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Southern Miss Students Exceed National Average on Licensure Exams PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Contact David Tisdale - 601.266.4499   

Students in The University of Southern Mississippi master’s degree programs in Counseling Psychology and Marriage and Family Therapy have recorded a 100 percent passing rate and exceeded the national average score on licensure exams in their fields.

Both programs are housed in the university’s College of Education and Psychology.

“We’re very proud of our students for their success. They’ve enjoyed a 100 percent pass rate on the NCE for more than five years,” said Dr. Michael Madson, assistant professor and director of the masters in counseling psychology program. “I think it speaks to the national quality of our program and the students we admit.”

The counseling psychology national exam is used in licensing professional counselors in Mississippi and most other states. In addition, Southern Miss students also surpassed the average national score on the exam by about 20 points.

“Passing the NCE is a critical step toward licensure as a professional counselor and these results speak to the potential of our students to become successful professionals and demonstrates the quality training they receive,” Madson said.

The Master's Program in Counseling Psychology prepares students to become licensed professional counselors in their communities, and/or continue their graduate study at the doctoral level. With an increased emphasis on evidence based practice and psychological science students are prepared for successful careers an increasingly complex health care environment.

“Our graduates experience much success on the job market and when applying to further their studies at the doctoral level,” Madson said. “The program has been successful in placing students in paid internship experiences that often result in the student being hired into a full time position and the majority of students who apply for doctoral education at the completion of the program are admitted.”

The Counseling Psychology program, housed in the Department of Psychology, has recently been cited as one of the nation's best, according to two independent research studies, published in issues of The Counseling Psychologist journal. The program was ranked 16th and 18th nationally in research productivity over a 10-year period by the two studies.

Students who recently graduated from the university’s Marriage and Family Therapy program who sat for the National Examination in Marital and Family Therapy also enjoyed a 100 percent passing rate. Graduates must pass this examination in order to be licensed as a marriage and family therapist in Mississippi and every other state, except for California. 

The Marriage and Family Therapy Master's Program prepares students in the application of family therapy practice and knowledge for a variety of professional and community settings as mental health professionals dedicated to improving the human condition through prevention and intervention.

“Program graduates have posted pass rates of 100 percent two out of the last three years, and our success rate on the national exam is significantly higher than the national average,” said Dr. Jeff Hinton, assistant professor and director of clinical training for the Marriage and Family Therapy program.

While the national pass rate for the exam is not public information, it has been reported to be between 60 and 70 percent, Hinton said.

Ann Bethea of Mobile, a recent graduate of the program, took the exam near the end of her program and felt prepared to do well. “I was confident going into it because of the training I had up to that point,” she said.

Dr. Heath Grames, who serves as the Marriage and Family Therapy program coordinator, said the program has also been successful in placing its students in paid externships resulting in valuable experiences in preparation for their careers after graduation. The program also received a nearly $100,000 training grant last year through Memorial Behavioral Health Services and the Red Cross to place its students in coast schools as part of post-Katrina recovery efforts.

“We’re very proud of our students’ performance, and look forward to many more years of the same results,” Grames said.

For more information about the Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology contact Dr. Madson at 601-266-4546 or e-mail at This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it ; on-line visit For more information about the Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, call 601.266.4679; online, visit

About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities.  In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world.  Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at

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