Counselor Education Program

The Counselor Education Program, operating on two campuses, West Palm Beach and Orlando, is designed to prepare students to seek Florida licensure in Mental Health Counseling or Florida certification in School Counseling. Concentrations and certificates offered in this program, are designed to provide students with both a foundational knowledge of the helping process and the opportunity to concentrate in areas important to their interests and career goals. 

The mission of the Counselor Education Program is to facilitate a holistic educational experience, through which students develop personal and professional qualities, competencies, ethical judgment, and spiritual awareness, as they prepare for professional service in school counseling, clinical mental health counseling, or for advanced study in a related field.

The heritage of Christian faith expressed in the University's values and the knowledge discovered within the counseling and helping professions have shaped the Counselor Education Program's "distinctively Christian and clinically professional" identity. Through a rigorous academic curriculum, field-based experiential learning, personal growth experiences, and close mentoring relationships with highly skilled faculty, students are prepared to enter the field of professional counseling in a wide variety of settings, including schools and universities, community agencies, private practices, humanitarian, and government agencies.

Located in culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse South and Central Florida, PBA’s counseling program attracts and serves a diverse student body representative of the local demographics.

Counseling Program Tracks, Concentrations & Additional Training

The Counselor Education Program offers graduate studies in these specializations (tracks):


Optional Concentrations:

Certificates (available to Non-degree seeking students):

Additional Training:

Addictions: The Counselor Education Program provides interested students with academic training in substance abuse counseling. The CAP (Certified Addiction Professional) designation is a professional substance abuse credential for people who assess, develop, and provide substance abuse treatment services and plans. NOTE: The Counselor Education Program does not directly certify individuals in addiction counseling; however, it helps fulfill the educational requirement toward CAP.


Program Details

  1. Earn a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution
  2. Achieve undergraduate minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale with exceptions, on a case-by-case basis

  3. Submit:

    • Online application and application fee

    • Official transcript from college/university where bachelor's degree was conferred and from college/university where prerequisite courses were taken

    • Three confidential Counselor Education recommendation forms

    • Essay (prompt provided)

    • Official GRE or MAT test score*

  4. Faculty Interview

* Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Millers Analogy Test (MAT). GRE/MAT are waived for students that have earned a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 cumulative grade point average or higher.

Note: Admission decision recommendations are made by the Counselor Education Program's Faculty Selection Committee and include consideration of each applicant's articulation of career goals, record of academic achievement, relevant preparation and experience, potential success in becoming a counselor, and attitude of openness to diverse cultures and people.

Statement of Diversity: PBA complies with all applicable federal and state nondiscrimination laws and does not engage in unlawful discrimination on the basis of age, gender, disability, veteran status, race, color or national origin in any employment practice, admissions, education program or educational activity. This nondiscrimination policy covers admissions, employment and access to and treatment in University programs, services and activities.


Students choose one of three specializations to complete the MS in Counseling degree. Specific courses required for each individual specialization can be found in the PBA Catalog.

  • Clinical Mental Health Counseling specialization: Successful completion of the prescribed curriculum of 60 credit hours with a 3.0 cumulative GPA and a grade of "B" or higher in COU 5133 - Counseling Skills and Characteristics, COU 5123 - Legal, Ethical, and Professional Standards, and COU 5263 – Diagnosis and Treatment in Counseling, as well as practicum and internship courses; 700 hours of supervised practicum and internship under a supervisor approved by the program faculty; and an exit exam.
  • School Counseling specialization: Successful completion of the prescribed curriculum of 60 credit hours with a 3.0 cumulative GPA and a grade of "B" or higher in COU 5133 - Counseling Skills and Characteristics, COU 5123 - Legal, Ethical, and Professional Standards, and COU 5233 - Psychosocial Issues of Childhood and Adolescence, as well as practicum and internship courses; 700 hours of supervised practicum and internship under a supervisor approved by the program faculty; and an exit exam.

Note: In addition to the graduation requirements specific to each major, student performance is assessed throughout the program in key performance indicators, overall progress, and professional dispositions, as outlined in the Counselor Education Handbook.

  • (cost per credit hour and the entire program)
  • $1,000 scholarship

Instruction is primarily offered in a traditional, residential format, with select courses being offered online. Courses specific to the Crisis and Trauma Counseling concentration and certificate program are offered entirely online. The Play Therapy concentration and certificate program courses are offered residentially, in a traditional setting. All programs, concentrations and certificates are available at both locations (West Palm Beach and Orlando).

Students can expect different forms of formative and summative assessment including but not limited to quizzes, exams, lecture, small-group discussion, presentations, research papers, role-plays, field experiences, and engagement in Canvas (PBA’s learning management system).

Annual Report 2021



Pass Rates: 
Based on the student data from the 2017 cohort completion rate and credentialing exams: 
Using state licensure verification tools, provided by Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling, it was determined that 35/64 students obtained a license from the state of Florida. Some graduates were indicated as deceased, and some have remained registered interns – yet to be licensed. It is not known, at this time, how many (might) have sought/obtained a license in other states. Future outcome surveys will more accurately track this data, and also provide job placement rates.    

Completion Rate: 
Using the standard 150% model for reporting completion rates of students, the following represents the most recent Palm Beach Atlantic University Clinical Mental Health Counseling completion rate. 

For the 2017 CMH Cohort, 20 students graduated within 150% of normal time to graduate and 4 did not (83% vs 17%). This is counting any student who started in 2017 under CMH and finished their master's degree within 150% time. Not all finished under CMH but they did finish at PBA. The breakdown of programs completed by the CMH 2017 Cohort is as follows: 


Job Placement Rates: 
Based on the NACE First-Destination Survey Template, for the class of 2020-21: of the 22 graduates, 8 reported to be employed (6 in full-time and 2 in part-time employment), earning an average salary of $45,000 annually. These outcomes are commensurate to the university’s Business Administration master’s program which reported the same number of graduates and employment rates. 


Palm Beach Atlantic University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The PBA M.S. degree in Counseling (specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling) is designed to meet the current academic requirements for the state of Florida to pursue a license as a mental health counselor or certification as a school counselor, respectively. Licensure/certification varies from state to state and graduates should be prepared to abide by additional requirements when seeking licensure/certification in a state other than Florida.

In addition, the Counselor Education program is making significant progress towards applying for the accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) for Clinical Mental Health Counseling. As such, the program curriculum and objectives are aligned with the eight core counseling standards and program-specific standards found in the 2016 CACREP Standards. Furthermore, students are evaluated on each of these standards throughout the course of the program. This evaluation process is outlined in the Student Evaluation and Review section of the Counselor Education Handbook. The 2016 CACREP Standards can be found at .


Faculty and Staff of the Counselor Education Program 

    *Program core faculty

  • Renee Risnear, Secretary, School of Education and Behavioral Studies

  • Nicole Figueroa, Orlando Faculty Secretary

  • Keith Dawson, Coordinator, Graduate Evening Online Student Services



Department Contact

Program Director | Devie Forrester

Co-Chair, West Palm Beach campus | Phil Henry

Co-Chair, Orlando campus | Larry Shyers 

Clinical Director | Laura Rendon Finnell