UHV updates graduate counselor education programs to Master of Science to help students

Liz Adams, a University of Houston-Victoria graduate student from Morton, first came to the university to learn how to help people improve their mental health. Now, a change to the university’s graduate counselor education programs is expected to give her and other students more professional opportunities after graduation.

Katherine Bacon

The UHV School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development’s graduate counselor education programs are changing from a Master of Education in counselor education to a Master of Science in clinical mental health counseling with two available concentrations in clinical mental health counseling and school counseling.

The change is one that faculty, students and alumni have been asking about and working toward, said Katherine Bacon, UHV associate professor of counselor education. The change will apply to current students starting with UHV’s May graduates, but it will not be retroactively applied to those who already have graduated.

“The response to this change has been overwhelmingly positive from both our current students and alumni,” Bacon said. “The shift to a Master of Science program more accurately reflects what our program does and how it prepares our students to serve the needs of their future clients.”

Both the clinical mental health counseling and the school counseling programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs, which sets national standards for counselor training programs. UHV’s program has two of 49 CACREP-accredited master’s degrees in Texas, and UHV offers the only CACREP-accredited school counseling and clinical mental health counseling degrees in the Victoria and Greater Houston areas.

Rachel Martinez

“This change to the education school’s counseling programs is a great accomplishment that will have a positive impact on the future prospects for our students,” said Rachel Martinez, interim dean of the school. “The success of this program and the shift to a new designation is all due to the hardworking, excellent faculty who provide such a quality, rigorous program for our students.”

The program’s shift is exciting for Adams and other students because of the opportunities that will come with the science designation, she said. Many employers expect a counseling degree to be a Master of Science rather than a Master of Education because counselors are typically trained as clinicians.

“A Master of Education for a clinical field was a bit like having a business degree awarded by an English program,” Adams said. “Even though it’s a quality degree, it raises questions when employers see it on a resume. This new designation will more closely align with what the program teaches and how the degrees will be used.”

Liz Adams

Adams chose to pursue a degree in clinical mental health because of her previous experience working as a spiritual advisor for adolescent girls in Mexico and for a boarding school in Rhode Island.

“I was helping the girls find spiritual healing, but there were some cases when it was clear that there were other mental health issues that needed to be addressed, too,” she said. “I want to get my degree so I can help people on all levels when it comes to finding mental health services.”

Adams chose to attend UHV because of its CACREP accreditation and the opportunity to take online and night classes while she worked full time during the day. Now, as she prepares to graduate in May, she is looking forward to being one of the first students to earn the new Master of Science designation.

“This change is exciting, not just for me, but for all future counseling students,” she said. “It will have an immediate impact on how we are received as professionals and is a testament to our knowledge and training. I’m grateful to the university for making this change and to the faculty for its emphasis on excellence.”

To learn more about the programs, contact Bacon at or 832-842-3049.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.