The M.A./Ed.S. Program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling provides the coursework necessary for students to become Licensed Professional Counselors in Virginia. Upon graduation, students seek employment as counseling residents and obtain the additional practice hours needed to become licensed. Our graduates work in community mental health centers, community agencies, mental health facilities, and private practice settings.

Although the fields of counseling, social work, and clinical or counseling psychology share a focus on helping clients respond effectively to mental health needs and challenges, counselors rely on a humanistic and developmental orientation toward prevention and wellness, as well as the remediation of mental health concerns.

Salaries range widely depending on geographic location and practice setting. For more information regarding counselor compensation and work in general, see this summary from the American Counseling Association.

Please see the Virginia Board of Counseling website for Licensure requirements, updates and news. Students are encouraged to check this site regularly as licensure regulations change over time.

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at JMU is intended to prepare students to be ethical, effective, mental health counselors. As such, we ask our students and faculty to agree to endorse the ACA Code of Ethics, and to enter our learning community committed to supporting the following Nondiscrimination Position Statement from the American Counseling Association:

Preventing Discrimination and Harassment

The American Counseling Association is committed to nondiscrimination and to the prevention of harassment in all forms—verbal, physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological—including protections for transgender, gender non-conforming, and LGBTQ+ individuals.

Every human being on earth is unique and uniquely important. Each person embarks on the adventure of life guided by their own spirit, outlook, and traits of character. These facets help to shape and guide the course of every human journey. Everyone is equal on this path. No individual has the right or the authority to judge or mock another, or to force anyone to adhere to any type of societal norm.

Through its members, ACA strives to enhance quality of life in society by promoting the development of professional counselors, advancing the counseling profession, and using the profession and practice of counseling to promote respect for human dignity and diversity. ACA members help advocate for equity and fair treatment for all people and groups in order to end oppression and injustice affecting clients, students, families, communities, schools, workplaces, governments, and other social and institutional systems.

ACA and its members agree that all individuals have the right to be accepted for their unique and authentic self. ACA members consider it a privilege to work with—and on behalf of—people of all orientations, emphasizing multicultural competence and a respect for diverse views. We encourage our clients to be genuine and to work to find their own authentic self, even if that authentic self appears to be somewhat different from dominant social norms.

The ACA commitment to nondiscrimination and the prevention of harassment includes, but is not limited to, access to learning environments that are free of discrimination, bullying, and harassment; access to restrooms and changing facilities that are safe and affirming for gender non-conforming youth and adults; and use of preferred names.

ACA recognizes the stress and psychological impact of discrimination and is committed to helping counselors advocate for nondiscrimination policies and practices in their work settings and practices.
Our goal is to ensure that everyone has a safe, unthreatened space to continuously build a vibrant, thriving self, which in turn can build a vibrant, thriving family, as well as a constantly evolving and improving community.

We respect and honor the unique human spirit that everyone—regardless of cultural attributes or sexual orientation—brings to our communities. At ACA, it is our goal to help make certain that everyone has an opportunity to grow and to achieve their full potential”

The following resources from ACA may be helpful. Please feel free to contact the Program Director, Renee Staton, if you have questions about these expectations.

Read the complete text of the Advocacy Competencies (PDF file)
The Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Counseling (ALGBTIC) (now SAIGE) Competencies for Counseling Transgender Clients were approved by the ACA Governing Council in November 2009. These competencies provide 103 strategies in the areas of:


Counseling Today articles:

ACA Publications

ACA Webinars

For the MA/EdS program: No. The GRE is not required.

Some good information on Financial Aid can be found on the JMU Graduate School Website and more can be found on JMU’s home page.

Yes! Information on types of assistantships and their benefits can be found here and the listings of open positions can be found here.

All Clinical Mental Health Counseling students complete either an EdS Research Project or Thesis, which requires independent research supervised by a faculty member and approved by a faculty committee. In addition, some students choose to develop educational sessions for state or national conferences and/or write articles for peer-reviewed journals. Faculty are happy to assist in these processes, and some faculty have ongoing opportunities for independent study that include research.

Most classes range from 6 to 15 students.

Clinical Mental Health Counseling students are asked to identify their preference for either the JMU Counseling Center or the JMU Counseling and Psychological Services Center for their practicum site.

Faculty provide detailed guidance regarding the requirements for internship, so many students independently pursue internships based on their interests. The student handbook also includes a list of commonly used sites for internships.

Keep checking the Applicant Center on MyMadison, as you should see the option to accept admission at JMU. You will also receive a letter in the mail confirming your acceptance and giving you instructions on how to accept.

It takes the Office of Admission around a month or more to change your status from applicant to student. Be patient, you will receive an email message notifying you when your status has changed.

You will also receive updates and news from the Program Director, including an invitation to our orientation and opening picnic.

Please note that you must also have a completed background check on file prior to taking courses in the program. You will receive more information about how to obtain the background check and the cost for the check after you have been admitted.

You will receive a Dukes email account and instructions for logging in when the admissions office has completed the onboarding process and changed your status from “accepted applicant” to “student.” This process can take a month or more, but it will happen and you will receive an email.

Please contact the Program Director for more information. Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Dr. Renee Staton at

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