Clinical Counseling, M.A.

Clinical Counseling, M.A.


You’re the one people turn to for advice. You hear what the heart speaks. It’s time to develop that gift.

Train now to become mental health clinician and psychotherapist – a licensed marriage and family therapist or licensed professional clinical counselor — to help others, and yourself, experience lasting transformation.

PLNU’s Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling (MACC) program applies faith-based principles to 21st century cultures and needs. We integrate rigorous courses, personal mentoring, onsite supervised clinical training, and a culturally aware approach to today’s best practices and theories to equip you to serve diverse populations through a flexible career path. Most importantly, our program prepares you for licensure as an LMFT or LPCC in California.


Clinical Experience

The On-Site Practicum

PLNU MACC students have the unique opportunity to practice, review, and hone their counseling skills as they see real clients in a recorded environment.

Watch Video:
MACC Clinical Experience


You will gain on-campus clinical experience from year one. Our state-of-the-art trainee practicum clinic offers students a unique opportunity to practice, review, and hone their counseling skills as they see real clients in a supervised recorded environment.

Guided, accessible internship placements are readily available through our established practicum sites at all the major mental health service providers throughout San Diego, including such settings as community mental health, non-profit agencies, youth and family services, and couples counseling clinics. We provide a high level of support in helping you match to the practicum site that fits you best.


At PLNU, you are mentored for success. We are a relational, high-touch program that cares just as deeply for your personal growth as we do about your professional development. Seasoned professors who are active in their own clinical practice use experiential learning, hands-on training, and real-world experiences to bring learning to life in the classroom. All coursework is designed to be applied to your development of therapy skills in clinical practice. Small classes in a cohort model mean that you build meaningful relationships, community, and professional networks. Faculty members, as part of PLNU’s broader commitment to spiritual development, integrate Christian faith, ethics, skills, and science into your learning.

Most importantly, intentional-expert licensure exam preparation is an integral part of the coursework, where every course prepares you to take the licensure exam.

PLNU’s experienced, working faculty-professionals integrate biblical principles, ethics, skills, and science, considering moral questions while linking hands-on training to cutting-edge research in holistic mind-body approaches.


Should you study to become an LMFT or LPCC therapist? Although many course requirements overlap for both degrees, the LPCC emphasizes the individual in therapeutic practices rather than relational or systems-oriented practices. With the MFT license, you can help families, marriages, and couples, while the PCC license broadens your practice to counsel individuals with issues involving relationships; personal growth, mental, and emotional issues; adjustment to disability; crisis intervention; and problems with stress.

When you graduate from our program, you will have met the requirements for either the LPCC or LMFT. You choose which license you would like to gain hours to complete.

State Authorization

State authorization is a formal determination by a state or U.S. Territory that PLNU is approved to conduct activities regulated by that state or U.S. Territory. PLNU is not required to obtain state authorization in every state or U.S. Territory, and the university has opted at this time not to seek authorization in some states. Additionally, PLNU meets the criteria for exemption from authorization in certain states.

Visit our disclosures page to view our color-coded state authorized map to view your state’s authorization status. If you have questions, please contact your enrollment counselor. 

Authorizations in specific states and U.S. Territories may change periodically.

Professional Licensure or Certification

This program complies with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences and meets the requirements for LMFT and LPCC Licensure in the state of California, where Point Loma Nazarene University is physically located. PLNU cannot confirm whether or not specific programs meet out-of-state requirements for Professional Licensure or Certification. Information about out-of-state requirements in Clinical Counseling is available on this website  

For more information on State Authorization and Program Licensure, please refer to our disclosures page.

MACC article image

A Partnership That Changes Lives: The Center for Enriching Relationships and PLNU

PLNU and the Center for Enriching Relationships are helping prepare a new generation of therapists while serving the San Diego community with free or low-cost counseling services.

Application Information

Program Start Date(s):

  • Fall 2024 —  September 2, 2024 - Both cohorts are filled.
  • Spring 2025 — January 13th, 2025

Application Deadline(s):

  • Spring 2025 Priority Deadline —  September 20th, 2024 
  • Spring 2025 - December 11th, 2024 

All applications submitted after this date will be reviewed based on the availability of space.

Start Application

The Selection Process

The educational context at PLNU will challenge you to live a full life that integrates the pursuit of knowledge with beliefs, values, and actions. While honoring diverse perspectives and beliefs, Christian values and principles are woven into the educational experience. We understand your application is not only a reflection of you as a student; it reflects you as a person. At PLNU, we holistically evaluate your academic history, work and life experience, background, and circumstances to determine admission into a graduate program. Your undergraduate GPA is an important piece of your application, but if you do not meet the minimum GPA requirement of a 3.0, you may still be eligible for admission based on your application package as well as the exceptions policy for your particular program.* Therefore, we strongly encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor, who will advise you regarding your qualifications and provide specific information about the admission-under-exceptions process.

To be admitted into PLNU's MACC program, you must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, as evidenced by an official transcript from an institution indicating the completion of an undergraduate degree.

If you have any questions about your qualifications or the program in general, we encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor.

*Exceptions Policy: Your undergraduate GPA is an essential piece of your application. If you do not meet the minimum GPA requirement of 3.0,  you may still be eligible for admission based on your application package and the exceptions policy for your particular program. We encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor, who will inform you about your qualifications and provide specific information about the admission-under-exceptions process since you may not be eligible for an admissions interview. 

Program Prerequisites:

  • General Psychology
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Human Development

Application Checklist

Note: The application is completed entirely online with the exception of transcripts, which can be submitted electronically or directly to PLNU, and test scores, which should be submitted electronically.

  1. Submit an online application for admissions (including $50 non-refundable application fee, which is waived for PLNU alums, current or former military and their dependents, and PLNU employees).
  2. Submit official transcripts with proof of earned baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution.* (If you are a PLNU alumnus, please notify your counselor to have your transcripts retrieved. You do not need to request transcripts from the PLNU Office of Records.)

    Official transcripts must be sent to:
    Point Loma Nazarene University
    Office of Graduate Admissions
    3900 Lomaland Dr.
    San Diego, CA 92106

    Official electronic transcripts must be emailed to:

    *Please note, official transcripts must be sent directly from the regionally accredited institution.
  3. Submit a 500-600 word [**] Statement of Purpose addressing the following topics:
    1. What formative experiences have helped clarify your desire to go into clinical counseling?
    2. What qualities and characteristics do you possess that would make you an effective counselor?
    3. Why have you chosen to pursue a degree in clinical counseling at this time in your life?
    4. Why are you interesting in PLNU?
    5. What are your career goals?
  4. Submit a resume/vita.
  5. Once you have submitted your admissions application, your three selected professional recommenders will automatically be sent the auto-generated document to complete on your behalf. If you'd like to include a written letter in addition to this required document, you may do so, but it's unnecessary. 
  6. Completion of the MMPI-2 or MMPI-3 personality assessment.

  7. Interview with the Department of Graduate Psychology.

  8. Ensure undergraduate course prerequisites are met.

Applicants accepted into PLNU's MACC program will be subjected to a background check.

Start Application

Because a license in California is earned by more than meeting the educational requirements, successful completion of this program by itself does not fulfill all of the requirements to become a licensed LMFT or LPCC therapist. Additional hours of supervised clinical experience must be gained upon graduation from PLNU in order to qualify to take the licensing exam in California.

MACC will notify students when changes in requirements occur in the state of California, but it is also each student's responsibility to keep apprised of the licensing requirements. Upon completion of the program, and should you earn a license, Point Loma Nazarene University does not guarantee that the program requirements for licensure in the state of California will transfer to another state where you may want to be employed.

Additionally, if you currently reside or plan to reside outside California, PLNU cannot confirm whether its program meets licensure requirements in your  current or intended state of residence.

Career Opportunities

We believe the best way to equip you for long-term success is through an experiential, clinically-focused format that gives you all of the counseling skills you’ll need to become an independent practitioner. Students who graduate from the PLNU MACC program will leave having met the requirements for both LMFT and LPCC licensure. 

With your licensure, you'll be equipped to step into a variety of growing career fields and settings, such as:

  • Private Practice Therapy
  • Couples Counseling
  • Child and Adolescent Services

  • Spiritual Life and Ministry
  • Church Counseling
  • Community Mental Health
  • Addiction Recovery
  • Hospitals
  • School-Based Mental Health
  • And many more
Empathy Article Image

How Empathy Can Change Your Life and Career

Research concurs: empathy is a remarkably powerful healing agent for the spirit, soul, and body. And if you’re naturally an empathetic person, find out if a career in counseling might be right for you.

Financial Aid and Student Support

We take seriously the role of providing you with financial, academic, and career support so you have the tools you need to be successful at PLNU and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

Financial Aid and Student Support

Frequently Asked Questions

What is required to be admitted into this program?

To be admitted into PLNU's MACC program, you must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, as evidenced by an official transcript from an institution indicating the completion of an undergraduate degree. You must also have an undergraduate cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. If you don’t meet the minimum GPA requirement, please contact your enrollment counselor regarding the exceptions process.

Can I work while completing the program?

That depends on the flexibility of your work schedule. Some courses are offered during the day and some are offered in the evening. Many of our students work full- or part-time during their first year. In the second year of the program, the Practicum experience requires an average commitment of 20 hours per week in addition to coursework (approximately 10 hours of class time per week). Given the significant time commitment, many students opt to not work during their second year.

What scholarship and financial aid opportunities are available to me?

You will have the option to apply for a number of scholarships through our Student Financial Services office. This program qualifies for state and federal financial aid options. Contact your enrollment counselor for more information.

How long does it take to complete the program?

The expected completion time is 24 months, plus licensure hours. Students who begin the program in the Spring semester will have a 32-month track, in order to accommodate Practicum. Please keep in mind that, for Spring students, this means that you will only be taking practicum units your final two semesters, and your financial aid will be impacted due to falling under six units. Practicum classes are two units each.

How many days a week do classes meet?

Classes meet twice a week. Even cohorts will be on a Monday/Wednesday schedule. Odd cohorts will be on Tuesday/Thursday.

How large will the classes be?

Class sizes are estimated to be 15 to 20 people.

Are international students eligible to apply?

Yes! As an international student, you can apply as a senior in university or any time after you obtain your bachelor’s degree. If you earned your baccalaureate degree outside of the United States, all documents must be translated into English and evaluated by members of National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). You must also submit official proof of English proficiency (TOEFL). Please contact Graduate Financial Aid and Student Support Services for more information.

We also will accept a 110 minimum score from DuoLingo as proof of proficiency. 

Is this a Christian (or religious) counseling program?

PLNU is a Nazarene school and our professors are Christian, but this program is not following a Christian curriculum. The curriculum is rigorous and designed to meet the high standards of CA-BBS. There are three classes where faith integration is discussed, but it is not a core component of the curriculum. Faith is addressed as a whole and not only from the Christian traditions in order to prepare our students to be competent therapists capable of working with individuals from all faith traditions.

Will I be able to gain practical counseling experience before graduation?

Absolutely! From your first year, you’ll participate in onsite, supervised counseling scenarios. In the second year, you will be working with actual clients in a practicum setting.

Will I be licensed once I graduate?

No. This degree satisfies the CA Board of Behavioral Sciences' educational requirements for the state of California, and you will be qualified to apply for a license with the CA board after you complete all additional requirements. This program qualifies you to apply for a license as either an LPPC or LMFT. You must be supervised by a licensed mental health professional for 104 weeks, and then will have to sit for two exams.* This process is not administered by PLNU.

During your associateship (previously called internship, the post-degree title), paid or unpaid, you may see clients on a supervised basis. See link below for FAQs on the internship process. As a student, you will be a trainee and may be eligible to accrue clinical hours pre-degree (MFT-track only).

*See CA BBS’s website for specifics as both licenses vary slightly in how hours are structured. 

What is the difference between being an LPCC and LFMT?

In essence, LPCCs typically treat individuals with mental health and substance abuse issues while LMFTs typically treat clients through the lens of the family system. This is a very basic definition and there is much nuance and leeway in discussing this as they can technically treat just about anyone, but their education orients them toward treating them in a specific way. Learn more about the differences between LMFT vs. LPCC here.

May I pursue both licensure tracks?

Our program is designed to meet the educational requirements for both licenses. All students take the 63 program units, regardless of the license they hope to receive. The pre-degree (practicum) hours count toward the MFT license, up to 1,300 hours. The BBS does not allow pre-degree hours to count toward the PCC license. All students have to accrue a minimum of 700 training hours to be eligible to graduate (290 direct client contact hours and 410 non-clinical hours). The CA-BBS changes rules frequently, so students are encouraged to verify.

Note that the BBS will only count hours going six years back from the date your license application is postmarked. The only exception is for MFT applicants, who are able to count up to 500 pre-degree hours past the six-year mark.

Does this program map onto a Psy.D.?

Yes, it maps on very well to a Psy.D. and we are thinking of launching a program of our own, but do not have a concrete timeline at this moment.

I want to do research and earn my Ph.D. Is this the right degree for me?

This program is geared towards students who want to conduct therapy. We would suggest considering a more research-based program if that’s your primary goal.

What happens after I graduate? Will PLNU find me an internship?

After you graduate it will be your responsibility to find a supervisor/job, but PLNU will use the connections it has established in its longstanding undergraduate Psychology department to connect our MACC alumni with employers.

How does the cost of this program compare to other MFT programs?

Our program falls somewhere in the middle. For example, tuition at other local San Diego universities may be around $60,000. Overall, we are very reasonably and competitively priced for a private school.

What do we do during the practicum and do I have to arrange that myself?

PLNU will work with you to acquire a practicum experience and we have an on-site clinic where you will engage in hands-on therapeutic practices while being supervised by a licensed professional prior to starting a full practicum placement in the community. While PLNU helps students get matched, it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to connect with, interview for, and solidify their placement.

Why aren’t you accredited with COAMFTE or CACREP?

COAMFTE and CACREP are programmatic accreditations that align with MFT and PCC professional identities, respectively. In California, programmatic accreditation is not required for the degree obtained to be eligible for licensure. Our program and university have the most important accreditation, which is WSCUC. Our goal is to keep the program as dual licensure eligible without splitting it in two and each pursuing programmatic accreditation.

What about APA? The APA does not accredit master’s level programs, only doctorate programs. At this level, we have received accreditation from the BBS and WSCUC, which are the agencies needed for a master’s level program.

Do my practicum hours count toward my license?

Not for the LPCC license. For LMFT, please refer to this document here. However, in order to graduate from the MACC program, all students must accrue a minimum of 700 clinical hours.

What theoretical orientations does your program take?

We take an eclectic approach: eclectic therapy is a therapeutic approach that incorporates a variety of therapeutic principles and philosophies in order to create the ideal treatment program to meet the specific needs of the patient or client.

What PLNU undergraduate course offers the MMPI-2?

PSY350: Clinical and Research Assessment

What PLNU graduate course teaches me how to read the MMPI-2?

PSY 650: Psychological Testing & Assessment

Where can I find more information about the MMPI-2?

More information about the MMPI-2 can be found here.

How many practicum hours can I expect to complete per week while I am in school, and are these in conjunction with my classes?

It was originally 16-24 hours per week, however, we are finding that most students are doing 20-24 hours per week.

Yes, you will be completing your hours at the same time as your coursework unless you extend your program out to three years (for fall starts). For Spring starts, one of your semesters will be a combination of practicum hours and classes; your final two semesters will only be practicum. Please keep in mind, if you are only taking practicum units, your financial aid will be impacted due to falling under six units. Practicum classes are two units each and there are three practicum classes in total.

What will my applicant interview process look like?

It will either be one-on-one with Dr. Jenkins or be a panel interview with a group of applicants.

Course List

For information about the courses required for the Clinical Counseling, M.A. program, view the PLNU Catalog. 

Course Information

Department Faculty