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Counseling Degrees and Programs in Tennessee

If you are planning to start a career as a professional counselor in Tennessee, you will find that many colleges and universities offer programs in the major counseling fields: marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, rehabilitation counseling, school counseling, and substance abuse counseling. The first step in your counseling career will likely be choosing a school to attend, as nearly all counseling careers in Tennessee require a degree. In addition, you will find that nearly all the counseling degrees in Tennessee are offered at the master’s level or above. This is likely because a master’s degree in counseling is required for most types of licensure in the state. At the bachelor’s level, prospective counselors may need to choose a degree in a related field as undergraduate degrees are not available in all the major counseling fields. At the graduate level, there are a small number of online or hybrid counseling degree programs available in the more popular areas of practice, such as clinical mental health and school counseling.

Quick Facts

  • There are 21 not-for-profit four-year 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 Tennessee.1,2
  • Of the counseling schools in Tennessee, 0 offer an associate’s degree, 1 offers a bachelor’s degree, 0 offer a certificate, and 21 offer a master’s or advanced degree.1,2
  • 4 schools offer a degree in marriage and family therapy.1,2
  • 18 schools offer a degree in mental health counseling.1,2
  • 1 school offers a degree in vocational rehabilitation counseling.1,2
  • 16 schools offer a degree in school counseling.1,2
  • 2 schools offer a degree in substance abuse counseling.1,2
  • 5 counseling schools ranked in Kiplinger’s Best College Values 2019.3
  • 1 school ranked in US News Best Student Counseling Programs 2019.4
  • 1 school ranked in US News Best Rehabilitation Counseling Programs 2019.5
  • Across 17 schools, 32 counseling programs are accredited by CACREP.2

Comparison of Tennessee Counseling Schools and Programs

Below you will find a table that contains some helpful information if you are considering completing a counseling degree in Tennessee. The table allows you to compare Tennessee’s public and not-for-profit four-year colleges and universities that offer programs in these five areas: mental health counseling (MH), marriage and family therapy (MFT), vocational rehabilitation counseling (VR), school counseling (SC), and substance abuse counseling (SA). The table indicates the schools that offer programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP); CACREP-accredited programs are denoted with an asterisk (*). Use the table to compare each school by program type offered, graduation rate, and net price per year. If you’d like more information about counseling licensure in Tennessee, have a look at our license requirements page.

School NameCACREP-
Accred
Program2
MHMFVRSCSAGrad Rate1Net Price1
Austin Peay State UniversityYesYes*Yes*41%$13,331
Belmont UniversityYesYes*Yes*73%$36,694
Carson-Newman UniversityYesYes*Yes*51%$19,516
East Tennessee State UniversityYesYes*Yes*Yes*45%$11,062
Freed-Hardeman UniversityYesYes*Yes60%$16,235
Johnson UniversityYesYes*Yes*63%$18,684
Lee UniversityYes57%$17,558
Lincoln Memorial UniversityYesYes*Yes*57%$16,291
Lipscomb UniversityYesYes*Yes65%$25,719
Memphis Theological SeminaryYesN.Av.N.Av.
Middle Tennessee State UniversityYesYes*Yes*44%$12,294
Milligan CollegeYesYes*Yes70%$20,362
Southern Adventist UniversityYesYes*Yes*52%$23,377
Tennessee State UniversityYes30%$9,186
Tennessee Technological UniversityYesYes*Yes55%$16,891
Trevecca Nazarene UniversityYesYes*Yes*55%$18,996
University of MemphisYesYes*Yes*Yes*Yes48%$13,174
University of Tennessee-ChattanoogaYesYes*Yes*48%$13,934
University of Tennessee-KnoxvilleYesYes*Yes*73%$21,019
University of Tennessee-MartinYes48%$10,731
Vanderbilt UniversityYesYes*Yes*94%$23,596

Top-Ranked Schools with Counseling Programs in Tennessee

Kiplinger’s Best College Values 2019

  • Vanderbilt University (#30)
  • Milligan College (#215)
  • Belmont University (#294)
  • University of Tennessee (#318)
  • Lipscomb University (#320)

US News Best Student Counseling Programs 2019

  • Vanderbilt University (#11 tie)

US News Best Rehabilitation Counseling Programs 2019

  • University of Memphis (#20 tie)

Schools in Tennessee with Counseling Degrees

Traditional Undergraduate Programs

University of Memphis

Students looking for a counseling degree at the undergraduate level may be interested in the Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS) at the University of Memphis, which offers concentrations in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services and Disability and Rehabilitation Services. Both degrees are comprised of 120 credits and take four years to complete through full-time study. Students complete foundational courses in liberal arts, specialized professional courses in the area of study, an internship, and a senior project. The degree can also be designed to include an optional minor in a complementary field, such as Child Development, Nonprofit Management, or Psychology. The University of Memphis offers numerous CACREP-accredited Master of Science (MS) in Counseling degree options, including concentrations in Clinical Mental Health Counseling; Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling; Rehabilitation Counseling; and School Counseling; and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Counselor Education and Supervision.

Traditional Graduate Programs

Austin Peay State University

At Austin Peay State University (APSU), students can complete a CACREP-accredited Master of Science (MS) degree in Counseling with a concentration in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (60 credits) or School Counseling (51-54 credits). The MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling includes 100 hours of practicum and 600 hours of internship to help students learn how to provide counseling interventions to a diverse and multicultural range of clients. The curriculum is designed to meet Tennessee’s educational requirements for licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor with the Mental Health Service Provider designation (LPC-MHSP). Students in the MS in School Counseling program learn educational and child development theories and age-appropriate counseling and guidance skills for PreK-12 settings. This concentration meets state requirements to become a school counselor in Tennessee. APSU also offers a dual-track option that enables a limited number of students to complete the coursework requirements for both the LPC-MHSP and school counseling credentials in a compressed timeframe.

East Tennessee State University

East Tennessee State University (ETSU) offers prospective counselors several graduate-level counseling degree options accredited by CACREP. The Master of Arts (MA) in Counseling is a 60-credit degree with concentrations in Clinical Mental Health, Couples and Family Counseling, and Elementary/Secondary School Counseling. The MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling teaches students clinical assessment, developmental psychology, and individual and group intervention skills and can be designed to meet the coursework requirements for state licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Students in the MA in Couples and Family Counseling program take classes in counseling processes, family dynamics, and trauma. The degree meets Tennessee’s coursework requirements to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). The MA in School Counseling meets state educational requirements to become a school counselor and work in PreK-12 school settings. Students in the Couples and Family Counseling and School Counseling tracks can take additional coursework to meet the LPC coursework requirements as well.

Middle Tennessee State University

Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) offers a CACREP-accredited Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) in Professional Counseling with concentrations in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling. Both degrees are comprised of 61 credits and meet state educational requirements for licensure in their respective areas of practice. In addition to qualifying graduates for Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) licensure, the Ed.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling teaches students the clinical skills necessary to be eligible for the Licensed Professional Counselor-Mental Health Service Provider (LPC-MSHP) credential. Students in both concentrations must take foundational counseling courses, such as Introduction to Professional Counseling and Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling, before progressing to more advanced content in the area of counseling expertise. Both programs require students to complete 100 hours of practicum and 600 hours of internship. New students are admitted in the fall and spring terms.

The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga offers prospective counseling students the opportunity to complete CACREP-accredited Master of Education (M.Ed.) degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling. Both degrees require students to complete 60 credits, including 700 hours of supervised work experience, comprehensive exams, and a final case study paper. Individuals in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling track learn about clinical assessment, mental health diagnosis, and multicultural counseling. Upon graduation, students will meet the coursework requirements to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Tennessee. Those in the School Counseling track take foundational counseling courses and courses focused on child development and counseling in school settings. Graduates will be qualified to become school counselors in Tennessee. New students are admitted into the M.Ed. programs in the fall term.

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville

At the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (UT-Knoxville), students can complete a Master of Science (MS) with a concentration in either Clinical Mental Health Counseling or School Counseling. New students are admitted in the fall term. Both tracks are accredited by CACREP and meet the educational requirements in Tennessee for counseling licensure in their areas of practice. In the Clinical Mental Health Counseling track, students complete 60 credits in approximately two and a half years of full-time study with the option to also complete a research thesis. The program has a cohort structure in which students progress through the curriculum together; however, part-time study is possible with prior approval. The School Counseling track requires 60 credits and takes two years to complete. At UT-Knoxville, it is also possible to complete a CACREP-accredited Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Counselor Education and Supervision and an online Graduate Certificate in Rehabilitation Counseling for the Deaf.

Online and Hybrid Programs

The University of Tennessee-Martin

The University of Tennessee-Martin (UT-Martin) offers an online Master of Science (MS) in Counseling degree with concentrations in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling. The Clinical Mental Health degree requires 60 credits and students can begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer term. This degree teaches students the skills needed to work in community settings, such as hospitals and community agencies. Upon completion of the program, students will meet Tennessee educational requirements to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or a Licensed Professional Counselor-Mental Health Service Provider (LPC-MSHP). The School Counseling degree requires 48 credits and offers start dates in the fall or spring term. Graduates are prepared to work in PreK-12 school settings and meet state coursework requirements to become a school counselor. Both programs accept students on a full-time or part-time basis and can be completed in as little as two years. During the program, students must attend a three-day residency at the Martin campus held in either January or June.

Vanderbilt University

Students interested in an online school counseling degree can complete the Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Human Development Counseling with a specialization in School Counseling through Vanderbilt University. The degree is comprised of 48 credits and provides a wide breadth of knowledge that is necessary to work with K-12 students. Graduates of this track will meet state requirements to become a school counselor and may take additional coursework to meet the state educational requirements for licensure in Tennessee as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). The M.Ed. in School Counseling is also available at the Nashville campus along with a Clinical Mental Health Counseling track. On-campus courses are offered during the day, evening, and on weekends. Students completing the Clinical Mental Health Counseling specialization will meet Tennessee’s LPC 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 (CACREP), Accredited Programs: https://www.cacrep.org/directory/
3. Kiplinger’s Best College Values, 2019: https://www.kiplinger.com/fronts/special-report/college-rankings/index.html
4. US News & World Report Best Student Counseling Programs, 2019: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-education-schools/student-counseling-rankings
5. US News & World Report Best Rehabilitation Counseling Programs, 2019: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-health-schools/rehabilitation-counseling-rankings