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Human Development Counseling (M.Ed.)

Department of Human and Organizational Development

Program Overview

Counseling begins and ends with the needs of people. Gain experience working with diverse populations in diverse contexts by earning a Human Development Counseling (HDC) degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, School Counseling, or both from Vanderbilt University.

The HDC master’s degree trains you to translate sound theoretical knowledge and research into effective counseling programs as a clinical mental health or school counselor. In a rigorous and integrated program of study, you will acquire a strong theoretical grounding in human development, counseling paradigms, and change strategies.

HDC MISSION STATEMENT

The HDC program recognizes the dynamic relationship among individuals, environments, and human systems. To meet the counseling needs of diverse populations, our students learn to integrate current research and evidence-based practice with sensitivity to social contexts and individual and systemic goals. HDC students employ counseling skills to maximize human potential and the development of individuals, groups, and organizations. They are uniquely qualified to appreciate the life-long nature of human development through the lens of advocacy and social justice.

HDC PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

The objectives listed below represent the major program objectives for all students in HDC. More specific objectives can be found in the syllabi for each course.

  1. To provide students with a thorough and comprehensive knowledge base in those areas of the social/behavioral sciences applicable to the helping profession. This includes a special emphasis on life-span human development.
  2. To aid students in the acquisition of counseling and helping skills such as individual counseling,supervision, testing, consulting, group work, interviewing, diagnosis, and assessment.
  3. To provide students with a knowledge of the organization and administration of human service agencies or schools as well as clarity regarding the personal/social, career, and academic role of the professional counselor in each of these settings.
  4. To educate students in research/assessment tools relevant to the delivery of helping services in a community agency, school, or corporate settings.
  5. To introduce students to the wide scope of diverse populations they will encounter in their work settings, examine their own biases, and provide students opportunities to work with diverse populations, building cultural competency in order to be able to work ethically with all people they may encounter in their work settings.

Courses offered in the Human Development Counseling program are designed to foster close working relationships between you, our faculty, and community partners. Such a personalized approach results in more productive classroom time and a more valuable field experience.

Specializations

The Human Development Counseling program offers three curriculum tracks:

  • Clinical Mental Health Counseling: This track prepares you for a career in various social service agencies, mental health centers, and employee assistance programs, as well as other mental health organizations. Private practice as a Licensed Professional Counselor – Mental Health Service Provider (LPC-MHSP) in Tennessee is an achievable goal if you pursue this track.
  • School Counseling: This track prepares you to work as a professional school counselor in grades Pre-K–12. Program requirements lead directly to licensure as a school counselor by meeting all of the requirements established by the Tennessee State Department of Education. Students completing the 48-credit hour school counseling degree may also be eligible for licensure in Tennessee as a licensed professional counselor with additional graduate coursework and internship experience. Consult the Tennessee or other state licensure board websites for the most recent qualification information (e.g., https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/documents/LPC_COURSE_WORK_SUMMARY.p)
  • Dual Track Option: Students can meet all requirements for both the School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling specialization in one degree! This option maximizes your employability AND you complete the degree with 1400 clinical experience hours. TN licensure as a school counselor as well as private practice as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC-MHSP) are both achievable goals if you pursue this dual track.

 

NOTICE: Students must be aware that HDC courses usually take place on Monday through Thursday evenings (4:10-7 pm), although some morning course times and earlier afternoon starting times may occur as options. Also, because there are only four weeknight time spots available, several required and elective courses are offered on weekends, generally Friday afternoon/evening and all-day Saturday. Prospective and current students should plan accordingly as attendance is required.

Accreditation

The master’s degree in Human Development Counseling is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) for both school counseling and clinical mental health counseling. The School Counseling track is also accredited as part of institutional accreditation awarded by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Important notes regarding HDC programs for prospective and current students to be aware:

  1. Expedited programs of study are possible with the permission of the advisor for students who transfer graduate credits into the program of study. Contact your advisor for guidance.
  2. Course attendance is required. Prospective and enrolled students must be aware that required or elective HDC courses usually meet after 4pm Monday-Thursday. However, some required and elective courses meet on weekends in a modified format (usually Friday afternoon/evening and all day Saturday of several nonconsecutive weekends). In addition, some morning or earlier afternoon class options may be available. Students admitted to HDC must maintain a flexible schedule to ensure attendance.
  3. Prospective and current students must be aware that internship sites are located in schools and clinics in the Nashville vicinity and surrounding counties and areas. Students must obtain their own transportation to and from internship sites. While Nashville has some public transportation services, internship sites may not be convenient to public transportation. Please plan ahead for your transportation needs.
  4. Prospective and current students must be aware that internship placements are competitively assigned and are therefore not guaranteed. Vanderbilt facilitates placement sites and interviews but the final decision on internship placement is up to the agencies and schools.
  5. As a comprehensive examination, students are required to take and pass the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) during their final semester in the program. The cost of this exam is about $150, for online administration. On-campus administration is about half that amount. 

 

Program Statistics

Completion Rate

In the academic year ending in May 2021, of the 24 students admitted to the Human Development Counseling (HDC) Program Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) specialty track, 22 students completed the M.Ed. degree in human development counseling with a specialization in clinical mental health counseling (CMHC). We are saddened by the tragic death of one of these original 24 students. The other original CMHC student (4.3%) completed the M.Ed. degree in human development studies. Of the 11 students admitted to the school counseling on-campus track, ten (10) students completed the degree in human development counseling with a specialization in school counseling (SC). We are saddened by the tragic death of the other original school counseling (SC) track student. Excepting these two deaths, both on-campus programs had a 100% completion rate and 97% graduated from their original licensure preparation track. The school counseling digital learning (SCDL) program was in its fourth year of development with the second group of graduates completing the program in May 2021. Of the 17 original SCDL students due to graduate in 2021, ten (10) graduated and three (3) SCDL students (17.6%) completed the master’s degree in human development studies. Four (4) withdrew or were academically dismissed, a withdrawal rate of 23.5%. Thus, the completion rate for SCDL was 76.5% with 58.8% graduating from their original SCDL track.

 

National Counselor Exam (NCE)

Because the HDC program tracks are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), students are eligible to take the National Counselor Examination (NCE) the semester before graduation. The NCE is not a program requirement but the majority of students in both tracks usually sit for this exam before graduation. Of the 31 CMHC students and six (6) school counseling track students who took the NCE exam in 2022, all (100%) passed the national licensure exam.

 

Praxis Exam for School Counselors

School counseling students are required to take the Praxis exam as part of the requirements for Tennessee licensure as a school counselor, so most school counseling and dual track graduates do. The HDC pass rate for this exam was 100% (20 of 20) in 2022.

 

Job Placement Rate

Of students pursuing full time employment after graduation, 100% (20/20) of school counseling on campus students, 100% (10/10) of SCDL and 100% (31/31) of CMHC 2022 graduates continued or obtained full-time employment as a counselor or continued in graduate studies in a doctoral program within five months of graduation. 

Graduates Demographic Characteristics -- Please see 2021 HDC Program Outcomes Report

Total Enrollment and Demographics by Track --  Please see 2021 HDC Program Outcomes Report

 

Average Class Size

On-campus class sizes ranged from 11-35 students with an average of 17.0 students per class.

 

 

Program at a Glance

Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Human Development Counseling

Department of Human and Organization Development

Program Director: Bradley T. Erford
For more information:  HDC Info
Admission Term: Fall
Credit Hours: 48-60
Priority Application Deadline: December 31* for fall entrance

* We will continue to accept applications after this date, but applications will be evaluated for admission and scholarships on a space-and-funds-available basis.

Our Commitment

Our Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

The HDC program interweaves social justice and diversity topics into courses and co-curricular activities. Our training programs address core values of professional counseling including developmental and cultural sensitivity, avoiding harm from imposing values, and social justice advocacy at individual, group, institutional, and societal levels to address issues that inhibit growth and development.

Selected Courses Related to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

HDC 6150: Counseling Diverse Populations – This course provides a study of value systems and behavior patterns of diverse populations as well as variables related to age, gender, lifestyle, language, religion, social class, geography, and developmental stage. It provides counselors and mental health specialists with knowledge of diverse lifestyles in order to be more effective in serving the needs of persons from diverse populations.

HDC 6220: Counseling for College Access, Admissions, and Completion - This course explores the college admission process, with emphasis on current issues confronting school counselors, application and admissions criteria for various types of colleges and college counseling for various student populations. Issues of equitable access and completion are addressed in addition to fundamental admission processes.

Selected Faculty Research Related to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Maury Nation, Bob Innes Chair in Human and Organizational Development
Professor Nation’s clinical research focuses on understanding and preventing violence and bullying among school-aged children. His specific interests are bully and victim typologies, and the short- and long-term consequences of peer harassment. His community research is focused on understanding community and neighborhood qualities/characteristics that promote positive health and mental health outcomes.

 

Careers in Human Development Counseling

Specializations

The Human Development Counseling program offers three curriculum tracks:

With two distinct tracks as part of the graduate program in Human Development Counseling, there are two common career paths for our alumni:

  • Clinical Mental Health Counseling students often seek licensure and enter positions as Licensed Professional Counselors in for-profit or nonprofit agencies, private practice settings, or at private or charter schools as a mental health counselor on staff. Some go on to doctoral study in counseling or related fields.
  • School Counseling students often obtain licensure and work as school counselors in public or private K-12 settings. Some go on to doctoral study in counseling or related fields.
  • Dual Track Option students meet all requirements for both of these specializations. Some go on to doctoral study in counseling or related fields. 

2021 Program Outcomes Report

2020 Program Outcomes Report

2019 Program Outcomes Report

Over the past decade, almost 100% of job-seeking Human Development Counseling graduates were employed or attending graduate school within four months of graduation.

Click here to see a list of recent career placements:

Recent graduates of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling track have gone on to the following positions, among others:

  • Child and Adolescent Therapist, Thrive Counseling, Fayetteville, N.C.
  • Clinical Mental Health Counselor, Oasis Center, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Counselor, Rogers Behavioral Health, Chicago, Ill.
  • Mental Health Clinician, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Ph.D. Candidate, Clinical Psychology, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Recent graduates of the School Counseling track have joined the following institutions:

  • American Academy of Innovation, Daybreak, Utah
  • Golden Gate Middle School, Naples, Fla.
  • Marist School, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Nashville School for the Arts, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Oklahoma City High School, Oklahoma City, Okla.

Success Stories

Field Experience

All three tracks in the Human Development Counseling program include a single semester practicum (200 hours; Internship I) and full-year internship placement (600 hours; Internship II & III) in a mental health, social service agency, or school setting under supervision.

You’ll develop fundamental counseling skills such as relationship building, basic assessment, goal setting, selecting interventions, and evaluation of client outcomes. Field experiences are designed to be supervised placements that are practice-oriented and provide a safe place to explore new skills.

The sites below represent a partial list of the opportunities available:

Clinical Mental Health Counseling Practicum and Internship Sites

  • Centerstone
  • Hope Clinic for Women
  • Integrative Life Center
  • JourneyPure
  • Mental Health Co-op
  • Sexual Assault Center
  • The Next Door
  • Vanderbilt Employee Assistance Program
  • Vanderbilt School Based Therapy
  • Vanderbilt University Counseling Center
  • Youth Opportunity Center

School Counseling Practicum and Internship Sites

  • Cameron College Prep Charter School
  • Cheatham County Public Schools
  • Metro Nashville Public Schools
  • Pope John Paul II High School
  • Rutherford County Public Schools
  • St. Henry’s Elementary School
  • Sumner County Public Schools
  • University School of Nashville
  • Valor Collegiate Academy Charter School
  • Williamson County Public Schools

Program Curriculum

Through an experiential and humanistic training model, you’ll develop a strong theoretical grounding in human development and evidence-based practices within either program track: Clinical Mental Health Counseling or School Counseling.

This theoretical base is then shaped and honed through a 1-year internship experience that provides opportunities to apply your knowledge and skills.

Clinical Mental Health Counseling

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling track requires a 60-credit-hour program of study. Included in this curriculum is a full-year internship placement in a mental health or social service agency setting under supervision.

Required Courses: 51 credit hours

Elective Courses: 9 credit hours are required. Example program electives are listed below.

School Counseling

The School Counseling track includes a 48-credit-hour curriculum with a full-year internship placement in a school setting. This curriculum includes 42 credit hours of required courses and an additional six semester hours of elective courses.

Required Courses: 42 credit hours                                                            

Electives: 6 hours are required. Program electives are listed below.

Dual Track: CMHC and School Counseling

The Dual track requires a 63-credit-hour program of study. Included in this curriculum is a full-year internship placement in a both a school and mental health or social service agency setting under supervision.

Required Courses: 63 credit hours

To qualify for graduation, degree candidate must:

  • Meet all curriculum requirements
  • Pass all prescribed examinations
  • Carry a minimum 3.0 grade point average
  • Achieve a P (Passing score; B or better) in both Practicum (now called Internship I in the school counseling tracks) and Internship II & III
  • Pass comprehensive examinations
  • Be free of debt to Vanderbilt University

 

Program Curriculum

Faculty

All core and affiliated faculty are engaged in a variety of interdisciplinary teaching and professional activities.

Nicole A. Cobb
  • Associate Professor of the Practice, Department of Human and Organizational Development
  • Non-Core Faculty, Human Development Studies
  • Non-core Faculty, Independent School Leadership
  • Non-core Faculty, Human Development Counseling
Karen Enyedy
  • Lecturer, Department of Human and Organizational Development
  • Non-core Faculty, Human Development Studies
  • Non-core Faculty, Human Development Counseling
Bradley T. Erford
  • Program Director, Core Faculty, Professor, Human Development Counseling
Andrew Finch
  • Core Faculty, Human Development Counseling
  • Professor of the Practice, Department of Human and Organizational Development
Gina Frieden
  • Core Faculty, Human Development Counseling
  • Assistant Professor of the Practice, Department of Human and Organizational Development
Maury Nation
  • Core Faculty, Human Development Counseling
  • Professor, Department of Human and Organizational Development