The first thing to look for in a master’s counseling program

January 14, 2019

While there are many factors involved in selecting a master’s level counseling program, the first thing you should look for is accreditation.

Graduating from an accredited program means you’ll receive an education that meets professional standards. You’ll also find it an important credential when seeking employment and state licensure.

What is accreditation?

Educational institutions and programs that have been accredited have voluntarily undergone a process directed by an external organization to determine that they meet strict academic and professional standards. The organization sets the standards, and adhering to them means the students in that institution and program will be subject to them.

More details on accreditation.

Why is accreditation important?

From a program perspective, accreditation is important in the following ways:

  • It’s an assurance to students and the public that an institution and/or program meets or exceeds standards for quality of faculty, curriculum, student services, and fiscal stability.
  • Some employers, state licensing boards, and doctoral programs require applicants to hold accredited degrees.
  • If you are studying or have studied at more than one university, accreditation of both institutions may make transfer of credits easier.

Who accredits counseling and therapy programs?

If you want to pursue an accredited master’s in counseling or therapy program, look for accreditation from the following organizations:

  • CACREP: The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to accredit masters and doctoral degree programs in counseling and its specialties that are offered by colleges and universities in the United States and throughout the world. Capella University’s master’s degree programs in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling, and the PhD program in Counselor Education and Supervision are CACREP-accredited.
  • COAMFTE: The Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as the only accrediting agency for graduate degree and clinical training programs in Marriage and Family Therapy in the United States and Canada. Capella’s MS in Marriage and Family Therapy program is COAMFTE-accredited.

Perspective from the Dean

“There are two primary benefits from graduating from a program that holds specialized accreditation. First, programs that hold specialized accreditations have met stringent standards that attest to the program’s quality. Therefore, graduating from a CACREP or COAMFTE accredited program lets future employers, colleagues, and the public know that the education attained meets the standards established by these specialized accrediting bodies.

Second, specialized accreditations for programs that lead to professional state license (such as CACREP and COAMFTE accredited programs) are often included in the language of individual state statutes, and many states’ licensing agencies/boards specifically mention specialized program accreditation as meeting their education requirements for state licensing.”

Learn more about Capella University’s MS in Marriage and Family TherapyMS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and MS in School Counseling degree programs.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (, a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Learn more about university and program accreditations.

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