The CACREP-Accredited Online Master of Arts in Counseling Program

Counseling@Northwestern is the CACREP-accredited online Master of Arts in Counseling Program from The Family Institute at Northwestern University. The program prepares you to become a self-reflective clinical mental health counselor who applies various counseling theories and evidence-based practices to help people in need—all without attending classes on campus. 

With an online curriculum just as rigorous as on campus, Counseling@Northwestern blends live, face-to-face classes; self-paced coursework; and clinical field placements at Northwestern-approved sites. Upon completion of the program requirements, you will earn the same degree and receive the same diploma as our on-campus counseling master’s students, preparing you to pursue licensure and provide high-quality mental health services to help clients lead healthier, more empowered lives.

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About the Master of Arts in Counseling Degree

Counseling@Northwestern offers a CACREP-accredited Master of Arts in Counseling degree that prepares you to pursue professional licensure and choose from a variety of clinical mental health counseling careers. Here are the three core components of the program:

Self reflection: Before you can facilitate healing in others, you must understand how your perspectives could affect your relationship with clients. Counseling@Northwestern guides you through several self-reflective experiences so you can provide the best possible care to those who need it.

Diverse community: As a counselor, you must be sensitive to gender, race and ethnicity, and other factors that affect your clients’ identities. The program provides myriad opportunities to connect with a diverse group of professors and classmates so you can strengthen your practice while learning from their experiences.

Immersion in clinical training: You don’t need counseling experience to apply to the online MA program, but we want to make sure you feel confident working with clients in the field. As a key part of the program, you will spend approximately 18 months in field training—approximately 800 hours—under the supervision of a licensed mental health counselor.


Licensed counselors are legally permitted to practice clinical mental health counseling autonomously. While the exact scope of practice varies from state to state, most clinical counselors are allowed to diagnose and treat mental health concerns. Licensed counselors may work in agencies and other settings. They may also work in private practice, and many accept third-party insurance reimbursement. Many licensed counselors also provide mental health consultation and supervision.

After earning an MA in Counseling degree, counselors must complete their licensure in order to practice. The requirements for a counseling license are state-specific and include additional post-master’s supervised clinical hours and examination.

Graduation from a CACREP-accredited program is the first step but does not guarantee eligibility for licensure in all states. Licensure requirements vary from state to state, with some requiring more clinical field placement hours and/or coursework than CACREP standards. Graduates will need to take their state’s licensure exam and complete the necessary number of post-graduate supervised clinical hours in order to be fully licensed. Once students have enrolled in the program, Northwestern will work with them to meet their field placement hour requirements and discuss any postgraduate coursework requirements in their resident state. Every effort is made to help students meet licensure requirements in their state(s) of practice.

Licensure requirements differ from state to state, but most state licensing boards require a master’s degree from a CACREP- or CORE-accredited program. We encourage students to research the requirements specific to each state


Northwestern University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Northwestern University’s on-campus Master of Arts in Counseling Program and the Counseling@Northwestern online program have received an eight-year accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The CACREP accreditation renews in 2023. A CACREP-accredited program allows a student to be license-eligible in most states. Some states require more clinical field placement hours and/or coursework than the CACREP standards. Once students enroll in the program, Northwestern will work with students to meet their field placement hour requirement and discuss any post-graduate coursework requirements in their resident state.

To learn more about Counseling@Northwestern, contact an admissions counselor at 1-844-684-6221 or admissions@counseling.northwestern.edu.