Counselor Education



We receive about 100 applications each year, and about 45-48 students ultimately enroll.

Strong applications will include reflections of past experiences related to counseling and the helping fields, as well as any skills that would transfer to the counseling field. Applications may highlight one’s work experience, both paid and unpaid. It is important for applicants to convey their involvement, passion, and commitment to working in this field. We also look for applicants to clearly articulate their reasons for entering the counseling profession, drawing from their lives and careers so far. Letters of recommendation should come from professors or supervisors who are familiar with you as a student and as a person, can speak to your abilities, and have worked closely with you on a major project. Finally, a strong, well-rounded academic background and written material free of grammatical errors will further strengthen an application.

Your goal statement should be a clear explanation of the choices, experiences, and thoughts that have led you to pursue a career in counseling. Allow yourself time to review the paths that have brought you to this point. Your statement might include how and why you decided to pursue a career in counseling, who or what has influenced you, or why you’re interested in a particular emphasis, to name a few possibilities. Make sure to allow the reader to hear your true voice.

No! We will review GRE scores if applicants choose to submit them, but the GRE is not an admission requirement.

There are currently two scholarships available to all UW-Whitewater Counselor Education students: the Lefler Guidance & Counseling Scholarship and the Intentional Acts of Kindness Scholarship. The Lefler Guidance & Counseling Scholarship of $750 is awarded to a current student in our program who has completed at least 12 credits and the Review of Progress with their advisor. The Intentional Acts of Kindness Scholarship of $1,000 recognizes a current student in our program who has contributed to their community through service and volunteer work.

If you are not accepted to the program, we encourage you to take some time to reflect on the process, your career goals, and your desire to apply again. Faculty will provide feedback to assist you in restarting the application process. We ask applicants to make sure to update their application materials.

Experiential Learning

  • Several classes in the program emphasize practicing counseling skills. Students take Principles of Counseling during their first term in the program (summer or fall) and practice introductory counseling skills using recording equipment in Winther Counseling Services, along with completing recorded sessions outside of class. In Group Procedures in Counseling, students practice leading group counseling sessions with classmates. These courses both offer hands-on practice and regular feedback.
  • During the second year (for full-time students), students complete a semester-long practicum in which they provide counseling to UW-Whitewater students and community members at Winther Counseling Services on campus. These sessions are recorded, and students receive feedback and faculty supervision throughout the semester. This experience gives students a chance to learn about the administrative side of counseling and practice working with a variety of clients.
  • Third-year students complete a year-long internship of 20 hours a week in which they receive further hands-on experience and mentorship from a counseling professional in a setting that matches their professional interests.

Most internships are not paid and students benefit from supervision and mentorship from experts in the field. Recently the department has been able to provide students with a few options to secure additional funding during this final year:

  • Clinical Mental Health Interns: Qualified Treatment Trainee (QTT) Graduate Student Awards are intended to relieve financial barriers experiencedby graduate QTTs (who are Wisconsin residents) completing unpaid and underpaid internships as part of their clinical graduate programs in a Wisconsin accredited social work, counseling, or marriage and family therapy program.  Applications can receive a one-time, $5,000 award and learn more here
  • School Counselors: In 2023, the UWW department signed a memorandum of understanding with a consortium of schools (Pardeeville, Rio, Randolph and Cambria-Friesland - all north of Madison) that has received a major federal grant to support the training of school counselors. There are very attractive benefits and a commitment to school counselor training during their internship. Students in our program will have an opportunity to apply for these positions during their internships.

Yes, many of our students who live in the Milwaukee and Madison areas complete their internships at a site near home. Internship placements farther from Whitewater or outside of Wisconsin are also an option, though subject to faculty approval. We aim to place students in internship settings that match their educational and personal goals, along with their location preferences.

Historically, our program has offered a summer session study abroad program in Scotland in alternating even-numbered years and a service-learning trip to Guatemala in alternating odd-numbered years. While we cannot guarantee these trips and are still in the planning phase for the next few years, we hope to resume the Guatemala trip in 2023 and Scotland in 2024.

Program Format

Full-time students can complete the program in 3 years. They register for 9 credits (3 classes) each semester, as well as 6 credits (2 classes) during selected summer sessions for a total of 60 credits. The total length of time needed to complete the program varies among part-time students.

Many of our students are able to balance either part-time or full-time jobs along with a full-time course load, and most have some form of outside employment. While some students have successfully balanced both full-time school and work, our faculty advises against this approach if possible. However, graduate school is an individualized process, and we suggest that you weigh your personal capabilities and needs as you make this decision.

Yes, enrolling part time is an option, and part-time students typically take 3-6 credits per semester. Students have up to 7 years to finish the Counselor Education master’s program.

The vast majority of this program’s courses are held in person. We believe face-to-face interactions provide the best training for future counselors. A few courses are occasionally offered in a hybrid format.

Yes, students typically take up to 2 classes (6 credits) during the summer session.

At the time of your enrollment, you will be asked to choose either the Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) emphasis or the School Counseling emphasis. However, students in the CMHC emphasis will take two elective courses and could choose to take school courses as electives. Students who take electives from both emphases will need to choose a primary emphasis prior to internship. They can then talk with their advisor about options for completing the internship for the second emphasis (generally an additional semester).

Academic year courses are usually offered Monday through Thursday at two different time periods, 1:00 – 3:30 pm and 5:30 – 8:00 pm. Some courses are only offered during the evening section beginning at 5:30 pm. Additional classes may occasionally be offered on Fridays or Saturdays or at other times of day. 

Meanwhile, the summer session is held for six weeks mid-June through late July, and summer courses take place twice a week (Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday). Typical summer course times are 12:30 - 3:50 pm or 5:00 pm - 8:20 pm.

No, a thesis is not required for graduation. However, students have the option to complete a thesis during the program, and this step is strongly encouraged for those interested in pursuing a PhD.


Though there are some key differences among all state programs and they offer a wide variety of experience, Whitewater’s Counselor Education program is a thorough and comprehensive learning experience that stands out among its competitors. First, we are one of few programs in the state that is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). This accreditation makes counseling graduates stand out, demonstrates to potential employers that the graduate program holds its students to consistent, high standards, and makes it more manageable to become licensed in other states. More information on CACREP is available at

Second, a unique aspect of the program is students’ training through Winther Counseling Services (WCS). WCS is staffed by Counselor Education graduate students during their practicum and is committed to providing free, confidential individual and group counseling services to UW-Whitewater students and community members. Licensed Counselor Education faculty members provide supervision and consultation.

Winther Counseling Services is a suite of rooms consisting of two classrooms, four interview rooms, and an office/observation room located in Winther Hall. All rooms are equipped with computers and cameras for recording and observing sessions, so counseling students can review their progress with faculty throughout the semester.

Finally, the Counselor Education Program was recognized in 2016 with a Teaching Excellence Award for academic programs and departments. This honor from the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents recognizes programs in the UW system that demonstrate an exceptional commitment to teaching and learning.

A majority of our students commute to campus, often from cities including Beloit, Madison, and Milwaukee. The university does not offer campus housing specifically for graduate students. However, there are several residence halls for upperclassman students, as well as other non-university housing options on or near campus.

UW-Whitewater's Center for Students with Disabilities works with each student to provide all necessary resources. Additionally, our faculty and staff are dedicated to providing all students with the appropriate services to facilitate academic success.

Our curriculum prepares you to move easily and meet the licensure requirements for other states (in both community and school settings). More information about licensure in different states for community-based counselors and for school counselors can be found on the American Counseling Association’s website. Your program advisor will work with you to find answers to more specific questions.

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of behavioral, substance abuse, and mental health counselors is expected to increase by 23 percent from 2020 to 2030, much higher than the projected growth rate across occupations. The BLS projects that employment of school and career counselors is expected to grow 11 percent from 2020 to 2030, which is also higher than the projected rate across occupations.

Counselor Education Program

Winther Hall 6035
p: 262-472-5426
f: 262-472-2841