculated student?
Yes. The maximum number of credits that may be taken as a non-matriculated student is 6 credits per semester and 12 credits per lifetime at UB.


What kind of internships are available in the MHC program?
The majority of the MHC Program internship sites are in non-profit mental health centers, hospitals, college counseling centers, and substance abuse treatment centers. We maintain on-going relationships with high quality training sites and the supervisors at those sites. Most site supervisors have been affiliated with our program for several years.

What is the length of the internship and requirements?
The clinical internship consists of six credits per semester of CEP 600MHC Internship, totaling 12 credits over two semesters (during fall and spring of the second year) where students acquire 600 on-site clinical agency hours.

When do I get placed in an internship site?
During spring semester of the first year, students will meet with the internship coordinator to review the internship process, including the list of agencies and sites where internships currently exist. It is the role of the internship coordinator to assist all MHC students in gaining an internship site for their second year in the program.

May I create my own internship?
Yes, new sites that meet the NY State and UB requirements continue to be added each year. By being proactive, students can form new relationships with potential internship sites and we will then work with you to create a placement as best we can (assuming the NY State and UB requirements can be met at the site). Supervisors of our interns must be licensed and qualified to practice and supervise mental health counseling (e.g., a LMHC, LCSW, Psychologist, Physician, Nurse Practitioner) as defined by section 79-9.3 of the NY State Regulations.

Cost, Financial Aid, Student Support

How much do graduate courses cost?
To see the most up-to-date costs for tuition and fees. Be sure to view the “graduate” tuition, which also varies according to full-time or part-time enrollment, NY State resident or non-resident, etc.

What about financial aid?
Most MHC students complete their program by using funds from financial aid and/or by working part time during their programs. However, there are a limited number of grants available on a competitive basis. Learn more about federal aid and UB-affiliated programs.

Is there support for academic writing?
Support for academic writing is provided by the Center for Excellent in Writing located on the second floor of Baldy Hall, North Campus.

What other supports are there for MHC students?
The Graduate Student Association (GSA) serves the majority of UB graduate students as a whole and through departmental clubs, including the CSEP department.

MHC students also have access to the graduate student lounge within the CSEP department.


How do I get licensed as a Mental Health Counselor in NY State?
The path toward licensure in NY State includes obtaining a master’s degree from an approved program (such as UB’s), pursuing the limited permit, taking the NY State license exam, and completing 3000 post-masters hours under the supervision of an individual licensed and qualified to practice and supervise mental health counseling under the NY Education Law (i.e., a LMHC, LCSW, Psychologist, Physician, Nurse Practitioner).

Where can I find more information about licensure and practice as an LMHC in NY State?
Visit the NY State Office of the Professions’ website and search the knowledge base using the “Find Answers” tab.

How does the MHC program meet the 11 areas required for NYS license eligibility?
The program of studies is designed to conform to all of the requirements set forth by the State of NY, including coursework addressing the following content areas:

  1. human growth and development
  2. social and cultural foundations of counseling
  3. counseling theory and practice
  4. psychopathology
  5. group dynamics
  6. lifestyle and career development
  7. assessment and appraisal of individuals, couples, families and groups
  8. research and program evaluation
  9. professional orientation and ethics
  10. foundations of mental health counseling and consultation
  11. clinical instruction

How does the program exceed NY State criteria?
An emphasis on evidence-supported practice is strength of the Program. As the premier campus of the SUNY system and as a research intensive university, the core faculty are considered leaders in their respective fields, so students have access to new and ongoing research conducted by faculty. In addition, the training emphasize self-reflection and self-awareness, which are part of becoming a good counselor. Further, a minimum of two elective courses are required, which allows students to take courses that are of interest beyond courses in the core curriculum. Elective courses and internship are a way for our students to concentrate their training on a particular area of interest within mental health counseling.

Will I be able to accept third-party payments (e.g., insurance)?
By becoming an LMHC in the State of New York you will become eligible to receive third-party payments, but you must still pursue this each third-party payee and meet their provider criteria.