Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about the Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine program at Boston University.
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.
Should I apply if I'm not interested in behavioral medicine?
Absolutely. We have students interested in this focus as part of their career goals, although our mission is not to focus on this aspect of our program. Rather, we train students in general clinical mental health counseling, augmented by behavioral medicine, neuroscience, and psychopharmacology. The current state of health provision is in biopsychosocial care and this is the model used in designing our curriculum. Our graduates tell us many times over 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.
When does the admission cycle begin and end?
We have a rolling admissions process starting in September of each year. We begin interviews in January. There are typically two deadlines, which are posted on the admissions page of this website. It is best to apply early as enrollment closes once the identified cap for new students is reached.
What standardized testing is required before applying?
As of November 1, 2018, the Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine program no longer requires 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. 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.
Can 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. We have an open door policy and strongly encourage students to get to know all of our faculty in order to best support and mentor them.
What is the typical background of your students?
Approximately 75% 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 internationally.
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), 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 can I contact a representative from MHCBM?
Do you accept international students?
Yes, we typically have 3-6 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?
While there is no part-time track, there are occasions when 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. It’s unusual for students to take this path, although has been done. In the past a part-time track was offered, but it was found to not work well for students.
Will I be able to get licensed in any state?
There are two primary degree requirements for licensure: course content and credits and 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.
What about living in Boston?
Boston is a cultural mecca! The state 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, and restaurants (many of which are are free or offer a student discount). Winters can be an eye-opening experience for our southern students, but autumn New England can’t be beat. We believe these opportunities make up for the relative 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 informational session/open house to be accepted into the program? Is an interview mandatory?
Yes. Some applicants choose to attend one of these to inform a decision of whether to apply to our program. Others choose to apply first, then if granted an interview, come for a full-day informational session and interview. The latter tends to be the first choice for applicants who are not local. 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.