Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Admission Requirements


Applications for admission to the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program are submitted online. Questions about applications should be directed to Lynn Atkins-Rykert ( Lynn can be reached at (616) 632-2924. Her office is located in the Graduate Enrollment Office in the Academic Building, Room 201.

Applicants who meet the minimum requirements for Conditional Admission are eligible to begin classes in the following semester. New cohorts begin in fall and spring semesters (spring cohorts are started contingent on meeting the minimum cohort size).

To receive full consideration for fall admission, please submit all required materials by May 15. For spring admission, please submit all required materials by October 15.

Basic Requirements

The minimum requirements for admission to the MAC Program are: 

  1. A completed Graduate Studies Application for Admission.
  2. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
  3. A minimum cumulative GPA of a 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
  4. A minimum of three undergraduate courses in psychology or related social sciences.
  • If the applicant is deficient in the undergraduate social sciences requirement, they may be required to successfully complete appropriate undergraduate courses without graduate credit prior to final admission to the program.

Satisfying minimal standards does not guarantee admission, since the number of qualified applicants may exceed the number of places available. As a result, not all well-qualified applicants will be admitted.

The MAC Program at Aquinas College admits new students in the fall and spring semesters. All students must complete COU 500: Orientation to Graduate Studies at Aquinas and MAC prior to beginning classes. COU 500 is offered as a 1 day, 0 credit hour course, on the Saturday before classes begin. Full-time students take three courses per semester, while part-time students typically take two courses per semester.

Preliminary Interview

Applicants meet with the MAC Program Director or member of the faculty to discuss their interest in the field of professional counseling, their career goals, and how the program will help them achieve those goals.

Official Transcripts

Transcripts will be accepted from institutions accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission or other regional accrediting commissions which have been recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Official (sealed) transcripts must be sent directly from all previously attended colleges or universities including any other graduate programs attended.

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

The GRE is not required for admission to the MAC Program unless the undergraduate GPA is less than the minimum cutoff of 3.0. Applicants with an undergraduate cumulative GPA of less than 3.0 must take the GRE and have the record sent AQ (Attention Lynn Atkins-Rykert). 

  1. Preferred Minimum Scores: 
    1. Verbal Reasoning: 142
    2. Quantitative Reasoning: 142
    3. Analytical Writing: 3.3

Applicants who either do not meet the undergraduate minimum GPA requirement of 3.0 or the minimum GRE score requirements may be admitted on Probation and considered for full admission. These applicants must earn minimum grades of B in each course taken to qualify for final admission in the MAC Program.

Letters of Recommendation

At least two letters of recommendation are required. These are written on the form supplied by the MAC program (please use the form located here). Be sure to inform your recommenders of the program’s deadline. Letters must be from professional or academic persons knowledgeable of your academic and/or professional experiences and dispositions (letters from family or personal friends are not acceptable).

Recommenders are asked to give their personal impressions of your academic skills and abilities specific to unique demands of the MAC Program. Applicants may waive the right to inspect their letters of recommendation on a voluntary basis (see the form).

The MAC Program may verify the authenticity of academic letters of recommendation with the recommender.

Professional Goals Statement

Applicants submit a two to three page statement of professional goals. In this paper, you will describe the reasons for your interest in the MAC Program. What are your long-term professional goals and how will this program help you reach these goals? What are some personal experiences that inform your interest in this training?

Criminal Background Check

FBI criminal background checks are required for all students prior to final admission to MAC Program. The MAC Program requires field placements (practicum and internship) and other experiences working with potentially vulnerable populations. As such, we are required to conduct criminal background checks to ensure public safety. Individuals who have been convicted of a felony offense (and some misdemeanors) generally are not eligible for licensure as professional counselors in Michigan and other states.

Although a prior conviction may not preclude one from completing the MAC degree, it’s important to understand that individuals with a prior conviction may not be accepted by practicum or internship sites and may not be eligible for licensure.

Determination for admission to the MAC Program for people with felony convictions is made on a case-by-case basis by review of the MAC Faculty. Students with felony convictions admitted the MAC Program must be aware that admission to the MAC Program does not guarantee that they will be able to secure field placements, licensure or jobs as professional counselors. We strongly recommend that prospective MAC students contact the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to discuss their specific situation and the implications for licensure as a professional counselor.

Applicants will need to submit to an FBI background check prior to being accepted in the MAC Program. There are several options for electronic fingerprinting in the Grand Rapids area including Certifix Live Scan and the Kent County Sheriff Department. Applicants who have their fingerprints done on paper will need to send that card to the FBI to complete the background check. For more information, please visit the FBI IdHSC.

If you are coming from outside of the Grand Rapids area, please find a fingerprinting service in your area.

Evidence of English Language Proficiency

All applicants from countries/regions in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This requirement applies to applicants from Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, Israel, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and non-English-speaking countries in Africa.

Students who have completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better in residence at a recognized U.S. institution do not need to take a standardized test. Instead, please provide an unofficial transcript from the recognized U.S. institution.

To qualify for a TOEFL exemption you must:

  • Have a basic degree from a recognized institution in a country where the official language is English.
  • Have completed a basic or advanced degree at an institution, in the United States or a United States institution abroad, where the language of instruction is English and the institution is accredited by one of the United States’ regional accrediting agencies.
  • Have completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with a grade B or better at a regionally accredited institution within the United States.

There are two standardized tests you may take: the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

TOEFL is administered by the Educational Testing Service. Students can obtain detailed information from the TOEFL website, or contact TOEFL Services, Educational Testing Service, P.O. Box 6151, Princeton, NJ 08541-6151, (609) 771-7100. Copies of the TOEFL Bulletin are also available at U.S. educational commissions and foundations, binational centers, and private organizations such as the Institute of International Education (IIE).

We will only accept TOEFL tests administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and sent to us directly by the TOEFL office. The institution code for Aquinas College is 1018. For purposes of admission, your most recent score must be at least 80 for the Internet-based test (IBT), and 570 for the paper-based format (PBT).

The IBT emphasizes integrated skills so its format and scoring are different from the PBT version of the TOEFL. Please plan to take the TOEFL as soon as possible, regardless of the test’s format, to avoid delays in the review of your application.

Application Fee

The MAC Program at Aquinas College does not charge an application fee.

Transfer Credit from Other Institutions

Students may transfer a maximum of 12 graduate semester hours (4 courses), at the discretion and upon approval of the MAC Program Director, for classes taken from another approved college or university. Only courses with grades of B or higher taken within six years prior to formal admission to the MAC program will be considered. In addition, a maximum of 9 graduate semester hours of MAC Program coursework taken as a non-classified (non-matriculating) student at Aquinas College prior to admission may be applied toward the degree.

Requirements for Final Admission into the MAC Program

All students are admitted to the MAC Program conditionally. Final admission to the program will be determined by the faculty as follows:

  1. Successful completion of first semester courses (with minimum grade of B).
  2. Maintenance of Good Academic Standing as defined in the Graduate Catalog.
  3. Successful completion of COU504 Counseling Techniques and Practice.
  4. Final admission interview with the MAC faculty.

Following this interview, the student will receive a written decision regarding their admission status. Conditionally admitted students accepted into the MAC Program are reclassified as Fully Admitted candidates, meaning they are a candidate in the MAC degree program. All MAC candidates will be held to the catalog requirements in effect at the time they first enrolled in coursework in their graduate program unless these changes are based on changes to Michigan Licensure Law or Rules. Revisions to course prerequisites will apply to all candidates regardless of the catalog of admission.