Frequently Asked Questions

What makes the EMU Graduate Counseling Program different?

Our program strives to meet the highest standards of the profession, integrating cutting edge clinical practice and research. We emphasize the formation of the counselor, balancing coursework and skill development with personal growth experiences and strong encouragement that our students attend to their own inner work.

What is the difference between a Master’s of Social Work and Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling?

An MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is a Master of Arts degree focused on counseling which is usually applied to the professional licensure process. An MSW is a Masters degree in Social Work which is the requirement to becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. The two professions are distinct in their approach to training and clinical work. Counseling training programs focus more on the micro aspects of human relationships and wellness, while social work training programs focus on the macro aspects of human relationships and wellness.

Can I begin the program in the spring semester?

Because of the sequential nature of the courses, our program is designed to begin in the fall only.

Am I too old?

Our students vary in age from recent college graduates to retirees who are pursuing a second career!

Can I commute?

Yes. The EMU Graduate Counseling Program is located in Harrisonburg, VA, and all courses, with the exception of one summer course, are taught in-person. Some students travel from their homes in neighboring cities and counties to attend classes. Students who commute large distances to campus sometimes choose to find local lodging for one or two nights/week. Classes are held 2 days/week in each year of the program. The professional practice coordinator makes efforts to help students identify practicum and internship sites close to home to help reduce the number of days students need to commute to Harrisonburg.

Is housing available? 

We are in the process of finalizing graduate housing opportunities for the 2024-2025 school year. As we are working out the details of creating a graduate community, please reach out to your admissions counselor with questions. If you are in need of on campus housing for the Fall 2024-2025 term, please complete the 2024-2025 Graduate Housing Form. For additional information on on-campus Graduate Housing, visit our Living in Harrisonburg page.

Several apartments are also available in the neighborhoods surrounding campus as stand-alone apartments or in homes. Refer to EMU e-classifieds for up-to-date listings.

Are there on-line (distance learning) courses?

The EMU Graduate Counseling Program is accredited as an in-person program. With one summer course exception, all courses are taught in-person.

Do I have to be a Mennonite (Christian)?

No — our students and faculty represent a variety of faith backgrounds and experiences. We consider the awareness of and exploration of personal spirituality, faith, values and religious tradition and commitments to be crucial in counselor formation. We encourage and support students in exploring their own spirituality both intra-personally in their own practices, as well as inter-personally in their family and community systems. We ask our counselors in training to be attentive to, respectful of, and unafraid to meet clients wherever they are with respect to these dimensions of their lives. We recognize both that religious communities and families are often the most significant positive resource in a client’s life and also that religious communities and families may be part of the presenting problem.

Can I still keep my job?

Many people continue to work while in graduate school. The default 3-year curriculum track is recommended, especially if you decide to keep a full-time job. Students who choose the intensive 2-year curriculum track often only have time for part-time work.

When should I apply… what are the requirements?

Applications are accepted at any time during the year until spring semester at which time the admissions committee conducts interviews and makes admissions decisions. For application information see our admissions page. The deadline for each school year is March 1.

What is the job market like?

We have a 100% rate of hire for our graduates who pursue counseling positions.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, faster than average employment growth is projected for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors during 2021-2031.

Where can I work after I graduate?

Our CACREP-accredited program meets the educational requirements for licensure in Virginia, and our degrees are easily transferrable to most other states as well. To find out about a specific state's licensure requirements, visit our Licensure by State page, the ACA state-by-state report, or the state's official Board of Counseling.

How much does this program cost?

Please refer to the following link. Tuition and fees for graduate programs

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