Graduation day students and faculty

Counseling (Online-Hybrid)

M.A. in Education

Undergraduate Program Graduate Program Concentration Focus Online Hybrid

The Master of Arts degree prepares professionals to address the mental health and relational needs of culturally diverse populations. It is delivered in hybrid (both online and "face-to-face") format, with the majority of its courses offered online, and face-to-face courses designed as 3-5 day workshops.

The degree covers contemporary counseling practices that focus on counseling recovery and trauma-informed care, including integrated recovery and strength-based approaches. This degree is a wonderful building block for individuals interested in becoming better equipped to work with the counseling needs of their clients and/or students, develop professional skills to work in a wide range of helping-related fields and uncover leadership and relational skills that are critical to working with diverse populations.

Program designed to provide a strong foundation for students who might continue on for further education and degrees, such as a Doctoral program (Ph.D.). This degree does not lead to a licensed counseling credential. It is important to note that licensure requirements for counseling may vary depending on the location and specific counseling field. Graduates of this program may need to pursue additional licensure or certification pathways to become licensed counselors in their respective regions.

Our program is focused on culturally responsive trauma-informed care practices with diverse families, schools, and communities by which students consider complex problem situations that do not pathologize individuals and families. Our curriculum is focused on socially responsible and resiliency-based perspectives that promote diversity and social justice.

Students will learn about innovative restorative practices that can be used in schools and communities as alternatives to traditional discipline and retributive punishment.

We use contemporary technology to deliver high-quality, accelerated learning. This program is suited well for students and working professionals who wish to continue their education and advance their career.

  • Knowledge of theories, models, and methods within systemic and social constructionist paradigms
  • Application of theories, models, and methods to produce effective counseling practice with diverse populations
  • Understanding of mental health recovery-oriented care, trauma-informed care and restorative justice practices
  • Effective practice in educational and community settings
  • Use of research to inform practice
  • Conceptualization and practice in a helper role from a position of social responsibility and social change
  • Personal growth to effectively utilize counseling and relational skills

Coursework for the Graduate Certificate Program is embedded within the M.A. Program.

Graduate Certificate Program: Restorative Justice Practices and Trauma-Informed Care

This is a 12-unit online program with 4 required courses. All 12 units of the advanced certificate courses transfer to the Master of Arts Education (Counseling) Degree.

Fall (First Semester)

There is growing recognition supported by new legislation in the United States that schools and communities need to move away from suspending, expelling or incarcerating children, youth and adults as the first effort to change behavior. Today there is a determined effort to move towards more restorative ways of responding to people who are in crisis and whose behavior negatively affects others. This course will focus on the history, concepts, principles and theory of restorative practices. This course will compare retributive and restorative ways of working and support professionals in developing a trauma informed lens in working with youth, families, communities, and colleagues. Students will explore the effectiveness of restorative practices and conflict transformation in schools and their community. This course will focus on restorative tools to engage people in building strong relationships and empathy for one another. Students will learn the main restorative structures including community building circles, restorative conferences to address high level incidences, and effective communication techniques. This course will explore different types of restorative circle processes and the psychology behind the circle. Attention will be paid to the role of caring for ourselves while providing support for others. Skill building activities will include practicing non-violent communication, building consensus, creating safe space, and identifying barriers to connection and healing.

“Trauma” has recently become a familiar term in our social rhetoric. It has become important for professionals and para-professionals working in our communities to understand the impact of trauma in relation to the biopsychosocial well-being of an individual. In addition, it is essential to understand the complex ripple effects of trauma on children, adolescents, the family unit and educators in the schools and in our wider community. Due to the high rates of trauma occurring on a macro-level scale within national and international contexts as well as the continued high rates of micro-level conflicts and interpersonal trauma experiences, it has become critical for those working in the front lines to understand what trauma is, what kind of impact it has on multiple levels of our lives, and how to identify and effectively respond. This course is designed to lay the foundation for understanding trauma and its complexities and to start a dialogue of learning, understanding, and recovering as trauma-informed restorative practitioners.

Mental health recovery is a new field driven by the needs of the consumer, rather than the expectations and recommendations of mental health professionals. This emerging consumer led movement has profound effects on how effective mental health services are delivered and demands a completely new approach for how mental health professionals engage with people suffering from severe mental illness. The practice of mental health recovery is creating a new context for understanding the relational power dynamics between client and mental health specialist. Through the evaluation of these contexts, students will be able to explore the tools of mental health professionals as social constructs, such as the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual (DSM), and the power that is given to these tools within our society and mental health communities. This course is aimed to understand the etiology of mental health treatment, the role of the DSM-V, and the effects on identity that these systems engender in consumers of mental health treatment.

This course will review the ethical standards and legal mandates of the counseling profession. Students will apply code of ethics and legal mandates to specific counseling situations in diverse contexts such as schools and social service agencies. Students will identify and employ professional guidelines for a variety of positions such as: clinical counselors, community mental health case workers, marriage & family therapists and guidance/school counselors. Multicultural perspectives, diversity issues, and awareness of personal values in decision making will inform the context of class discussions and activities.

Master's Program: Master of Arts Education (Counseling)

This is a 30-unit online/hybrid program. After completing the 12-unit advanced certificate program in the Fall semester, students continue with the following coursework.


This course begins with the assumption that our personal lives, inclusive of our histories, culture, language, and experiences, shape our everyday interactions as well as our professional behavior. Students will review foundational ideas about interpersonal communications and relational ethics that are relevant in the counseling profession. They will examine their lives and stories, including their cultural contexts, values, beliefs, and emotional experiences, and consider how they may constrain or enhance relationships and therapeutic practices.

This course is designed to be the lab practice component of the CSP 600 course. Students will be given the opportunity during lab to explore key concepts and skills that support a social constructionist approach to counseling. These concepts and skills are culturally informed and support a socially responsible approach to beginning counseling practice. Over the 3 day intensive, students will review a range of client-centered relational practices and counseling skills and will have an opportunity to practice them with your peers during the face-to-face experience.

This course explores the sociopolitical and policy considerations of the counseling field. The course aims to engage students to critically evaluate the impacts of public and private policy on service providers, clients, and the larger community. This course reviews the role of public and private policy in delivery of counseling services, the role of counselors as advocates in public policy issues impacting their field and or clients, and empowering clients to influence and form public policy as a counseling intervention. Furthermore, this course explores the role of social justice, activism, and community involvement in empowering clients towards preferred changes.

This course examines social constructionist, Foucauldian and intersectional feminist approaches to multidisciplinary group facilitation in counseling and educational contexts. Students will explore multiple perspectives on team-based knowledge production, collaborative leadership, and on how organizations conceptualize and practice interprofessional collaboration across a variety of settings such as educational systems, mental health settings, social services and health care. Moreover, the systematic and discursive effects of race-ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and culture on counseling and educational professional teams and their effects on community development will be examined.

This course offers a critical review of contemporary counseling theories through the lens of social constructionist and postmodern philosophies. Students will gain a foundational understanding of Humanistic, Experiential, Cognitive-Behavioral, Intergenerational, and Family Systems therapy. Students will analyze the historical and social contexts from which theories were developed, and the implications for how practitioners conceptualize identity, change, and family systems posited by these theories. This course draws upon theories developed within the discipline of Marriage and Family Therapy and explores their relevancy within multicultural contexts.

This course is designed to provide graduate students an introduction to educational and psychological-relational research. It is intended to enable students to become critical evaluators of educational and psychological-relational research and provides an overview of (a) the historical and philosophical context of research, (b) library literature searches/reviews, (c) quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods, (d) basic concepts in research design, analyses, and interpretation, (e), basic descriptive and inferential statistics and (f) the influence of culture on the design, implementation and evaluation of applied research.

This course prepares students to work from a theoretical framework and systemic, strength-based, culturally competent, and socially conscious position. Building on CSP 637, Counseling and MFT Theories I, this course concentrates on social constructionist theories and multicultural counseling theories including theoretical models from the Marriage and Family field. These include but are not limited to Solution Focused, Narrative, Postmodern Feminist, and Collaborative theories. Students will learn to compare and contrast four main theoretical models and critically analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the models as they relate to their application to families, children, diverse populations and settings.

This course provides students with an integrated learning experience in which coursework taken throughout the program of study (e.g. research coursework, theories and techniques of counseling, etc.) is synthesized and culminates in the completion of a final project that demonstrates graduate level research, writing, and scholarship skills. Students will complete a Capstone Project which demonstrates their learnings throughout the entire MA program.

The objective of this course is to facilitate the synthesis of learning by directly applying understandings to professional practice. Students will reflect, write, research and imagine their future professional plans. This process will include asking critical questions about the student’s theoretical orientation, case conceptualization, assessing counseling practices, reviewing academic literature, analyzing and generating meaning from data, and moving from consumer to creator of new knowledge.

See Our Faculty for information about our faculty and lecturers.

Examples of mental health, counseling, advising & leadership positions include:

  • Community Mental Health Counselor
  • Counselor - University Admissions
  • Counselor - Community College Districts
  • Career Development & Diversity Engagement Counselor
  • Restorative Practice Coordinator
  • Restorative School Specialist
  • Childcare Worker - Youth Development Counselor
  • Foster Care Youth Liaison
  • Case Manager - Family Specialist
  • Juvenile Recovery Specialist
  • Residential Counselor

These programs (the M.A. and certificate programs) are designed for local and international students who are: entering the social services field as recent graduates with a bachelor’s degree; those interested in changing careers and wanting to explore the field of counseling; and for professionals who are already working in the field and want to expand their knowledge and credentials.

The program structure allows students to continue working since courses are offered online. We engage with a diverse student body that will contribute to each other's learning process.

This program is not a licensure-track program and does  not prepare students for Pupil Personnel Service (PPS).

The M.A. program requires a Bachelor's degree. TOEFL results are needed for international students from non-English speaking countries.

It is difficult to name a singular way of being "successful" in being accepted to the program. Applicants are considered within a constellation of skills and knowledges they bring forward in their application, including but not limited to past academic performance, demonstration of relational skills and ethics, multicultural understandings, reflexivity in understanding self, relational skills, an interest in academic and theoretical understandings of mental health, counseling, and education. Becoming familiar with our program philosophy and mission is also helpful, as it also shows us your intention in joining our program.

The program begins in the Fall of the SDSU academic year, and ends the following summer. Courses are structured to be flexible and guide students at a pace that is both quick and manageable. Each course is approximately 60-80 hours of commitment. The courses consist of viewing online lectures, participating in discussion groups, reading texts and articles and completing journals, writing reflection papers, uploading videos of active listening skills and completing quizzes.

The M.A. in Counseling (Education) is a 1-year program offered mostly online. There are 2 face-to-face classes, structured as workshop intensives:

  • CSP 600L Cross-Cultural Counseling  (1 unit)
    Students have the choice of attending on July 17, 18  & 19, 2020 or on July 24, 25 & 26, 2020; 8:30 a.m. -to 5 p.m.
    (Face-to-face delivery)
  • CSP 672/673 Multidisciplinary Facilitation and Public Policy (3 units)
    March 20, 21 & 22, 2020; 8:30 a.m. to 5 pm.
    (Face-to-face delivery)

    While courses are situated within the traditional semester system, our program is designed to scaffold your learning and provide "intensive" periods where you focus on one course, to provide more flexibility and focus in your course. Therefore, while a class does run the entire semester, you may find yourself working on one class for a period of 2-3 weeks at a time. The expected study time is 15 to 18 hours per week. Class work can be completed at the time that best suits the student.

    Go to the Courses tab to see the complete listing of required program coursework.
The online/hybrid program is suitable for people who are working while completing the degree. Depending on work schedules and employment demands, many students are able to work full-time, while others find the rigor of the program more suitable for part-time work.
There are two face-to-face workshops for the MA Education (counseling) degree. These workshops are typically held in March of Spring semester and in June or July of the summer semester. These workshops are intentionally integrated into your studies and expose you to a variety of counseling skills, including Cross-Cultural Counseling and Active Listening skills (CSP 600-CSP 600L) and Multidisciplinary Team Facilitation (CSP 672).

We find that employment for students post-graduation is available. Students are encouraged to make connections throughout their graduate experience and connect with faculty and site resources for possible employment opportunities. Graduate students optimize their chances for employment post graduation by immersing themselves in short-fieldwork experiences. Faculty are well connected in the community, and there are multiple partnerships with the program and large community providers. While an internship is not required as part of your graduating criteria, you will be provided with multiple internship and volunteer opportunities that we highly recommend engaging with.

Graduates with the MA (Counseling) 30 unit program have historically been highly successful in gaining professional roles in the community including advising in community colleges, taking positions as behavior specialists, case managers, working in specialized mental health services, drug & alcohol services and elementary, middle and high school settings.

You can easily transfer from the Graduate Mental Health Recovery & Trauma-informed Care Certificate Program to the M.A. Education (Counseling). If you are an MA student, the certificate will be provided to you as part of your study, as this program is embedded within the larger MA Education (Counseling) 30-unit track. Therefore, all units for the certificate transfer.

The M.A. 30-unit program offers classes that focus on both qualitative and quantitative research methods to help prepare students in the area of research. Students will also be required to take a 3-unit seminar course that includes a research component.  This can help students build on these research experiences that can begin the preparation for doctoral work. Students are able to explore different options, and have questions answered, including identifying differences between the Ph.D., Ed.D and Psy.D.

Additionally, a high level of reading and writing is required throughout the program, and faculty work with students to encourage, maintain, and support a high level of writing that is expected from Master's students.

  • Transferring in: Students cannot transfer courses from a previously awarded Master's to a new Master's degree.
  • Transferring out: It is up to the discretion of the other program you are attempting to transfer our program units to. The program or department you are interested in transferring into may choose to not have students repeat content. In some cases, they can waive the course to help prevent the student from repeating the same course , but each student would still need to make up the units required for the degree.
  • Tuition cost
    The M.A. 30-unit cost is approximately $15,000, however, unit prices are subject to change. Visit the Office of Admissions Estimated Cost of Attendance page for the latest information.
  • Financial aid
    All courses are eligible for Financial Aid. Contact the SDSU Financial Aid Office and speak to a financial aid officer familiar with loans for special programs.

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