Counseling Degrees and Programs in California

The state of California has numerous colleges and universities that offer programs in counseling in all of the major categories: mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, rehabilitation counseling, school counseling, and substance abuse counseling. If you are interested in starting your counseling career in California, choosing a school will likely be one of the first steps you take, as nearly all careers in professional counseling require a degree. Furthermore, since a master’s degree in counseling is required for most types of licensure, the vast majority of California counseling programs are offered at that level. There are, however, some undergraduate options available for those who are not ready to pursue a graduate degree. Many counseling programs in California are also offered either online or in a hybrid format, allowing students to attend counseling school on a more flexible basis.

Table of Contents

Quick Facts

  • There are 92 not-for-profit colleges and universities that offer a program in marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, school counseling, substance abuse counseling, and/or vocational rehabilitation counseling in California.1
  • Of the counseling schools in California, 35 offer an associate degree, 1 offers a bachelor’s degree, 44 offer a certificate, and 46 offer a master’s or advanced degree.1,2
  • 21 schools offer a degree in mental health counseling.1,2
  • 40 schools offer a degree in marriage and family therapy.1,2
  • 6 schools offer a degree in vocational rehabilitation counseling. 1,2
  • 32 schools offer a degree in school counseling.1,2
  • 48 schools offer a degree in substance abuse counseling.1,2
  • No schools ranked in US News & World Report’s Best Student Counseling Programs 2022.3
  • 4 schools ranked in US News & World Report’s Best Online M.Ed. Programs for Student Counseling 2022.4
  • Across 12 schools, 21 counseling programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).2
  • Across 9 schools, 13 programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).5

Comparison of California Counseling Schools and Programs

We have compiled the table below to allow you to compare the public and not-for-profit colleges and universities in California offering counseling programs in the following five primary areas: mental health counseling (MH), marriage and family therapy (MF), vocational rehabilitation counseling (VR), school counseling (SC), and substance abuse counseling (SA). Use the table to compare each school by program type offered, Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accreditation status, graduation rate, and net price per year. If you would like to learn more about licensure as a counselor in California, read our license requirements page.

School NameCACREP-
MHMFVRSCSAGrad Rate1Net Price1
Allan Hancock CollegeYes28%$6,629
America Evangelical UniversityYesN.Av.$19,802
American River CollegeYes29%$8,101
Antelope Valley Community College DistrictYes25%$6,203
Azusa Pacific UniversityYesYes72%$27,112
Cabrillo CollegeYes35%$18,139
California Baptist UniversityYesYesYes57%$23,494
California Lutheran UniversityYesYes74%$24,065
California State University-BakersfieldYesYesYes48%$7,368
California State University-Dominguez HillsYesYesYes53%$4,500
California State University-East BayYesYesYes48%$12,631
California State University-FresnoYesYesYesYes57%$6,336
California State University-FullertonYesYesYesYes71%$4,939
California State University-Long BeachYesYesYes75%$9,171
California State University-Los AngelesYesYesYes52%$2,695
California State University-NorthridgeYesYes54%$8,708
California State University-SacramentoYesYesYesYes57%$7,778
California State University-San BernardinoYesYesYesYes57%$3,254
Chapman UniversityYesYes80%$40,451
Chicago School of Professional Psychology at AnaheimYesN.Av.N.Av.
Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los AngelesYesYesYes50%$33,638
Chicago School of Professional Psychology at San DiegoYesN.Av.N.Av.
City College of San FranciscoYes37%$9,261
College of San MateoYes41%$5,427
College of the DesertYes29%$14,179
College of the RedwoodsYes22%$8,618
Concordia University-IrvineYesYesYes68%$25,640
Consumnes River CollegeYes29%$7,223
Cuesta CollegeYes43%$14,586
Cypress CollegeYes33%$7,951
Daybreak UniversityYesN.Av.N.Av.
Diablo Valley CollegeYes47%$8,878
East Los Angeles CollegeYes30%$12,028
Fresno City CollegeYes24%$6,391
Fresno Pacific UniversityYesYes68%$15,350
Fuller Theological SeminaryYesN.Av.N.Av.
Glendale Community CollegeYes39%$7,823
Hartnell CollegeYes35%$7,721
Hope International UniversityYes42%$18,801
Imperial Valley CollegeYes36%$2,300
La Sierra UniversityYesYesYes45%$25,230
Lake Tahoe Community CollegeYes38%$7,867
Loma Linda UniversityYesYesYesYesN.Av.N.Av.
Long Beach City CollegeYes22%$6,550
Los Angeles City CollegeYes24%$10,898
Los Angeles Pierce CollegeYes37%$12,995
Los Angeles Southwest CollegeYes18%$8,651
Loyola Marymount UniversityYesYesYes79%$40,180
Mendocino CollegeYes24%$8,465
Merced CollegeYes35%$13,426
Merritt CollegeYes20%$16,194
Modesto Junior CollegeYes23%$14,421
Mt San Antonio CollegeYes41%$5,774
Mt. San Jacinto Community College DistrictYes30%$7,704
Napa Valley CollegeYes35%$18,440
National UniversityYesYesYes47%$9,966
Northcentral UniversityYesYesN.Av.N.Av.
Notre Dame de Namur UniversityYes55%N.Av.
Oxnard CollegeYes34%$3,441
Pacific Oaks CollegeYesN.Av.N.Av.
Palo Alto UniversityYesYesYesN.Av.N.Av.
Palo Verde CollegeYes35%$14,270
Palomar CollegeYes29%$6,659
Porterville CollegeYes35%$5,757
Presbyterian Theological Seminary in AmericaYes100%$8,719
Rio Hondo CollegeYes24%$7,873
Saddleback CollegeYes46%$7,918
Saint Mary’s College of CaliforniaYesYes73%$25,022
San Bernadino Valley CollegeYes20%$9,621
San Diego City CollegeYes23%$8,370
San Diego State UniversityYesYesYesYes76%$6,867
San Francisco State UniversityYesYesYesYesYes54%$13,761
San Joaquin Delta CollegeYes30%$17,503
San Jose City CollegeYes29%$17,618
San Jose State UniversityYes69%$14,603
Santa Barbara City CollegeYes45%$14,000
Santa Rosa Junior CollegeYes36%$9,220
Saybrook University-OnlineYesYesN.AvN.Av.
Sonoma State UniversityYesYesYes60%$7,055
Southern California SeminaryYesYesN.Av.N.Av.
Touro University WorldwideYesYes57%$18,121
University of California-San DiegoYes89%$15,632
University of La VerneYesYes69%$22,538
University of Massachusetts GlobalYesYesYesN.Av.$26,346
University of RedlandsYesYes69%$21,578
University of San DiegoYesYesYesYes80%$34,155
University of Southern CaliforniaYesYes92%$26,021
University of the WestYes50%$13,225
West Los Angeles CollegeYes26%$10,259
William Jessup UniversityYesYes60%$27,823
Woodland Community CollegeYes28%$7,480
Yuba CollegeYes19%$5,503

Top-Ranked Schools with Counseling Programs in California

US News & World Report’s Best Online M.Ed. Programs for Student Counseling 2022

  • University of Massachusetts Global (#157 tie)
  • Alliant International University (#253-329)
  • National University (#253-329)
  • Point Loma Nazarene University (unranked)4

Schools in California with Counseling Degrees

Traditional Undergraduate Programs

California State University, Los Angeles

California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA) offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Rehabilitation Services that is designed to prepare graduates to work in the field of human services helping people with physical, emotional, and intellectual disabilities, or with economic and social disadvantages. Two options are available, a General Option and an Applied Behavioral Analysis Option. Both programs have 120 credits and take four years of full-time study to complete or two years for transfer students. A minor in Rehabilitation Services, comprised of 23-24 credits, is also offered for psychology, sociology, social work, criminal justice, and other majors. Courses in the BS in Rehabilitation Services program at Cal State LA include Diversity and Awareness of Self and Others for Helping Professionals; Case Management in Rehabilitation Services; Trauma & Crisis Counseling; and Behavior Support, Social Skills, and Classroom Management.

Modesto Junior College

Modesto Junior College (MJC) offers human services programs in Chemical Dependency Counseling as well as Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR). The Certificate of Achievement in Chemical Dependency Counseling is accredited by the California Association for Drug and Alcohol Educators (CAADE) and comprises 36 credits. An Associate of Arts (AA) is also offered in Chemical Dependency Counseling, which consists of 23 credits and prepares graduates to take the Addiction Counselor Certification Board of California (ACCBC) exam leading to state certification. The Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR) program culminates in a Skills Recognition Award and provides the nine units of college credit necessary to sit for the national test-based certification exam. This prepares graduates to proceed to an AA in Human Services degree if they so choose. All human services programs at MJC prepare graduates for entry-level employment in the field or to pursue more advanced degrees.

Traditional Graduate Programs

California State University, Fresno

The Kremen School of Education and Human Development at California State University, Fresno (or Fresno State) offers a Master of Science (MS) in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling; a Master of Science (MS) in Counseling (with specialties in School Counseling and Student Affairs and College Counseling), and a Master of Science (MS) in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling (MFCC). The Marriage and Family Therapy degree and the Clinical Rehabilitation degree are both CACREP-accredited. The MS in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling has two concentration options, Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Graduates will meet licensure/credentialing requirements for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCCs), Certified Rehabilitation Counselors (CRCs), or Pupil Personnel Specialists (PPS) in California. The MS in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling is also comprised of 60 credits, which can be completed full-time in five semesters. It prepares graduates for licensure as a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and/or Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC).

San Francisco State University

San Francisco State University’s Department of Counseling, housed in its College of Health and Social Sciences, offers several graduate degrees in counseling, including a Master of Science (MS) degree in Counseling with several available concentrations; a Master of Science (MS) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling; and a Master of Science in Counseling with a Concentration in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling. Prospective Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCCs) will meet the educational requirements through the MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, while prospective Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists will meet licensure requirements with the MS in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling, and prospective school counselors can receive their credential through the MS in Counseling with a Concentration in School Counseling and Pupil Personnel Services Credential. All programs in the department are CACREP-accredited and can be completed in two- or three-year sequences.

Online and Hybrid Programs

University of Massachusetts Global

The University of Massachusetts Global, formally Brandman University, offers a Master of Arts (MA) in Counseling and Pupil Personnel Services Credential (PPSC) in School Counseling, as well as a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Marriage & Family Therapy and Professional Clinical Counseling. Both programs are offered completely online. The MA in Counseling and PPSC in School Counseling are designed to prepare graduates to become school counselors, while the MA in Marriage and Family Therapy meets the education requirements for California Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs) and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCCs).

Loma Linda University

Loma Linda University offers a variety of online and dual degree programs with a Christian worldview. Among their programs are a two-year Master of Science (MS) in Marital and Family Therapy; a two-year MS in Counseling with specializations in Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC); a three-year Doctor of Marital and Family Therapy (DMFT); a three- to four-year PhD in Systems, Families, and Couples; and certificates in Drug and Alcohol Counseling and School Counseling. A dual degree with an MS in Counseling and an MS in Marital and Family Therapy with a School Counseling Certificate, which can be completed in just three years of full-time study, is also offered for those applicants who want to maximize their licensing and career potential. The DMFT and PhD in Systems, Families, and Couples are the only Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)-accredited doctoral programs of their kind in the state. Students are placed across the Loma Linda University healthcare system and in the local community for internships. No GRE scores or prerequisites are required for entry into the programs.

Saybrook University

Saybrook University offers a hybrid Master of Arts (MA) in Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling Specialization or an online Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Counselor Education and Supervision. The 60-credit MA in Counseling prepares graduates for licensure as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) in California and faculty will work with students who are pursuing licensure in other states to ensure they take the appropriate coursework. 700 hours of field experience is spread over three semesters. A regionally-accredited bachelor’s degree is required for admission. The 54-unit PhD program prepares graduates to work as faculty in counselor education programs or as supervisors to clinical mental health counselors. A master’s degree in counseling from a CACREP-accredited program is preferred for admission as well as a current LPCP or LPC license.

1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, Accredited Programs: https://www.cacrep.org/directory/
3. US News & World Report Best Student Counseling Programs 2022: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-education-schools/student-counseling-rankings
4. US News & World Report Best Online Master’s in Education Programs Offering Student Counseling and Personnel Services 2022: https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/education/student-counseling-rankings
5. Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, Directory of COAMFTE Accredited Programs: https://coamfte.org/COAMFTE/Directory_of_Accredited_Programs/MFT_Training_Programs.aspx