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  • Master of Science in Counseling and Student Affairs
  • Graduate Studies

  • Master of Science in Counseling and Student Affairs

    Program Coordinator: Lisa Karch, Ph.D
    Lommen 113H, 218.477.2699

    Program Description

    The CNSA program stresses the integration of developmental theory with interpersonal skills.  It has a generalist orientation, but can be individualized to meet each student’s needs.  The program provides extensive practical experience through a practicum and internship.  It can be completed in as short as two years or part time students have up to five years. Through the program, students develop core-helping skills and engage in concentrated study in one of three degree emphases, each of which has specialized accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP):

    The Student Affairs emphasis prepares students for positions in colleges and universities. Students complete coursework specific to student affairs in higher education as well as two semesters of practicum/internship in a college or university setting. Student affairs graduates may work in areas such as Admissions, Residence Halls, the Student Union, Financial Aid, and Advising Centers.

    The School Counseling emphasis prepares students for licensure or certification as a school counselor. Students complete coursework as well as one semester of practicum and two semesters of internship in elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. School counselors are no longer required to have a teaching license in order to become a school counselor in Minnesota.

    The College Counseling emphasis prepares persons to work in college counseling centers or college career counseling centers. This emphasis requires knowledge of the development of college students and their unique issues and concerns. Student affairs theories, counseling theories, and counseling skills are emphasized. A counseling practicum with college students and an internship in a college counseling center is required.

    The Counseling and Student Affairs graduate program at MSUM is unique in its flexibility and individual attention to graduate students. Some of the strengths of the program are: small class sizes, a great deal of interaction between faculty and students, and additional faculty support during internship. In addition, students have an outstanding record of excelling on standardized national counselor examinations, which are necessary for certification and licensure. Many of the courses are offered in the evenings to accommodate part-time students.

    Student Learning Outcomes

    This program prepares students for human service professions. The essence of the school counseling, college counseling, and student affairs professions is the ability to relate to another person in a way that is helpful and which facilitates growth. The basic knowledge and core skills required are essentially the same for all three programs. Therefore, the objectives of this program are to develop students who:

    • Possess a high level of empathic counseling skills intended to facilitate client emotional growth.
    • Exhibit the attitudinal dimensions of unconditional positive regard, empathic understanding, and congruence.
    • Can articulate the developmental levels of others and can assist in their emotional growth and development.
    • Have highly developed counseling skills and the ability to use them in assisting others.
    • Are well grounded in a variety of counseling theories and can effectively use theoretical techniques.
    • Are able to use a variety of assessment methods and skills in order to help individuals’ better meet their needs.
    • Are knowledgeable about group dynamics and can facilitate group process.
    • Are knowledgeable about and can identify skills for working effectively with various groups in our multicultural and diverse society.
    • Understand the career development process and can identify skills for assisting others in career development.
    • Can use research methods and evaluation skills to improve performance and evaluate literature.
    • Can articulate a sense of themselves as beginning professionals.
    • Adhere to ethical standards of professional practice.
    • Can assess their own interventions (individual, group, and systems) in order to make them more effective.
    • Can articulate or are knowledgeable about their professional competencies and limitations.

    Admission Requirements

    The items listed below are required for admission to this program; only complete files are reviewed. Send all materials to:
    Graduate Studies Office
    MSU Moorhead
    1104 7th Ave. S.
    Moorhead, MN 56563

    Application Priority Deadlines: September 15 and February 15

    1. Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution. No specific major is required.
    2. 3.0 grade point average, or at least 3.25 for the last 30 semester credits of graded coursework.
    3. Completed "Application for Admission to Graduate Study" form.
    4. Official transcripts from ALL colleges and universities attended.
    5. Non-refundable $20.00 fee for first-time applicants to Minnesota State University Moorhead.
    6. Score from the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) or from the Graduate Record Examination, General Test (GRE). Only official scores are accepted; no more than five years old. No specific minimum score is required.
    7. Counseling and Student Affairs Application form.
    8. 350 word statement of personal career goals.
    9. Three current or recent letters of recommendation from people who have been your professors, employers, supervisors, counselors, or have known you in other professional capacities (use forms provided).
    10. An interview with the faculty in order to assess your communication skills and readiness to enter the counseling and student affairs professions.
    11. Criminal background check through Verified Credentials (
    12. Evidence of strong interpersonal skills.

    Degree Requirements

    1. A core of 33 credits is required of all candidates. An additional 15-18 credits specific to each of the emphases are also required.
    2. Students who wish to transfer credits from other institutions or have taken courses before admission to the graduate program should refer to the "Residence and Transfer of Credit" section for further information.
    3. Continued improvement in interpersonal competence and counseling skill development. Students are reviewed each semester to determine their satisfactory progress.
    4. A 3.0 grade point average is required for courses submitted for the degree and a grade of B or better in all required courses.
    5. Successful four-or six-credit internship.
    6. Comprehensive examination passed.
    7. Master's thesis, or Project satisfied through Plans A or B.
    8. Oral examination which is a review of the student's Capstone project.

    Students must adhere to ethical standards of the profession, function in an adequate fashion and at an acceptable professional level in the practicum and internship settings, demonstrate personal qualities consistent with professional norms, and maintain continuous registration.

    Detailed information on these requirements and department policies are procedures may be obtained from the Counseling and Student Affairs Graduate Program Coordinator.

    Course Requirements

    Core Requirements (33 Required Credits)
    The core must be completed by all students majoring in any of the Counseling and Student Affairs concentrations: College Counseling, Community Counseling, School Counseling, or Student Affairs. The courses for each of the three program options are listed at the bottom. A total of 48 (51 for college counseling) credits is needed for the degree.
    CNSA 600 Introduction to Counseling Research (1 credit)
    CNSA 610 Foundations of Counseling (2 credits)
    CNSA 611 Theories of Individual and Family Counseling (3 credits)
    CNSA 612 Individual Appraisal (3 credits)
    CNSA 613 Career Development (3 credits)
    CNSA 614 Human Growth and Development for Counselors (3 credits)
    CNSA 615 Social and Cultural Foundations of Counseling (3 credits)
    CNSA 620 Counseling Skills I (3 credits)
    CNSA 630 Group Counseling (3 credits)
    CNSA 640 Ethical and Legal Issues in Counseling (1 credits)
    ED 602 Statistics in Educational Research (2 credits)
    ED 603 Methods of Research (2 credits)
    CNSA 699 Master's Thesis (4 credits)      
    College Counseling Emphasis  (18 Credits)
    PSY 563 Abnormal Psychology (3 credits)
    CNSA 660 Introduction to Student Affairs (2 credits)
    CNSA 661 Higher Education in the U. S. (1 credit)
    CNSA 662 Administration of Student Affairs in Higher Education (2 credits)
    CNSA 663 The College Student (1 credit)
    CNSA 691C Practicum in College Counseling (3 credits)
    CNSA 692C Internship in College Counseling (6 credits)  

    Student Affairs Emphasis (15 Credits)
    CNSA 660 Introduction to Student Affairs in Higher Education (2 credits)
    CNSA 661 Higher Education in the U.S. (1 credit)
    CNSA 662 Administration of Student Affairs in Higher Education (2 credits)
    CNSA 663 The College Student (1 credit)
    Elective (3 credits)
    CNSA 691B Practicum in Student Affairs in Higher Education (2 credits)
    CNSA 692B Internship in Student Affairs in Higher Education (4 credits)  

    School Counseling Emphasis  (15 Credits)
    CNSA 650 Organization/Administration of Guidance Services (3 credits)
    CNSA 691A Practicum in Counseling (3 credits)
    CNSA 692A Internship in School Counseling (6 credits)
    CNSA 655 Counseling Children, Adolescents, and their Families (3 credits)

    Additional Information

    Graduate Application Form
    Counseling Application Form
    Counseling Reference Form
    Counseling Background Screening Form