Main Content:

The University of Pittsburgh’s Counseling Program, starting in Fall 2023, will enroll students in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. This change will create a more personalized educational experience by offering a greater selection of elective courses, while maintaining the opportunity to specialize in clinical rehabilitation counseling.

To view past program information, click here: Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling Program Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page.

I am trying to decide between counseling and social work. I know that Pitt has both.
What is the difference?

Profession Social Work Counseling
Description Social workers help individuals, families, and groups restore or enhance their capacity for social functioning, and work to create societal conditions that support communities in need.
The practice of social work requires knowledge of human development and behavior, of social, economic and cultural institutions, and of the interaction of all these factors.
Social workers help people of all backgrounds address their own needs through psychosocial services and advocacy.
Social workers help people overcome some of life’s most difficult challenges: poverty, discrimination, abuse, addiction, physical illness, divorce, loss, unemployment, educational problems, disability, and mental illness. They help prevent crises and counsel individuals, families, and communities to cope more effectively with the stresses of everyday life.-CSWE refers to NASW
Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs prepare graduates to work with clients across a spectrum of mental and emotional disorders, as well as to promote mental health and wellness. Clients may be seen individually, in couples, families, or group settings. Clinical Mental Health Counselors are knowledgeable in the principles and practices of diagnosis, treatment, referral and prevention and often work in interdisciplinary teams with other health professionals (e.g., psychiatrists, social workers, MDs).- CACREP
Definition "Social work is a profession devoted to helping people function the best they can in their environment and social workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. -National Association of Social Workers & Bureau of Labor Statistics " "Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals. -- American Counseling Association"
Pitt Degree/Program Master of Social Work Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program
Department Social Work Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, soon to be Department of Counseling and Behavioral Health
School School of Social Work School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Accrediting Body Council on Social Work Education Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
Certificate Options Granted by University Gerontology or Integrated Healthcare N/A
National Certificate and Certification Options National Network of Social Work Management: Human Services Management "National Certified Counselor (NCC): National Board for Certified Counselors Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC): Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC)"
Certificate Options Granted by State Home and School Visitor N/A
Focus Area Options Recognized by School Mental Health, Children Youth & Families We offer 3 elective courses from which students may choose in order to personalize their educational experience.Elective Courses: COUN 2714 MEDICAL, PSYCHOSOCIAL, AND ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY CONSIDERATIONS IN DISABILITY; COUN 2766 INTRODUCTION TO ASSESSMENT AND TREATMENT FOR CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS; COUN 2767 TRAUMA AND GRIEF COUNSELING
Credits Required for Degree 60 60
Start Term Fall only Fall only
Advanced Standing option If BASW completed within 7 years; Can enter into MSW program with up to 21 Transfer credits. If Full-time, can complete MSW in 12 month option or 16 month sequence N/A
Duration of Program 2 yrs FT, 4 yrs PT 2 years (5 terms including 1 summer term)
Average Cohort Size ~270 students per year ~30 students per year
Average Class Size 25 25-30
Student to Faculty Ratio 1 faculty to 7 students 4 to 1
Primary Instructural Method The signature pedagogy for social work is field practice. Field course work or practicum are robust internship opportunities that can comprise of 12-18 worth of course credits and comprise of 720 – 1080 internship hours. These are considered classrooms in the field. Other courses are taught using diverse methods including didactic lectures, invited community based guests/experts, labs, role plays, experiential projects, discussion groups, films, and site visits. We emphasize diverse, anti-racist and intersectional approaches to our instruction methods Courses vary but typically employ readings, brief didactic presentations, videos, live demonstrations, in-class role-plays in dyads and triads, discussion, and recorded sessions with paid standardized patients.
Field/Practicum Requirements Non AS: 1080 total; AS: 720 total Students complete 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship. Many students complete both of these placements at the same site, allowing for an in-depth 700-hour field training experience.
Number of Clinical Training Sites Approximately 600 75
Process for Matching Students to Clinical Training Sites Students complete a Request for Field Placement form which is forwarded to the Field Office. Students then are assigned and meet with a Field Faculty Advisor and review the Request form, the student's interest and any requirements for their generalist or specialization placement Students work with the clinical coordinator to Identify clinical sites tailored to their interests. Each student develops a plan to personalize their clinical placement experiences.
Licensure Process Students can take the LSW exam during the final term. Now becomes eligible to be a Licensed Clinical Social Worker after completing at least 3000 hours of supervised clinical experience in no less than 2 years and no more than 6 years. Half of the clinical hours must be supervised by an LCSW. Graduates meet eligibility criteria for national certification in rehabilitation counseling (i.e., certified rehabilitation counselor, CRC) and the educational requirements for licensure as a professional counselor (LPC) in PA.
Perks of Getting Licensed Marketable - Reimbursement for Services (Private Practice) - Higher Salaries than non-licensed peers - Better Opportunities for professional advancement - Incresed credibility among other licensed professionals - Shows commitment to the profession and the public - Competency Marketable - Reimbursement for Services (Private Practice) - Higher Salaries than non-licensed peers - Better Opportunities for professional advancement - Incresed credibility among other licensed professionals - Shows commitment to the profession and the public - Competency
Do I have to get licensed to practice in the field? Social workers can provide clinical counseling services even if they are not licensed, as long as they do so under the supervision of an LCSW. Also, Social Workers who go the Community Organization and Social Action (COSA) -- macro route and don't plan to independently provide clinical counseling to clients don't necessarily have to take the exam/get licensed. No. Some employers require licensure, but many employers have no preference, require applicants to be “licensure eligible,” or “prefer” licensure. Because licensure requires completion of post-graduation supervised clinical hours, graduates must practice in the field for at least two years while working toward licensure. Many counselors who work in community, school, or hospital-based settings do not need licensure because they are not directly billing insurance companies.
Career Services Pre and post Graduation support from Vankirk Career Center N/A
Fellowship Opportunities 9 different fellowship opportunities N/A

Are graduates of the counseling program eligible for certification?

Yes, the Counseling Program meets the educational requirements for our graduates to sit for the examination to become a National Certified Counselor. 

I am interested in clinical mental health counseling as well as clinical rehabilitation counseling. Would this program be a good match for me?

Yes. Our program has a strong history of training students in both clinical rehabilitation counseling and clinical mental health counseling. We offer an elective course, specialized mentorship, and clinical placements that provide excellent training in clinical rehabilitation counseling. Our program includes five faculty members who have earned the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) credential. Our dual accreditation as an integrated Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program is slated to end in Fall 2023 due to changes mandated by our accrediting body (CACREP).

While we are not currently accredited as a clinical rehabilitation counseling program, students who complete the rehabilitation-focused training experiences available in our program are eligible to sit for the CRC exam under Category 3. These details would be discussed in detail with a faculty mentor.  

I want to work with substance abuse/addiction. Can I do that with this degree? Why should I pick this program over a substance use-focused program?

While you won’t get as much specific training in addictions that you would in a SA program, many students and alumni are currently working with this population. With our program being a general counseling program, you will have a course on substance abuse/addictions and can choose clinical placements that focus on working with that population. Several of our alumni have gone on to obtain additional Substance Abuse certifications (Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) and the Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC)).  

A general program can be a great option because you’ll get SA/addiction foundation, plus other training, that if you want to change your focus down the road, you’ll still have the foundational counseling knowledge and skills.  

There are no specific prerequisite requirements for admissions. Applicants must hold a baccalaureate degree, preferably in psychology, rehabilitation sciences, human services, social sciences or a related field of study, with a minimum undergraduate GPAS of 3.0.

What proportion of your students typically sit for the NCE vs the CRC exam, and how many sit for both exams? 

The majority of our students sit for the NCE and a minority sit for the CRC or both. 

Are graduates eligible for licensure (LPC, etc)?

Yes, the Counseling Program meets the educational requirements for licensure in Pennsylvania and many additional states. Please check with your state’s licensing body for more information on the education requirements of that state. 

Will I be licensed when I graduate from your program? 

As with all counseling programs, becoming licensed is a three step process: Step 1 Graduate from our program; Step 2 Pass a certification exam (this varies by state—In Pennsylvania, you can take either the National Counselor Examination or the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Exam); Step 3 additional supervised practice post-graduation is required for our graduates. 

Your website says your program meets educational requirements for licensure in PA, how can I determine if it meets other states?

You can find more information about state licensure requirements through the American Counseling Association. While this is a good starting point, we also encourage you to follow up directly with the requirements listed on each state’s licensure page. 

Can licensed professional counselors work with couples/families?

Yes, LPCs conduct counseling with couples and families. Pitt Counseling students take a class on Family & Couples Counseling in year 2 of their graduate training.

Is there a formal research requirement? What research opportunities are available? 

While our program emphasizes training in evidence-based practice, which involves education in clinical research methods, there is no requirement to conduct research. Research opportunities are sometimes available by working on faculty members’ research projects. 

When should I apply? 

Students may begin applying anytime in the academic year prior to their anticipated start date, but applications are due by February 1st of each year.

Approximately how long after the application deadline will we know the decision for admissions?

Applications are reviewed by the admissions committee after the February 1st deadline. We aim to inform students of their admissions decision by the end of February at which time we administer a waiting list. 

Are there any prerequisites to apply?

There are no specific prerequisite requirements for admissions. Applicants must hold a baccalaureate degree, preferably in psychology, rehabilitation sciences, human services, social sciences or a related field of study, with a minimum undergraduate GPAS of 3.0. 

I have a non-psychology related degree. Am I eligible to apply to the program?

Yes! The Pitt Counseling program consists of students from diverse academic majors who greatly contribute to the learning experience. You may also view the specific admission requirements on our Admissions Page.

Do you require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) score for admission? 

No, GRE scores are not required.

Do you have any additional requirements for international students?

For applicants required to provide an English Language proficiency exam scores, we require a minimum TOEFL sub-scores of 26 for speaking and 24 for listening.

How can I learn more about the program? 

We encourage you to attend one of our Information Sessions or an SHRS Open House. We generally have two during the fall term and two during the spring term. Attending an Information Session or Open House will provide you with an opportunity to meet and speak with faculty and current counseling students. After attending an information session, applicants are welcome to request an optional, individual meeting with a faculty member to discuss any additional questions they have.

You can also submit your information via our Request for Information Form. One of our Enrollment Specialists will be happy to assist you.

Can I review course syllabi to learn more about your classes and teaching approaches?

Course syllabi are available upon request.

Can I schedule a visit to Pitt and meet with a counseling representative?

We would encourage you to attend one of our events. More information about upcoming dates can be found on the SHRS events page

If you are unable to make it to one of these events, please contact to schedule a visit or meeting with a Counseling faculty member.  

What materials do I need to submit to apply to the Counseling program?

Applications are complete when all required materials have been received. See the application requirements on our Admissions Page.

How many students do you accept each year?

We admit approximately 27-32 students each year. 

When does the program start?

The Counseling Program uses a cohort model and enrolls a new class each Fall semester. 

Do you admit part-time students?

No, we are not able to admit part-time students. 

How are applications reviewed?

While undergraduate GPAs are very important, equally important are applicants’ responses to essay questions and letters of recommendation. The Admissions Committee carefully considers all evidence supporting applicants’ potential for being successful in a graduate program. Applicants from backgrounds that are historically under-represented in the counseling profession are particularly encouraged to apply. 

Can I defer my acceptance into the Counseling program for a year?

Yes, applicants who have paid the required non-refundable admissions deposit may defer their acceptance by one year. 

Are international students or students who studied outside of the United State eligible to apply?

Yes. For more information on services to support international students at Pitt, please visit the Pitt Admissions International Student Page.

How long is the program?

Our program takes 2 years (5-terms, including one summer) to complete. Coursework begins at the end of August (fall term) and students graduate 2 years later in April. 

What is the typical schedule? 

Classes are held 2 days/week. In order to graduate in 5-terms, a full-time schedule of approximately 15-credits is required. During the first year, courses are held on Mondays and Wednesdays. Second year students take classes on Tuesday and Thursdays, in addition to completing a field placement for about 20 hours per week. This is in addition to the considerable time required to complete course requirements outside of class. 

Can I work during the program?

We strongly discourage full-time students from working full-time during the academic year. Some students work part-time during the program, particularly during their first year. During the second year, students complete their clinical internship while attending classes 2-days per/week, making opportunities for work difficult. 

Is financial aid available? Do you offer student assistantship positions?

You can obtain information on financial aid from Pitt’s Office of Financial Aid. Most of our students are receiving some type of financial assistance, primarily through loans. Our Department does not have student assistant positions available. However, we may have paid positions for students through the Hiram G Andrews Center and research grants that can help with living expenses or tuition. Additionally, we inform students of part-time employment opportunities they can pursue. 

You can also learn more about our scholarship opportunities. Please visit Project CRESTS and Nancy L Oyler to learn more about the counseling programs scholarships. 

For more information about additional scholarships, please visit SHRS Scholarship and Funding Page and the Pitt Financial Aid Page

How can I get information on housing?

Please visit Pitt’s Off-Campus Living Page for more information.

If I’m leaning towards mental health counseling in schools, is this program good for that? 

Our program prepares students to provide a wide range of counseling services and our students have completed practicum and internship in school settings. The current curriculum does not contain the required CACREP standards for the school counseling specialization. 

How often do students meet with their advisor? 

Students in the program enroll in a formal mentorship class that structures the advisement process through the first year. Each advisor formally meets with their advisees a minimum of 2 times per semester. Mentorship meetings transition to focusing on the Clinical Capstone Exam and continue meeting with their advisor a minimum of 2 times each term. 

What is the faculty/student advising ratio? 

Each faculty advisor has about 5-8 students per cohort.

Do students pay full tuition and fees for all 5 semesters?

Yes, students pay tuition and fees for all 5 semesters that they are enrolled in the Pitt Counseling program.

See the Tuition Page for more information

Do you accept transfer credits? 

No, we do not accept transfer credits.