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Counseling Psychology - Master's

Availability: Hattiesburg Options

Considering the Counseling Psychology MS program?

Counseling psychology has historically maintained a focus on psychological health and adaptive development including vocational issues, prevention and diversity.  Our strengths include:

  • High quality clinical training in evidence-based interventions. Clinical placements span populations (e.g., child to older adults), settings (e.g., inpatient, outpatient, school-based), and presenting issues (e.g., acute psychiatric needs, substance misuse, professional enhancement, sexual addiction) and are supervised by licensed professionals at community training sites.
  • Coursework delivered by experts allowing for interdisciplinary training opportunities with other psychology specialties. CPY MS coursework largely overlaps with the Counseling Psychology doctoral program. 
  • Competitive opportunities for Graduate Assistantships throughout campus offices which support full-time students through a monthly stipend and tuition waiver.
  • All CPY MS students trained in being competent consumers of psychological research. Some limited opportunities to engage with our active research teams that focus on investigating topics with real-world applications. 

We have both a Counseling Psychology Masters and a Counseling Psychology Doctoral program.

Meet the Counseling Psychology Faculty

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60hour program
15students admitted annually
2routes: licensure & doctoral programs

Why Counseling Psychology MS Degree at Southern Miss?

The mission of the Counseling Psychology master’s program at the University of Southern Mississippi is to provide the knowledge, dispositions, and skills necessary for students to become competent professional counselors and/or seek further graduate study by providing training in the foundations required of proficient consumers of psychological science. As such, we train students to utilize the science of psychology to inform sound diagnostic and evidence-based interventions consistent with the philosophical underpinnings of Counseling Psychology in serving their clients, community, and the profession.

Supervised clinical experience and the application of research to practice are part of every student’s program experience, creating the foundation for a true scientist-practitioner training model. CPY MS and PhD coursework highly overlap, allowing for an integration of training across these two programs. Class sizes are small to allow for more individualized training opportunities. Classes are taught by experts in each discipline and core courses are taken with other graduate students in the School, including those in Clinical Psychology, School Psychology, and the Brain and Behavior program. Counseling Psychology faculty provide integrated, discipline-specific training in counseling interventions, ethics, multicultural issues, diagnosis and assessment.

The CPY MS Training Director and student’s assigned Faculty Mentor work together to both formally and informally advise each CPY MS student. The faculty provide mentorship through research team/lab meetings and/or through focused meetings which can help students better articulate career/ educational goals, get support for succeeding as a graduate student at USM, and to assist with challenges that may arise during training. Faculty mentors can supplement the formal advisement students receive from the TD and are a resource for support while in the program and for career planning. Please visit our YouTube channel for more information about Mentorship for Master's students. 

CPY MS students’ clinical training begins in the first semester of the program via pre-practicum experiences embedded into courses.  In the second year of the program, master’s students are placed with an external agency that provides behavioral health services and employs licensed mental health practitioners. CPY MS students will engage in a 100 hour practicum in their 2nd fall and a 600 hour internship experience that spans for the 2nd spring and summer semesters. Other specialized training experiences may be offered to further develop student clinical competencies. These experiences are expected to exemplify the program’s scientist-practitioner model by incorporating both practice and research into applied experiences for students.

Community-based training sites provide an opportunity to work in clinical settings with diverse practitioners and clients in preparation for independent practice. We have training arrangements with several sites which often employ trainees upon completion of their degree. Practicum/ Internship training opportunities vary year to year depending on supervisor availability but include such places as: 

  • Pine Belt Mental Health - a community mental health center system serving Hattiesburg and surrounding areas. Placements working in the area of adult, residential substance use and child/ adolescent mental health are most common.
  • Pine Grove/ Forrest General Hospital - regional county hospital providing training opportunities in several units including adult inpatient, women's residential substance use/ eating disorders, men's residential substance use, treatment for impaired professionals, and sex and love addiction treatment. 
  • University of Mississippi Medical Center - grant funded training program providing opportunities for training and supervision working primarily with children and families. 

Please visit our YouTube channel for more information about clinical training opportunities for Master's students. 

The Counseling Psychology programs are committed to diversity and social justice. Respect for diversity is a central value of counseling psychology training programs (Council of Counseling Psychology Training Programs et al., 2009) and the larger profession of psychology, as reflected in the American Psychological Association’s (2017) Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct and the Standards for Accreditation for Health Service Psychology and Accreditation Operating Procedures (APA, 2018). In addition, counseling psychologists and licensed professional counselors are called to advocate for social justice and work to prevent oppression in society (Fouad & Prince, 2012). These roles are vital given that we serve people from groups that have been devalued, viewed as deficient, or otherwise marginalized.

Our programs are committed to maintaining an equitable and inclusive training environment. As a diverse community, we seek to learn from one another in an atmosphere of respect, ongoing self-examination, and empowerment. Students are prepared to serve a diverse public and take up the call to advocate for social justice. Our commitment is reflected in coursework, research, practicum training, and professional service, as we infuse conversations about diversity into all aspects of training. These efforts are ongoing, and we aspire to maintain an environment that recognizes and respects the unique experiences and challenges faced by all students.  

Ongoing Efforts in Support of Diversity and Social Justice
Students and faculty are involved in many ongoing efforts to support diversity and social justice. Examples include:

  • The Counseling Psychology programs promote equity in graduate admissions by no longer requiring applicants to submit GRE scores and conducting our admission interviews virtually.
  • The Go Gold Diversity Fellowship is awarded annually by the School of Psychology, following a competitive application process, to a newly admitted graduate student from a diverse backgrounds who has an interest in applying their training to improve the lives of diverse groups through research and/or practice.
  • The USM Committee on Services and Resources for Women sponsors two award competitions each year for USM personnel, including graduate students, working on gender issues: the Peggy Jean Connor Research Award and the Kathanne W. Greene Paper Awards.
  • The Counseling Psychology Diversity Committee includes faculty and student representatives from our doctoral and master’s programs who assist with improving our efforts to recruit and retain diverse students and faculty, as well as enhance training related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Many students have completed Southern Miss ALLIES training, which assists them in learning to be more affirming of persons who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transsexual orientation, and sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Opportunities to Work with Diverse Clients
Students in the Counseling Psychology Masters programs complete clinical experiences in community-based sites which include diverse practitioners and clients. This includes working with populations who have been underserved, lack access to mental health supports and are often marginalized and where stigma may impact their ability to participate in mental health care services. For more information about practicum sites and clinical training, please see the Practicum/ Internship section of this page. 

University Resources
Here are some links to relevant university resources:

The Counseling Psychology Master’s Program trains counselors to be informed consumers of psychological science. As such, students will complete research and statistics courses during the program, find that most other courses incorporate research training into their specific content, and complete some CITI research ethics training.  Clinical training will include didactics and implementation of evidence-based therapy with a focus on science - practice integration. Additionally, some students may acquire additional research training through limited opportunities to participate in faculty research teams when opportunities are available and compatible with student goals. Please visit our YouTube Channel for information about Research Opportunities. 

The CPY MS program Training Director provides resources and guidance for CPY MS students who seek Graduate Assistantships (GA). Graduate Assistantships support students by providing both a full tuition scholarship and a 9-12 month stipend. Competitive GA opportunities exist within the college and around campus. CPY MS students tend to be sought after for GA positions given the high quality of our students. While positions cannot be guaranteed, nearly all students seeking GA positions obtain one. Information on available positions and the application process are provided to all admitted students.

The Counseling Psychology Student Government (CPSG) serves as the graduate student group for both the Master's and Doctoral programs in Counseling Psychology. CPSG serves to create a supportive environment for graduate students in the Counseling Psychology graduate programs, and facilitate professional development outside of required coursework and experiences. CPSG engages in several activities each year such as fundraising, hosting social activities, inviting speakers to campus, serving as a liaison between students and faculty, and providing peer mentors for newly admitted students.

Applications are due March 1. Application deadlines here differ from those posted by the Graduate School. Late applications are not accepted.

The School of Psychology is currently not requiring GRE scores for graduate applications. 

In addition to the standard graduate application, please submit the following:

  • Transcripts
  • 3 letters of recommendation: We prefer letters from faculty members familiar with your academic performance
  • CV or resume
  • Personal Statement: Your personal statement should focus on these 2 topics (1 page limit each): 

    1: Professional Goals (use this heading): Describe your professional goals, including any specific interests (e.g., specific client demographics, settings), and how the Counseling Psychology Master’s program at USM will help you accomplish these goals. (note: research interests should only be described if you hope to pursue research experiences in graduate school).

    2: Strengths & Areas for Growth (use this heading): Describe your professional/ academic strengths and areas for growth relevant to pursuing a degree in Counseling Psychology. 

Students will be paired with a faculty mentor after admission to program. 

Please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page for more information about our program and how to apply.

Please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page for more information about our program and how to apply. Please visit our YouTube Channel for details on the application process and other important points about the Master's Program. 

Student Admissions, Outcomes and Other Data

As an MPCAC accredited program the CPY MS program maintains four main goals including, 

  1. Graduates of our program will demonstrate competency in evidence-based treatment and assessment approaches.
  2. Graduates of our program will demonstrate an appreciation for the impact of diversity on the science and practice of the counseling profession.
  3. Graduates of our program will demonstrate competency as consumers of psychological science.
  4. Graduates of our program will demonstrate professionalism through identification with the field of counseling psychology and demonstration of competency with professional skills necessary for success as a practitioner or doctoral student.

Counseling Psychology MS Program Outcome Data

The M.S. in Counseling Psychology is accredited by the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) for the period of April, 2018 through April, 2028.

Professional Licensure Disclosure

Our program is modeled after the licensure requirements in the State of Mississippi. We cannot determine if our program meets the licensure requirements in other states. We recommend that students verify their program of study meets the desired state’s licensure requirements. For more information on licensure in other states, please visit or contact Dr.%20Bonnie%20Nicholson, Interim Director of Training, with questions.



Degree Plan Availability
Counseling Psychology MSHattiesburg
  • Community Mental Health Counselor
  • Licensed Professional Counselor, Private Practice
  • Counseling Psychology Doctoral Student
  • Greg Watson, 2007,
    Licensed Professional Counselor, private practice
  • MaryAnne Messer, 2015
    Doctoral Student, Auburn University
  • Christine Boehmer, 2015,
    Licensed Professional Counselor, Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources