Department of Psychology

Nancy White


Nancy White, Office Manager for School of Psychology & Cognitive Science
P: 816-501-3661 / E:

MS in Counseling Psychology

This is a 60-62 credit hour degree program designed as one of the top counseling psychology programs, providing specialized education in the field. The program is designed to help graduates meet the educational criteria required for licensed mental health counselors in Kansas and Missouri and is accredited by MPCACMPCAC approved the counseling program’s accreditation for 10 years – valid through January 2028.

Fall 2020 MPCAC Annual Survey data
Fall 2019 MPCAC Annual Survey data

The Avila University Department of Psychology is committed to the scientist-practitioner model to train masters-level counseling psychologists for the delivery of mental health services in a variety of settings, such as private practice, mental health clinics, counseling centers, and human service agencies. Students who earn a master’s degree will be able to assist people experiencing social, behavioral, and personal mental health problems through a variety of approaches and learned techniques.

The internship requires a 750-hour field experience completed between one semester of practicum and at least two semesters of internship. The internship class begins at 4:00 pm. The table below is representative of the number of hours needed at a clinical site.

29 hours per weekSummer/Fall or Spring/Summer (24 weeks)
22 hours per weekFall/Spring (32 weeks)
18 hours per weekFall, Spring, and Summer (40 weeks)
Average number of internship hours required per week as determined by the semesters during which internship is completed.

MSCP Mission Statement:

The Avila MSCP program is committed to the scientist-practitioner model to train masters-level counselors for the delivery of mental health services in a variety of settings. Students who earn a master’s degree at Avila will be prepared to assist those experiencing social, behavioral, and personal mental health problems through a variety of approaches and learned techniques, integrating key elements of a client’s cultural or social context. Students will leave with the abilities to evaluate evidenced-based treatment approaches, integrate respect for the dignity and well-being of others, and advocate for both the common and individual well-being.

Counseling Program Frequently Asked Questions.

Program Requirements – 60 credit hours

  • PY 602 Orientation to Counseling Professions
  • PY 605 The Helping Relationship I
  • PY 615 Career Development
  • PY 617 Research Design and Analysis I
  • PY 621 Advanced Developmental Psychology
  • PY 630 Theories of Counseling
  • PY 645 Personality Assessment
  • PY 650 Biological Bases of Behavior
  • PY 656 Multicultural Counseling
  • PY 660 Theories and Methods of Group Counseling
  • PY 665 Differential Diagnosis of Mental Disorders
  • PY 693 Ethics and Professional Development
  • PY 694 The Helping Relationship II
  • PY 695 Internship
  • PY 698 Treatment of Disorders

The remaining 12 credit hours may be completed by pursuing a concentration or completing 12 hours of elective credit.


Students have the option of pursuing a concentration utilizing some or all of the 12 hours of electives in the program.

Child and Adolescent Counseling
Students in this concentration complete coursework on the intricacies in working with youth populations. Coursework in this concentration enables learning through an immersion in family dynamics and issues related to children. Courses include family systems : theory and treatment, topics in abnormal psychology and topics in counseling. Students have the opportunity to select a site for their internship experience that specializes in counseling children.

Couples and Family Counseling
Students in this concentration complete coursework that relates to working the couple and family unit. Coursework in this concentration focuses on the learning dynamics and therapeutic approaches when working with couples and families. The classes in this concentration includes couples counseling, family systems, human sexuality, and selected topics in those areas. This concentration does not meet the eligibility requirements to become licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist.

Psychological Assessment
Students in this concentration complete coursework that relates to psychological assessment and analysis. Coursework in this concentration focuses on understanding and applying concepts, measures, research designs, and statistical analyses as they relate to cognitive, social, and interpersonal processes.  The classes in this concentration include Advanced Cognitive Processes, Individual Intelligence Assessment, Advanced Social Psychology, and Research Design and Analysis II. This concentration is ideal for those students interested in pursuing licensure as a master’s level psychologist in Kansas.

Students in this concentration will focus on areas related to psychological research and statistics and lab experiences.  Students interested in completing a master’s thesis as part of their degree program should pursue the Research concentration.  The concentration includes 14 additional credits hours and includes: Research Design & Analysis II and III, Research Experience I, and Master’s Thesis.  Students interested in pursuing a doctorate are encouraged to speak with their faculty advisor about the research concentration.  Students are admitted to the concentration after they begin the program. 62 credit hour program.

For course descriptions, please view the graduate academic catalog.

Non Degree / enrichment college credits
Students needing additional college credits or specific coursework for transfer or licensure can take 9 credits (more with approval) through the Avila School of Psychology and Cognitive Science – non degree / enrichment college credit option. Contact the Enrollment and Retention Manager at 816-501-0419 or

Alumni Profile: Tricia Smith

Headshot of Tricia Smith, counseling psychology graduate

Q: Why Avila? There are a lot of places to get your degree, why here?
A: I liked that Avila was a smaller university, and I hoped it would have a community feel where the professors and staff knew me and took an interest in my goals. And after spending the past five years at Avila, it very much feels like family – in all the best ways.

Q: What makes Avila special to you?
A: Avila is so special to me because of the friendships that I made during my studies. Avila also gave me a safe space to explore and develop my talents. And finally, I love that Avila has such a sense of responsibility to the community and works to impact the Kansas City area positively.

Q: What have you done with your degree?
A: My time at Avila gave me the confidence to pursue my Ph.D. Currently, I’m enrolled at NCU, working towards my Ph.D. in Psychology focusing on Gender and Sexual Fluidity. I’m working towards my LCPC license in the state of Kansas and opening my private practice, Emerge Counseling, in May. My ultimate goal is to eventually turn Emerge Counseling into a non-profit counseling center that provides therapy to the LGBTQIA+ community free of charge.

Alumni Profile: Abhi Dutt

Counseling psychology graduate Abhi Dutt

Q: Why Avila? There are a lot of places to get your degree, why here?
A: It was important to me to learn about counseling through the perspective of the scientific-process followed in academic psychology. Avila University’s Master of Science in Counseling Psychology was salient to my choosing this program.

Q: What makes Avila special/unique/inspiring to you? 
A: I became acquainted with Avila University several years before enrolling. I had spent two years at Jerusalem Farm, a non-profit home repair organization in the low-income Historic Northeast of Kansas City. Avila was the fiscal sponsor that got Jerusalem Farm off the ground in 2012. During this time, I was introduced to the work and charisma of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, the founders of Avila University. I noticed that, as an institution, Avila is anchored in the Sisters’ values of social justice and ministry of relationship. I thought surely in today’s world any institution that puts ‘their money where their mouth is’ must be an institution of integrity and depth.

I found that to be true in Avila’s program. The faculty and staff are relational, competent, and committed to the students. The program has a strong emphasis on counseling with a multicultural perspective and a broad worldview. The professors not only teach but personify fidelity, justice, and beneficence, and other professional values of counseling. During my 3 years in the program, I have been prepared to be a professional counselor who understands that building a therapeutic alliance with person-centered skills and evidence-based interventions is pivotal to the process of change in counseling.

Alumni Profile – Allison Marquis

Allison Marquis alumna of Avila's counseling psychology program

Q: What makes Avila special/unique/inspiring to you?
A: The staff consists of intelligent professors who are extremely passionate about what they do! They are willing to work with you and help you in any and every way possible.

Q: What do you want to do with your degree?
A: I am currently working as a counselor specializing in substance use disorders and loving it! I would love to teach as well as take on some sort of leadership role in the future.

Q: How has Avila helped you reach that goal?
A: All of my professors guided me and helped me reach my goal. They prepared me for the National Counseling Exam, CPCE, as well as wrote many recommendations for me. They also taught me many things that you just can’t learn in a textbook!

Alumni Profile: KaMara White

Kamara White, counseling psychology graduate

Q: What makes Avila special/unique/inspiring to you?
A: Avila holds a special place in my heart mainly because of the professors. They truly cared about me along with my personal goals in the counseling field and beyond. They believed in me and helped me to push through every assignment. They are inspiring and their mentorship and support continue beyond graduation.

Q: What do you want to do with your degree?
A: I use my degree in everyday life as I believe that my counseling degree is transferrable in all fields. I currently work in healthcare operations and I manage clinical and non-clinical teams. Through the program and internship experience, I learned how to effectively communicate, create, and accomplish goals, show compassion and empathy; and most importantly, I learned a lot about myself. I plan to utilize the skills that I learned in private practice for teens and adolescents in the very near future

Q: Were there any particular instances during your coursework where a faculty member mentored you?
A: My professors mentored me during the Practicum course and it was very constructive. They gave me advice on my counseling skills and how to perfect the skill that was innate within me. They told me that it was ok “to be silent” during a session and how to ask open-ended questions to help engage clients.

Alumni profile: Dariah Wixon

Dariah Wixon counseling psychology grad student

Q: Why Avila? There are a lot of places to get your degree, why here? What caught your eye/ear?
A: I was drawn to Avila’s program based on the smaller class sizes, as well as the affordable tuition costs. I wanted a program that was going to meet my needs as a beginning counselor, which I believed Avila was capable of doing.

Q: What makes Avila special/unique/inspiring to you?
A: For me, Avila is empowering. It’s the foundation for my counseling career and I’m incredibly grateful for every experience and everything I’ve learned. I believe it’s empowering to know that Avila is the place where I earned my education and where I earned my place among my counseling peers.

Q: What have you / do you want to do with your degree?
A: Since graduation, I have become licensed as an LPC and have started working at a private practice in Kansas. This practice is where I completed my internship, so it’s been a comfortable and smooth transition. I’m currently working towards my clinical license (LCPC), and I hope to eventually open my own practice.

Q: How has Avila helped you reach that goal?
A: When I started the program, my long-term goal was to work in private practice. Avila’s faculty and staff helped me achieve this goal with their constant support and encouragement.

Q: What was your favorite part about the graduate program at Avila?
A: My favorite aspect of Avila’s program was the wide range of course subjects. In addition to specific concentrations, I really liked that Avila offered in-depth courses about niche topics. 

Q: Were there any particular instances during your coursework where a faculty member mentored you?
A: YES. Without a doubt, I can say that the faculty at Avila always made themselves available. Whenever I had a question or concern, personal or professional, I felt as though the faculty had my best interests at heart.

Q: How has the graduate program at Avila inspired you to reach your career goals?
A: I felt nothing but supported throughout my program, which enabled and motivated me to continue working towards my goal of being in private practice.

Q: Anything else you would like to share?
A: To all future and current candidates, I encourage you to ask questions, to participate in class, and to take time to learn who’s around you. It’s no secret that this is a difficult venture, but I can promise that it’s easier to handle when you’re not doing it alone.

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