Frequently Asked Questions

(If you don't see your question on our website, click here to contact us)

I see that your Clinical Mental Health Counseling program prepares people for LPC-MHSP licensure. What types of jobs do people with this license do?

Licensed Professional Counselors provide counseling services to individuals, families, couples and groups in a variety of settings, but primarily in mental health clinics and private practices. Those with Mental Health Services Provider designation are also able to diagnose and treat emotional, behavioral, and psychological disorders. For a more detailed answer to this question, download this flyer that provides additional information.  You may also find the website of the American Counseling Association and the Tennessee licensing board helpful.

I see that your Marriage & Family Therapy program prepares people to become LMFTs. What types of jobs do people with this license do?

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) provide counseling services to individuals, families, couples and groups in a variety of settings, but primarily in mental health clinics and private practices. For a more detailed answer to this question, you might find the website of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the Tennessee licensing board helpful

I'm confused about which program is best for me. How do I know whether to apply for the program in Psychology, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, or Marriage and Family Therapy?

If you want an education in psychology that will enhance your current career credentials and/or prepare you to pursue a doctoral degree in psychology (but NOT prepare you for licensure at the master's level), then the M.S. in Psychology is probably your best choice.

If you wish to seek licensure and practice as a counselor/therapist at the master's level, you should apply either to the M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (which prepares you for LPC-MHSP licensure) or M.MFT in Marriage/Family Therapy (which prepares you for LMFT).  Both LMFTs and LPCs do mental health counseling with individuals, couples, families, and groups. Under Tennessee law, they are equivalent in terms of their ability to diagnose and treat mental disorders and do general counseling.  LMFTs and LPCs often work in the same types of jobs. The major difference between the two concerns the training philosophy, with Marriage and Family Therapy being more grounded in Family Systems Theory.  

At Lipscomb, there are also differences in location and format of these two programs. The M.MFT is offered on our off-site location in Cool Springs and M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling on the main Nashville campus. The M.MFT is designed for full time, year-round students and offers all classes on Tuesday night in a compressed format; The M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (and M.S. in Psychology) classes are semester-long, offered multiple nights per week, and open to part-time students.  

Why do the Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Marriage/Family Therapy degrees require 61/60 hours? I've noticed that other schools offer shorter programs.

Tennessee guidelines require that you complete 60 graduate hours of coursework before seeking licensure as an LPC-MHSP. This 60 hours must include a specific set of courses that compose the "required" part of our curriculum. Programs requiring fewer than 60 required hours that claim to be "LPC preparation" programs are usually only offering the specific courses that the state requires. After you graduate from these programs, you will still need to continue taking classes in order to meet the 60-hour minimum of graduate coursework.  

Although 60 hours is not necessary for MFT licensure in Tennessee, 60 hours is required in many other states and is the norm for programs that are following the best practices. We chose to follow this higher standard because we are committed to excellence in producing highly trained MFTs.  

I don't want to work in a church or faith-based setting. Would your program be appropriate for me? 

Yes, this program is still appropriate for you. Our program teaches methods of counseling that can be used in a variety of settings, both secular and faith-related. 

However, what makes us unique is that you will have teachers who are Christians and who encourage discussions of faith-related applications in the classroom. In addition to the standard counseling texts and theories, you will be exposed to information about clients who come from a variety of religious backgrounds, particularly those with a Christian belief system.  M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling students will take a course called "Integration of Psychology & Christianity Seminar" that is designed specifically to address religious issues from a psychological perspective. In the M.MFT program there is a similar course, "Spirituality in MFT," that addresses religious issues from a systemic perspective. There also will be opportunities for students to take elective courses in Lipscomb's Hazelip School of Theology or the Institute for Christian Spirituality (both on the Nashville campus) that can help them understand the beliefs of their clients. 

This faith emphasis can help you in your work because you will encounter clients whose religious beliefs are important to them in a variety of settings, not just within churches. Being able to understand and respond appropriately to your clients' belief system is essential for any counselor.

I've heard that Lipscomb students must take Bible classes and attend chapel services. Is this true?

Graduate students are not required to attend Bible classes or chapel—these are only required of full-time regular undergraduate students. However, interested students are welcome to attend the chapel services that are held on the Nashville campus each Tuesday and Thursday at 10:55am.  

I don't have an undergraduate background in psychology or family studies. Can I still be accepted to your program?

Yes, we have many students who have undergraduate backgrounds in disciplines other than psychology or family studies. We welcome the unique experience and knowledge they bring to the classroom (and to the profession).  We do require that all students have a bachelors degree, but it is not required that degree be in psychology.

I plan to practice as an LPC or LMFT in another state—will your program adequately prepare me?

Probably, but since licensure requirements vary from state to state, you should verify that your state offers a counseling licensure similar to Tennessee’s LPC-MHSP or LMFT (as most states do) and that the academic requirements are similar to ours. You can find information about Tennessee’s guidelines by clicking here. You can locate your state’s requirements at these websites, which list the Professional Counseler State Licensing Boards and the MFT State Licensing Boards.   

Can I take classes elsewhere that will transfer to Lipscomb?

We allow up to 9 hours of related coursework to transfer to our program. These courses initially transfer as electives; decisions about whether to exempt you from one of our required courses will be made on a case-by-case basis. That decision is primarily based on our evaluation of whether the course is a good substitute for ours. Since most of our students will be taking the LPC or MFT licensure exams, we want to make sure that the transfer course covers the same content that our course would've provided. If possible, provide a copy of your syllabus to us so that we can verify this.   

Can I complete the degree online?

We offer a few online or hybrid classes (i.e., online classes that meet a few times per semester) for courses that we believe can be effectively taught in this format. However, it is not possible to complete the majority of the degree online, nor do we accept applicants who only wish to take the online offerings. Here's why: becoming an LPC or LMFT is not just about gaining “book knowledge” but also involves developing expertise with specific social and interpersonal skills. We believe that only reading/writing about these skills or having internet interactions with classmates is not sufficient to learn these skills well. That is why our program creates a learning environment that encourages classroom discussion and provides the opportunity to practice counseling/diagnostic skills in the presence of highly-skilled teachers who can give you feedback and encouragement.

Do any of your degrees prepare me to be a school guidance counselor?

No, our programs are for those who want to provide counseling services in the community rather than in school settings.  Those seeking K-12 Licensure as a school counselor will need a master's degree from a School Counseling program that is approved by Tennessee's State Board of Education.   

Which courses will you be offering next semester and when will they be offered?

To search our schedule, click here to go to Lipscomb Central. Select the term you wish to search, search for the subject "PSG: Graduate Psychology", "COUN: Graduate Counseling", and "PMFT: Marriage and Family Therapy."  

How long will it take to complete the degrees?

The 39-hour M.S. in Psychology can be completed in 4 semesters if you attend full-time (9 hours per semester). Because you can take classes in fall, spring, and summer, this could be completed in about 1½ years.   In order to graduate on time, it is important that you follow the course sequence listed in the graduate catalog for your cohort.  

The 61-hour M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling can be completed in 7 semesters if you attend full-time (9 hours per semester). Because you can take classes in fall, spring, and summer, this could be completed in about 2½ years.  A few of our students are able to complete the program in 2 years by taking 12 hours per semester, although we don't advise this if you plan to work while attending school.  In order to graduate on time, it is important that you follow the course sequence listed in the graduate catalog for your cohort.  

The 60-hour M.MFT in Marriage and Family Therapy will be completed in 24 months, which requires full time in Fall, Spring, and Summer for 2 years.   In order to graduate on time, it is important that you follow the course sequence listed in the graduate catalog for your cohort.  

If I am admitted to one program, can I switch to a different degree program later?

If you are admitted to the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program but decide to switch to the M.S. in Psychology or Certificate program, you can easily do that by filling out a form in the graduate office.  Switching between any other program (i.e., from a shorter program to a longer one, or between the MFT and CMHC programs) will require petitioning the graduate program director for permission to switch and being re-interviewed. Admission to the new program is not automatic but is at the discretion of the Graduate program director and the admissions committee. Because the coursework for these programs is different, the way that your completed courses apply to your new program will be handled on a case-by-case basis.