Information Session – SBU Online MSED Counseling Programs


Joe Micele: Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us today. This is our live information session providing an overview of St. Bonaventure University Online Master of Science and Education School Counseling and Master of Science and Education Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree programs.

Before I introduce our panelists and speakers for you today, I would like to go over a couple of quick notes. Today's event is being recorded for future viewing. We will be emailing out the recording to you within 48 hours of today's webinar. You will also be able to access the recording on our website

You are currently in a listen-only broadcast mode. Only our panelists are unmuted and able to speak. If you have questions, please type them in the "Question" box in the GoToWebinar window and click "Send." We will have a Q&A session with our panelists after the presentation. Feel free to type your questions in during the presentation and we will address them accordingly during our Q&A session.

We are joined today by a great group of panelists. Our featured speaker today is Dr. Christopher Siuta, Assistant Professor and Director of the Counseling Programs at St. Bonaventure University. We're also joined by Gina Heimbecker, Online Admissions Advisor at SBU, Kristen Lafevor, Online Admissions Advisor at SBU, Arijana Musanovic, Online Student Success Advisor at SBU. Arijana will be here to answer any questions you may have related to the online classroom and experience as an SBU online student. My name is Joe Micele, and I will be your moderator today.

Before I turn the presentation over to our panelists, I'd like to quickly go through our agenda for today's session. Gina Heimbecker will be discussing the reasons why to choose St. Bonaventure University, going over topics such as our SBU core values and our rankings and accreditations. Our featured speaker, Dr. Siuta, will discuss the SBU MSED Counseling Programs overall, the MSED School Counseling Program, the Online MSED Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program. He will also discuss the practicum, internships, and residencies that are a part of the curriculums of both programs, and he will be discussing issues related to career outcomes from both degree programs.

Kristen Lafevor will discuss the admissions requirements for the programs and give you an overview of the application process and your next steps, and we will then move to our question and answer session. I will now go ahead and turn over the presentation to our Online Admissions Advisor, Gina Heimbecker.

Gina Heimbecker: Good morning. Just to cover why a student should choose St. Bonaventure, SBU is the nation's first Catholic Franciscan University and prides itself on offering a career-focused curriculum while producing graduates who are leaders that make ethical and moral decisions. We have been established for over 150 years and have a great reputation and history behind us. One thing that we strive for is we come to get to know our students on an individual basis and become their mentors. We strive to bring out the best in every individual. Next slide, please.

We dedicate ourselves to following the following core values. Within our discovery, SBU steadfastly pursues intellectual, spiritual, and personal growth. As a community, SBU believes in an inclusive community that values diversity and considers its strength. With individual worth, SBU treats all members of its community with dignity and strives to help them reach their full potential.

In terms of rankings and accreditation, St. Bonaventure University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. We are ranked #27 by U.S. News & World Report for 2017's Best Colleges for the Regional Universities North. We are also ranked #6 by U.S. News & World Report for 2017's Best Value Schools, also Regional Universities North. We also are with the "Top 300 Best College Values" by Kiplinger's Personal Finance and by The Princeton Review, the "Best 380 Colleges."

SBU's on-campus MSED Counseling programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Programs also known as CACREP. Online MSED Counseling programs mirror and are fully aligned with the on-campus programs. The MSED Counseling programs are taught through SBU's NCATE accredited School of Education, and we are the 2nd best value in New York for "Top Counseling Schools."

Dr. Christopher Siuta: Hi, everyone. I'm Dr. Christopher Siuta and I am the Program Director for our counseling program, and I'm thrilled to have you with us today. First off, we are CACREP accredited on ground for our program at St. Bonaventure, and we are diligently working on becoming accredited for our online program in the future.

If you're looking to come to our program for school counseling, we generally are teaching our students to work at all three levels: elementary, middle, and high school. In New York State, generally our students enter into middle school and high school settings and are school counselors in that regard. Because New York State does not mandate elementary counselors at this time, there are fewer numbers in that regard, but you still can find those positions. Outside of New York State, it may be a little bit more prevalent.

Our completion rate for the program is 95% for the Master's program, as well as gaining permanent certification down the road. That's basically five years post-employment. We do look to have our students gain many different theories of practice, but generally we try to have our students apply one to two theories within their practice as school counselors for the future.

Our Online School Counseling program is a 48-credit program with 30 credits of core courses, 12 credits of those are specialty courses. Those include Internship I and II in School Counseling, the Management of School Counseling programs, and Interventions for School Counseling. Interventions is also linked with our Mental Health Counseling program, where you get a little bit of both worlds within that course. The six credits of residencies take the place of two electives that we would have for our on-campus program. Generally those residencies are going to include many different workshops, presentations in the school counseling specialty track.

For school counseling, we do our best to help students understand history, responsibilities, credentialing, and ethical standards for the field. We focus in on individual and group counseling processes. School counselors in the future, when they're done with their program with us, will have many different responsibilities in regards to working with children in schools individually and in groups. On top of that, they may be asked to do some classroom instruction with students where they are either team teaching with teachers in the classroom or running those groups on their own.

They have many opportunities to work with children and their families. There may be times where family counseling becomes a part of what they do in the school setting, and we do look to focus in on specific areas of counseling at the school level, career and academic counseling, family dynamics, psychological testing, and adolescent development.

Dr. Christopher Siuta: Now on to our Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. Our students end up in many different settings. It's extremely diverse. Mental health clinics, hospital settings, social service agencies, colleges, and even corrections facilities. Our completion rate is 95% and our mental health licensure pass for New York State is 98%. The luxury of New York State is that if you did happen to fail the exam the first time you are able to, after a certain amount of time, retake that exam. We're very proud to say that within this program students undergo a transformation process where they gain the skills, strategies, and tools necessary to become an effective mental health counselor.

Our program is 60 credit hours. 30 credits of those are core courses, 21 of which are specialty courses within mental health counseling. Those specialty courses include Internship I and II in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Seminar in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Management of Clinical Mental Health Programs, Family and Couples Counseling, Introduction to Addictions, and Crisis Counseling. Those two courses, Addictions and Crisis Counseling, mirror what CACREP is asking of us in order to provide that education in those two areas of addictions and also trauma counseling. So they've become courses that we do add to our programs each semester.

6 credits of residencies. Those take the place of two electives within the program. Again, just as with the school program, those residencies are going to include workshops, presentations, track-specific endeavors when you're on campus here at St. Bonaventure each summer of your program.

Much like the learning outcomes from school counseling, we look at history, responsibilities, credentialing, and ethical standards of the field. We demonstrate counseling skills, both individually and in group, prevention and intervention, and crisis intervention. Many times there's overlap between all of those, and within a given day, you may be using those skills in many different ways.

Upon finishing the program, you're going to possess the skills and knowledge necessary to provide specialized counseling services such as mental health, substance abuse and addictions, and marriage and family counseling. Within your program, you're going to choose one of those specialty areas. Generally by the time you choose your internship setting, many students go into the specialty area of addictions. Many go into family and marriage counseling.

One thing I'd like to note here is that many individuals are looking for a master's in family counseling, and within mental health counseling, you are able to practice as a family, marriage, and couples counselor. Lastly, you're going to be able to demonstrate strategies to promote, develop, and enhance effective teamwork with institutions and communities.

For your field experiences within the program, your first experience is a practicum and that's 100 hours of service. Generally, we're looking for the 40 hours of direct counseling experience. The other 60 are indirect hours that you may have on-site, as well as any academic hours within the classroom setting. For your internships, there are two 300-hour placements to make 600 hours in total, with 120 hours of those being direct and direct counseling is any experience you have with a client, family, or individual where you are actually providing that counseling one-on-one in a group setting or in a family setting.

For the residencies, again, we have two four-day in-person residencies that are a requirement for the program. For the next two years, we'll have four days in June where you'll be coming to campus and you'll be meeting your cohort that you're going to school with, your professors that you're working with, and experiencing St. Bonaventure firsthand in a face-to-face format.

Although the careers are extremely diverse and this is not an all-encompassing list, some of which in clinical mental health counseling may be a behavioral health counselor, a child or adult mental health counselor within an agency setting, a marriage and family therapist, substance abuse counselor, and/or a vocational counselor. Going back up to substance abuse, that is something that we can offer where you specialize within that area.

School counseling, again, like we had talked about before, most of our graduates end up in middle or high schools, but there are times where an elementary position is available in the area that you're looking to experience that. Some other terms used may be guidance counselor, day treatment counselor, or student advisor.

Kristen Lafevor: Hello, all. My name is Kristen Lafevor and I will be going over the requirements to apply for this program. In order to be considered for acceptance into one of our MSED programs, we are looking for an overall GPA of 3.0. We must have official transcripts from all institutions attended to complete your bachelor's degree. The program also requires a writing sample. There's a total of six questions that you will be answering there. We do ask for no less than a paragraph for each question. Obviously, more is always welcome.

This program requires two letters of recommendation. We do request that one be a professional recommendation as well as a character recommendation, and then you will also complete a faculty interview. Next slide, please.

Now I will be going over the application steps. You must complete a over-the-phone interview with Gina or myself to be considered for acceptance. You will complete the online application, and there is no application fee to be considered for acceptance. Then again, all official transcripts, your writing sample, and those two letters of recommendation. Now we will open the floor for any questions that you have regarding the program.

Joe Micele: Great! Thank you, everyone, for your presentations. As Kristen said, we'll go ahead and begin our Q&A. Again, please type your questions in the question box in the GoToWebinar window and click "Send." You can go ahead and ask questions of any of our speakers and panelists, and we actually have one in here already. The question is, and Chris, I think you can go ahead and field this one. Can you touch on the accreditation that the college is hoping to achieve in the future?

Dr. Christopher Siuta: Sure. We went through an application process for a substantive change with CACREP where they're going to be reviewing our online program and hopefully in the very near future offering us a CACREP accreditation to align the online program with our face-to-face on-campus program.

Joe Micele: Great, thank you. Moving on to another question here and sort of, I guess, a similar question here, but it just asks, "What does it mean to be CACREP aligned?"

Dr. Christopher Siuta: CACREP aligned means that we are doing business as identically to our on-campus program as possible. For us to gain accreditation for CACREP in the future, it has to resemble identically to what we do on campus, and that's everywhere from our courses that we offer to our experiential portion of the program to our internship settings. If that does not become 100% aligned, we will not gain accreditation for the program. So that's what the term aligned means. We are duplicating what we do on campus.

Joe Micele: Great, thank you. We have a question here. You talked about direct counseling versus indirect counseling experiences during the internship and practicum. Could you provide a couple of examples of maybe what direct and indirect counseling would be?

Dr. Christopher Siuta: Sure. Direct counseling are any hours that you provide directly with a student, a client, a family member. Indirect are any times where you're doing work away from the client base. If you are recordkeeping, if you are reading charts in regards to clients, if you are doing any type of case management in regards to students or clients within the internship setting, those can be documented as indirect hours.

Joe Micele: Great, thank you. Another question here. "Can the master's degree programs be done completely online?" This individual says they live in Pennsylvania, but they would like to know what they would need as far as visiting campus.

Dr. Christopher Siuta: The only requirements we have for visiting campus for our online program will be the four-day in-person residencies each summer of your program. So once in June at the end of your first year and then again in June after your second year. Everything else will be online.

Joe Micele: Thank you. Another question here. Is it more difficult to find jobs after completing the program without the accreditation?

Dr. Christopher Siuta: We've done our research on that fact and accreditation does not affect employment. Generally out there in the world of work, as far as schools and agencies, they are more looking at the degree that you received rather than the accreditation behind the scenes. Accreditation affects licensure in a couple of states in America, but it's not a negative in any way. It does not mean that you would not gain certification or licensure in a different state. It just may take a bit more effort. In New York State, we are aligned to gain certification and licensure post-masters each time. We're a state-approved program. So accreditation only affects licensure. It does not affect employment outside of the program.

Joe Micele: Great, thank you. Here's a question I think we could give to one of our online admissions advisors. What is the cost of the program?

Kristen Lafevor: The cost for the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program would be $43,980. That does include tuition and fees, and then the total cost for the School Counseling program would be $35,184, again, including tuition and fees.

Joe Micele: Thank you. Another question here for our admissions advisors. Can you provide some insight into how long the program is to complete?

Kristen Lafevor: Absolutely. The School Counseling program takes roughly anywhere between two and a half to three years to complete, where the Clinical Mental Health track takes three years to complete.

Joe Micele: Thank you. We have a question here regarding licensure, and Chris, hopefully you can answer some of this, but what are some of the state requirements to be licensed outside of New York?

Dr. Christopher Siuta: Well, the state requirements are generally common amongst the states. For licensure in New York State and beyond, what they're looking for is the coursework within the program. So the 60 credits that we offer for mental health licensure qualifies. You have to have the specific internship settings for licensure, which we also provide. There are only one or two states that require a CACREP accredited university, but again, that does not necessitate a lack of… a requirement of getting your licensure in the future. It just makes it a little bit more difficult.

Joe Micele: Great, thank you. Question here. "Can I take more than one class at a time?" Arijana, I think that'd be a good question that you might be able to answer.

Arijana Musanovic: No, currently you can only do one class every seven weeks. When you have your practicum and your internship classes, that's the only time where you'll be taking one class along with your practicum and internship class.

Joe Micele: Great, thank you. I have a question here regarding GPA. "What is the lowest GPA that's considered for the counseling programs?"

Kristen Lafevor: Great question. Typically, we don't like to see anything below a 2.75.

Dr. Christopher Siuta: Yeah, there are times where we offer exceptions. If you are below a 3.0 and you're accepted to our program, you are on a probation status your first semester where you must receive a B or better in your classes.

Joe Micele: Thank you. Another question here. "Do most school's states require a licensure rather than just a completed degree?" I'm assuming that means do they require it for practice?

Dr. Christopher Siuta: No, I'll speak for mental health first. Agencies, hospital settings, community settings will take you on with something what's called a "limited permit." They offer a supervised experience over usually a period of two years where you work towards your license.

Joe Micele: Then is it a similar situation with school counseling or is that just specific to mental health?

Dr. Christopher Siuta: Yeah, school counseling is a little bit different. You start out as a provisional school counselor in the state that you're working in, and you have five years to complete the coursework for your permanent certification in school counseling. You have to come back and do the 12 credits necessary in order to gain that permanent credential.

Joe Micele: Great, thank you very much. That is looking like it is our last question. I'll just go ahead and leave the floor open for another second or two here for some additional questions. Here we go. We have a question here. This individual says they're currently employed in a position where they're doing casework, but are able to do office therapy once licensed. In this position, would they be able to log both direct and indirect hours for the 300 practicum hours? Or I'm sorry. I'm guessing they meant internship hours there.

Dr. Christopher Siuta: Yes, it's possible that you could use your employment hours for internship hours. That's something that you'd work through with your clinical supervisor within the program to make sure that there is some separation between the job and the internship hours that you're providing.

Dr. Christopher Siuta: Then also you are doing the hours that are going to satisfy the requirements for the state that you're going to be working in.

Joe Micele: Excellent. I'll go ahead and leave the floor open. If anyone else would like to ask any additional questions, please go ahead. Okay, well, that looks like it was our last question for today's event, so we'll go ahead and finish up a little earlier here today.

But thank you to our speakers and panelists. Thank you to our attendees, again, for taking the time to join us today. We hope you found today's information session helpful and informative. We hope that your questions were answered. You are always able to reach out to your online admissions advisor for any kind of assistance or questions. Again, today's presentation and Q&A session was recorded. The recording will be emailed out to you, and you'll be able to access it through our site at Thank you, again, and have a great rest of your day.