M.A. in Mental Health Counseling

The professional training program in Mental Health Counseling leading to a Master of Arts degree began at Gallaudet University in 1986. The program was initiated because of a national need to provide appropriate counseling and mental health services to deaf and hard-of-hearing adults, children, and adolescents in mental health centers, psychiatric hospitals, community programs, addiction programs, and psychosocial rehabilitation programs.

The need for qualified clinical or community mental health counselors serving deaf, hard-of-hearing and deaf special needs people is critical. There is an increasing awareness that mental health counseling services must be provided to deaf and hard of hearing persons by qualified mental health counselors who are trained in mental health counseling (clinical or community emphasis) and are knowledgeable about this specific population with its subsets, increasing the job opportunities for mental health counselors at mental health and rehabilitation agencies. The impact of expanding job opportunities, the increasing options for higher education, and the moral, medical, and emotional stresses of our society have solidified the role of counseling.

We are the only graduate training program in the world that specializes in preparing mental health counselors to do clinical or community work with deaf and hard-of-hearing people as well as those with additional disabilities in mental health and rehabilitation agencies. This unique status brings monumental responsibility to Gallaudet University and the Department of Counseling faculty to provide quality education in preparation for full-time employment upon graduation. To this end, the Department of Counseling has gathered eight full-time faculty members whose credentials in the fields of counseling and deafness are nationally and internationally recognized. The resources of Gallaudet University, including the world's largest collection of printed material on deafness, nationally and internationally recognized faculty, the Pre-College National Mission program, and the undergraduate liberal arts program for deaf and hard-of-hearing young adults, add immensely to the strength of our graduate training program.

Practicum and internship resources include state, local, and federal mental health agencies, addiction programs, psychiatric hospitals, and educational programs serving the needs of emotionally disturbed deaf children, adolescents, and adults. The master's degree program suggests a minimum of 73 credit hours and requires two academic years and one summer semester to complete. The program offers students the opportunity to have a clinical or community counseling emphasis through the fieldwork placement.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students in Gallaudet's Mental Health Counseling Program will become professionals who:

  1. demonstrate knowledge and skills related to counseling needs of culturally and linguistically diverse deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing, including etiology, diagnosis (including co-occurring disorders), assessment, treatment, and prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders, and who can:  a) employ developmentally and culturally appropriate prevention and intervention techniques within an accepted theoretical framework; b) develop effective treatment plans, manage multiple client loads, and work with managed care; c) effectively counsel individuals, small groups, couples, and families from diverse populations; and d) function as consultations and advocates in various mental health settings, including schools and community agencies.
  2. are able to communicate effectively with others, express themselves in writing, and can accurately interpret research and apply it to practice.
  3. show sensitivity, genuineness, and positive regard for others, practice high levels of self-awareness, and demonstrate a commitment to personal growth and on-going professional development.
  4. comprehend legal and ethical standards pertaining to mental health counselors and consistently integrate an ethical decision making model into their professional work. 

For the program of study and requirements for the M.A. in Mental Health Counseling, click the link "Program of Study" in the right-side menu.

Annual Student Outcomes Report: Mental Health Counseling Program

The Mental Health Counseling program is designed to be completed in two years (five semesters, including one summer).  The program typically admits six to eight students each academic year.  In fall 2011, eight students were admitted to the program (Class of 2013). In May 2013, six students (75%) from this cohort  graduated on time. One hundred percent of the graduates received and accepted job offers in the field of mental health counseling with deaf and hard of hearing people upon or soon after graduation.  Of the students in this cohort who took the National Counselor Examination, 80% passed in April 2013 on the first attempt. (Note: The NCE results are reported to us as one group for all programs; thus, the pass rate reflects students from the Mental Health and School Counseling programs.) 

Admissions Procedures and Requirements

Applicants for the M.A. in Mental Health Counseling must complete the application procedures and meet the requirements for graduate study at Gallaudet University. Visit the Graduate Admissions web site for more information and a checklist of application requirements. Detailed program information and course descriptions are also available in the Graduate Catalog.



First Date for Consideration of Application: November 15
Due Date for Completed Application: February 15

Students applying to the Mental Health Counseling Program must initially meet general requirements established by the graduate school:

  • Must initially meet the requirements of the Graduate School
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation. Appropriate sources for recommendation include a current/recent supervisor, a current/recent college instructor, someone familiar with applicant to give accurate testimony of applicant's character and dispositions fitting to the counseling field. Family members and friends are not appropriate sources for recommendation.
  • Interview, in person or by Videophone, with program faculty is required
  • American Sign Language proficiency at a level sufficient to successfully complete the Admissions Interview. This interview, conducted in ASL with program faculty who have scored 4 or higher on the ASLPI, insures, among other things, the applicant's potential for full linguistic access to and participation in instruction and other curricular activities in this graduate program. "Successful completion" is achieved when the applicant demonstrates both receptive and expressive ASL skills such that the interview flows without significant interruptions.

Program Specific Requirements

  • Four (4) personal essays required by the Department of Counseling related to their interest in the field of mental health counseling and deaf persons.

Required Prior Coursework

  • Nine undergraduate or graduate credits in Psychology as follows:
    • Child or Human Development (3),
    • Abnormal Psychology (3), and
    • any other three credit Psychology course (may be completed during the summer prior to starting this program).
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