Counseling Student Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Why is this a 60 hour program when other Master’s Degrees are much less?
Both the MA School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling Programs require 60 credit hours. The 60 hour Plan of Study in each emphasis is designed to offer the very best education to students who desire to be professional counselors.

a. For School Counseling, the 60 hour Plan of Study is constructed to provide the traditional regimen of school counseling and related coursework along with select courses that are required for state licensure in West Virginia. Because of the changing nature of the school counselor’s roles and functions, an array of clinical courses is included in the Plan.
b. For Clinical Mental Health Counseling, the 60 hour Plan of Study reflects the standards provided by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). In addition, the WV Board of Examiners in Counseling requires that licensees complete 60 hour MA programs in Counseling.

2. What is CACREP?
CACREP refers to the “Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs”. This accrediting body, formed in 1981, functions in close collaboration and cooperation with the American Counseling Association.

The purpose of CACREP is to promote the advancement of quality educational programs in counselor training through the publication of state‐of‐the‐art standards of training.

3. Is your program CACREP‐Accredited?
As of August 1, 2017, both the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program and the School Counseling Program are CACREP Accredited.

4. Why is being a CACREP Graduate beneficial to me?
Whether a student is considering attending a campus‐based or online CACREP accredited program, there are many benefits to graduating from a program approved by CACREP. If a counseling training program is accredited by CACREP, students are assured that the program’s content, quality, and standards of training meet the highest level of standards in the profession.

A CACREP‐accredited program is required to maintain a curriculum that provides the academic knowledge necessary for professional licensure in most states.

Further, accredited programs assure that students and the consumers they will serve that a program’s curriculum includes relevant counseling coursework and skill preparation. Historically, graduating from a CACREP program offers the graduate greater access to employment markets, a state‐of‐the art training program, an edge over non‐CACREP graduates in admission to doctoral programs, and eligibility for licensure.

5. How does accreditation impact my licensure should I decide to find work in another state?
Accreditation could impact your ability to be licensed in other states in the near future. There are many states who have or are considering making graduation from a CACREP program a requirement for licensure. While this won’t go into effect for several years (Most give 6‐7 years for programs to be accredited before the mandate goes into effect), it could affect your ability to be licensed in other states in the future.

There are some provisions for those licensed prior to that date being worked out in the meantime, but if you become licensed now or as soon as you graduate, it would be recommended that you guard that license closely and keep it current so that you do not run into problems later.

6. How many courses are considered Full Time?
For the purposes of Financial Aid, during Fall and Spring semesters, three courses (9 credit hours) is considered Full Time for graduate students. During the Summer semester, two course (6 credit hours) is considered Full Time for graduate students.

Note that partial Financial-Aid is available for Part‐Time graduate course work.

7. What is professional development?
Professional Development refers to any educational efforts one undertakes outside the pursuit of a formal degree (e.g., a Master’s degree in Counseling) or Certificate of Studies (e.g., the Violence, Loss and Trauma Certificate).
Typically Professional Development involves attending workshops and conferences for the purposes of Continuing Education (CE) credits to maintain one’s professional license. Graduate counseling courses CAN be taken as part of one’s Professional Development educational efforts.

For example, a student who has already graduated with a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, but then decides to become a Certified School Counselor, can re‐apply to the Counseling Program as a Professional Development student in order to complete the courses required for the School Counselor Certification.

Note that a Professional Development student, however, would NOT be eligible for Financial-Aid.

8. Do I have to take the GRE or MAT?
As of the fall semester of 2017, you do not have to take the GRE or MAT to be considered for admission to the counseling program.

9. Where do my reference letters for admission go to? Can they be emailed or faxed?
References should complete the Program recommendation form found elsewhere on this website and mail or email that form to the Office of Graduate Admissions. They may be mailed through U.S. Mail, faxed, or e‐mailed to

10. What is a Hybrid course?
When a course is referred to as a “hybrid” course, this means that the majority of the course content is delivered by technological means (i.e. Blackboard). Although the majority of the course is offered via technological means, there are synchronous, face‐to-face, or on site attendance requirements as well.

11. Is the program an on‐line degree program?
No, the program is not an on‐line degree program. A number of the required courses are available as E‐courses (online) or hybrid format, but the program is not considered an on‐line degree program.

12. How often do classes meet?
This program operates on a hybrid model where classes will meet between zero (fully online) and eight times per semester (every other week is the requirement for supervision in clinical courses, i.e. Practicum and Internship). The number of class meetings varies by course, and by instructor preference excepting clinical courses. In order to determine the specific number of class meetings for a class, please visit the following link:
Once at this link, select the term for which you are interested in viewing class meetings and then select the department for the class (i.e. COUN for Counseling courses) and the course number and professor or section you are looking for.

1. How do I activate my Student E‐mail account?
See this link for steps on activating your Student E‐mail Account:

2. Which courses do I take first?
The most important thing to do when deciding where to start in your course work is to contact your advisor. Your advisor will complete a Plan of Study with you and help you determine the courses that will be best for you to take and in what order.

As a general rule of thumb, start at the top of your Plan of Study and work your way down, paying attention to the pre‐requisites.

Relevant pre‐requisite courses must be completed BEFORE registering for a number of upper‐level courses in each Plan of Study. You will need to plan ahead.

3. What is my advisor for?
Your Advisor is there to help you when you have questions about the program, or even the profession.

For example, if a course indicated in your plan of study is not available, or if you need help with other tasks related to your graduate work. Advisors can also help you focus your area of study and can help you decide whether the Counseling Master’s degree is the right degree for you, or whether to pursue a doctorate in Counseling, or how to plan ahead for Practicum and Internship, etc.

It is best practice to check in with your Academic Advisor by e‐mail at least once a semester.

4. How do I contact my Advisor?
You should have received your Advisor’s name and contact information in your acceptance letter. You may also find faculty contact information on the Counseling Program’s website. You may contact your Academic Advisor by e‐mail to his or her Marshall e‐mail account or you may call them on their office extensions.

To see when courses are offered each semester, use this very handy Course Offerings Tool, which tells you whether a course is offered, who is teaching it, when/where it meets and how often, and the selected textbooks for each course:

5. How do I get registered for my classes?
Registration is accomplished online through “MyMU” on Marshall’s website. For step-by‐step instructions on how to register for courses, see this link:

6. Why can’t I register for my own courses?
You might have a “hold” on your account, due to academic or financial reasons. Or you may be trying to register for a course that has uncompleted pre‐requisites that must be completed first. If you have trouble registering for courses, contact your Academic Advisor as soon as possible.

7. Why do I have a hold on my registration?
You may have a “hold” on your registration due to academic or financial reasons. You may need to clear up the academic or financial obligation before being able to register for courses, or you may, with your Advisor’s permission, be able to take limited courses in order to address an academic obligation.

Or you may be trying to register for a course that has uncompleted pre‐requisites that must be completed first. If you have trouble registering for courses, contact your Academic Advisor as soon as possible.

8. Where can I find the information on courses I want to take – delivery, instructor, dates, times, and location?
Information about courses may be found on the Marshall University website ( To identify information about delivery, instructor, dates, times, and locations, please visit the following link:

Once at this link, select the term for which you are interested in viewing class meetings and then select the department for the class (i.e. COUN for Counseling courses).

9. Why can’t I register for more than 12 hours?
Graduate students are considered full‐time if they are registered for at least six (6) credits per semester. Given the time commitment required for graduate study, the maximum number of credits is twelve (12) credits per semester.

Students who have a need to take more than the maximum number of credits per semester (12) may submit a written request to their advisor to request to take an additional three (3) credits.

10. Can you tell me how to get Financial Aid?
Address all of your Financial Aid questions to Student Financial Aid. They are the experts. To start the Application process, see this link:

11. How do I get my Financial Aid money?
Check with Student Financial Aid. For some general information on notification of aid and how it is disbursed, see this link:

12. Can I get financial aid if I am enrolled as professional development student?
No. Professional Development students are not currently eligible for public Financial Aid.

However, you may check with Student Financial Aid to see if they can recommend private Financial Aid resources. See this link:

13. Can I get financial aid if I am in the VoLT Certificate program?
Yes. The VoLT Certificate is eligible for Federal Financial Aid. Check with Student Financial Assistance for guidance.

14. If I have a Master’s Degree am I eligible for Financial Aid?
It depends. If you have a non‐counseling master’s degree and wish to pursue a Master’s degree in Counseling, you may qualify for Financial Aid.

Talk to the experts at Student Financial Aid to get a definitive answer:

15. Can I take a course and its pre-requisite simultaneously?
Normally, no. Under some limited circumstances, with Advisor consultation and approval, sometimes some courses can be taken simultaneously with their pre‐requisite.

However, this is an exception and should happen rarely, and with good reason.

16. How do I withdraw from a course?
If you want to adjust your schedule, you can add or drop courses without penalty (without a grade of “W” on your transcript) through the first week of the semester. Courses may not be added after the first week of school. Courses can be dropped after the first week, but will result in a grade of “W” on your transcript. Individual courses may be dropped until the end of the 10th week of the Fall or Spring semester.

After the 10th week, you may not withdraw from a single course; you must do a complete withdrawal from all courses. (Note, the single‐course withdrawal deadline is different for the Summer semester.) No withdrawals are allowed during final exam week. The exact dates are available at

To withdraw from a single course up through the 10th week of the Fall or Spring semester, go to MyMU, then click on the Student Tab, then click on “Add or Drop Courses” under the Registration Tools.

If you need to withdraw from ALL of your courses, you must check in with your Academic Advisor, let him or her know what is going on so that you can plan for subsequent semesters, then send an e‐mail with your Student ID # and the relevant course information, including CRN’s, to the University Registrar at

It is in your best interest to consult with your academic advisor before completing any schedule adjustments or withdrawals.

17. What is the process for adding the VoLT certificate program to my degree? (Contact, forms, interview, etc.)
If you want to add the certificate while you are a student, you must fill out the Secondary Program Request form and have your advisor sign it. Then you will need to forward that to Dr. Ellison or Dr. Smith. They will contact you for an interview to admit you to the certificate program.

When they have admitted you, they will sign and submit the Secondary Program Request form to the Program Director who will send it on to be entered into the system.

18. How do I get my books?
You can get your books through the Marshall University Bookstore on the Huntington Campus, or on‐line here:‐VanityURL‐_‐‐_‐10587

Some students search for books through other online retailers, such as Amazon. Some students sell their books to other students; check with your fellow students as well.

19. What happens if I cannot make it to a live class meeting?
Due to the nature of graduate study, regular class attendance is expected. In many courses, there are a limited number of class meetings from which a student may be absent and still successfully complete the course.

First, check the course syllabus to determine what the policy is for absences as well as the instructor’s preferred contact information.

Then, contact the instructor (in advance, if possible) about the absence. If you are unable to contact the instructor prior to the absence, it is suggested to follow‐up after the absence.

20. How do I know if a class has been canceled due weather (or any other reason)?
To determine if a class has been canceled, check your email. The instructor, if he/she needs to cancel a course for weather or another reason, will typically email all students in the course. If you suspect a class to be canceled and have not received communication from the instructor/can not reach the instructor, you may contact Kathy Zimmerman, Counseling Department Secretary, at 304‐746‐1925.

In addition, when it is necessary to alter the schedule in response to weather conditions, every effort will be made by the University to notify students as expeditiously and as comprehensively as possible in the following ways:

The university subscribes to a third‐party service to provide notifications by e‐mail, text message, and telephone, referred to as “MU Alert” at Marshall.

All students, faculty and staff will be enrolled in the MU Alert database with their university e‐mail addresses, and, in the case of faculty and staff, their office telephone numbers.

Students, faculty and staff may provide additional contact methods, including those for text messaging and cell phone numbers, through the use of the MyMU portal. In cases of weather‐related or other emergency closings and delays, University Communications staff will use all contact points in MU Alert to send notifications. Television stations in Huntington and Charleston will be notified.

Radio stations in Huntington and Charleston will be asked to announce the delay or closing. The Office of University Communications will communicate the specific details of the delay or closing to the Office of Public Safety at 304‐696‐HELP.

21. What if I miss an assignment deadline in a course?
Each Instructor sets academic policies in his or her syllabus. Check the course syllabus and abide by the policies for that course. If in doubt, check with the course instructor.

22. What do I do if I can’t get into Blackboard or if something is messed up?
The best course of action is to first contact your professor via their Marshall email to let them know there is a problem. Then contact the Blackboard Support Center here:

The support center can help you troubleshoot what is causing the problem. The Support Center will help identify if it is a situation your professor needs to fix or if it is a Blackboard or server issue and, hopefully, suggestions on what you can do to resolve it.

Then, it is important that you notify your professor that you have spoken with the Support Center about your trouble accessing the Blackboard course and share when you spoke with the Support Center and what their answer to the problem was.

1. What’s the difference between Practicum and Internship?
Practicum (608) is a Clinical placement where you are to find a field site, have the Clinical Coordinator approve that site, obtain a site‐supervisor, and set up a schedule where you will go to the site and perform a number of counseling and counseling related duties.

For practicum, your skill development is still pretty new so you may or may not do any counseling on your own with a real client. It may be primarily observation and co-therapy or co‐leading groups, especially at the beginning. Much of that will depend on your setting and supervisor.

For internship, it is expected that you will do some individual work with clients (individuals/groups/families) over the course of the semester and your skill level is expected to be well‐developed. The biggest difference between them is that Practicum requires 100 hours of client contact, 40 direct and 60 indirect where Internship will require 300 in each semester (40% direct and 60% indirect as in Practicum) for 600 total internship hours.

2. What do I do when I’m ready to enroll in Practicum?
At least one semester before Practicum, the Application for Clinical Placement must be completed using the Supervision Assist online application link. This will be made available to students and an email will be sent as well as posted in the Counseling Student Orientation and Information page on Blackboard.

The Clinical Coordinator will conduct a meeting during the semester to help those who are expecting to enroll in Practicum and Internship the next semester to help with the expectations and questions you may have. It is highly recommended that you attend that meeting.

Once you have completed the application, it will be reviewed by the Clinical Coordinator and you will be notified if the site you have chosen has been approved. The application will ask many questions regarding where you are planning to complete your practicum hours so you will need to know where you plan to work prior to completing the application.

It is important to start arranging for a site to complete your hours well before the beginning of the semester in which you plan to enroll. If you have additional questions, you may contact the Clinical Coordinator, the Program Director or your Advisor.

3. Can I start my Internship early?
No. You may not start accumulating hours for your internship until classes begin and your Memorandum of agreement has been submitted to your Internship professor.

4. Can I continue my Internship between semesters?
This is something you must speak with your site‐supervisor, your professor, and, perhaps, the program director about when the time comes.

First of all, this continuing of your internship assumes that you are enrolled in the next academic term following the one you have just completed, that you are continuing at the site where you did your first internship, and that your Memorandum of agreement is updated to include the dates of service between semesters.

However, this must be due to extenuating circumstances and discussed early with the faculty supervisor in order for it to be approved. When there is a break between semesters, you are not officially enrolled in a course and are therefore not covered under the University’s liability insurance regarding anything that may happen at your site.

Your site/site‐supervisor must be willing to assume all risk for your continuing work there until the next semester starts. Hours accumulated cannot be counted unless the MOA is updated prior to the first semester ending and the break begins.

You will have to work it out between you and your site‐supervisor for work hours and holidays (when applicable) for that time. Once all of the paperwork is signed and submitted, then the student may continue.

5. Can I count my job as my Internship?
Your job can count as your internship provided your job can provide you with the types of counseling activities required for your internship.

If you are a case manager in your current position, for example, your hours of client contact will only count if you are allowed to spend some time counseling a small caseload of clients at some point during your week which may be in addition to your actual on‐the‐clock work hours.

Your case management duties will count as long as they are concerning a client with whom you are performing in a counseling role.

6. Can I take all six hours of Internship in the same semester?
It is not recommended that you take all 600 internship hours in one semester, but it is possible to do so if you are able to put in the time. What you may gain is completion of your degree sooner and the ability to get out in the field and start working (which no one would blame you for).

But also consider what you may lose the benefit of if you decide to finish it at once. You will lose that extra semester of supervision which could be very valuable feedback to a new therapist. You will be required to invest more time outside of your job and family responsibilities to be able to complete all of your hours in one semester.

Finally, the ability to develop a good connection with those clients on your case load over time will be diminished just because you have only 16 weeks rather than 32 to invest.

1. Where do I find the library databases?
The Library databases are found in the Marshall Library Website: Here’s a direct link to the databases:

2. Where do I go if I need help with APA style?
Consult the current edition of the APA Publication Manual. If you don’t have a hard copy of the manual handy, check the APA Style website here:, or the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) here:

3. What is “Blackboard?”
“Blackboard” is the name of the Learning Management System (LMS) Marshall uses to deliver on‐line courses.

1. When is the best time to contact my professor?
Contact your professor during the professor’s posted office hours, or by e‐mail. Check the course syllabus about your professor’s preferred way to be contacted (e‐mail, phone, in person, etc.)

2. Who do I talk to if I have a problem in a class?
Contact your course instructor as soon as you can. Your instructor will work with you, but you need to take the initiative to contact the instructor early, before a problem escalates.

3. What happens if I get sick and have to miss class?
Contact your course instructor as soon as you can. Your instructor will work with you, but you need to take the initiative to contact the instructor and be able to take responsibility for any missed work.

4. How do I complete the 600 hours for internship while I am working full time?
This is something that each student needs to begin thinking about early in the program. The 600 hours are required and cannot be waived.

Therefore, figuring out the logistics of how you can complete all the requirements of internship is vital to your success in completing and graduating the program. The first step would be to discuss options with your advisor or the Clinical Coordinator.

Sometimes they can help you think about and brainstorm different solutions for completing the hours while working. Many students work full time while completing their counseling degree. It is not impossible, but does take commitment, organization and planning.

5. What do I do if I don’t like my professor?
Check with your professor. It may be hard to do this, because none of us enjoys confrontation.

However, it may be as simple as a misunderstanding or a communication style that is different from your own that can be cleared up in a conversation. Although it’s uncomfortable, contact your professor and ask for help. Do this sooner rather than later.

6. What do I do if I don’t like one of my classmates?
See above.

Check with your classmate. As hard as it is, try to work it out with your classmate, and do it sooner rather than later.

Practice using “I” statements (e.g., “when you do X, I find myself feeling Y. Can you help me?” or “I have a problem, and if I promise not to take it out on you, will you help me work through it?”).

If you have genuinely tried to work it out with a classmate, and it’s just not working, either find a way to limit your unnecessary involvement with the classmate or speak to the Course Instructor.

7. How do I appeal a grade?
See the Graduate Catalog for the specific steps to Appeal a Grade.

You can find a copy of the current Graduate Catalog here:

8. What do I need to do to register if I am on academic probation?
You need to meet with your Academic Advisor early, before the registration period for the relevant semester opens, to plan for how to fulfill your academic obligation and to get permission and help to register for advisor‐approved courses.

You will not be able to register yourself until you have fulfilled your academic obligation. There is official paperwork that needs to be completed for each semester in order to register for courses while you are academic probation.

See your Academic Advisor.

1. What are the requirements and steps to be licensed?
To be licensed in the state of West Virginia, you must have graduated from a 60 hour Master’s program, with certain curricular requirements outlined below. Upon nearing the end of your final internship semester, you would need to inquire of the WV Board of Examiners in Counseling regarding the application process. They will send you the materials needed to begin your application process.

You may consult the website at to get the full description of all requirements. Your plan of study here at Marshall meets the curricular requirements for licensure regardless of your emphasis (School or mental health).

The courses required (with corresponding MU numbers) are as follows:

a) Counseling Theories (603)
b) Counseling Techniques (607)
c) Human Growth and Development (602)
d) Social and Cultural foundations (574)
e) Individual Appraisal (605)
f) Professional Responsibilities (600)
g) Principles of Etiology (631)
h) Addictions Counseling (575)
i) Group Dynamics (604)
j) Life‐style and Career development (606)
k) Marriage, Couples and/or Family counseling (632)
l) Research and evaluation (EDF 621)
m) Supervised Practicum (608)
n) Supervised Internship (691/698)

2. Why should I be involved in professional organizations?
Professional organizations are our connection to the profession as a whole, both on the local and national levels. Professional organizations offer a number of membership benefits that can make the cost of membership quite worth it. Organizations like the American Counseling Association and its divisions as well as the WV Counseling Association and the WV Licensed Professional Counseling Association work very hard to provide their members services like continuing education, affordable liability insurance, legal and ethical help lines to call, discounts on travel, and other benefits.

Most of all, these organizations are on the front lines of legislation that affects the profession, and can advocate for beneficial legislation while defending the profession from bad
legislation. This vital role alone is a great reason to be a part. And finally, this is a profession where it is not advisable to practice in a vacuum. We need to connect and consult with other professionals regularly when puzzling and difficult practice or ethical questions arise.

These organizations provide a quick way to develop those relationships with other professionals and network with them frequently. It is highly recommended to begin to join these groups as a student as the student budget is often tighter and the membership fees for student members are always much lower than those of the professional memberships.

3. After I graduate, if I’m getting supervision hours with an ALPS but move (staying instate) before I get all my hours, can I finish my hours with another ALPS?
Yes. You may change ALPS when you re‐locate but you will need to notify the Board so both your previous ALPS and your new ALPS are properly approved and the appropriate paperwork is completed.

If you move out of state, you will need to contact the Board of your new state to determine what requirements you have met and what you may not have met but need to complete for that state to grant you a license.

4. If I have a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling, can I get a second Masters in School Counseling?
It is not necessary to obtain a master’s degree in both emphases. If you complete one and want the other, all you need do is complete the coursework on the plan of study that
you did not complete your degree in.

For the mental health student who wants the school certification, you would need to take 6 additional courses unless you have a teaching undergraduate degree.

For the school person who also wants the mental health emphasis, the school counseling coursework would count as your electives so no additional courses would be necessary with the exception of a mental health internship at a mental health site.

5. I’ve finished my courses. Why haven’t I gotten my diploma?
You must apply to graduate. Your diploma is not automatically issued to you. To apply to graduate, see There is a form that needs to be completed and a fee to process and print your diploma. The form and fee go to the Graduate Records Office on the South Charleston Campus. See the form for specifics.

Contact your Academic Advisor if you have any questions.

6. I’ve finished my courses. Why haven’t I gotten my VoLT Certificate?
You must apply to get the VoLT Certificate (this is in addition to the application needed to graduate). There is a form and a fee required to process and print your Certificate.

Here is a link to the form:

The form and fee are sent to the Graduate Records Office on the South Charleston Campus. Contact your Academic Advisor if you have any questions.

7. What is the survey in Survey Monkey and why do I have to take it?
The Survey Monkey Survey services accreditation purposes for the College of Education and Professional Development, in which the Counseling Program is housed.

Yes, please take the survey and answer the questions to the best of your ability even if they do not apply directly to you.

8. What is the difference between Mental Health Counseling and clinical Psychology Masters Degrees in terms of employment?
There is a great deal of overlap between the two professions, but they are not completely identical. Recognize that in many places, to be licensed to practice independently as a Clinical psychologist, a doctoral degree is required.

See these employment outlook links for more information: Clinical Mental Health Counselors. The employment outlook for Professional Counselors is good.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts sustained growth in the field will be much faster than average through 2022.

See: Occupational Outlook for Clinical Mental Health Counselors

See: O*Net Summary Report for Mental Health Counselors

See: Occupational Employment Statistics for Mental Health Counselors School Counselors

The employment outlook for School Counselors is steady and positive, keeping pace with job growth in most other professions through 2022.

See: Occupational Outlook for School Counselors

See: O*NET Summary Report for School Counselors

See: Occupational Employment Statistics for School Counselors

Clinical psychologists Employment of psychologists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Job prospects should be best for those who have a doctoral degree in an applied specialty.

See: Occupational Outlook for Licensed Psychologists

See: O*NET Summary for Clinical Psychologists

See: Occupational Employment Statistics for Clinical Psychologists