Niagara University's clinical mental health counseling program has received accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.
Accreditation by CACREP, which is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, provides confirmation that the content and quality of an educational program has been evaluated and meets the highest standards set by the counseling profession. Only 231 private institutions across the U.S. have earned the accreditation.
Niagara University offers a master's program in clinical mental health counseling that is designed for individuals seeking employment in an agency counseling setting. The 60-credit-hour program, with a 1,000-hour field placement requirement, qualifies graduates for New York state licensure as a licensed mental health counselor - and license eligibility in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
In 2014, NU began offering a dual-degree program that allows individuals pursuing a bachelor's degree in psychology to take graduate courses in clinical mental health counseling during their senior year, thereby accelerating their progress through the master's program. Graduates of the 4+2 program possess a B.A. in psychology and an M.S. in clinical mental health counseling.
Securing CACREP accreditation is an important step for Niagara as it continues to position itself at the forefront of counselor education, according to Dr. Chandra Foote, dean of the College of Education, which houses the master's program.
"This accreditation is evidence of our ongoing commitment to the highest quality of academic programs and alignment of student preparation with the standards and expectations of the clinical mental health counseling profession," Foote said. "It's also a clear indicator of the ability of our faculty, staff and academic leadership to serve the needs of our students by delivering market-responsive skills that position graduates to achieve their career goals while serving those in need."
Dr. Shannon Hodges, faculty coordinator of the program, reported that, since 1994, the employment rate of graduates of Niagara's clinical mental health counseling program is well above 90 percent - and 100 percent of 2015 graduates have secured full-time positions within the field. The employment rate is expected to remain very high in light of the accreditation, given that CACREP-approved degrees are increasingly sought after in the U.S.
"The CACREP stamp reaffirms the outstanding reputation of our program and further points to Niagara University as an institution that provides the highest quality of education and degree portability for graduates," noted Dr. Timothy Ireland, NU's interim provost.
Per the CACREP website, its accreditation provides students who are researching an educational institution with the following:
•Recognition the program has been evaluated and meets or exceeds national standards.
•Knowledge that graduates have met the majority of prerequisites for credentialing and are ready for professional practice.
•Understanding the focus of the program will be on the preparation of those who educate professional counselors.
Niagara's College of Education offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs. It holds National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education accreditation in the U.S.; Ministerial Consent through the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities in the Province of Ontario; and accreditation through the Ontario College of Teachers.
To learn more about Niagara's master's program in clinical mental health counseling, call 716-286-8327 or visit www.niagara.edu/mental-health-counseling.