Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the MA program in Clinical and Counseling Psychology at William Paterson University

1) How clinical vs. research-oriented is your Master's program in Clinical and Counseling Psychology at William Paterson University?

The primary focus of our program is to prepare our students for the professional practice of counseling or psychotherapy work with clients coping with a wide range of concerns and psychological disorders. Our required coursework includes counseling skills, diagnosis, assessment, treatment, and research in mental health & psychological disorders. See our program curriculum for more information. Students are also required to complete 600-hours of supervised clinical practicum during their second year. Besides the required Research Methods course, students who are interested in going on to doctoral programs in Clinical, Counseling or School Psychology after the completion of our Master's degree are encouraged to gain optional research experience through joining a Psychology faculty member's research labs or work closely with faculty mentors to complete an independent research project.

2) What are the career outcomes of the graduates of your Master's program?

Over 75% of the graduates of our program went on to pursue Master's level mental health counselor licensure (LAC/LPC) in NJ or nearby states and work in a variety of community mental health agencies, hospitals, and private practice groups. Around 13% of our graduates went on to doctoral programs (PhD or PsyD) in Clinical or Counseling Psychology. Finally, a small percentage of our graduates pursue a career in research, higher education, or non-profit settings.

3) What research opportunities are available for Master's students in Clinical and Counseling Psychology?

Master's students interested in enhancing their research experience are encouraged to join a Psychology faculty member's research labs or work closely with faculty mentors to complete an independent research project. If they do well, there are opportunities to present at regional or national conferences or possibly co-author in a publication. What sets our program apart from other Master's programs in mental health counseling is that we have 24 Psychology faculty in our department with active research programs, 12 of which are Clinical or Counseling Psychologists. See the research areas of Master's program core faculty, PsyD program faculty, and various research labs within the Department of Psychology.

4) Once I complete my MA degree, will I get licensed as mental health counselor right away?

No. The Master's program in Clinical and Counseling Psychology- 60 credit licensure track at William Paterson University only fulfills the academic requirements for the Licensed Associate Counselor/Licensed Professional Counselor (LAC/LPC) requirements in the state of New Jersey.

  • Upon graduation from our program with 60 credits, students will need to apply for the LAC through the New Jersey Professional Counselor Examiners Committee. See "applications and forms" for more information. After your application is approved, you can apply to sit for the National Counselor Examination (NCE). After obtaining your LAC, you will need additional supervised clinical practice hours (4500 hours) to become fully licensed (LPC) and be able to practice independently in NJ.
  • Students who are seeking Master's level mental health counselor licensure outside of New Jersey are strongly recommended to look into each state's licensure requirements.

5) Will I automatically be admitted to WPU's PsyD program in Clinical Psychology if I complete the MA degree?

Admission to the doctoral program is a separate process, and it is not automatic. The PsyD program in Clinical Psychology has a different set of core faculty members with different requirements and expectations. We have had MA students admitted into the PsyD program upon completion of their MA degree, and in cases where this happens, your MA coursework will count towards our PsyD program requirements.

6) How flexible is the program for students with outside employment or other commitments?

Starting in Fall 2022, we will offer both daytime in-person classes and evening online synchronous courses that meet over Zoom to accommodate those with employment during the day. Please do keep in mind that students are required to complete a 600 hour (including 240 direct client contact hours) clinical practicum during their second year at a mental health agency. This translates to approximately fifteen or more hours a week at the practicum site during their operating hours. Students with a full-time 9-5 job will have to cut down on their work hours to manage both the course work and their practicum requirements during that time.

Our online synchronous classes are intended to increase flexibility for New Jersey (and nearby states) applicants and nontraditional students. Some in-person meetings may be scheduled during the academic year. The clinical practicum experience during the second year will also place students in sites that are in New Jersey (or nearby) and provide services in person.

7) What makes your program unique?

We believe our program excels in that our faculty are practicing Psychologists who are actively engaged with clinical work, and our training and research incorporate cross-cultural and multicultural perspectives essential for our diverse society. In addition, our social justice philosophy informs our clinical training. Many of our practicum placements involve working with low-income, marginalized populations who are most in need of our services. We are proud to prepare our students for working with these and other vulnerable groups. Please see the reasons for applying for more information.

8) My undergraduate background is not in Psychology, what classes can I take, or what experience should I obtain, to better prepare myself for your master's program?

We strongly recommend applicants complete the following 4 undergraduate courses prior to admission:

  • General Psychology (or Introduction to Psychology)
  • Developmental Psychology (or Child & Adolescent Development, Lifespan Development)
  • Abnormal Psychology (or Psychopathology), and
  • Any research methods or statistics class in any discipline.

    Strong applicants who are deficient in any of the four prerequisite courses may be considered for admission if the applicant provides documented evidence of course equivalencies. We will evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

    Applicants can take the prerequisite courses at any institution, including a community college. If they would like to take these classes at the Department of Psychology at William Paterson University, they can apply as an undergraduate non-degree/visiting student. See here and reach out to our undergraduate admissions office for more information.

    We would also recommend applicants obtain relevant volunteer, internship, or work experience in human services, mental health, education, and/or medical settings.

    9) I missed your application deadline this year. Can I enroll as a non-degree or a non-matriculated student to start taking some classes?

    No. The master's program in Clinical and Counseling Psychology does not accept non-matriculated or non-degree students to take our classes.