M.S. in School-Based Family Counseling

2016 grad pictures  2016 grad pic  2016 grad pic

​Welcome to M.S. in Counseling, Option in School-Based Family Counseling 

Graduate Degree: Masters of Science in Counseling
School-Based Family Counseling Program (MFT + PPS/CWA credentials)
Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Credentials: Pupil Personnel Services Credential (PPS)
Advanced Authorization in Child Welfare and Attendance (CWA) 

The deadline for Fall 2017 admissions has passed. The annual deadline for program applications is January 15th. 


The School-Based Family Counseling (SBFC) Program at Cal State Los Angeles is a graduate program within the Division of Special Education and Counseling in the Charter College of Education. Students have the opportunity to earn the Masters of Science degree in Counseling. 
The distinguishing feature of our program is the focus on School-Based Family Counseling, which equips students with all the competencies and skills of an effective school counselor, while providing an increased understanding of mental health issues, to work directly in public schools and school-based related agencies. Coursework and fieldwork experience are geared toward the K-12 settings, although not exclusively. This is in contrast to the traditional family therapy model, in which the counselor is not trained to work in school systems. Our students, on the other hand, are trained to work with children and their families within the context of the educational system, utilizing a family systems theoretical orientation.

The Master of Science Degree in Counseling is designed to train family systems oriented counselors who are eligible to apply for licensure in California as Marriage, Family and Child Therapists (MFT) and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC), both of which also require 3000 hours of supervised experience, at least 1500 of which must be completed after earning the Masters degree. It also includes the Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) Credential in School Counseling and the Advanced Authorization in Child Welfare and Attendance (CWA) as part of the Masters degree. A minimum of 105 units are required depending upon prior coursework and culminating experience.  A major component of the SBFC program is direct clinical training in working with families with multicultural clients. 

Another unique characteristic of our program is the implementation of the cohort model.  Each fall, we admit one cohort of students into our program. These students progress through the program together, taking a carefully constructed sequence of classes. The purpose of this is to ensure that each student will be able to finish their program within the 2 ½ - 3 year timeline, but also as a means for building collegiality and support among the student body. 

The program does not offer an option to earn the Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) or Child Welfare and Attendance (CWA) only, as a supplement to an already existing Masters degree from another institution at this time. 

Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) Only Option:

While most students complete the School-Based Family Counseling (SBFC) integrated program option, if a student is not interested in the school counseling credentials, there is the option to complete the MFT only program.

Graduates from the SBFC program are eligible to:  

  • work as School Counselors in public and private K-12 level schools.
  • work as Child Welfare and Attendance specialists in K-12 level schools.
  • work with agenies that provide school-based counseling and send therapists into schools.
  • work in mental health agencies.
  • work in a private practice setting, once licensed by the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS). 

Program/Student Outcomes:

2016 cohort




The program operates on a cohort model. Over the last 4 years, cohort size has increased due to the number of students interested and applying for the program. For the 2016-17, we welcome our largest cohort of 36 new students to the program! Due to our intensive training program in the first year, excellent fieldwork training partners and placements, and rigorous coursework, our students are prepared for the job market and gain employment in clinical, community based, and K-12 settings quickly.


# of currenly enrolled students (2016)

# of graduates  30
Completion rate 95%
Job placement rate  85%
Licensure or certification examination pass rate n/a


Program Application:

The SBFC program accepts one new cohort of students every year to begin in the Fall. Typically, we receive betwen 150-250 program applications every year for 36 positions. No specific undergraduate major is required, nor is a standardized test (e.g. GRE) required. The applicant must be accepted by the SBFC program through the Division of Special Education and Counseling application process. Applications are screened by the SBFC Admission Committee and in person interviews are scheduled for qualified applicants. Every qualified applicant will be required to participate in a 20 minute in person interview with the SBFC Admissions Committee. 

For further information, contact the Program Co-Coordinators, Dr. Michael Carter or Dr. Emily Hernandez, and please leave a phone number where we can provide a detailed answer to your questions.

Program Faculty:

As a part of the School-Based Family Counseling program, you will receive instruction from faculty members with extensive experience in school counseling and Pupil Personnel Services (PPS), Child Welfare and Attendance (CWA), Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT), and Clinical Psychology. 

Dr. Michael J. Carter

Dr. Emily J. Hernandez
Dr. Deborah Ribera
The School-Based Family Counseling Program is fully accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
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Master of Science Degree in Counseling Option in School-Based Family Counseling