Prepare for a rewarding career helping others

The Master of Arts in Counseling (MAC) prepares students to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).

The Counseling program is designed to serve students who range in life experiences. This is reflective of the community they will ultimately serve. Students will be exposed to a variety of approaches for treating mental health, from the latest research on the relationship between neuroscience and mental health to eastern philosophies and treatments that have been practiced for thousands of years. Students benefit from an experiential curriculum, accomplished faculty comprised of working mental health professionals and innovative electives, such as art therapy, mindfulness, and dealing with PTSD. 

4 In-Demand Counseling Careers in Austin

Here are a few areas of counseling that the experts from St. Edward's say need more attention.

Both the Clinical Mental Health Counseling and the Marriage, Couple & Family Counseling concentrations in the MAC program are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

The MAC is typically completed in about three years, with three semesters a year and two classes per semester for 10 semesters. Students can also complete the program in about two years if they elect to take three classes per semester for seven semesters.

New Community Counseling Clinic in the News (KXAN)

The new Community Counseling Clinic at St. Edward's University was featured on KXAN.  Dr. Kerrie Taylor and Dr. Bill McHenry describe how St. Edward's MAC students are creating more accessibility to mental health services in the Austin community.

Hear From Our Students

Learn how two of our students, Emily Roberts and Sam Grimaldo, have benefited from earning Master's in Counseling degrees at St. Edward's University.

State-of-the-art Facility for Counseling Students

The Center for Counselor Training enables students to simulate real counseling scenarios and analyze their sessions well before their practicum experience. See the space

Degree Plans & Required Coursework

For detailed descriptions, please see the Graduate Bulletin (course catalog).


  • Professional Orientation
  • Counseling Theories
  • Counseling Skills and Techniques
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Legal and Ethical Issues for Health Care Professionals
  • Critical Evaluation of Research in Counseling
  • Introduction to Systems Theories in Counseling
  • Counseling Diverse Populations

CLINICAL MENTAL HEALTH CONCENTRATION (33 CREDIT HOURS): The following courses, in addition to the nine core courses, are required for the Clinical Mental Health concentration:

  • Group Counseling
  • Psychopathology and DSM-5
  • Crisis and Trauma Management
  • Addictions Counseling
  • Career Development and Planning
  • Assessment Techniques
  • Three Advanced Electives (e.g. Human Sexuality, Narrative Therapy)

One practicum course and two internship courses are also required. These courses must be taken during the last three semesters:

  • Counseling Practicum
  • Counseling Internship I
  • Counseling Internship II

Total Hours: 60

To help plan your degree, you can use the degree worksheet for the Clinical Mental Health concentration.



MCFC Core Courses

  • Professional Orientation
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Critical Evaluation of Research in Counseling
  • Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling
  • Counseling Diverse Populations
  • Counseling Theories
  • Career Development and Planning

MCFC Advanced Courses

  • Introduction to Systems Theories in Counseling
  • Counseling Skills and Techniques
  • Psychopathology & DSM-V
  • Assessment Techniques
  • Addictions Counseling
  • Crisis and Trauma Management
  • Group Counseling

MCFC Specialization Courses

  • Overview of Treatment in Child and Adolescent Counseling
  • Marriage, Couples, and Families in the Life Cycle
  • Relationships and Sexuality in Couples Counseling

One practicum course and two internship courses are required. These courses must be taken during the last three semesters:

  • Counseling Practicum
  • Internship I
  • Internship II

Total Hours: 60

As a part of the program’s philosophy and educational training program, you will participate in training experiences that encourage self-growth. These exercises may require an appropriate degree of self-disclosure, which you will not be graded on. This confidential information will not be discussed outside of the classroom.



Dr. Bill McHenry is an associate professor of counseling and chair of the department of counseling and college student development. Dr. McHenry is an LPC in Texas as well as a NCC. He has worked with clients across the spectrum ranging in age from 3 to 96. Dr. McHenry has provided professional counseling in a variety of settings including schools, mental health agencies, community counseling clinics, rehabilitation agencies and college counseling centers. Dr. McHenry is the co-author of six books on counseling and 18 peer-reviewed journal articles. He has presented at the international, national, regional and state levels on numerous different counseling topics.

Currently, Dr. McHenry is working on his next book in the area of Human Growth and Development along with an article on the neurobiological implications of music therapy on clients brains and clinical implications.

Throughout his career, Dr. McHenry has taught nearly every course in a standard counseling program. Among his favorites are addiction counseling, play therapy, skills and techniques and counseling theories. (CV)

Dr. Melissa Alvarado is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Counseling and College Student Development.  She also serves as the Practicum/Internship Coordinator for the Counseling Program.

Dr. Alvarado is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Board Approved Supervisor in Texas. Most of her clinical work has been with adolescent and adult survivors of trauma.  She is an active member of many professional counseling associations and regularly presents at national, regional, and state conferences. Her research interests include positive youth development, supervision best practices, yoga and mental health, and counselor self-care.

In 2017, she was awarded the Humanistic Clinician Award by the Association for Humanistic Counseling. This award recognizes a clinician who holds a notable humanistic philosophy of counseling that resulted in an impact on their community or clients.

Dr. Alvarado has taught various classes among the counseling curriculum.  Her favorite classes to teach are Professional Orientation, Child and Adolescent Counseling, and Assessment Techniques. (CV)

Dr. David Carrington is an assistant professor of counseling and holds a LMFT-S license in Texas.  He received his PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision and MS in Human Services: Marriage, Couples, Families Counseling/Therapy from Capella University’s CACREP programs, and he earned a BA from Howard Payne University.  For the last ten years, Dr. Carrington has worked in a number of positions across Central Texas that include private practice, community mental health, rural community counseling, intensive outpatient programs, and psychopharmacological clinical trials.  He has presented at state and international conferences, and Dr. Carrington continues to train other professionals in the mental health fields as a supervisor and consultant.  His research interests include the intersection of technology and counseling, qualitative research in the behavioral sciences, and post-modern thought and its impact on counseling praxis.  Dr. Carrington is currently working on an article on social media and counselor educators and a guidebook for parents on social media.  His favorite courses to teach involve systems and counseling theories, child and adolescent counseling, and family therapy. (CV)

Dr. Ellen Melton is an assistant professor of counseling. Dr. Melton has been a professor in psychology and counselor educator for over 14 years. She is an LPC and an LPC Supervisor. Dr. Melton maintains a private practice where she sees clients with a wide range of psychological and emotional issues and concerns. In addition, she also supervises LPC-Interns during the completion of their licensing journey.

Dr. Melton created a 40-hour LPC/LMFT Board Approved training program for supervisors in both disciplines and has trained hundreds of supervisors in the state of Texas. Dr. Melton has a book chapter on the legal and ethical issues involved in psychological testing and assessment.
In future research Dr. Melton would like to study counseling experience, counseling relationships, and counselor preparation.  

In her years of teaching and instruction, Dr. Melton has taught across the curriculum in psychology and counseling and continues to enjoy teaching as a way to help pay forward what her education and training as done for her. Among her favorite courses are research, assessment, abnormal psychology, and psychopathology. (CV)

Dr. Kerrie Taylor is an assistant professor of counseling and a licensed professional counselor.  She received her M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Central Florida and her Ph.D. in Counselor Education from Idaho State University.  She has worked with clients across the life span, while specializing in counseling adults with severe and persistent mental illness who are involved with the criminal justice system and adults with co-occurring disorders.  Dr. Taylor also enjoys collaborating with interdisciplinary professionals for research, education, and advocacy efforts.  She has presented at several national, state, and local conferences on topics including neuroscience, pedagogy, integrating technology with clinical supervision, and frequently facilitates professional trainings.  

Dr. Taylor currently has articles in submission to national journals and is drafting an article regarding ethical gatekeeping practices in counselor education.  Her current research interests include critical pedagogical interventions, gatekeeping practices in counselor education, technology in the classroom and supervision, and ethical decision-making.  Dr. Taylor is an enthusiastic researcher, and is particularly interested in qualitative methodologies and mixed-method studies.  She has experience teaching classes across the mental health core curriculum and particularly enjoys teaching diagnosis, ethics, and techniques. (CV)

Dr. Cristina Thornell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Counseling and an LPC in Texas. She received her Ph.D. in Counseling Education and Supervision from a CACREP accredited program at the University of Texas at San Antonio. 

Dr. Thornell has experience delivering individual and group counseling services, in English and Spanish. She has worked with adults during their recovery process in a transitional living program, with individuals living in homeless shelters, facilitated groups for teens and parents, and provided private counseling services to people with different immigration statuses. Dr. Thornell has served as a language interpreter during psychological evaluations and assisted in the administration of psychological forensic evaluations.

Throughout her career, Dr. Thornell has explored a variety of research topics including counseling outcomes, non-suicidal self-injury, parallel process in counseling, ethics in counseling, multicultural counseling, and bilingualism. Some of her primary research interests include bilingual counseling education and supervision, self-efficacy, and multiculturalism. She has authored/co-authored various professional and peer-reviewed publications, translated a self-help book from English to Spanish, and delivered several presentations at national, state, and local conferences. 

Dr. Thornell has taught various classes among the counseling curriculum. Some of her favorite courses to teach are internship, professional orientation, culturally diverse populations, and bilingual-bicultural populations. (CV)

Mission Statement

The professional mental health counseling programs at St. Edward’s University educate, train, and prepare highly skilled, ethical, compassionate mental health professionals grounded in humanistic values that focus on prevention, wellness, personal growth, and a commitment to respecting and promoting human dignity.

Our programs emphasize the client-counselor relationship, creative and experiential modalities, and our curriculum reflects multiple and varied theoretical perspectives with guidance to support students in developing their own framework for community and clinical practice.

Our programs create a transformative environment which allows students to enter their field with an understanding of their own social locations and the role of power, privilege, and difference within institutional, social, intimate, and therapeutic relationships. 

St. Edward’s University has a commitment to social justice which is embodied and embraced across the curriculum in content such as counseling with diverse populations, pro-social autonomy across the lifespan, and community/professional advocacy for the populations we serve. These ideals and many more are fostered within a dynamic, multi-modal learning setting in which critical thinking and the creation and integration of knowledge and experience are celebrated. 

St. Edward’s Master of Arts in Counseling graduate programs take pride in creating life-long learners.

Learning Goals

Upon completing the MAC concentration degree plans, students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the theoretical foundations of counseling, describe their own professional style and approach, and integrate theory and style into practice
  • Demonstrate an understanding of applied ethical standards and the ability to practice counseling using ethical and moral principles
  • Demonstrate the skills required for effective client evaluation and assessment, treatment planning, and implementation of appropriate counseling strategies and techniques and appropriate follow-up methods
  • Understand the characteristics of various social, cultural and ethnic groups and the impact these characteristics have upon the counselor and counseling profession
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the ways in which behavior, attitudes and values, both their own and those of others, impact professional counseling relationships
  • Demonstrate the ability to conceptualize, analyze, critique and report research data, studies and abstracts
  • Meet the academic requirements to apply for a temporary license from the Texas State Board of Licensed Professional Counselors, the Texas State Board of Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, or both Students who meet the above requirements will receive a Master of Arts in Counseling degree from St. Edward’s University

Methods of Instruction

The MAC program courses are taught in multiple formats. Some classes are taught face-to-face, others are taught in a blended format. Face-to-face classes meet once per week each week of the semester. Blended classes are taught using a model that incorporates both face-to-face classes as well as on-line instruction. Blended classes are typically taught at a ratio of 65–75% face-to-face and the remaining part on-line. The MSAC program uses CANVAS as the learning platform for on-line instruction.

Program Outcomes

The MAC program offers an educational and training experience that prepares students to work as professional counselors or marriage and family therapists in a variety of settings, including hospitals, residential treatment centers, nonprofit agencies, government, for-profit organizations and private practice. As graduates of the program, students may choose to focus on working with children, adolescents, adults, families or couples.

To become a licensed professional counselor, graduates of the MAC program must:

  • Pass the National Counselor Exam (NCE) to fulfill the Texas state board requirement to become Licensed Professional Counselors and
  • Complete 3,000 hours of supervised field experience with a temporary license (LPC Intern)

Our Masters of Arts in Counseling program has a 95% passing rate for the National Counselor Exam (NCE).

To become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, graduates of the MAC program must:

  • Pass the state LMFT examination to fulfill the Texas state board requirement and
  • Complete 3,000 hours of postgraduate supervised field experience with a temporary license (LMFT-A) and a board-approved LMFT supervisor

A student's career path could include:

  • Working with adults and teens who suffer from addictions, eating disorders or depression
  • Counseling distressed couples and families
  • Providing counseling services within a nonprofit organization
  • Developing his or her own private practice

 The following documents represent an assessment of student learning within the Master of Arts in Counseling (MAC) prgram:

Admissions Criteria

All admissions decisions are based on a complete application submitted by the student including:  

  1. Application (submitted online)
  2. Statement of Purpose (essay)
  3. Résumé
  4. Official Transcripts
  5. IELTS/TOEFL (if degree was earned in language other than English)
  6. Foreign Credential Evaluation (if degree earned in country outside of USA)

The admission criteria considered by the faculty include:

  1. Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from a regionally accredited institution.
  2. Demonstrated scholastic achievement at the college level evidenced by a minimum GPA of 3.0 on the last 60 semester hours of work or a 2.75 GPA on all college-level work.
  3. Applicants educated at the college level in a language other than English must demonstrate English proficiency by attaining a minimum TOEFL score of 79 on the Internet-based test, its equivalent in other formats, or a score of 6.0 on IELTS.
  4. Evidence of the potential to responsibly and successfully complete a program of rigorous graduate studies.
  5. Evidence of ability to assume responsibility in the work environment; professional work experience is highly desirable.
  6. Complete an application form with supporting documents and application fee submitted to the Office of Admission.
  7. Once past the initial screening process, applicants may be invited to an interview (in person or via phone) with the admission committee.

Admission Categories: Students are admitted to the MAC program in one of the following categories:

  1. Unconditional Admission: All admission formalities have been completed. Minimum stated criteria for admission are met.
  2. Conditional Admission: Students that do not meet the GPA requirement may be admitted conditionally if they can show potential for success through work and/or life experiences. To be considered for conditional admission, the applicant must evidence at least three years of full-time work experience. Students admitted conditionally whose cumulative graduate GPA falls below 3.0 at the end of the term in which they meet or exceed 12 hours of credit will be dismissed from the MAC program.
  3. Non-degree-seeking: Persons holding an earned master’s degree from an accredited institution may enroll in MAC courses to meet the academic coursework requirements of the Texas State Board of Examiners for the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).

Apply using the St. Edward's University online application. For information on application deadlines and an application checklist, please see the Deadlines and Checklist page.

Student Resources

This section includes various resources that may be useful to current MAC students.

The following table provides a summary of the direct and total hours (expressed in the form <direct hours>/<total hours>) that are required for the various degree plans:

   Degree Plan Practicum Hours Internship I Hours Internship II Hours Grand Total
Clinical Mental Health Counseling    40/100   120/300  120/300  280/700
Marriage, Couples,  and Family Counseling    40/100   120/300  120/300  280/700

In addition, the following documents are available:

Supervisor Resources

Documents and resources for practicum/internship supervisors are found at