Master of Science in Counseling: Option in School-Based Family Counseling

lady with her child
lady with her child


The School-Based Family Counseling Program at Cal State LA is a graduate program within the Division of Special Education and Counseling in the College of Education.  

The School-Based Family Counseling Program offers comprehensive training in multicultural conjoint family therapy with a strong emphasis on social justice. Our program equips students with the knowledge and skills to meet California's licensure requirements for the Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) credential, Advanced Authorization in Child Welfare and Attendance (CWA), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) credential, and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) credential. Graduates are well-prepared for employment in both mental health agencies and school settings. 

The School-Based Family Counseling Program is designed to understand - 

  • The clinical skills of an independent marriage/ family therapist and a wide range of competencies of an effective school counselor.  
  • The ability to work with adults, families, and children from a variety of systems-oriented perspectives and environments.
  • The strategies to develop a collaborative effort between the family and school to maximize the academic and social success of the child.  
  • The challenges of increasing parental involvement in their child’s educational process to assist the child to become successful in school and in the community. 

Upon completing the master's degree in this program, students not only gain a deep understanding of School-Based Family Counseling Program but also qualify for valuable credentials, including:

Pupil Personnel Services Credential:  School Counseling: Academic, Career, and Personal 

This specialization in School Counseling includes developing comprehensive counseling and guidance programs encompassing academic, career, personal, and social development. It involves advocating for students' academic success, providing schoolwide support, and offering consultation and training to educators and parents. 

Advanced Specialization in Child Welfare and Attendance Services: This specialization equips students with the expertise to navigate the intricate landscape of child welfare and attendance services, allowing them to make a meaningful impact in this critical area. 

For more information on the School-Based Family Counseling Program Internship Credential and other program details, please reach out to the Division Office of Special Education and Counseling. Our program is committed to preparing future professionals who can positively influence the lives of children and young adults as they progress through their educational journeys. 

Admission Requirements:

The Fall 2024 application filing period opens on October 1, 2023. Please locate your program to view its respective admission application deadline 

Stay tuned for Information Session Announcements. 

Counseling - School Counseling (MS) Deadline: January 15, 2024 


In addition to meeting the University's general requirements for admission to graduate programs, prospective students must fulfill the following criteria: 

  • A baccalaureate degree or higher from a regionally-accredited college or university.  

  • A 2.75 grade point average in the last 60 semester units attempted. 

  • Two letters of recommendations. 

  • Participate in an interview with the Division screening committee. 

 Additional Admission Requirements: 

  • No specific undergraduate major is required. 

  • No standardized test (e.g., GRE) is necessary. 

  • The only prerequisite is a course in Counseling or Psychological Theories, which must be completed before starting the program in the Fall. 

  • COUN 4500 ( 3 units)- Counseling Theories is offered at Cal State LA in the 10-week Summer semester before the program begins, in case you haven't taken a similar course previously. A satisfactory course for the prerequisite must include coverage of major counseling or psychology theories (e.g., psychoanalytic, behavioral, gestalt, Rogerian, cognitive, etc.). An introductory psychology course may not provide sufficient coverage. If you believe you've taken a suitable course, please email Dr. Carter a syllabus for evaluation. A grade of "C" or better in the course is required, and no other courses can be taken before starting the program. 

Application and Selection Process: 

The School-Based Family Counseling (SBFC) program at Cal State LA admits two cohorts of 12 students annually for the Fall semester. Given the high competition, with over 300 applicants vying for 24 positions, it's essential to bolster your chances of acceptance by gaining experience in the mental health field and understanding the roles of Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) and School Counselors in their work settings. 

Historically, applicants with a GPA of 3.0 or higher are typically selected for interviews, although this may vary from year to year based on the applicant pool. Those chosen for interviews undergo a 20-minute individual interview with at least two faculty members. This interview assesses the applicant's knowledge and experience in the MFT and School Counseling professions, as well as their interpersonal skills and self-awareness. 

Successful candidates admitted to the program are assigned to cohort groups and are required to follow a specified sequence of cohort classes. 


After Acceptance: 

After acceptance, students are assigned a faculty advisor and placed in a cohort group. 

Candidates are required to obtain Certificates of Clearance with the California Commission on Teacher  Credentialing (CTC),  provide proof of a negative TB test, and successfully meet the Basic Skills Requirement  (CBEST) to advance from conditional to full admission into the program. 

Length of Program: 

  • The School-Based Family Counseing Program is a 3-year, full-time course of study consisting of 73 - 77 units  Part time study options are not available. Students should expect most classes to be completed in the evening hours and to be on campus 2-4 days/week. 


The M.S. in Counseling, option in School-Based Family Counseling approved by the Board of Behavioral Sciences and accredited by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. 


M.S. in Counseling Option in School-Based Family Counseling


Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Pupil Personnel Services Credential (PPS)
Advanced Authorization in Child Welfare and Attendance (CWA)

A fully integrated program with an emphasis on clinical training in multicultural conjoint family therapy and social justice that also includes the PPS in School Counseling and Advanced Authorization in Child Walfare and Attendance. The program satisfies all the academic requirements for the California MFT license, LPCC license, PPS and CWA credentials, and qualifies our graduates for employment in mental health agencies and in schools.

The SBFC program is an in-person, late afternoon, full-time graduate program that is highly structured and typically takes between 2 ½  to 3 years to complete, depending on the life circumstances of each student. In the first year, students typically take 5 classes that meet once per week each semester, with 2 classes on Monday nights, from 4:30 pm until 10 pm, one course on Wednesday night from 4:30-7:15pm and 2 additional courses taken either on Tuesday or Thursday from 4:30-10 pm, depending on which Clinic courses they are assigned. These Clinic courses provide the opportunity for students to work in the Cal State LA’s School-Based Family Counseling Clinic with families from the community who are referred for family and school-related problems. Students work in co-therapy teams under the direct supervision of licensed faculty members. In the second year, students are eligible to begin their fieldwork courses in Marriage and Family Therapy and School Counseling while taking 4 courses each semester over 2-3 days in the same time slots as above. Upon completion of their coursework, students must pass comprehensive exams or complete a thesis or project. 

Due to COVID restrictions, interviews for admission for those who qualify will be held through Zoom during the last 2 Fridays and Saturdays of February 2023.  For those applicants who are accepted, an orientation and group advisement meeting are held in April.

*We have returned to in-class instruction for Fall 2022, per university directives. This is subject to change and depends on safety and any changes in the COVID situation, but students need to be living in the Los Angeles area in order to start the program. There is NO on-line option for this program.

As per University requirements

ALL STUDENTS MUST BE FULLY VACCINATED. The CSU now requires COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters. All students must complete the COVID-19 Self-Certification process in MyCalStateLA portal. Students who are eligible to receive boosters must do so and upload proof asap. Face masks are required indoors on campus and are strongly recommended outdoors in many settings. Learn more about University COVID-19 requirements.

The total cost of the degree depends on when you are able to complete your fieldwork. Students are allowed to begin fieldwork during the second year and most finish it in the 3rd year. This would result in 4 semesters at the full-time rate (currently = $4200 per semester) = $16,800; PLUS 1 summer semester at the end of the first year with 2 classes through Open University (currently $990 per class) = $1980; Plus 2 semesters of 3-6 units of fieldwork in the third year (part time rate currently at $2800 per semester) = $5600 for a Total = $24,380. It is not known if there will be an increase in tuition over the next 3 years.  For Financial Aid information, contact Cal State LA's Financial Aid Office. 

Information Session


Cal State LA SBFC Program Information Session
Date : Monday, October 23, 2023 Time : 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Register in advance for this meeting
SBFC Information Session Flyer 

The program information session from October 20, was recorded. The recorded session and the slides can be found below. 
Meeting Recording is available
Program Information Session Slides

Division of Special Education and Counseling

King Hall C1064
Phone: (323) 343-4400
Website: Division of Special Education and Counseling 

Program Faculty


Missing media item.

Michael J. Carter
Ph.D.- SBFC Faculty
Office Location: KH C-1067J
Phone: x34438
Email: [email protected]

Missing media item.Emily J. Hernandez
Ed.D.- SBFC Faculty
Office Location: KH A2049
Phone: 323-343-4424
Email: [email protected]