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Counseling: M.A.

Do you want to choose a career that makes a meaningful difference in the lives of others? Set to launch in Fall 2024*, Ouachita’s low-residency Master of Arts degree program in counseling with a specialization in clinical mental health counseling equips students to become Licensed Professional Counselors by training them in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders. At Ouachita, you’ll be part of a small cohort that gains classroom knowledge and hands-on learning experience from professionals in the field as you develop the skills to treat clients professionally and ethically in response to the global mental health crisis. The program offers training grounded in a biblical worldview. Graduates learn to treat a diverse client population and will be able to offer faith-based Christian counseling for clients seeking those specialized services.

Applications open Spring 2024 for enrollment in August 2024.*
*pending approval from the Higher Learning Commission

Want to join a virtual info session? Register for a Counseling OuachiTalk!

Licensed Professional Counselors are equipped to pursue careers in a variety of settings, including:

Community Mental Health Centers


Non-Profit Organizations


Private Counseling Agencies

Rehabilitation Centers

School Districts

Orientation to the Counseling Profession

Biblical Foundations for Counseling

Group Process and Counseling

Counseling Skills and Techniques

Relationship Dynamics and Family Systems

Crisis and Trauma Counseling

Professional Ethics and Legal Issues

View the Ouachita catalog for a full course listing with course descriptions.

No particular undergraduate degree or area of concentration is required for acceptance to this program.

Ouachita offers its Master of Arts degree in counseling through a low residency, 63-hour program that combines on-campus intensives with synchronous and asynchronous online classes, internships and practicum placements.

Learn more about Graduate & Professional Studies at Ouachita.

Learn more about Graduate & Professional Studies financial aid and cost information.

View Graduate Course Catalog.

Learn more about the W.H. Sutton School of Social Sciences.



Total Credit Hours



Student-to-Faculty Ratio



On-Campus Intensives



Clinical Credit Hours

"It is easy to look around the world right now, see all the anxious, angry people and feel like there is nothing we can do. This program allows us to train students to walk beside people in their worst moments and help those who are truly hurting. Our goal is to train up a new generation of ethical, competent, Christian counselors who can really make a difference."

Sandra Gilliland headshotSandra Gilliland, Ph.D., LMFT
Professor and Director, Mental Health Counseling Program

undergrad student on computer

No Background? No Problem

Are you an undergrad planning to move right into a master’s program after graduation? Someone who’s re-entering the job market, or maybe contemplating a career change? Our MA degree program in counseling is offered in a low-residency format that provides flexible scheduling to students in all walks of life. There’s no ceiling on age, and no background in psychology is required!

Professional counselor

High Standards, High Achievement

Since our program is seeking CACREP accreditation, it’s designed to meet the highest standards for quality and innovation. You’ll be trained by professional therapists; your coursework will prepare you to take the National Counselor Exam upon graduation so you can become licensed in Arkansas, as well as many other states that are part of the CACREP Compact.

students outdoors

Academic Rigor, Faith Integration

Classroom instruction at Ouachita is grounded in a biblical worldview. Professors will challenge you and encourage the academic and spiritual growth necessary for you to excel in a demanding profession. You’ll have the opportunity to graduate from a competitively priced MA program having been equipped with the tools to provide ethical, faith-integrated counseling in a variety of settings.


Our Mission

makes the difference.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety levels have increased significantly in nearly every segment of society; in turn, the need for skilled, compassionate clinical and mental health counselors has grown exponentially. Ouachita’s MA degree program in counseling dovetails with the university’s mission and vision: to prepare students for lives of meaningful work and reasoned engagement with the world, training a new generation of ethical, Christian, competent Licensed Professional Counselors to help their clients find healing and hope.

Program Details

Year One

Orientation to the Counseling Profession* Fall Term I 3 hours
Theories of Counseling Fall Term II 3 hours
Professional Ethics and Legal Issues* Fall Term 3 hours
Psychopathology and Psychopharmacology* Spring Term I 3 hours
Human Growth and Lifespan Development Spring Term II 3 hours
Counseling Skills and Techniques* Spring Term 3 hours
Biblical Foundations for Counseling** Summer Term 3 hours
Assessment Techniques in Counseling Summer Term 3 hours

Year Two

Case Conceptualization and Treatment Planning* Fall Term I 3 hours
Group Process and Counseling* Fall Term II 3 hours
Research and Program Evaluation* Fall Term 3 hours
Crisis and Trauma Counseling** Spring Term I 3 hours
Relationship Dynamics and Family Systems** Spring Term II 3 hours
Counseling Practicum*** Spring Term 3 hours
Social and Cultural Diversity** Summer Term I 2 hours
Program Elective: Special Topic** Summer Term II 2 hours
Internship I*** Summer Term 2 hours

Year Three

Addiction Therapies** Fall Term I 3 hours
Lifestyle and Career Fall Term II 3 hours
Counseling Capstone for CMHC** Fall Term 3 hours
Internship 2*** Fall Term 3 hours

*Requires in-person intensive and synchronous class meetings Thursdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. CST
**Requires synchronous Zoom activity (class meets Thursdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. CST)

***Requires weekly supervision meeting

Admissions Requirements for the M.A. in Counseling:

  • 3.0 minimum cumulative GPA on a 4.000 scale or 3.0 in last 60 credit hours of bachelor’s degree
  • A letter of interest to give the counseling faculty a sense of why you want to pursue a degree in counseling
  • Your letter of interest should include:
    • A short description of what led you to the counseling profession.
    • An explanation of why you want to get your degree at Ouachita Baptist University in a program that integrates Christian faith into your counseling education.
    • Information on how you plan to balance the degree requirements with any other personal or professional responsibilities in your life.

**Please practice appropriate self-disclosure as you write this letter of interest by not disclosing anything such as history of abuse or traumatic events that you endured. This letter of interest should be two pages and double-spaced.

  • Three letters of reference with evaluation forms indicating evidence of character and capability to successfully serve as an effective mental health professional
  • Admission interview with program faculty
  • National Criminal Background Check and Sex Offender Registry Check

All admitted students must achieve a grade of B or better on all COUN coursework to satisfy Arkansas state requirements for licensure.

Students will be evaluated continuously throughout the program. This evaluation process is performed to fulfill our CACREP and professional gatekeeping responsibilities and to ensure that each student has the skills and emotional maturity needed for a professional counseling career.

All admitted students will be formally assessed at the end of their first semester to ensure they are making adequate progress. Evaluations include academic coursework, professional behavior, respect for diversity and ratings from interviews with a CORE faculty member. Students who are not making adequate progress will be given a remediation plan.

Remediation plans may include asking students to seek individual counseling, tutoring, mentoring or other specific ways to target identified areas of concern.

All admitted students will be evaluated by the Counseling Review Board prior to being approved to start the Practicum Course to ensure they are making satisfactory progress. The Counseling Review Board will consist of the Core faculty members and two additional Ouachita faculty from different disciplines. Each student will be evaluated based on the following criteria: academic course work, written Statement of Practice and scores on Competency Exam.

Graduate professional studies


Graduate and Professional Studies at Ouachita seeks to be a source of ongoing intellectual and spiritual growth for those pursuing lifelong learning or career advancement. Ouachita fosters community through relationships with classmates and professors in all learning environments. Through innovative modalities, fields and approaches, these programs prepare Ouachita students for success in a variety of fields.


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