Counseling Psychology PhD programs accept less than 12% of the students who apply (APA Graduate Study in Psychology Summary Report, 2017). Given the extremely competitive nature of doctoral admissions, students often choose to first complete a counseling psychology master’s programs, where they can develop the professional identity and skills needed to be accepted into a counseling psychology doctoral program.
The University of Kentucky’s Master of Science (M.S.) in Education is a two year, full-time (12 credits per fall/spring semester), 48 credit hour terminal degree program that provides students with the comprehensive, foundational training specifically designed to prepare students to successfully apply for Counseling Psychology doctoral programs.
Students graduating from our doctoral preparation M.S. program who apply to doctoral programs have a strong track record (89% success rate) of obtaining offers of admission to counseling psychology PhD and/or PsyD doctoral programs.
The philosophy of the program is rooted in the values and goals of a socially just society. A socially just society is contingent on the optimal health and well-being of all persons in that society. The health and well-being of persons is contingent on access to healthy environments that support healthy development and functioning. We seek to train future mental health professionals that facilitate optimal well-being and the transformation of unhealthy and oppressive societal structures through engagement with science and practice.
The program is not designed for people who may want to stop their graduate education after getting their master’s degree (i.e., for people who want to get licensed at the master’s level as a mental health counselor or psychological associate in order to provide psychological health services to clients). Students who may want to become licensed as master’s-level talk therapists/counselors should consider other programs, such as UK’s 60-credit hour CACREP-accredited Counseling master’s program.
Through rigorous courses, supervised clinical practica, and research lab involvement, our students learn the research, psychotherapy, professional, and cultural humility skills needed to succeed in advanced doctoral study. Students received doctoral preparation mentoring from faculty and doctoral students during both years of the program to help students learn the “hidden curriculum” (e.g., unspoken rules and norms) of doctoral admissions, succeeding in graduate school, and crafting a sustainable career path in counseling psychology. Students receive tailored feedback on their doctoral application materials and interviewing skills to help them make the right impression during the doctoral application process.
To keep class sizes small, we accept a limited number of students each year. This ensures an excellent student-to-faculty ratio (4 students to 1 core counseling psychology faculty member), which is an important metric to consider when choosing a master’s program.
To ensure the highest-quality training, students complete the program on-site in Lexington, KY, where they work face to face with faculty. The program cannot be completed part-time or via online distance learning.
There are on-campus funding opportunities (e.g., graduate assistantships) available to M.S. students via the UKJobs website (https://ukjobs.uky.edu/postings/search). During 2020-2022, an average of 70% of our M.S. students were able to secure full-time funding (i.e., a 20/hrs/wk graduate assistantship that provides full tuition remission, monthly stipend [minimum of $14,520 for 9-month assistantship], student health insurance plan). This percentage is higher than the percentage of many mental health master’s programs across the country (be sure to ask each program you are applying to for this percentage so that you can incorporate this into your admissions decision making).
Your professional training will be guided by the program faculty, who are some of the most productive, cited, and awarded scholars in counseling psychology. Click on the Productivity radar map (Academic Analytics, 2016) to enlarge it and see for yourself:
A detailed description of the requirements for the M.S. program are fully described in the M.S. Handbook
Our program endorses the pedagogical principles for Preparing Professional Psychologists to Serve a Diverse Public and the Counseling Psychology Model Training Values Statement Addressing Diversity. We also embrace the following APA aspirational practice guidelines, among others: Multicultural Guidelines: An Ecological Approach to Context, Identity, and Intersectionality; Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Girls and Women; Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Older Adults; and Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Sexual Minority Persons; Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People; and Guidelines for Assessment of and Intervention with Persons with Disabilities.
Check out our videos, in which we answer students’ questions about Counseling Psychology and our programs and our master’s students answer six questions about their experience with the UK Counseling Psychology M.S. program. If you have questions about the program that you would like to ask a current student, email Jaxin Annett (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The annual M.S. program application deadline (click here to Apply) is February 1.
Generally, students who enter the master’s program have completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related discipline (e.g., sociology, pre-med). GRE scores are optional. There is no minimum GRE score requirement or cut-off.
Applications for admission are evaluated by the program faculty who carefully review the applicant’s (a) GPA; (b) GRE scores, if provided; (c) letters of recommendation addressing academic, research, and counseling experiences and interpersonal skills; (d) match with the doctoral preparation emphasis of the program; (e) Statement of Purpose outlining professional goals (i.e., is it commensurate with our training model and social justice values, and does it demonstrate excellence in written communication); and (f) contribution to diversity, broadly defined to include individual social identities and background experiences. The program faculty holistically considers the entire application of a prospective student and makes decisions based not only on numerical criteria but also on perceived fit with program goals, needs, and values. Therefore, a low score in one area can be off-set by professional strengths in another area. Minimum GPA is >2.75 for undergraduate and >3.00 for graduate. Minimum TOEFL score is 79. It is crucial that students articulate in their Statement of Purpose how their career goals match the doctoral preparation emphasis of the program.
We conduct a master’s interview day (via the Zoom teleconference platform) where top applicants meet with program faculty and current students. Master’s interview day is held each year on a Friday in March (the 2023 interview date is: March 24). This interview process helps the program faculty and prospective students further assess fit with the program. After the interview day, the program faculty meet to review, discuss, and make final decisions about admission offers.