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Counseling Degrees and Programs in Montana

The state of Montana has several public and not-for-profit colleges and universities offering counseling programs in the five major areas of practice: marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, rehabilitation counseling, school counseling, and substance abuse counseling. To start a counseling career in Montana, you will need to choose a school that offers a counseling degree in the area you’d like to practice. You will also find that most areas of counseling licensure require a master’s degree. As nearly all graduate programs require an undergraduate degree, you may be interested in completing an associate or bachelor’s degree in counseling first. Several associate degree options are offered in Montana, but currently, no bachelor’s degrees in counseling are offered in the state, so you might wish to look at programs in surrounding states or online programs. If you have a bachelor’s degree already, you will find there are also graduate degree options in Montana that meet the educational requirements for licensure. One of the counseling programs in Montana is offered in an online and hybrid format at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Distance programs enable students to study from home with minimal or no required campus residencies. These online programs may appeal to busy students or working professionals.

Quick Facts

  • There are 13 not-for-profit colleges and universities that offer a program in mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, school counseling, substance abuse counseling, and/or vocational rehabilitation counseling in Montana.1,2
  • Of the counseling schools in Montana, 9 offer an associate degree, 0 offer a bachelor’s degree, 1 offers a certificate, and 5 offer a master’s or advanced degree.1,2
  • 3 schools offer a degree in mental health counseling.1,2
  • 1 school offers a degree in marriage and family therapy.1,2
  • 2 schools offer a degree in vocational rehabilitation counseling.1,2
  • 4 schools offer a degree in school counseling.1,2
  • 11 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
  • No schools ranked in US News & World Report’s Best Online M.Ed Programs for Student Counseling 2022.4
  • Across 4 schools, 7 counseling programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).2
  • No counseling programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).5

Comparison of Montana Counseling Schools and Programs

We have compiled the table below to help you compare the public and not-for-profit colleges and universities in Montana that offer counseling programs in the following 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. To learn more about the steps to licensure as a counselor in Montana, read our license requirements page.

School NameCACREP-Accred Program2MHMFVRSCSAGrad Rate1Net Price1
Aaniiih Nakoda CollegeYes31%$8,381
Blackfeet Community CollegeYes36%$8,452
Chief Dull Knife CollegeYes32%N.Av.
Dawson Community CollegeYes39%$10,216
Flathead Valley Community CollegeYes31%$9,354
Fort Peck Community CollegeYes15%$6,453
Montana State UniversityYesYesYesYesYes55%$17,821
Montana State University-BillingsYesYes28%$12,626
Montana State University-NorthernYes31%$10,954
Salish Kootenai CollegeYes62%$6,051
Stone Child CollegeYes23%$6,086
University of MontanaYesYesYes48%$15,228
University of ProvidenceYesYesYesYes39%$22,801

Schools in Montana with Counseling Degrees

Traditional Undergraduate Programs

Montana State University-Billings

Montana State University (MSU)-Billings offers degree programs for students interested in rehabilitation counseling, addiction counseling, or school counseling. At the undergraduate level, a four-year Bachelor of Science (BS) in Human Services is available with three different concentrations to choose from: Mental Health Systems and Applied Psychology; Chemical Addictions and Treatment in Human Services; or Social Issues Across the Lifespan. The Mental Health Systems and Applied Psychology concentration consists of 12 credits of upper-division psychology courses, the Chemical Addictions and Treatment in Human Services route is 16 credits, and the Social Issues Across the Lifespan concentration is 18 credits. Each of these programs provides greater exposure to the social, ethical, and professional issues related to counseling as well as supervised field experience. Courses for those following the Addiction Studies route include Social Problems; Intro to Addiction Counseling; and Behavioral Pharmacology. MSU-Billings also offers a Master of Science (MS) in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, which is accredited by CACREP and meets state educational requirements to become a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC). The program has a hybrid format with the majority of required coursework available online; however, students must complete an orientation and two summer classes at the Billings campus. The degree comprises 48 credits, including 13 credits of supervised practicum and internship that can be completed in the student’s home community. Finally, a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in School Counseling is available that prepares graduates to work in K-12 school settings as school counselors in Montana. This 48-credit degree has a hybrid format that combines online and evening classes with hybrid summer coursework.

Salish Kootenai College

Salish Kootenai College offers an Associate of Arts (AA) in Chemical Dependency Counseling with a focus on working with Native American populations in Montana and neighboring states. The program takes two years to complete full-time and consists of 90 quarter credits. Students are introduced to the legal, professional, and social aspects of addiction and chemical dependency as well as traditional Native American practices and methods that promote a holistic view of physical, mental, and spiritual health. Liberal arts coursework is also required and may include English, math, humanities, and biology classes. During the program, students learn treatment models and practical skills related to the profession, such as assessment, treatment planning, mental health counseling, and referrals. The degree is designed to meet the coursework requirements to become a Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC) in Montana. Students can also continue their studies at the bachelor’s degree level.

Stone Child College

Stone Child College is a tribal community college located near Box Elder. At Stone Child College, students interested in addiction counseling can complete an Associate of Arts (AA) in Human Services with a concentration in Addiction Studies. The AA program comprises 70 credits, including the 35-credit general education core and 35 credits of professional core classes in Addictions Studies. The program focuses on the health and well-being needs of Native American populations and includes a senior capstone project that enables students to apply their knowledge to a real-world case study. Students must take courses such as Multi-Cultural Counseling; Addiction Treatment Modalities; and Pharmacology and Physiology of Addiction. Other degree requirements include demonstrating an understanding of key addiction, pharmacology, and psychology theories; delivering a lecture on addiction counseling; creating a professional case file; and using addiction counseling skills appropriately in counseling scenarios. Upon completion of the program, students will meet state coursework requirements to become Licensed Addiction Counselors (LACs).

Traditional Graduate Programs

Montana State University

Montana State University (MSU) offers programs in four of the main areas of counseling practice. At the graduate level, students can choose from the 60-credit Master of Science (MS) in Mental Health Counseling; the 60-credit MS in Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling; or the 48-credit Master of Education (M.Ed.) in School Counseling. Each program is accredited by CACREP and takes two years of full-time study to complete including summer courses. Courses are typically offered at the Bozeman campus, although summer courses and some electives are available online or in a blended (online and in-person) format. The MS in Mental Health Counseling teaches students to provide professional and evidence-based counseling services to a variety of populations and meets the coursework requirements in Montana to become a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC). In the MS in Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling program, students complete coursework in counseling children and youth; group counseling; and advanced family therapy. Graduates will meet state educational requirements for the LCPC and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) credentials. The M.Ed. in School Counseling teaches students to provide academic guidance and support to elementary and secondary students. Graduates will meet state coursework requirements to become school counselors. It is also possible to complete 12 additional credits to meet the LCPC educational requirements with this degree. An online, 12-credit Certificate in Addictions Counseling consisting of 10 courses is offered that can be applied towards state academic requirements for the Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC) credential. Students may take additional coursework through MSU to meet the LAC educational requirements fully.

Montana State University-Northern

Students interested in an on-campus school counseling program can complete the Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Counselor Education at Montana State University (MSU)-Northern, located in Havre. This program requires 60 credits, including 15 credits of supervised practicum and internship. Required courses in the program include Counseling Skills and Practice; Crisis Intervention Counseling; and Addictions Counseling. Teaching certification and experience are not required, but the program and licensure requirements for school counseling may differ for applicants who do not already have a teaching certificate. Upon completion of the program, students will meet the academic requirements to become K-12 school counselors in Montana. Alternatively, students can complete their M.Ed. in Counselor Education with a focus on Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Graduates of this track will meet state coursework requirements to become Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors (LCPCs).

University of Montana

At the University of Montana, prospective counselors can apply to the CACREP-accredited Master of Arts (MA) in Counseling, which has Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling tracks. This two-year degree is available at the Missoula campus with some online or blended course offerings. Students in both tracks complete 37 credits of counseling core courses with Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling students completing 23 additional credits in their chosen concentration for a total of 60 minimum credits for degree completion. The MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling meets state educational requirements for the Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), while the MA in School Counseling meets state requirements to become a school counselor. Individuals who already have a master’s degree in counseling can apply to the Education Specialist (EdS) in Counselor Education or the CACREP-accredited Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Counselor Education and Counseling. These advanced programs allow students to develop expertise in a particular area of counseling. The PhD also teaches clinical leadership and research skills.

Online and Hybrid Programs

University of Providence

The University of Providence is a Catholic institution that offers online and hybrid counseling degree options. At the undergraduate level, students can complete either an Associate of Arts (AA) or a minor in Addictions Counseling. The two-year AA program consists of 37 semester credits, while the minor requires 22 semester credits. Both programs teach students about a range of addiction theories, models, and counseling techniques with a focus on chemical dependency and gambling or drug use. An Addictions Counseling Certificate is also available to applicants who already have a bachelor’s degree. This program meets the state educational requirements to become a Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC). At the graduate level, the school offers a hybrid, CACREP-accredited Master of Science in Counseling (MSC) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling comprising 60 credits. Additionally, there are two concentration options for the MSC in Clinical Mental Health Counseling: an Addiction Counseling concentration and a Rehabilitation Counseling concentration. Coursework for these concentrations varies slightly from the core degree track, with both tracks requiring 66 semester credits. Courses are offered at the Great Falls campus, online, or in a hybrid format. New students are admitted in August and must attend an orientation either on-campus or online. Graduates will meet the state educational requirements to become Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors (LCPCs). Students in the MSC program can also complete the Addiction Counseling Certificate concurrently to meet the LAC educational requirements.

References:
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