Master of Arts: Clinical Mental Health Counseling Concentration

Hands of people conversing

Clinical mental health counseling is an effective method of incorporating psychotherapy, practical problem resolution, and crisis management into a holistic system designed to support human dignity and generate positive outcomes in mental health treatment.

Becoming a counselor is a complex and emotional process. In addition to standard academic learning, counselor education involves a personal journey in which students bring their whole and authentic selves to the learning process. The Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree encourages students to explore their own learning and emotional journey through seeking their own personal counseling experience.

The Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling will prepare the student to excel as a mental health counselor in a variety of clinical settings, from educational, corporate, and healthcare institutions to local nonprofits, community agencies, and private practice. Our two year program will provide students with the face-to-face interaction and hands-on learning opportunities necessary to hone their counseling skills, while engaging with expert faculty, who are dedicated to their success. As a graduate of UNC Charlotte’s counseling program, students can confidently and competently begin making a positive impact in the lives of individuals, couples, families, and their community as a clinical mental health counselor.

Why choose our Master of Arts concentration in Clinical Mental Health Counseling?

  • Our program is accredited by the Councils for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Professions (CACREP), which ensures the quality of our curriculum, the experience of our instructors, and the academic and experiential rigor of our program in preparing our students for their future professions.
  • From the first course, students will be trained to develop their cultural competency skills and learn to work with a diverse client population. This will enable future counselors to connect with and advocate for individuals from various religious, socioeconomic, ethnic, gender identity, sexual orientation, and racial backgrounds to provide the therapeutic and practical problem resolution counseling they need to lead healthier, happier lives.
  • Students can tailor their degree program to align with their interests by incorporating elective courses in areas such as: grief and loss counseling, crisis counseling, counseling and spirituality, counseling adolescents, play therapy, and many others. Students can even elect to perform an independent research study for course credit, under the guidance of a faculty member, in any relevant topic for which courses are not available. Students can also earn (if interested) a certificate in disciplines such as Play Therapy, Gerontology, and Addictions while completing their degree.
  • Students will learn from and work alongside our experienced faculty and collaborate on research into growing areas of interest within clinical mental health field. Many of our professors also work in private practice, thus keeping them engaged with the ever-evolving communities they serve and connecting their students with ample local networking and educational opportunities.
  • Students pursuing this degree will address the program’s core courses and relevant electives from a counseling perspective. As with all courses for all students, each student is required to bring an individualized area of interest to their work. These areas may be singular or varied, but students pursuing the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling are expected to focus on issues of relevance to their counseling professional and personal development. Faculty are eager to work with students to incorporate personal areas of interest into all of their work
  • Upon completion of their degree, students will be eligible to take the National Counselor Exam (NCE), which certifies you to apply to become a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate (LCMHCA) in the state of North Carolina. Students can also complete post-graduate certifications in areas such as: school counseling, substance or addictions counseling, play therapy, gerontology, public health, community health, and nonprofit; or pursue field experience in a variety of other capacities.


Students in the Clinical Mental Health concentration will develop their clinical skills within our rigorous academic environment. Our students gain extensive real-world experience through an intensive 150-hour practicum and two 300-hour internships over the course of their final three semesters. Students will have both UNC Charlotte and on-site supervision as they complete their hours, to help hone the skills they have learned in the classroom and apply that knowledge in practice while maintaining self-care and peer-to-peer support. The site for these experiences are based on student interest and availability. Students have completed their clinical training at sites like Gaston County Hospice, Mecklenberg County shelter for battered women, Charlotte Rescue Mission, Alexander Youth Network, Carolina’s Healthcare System, Atrium Health, Wake Forest Counseling Center as well as the counseling centers of Queens University, Wingate University, Lenoir Rhyne, and Gardner-Webb, to name a few.

Upon graduating from our program, students are trained as highly skilled counselors who are committed to serving the needs of individuals and their communities. Our graduates excel as community leaders, advocates, and practitioners who model compassionate service to humanity and foster the well being of society.

Career Options

Today’s insurance plans cover treatment for mental health issues and people are seeking care in record numbers. In fact, in the United States alone, employment of clinical mental health counselors is projected to grow by 19% through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Even more compelling: One in five adults, roughly 44 million Americans, endures mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. You can meet this rising demand with a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

Graduates from our program are gainfully employed in diverse and dynamic careers, including supportive roles in higher education institutions, such as admissions and academic advising, disability services, or university counseling. Others are working with area mental health organizations, such as Jmart or Cardinal Innovations, or are providing counseling services within healthcare systems. Many are employed in North Carolina school systems to provide counseling to students in the school setting, thus avoiding parental costs associated with outpatient counseling. Some are employed by their internship sites, while others pursue professional speaking, clinical research, and working with individuals they know as a result of the networking opportunities they gained during their master’s program. Many apply for state licensure (NCBLCMHC) to enter private practice, nonprofit work, and other community organizations or choose to continue their education with post-graduate certifications and doctoral programs. Whatever path our graduates take upon completion of their degrees, they are confident that the knowledge, skills, and experience they have gained through the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at UNC Charlotte will be viewed favorably by potential employers and unlock the opportunities they need to achieve their career goals as effective and empathetic mental healthcare professionals.

Student Opportunities

Students can further their personal and professional growth beyond the classroom by getting involved with student organizations, such as the International Counseling Honor Society, Chi Sigma Iota (CSI) and the program chapter Mu Tau Beta (MTB), which has won numerous awards and accolades for excellence. Our community outreach, social engagement, and professional development offer abundant opportunities for our students to participate in service learning and career networking both on-campus and in area mental health services.

Students are also encouraged to submit proposals to various professional organizations and associations, such as the American Counseling Association (ACA), the North Carolina Counseling Association (NCCA), and the Licensed Professional Counseling Association of North Carolina (LPCANC). These proposals often result in presentations at annual regional and national conferences which provides both professional exposure, public presentation practice, and networking opportunities for the students who attend.

The Center for Graduate Life provides the support and sense of community students need to meet the challenges they will face throughout their graduate experience. The Center offers workshops on topics like grant writing, presentation skills, publishing in scholarly journals, and understanding the academic job search. Virtual workshops are available online on subjects such as graduate academic writing and research writing at the graduate level.

Learn from exceptional faculty

Our faculty are leaders in the counseling profession through their contributions to the discipline of counseling in publications, cutting-edge research, community outreach, and private practice. Many of our faculty have intense areas of interest ranging from addiction, career counseling, family therapy, grief and loss counseling, trauma, counseling older adults, play therapy and much more. Many of our faculty are engaged in community-based programs in local schools (i.e. receiving a grant to educate teachers on best practices for incorporating play therapy into their classroom). Our faculty is comprised of national and international scholar practitioners with extensive experience supporting students taking charge of their learning. Faculty mentors and advisors are eager to work with students to incorporate personal areas of interest into all of their work

Our professors are affiliated with the American Counseling Association as well as the Association for Counselor Educators and Supervisors (ACES), as well as other individual organizations within their respective disciplines. Many have won numerous professional accolades, including: alumni of the year in their Master’s and PHD programs and counselor educator of the year from ACES, which demonstrates the high quality education students can expect to receive in our program.

Are you ready to pursue your calling and help individuals lead healthier and happier lives?

If so, click here to learn more about requirements for our Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, graduate student financial aid and the graduate application process. Note: the application deadline for the Master of Arts in Counseling is October 15 to begin coursework the following Summer or Fall.


Dr. Clare Merlin-Knoblich
Director of Master’s Program

helpful links

American Counseling Association

American Mental Health Counselors Association

National Board for Certified Counselors

North Carolina Board of Licensed Professional Counselors

North Carolina Counseling Association

Licensed Professional Counselors Association of North Carolina