Arizona Masters in Counseling Programs

Alexander BuCher

Written by Alexander BuCher

Licensed Professional Counselor | Youngstown State University

Updated & Fact Checked: 09/13/23

Counseling is a growing field in Arizona due to an increase in the state population and an increase in the need for mental health services. According to O*Net Online Mental Health Counselors in Arizona should increase by about 54% by 2030. Thankfully, the State of Arizona has many approved Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy college and university programs that will help prepare future counselors for a career in the state. 

Masters in Counseling Programs in Arizona

Counseling programs are accredited by either the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). There are a few approved programs that aren’t accredited. There are currently five approved colleges/universities for Mental Health Counseling by the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners that are based in Arizona. Programs not on the approved list will need to have the curriculum evaluated by the board to determine if the program is sufficient to obtain licensure. The five approved colleges/universities based in Arizona are listed in other sections of the article and will contain further information about each program. 

Online Master’s in Counseling Programs in Arizona

Several master’s in counseling programs in Arizona can be completed online. The benefits of online learning include flexibility and continued access to course materials. Some other reasons people may choose to attend classes online include trouble with transportation, an inability to move to a college or university campus, or a student disability. Arizona has recognized the need for counselors in the state and the ease of online programming and has therefore approved many online programs for future counselors. 

  • Program: Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Accreditation: None for Counseling 
  • 62 Credit Hours
  • Online only or evening classes located at the school’s Phoenix, AZ location 
  • Tuition: $575/credit hour for 62 credits is about $35,650 for the entire program excluding other added fees that may occur
  • Program: Master of Arts in Counseling 
  • Accreditation: None for Counseling
  • 63 Credit Hours
  • Online or at Surprise and Phoenix, AZ locations
  • Tuition: $635/credit hour for 63 credits is about $40,005 for the entire program excluding other added fees that may occur 
  • Program: Master of Science in Counseling 
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • 60 Credit Hours
  • Online Program with three required in-person/on-campus residencies
  • Tuition: $830/credit hour for 60 credit hours is about $49,800 for the entire program excluding other added fees that may occur

Arizona CACREP Accredited Masters in Counseling Programs 

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredits two programs in Arizona. Accreditation from CACREP ensures that a counseling program is standardized with other counseling programs in the United States. The benefits of attending an accredited counseling program include knowing that the courses meet the criteria for licensure in Arizona as well as transferring a license out of state if you move. Prescott College is accredited, but it is mentioned in further detail in the Online Programs category. 

  • Program: Master of Arts in Counseling
  • Accreditation: CACREP and CORE
  • 60 Credit Hours
  • In-person learning at the Main campus located in Tucson, AZ
  • Tuition for Arizona Resident: $14,000/year for tuition and fees
  • Tuition for non-Arizona Residents: $34,000/year for tuition and fees

Arizona No GRE Required Masters in Counseling Programs

If standardized testing is daunting or not your thing, many programs in Arizona do not require the student to complete the Graduate Records Examination (GRE). In Arizona, many programs do not require this examination. Some programs listed above do not require the GRE examination and are under the Online Programs category. These programs include Grand Canyon University, Ottawa University, and Prescott College. The University of Arizona does not require students to take the GRE and is listed above under the CACREP Accredited Programs category. 

  • Program: MC Counseling 
  • Accreditation: None for Counseling 
  • 60 Credit Hours
  • In-person learning at the Tempe, AZ campus
  • Tuition for Arizona residents: $12,376/year plus fees
  • Tuition for Out of State residents: $34,290/year plus fees

Most Affordable Masters in Counseling Program in Arizona

According to the list above, the most affordable master’s program is Arizona State University. Most counseling programs last around 2-3 years. The program at Arizona State University costs around $24,752, depending on the time you take in the program and not including added fees. The price is for in-state tuition for Arizona residents. 

Accelerated Master’s in Counseling Programs in Arizona

While none of the programs listed above specifically mention accelerated counseling programs, that does not mean that all of the programs above take many years to complete. Prescott College, The University of Arizona, and Arizona State University all require only 60 credits whereas the others on this list require above 60 credit hours. 

Arizona Online, No GRE & CAREP Accredited Counseling Masters Programs

The following table includes all masters in counseling programs offered in the state of Arizona organized by modality (either online or campus based), whether or not the GRE is required, and the accreditation of the program.
Program NameUniversity NameModalityGRE Required?Counseling AccreditationCityState
M.S. in Clinical Mental Health CounselingGrand Canyon UniversityOnlineNoNAPhoenixArizona
M.A. in CounselingOttawa UniversityOnlineNoNASurprise and PhoenixArizona
M.S. in CounselingPrescott CollegeOnlineNoCACREPPrescottArizona
M.A. in CounselingArizona UniversityIn-personNoCACREP & CORETucsonArizona
MC CounselingArizona State UniversityIn-personNoNATempaArizona

Required Courses for Licensure in Arizona

According to the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners, anyone applying for licensure in the state must complete courses that contain the following topics: 

  • Diagnosis, Assessment, and Treatment Planning
  • Basic Tests and Appraisal in Counseling
  • Pre-Practicum
    • 100 total hours of pre-practicum of which 40 hours must be direct client contact; or
    • 300 clock hours in supervised counseling practicum, fieldwork experience, or internship that is in addition to the required 600 hours for a regular Practicum
  • Supervised Counseling Practicum or Internship
    • 600 clock hours in a professional counseling setting 
  • Counseling Theories 
  • Social and Cultural Diversity Issues in Counseling 
  • Basic Counseling Skills in the Helping Relationship
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Career Development and Counseling
  • Group Counseling
  • Research Methods
  • Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Chemical Dependency Counseling 
  • Professional Counseling Ethics

Programs may also request that you take courses that are not listed above. 

Counseling Licensure Requirements in Arizona

In Arizona, counseling licensure comes in steps that include two licenses: Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC) and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). The first licensure step in Arizona is the Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC) license. The second step would be the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) license. Below, I will highlight how to obtain each licensure. 

Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC): 

A Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC) in Arizona is a counselor who has completed their master’s program in counseling and currently requires supervision to obtain the next step of licensure. 

To be eligible for a LAC license in Arizona, you must complete the educational requirement of obtaining a master’s degree in mental health counseling and complete all required practicum work. You must request your official sealed transcripts from your university and include these transcripts in your application. 

The next step would be to obtain a background check. Background checks are in two parts: a self-query report to ensure you have not been in trouble for malpractice and a fingerprint background check that costs $40 and is through the Arizona Department of Public Safety. 

After obtaining your transcripts and completing the background check, the next step would be to complete the application on the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners website. This application costs $250. Approval from the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners will create a request to take one of four different national exams for mental health counselors. Those exams include the National Counselor Exam (NCE), National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Exam (NCMHCE), and Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Exam (CRCE). Each exam has different requirements for passage and the format of the exam. Once the Board knows you have passed the examination, you will receive your Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC) license. 

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC):

The second step in Arizona is the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) License. To qualify to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Arizona, you must complete 3,200 hours of supervised post-masters experience over two years with your Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC) license. Of those 3,200 hours, 1,600 must be direct client care. This experience must also include 100 hours of supervision, of which 50 hours must come directly from an LPC. Your supervisor is required to document your hours and submit them with your LPC application from the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners website. This application fee is $250. A self-query report is completed before submitting your application. Once you submit your application and required documentation, the board will approve you for an LPC license as long as you are eligible. 

Career Outlook for Counselors in Arizona

According to O*Net Online, a national career database, there are currently 6,840 Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors in Arizona. By 2030, this number should increase to 10,550 employees. This number represents a jump of 54% within the next seven years. Nationally, this is going to increase by 22%. 

Arizona Counseling FAQs (Obtained via Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners)

What Degree Do I Need to Become a Mental Health Counselor in Arizona?

In Arizona, all people who seek a career as a Mental Health Counselor attend an Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners-approved master’s program in Mental Health Counseling. 

What do I need to do with my application?

You must complete the application on the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners website. 

How long does it take to process an application? 

After the application is complete, it takes about 30 days to review. Missing information will delay this process. Once approved, you can take one of the four counseling exams approved for licensure in Arizona. 

How many continuing education credits do I need once licensed? 

You must complete 30 continuing education hours every two years. Three hours must be related to ethics, another three hours must be cultural competence and diversity, and another three must come from a Board-approved tutorial on Board statutes and rules. 

How to Become a School Counselor in Arizona

There are a few ways that someone can become a School Counselor in Arizona. In the end, you will need to have a master’s degree, but there are various ways to get to that end goal of becoming a School Counselor. Obtain a bachelor’s degree in any field and then aim to go back to college to obtain your master’s degree. You will need to either complete a supervised practicum in your master’s program, teach for three years if you are currently an educator, or work as a school guidance counselor if you are moving from another state. You have to send all your transcripts to the Arizona Department of Education. The next step is to obtain an Arizona Fingerprint Clearance Card from the Arizona Department of Education. The final step would be to apply for the “Professional Non-teaching Certificate” from the Arizona Department of Education website. 

How Much Does a Mental Health Counselor Make in Arizona?

The salary for a mental health counselor in Arizona varies depending on the nature and location the counselor is working. For example, a counselor working in private practice may make more than a counselor working in a community mental health clinic. O*Net Online lists the median salary for Mental Health Counselors in Arizona at $49,710. 

How Much Does a School Counselor Make in Arizona?

The salary for a School Counselor in Arizona varies based on the location and district. According to O*Net Online, the median annual salary for School Counselors in Arizona is around $60,140.

How Much Does a Substance Abuse Counselor Make in Arizona?

The salary for a Substance Abuse Counselor in Arizona varies depending on the agency and location of the facility. According to O*Net Online, the median annual salary for a Substance Abuse Counselor in Arizona is around $49,710. 

What Additional Jobs Are Available in Arizona to Masters in Counseling Graduates?

Many students graduate with a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling and decide later on that they no longer would like to work as a counselor or find interests elsewhere. Some other careers that people with a master’s in Mental Health Counseling pursue include Community Health Worker, Healthcare Administration, Advocacy, Education, and Governmental Organizations.