Deep-Dive into the Online Counseling Master’s Programs

Deep-Dive into the Online Counseling Master’s Programs

In this webinar, join Dr. Ashley Luedke, Dr. Heidi Henry, and Dr. Nate Smith as they delve into the intricacies of our online Master of Science in Education in School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs at St. Bonaventure University. Learn how our programs are structured, what to expect as an online student, and gain insights into the internship and practicum experiences that will support your journey. We close with a review of the application requirements and a Q&A session.

  • St. Bonaventure University's online MSED in Counseling programs aligns with the Franciscan philosophy and focuses on nurturing compassion, seeking wisdom, and building integrity in students.
  • The program trains practitioners to have practical skills they can utilize with future clients.

Presented live: October 24, 2023

Watch Clips from the Webinar



Christina Walsh

Thanks again for joining us today for the webinar covering our online Master of Science in Education Counseling programs at the St. Bonaventure University. Before we get started, I'd like to cover some housekeeping items.

Oh, sorry. First, all attendees are muted during the webinar. Please feel free to type your questions into the Q& A box located near the bottom of your screen as you think of them. We've reserved some time at the end of the presentation to answer your questions.

And finally, we are recording this event so you'll be able to go back at any time if you'd like to view this again. All right.

So here's a look at our speakers for today's webinar. I'm Christina Walsh, and I'll be your moderator today from our faculty. We're excited to have Dr. Ashley Luedke, program director and associate professor for the counseling programs; Dr. Heidi Henry, assistant professor and school counseling team lead; and Dr. Nate Smith, assistant professor and practicum and internship coordinator.

And then from our admissions team, we have Kellie Arison, one of our enrollment advisors. Thank you to all of you for being here today.

Here's a quick view of our agenda for today. We'll be talking about St. Bonaventure University, providing an overview of the online counseling programs, highlighting the program structure curriculum, and what to expect as an online student.

We'll share details on the internship and practicum experiences and how we support your journey. Then we'll review options for financing your education and close with our admission requirements and next steps.

We will save room at the end of the presentation for any questions you may have. With that, I will turn it over to you, Dr. Smith, to take it away.

Dr. Nate Smith

Thank you. So one of the things we want to talk about and letting a lot of the reasons why students choose St. Bonaventure is because of the mission and values that undergird the work that we do, not only in the counseling program, but in the university wide.

We practice from a Franciscan and we are based in the Franciscan philosophy that, to quote Dr. Luedke," is very commensurate with counseling values." So we focus on social justice.

We're interested in equality and inclusion and addressing the issues of marginalization which, again, both from the Franciscan perspective and the counseling perspective are very complementary to one another.

So we very much give a small university feel because we value that community. Even on the online programs, within the counseling program, we value that.

So we kind of practice from three different values. We're nurturing compassion, we seek wisdom, and we build integrity in our students.

And those are as well wrapped in and interwoven throughout much of the counseling program and in the core curriculum that we try to promote alongside building that counselor identity.

So I think now Dr. Henry will discuss a little bit with us.

Dr. Heidi Henry

Thank you, Dr. Smith. Yeah, so like Dr. Smith shared, we are not only a Franciscan University, but we are actually the nation's first Catholic and Franciscan university.

We were founded in Olean, New York in 1858. And that is where the campus is. Unfortunately, as an online program, you don't always get to see the campus, but our faculty has visited recently, and I can say it is absolutely a gorgeous campus.

So hopefully, you'll get your chance to make it up there and see Olean and see St. Bonaventure University because it's absolutely beautiful. One thing to note, we are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Our programs are also CACREP accredited, which we'll get into a little bit later. And I want to highlight that because although we are a Catholic and Franciscan university, we are an inclusive university. So we're not integrating any one religious perspective into our classes.

So that's something just to make note of that's important. But like Dr. Smith said, we absolutely emphasize the Franciscan values that are aligned to the counseling profession.

Since 2013, St. Bonaventure has offered graduate programs in a dynamic environment created for the online learner. And recently we've had a really strong increase in our online graduate programs.

So that has been really exciting for the university in continuing to increase what we offer to our online graduate students. St. Bonaventure is rather a smaller university.

So the nice thing about that is that does have traditionally smaller class sizes compared to a large, maybe public institution. One thing that's really strong in our counseling program is just the opportunity for close faculty interactions that can happen in a variety of ways.

Sometimes that's synchronously through holding Zoom sessions, or just even meeting one- on- one as needed with your instructor or even your faculty advisor. There is a robust alumni network of St.

Bonaventure alumni, more than 31 ,000 worldwide. I happened to live an hour south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and so I was on my little trail in my hometown walking and I was wearing one of my St.

Bonaventure shirts and somebody said," Oh, hey, St. Bonaventure." So they even recognized me in my little small town on my trail, or not me, they recognize St. Bonaventure. So you can see some of our highlights for our rankings, and the one I want to emphasize the most is the number six best value school.

So as Dr. Smith said, we do emphasize social justice that is integral to Franciscan values, and also we really are pleased that we're able to offer such a high quality education that is affordable.

So that's something that I think is really important to emphasize about St. Bonaventure University. So, passing it over to the next person.

Dr. Ashley Luedke

So our program is completely online. We don't have any requirements for students to travel to campus. Students are certainly welcome to travel to campus.

I know just last summer, there was a small group of students who decided to come up from the New York City where they all live. So they came up and came to check out campus and met with some of the faculty who were in town.

And that was a really fun experience for them. Obviously a lot of students also travel in for graduation, but we don't require a residency or anything like that where students would need to travel to come to campus to take classes.

There isn't a specific degree that we accept. Sometimes I hear from potential students who say," Oh, well I've worked as an accountant for the past 15 years, can I really apply to this?" Sure.

Your background doesn't indicate whether or not you are going to make a good counselor. So there isn't a specific degree you need to have or specific experiences that you need to have to apply to our program.

The counseling program, both mental health and school counseling, is just about three years in length. Students take classes, for the most part, one class at a time.

There are some semesters where students will be taking two classes, and those are typically when they're in their clinical experience of practicum and internship. The fall and spring semesters are 15- week and the summer is 14- week.

We have those each divided into terms. So there's a Fall A, which is seven weeks. So you'll take, for example, if you were accepted for spring, your first class would be a CE- 10 introduction to the profession of counseling.

So that would be your first seven weeks. And then your second seven weeks would be CE- 500 research methods. So you're just focused on that one class for that intensive seven- week period.

The clinical classes run the full semester, so those would run for either 14 or 15 weeks. So a little bit about our mental health counseling program.

Students or applicants who are interested in this are typically somebody who wants to provide counseling on an individual basis, a family basis, couples, group work, and you're working specifically in the community.

So that might be at a community- based agency, that might be in private practice or a small group practice, that could be at a hospital setting.

So there's all sorts of opportunities for where a mental health counselor might be working. Our program is 60 credits, which is the standard across the country, both for CACREP and for most licensing boards.

The bulk of our classes are going to be our core classes, which are taken with the school counseling students. And then we've got 21 credits that specifically focus on topics related to mental health.

So our students are going to take introduction to crisis counseling where you're going to learn all about how to work in those trauma situations when the worst possible case scenarios happen.

You're going to learn specifically how to work with families and couples. We also, this past summer, introduced a really fun class, introduction to play therapy. Our students have really been liking that and getting that opportunity to figure out how to incorporate some different techniques into working with their clients.

The big thing that we emphasize in our program is that we are training practitioners, and so we want you to leave with very practical skills that you're going to be able to utilize with your future clients.

So we're really mindful in how we're training you. That also comes from the fact that one of the things that differentiates our program from some others is, our faculty are all practicing.

So they're either practicing through seeing their own clients, providing supervision out in the profession to students outside of our program.

So our faculty are still fully engaged in the profession of counseling and able to bring that into the classroom with you. So it's not like you have a professor who hasn't seen a client in 30 years and isn't familiar with what's currently going on in the profession, what the current trends are, what the current theories are, and what that looks like.

So they're able to really infuse that into the classroom. Now I'm going to let Dr. Henry talk a little bit about the school counseling track.

Dr. Heidi Henry

Thank you, Dr. Luedke. Yeah, so school counseling, if you are interested in becoming a school counselor, meaning that you're interested in working in an elementary, middle, or high school setting, then this would be the program that you choose, the MSED in School Counseling.

So one great thing about our program is, although we are CACREP accredited, we also are aligned to the ASCA national model, which is the American School Counseling Association.

So some of those tenets are, we're preparing school counselors to work and meet the needs holistically of students. So that includes academic career, social and emotional needs, and we also have an emphasis of diversity and inclusion in our program.

Dr. Luedke had already shared about the shared courses that you take with clinical mental health counseling students. However, we also have specialty courses that are school counseling specific, and we have some unique offerings at St.

Bonaventure compared to other programs. So that's something I'd really like to emphasize. We recently actually revamped our school counseling curriculum to be more updated and really to better meet the NYSED requirements.

So we are also a NYSED- approved school counseling program. What that means is, if you go through our program, you graduate, then it makes certification in the State of New York pretty seamless.

So that's something that's really important as well. Special topics in school counseling class that we recently upgraded and built, and we're really excited about it because it is really I think meeting the current needs of school counselors.

So integrating different topics, social justice, multiculturalism, but also what it means to be an anti- racist school counselor while also balancing that with meeting the needs of students such as if they're in crisis, expressing suicidal ideation.

What happens if you have a student who's pregnant, how do you intervene as a school counselor and how do you collaborate with those in your school? So yeah, I personally am, as a school counseling team lead, very excited about our school counseling curriculum.

So that's I think the highlights. So I'll go ahead and pass it over. I believe Dr. Luedke, you're next. Yes.

Dr. Ashley Luedke

Mm- hmm. Thanks, Dr. Henry. So we also recently just had approved from New York State our postgraduate advanced certificate, which was very exciting.

This basically allows students who... Because when you apply to the program, you apply to the school counseling track, or you apply to the clinical mental health counseling track, and you are accepted into that specific track.

Previously, if students wanted to complete both, they needed to complete two full 60 credit programs. Who wants to do that?

Nobody. So we were very excited that we were able to get New York State to approve us to have this advanced certificate, which allows those students who are interested in both.

Once they complete their school counseling or their mental health, whichever it is that they were accepted into, if they decide they'd like to do the other track, they can apply for the post- graduate advanced certificate, which is an abbreviated program.

This is going to focus specifically on the track- specific classes along with the internship that they didn't take as part of their previous program. So this is a great way for us to meet that need for some students who really wanted the opportunity to do both.

Basically, it's about 27 credits. However, if you went through the St. Bonaventure graduate program for mental health or school counseling, it is a little bit less than that because the core classes are the same, so we're not going to have you retake the class that you've already taken.

That would be very silly. So it's really just focused in on the specific classes that are needed to meet the state's certification or licensure to become a mental health or a school counselor.

So with that, I'll turn it over to Dr. Smith.

Dr. Nate Smith

Yes, thank you. One of the many roles I play is a practicum and internship coordinator which means our students, both in the school counseling and the clinical mental health counseling, are required to complete a comprehensive 700- hour clinical placement.

And that means it's a three- part placement of a hundred hours in a practicum setting, and then 300 hours in internship one, and 300 hours in the additional internship two with a cumulative 700 hours of clinical experience, which is in my understanding the largest amount of clinical experience among graduate level educated clinicians, be it social work counseling or other allied health professions that don't require a doctoral degree at that master's level.

So 700 hours of clinical experience before you leave the program. So what this looks like is, again, it's broken into three parts across three semesters, generally takes about a full calendar year to complete, and the practicum is at 100 hours where it takes place after your first year.

So you've taken a good portion of the coursework, what we call content coursework. So that would be your theories courses, your ethics, the stuff, the nuts and bolts of being a counselor before you ever sit down in front of a client.

But in that practicum, you begin to build a caseload and really, under direct supervision from faculty and a site supervisor, will begin to work with clients either in an individual setting, family setting, couples or intimate partnership counseling or group setting.

You name it, our students are placed in a myriad of settings, but you get that experience that you're hungry for, that many of our students come hungry for. And then after that, you finish those hundred hours, we have what we call a 60 -40 split.

So 60% of those hours are indirect contact with clients, and then 40% is direct client contact. And then that hundred hours, that 60 hours is indirect, 40 hours of being in direct, and your faculty and site supervisor will help you with that.

And then we move into the internship phase, which again is set across two semesters. We have internship one and internship two, and there's 300 hours per class or per experience.

It looks very similar to the practicum, but we upped the ante. We increased the number of hours required for a completion. But by that point, many students have built the caseload, are seeing clients, working regularly with their sites.

And again, it's that opportunity to practice your advanced skills, to gain that hands- on experience. And again, you're working with clients or students depending on your track. But again, you're not doing it alone.

You have faculty supervision and support, and you have site supervision and support. A very unique piece to our program is we have a dedicated placement coordinator.

So while I work and oversee the practicum and internship experience, we have an entirely different person whose dedicated role is to help you find a site. This is nationwide, this is not just specific to the New York State area.

We have students who are way over on the West Coast. We have students in the Heartland. I'm in Texas. We have students in Texas. Wherever you are, we have a placement coordinator who's going to assist you in finding a site that fits the requirements for your track, be it school counseling or clinical mental health, that is aligned with your interests.

If you're interested in addictions, if you're interested in psychiatric rehabilitation, or you name it, our goal is to help you match with a site that is aligned with what you're interested in.

They reach out to the internship site location to help coordinate all of the details. They do, again, the site agreements and they support you through your entire internship experience.

So let's say, for instance, you're in practicum and you are a school counseling student in State of New York, which requires that you need to complete 300 hours in one setting, 300 hours in another.

This would be an internship student, not a practicum student, excuse me. But either way, we will help you moving from that K through eight setting to the second half being the nine through 12 setting.

So we're dedicated to working with you from beginning to end, seeing you to graduation. I like to say this ahead of time, this is really important.

A lot of students ask," Can I work? I've got a family to support," or," I've got a job full- time job." So is it possible to work during the practicum internship setting or experience?

Oftentimes that is really going to be specific to your situation. Many of our students, I will let struggle to maintain a full- time position while working in the practicum or internship experience, but they do successfully maintain part- time work.

So now again, that's going to be dependent upon your particular situation, but know that we're here to support you in navigating all of that as you get to that experience.

There's a lot of information really quickly, and you might be asking a question that's posed in front of you, is the counseling program right for me? Well, when you see there on the left side the dispositions, well, counseling dispositions are essentially just elements of a person's personality that make them unique and successful as a counseling student and then as a future professional.

So we've identified these dispositions or personality traits or whatever you want to call them, qualities, that we think can help you determine the answer to the question that's posed before you.

We're looking for students who are committed, which means they're invested in their learning; their development as a counselor and the counselor identity; that our students are committed to advocacy and assisting clients from marginalized communities; that you're interested in developing a professional excellence, which means we hold our counseling students to a very high standard, just as we are held to a very high standard as clinicians in the field and as counselor educators; and that you're engaged in your civic- minded, so you're engaged in the community, which again speaks to the advocacy piece; that you're a scholar practitioner, meaning that you're interested both in evidence- based research supported practice that you can then implement into a very practical clinical setting.

And then you're also interested in developing an interpersonal competence that you can engage with people from many different communities, many different backgrounds, and engage with them in a way that facilitates the healing experience of counseling.

We ask that students are open. You examine your own sense of openness. Are you open to the ideas? Because you're going to come through a counseling experience that is going to change you. Any graduate of any counseling program, especially St.

Bonaventure graduates, will tell you that this is a transformative experience. It's not a collection of courses you take to complete a degree and you get a diploma, yay you. No, you come out a different person hopefully, and in many instances, a better person, more self- aware.

You're open to new ideas, to your own experience. You're self- aware of the areas in your life where you want to enhance or address.

Many counselors are wounded healers, and so you're aware of the wounds that you need to take care of so that you can then provide that healing experience for the wounds of your client. You're open to self- development and feedback.

I say this, and I don't know, I would say many people would agree, that the thing that sets professional counseling and school counseling apart from other allied mental health professionals is the way in which we help you grow through feedback.

You get feedback from your faculty, from your supervisors, from your classmates, you provide feedback to your faculty, to your classmates, and to your supervisors to help you grow and then help us grow.

So there's a reciprocity there. And that helps then aid in the self- development. We don't really see this across other mental health professions, so if you're interested in that, then this might be the right place for you.

We respect and honor the diversity of the clients and the students that we engage with, and that includes that you respect yourself and that you are engaging in self- care because we know that the higher attention you pay to your self- care, the more ethical clinical services and academic and educational services you can provide to clients and students.

There's a direct correlation between your self- care and the ethical services that you're providing. So we adhere to a wellness philosophy. We ask students to examine their sense of personal responsibility and looking at that disposition of integrity, and recognizing that we are a profession that is governed by a body of counseling ethics, a code of ethics.

So not only are there state laws and national laws that govern our profession, but there are codes of ethics that ask us to take personal responsibility to maintain the safety of our clients, to honor the autonomy and honor the multicultural backgrounds that our clients come from.

So we ask that you're examining your professional maturity, your honesty, your courage, and your congruence as well. Again, getting back to that self- awareness piece, we want to make sure that you're ready to look in the mirror at yourself.

The counseling program I often describe as a giant mirror where we ask you to examine yourself. The counselor knows themselves so that they can then help the client.

So that self- awareness piece is so integral into developing that counselor identity and then becoming a competent professional. So we recognize that as a very key disposition for students.

So if you are able and willing to examine these elements of yourself, then the counseling program actually might be right for you. If what I've just described to you excites you, you're open to that challenge of self- examination and addressing the multicultural issues that our clients face in this program, I would say it's likely for you.

So yeah, how's that sound?

Kellie Arison

This is for me to chat with you all about. Hello, my name is Kellie, and I am one of the admissions advisors with St. Bonaventure. Super excited to share with you how to be able to finance your education.

We are proud of the fact that our tuition, it's actually $ 820 per credit hour. There is a total of 60 credits in the program, so that does total your tuition at currently $49, 200.

We do not have an application fee or a tuition deposit, which is wonderful. The graduate level, it's exciting to offer that to our students as well. And you do have choices with financing your education.

Everybody's in a unique position in their life. Some may have tuition reimbursement with their company. Some are leaning towards financial aid, scholarships, payment plans.

Some of you, thank you for your service to our military, you do have those options as well. But we would love to chat with you one- on- one to make sure that we're helping you carve out your place for financing your education with St.

Bonaventure. I always get the scholarship question," Can I apply for scholarships?" Absolutely. I will be happy to send over some that I've researched for my students.

My biggest nugget of wisdom is telling students you should never have to pay for an application to a scholarship, even if it's 50 cents. They should be free. So we want to make sure that we're helping guide you in the financing your education process.

Next slide. Admissions. I am one of the admissions advisors, like I mentioned, and my colleague Wendi. We love helping students.

We want to advocate for you. We want to prepare you. We want to see you successful. We need you in this industry. So we want to get to know you, and we want to spend that time with you helping explain the program. Everyone's done a wonderful job today.

Thank you for all this wisdom that you've shared. But the requirements for the program, it is having that bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Like Dr. Luedke mentioned, you do not have to be in psychology prior social work.

If you were an accountant and you have the calling to be in the mental health field, we would love to chat with you. We would love to help you because we need you. So please feel free to reach out.

The minimum GPA requirement, we do like to say a 3.0. We will look at a 2. 75 up to a 3 .0 will be reviewed. We do require official transcripts from all institutions that you've attended.

So even if you took a class, it was one class at a community college, we would still need you to request official transcripts. Official transcripts mean they come from school to school.

If they go from school to student to school, that becomes unofficial. Again, we can chat with you about that. But, official transcripts from all institutions. We do require a writing sample.

It's four questions that you would answer, and we will guide you with this and give you the questions that you would need to respond. Two letters of recommendation. This is, if you've been in school within the last three years, they would be academic on letterhead.

If you've been out of school the last three years and beyond, they would be professional letters on letterhead. We do also, once those documents are in, you go up for an initial review where the faculty does invite you to a faculty interview.

That is the final piece of the puzzle. We want to get to know you and meet you. The faculty like you see is engaged and a part of the process as well. So you would then go to a faculty interview.

It's a group interview. Two weeks traditionally after that is we do find out about an answer of acceptance or not. We are always happy to help you, so please reach out to us with any questions that you may have.

Christina Walsh

All right, thank you, everyone. What a wonderful presentation. I'm sure with all this information, it's probably brought up even more questions you might have. So please go ahead if you haven't done so already and drop those questions in the Q& A box and we'll cover as many as time allows.

We've already gotten a few here, so I'm just taking a quick look. The first one is about licensure.

How would licensure work? Since it's an online program, would you be eligible to take the licensing exam in any state without extra requirements? Dr. Luedke, would you like to take that?

Dr. Ashley Luedke

Sure. So with our program, we are fully in line with New York State. So depending on what state you are in, you will have to look at the specific requirements because some states do have some different elements to it.

So for example, in Florida, you also have to have a human sexuality class, which we have now included in our program. We added that last summer. Some states also require a psychopharmacology class, so you do have to look at what your state specifically requires.

Most states do stipulate that they're looking for a CACREP accredited program, which is what we are. So that puts you in line. So again, you would have to look specifically at the state.

We have information that we provide to the student. That's a quick little map where you can click on the map and it'll tell you what exactly your state requires, so you can see if there are some extra items.

Christina Walsh

Wonderful. Thank you so much. This next question, for Dr. Smith. Does the 300 hours internships need to have a strict timeline of when it needs to be done by?

Dr. Nate Smith

Yes. So the 300 hours per internship course, remember there's two, it's 300 per course, and it's done within that 14- week term.

Remember, that our normal classes, or our content classes, like your typical graduate classes, run seven weeks and then seven weeks.

But then these clinical courses run the full 14 weeks, and it is the one part that is not done asynchronous. These courses are, you meet with a faculty synchronously via Zoom.

There's a wide variety of times and days that are spread across the week to meet, and many of our students find a time that fits in their schedule.

But yes, it's done within that 14 weeks. I mean, occasionally we have a student who's not able to get all those hours, and we handle those on a case by case basis, but most of the time students are very successful in completing the 300 hours in the 14 weeks allotted.

Christina Walsh

Thank you so much.

Dr. Ashley Luedke

And Christina, it looks like the first question was actually missed, but I can go ahead and just address that because I was actually part of that process.

Christina Walsh

Sure, that'd be great.

Dr. Ashley Luedke

So there was a question about the new legislation in New York State about diagnostic privilege. So previously, mental health counselors were under essentially an extension that allowed them to diagnose, but it wasn't fully permissible by the state, which I know sounds very confusing, but stay with me.

So we basically had this exemption in place that allowed us to do it, and we have been lobbying for years to just get that removed and give us straight out rights to have diagnostic privilege.

The past several years, I've been very actively involved in working with NYMHCA, which is the New York Mental Health Counseling Association, and the lobbyists that they have employed. And we actually had a working group over the past three years that specifically worked with the lobbyist on looking at how we can encourage, giving very specific breakdowns to the state on how we more than exceed the qualifications for diagnosis.

So I was part of that, which meant that I was also part of setting forward to the state what the curriculum should be and showing that our curriculum already is in line.

New York State has not formalized the specific classes. However, everything that we submitted to the state was based on CACREP curriculum, which is what we have.

So as far as we know, from what the state has given back to us based on what we have submitted to them through this working group and the lobbyist, we are in line with the educational requirements for diagnostic privilege.

So we just have to wait for New York to officially put everything on their website, but as they're giving information, and like I said, I've been actively involved in that process the entire time, so as of this moment, yes, we are in line with that.

Christina Walsh

Wonderful. That is exciting. Thank you for sharing. Next question, are the specialty classes included in the program or can we choose to do those specialty classes only if we want to?

Dr. Luedke?

Dr. Ashley Luedke

Sure. So it's a set curriculum, so this is what's different about graduate school from undergrad. When you're an undergrad, you look at the catalog and you're like," Okay, all of these classes meet this requirement and all of these classes meet this requirement.

I can pick and choose, and then I got hope. Can I get into this class? Can I get in? Is there room?" That's not how it is in grad school at all. When you get accepted into our program, you are given a plan of study that tells you exactly what class you are taking each semester.

So when I build the schedule, I'm building the schedule knowing how many students need to be in that class. So there is no race to register, because I know you need the seat, so the seat is there.

So you're not choosing what classes. It's all pre- laid out for you.

Christina Walsh

Wonderful, thank you. This next question is about the faculty interview. Is the faculty interview virtual.

Dr. Luedke?

Dr. Ashley Luedke

Yes. The faculty interview is virtual, so you'll meet in a small group with one to two, actually one to three faculty members depending on what's going on that day, and then it'll be a max of four other applicants who will be in the interview.

It'll be done on Zoom. So I strongly recommend, if you aren't familiar with Zoom, do a little test run, make sure how to use that technology because you don't want to be at the start of the interview and not realizing you don't know how to turn your mic on.

So always on Zoom, always virtual.

Christina Walsh

Great, thank you. Kind of a general question that popped up, what are some of the challenges that might come with the program once you're a student? Dr. Luedke, would you like to take that one as well?

Dr. Ashley Luedke

Sure. So here's the thing. I'll be very transparent with all of you. You're going to get out of the program what you put into it. So that means engaging with your peers, engaging with the faculty, coming to live sessions when you can.

The students who struggle the most in this program are the students who disappear. The ones who never come to a live session, never reach out to the faculty member, don't review the information that's provided to them in the Moodle course, those are the students who struggle.

I would say students also struggle when they don't have a handle on time management. You're typically working adults, and so you may have the balance of work, family, school, maybe other obligations that you have in play.

So you've got to figure out, "Okay, how am I dedicating time to each of these areas so that I'm able to get out of this education what I'm hoping to to become the mental health or school counselor that I'm trying to become?" So I would say those are the biggest challenges that students face.

I don't know if Dr. Henry or Dr. Smith want to add anything to that.

Dr. Nate Smith

I mean, I give a big speech every year at the faculty- student orientation, the meet and greet, that says this program, it's a 60- credit- hour master's degree.

It's an intense experience. It takes three years and you come out differently. Then you came in and we train you as a professional. You're preparing to become a healer.

So it's going to be a very intensive experience. So the thing is, is making sure the program fits in your life. We are very convenient, we're very flexible, but it doesn't mean that we don't have standards.

So we ask a lot of our students, and that's one of the things about St. Bonaventure that sets us apart from other online programs, is that we are very invested in you and the quality of clinician and school counseling professional that you become.

So there are certainly other programs in schools that are just kind of like," Yeah, you take the classes and you graduate." But we are very interested in getting deeper than just the coursework with you.

So making sure there's the space and time and the bandwidth in your experience to be able to facilitate that. So that's the big piece I would say.

Christina Walsh

Thank you.

Kellie Arison

If I could piggyback on that too. I think what's amazing in hearing this is, on the front end, I hear students that want to finish in a year, a year and a half, and I say, then SBU is not for you because we do want to take the time, the professors want to take the time.

We want you to come in and then graduate a better person, the healer, like you said, Dr. Smith. I think that's so important to notice that we don't want to rush the process because it is a process.

It's a process for you to learn, to absorb, and to be able to output. So we do want to take that time. So thank you for clarifying that as well, Dr. Luedke as well. That's an awesome note to say.

Thank you.

Christina Walsh

All right. This next question is for Dr. Smith. Are internships typically five days a week, or does it depend?

Dr. Nate Smith

So that's going to depend on the site and the kind of arrangements you make with your internship site supervisor, and it varies wildly.

Generally, it's not five days a week, it's a couple of days a week. I've seen students do a full two days, full eight hours, 16 hours a week.

I've seen students work three nights a week. I've seen students do two weekend days. I mean, it's just going to really depend on the site. And there is, I hesitate to use the word flexibility because that presumes that there's a lot of control on the student's end, and really it comes down to the site that you choose.

So I guess, to that degree, there's flexibility, but it's really going to be when your site supervisor and you and the site are able to kind of agree and design the experience that they're able to facilitate for you.

So again, it does depend, but there is some degree of flexibility in there.

Christina Walsh

Thank you. Adding on to some of your topics here, there was a question about the practicum. You had mentioned indirect contact with clients. Can you define that a little bit?

Dr. Nate Smith

Sure. So we actually have a clear, and I'm not going to be able to quote it from memory, but we have a pretty clear definition of what direct and indirect hours are in our student handbook. But essentially, the indirect hours are anytime you're not doing client facing work, where you are acting as the clinician or the school counseling professional.

And forgive me, I think school counselors are clinicians, so when I use that word, it's meant to be inclusive of both clinical mental health and school counseling. Just as a side note.

Anyways, anytime you're not doing client or student facing work, that would be considered indirect, so that might be your clinical documentation, receiving clinical supervision, reviewing your cases, any assigned reading from your site supervisor.

Sometimes we have students who are interested in a particular kind of clinical theory or intervention specific to the population they're working with. So you might be assigned additional tasks and education to enhance your competency from your site supervisor or your faculty group supervisor, and that would all count as indirect hours.

We rarely have problems with students meeting their indirect hour goals. Remembering that 60- 40 split, and the math is escaping me now, but within the 300 hours, 60% of that will be your indirect hours for the internship one semester, let's say.

And those can be a myriad of things that are adjacent to and directly related to your clinical internship experience, but aren't seeing clients face- to- face, that would then meet the direct hour definition.

Christina Walsh

Wonderful. Thank you so much. This next question is about the licensure exam. After the LMHC licensure exam, is it necessary to take the national exam, Dr.


Dr. Ashley Luedke

Sure. These are one and the same. So depending on the state you're in, that is their exam. So there is no national certification to practice in every single state, which is a little confusing because I know there's the National Board of Certified Counselors.

So each state requires mental health counselors to either take the National Counseling Exam or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Exam. They're two different tests.

New York requires the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Exam, so it depends on the state which one they require. That's the exam you take to get licensed in your specific state, so there's not one exam that'll blanket for every single state.

Christina Walsh

Thank you for clarifying that. That's great. Let's see. This next question is about financial aid. I've heard that financial aid typically doesn't cover a master's degree.

Is it possible to get your entire tuition covered by FAFSA if you're eligible? Kellie, do you want to take that?

Kellie Arison

My suggestion would be, again, these are probably more one- off situations, but we do traditionally have students, depending on what you've used at your undergrad, if you have another postmaster's degree, a postmaster's certificate, depending on what you've done in your education, you may be out of funds for financial aid, but we would like to still talk with you more one- on- one to help you.

Because traditionally, the tuition at $49, 200, financial aid would be able to cover that. But again, it depends. It's one- off. For every student, it's individual.

But completing the FAFSA is going to be your first step and we can help you with that.

Christina Walsh

Great, thank you. This next question," I've completed my master's in mental health and I'm a licensed mental health counselor in New York. Would my classes transfer over to this program?

And how many classes would you accept?" Obviously we probably have to review the transcripts and things. And then would I need to go or do the advanced certification for school counseling?

Dr. Ashley Luedke

Sure. So this would require a transcript review. It would depend, honestly, which is not an easy answer, I know, but it would just depend. The first thing we would have to do is see if you were eligible for the advanced certificate.

If you already have a mental health degree, was your degree from a CACREP program? When was the degree from? How many credits would you need? Because if you need beyond the 27 credits, then you would have to take the full 60 credit program.

So what I do as the program director is, anybody who might be eligible for the advanced certificate, I do a full transcript analysis on it to see if we're able to do the advanced certificate program for you or if you'd have to do the 60 credits school counseling program.

Christina Walsh

Thank you. We had some additional questions about transfer credits and the process for that. Dr. Luedke, I don't know if you want to piggyback on that and just kind of explain what that process is.

Dr. Ashley Luedke

Sure. We can only accept transfer credits that are from CACREP accredited programs. So if you have a master's degree in English and you took a class on research, I can't transfer it in.

It's got to be from a CACREP accredited program. If you have credits from a CACREP accredited program, we can potentially approve up to six credits. So what we ask is that the students send us their transcript and their syllabus from the course from when they took it.

So I look over that and see what class they're trying to replace and see if we're able to approve that.

Christina Walsh

Wonderful. Thank you so much. Let's see. Looking through the questions here. Let's see.

SBU's M degree in MSED. Other schools I'm researching also offers a master of science. What's the difference between the MSED versus master of science and the benefit of the education part?

Dr. Ashley Luedke

So we have the MSED, and really it's because we are housed in the School of Education. This is one of those silly trivial things.

There really is no difference between an MS and an MSED as far as when it comes to getting approved for licensure or certification, depending on if you're going for mental health or school counseling. It's just how we've designated the degree with New York State being housed in the School of Education.

The dean and the provost made the decision years ago that all of the degrees coming out of education would have this branch to it. But there's nothing that would distinguish or prohibit a student from getting licensed or certified or anything.

It's just one of those little decision things that schools do.

Christina Walsh

Thank you. I want to jump down to a question about the coursework and the online experience type of a topic. How much of this program is completed through group work projects and how often are the students engaged in authentic role playing or explicit feedback to develop those skills and apply knowledge?

Dr. Smith or Dr. Henry?

Dr. Heidi Henry

Sure. I can chime in a little bit. So there are some courses that do require some group work projects. So it's not completely no group work, but it's also not the main way we assess or assign assignments to complete.

But there are some group work projects throughout the curriculum, so that's something to know. And then authentic role playing. So we definitely use role playing type assignments in our more skills- based classes.

So there's a couple classes where you are demonstrating your skills, and so you will be using role play assignments in those. So those are kind of more... I know there's one in crisis counseling, I believe there's one in the advanced theories class.

Is there one in the theories class as well, Dr. Smith? Yeah, so there are a few throughout. And again, those are specifically to, like you said, you asked the question, develop your skills and be able to apply knowledge.

Dr. Nate Smith

Can I just as well... There are some assignments that you're graded as an individual even though it is a group- oriented project. And then there are assignments where you're graded as a group.

I always wanted to know, are we graded as a group? Are we graded individually? Because as a student, I always thought that was helpful to know.

Christina Walsh

Thank you. Let's see. Another question here. If you start in one program option, can you switch to the other track if you change your mind?

Dr. Luedke?

Dr. Ashley Luedke

Potentially. We have a process where we do have students submit essentially an abbreviated application letting us know what happened that you decided you want to switch.

So we'll have you meet with your faculty advisor to talk about that to see, is the switch actually really appropriate for you? Because sometimes students have some misinformation about what being a school counselor or being a mental health counselor is that maybe might not be accurate.

So we want to make sure we have that conversation with you. We then look and see how have you been performing in your classes to determine whether or not we'll approve you changing tracks.

Christina Walsh

Thank you. This next question wants to get clarification on the program length, if they were looking to complete...

The slide noted two and a half years to three years completion rate, is that for both tracks or is one track shorter than the other? How does that range work?

And is there an option to do it faster if they wanted to?

Dr. Ashley Luedke

Yeah, there is no fast track option because the classes are preset, because you do have that program of study. The school counseling program, because of the way the classes are built in their track, do typically finish at about two and a half years, whereas the mental health is the full three years.

This does vary though if students need to take a break or take a pause in their program for personal things that maybe are happening in their life. So we do take that into account as well, but unfortunately there is no fast track option where you could get it done in a year.

Christina Walsh

Right. Are the core and specialty classes synchronous or asynchronous?

Dr. Ashley Luedke

The bulk of our classes are asynchronous. However, the faculty will offer either a weekly or biweekly live session where they'll say," Hey, I'm going to hold a class Wednesdays 7: 00 PM Eastern.

Hop on Zoom, join me. We're going to talk about some stuff. We're going to have some cool discussion, maybe we'll do some role plays." And if you can attend, the faculty either record that or they pre- record something else that they share with the group, so that way you're having that opportunity to engage.

But some classes, like your clinical classes, so practicum and internship, do have a synchronous requirement where you do have to be in your group meeting. So like tonight I'll have my practicum class from 6 :00 to 7: 30 PM and the students have to attend that.

So when they register for practicum, they can see that there's these different days and times, and they can choose which one works best for their schedule.

Christina Walsh

Great, thank you. This next question," I'm working as a high school counselor. Am I able to complete my internship at the same school with the elementary school and middle school?" Dr.


Dr. Nate Smith

I hesitate to say yes or no. I mean, these are pretty individual situations. We have some school or active educators who can work in their own site.

And then we have students who move to other site. I mean, so the New York State requirement says that you need to do K through 12, so it's in one setting and then in another setting, internship one, internship two.

So it would really depend on the qualifications of this available supervisor because we have pretty strict requirements for what a site supervisor's eligibility.

So yeah, we're certainly open to the discussion, but we can't commit to anything until we know the specifics.

Dr. Ashley Luedke

Yeah. And I'll just add on to that. The one thing that we also do... I have this situation right now with a student who is a teacher in her school, and she was approved based on the site's qualifications that she was able to do her school counseling practicum site there.

What she has very quickly learned is that her principal keeps pulling her into other responsibilities so that she isn't able to complete her practicum time. So she's already preparing to change her internship site when she was initially going to complete it there as well, her first internship.

So that is one thing that we talk about the students, is when your internship supervisor is also your boss, it can be hard sometimes to say no when they're saying," Hey, you can't do this experience you need to do for school.

I need you to go do lunchroom duty," or," I need you to cover this other teacher's classroom." So these are conversations that we do like to have with students just to prepare them like," Are you prepared for that?

That this can be a very real situation that you may face?" Is that always the situation? No, there are some schools that are super supportive and do everything they can to make sure the student can complete their practicum and internship experience and their job.

But it really just depends. Those are conversations that we have typically on an individual basis.

Christina Walsh

Perfect. Thank you. This next question," Upon graduation from the mental health counseling program, can we begin working right away or are there more supervised hours required?"

Dr. Ashley Luedke

Depends on the state. So some states you have to wait to be approved for your status, and again, in different states it's going to be called different things.

So in New York, it's called a limited permit. So when you graduate from the mental health counseling program, you fill out your application, you send it off to the state, and you can't start working as a counselor until the state sends you back your approval for your limited permit.

Now, other states do allow you to immediately begin working even as you're going through that pre- licensed process. Every state, though, will have a licensure process that you're working towards.

So in New York, when you graduate, when you get your limited permit, you then have to complete 3, 000 hours after you graduate, but that's working so that's paid experience, before you're a fully licensed counselor.

So you have to complete those 3, 000 hours and pass the NCMHC. But different states will have different hours. I think in Florida, I can't remember what Florida was now when I got licensed there, I think it was maybe 1, 500 hours.

So it was a fewer hour requirement in Florida when I was there. But you were able to start working a little bit faster. So it just sort of just depends on the state.

Christina Walsh

Great, thank you. This other question was submitted ahead of time," If I was granted emergency licensure for school counseling, can I use those hours for my internship?" Dr.


Dr. Nate Smith

So we do have some students who are working, they're not technically educated at the master's level, but are working in school counseling roles through these emergency settings.

And there are some students who can complete their hours. Again, it comes really down to the details. Like they say, the devil's in the details and the specifics to your situation.

Because a big part of it is, if you're being hired as an emergency hire for school counseling, do you have a site supervisor available to you? Because if they're hiring you an emergency basis, the likelihood of having the availability of a site supervisor at the school counseling level or...

So again, it just really depends. I mean, these situations are difficult to assess just off the cuff.

Christina Walsh

Understandable. Next question. Let's see. This person is a 64- year- old African American male, soon to be retired, engineer from New York State.

He's wondering if they're too old to help." Is there a need in this field for people that look like me an wants to be of service?" So, had a question there.

Dr. Nate Smith

I feel particularly moved to answer this question, so please forgive me for jumping right in. Yes. Yes. Re- careering is very normal, meaning coming from an entirely different profession into the clinical mental health or school counseling role, less than school counseling, but certainly it does occur.

But certainly, it's very... I was a jazz pianist before I was ever a counselor educator. I was playing on cruise ships for boozy singles. That was my goal for many, many years.

And then I had a shift in my identity. So all of that to say yes, we want people from different walks of life. We want people who have a myriad of life experiences because then those experiences translate to the clinical and the counseling relationship.

Now, that also means though, you need to be prepared to challenge yourself in ways that you may not have been challenged before. We have students who are re- careering midlife or finishing up one career and wanting to start working as a clinician, and they struggle to turn that lens inward and explore themselves.

So as long as you're prepared and open to do that, absolutely. I'm excited by the potential of re- careering or second- career professional counselors in training.

I think it's exciting. Yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Ashley Luedke

We've got a nice spread in our student body of students who are coming straight from undergrad versus students who are returning to education after maybe taking years off to be a stay- at- home parent, or they have been working for decades in another career and are now looking to change tracks.

So we definitely have a really great spread across our student body of who our students are, what their lived experiences are that they're bringing into the program.

I think for all of you, the one thing that you also need to be prepared for is that who you enter the program as is not who you're going to exit the program as, because you're going to have to do a lot of self- reflection, growth, and sometimes looking inward can be really hard.

So that's something that we do like to make sure students are prepared to engage in because you cannot take a client or a student further than you've taken yourself.

Christina Walsh

Thank you so much for that.

Dr. Nate Smith

Sorry, one more point on.

Christina Walsh

Go ahead.

Dr. Nate Smith

I'm so sorry. Oftentimes we see students, like you mentioned, accountants were mentioned. Often what we see are accountants who return to school and become clinicians.

They go back out and work with your colleagues who are accountants. So you have this inside industry knowledge, but now you have the tools to help heal inside that industry.

We see that with military, we see that with law enforcement. I mean it's a very... Yeah. Anyway, it's very exciting. Sorry. Sorry.

Christina Walsh

That's okay. I know we're at the top of the hour here, so if you all have a minute, we'll do one final question. It's related to the admission requirements and applying to the program." How can I make myself a stronger applicant if my undergrad GPA is just below a 3 .0?" Dr.

Luedke, do you want to answer that one?

Dr. Ashley Luedke

Sure. I mean, we look at the GPA obviously, but we're also looking at your answers to the questions. We have some specific questions that we ask the students to address in their written statement.

And then considering who your letters of recommendation are. Obviously having a professor is very helpful. But otherwise, thinking about who can speak to your abilities and what it means to be a counselor.

I will tell you right now, having your friend or having your family member write your letter of recommendation will never help you, ever.

So really think about who can speak to your characteristics, your abilities, and what's going to drive you in becoming a school or mental health counselor.

And I think we could take that into more consideration than if you had a 2. 9 GPA or a 3. 5 GPA, because that's going to tell us a little bit more about you.

Dr. Nate Smith

Also, if you have human service experience. Are you volunteering with your church or religious organization? If you say you're an accountant, well, we're really on that accountant thing today, but what does your human interaction look like?

What does your experience look like interacting with folks in your community, in your religious setting, and your whatever?

That is one of the things we're looking at, not just your GPA, not just your letters. It's a holistic approach. We're looking at your resume as far as volunteer work, as far as advocacy work, your profession, all of that stuff as well.

Kellie Arison

And I think that's so interesting to say too, and take heart in the fact that we do want to see more counselors out there and we do want to take that time with you. So it is that all encompassing approach, and that's where those faculty interviews, where maybe you do have that small little bit lower under that 3 .0 GPA, being invited to a faculty interview so they can see you is so different than who you are on paper.

And that's why we want to talk to you and prepare you for those faculty interviews if you are just shy under that 3 .0. And that's why SBU does take that time to get to know you. It's not that other type of school where everybody's accepted.

We really want to spend the time getting to know you and making sure that you have that solid application into. So really leverage your admissions advisor's help if you want to role play before your faculty interview.

If you want us to read your statement of intent, we are more than happy to work with you and help and guide you.

Christina Walsh

Thank you so much. All right, I will go ahead and wrap things up in the interest of time. So thank you again for all who joined us today and for your amazing engagement with all of your questions.

If you'd like to learn more about the programs and talk through that journey, please don't hesitate to contact your enrollment advisor or send an email to the email address on the screen. If you could also take a quick moment when we close out here to fill out our survey, we'd love to hear what you thought about the webinar.

And then just a reminder that the on- demand recording of this session will be available tomorrow, and it will be sent to you via email using the same link that you registered with earlier. So that concludes today's webinar.

Thank you so much for attending. Enjoy the rest of your day.

Kellie Arison

Thank you so kindly.