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Program Credits
60

The M.S. in Counseling Psychology is a two-year cohort program that provides a foundation in counseling skills, assessment, and individual and group therapy. It offers students the opportunity to gain supervised practical experience in a formal practicum and internship.

Students learn how to understand client issues and needs in a variety of settings and then collaboratively put individually tailored intervention plans into action. An emphasis is placed on training multiculturally aware ethical practitioners. Graduates meet the core educational requirements for licensed professional counselor (LPC) in the state of Pennsylvania.

In any given semester, for the duration of the program, students will be on campus two evenings a week from 6:00–10:00pm for classes.

Contact Information

Neha I. Pandit, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator, MS Counseling Psychology  
Assistant Professor of Psychology 
pandit@rmu.edu
412-397-6031

Samantha J. Monda, Ph.D. 
Interim Department Head, Psychology
monda@rmu.edu
412-397-6036 

Course Plan

Year 1, Summer

  • PSYC6060: Advanced Developmental Psychology (8)
  • PSYC6010: Counseling Psychology: Orientation and Ethics (8)

Year 1, Fall

  • PSYC7010: Theories of Counseling (8) 
  • PSYC7020: Counseling Skills (15)
  • PSYC7050: Advanced Psychological Assessment (15)
  • PSYC7040: Psychopathology (8)

Year 1, Spring

  • PSYC6070: Research and Program Evaluation (8)
  • PSYC7050: Assessment, Appraisal, and Treatment Planning (15)
  • PSYC7320: Counseling Psychology Practicum (15)
  • PSYC6020: Career Development (8)

Year 2, Summer

  • PSYC6030: Foundations of Multicultural Counseling (8)
  • PSYC6050: Foundations of Addiction (8)    

Year 2, Fall

  • PSYC7060:Group Counseling (8)
  • PSYC7090: Advanced Counseling Skills (15)
  • PSYC7420: Counseling Psychology Internship I (15)
  • PSYC7070: Child & Adolescent Counseling (8)

Year 2, Spring

  • PSYC6040: Grief & Bereavement(8)
  • PSYC7510: Supervision and Consultation (15)
  • PSYC7520: Counseling Psychology Internship II (15)
  • PSYC7080: Couples and Family Counseling (8)
Admissions Information

Please note that admission to the program is competitive. Limited spaces are available and application does not guarantee acceptance

Program Requirements

The application deadline for the M.S. in Counseling Psychology program is January 31. Please note that admission is competitive and meeting the requirements does not guarantee admission. Currently no more than 10 students are accepted in each cohort. The minimal admissions criteria include the following: 

  • Undergraduate degree in Psychology or related field 
  • Minimum of 3.0 cumulative undergraduate GPA
  • Completion of an RMU graduate admissions application
  • Current resume
  • Essay addressing the applicant’s professional goals
  • Official undergraduate transcripts from all universities attended
  • Personal interview 

* Those who do not have a degree in Psychology or a related area are strongly recommended to take the following courses prior to applying for admission: General or Introduction to Psychology, Human Growth & Development, Statistics, Abnormal Psychology, Personality Psychology, and/or Cognitive Psychology.

Please provide a typed essay (500 word limit) that addresses the following questions:

  • What kind of career in professional counseling are you interested in pursuing and how did your interest develop?What is your current conceptualization of what a counselor does?
  • What personal strengths and weaknesses would you say that you have that could impact your effectiveness in this role?

Please submit the essay to graduateadmissions@rmu.edu along with your application.

Policies

Monitoring and Remediation 

Throughout the program students are closely monitored to ensure progress through the program, their professional development, and their appropriateness for the profession. Student Performance Reviews are conducted by the Counseling Psychology program faculty for each student in the program. Subsequently the program faculty will meet with each student for performance review meetings to discuss: progress, disposition, strengths and growth areas of students. Student performance reviews will happen in the first half of the fall semester for 1st and 2nd Year students. In situations in which the program requirements are not being met or situations where the faculty deem it appropriate or necessary, additional reviews would be scheduled. Developing the whole professional counselor is a core goal of the program, and this is achieved through both academic and practical experiences throughout. Students are responsible for their academic/professional performance in attaining program goals as well as their individual personal goals. Similarly, there are general responsibilities that the program has in communicating to the student when an acceptable level of academic/professional competency is met or in need of improvement. The mechanism through which this is communicated to students is via a binding Remediation Plan. The purpose of remediation plan is to provide a path to the student for successful academic, professional, and personal growth through achievable action items. 

Course Attendance Policy

Due to the large quantity of information which will be presented in each class, attendance at all class meetings is required. If a student misses two classes, 25% will be deducted from their course grade. If students miss three or more classes, they will be assigned a grade of “F” for the course. Students who arrive late or leave early may be counted as absent. If you must miss a class due to illness or emergency, you must notify the professor prior to the class that you will miss. Make-up work will only be permitted for excused absences. Participation as a clinician, attendance at a conference, or other official function will be taken into consideration in excusing missed attendance. In these cases, students must provide documentation of these activities to the course instructor. Please note that the attendance policy is strictly enforced. 

Grading Policy 

The Counseling Psychology program has adopted a uniform grading scale for all courses.

It is as follows: 

  • A 93-100 A- 90-92 B+ 87-89 B 80-86 C 70-79 F 69 or less 9 Incompletes

A grade of “I” or incomplete is rarely granted. Students who have a sudden long-term illness or a family emergency must contact the course instructor right away. The course instructor informs the department head, and a decision is made if particular students will be granted an “I”. In certain cases, students will be asked for documentation. Student have one semester to complete the work or the “I” grade turns to a F. It is the view of the faculty that a grade of B and above is considered satisfactory. A grade of C or lower is considered unsatisfactory and will be documented in students’ performance reviews and could be considered as grounds for dismissal.

Grievances 

From time to time individuals experience conflict and disagreements. In instances in which a disagreement or experience arises which results in a grievance, the difficulty should attempt to be resolved using the steps outlined below. 

  • It is expected that students will first try to resolve disagreements or grievances with the individual in question, whether it be a fellow student, supervisor, or faculty member.
  • If this process proves unsatisfactory, the student has the option to present concerns to the Program Coordinator.
  • The Coordinator will schedule an informal meeting between the parties within 15 days of notification of the conflict to discuss the issues and attempt to resolve the issue. The Coordinator may consult with additional appropriate personnel.
  • If the situation cannot be resolved with the Coordinator, or if the grievance is with the Coordinator, the Department Head should be contacted. The Department Head will follow a similar pattern to those discussed for the Coordinator.

If satisfaction is not achieved by these steps, the student may contact the Dean of the School of Nursing, Education, and Human Studies to resolve the difficulty.

Impaired Student Procedures

If students are unable to function appropriately and as prescribed in our written code of ethics and the state LPC board, the student will be referred by the Coordinator to an agency or individual for an assessment. The content of the assessment process is confidential. However, as it is necessary for the Program to have knowledge of any recommendations of the assessment facility, students will need to sign a release of information form so these recommendations may be released to the Program Coordinator. The cost of the evaluation and any treatment recommended by the evaluating facility will be borne by the students. It is the responsibility of students to follow the recommendations of the assessment. The recommendations may include but are not limited to: 

  • Treatment at a center that is agreed upon by both students and the Coordinator. 
  • A medical examination by a competent health care professional.
  • Counseling for personal, emotional or relational problems (i.e., couples or family).

If the recommendations are not followed, students may be dismissed from the program. It is possible that the recommendations of the evaluation and/or treatment program would be that students be given a leave of absence. It is also possible that the Department or Program believes it is best for individuals to be placed on an involuntary leave of absence. In either case, the leave of absence could be for a period of time of up to two (2) years. If this leave of absence would result in a period of time greater than what is customarily allowed to complete a program, students may petition for an extension of time. After a leave of absence students may petition the coordinator for reinstatement to the program. It is the concern of the Program as well as the Department that the care provided by counselors-in-training be of the highest caliber. Therefore, because of ethical considerations, it may be appropriate to prohibit certain students from partaking in any practicum and internship until acceptance into the practicum/internship is petitioned. The Coordinator may seek the advice of the faculty, the Department Chair, the Dean, and the professional treatment individual working with any students before such permission is given. The purpose of the petition is to allow students to demonstrate their ability to participate in a practicum in an appropriate and ethical manner. Students have the right to appeal decisions using the grievance process outlined in this handbook. If students disagree with the treatment recommendations of the evaluation facility, they may seek out another evaluation from a different facility. The cost of this evaluation is again paid for by the particular students. In addition, in order for an evaluation to be as accurate and complete as possible, release forms need to be signed so that any/all individuals who are providing an evaluation will have access to the same information upon which to base their evaluation. If there are conflicting recommendations, the Coordinator of the program may request that students seek a third evaluation. If students believe that all of the facts were not brought forth during the evaluation, they may seek a hearing with the Coordinator. The Coordinator may invite to the hearing people who are able to help in the examination of the situation. Among those invited could be the student's advisor, the practicum/internship instructor, faculty members, a representative of the assessment facility, fellow students, Department Head, Dean, and others who would be beneficial to the process. Student would be allowed to invite whomever they would wish. Students also have the right to appeal any decision to dismiss him/her from the program within 14 days of the decision. In order to protect the rights of students, this information is considered confidential and may not be released outside of the department or to the assessment and/or referral agencies without written permission signed by the particular students and witnessed by another individual. If, after following the steps outlined above, students with a reoccurrence of the behavior within 12 months will be dismissed from the program.

Program Dismissal 

The Program seeks to graduate all matriculating students. Therefore, every reasonable effort will be made to help students succeed, including those who encounter difficulties. However, it is understood that some students may not be successful, and in some cases, dismissal from the program may be necessary. Dismissal may be due to one or more of several problems including impairment as noted in the preceding section. However, it might also result from, but not be limited to, the following: violation of code of ethics, inadequate academic performance, multiple grievances, inadequate clinical performance, dispositional evaluation, illegal or ethically inappropriate behavior, academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, falsifying clinical hours), and mental health concerns that render service provision and/or academic success unlikely. When a serious concern is documented, the individual with concerns will discuss it with the Program Coordinator and provide written documentation of the concern. The Coordinator will then meet with the particular students involved to determine if a resolution can be achieved. If no resolution is made, the issue will be brought to the Counseling Psychology Faculty Committee. The faculty will discuss the case and determine if dismissal is appropriate. The coordinator will then notify any particular students affected of the decision in writing. Affected students have the right to appeal the action using the grievance procedures outlined in this handbook within 15 days of notification. 

Practicum/Internships

Practicum and internship provide the opportunity for students to apply knowledge acquired in the classroom to actual counseling experiences in agencies or other service providers. These experiences are monitored by both RMU faculty and qualified on-site supervisors. The LPC in Pennsylvania requires at least 700 hours of clinical instruction in a graduate program distributed across a practicum (100 hours) and two internships (300 hours each, 600 hours total). The internship is to begin after completion of the practicum. At RMU these experiences are scheduled over three semesters of coursework (Practicum, Internship I, and Internship II). It is expected that a substantial proportion of the clinical hours will be direct client contact. Concurrent with the clinical hours at approved sites, students will enroll in practicum or the two internship courses (I & II), as appropriate. In the courses, students will discuss cases and receive supervision in addition to that provided at their site. The practicum and internship must take place at an approved site. Students should select a site based on their career goals and program requirements. It is strongly advised that if a student wishes to pursue a placement where there has not been an RMU intern before to discuss this with a program faculty member before beginning the application process. To have a site approved, students must provide (in writing) contact information and a site description to the program coordinator. Students must have contacted and received approval from the site before requesting site approval from the coordinator. All practicum and internships must be approved in the semester prior to their start date. As the process can take some time as there are many variables to consider, for example the time it takes for background checks to be completed before a clinical experience can begin, it is strongly recommended that students begin the search process no later than six months before the intended start date. Please note that although program faculty will be happy to discuss this process with students along the way, it is solely the responsibility of the student to secure a placement. Counselor trainees are expected to record many of their counseling activities during practicum and internship. It is the responsibility of counselor trainees enrolled in practicum and internship to supply appropriate equipment for recording counseling sessions.

Liability Insurance 

RMU MS Counseling Psychology students are required to procure individual professional liability (malpractice) insurance before beginning their practicum experience. This is for students’ protection. Student affiliates of ACA or APA should be eligible to purchase a policy at a much lower rate than professionals. Also, insurance is available through Healthcare Providers Service Organization - HPSO (hpso.com). Student rates for HPSO are generally less than $40 per year. 

Code of Ethics 

Counseling Psychology is a branch of psychology and at RMU the faculty members are largely affiliated with the field of psychology. As such they may frequently cite and consult the code of ethics for psychology. However, given that the Program trains counselors who are expected to eventually be regulated by the Pennsylvania LPC board, students of the RMU Counseling Psychology Program are expected to adhere to that Board’s code which is currently the Code of Ethics of the American Counseling Association. The complete ACA code of ethics can be found at http://www.counseling.org/resources/acacode-of-ethics.pdf. 

Financial Policies at RMU

Tuition, fees, room and board charges are payable on the designated payment due date of each term. Payments may be made via cash, check, money order, MasterCard, Visa, Discover, or AMEX. Beginning on July 1, 2018 all credit cards will be charged a 2.2% service fee. Financial clearance may be obtained through several Payment Options by the payment due date. A late registration fee will be assessed for registrations not processed prior to the payment due date.

At the time a student formally registers for classes, either by signing and submitting the appropriate registration forms to the Academic Services Office, or by registering online, the student agrees to:

  • Assume financial responsibility for any charges as posted to his/her student account.
  • Abide by the official University policies regarding withdrawals.
  • Assume the responsibility for understanding the University's official policy concerning schedule changes and financial responsibility policies.
  • If you will not be attending, you must drop the course(s) from your schedule prior to the first day of the term. Failure to drop the courses will result in a charge to your student account. Please remember that you are financially and academically responsible for your enrollment.

All accounts must be paid in full in order for students to enroll in future terms, receive copies of their grade reports, transcripts or diplomas.

Please note the following policies regarding late payments and delinquent accounts:

All accounts not paid in full by the first day of each term are subject to a monthly late fee of 1.25% of the unpaid balance.

Deferment accounts are subject to a 1.25% interest charge calculated on the average daily balance. Accounts placed with an outside billing servicer are subject to additional fees.

The student account office will assess an NSF fee for any checks returned for non-sufficient funds. The University reserves the right to cancel registration paid for with an NSF and to file litigation proceedings upon receipts of the NSF notification.

The student may be required to submit cash, certified check, or money order to replace a check that has been returned. A fee of $25 for each returned check will be billed to the student's account. If the student's account indicates a history of returned checks, the University may also require that future payments be made in cash, certified check, or money order.

If an account remains unpaid, RMU reserves the right to employ a 3rd party collection agency, list the account with a credit reporting agency and use any other legal means to collect the debt and assess against the student all expenses incurred, including, without limitation, reasonable attorney fees.

If an account must be sent to collections or litigation due to nonpayment of the outstanding balance, the University reserves the right to demand payment in full of subsequent terms of enrollment, prior to the beginning of each term to ensure enrollment.

If necessary, RMU, its agents, representatives, attorneys and contractors (including collection agencies) may contact students through their mobile phone, home phone and email, including by way of text and automated message calls, for purposes of collection of any portion of past due student financial obligations.

Robert Morris University is a non-profit institution of higher learning. As such, student receivable accounts are considered to be educational loans offered for the sole purpose of financing an education and are not dischargeable in bankruptcy proceedings.

The University reserves the right to cancel the registration of any student if a balance due from a previous term remains unpaid at the start of a subsequent term or if financial clearance is gained by providing a check with non sufficient funds. No diploma, grades, or transcripts will be released until all past due balances are paid in full.

Financial Appeals Board

The Financial Appeals Board has been established to allow students the opportunity to appeal a University policy that has a financial implication on the student's account. Consequently, all appeals must originate through Student Financial Services. Students may appeal a decision if they believe they have an extenuating circumstance that warrants Robert Morris University to deviate from the published policy.

Dependent upon availability, the Board consists of staff, faculty and student representation. It meets the last Monday of every month. Paperwork for the appeal must be submitted to the Office of Student Financial Servcies no later than one week prior to the meeting for the appeal to be heard that month. Students may appear in person to present their case. If the student chooses to appear in person, he/she will have no more than 15 minutes to present their case and the basis for the appeal. Only the student may appear at the board meeting. Legal counsel or a third-party will not be permitted to represent the student. This is an administrative hearing and carries no bearing on employment or student status.

The decision of the Financial Appeals Board is final. After the case is heard, the student will receive written notification of the board's decision within a week.

The appeals board will not hear cases regarding the following:

  • academic or financial aid appeals
  • account balances derived from the return of Title IV funds
  • appeals of non-academic fees
  • Balances must be paid prior to the appeal.

Diversity Statement 

The RMU Counseling Psychology program is committed to seeking and valuing diversity in students and staff. Diversity, used here in a very broad sense, includes the variety of cultures, backgrounds, values, and experiences found among faculty and students; it also includes the diversity of our professional ways of practice, our ways of learning, and our personal and professional goals. In training, the M.S. Program curriculum works to integrate diversity awareness and appreciation into all course offerings, with the goal of encouraging students to explore and appreciate diversity in all situations. We are committed to training multiculturally competent counselors. 

The RMU MS Counseling Psychology program adheres to all university registration, Code of Conduct, and Academic Integrity policies.

Additional Information

Graduate Assistantship 

The M.S. in Counseling Psychology program offers a graduate assistantship to an incoming student for the duration of their time in the program (2 years). All incoming students are eligible for the assistantship. This assistantship is awarded based upon academic merit, research experience, and counseling and leadership experience and is determined by the Counseling Psychology Admissions Review Committee. The graduate assistant (GA) for the Master of Science, Counseling Psychology assists with administrative operations and initiatives associated with the program and assists faculty on research projects. Responsibilities of the CP GA include:

  • Provide administrative support for CP program initiatives and day-to-day operations in the School of Nursing, Education, and Human Studies.
  • Assist with programmatic events in the School of Nursing, Education, and Human Studies. 
  • Support Admissions initiatives in the School of Nursing, Education, and Human Studies.
  • Provide support for the completion of research projects within the psychology program. 
    • Assist faculty with literature reviews, IRB proposals, data collection, data entry, data analysis and data compilation as needed. 
    • Assist with the development and submission of manuscripts and grant proposals for submission to research journals as needed. 
    • Assist with the preparation of presentations for research conferences as needed.
  • Miscellaneous other duties as assigned. 

Requirements: 

  • Bachelor’s degree in Psychology or a closely related field.
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.3 or above.
  • Full-time enrollment in the MS Counseling Psychology at RMU.
  • Previous psychology research experience.
  • A history of strong counseling and leadership experience.

Psychology Clinic and Observation Room 

The Counseling Psychology Training Clinic is located on the 4th Floor of Nicholson and is sponsored by the MS in Counseling Psychology Program at Robert Morris University. The clinic has a dual purpose: to provide students with the opportunity to get supervised clinical experience and to provide a service to the RMU community. Students will have the opportunity to see non-acute clients, and have these sessions viewed by program faculty that will be able to give real time feedback. Please Note: This observation room is equipped with monitoring and reviewing technology. It may also be used in learning beginning counseling skills through either role plays with fellow students or appropriate clientele, depending upon availability.

Courses

PSYC6010 Counseling Psychology. Orientation and Ethics. Overview of the aspects of professional functioning in counseling psychology including history, roles, ethics and professional practices, and credentialing. Prerequisite: Graduate standing and acceptance into Counseling Psychology graduate program. 3 Credits 

PSYC6020 Career Development. Examines theories of career development, use of occupational assessment instruments, and career counseling. 3 Credits 

PSYC6030 Foundations of Multicultural Counseling. Develops intercultural sensitivity and competence in understanding diversity through the application of social psychological principles as applied to counseling. Differences in ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, and gender are included. 3 Credits 

PSYC6040 Grief and Bereavement. Theories of grief, loss, and life transition across the lifespan are examined. Focus is placed on development of grief counseling skills. The interplay between grief and bereavement and clinical syndromes is examined. Prerequisites: Counseling Skills. 3 Credits 

PSYC6050 Foundations of Addiction. Basic understanding substance abuse and addictive behaviors including theory and physiology associated with symptomatology, etiology, incidence, treatment, and prevention. 3 Credits 

PSYC6060 Advanced Human Development. A study of the physiological, cognitive, and psycho-social changes and needs of individuals at different life stages. Emphasis will be placed on developmental changes that impact the counseling relationship. 3 Credits 

PSYC6070 Research and Program Evaluation. An examination of types of research methods used in counseling psychology and ethical and legal considerations in research. 3 Credits 

PSYC7010 Theories of Counseling. Survey of theoretical approaches and associated techniques used in the process of counseling individuals and consultations. 3 Credits 

PSYC7020 Counseling Skills. Acquisition of basic counseling skills and development of the therapeutic relationship. 3 Credits 

PSYC7030 Advanced Psychological Assessment. Provides an understanding of individual and group approaches to assessment and evaluation. Psychometrics of tests are also covered. 3 Credits 

PSYC7040 Psychopathology. A study of the categories of psychological disorders, their symptomatology, etiology, the diagnostic process, and an overview of efficacious treatment approaches. 3 Credits 

PSYC7050 Assessment, Appraisal, and Treatment Planning. Application of assessment strategies, including assessment instruments and diagnostic interviewing, diagnosis, and treatment planning. 3 Credits 

PSYC7060 Group Counseling. A study of group development, dynamics, counseling theory applicable to group work, and group counseling methods and skills. Prerequisites: 3 Credits 

PSYC7070 Child and Adolescent Counseling. Examines counseling theories and techniques as applied to individual and group counseling of children and adolescents. Applications and consulting with teachers and family will be included. Prerequisites: Counseling Skills. 3 Credits 

PSYC7080 Couples and Family Counseling. Provides and overview of family systems theory, the family life cycle, and predominant systems approaches for couples and family counseling. Applications of theory to practice are included. 3 Credits 

PSYC7090 Advanced Counseling Skills. Includes a study of counseling skills, process and strategies. Focus is placed on developing individual approaches to therapy consistent with the needs of the client and attributes of the therapist. The development of technical and case conceptualization skills and self awareness are included through supervised practice. Prerequisites: Counseling Skills. 3 Credits 

PSYC7320 Counseling Psychology Practicum. This beginning counseling practicum includes a minimum of 100 hours of supervised experience observation, feedback, and experience using a variety of counseling modalities. Prerequisites: Counseling Skills. 3 Credits

PSYC7420 Counseling Psychology Internship I. A minimum of 300 hours of supervised clinical experience in an approved off-campus internship setting. Prerequisites: 3 Credits 

PSYC7520 Counseling Psychology Internship II. A minimum of 300 hours of supervised clinical experience in an approved off-campus internship setting. This course is second of two which provides students with further direct therapy experience. Prerequisites: 3 Credits 

PSYC7510 Supervision and Consultation. Examines theory, research, and practice of clinical supervision. A lab component is included whereby students are supervised in providing supervision and consultation. Prerequisites: 3 Credits

Sample Courses:

These are some of the classes for students in this academic program:

Theories of Counseling
Foundations of Addiction
Grief & Bereavement

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