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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 human beings. Gain experience working with diverse populations in diverse contexts by earning a Human Development Counseling (HDC) degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling or School Counseling 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 between individuals, environments, and human systems. In order 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 role of the professional counselor in each of these settings.
  4. To educate students in research/evaluation tools relevant to the delivery of helping services in either a community agency, school, or corporate setting.
  5. To introduce students to the wide scope of diverse populations they will encounter in their work settings, and to 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 two 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 (LPC) is an achievable goal if you pursue this track.
  • School Counseling: This track prepares you to work as a professional school counselor in grades 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. This track is also available online. 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 licensure board website 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) 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 starting times (3 pm) may occur. 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). The School Counseling track is also accredited as part of institutional accreditation awarded by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). The new online School Counseling degree is currently seeking CACREP accreditation.

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 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.

 

Program Statistics

Completion Rate

In the academic year ending in May 2020, of the 20 students admitted to the CMHC Program, 18 students (90%) completed the M.Ed. degree in human development counseling with a specialization in clinical mental health counseling (CMHC) in 2020. The other two original CMHC students (10%) completed the M.Ed. degree in human development studies. Of the 13 students admitted to the school counseling program, all 13 students (100%) completed the degree in human development counseling with a specialization in school counseling (SC). Thus, both on-campus programs had a 100% completion rate. The school counseling digital learning (SCDL) program is in its third year of development with the first graduates completing the program in May 2020. Of the 28 original SCDL students in the year 1 cohort, 21 graduated, five (5) withdrew, and two (2) SCDL students completed a master’s degree in human development studies. The withdrawal rate for AY2017-2019 SCDL students was 17.9%.

 

National Counselor Exam (NCE)

Because the HDC on-campus programs are accredited by CACREP, students are eligible to take the National Counselor Exam (NCE) the semester before graduation. The NCE is not a program requirement but the majority of students in both tracks sit for this exam before graduation. Of the 17 CMHC students and six SC students who took the NCE exam in 2019, 22 (96%) passed the exam. The total score d was 1.13 for CMHC and .59 for school counselors, meaning that the average CMHC graduate completing the three year program exceeded the performance of 87% (Percentile [P] = 87) of all counselors taking the NCE and the average school counselor completing the two year program exceeded the performance of 73% (P = 73). Core area ds ranged from .48-1.31 (median = .81; P = 79) for CMHC and .15-.88 (median = .46; P = 68) for SC students.

 

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 program graduates do. The HDC pass rate for this exam was 100% (30 of 30) in 2020. Total and area scores are presented in the table below. The total score d was 0.72 for on-campus and .35 for SCDL graduates, meaning that the average on-campus program graduate exceeded the performance of 77% (P = 77), and the average SCDL graduate completing the two year program exceeded the performance of 64% (P = 64) of school counselors in the United States who took the Praxis exam.

 

Job Placement Rate

Of students pursuing full time employment after graduation, 100% (13/13) of school counseling on campus students, 100% (21/21) of SCDL and 100% (18/18) of CMHC 2020 graduates obtained full time employment (or continued in graduate studies) within four months of graduation.

Graduates Demographic Characteristics -- Please see 2020 HDC Program Outcomes Report

Total Enrollment and Demographics by Track --  Please see 2020 HDC Program Outcomes Report

 

Average Class Size

On-campus class sizes ranged from 5-30 students with an average of 14.7. SCDL class sizes ranged from 5-21 students with an average of 10.5.

 

 

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@vanderbilt.edu
Admission Term: Spring and 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.

Careers in Human Development Counseling

Specializations

The Human Development Counseling program offers two 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.
  • Dual Track Option students meet all requirements for both of these specializations.

2020 Program Outcomes Report

2019 Program Outcomes Report

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.

Field Experience

Both tracks in the Human Development Counseling program include a practicum and full-year internship placement 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

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

You are required to choose two of the three following courses:

Elective Courses: 9 credit hours are required. 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.

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
  • 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
Kelly J. Duncan
  • Core Faculty, Human Development Counseling
  • Lecturer, Department of Human and Organizational Development
Karen Enyedy
  • Lecturer, Department of Human and Organizational Development
  • Lecturer, 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
Nancy Nolan
  • Lecturer, Human Development Counseling
  • Lecturer, Department of Human and Organizational Development
Heather L. Smith
  • Core Faculty, Human Development Counseling
  • Assistant Professor of the Practice, Department of Human and Organizational Development