Mar 26, 2023  
Graduate Bulletin 2022-2023 
Graduate Bulletin 2022-2023

Counseling, M.A.

Graduate Program Director: Steffanie Schilder, Ph.D. Associate Professor
Practicum & Internship Coordinator: Kirstin Lauritsen, Ph.D. Assistant Professor


The Master of Arts in Counseling program is designed to meet graduate educational needs by:

  1. The Counseling program is designed to allow the student to fulfill the current course requirements for the State of Iowa’s Mental Health Counselor License.
  2. Providing educational and field experiences for those wishing to change their occupation to an area of Counseling.
  3. Providing a master’s level education for those students wishing to pursue doctoral education elsewhere.

Counseling Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand foundational aspects of professional counseling.
  2. Understand and apply ethical principles to all work pertaining to clients at individual, group, and societal levels.
  3. Demonstrate competency in addressing multicultural needs of clients.
  4. Demonstrate competency in analysis of clients, including diagnosis, case conceptualization, and developmental considerations across the lifespan.
  5. Demonstrate the capacity to develop empirically supported strategies for specific types of therapeutic interventions targeted to work with individuals and groups.
  6. Apply psychological theories to the practice of mental health counseling.
  7. Demonstrate understanding of foundational components and application of individual and group approaches to assessment and evaluation.
  8. Utilize appropriate methods for conducting research and program evaluation.


Applicants must submit the following application materials to the Director of Admission: Graduate and Professional Education Programs, Loras College, 1450 Alta Vista, Dubuque, Iowa 52001:

  1. Online Graduate Program application:
  2. All official transcripts from each institution attended, including undergraduate and graduate
    1. A minimum cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 (or 2.9 in the last 60 credits) is required for admission.
    2. Completion of at least 9 credits in the behavioral sciences is required for admission.
  3. Personal statement
  4. Current resume or vitae
  5. Three recommendations

Deadlines are as follows:

Fall enrollment - materials due by July 1
Spring enrollment - materials due by December 1
Summer enrollment - materials due by April 1
Applications submitted after these deadlines will be considered on an individual basis


Immediately following receipt of all application materials, the file will be reviewed by the Program Director to determine whether to move forward with an interview. The applicant will then be contacted with information about their next steps. After completion of the interview (or after review of the file), the applicant will be notified of an admission decision in their online Applicant Status Portal. Please note that if admitted, and after payment of the confirmation deposit, enrollment in the program is contingent upon:

  • Must pass a background check in accordance with the same standards of DHS hiring procedures.
  • All students must sign a Handbook Acknowledgement Form indicating they understand all of the policies and procedures of the program. This will be provided at the required graduate orientation.


Each student will be assigned to the Program Director of Counseling for their advisor. The Program Director will develop individualized plans for counseling students.

A minimum of 60 credits for the degree program are required. Up to 12 credits of coursework can be transferred from another institution if approved by Program Director.

Courses in the counseling sequence (L.MHC 647  and L.MHC 649 L.MHC 694 L.MHC 696 L.MHC 698 ) must be taken at Loras College.


Students who have been admitted as a degree-seeking student will be reviewed after the completion of at least 15 credits from Loras College, completion of MHC 647 and not more than 21 credits. This review will be conducted by faculty members in the Counseling program and will assess adequacy of academic performance as well as overall suitability of the student for work in the area of counseling which has been selected. Graduate faculty will make a decision regarding candidacy based on evidence from GPA, coursework, and disposition forms.  

Students will automatically be considered for candidacy once reaching this credit range.  Discussions of candidacy will occur in the October or March Counseling Graduate meeting.

Students will be informed of decisions via letter by the end of October or the end of March, respectively. 

A student will receive one of the following three decisions.

1. Candidacy: The student is fully accepted into the program and may proceed with further coursework and internship experiences.

2. Candidacy Deferred: The student may continue his/her coursework but will need to successfully address areas of concern raised by the faculty during the candidacy review. The student, upon addressing said concerns, must reapply for acceptance to candidacy within 6 months of notification of deferred status. If the student has successfully addressed the specified said concerns, he/she will be recommended for Candidacy.

3. Candidacy Denied: The student will be denied candidacy if he/she has demonstrated an inability to meet the academic standards of the program. This would be manifested in a GPA of under 3.0 for their graduate coursework. A student may also be denied candidacy if he/she demonstrates unethical behavior or a pattern of misbehavior or inappropriate behavior in his/her dealings with classmates, professors, or clients. Denial of candidacy will result in the student’s dismissal from the program.


Students will take a practice exam of the NCMHCE for their comprehensive exam.  The exam will be taken during Internship I.  The date for the exam will be provided in the syllabus and will occur outside of class.  No exceptions are made for the date of the exam. 

Those students who do not receive a passing score will be allowed to take one additional practice exam of the NCMHCE during Internship I.   The date for the exam will be provided by the Program Director. No exceptions are made for the date of the exam.  If the student fails the second practice exam, they will be allowed one opportunity to take a practice exam during Internship II.  The date for the exam will be provided by the Program Director.  No exceptions are made for the date of the exam.

A student will receive one of the following decisions:

  1. Pass: The student is eligible for the MA Counseling degree at the successful completion of all required coursework.

Students who receive a passing score for the exam will be allowed to take the licensure exam early, prior to graduation, as granted by the Iowa Board of Behavioral Science.  This will allow for easier employment opportunities. 

  1. Fail:  The student is not eligible for the MA Counseling degree.  One of three possible outcomes will result in a failing score.
    1. The student will be required to take the practice exam again in Internship II. 
    2. The student may be placed on probationary status.  If students receive less than 50%, the student will receive a contract to attain good standing again and be eligible for the MA Counseling degree.  This status will require taking comprehensive exams in the following semester, in addition to meeting all contract agreements.
    3. If the student does not pass the NCMHCE practice exam on the second try, the student may be removed from the program.


Probation from the Counseling graduate program is based on the following criteria:

  • Failure of comprehensive exam with the first attempt
  • Failure to make progress towards candidacy in a reasonable amount of time
  • Violation of College’s student code, first offense or specific Professional Competence and Ethics Policy
  • Failure to adhere to contractual obligations for the practicum or internship site
  • Cumulative GPA below a 3.0
  • Student is evaluated with negative performance by a faculty member or clinical instructor
  • Other grounds for program probation and dismissal may include: failure to adhere to technical standards, professional misconduct, or failure to successfully pass other programmatic requirements

Students should reference the “Dismissal Policies and Procedures ” portion of this Bulletin in the “Graduate Academic Standards” section for specifics on dismissal policy.

Given that the holders of a Counseling MA degree require a high degree of professional competence and personal integrity, this probation/dismissal policy is not designed to be exclusive.


See Non-Degree Seeking/Non-Pathway Seeking Students Policy: Here   

Regularly Offered Electives:

The remaining 9 elective credits to be determined in consultation with the student’s advisor.


(PREQ): there is a required course which must be taken prior to this course.

*State of Iowa requirement for Mental Health Counselor License


Year 1

Year 2

Year 3


Course offerings may change due to student needs, course enrollment, and/or other factors. Please see the graduate bulletin for course descriptions ; see IQ for course schedules.