MISSOULA – The University of Montana has received a record number of graduate applications in the University’s Department of Counseling, for those wanting to pursue careers as clinical mental health or school counselors.
“This year, we’ve seen about a 20 percent increase in applications, compared to years past,” said Veronica Johnson, UM Department of Counseling chair. “The surge in applications is inspiring and motivating.”
Johnson credits the increase of applicants to greater societal awareness about the role of mental health in maintaining healthy communities and a change in insurance benefits that has created an increased need for therapists.
The rise in applications has decreased the overall acceptance rate to about 25 percent, making for an even more competitive program, Johnson said. The acceptance rate for selected applicants is now 100 percent.
Housed in UM’s Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences, the department offers master’s degrees in clinical mental health counseling and school counseling. The department also offers a doctoral degree in counselor education and supervision. Bound by standards from the Council for Accreditation and Related Educational Programs, UM must maintain a faculty-to-student ratio of 1-to-10 to sustain a rigorous and quality program. The program is one of two accredited master’s programs in the state, and the only accredited doctoral program.
Johnson said another draw to the department is the program’s ability to model a philosophy of healthy relationships. Doctoral students teach two sections of an undergraduate class on intimate relationships which includes engaging in relationship counseling as part of the curriculum.
“I think what we’re seeing is a successful relationship-oriented program,” Johnson said. “Our faculty are exceptional, and we promote healthy relationships across our program, at all levels, which is fairly unique to our department. Undergraduate students may see the impact of this, which can prompt an interest in graduate coursework.”
Johnson also cited Missoula and Montana’s unique population demographics as a “great place for students to come and practice in a rich clinical setting, or in local schools that host all socioeconomic populations and walks of life.”
Students in the program must undergo a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship, in clinical and school settings across Montana. Johnson said the program has a 100 percent pass rate on the national counselor exam, required for licensure, which qualifies UM students to practice in Montana. Most, if not all students, have job opportunities before graduation, Johnson said.
For more information on UM’s counselor education programs, visit http://coehs.umt.edu/departments/counsed.