Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about the Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine program at Boston University.
Is there a word limit on the personal statement?
We recommend writing a maximum of approximately 500 words.
Is the earlier/first deadline binding?
No, please submit your materials when you feel that your application is at its strongest.
However, we do have cutoffs for when materials are due and then we will move your materials to the next deadline. Meaning, the first deadline is a hard cutoff and final in this regard – candidates who apply after Dec. 1 at midnight (e.g., on Dec. 2 or 3) would be reviewed for the second application deadline following the Jan. 19 cutoff. No applications will be reviewed after the final deadline on January 19th at midnight.
What kind of scholarships are available? Are there scholarships available to international applicants?
We award Provost scholarships varying by the amount for both international and domestic students. More internal scholarships can be found with this link. You do not need to submit a separate application for Provost scholarships and any awards amounts are shared at the time of your admission. Additional funding for Boston University scholarships, fellowships, and resources may be found here.
Who can I speak to about BU’s internal scholarships?
Please review the materials here GMS Student Financial Services (SFS) at email@example.com. For specific instructions regarding email correspondence with SFS, please visit their website. Additional funding for Boston University scholarships, fellowships, and resources may be found here.
Do you offer application fee waivers?
Yes, for specific circumstances. Examples include alumni and members from AmeriCorps, Posse Fellows, TFA, City Year, McNair Scholars, Fullbright Scholars, the Peace Corps, and the United States Military.
Please review and fill out this form after starting your application but prior to submission and the Graduate Medical Sciences team (GMS) will review your request and be in touch. Unfortunately, we are unable to waive or refund application fees after you have submitted your application.
How can I confirm that BU received my official transcripts?
Your unofficial transcripts are fine for our review unless you are accepted and choose to enroll – we trust you. Please upload your unofficial transcripts (if you are a current senior) and then we’ll add updated ones to the file. If you apply for the first deadline and are still enrolled in an undergraduate program, we will ask for updated grades/transcript after your fall semester and spring semester.
Please remember, if you are admitted and choose to enroll, we will need official transcripts sent to GMS from all colleges, universities, master’s programs, and/or study abroad experiences that you attended. (You will have months to complete this requirement and we will remind you.)
Does BU transfer credits from other universities (e.g., graduate programs)?
Requests for transferred courses are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and with careful syllabus review, as the prior courses need to have met CACREP requirements.
University guidelines will allow us to transfer in up to two courses (or eight credits) from another university. These courses must not have been taken as part of an earned degree, even if wasn’t required for that degree. Specific decisions about transferring in courses will not be made prior to a student officially matriculating into the program and meeting with their academic advisor. Official transfers can only be granted to students in good standing, requiring them to complete their first semester beforehand. It is of note that transferring in courses will not shave time off of completing the degree given the requirements for clinical training and other required coursework.
How do I send you my unofficial transcripts?
You do not need to send in official transcripts until you are accepted and choose to enroll. For the applications process, unofficial transcripts are fine and your transcript may be uploaded directly to the application portal. You or your school may email us your transcripts and we can add them to your application.
If I graduated a long time ago, can I have other people besides professors write letters of recommendation?
Yes. We recommend asking individuals who can attest to the likelihood of your academic and career success. We recommend that two of your letters of recommendation come from faculty members who can speak to your academic potential, but understand this is not always possible.
May I attend part-time/online?
No, except if you are a BU/BMC employee then that’s considered on a case by case basis. That would be 3 years total with the third year attending full-time.
Please note that we have found that a three-year track does not work well for students as they have to move between cohorts and have less intrinsic support from taking all courses with the same group of students.
We do not offer online enrollment.
Do I need a Psychology undergraduate degree in order to be accepted into the program?
No. An earned Bachelor’s degree is required, but it does not need to be in Psychology or a related field.
Do you admit students in January or just Fall?
We are a Fall start only.
Is there a thesis requirement? Are there other opportunities to engage in research?
Students in our program do not complete a thesis. On occasion, students engage in research outside of our program, typically as volunteers. However, this is considered separate from our Program.
May I add materials to my application after I submit it?
Yes, please email us any component and we’ll add it to your file.
May I meet with a professor to ask questions about the program?
We hold monthly Facebook live Q&As and you may post your questions ahead of time or email us with questions regarding the Program or your application. We are not holding individual meetings or hosting on-campus visits at this time. The Facebook page is Boston University: Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine.
Our Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 Facebook Live Info Session Dates may be found here.
What is the Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine program?
The Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine is a rigorous program designed to meet the requirements for an independent mental health counseling license in Massachusetts and other states. Our goal is to train students in mental health counseling with a complementary background in behavioral medicine and neuroscience
What makes this program stand out?
While there are many masters-level mental health counseling programs, we are the only program in the country located on a medical school campus with training in behavioral medicine and neuroscience to augment general mental health theory and treatment. We are the only CACREP accredited program in a medical school. We are also one of very few institutions in the state of Massachusetts to have CACREP accreditation.
We train students in general clinical mental health counseling, augmented by behavioral medicine (BMed), neuroscience, and psychopharmacology. The current state of health provision is in integrated biopsychosocial care and this is the model used in designing our curriculum. Our graduates return to tell us how impressed others are with what they know and understand regarding medical health and wellness.
Does the program have any student-run organizations?
The Mental Health and Behavioral Medicine program has a Student Representative Committee that is integral to the program. The committee organizes social events, serves as a liaison to the faculty and puts together the annual newsletter.
What standardized testing is required before applying?
As of November 1, 2018, the Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine program no longer require that applicants submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores nor Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores as part of their application. Applicants may still choose to submit GRE scores if they feel they may strengthen their application. The BU ETS code is 3087.
Official TOEFL or IELTS scores (for applicants from countries where English is not the language of instruction). If an international student has already obtained a degree in the United States, this requirement is waived.
What other things do I need to complete the application process?
To complete the application process you will need to complete our application in the online application portal, and attach (a) three letters of recommendation, (b) official academic transcripts from all previous schools, and (c) a personal statement describing your desire to become a counseling practitioner of approximately 750 words. We recommend that two of your letters of recommendation come from faculty members who can speak to your academic potential. Final candidates are also required to to attend an in-person interview.
What are the requirements of the program?
Students are required to complete a minimum of 60 credit hours of course work a semester, a semester-long clinical practicum, and an academic year-long internship. A complete list of required and elective courses can be found on the Curriculum page.
May MHCBM graduates move into a doctoral program?
Though we do not offer doctoral-level training through our program, many of our alumni have chosen to apply and continue on to a doctorate program. We work closely with students to explore their career goals and determine whether a more advanced degree is necessary for them to be able to achieve these goals. A terminal master’s degree is almost always enough to work independently as a mental health practitioner, whereas a doctorate is necessary for an academic career.
How much guidance and support could I expect from program faculty?
Our faculty work closely with students. Each student is assigned an academic advisor with whom they discuss academic options, career paths, and other professional development needs.
What is the typical background of your students?
Approximately 50% of our students come to us immediately after completing their undergraduate degrees. Many come to us after 2-3 years of working after receiving their undergraduate degrees. We also have students who come to us after working in a different field, sometimes for many years, and who are looking for a career change. Most of our students majored in a mental health related field or the hard sciences in their undergraduate institutions, although that is not a requirement for our program. Students come from all across the United States, as well as across the globe.
What kinds of jobs do your graduates get after graduation?
There is a large range in the breadth and nature of positions our graduates are able to obtain. They vary considerably by age (young children to geriatric populations), setting (schools, impatient facilities, hospital, general outpatient), the severity of dysfunction (serious and persistent mental illness, medically ill, relationship issues), and presenting problem. Many of our alumni have private practices and several have supervised current students while on clinical training placements and/or hired them post-graduation.
How may I contact a representative from MHCBM?
Do you accept international students?
Yes, we typically have 4-7 international students per year, and their trajectory through the program is nearly identical to those with US citizenship. Official TOEFL or IELTS scores (for applicants from countries where English is not the language of instruction). If an international student has already obtained a degree in the United States, this requirement is waived.
TOEFL score requirements are:
- Our code is 3251
- Paper-based test: 550
- Internet-based test
- Reading: 21
- Listening: 18
- Speaking: 23
- Writing: 22
IELTS score requirements are:
- Band score: 7.0
Is there a part-time track?
Our program utilizes a 2-year model. We do not have a formalized three-year option for the program. On rare occasions, we would consider an option for a three-year track with the student taking fewer classes in years one and two and a full-time third year. This path is typically only considered for current BU or BMC staff members. For this pathway to be successful, staff members typically have to quit their jobs in order to complete their rigorous full-time clinical internship commitments during the third year.
Will I be able to get licensed in any state?
There are two primary degree requirements for licensure: course content and credits and the number of clinical hours. Our program is designed to meet both of these criteria. We require students to complete enough clinical hours to meet the number for all of the fifty states. Taking all required courses and electives meets the course requirements for nearly all states. In some cases, students must take a course that we are unable to offer. In that case, we work with students to identify a course in another department throughout Boston University or elsewhere. In the event that this isn’t possible, students take the course once returning to the state in which they would like to get licensed. Faculty advisors work closely with students to plan ahead for licensure in other states and map out the two-year curriculum to include required courses when necessary. For more information about how the MHCBM program prepares students to meet educational requirements for licensure in all U.S. states, please visit this link.
What do I need to do to get licensed?
This varies some by state, but the general requirements post-graduation are to take a national exam (scoring at/above the passing mark) and to complete enough clinical hours to match the minimum requirements. Here are the licensure requirements by state.
What about living in Boston?
Boston is a cultural mecca with lots to explore! The commonwealth of Massachusetts has more academic institutions than any other state in the nation. Thus, there is a lot of active learning, a lot of diversity, and creative offerings throughout the city. Boston proper is a walking city, although it also offers plenty of public transportation. We encourage students to take advantage of everything Boston has to offer – music, theater, city tours (many of which are free or offer student discounts), and delicious restaurants to explore.
Winters can be an eye-opening experience for our students from warmer climates, but autumn New England is a delight. We believe these opportunities make up for the relatively high cost of living. In fact, many students who originally planned to return home after graduation fall in love with Boston and decide to stay.
Do I need to attend an interview to be accepted into the program?
Yes. Interviews are mandatory in order to be accepted into the program. Interviews give you and us an opportunity to meet and determine whether we are a mutual fit. These are offered invitation-only.