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CCU's Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is nationally accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Programs accredited by CACREP are reviewed against professionally approved standards, resulting in a streamlined licensure application process.

Pursue your passion to help people struggling with addiction.

CCU's Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program with an emphasis in Substance Use Disorders addresses the high demand for trained professionals to address widespread behavioral disorders and addiction to alcohol and other chemical substances.

Working in substance use counseling requires you to be proficient in the management and coordination of your patient's mental health. With an integrated approach to mental health and addiction, CCU's substance use counseling program trains you to provide leadership in developing, evaluating, and implementing holistic models for addiction treatment.

Employment of substance abuse counselors is projected to grow 23% from 2016-2026.*

The Substance Use Disorders emphasis unites biblical truth and clinical competence, drawing on an approach that balances theological beliefs about addiction with the growing scientific knowledge and theories available. Courses are taught by industry leaders and licensed addictions counselors who prepare you for licensure as both a professional counselor and a substance use counselor.

Students practicing in a Christian addiction treatment environment will be challenged to embrace all that theology and science have to offer in order to provide the best care possible for those suffering from substance use disorders.

    • Program Format: 100% online or in an in-seat and online hybrid format
    • Locations: Online, Lakewood, Colorado, and Colorado Springs, Colorado
    • 69 total credit hours 
    • CACREP-accredited program
    • Courses are taken two at a time and are typically completed in seven-week blocks
    • Designed for busy adult learners; complete in as little as 30 months of consecutive coursework, even with a full-time or part-time job
    • All students are required to attend three in-person residencies in Colorado
    • Students can transfer up to 12 graduate-level credit hours
    • Graduates are academically prepared to take the National Counselor Exam
    • Program Brochure   
  • Curriculum in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Master's Degree Program

    The Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, offered through CCU's College of Adult and Graduate Studies, will provide you with a strong clinical counselor and education background within a Christian framework that promotes the study of the whole person, including the spiritual dimension. Integrating faith, clinical experience, and current counseling theory into a comprehensive educational experience will equip you to be an effective counselor in a variety of settings.

    As a Counseling graduate student, you will participate in a foundational core of study that includes counseling theories and techniques designed to equip you as a leader and counseling professional in the mental health field. You will explore counseling theories and methods, family systems, developmental psychology, group therapy, human development, and career development from a Christian worldview and a culturally responsive framework. You will complete your course of study with an innovative capstone course designed to integrate theory, faith, and clinical fieldwork, and field experience.

    Counseling students may select an optional emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy or Substance Use Disorders.

    The M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree requires completion of the following 69 hours:

    • Counseling Core (41 hours)
    • Emphasis Core (13 hours)
    • Bible and Theology (4 hours)
    • Practicum/Internship (9 hours)
    • Electives (2 hours)
  • Admission Requirements for the M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

    Admission to the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Colorado Christian University is selective. Each applicant is carefully evaluated for his or her potential as a counselor, ability to contribute to the program, and ability to contribute to the counseling profession. The application review process will assess the relevance of career goals, aptitude for graduate-level study, potential success in forming effective counseling relationships, and respect for cultural differences.

    Admission to the M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is not guaranteed. The Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Admission Committee determines whether an applicant is admitted or declined admission. Applicants will complete all admission requirements before being considered by the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Admission Committee.

    After the first semester in the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program, each student is again formally assessed by the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling faculty and administrative team based on his or her academic work, basic skills, and professional behavior. This evaluation process is performed to fulfill our CACREP and professional gate-keeping responsibilities and to ensure that each student has the skills needed for a professional counseling career.

    Application Deadlines

    In-person and online cohorts begin in July of each year. Students who wish to begin classes before their cohort begins may take electives and/or CSL-512 and CSL-515.

    It is recommended that applications are completed at least four weeks prior to the student's anticipated start date. All required admission documents and background check results must be received by CCU before an admission interview will be scheduled. Applicants will be extended an interview invitation and are required to respond within three days to schedule the admission interview. A delayed response may result in a delayed start date if the applicant is accepted.

    Application files will be evaluated in the order received. Applicants should complete the admission process as early as possible to allow adequate time to work with an advisor and finalize financial aid.

    Counseling Admission Requirements
    • A completed application for admission.
    • Program-specific essays.
    • Valid state-issued driver's license or state-issued ID card or valid passport.
    • Resume or Curriculum Vitae.
    • An official transcript showing a conferred bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. Applicants with an undergraduate grade point average between 2.0 and 2.49 will be admitted on a conditional admit (CAD) basis for the first semester. CAD students must maintain a 3.0 GPA or better in their first semester.
    • Official transcript(s) of completed graduate-level counseling credits completed through another graduate program.
    • A criminal background check through CastleBranch from every country the student lived in in the past seven years. Applicants should consult with their enrollment counselor before placing their Castlebranch order.
    • A completed Candidacy Writing Sample per essay prompts, Program Handbook Acknowledgement, and Applicant Video Submission.
    • Admission interview(s) and additional documentation and/or requests from the MAC Admissions Committee and/or designated program personnel.
    Counseling Transfer Courses

    In accordance with CCU's Graduate Residency Policy, students transferring from a regionally accredited institution may transfer up to twelve (12) approved semester hours of graduate credit from a regionally accredited master's program toward the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree. The remaining hours must be completed at CCU.

    The coursework must be comparable to that offered at CCU and fulfill the CCU degree requirements for a Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Specific courses which will not be accepted for transfer include:

    • CSL 514 Counseling Practicum
    • CSL 581 Counseling Residency I
    • CSL 582 Counseling Residency II
    • CSL 653 Counseling Internship
    • CSL 674 Professional Orientation
    • CSL 680 Integrative Seminar
    • CSL 681 Counseling Residency III
    • CSL 504 Counseling Skills II
    • CSL 654 Counseling Internship II
    • CSL 655 Counseling Internship III

    Admission to a licensure program in the College of Adult and Graduate Studies does not guarantee licensure at the completion of the program. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure they meet all licensure requirements, which often includes a background check.

    The Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree meets all the requirements for graduates to test for licensure in the state of Colorado. Licensure requirements vary from state to state, and students are responsible for knowing the requirements of the state in which they seek licensure, including Colorado, and reviewing the state requirements above and beyond academic achievement and testing. The State Board Map provided by the National Board for Certified Counselors is a helpful resource when researching state licensure information.

    International Students

    CCU cannot enroll students with any type of VISA, even a work VISA, into any Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, including the online counseling degree cohort, since it is against the law for international students to attend the required on-site program residencies on a VISA.

    Time Limitation

    All work applied toward the Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree must be completed within a six-year period from the date of enrollment. After the six-year period, any student who has not completed the requirements to graduate will be required to complete a Petition for Exception to Academic Policy. Continuing study is not guaranteed and must be approved by the Dean of the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Students are required to adhere to the most current Academic Catalog, CAGS Student Handbook, Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Handbook/ Manuals, fees, and tuition rates.

    Students who need to step out of the cohort and who have not attended a class for a period of 365 days will need to reapply to the program, have an updated interview, and, if accepted, will then be held to the current catalog standards. Stepping out of the cohort will result in delayed completion of the student's program.

    To submit application-related materials that were not already submitted through the online application, email them to or mail them to:

    Colorado Christian University
    Attn: Service Central – CAGS Transcripts
    8787 W. Alameda Ave.
    Lakewood, CO 80228


The Substance Use Disorders curriculum encompasses evidence-based addiction treatment approaches and clinical training. This includes differential diagnosis, trauma-informed treatment, complicating medical issues, psychopharmacology, and recovery management. Upon completion of your master's degree and emphasis, you will be well prepared for any addiction counseling that intersects with mental health disorders.

Residency Requirement

If you enroll in the online cohort for the core M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, you will be required to attend a five-day on-campus residency held each summer of the program. You will attend a total of three residencies during your matriculation in the online counseling program.


Upon completion of the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and the Substance Use Disorders emphasis, you will be prepared to begin the process of seeking certification and licensure in Colorado as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC), and Certified Addiction Counselor III (CAC III) based upon the current certification and licensure standards guided by the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA).

Licensure requirements vary from state to state, and students are responsible for knowing the requirements of the state in which they seek licensure, including Colorado, and to review the state requirements above and beyond academic achievement and testing.

Career Outlook for Substance Use Counselors

Substance abuse and addiction counseling is an increasingly specialized area of behavioral health, and competent counselors must have the skills to treat patients with complex substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders. Substance abuse counselor jobs are common in the following locations: hospitals, outpatient and residential mental health and substance abuse treatment centers, private practice, nonprofit organizations, and state and local governments.

Employment of substance abuse counselors is projected to grow 23% from 2016-2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.*

* Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook

Professional Licensure Disclosure

Colorado Christian University offers several academic programs which lead to professional licensure in the state of Colorado and, in some programs, prepare students for a national exam. All students should be aware that states vary in their educational and professional requirements depending on the profession. Some states require specific educational requirements, clinical requirements, accreditation requirements, or exam requirements. See professional licensure disclosures for details.

State Exclusions for Online Students

Colorado Christian University is required by the U.S. Department of Education to be in compliance with state laws regarding where we can offer distance and/or online education. The College of Adult and Graduate Studies at Colorado Christian University offers courses to online students in all states with some exceptions for specific academic programs.

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