Jun 16, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Master of Science in Clinical Behavioral Health, Emphasis in Addictions Counseling

Clinical Behavioral Health, emphasis in Addictions Counseling Program Description

The Master of Science in Clinical Behavioral Health with an emphasis in Addictions Counseling prepares students for advanced work in the field of addictions.  Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible to apply to be a Licensed Addictions Counselor (LAC).  Coursework includes a mix of classroom learning and real world field experience.

Additional Licensure Option

Students will be eligible to apply for their provisional counseling license (the first step in obtaining Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) license) upon graduation as well as their Licensed Addictions Counselor (LAC) license.


The Master of Science in Clinical Behavioral Health with an emphasis in Addictions counseling is a member of the National Association of Addictions Professionals (NADAAC), and is seeking accreditation through the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC). The program has been designed to meet accreditation standards for the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

Mission, Goals and Competencies

Mission of the Graduate Program

The mission of the Master of Science in Clinical Behavioral Health with an emphasis in Addictions Counseling is to train practitioners with professional competency in the field of addictions counseling who will provide excellence in service delivery along the entire continuum of care.  The Master of Science Program will integrate education, research, skills development, treatment and recovery evidence-based practices with experiential opportunities in the pursuit of understanding and treating substance abuse and addictive behavior disorders.


  1. Offer a specialty in addiction studies for students seeking to treat people from diverse backgrounds who have been under-served and stigmatized
  2. Fulfill a documented need for specialists in addiction science and clinical treatment
  3. Fill a strong regional need for licensed addiction counselors who can accept third-party payers and insurers
  4. Offer faculty with expertise and who are deeply connected with the community
  5. Provide a rich diversity of staff and faculty ethnically, experientially, and professionally
  6. Integrate behavioral health-care degree that merges substance abuse, behavioral addictions, and mental health counseling
  7. Provide a transformation educational experience that touches the community, program, school and university


Program competencies are dictated by accrediting bodies including CACREP and NASAC. The following is a sampling of the required competencies:

  1. Recognize the social, political, economic, and cultural context within which addiction and substance abuse exist, including risk and resiliency factors that characterize individuals and groups and their living environments (NAADAC/ SAMHSA competency 2)
  2. Exhibit the ethical standards of professional counseling organizations and credentialing bodies, and applications of ethical and legal considerations in professional counseling (CACREP, Section 2.F.1.i)
  3. Understand the established diagnostic criteria for substance abuse disorders, and describe treatment modalities and placement criteria within the continuum of care (NAADAC/ SAMHSA competency 9)
  4. Compare theories and models of career development, counseling, and decision making (CACREP, Section 2.F.4.a)
  5. Appraise theories and models of multicultural counseling, cultural identity development, and social justice and advocacy (CACREP, Section 2.F.2.b)
  6. Protect client rights to privacy and confidentiality in the preparation and handling of records, especially in relation to the communication of client information with third parties .(NAADAC/ SAMHSA competency 109)
  7. Understand the importance of research and outcome data and their application in clinical practice (NAADAC/ SAMHSA competency 7)
  8. Formative and summative evaluations of the student’s counseling performance and ability to integrate and apply knowledge are conducted as part of the student’s practicum and internship (CACREP, Section 3.c)

Clinical Behavioral Health, emphasis in Addictions Counseling Program Admission

Admissions Criteria

Program acceptance requires students to have a Bachelor’s Degree from a regionally accredited University acceptable by MSU Denver, or be a MSU Denver undergraduate student applying to the “Early Entry to Master of Science in Clinical Behavioral Health, Emphasis in Addictions Counseling Pathway. To apply for the Master of Science in Behavioral Health, emphasis in Addictions Counseling, students must submit the following:

  1. Graduate admissions application
  2. Graduate application fee
  3. Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended

Note: The program requires a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0. Students who have a GPA below 3.0 can request a review of their application and supporting materials including transcripts, resume and essay.

  1. Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  2. 500-1000 word essay on the following: Please address your motivations for pursing a behavioral health degree, reasons for applying specifically to this program instead of other programs, and how this program matches your career goals.  Applicants are evaluated on the quality and content of their writing sample. 
  3. Reference letters (professional and academic) 

References should address the applicant’s clinical aptitude and/or personality traits that would help them be successful in a clinical program. 

All admission decisions will be made by the Admissions Committee. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. After the Admissions Committee receives and reviews the application, applicants who meet the minimum requirements may be called in for a pre-admission workshop.  Applicants will be notified in writing (via e-mail) of their status. Applicants may be accepted, accepted with conditions, wait-listed, or denied admission. Students should check the program website for application time-lines.

Students Without a Behavioral Health Degree or Clinical Experience

All prospective students are evaluated based on their academic and professional background.  Students who do not have an academic and/or professional history working with clients with mental health and/or addictive disorders, maybe required to take a “bridge course” the semester prior to enrolling in the program.  This 3-credit, hybrid course covers addiction etiology, assessment and treatment interventions.  The course also introduces students to basic therapeutic communication and counseling skills.  The cost of the course is at the undergraduate rate and will not appear on your graduate school transcript.  Students who are required to complete this course will be notified at time of program acceptance.

Note regarding criminal background checks: While MSU Denver does not require students to complete a criminal background check, students should be aware that certain offenses and charges may prevent internship placement and impact post-graduate employment.

International Applicants

Applying to a graduate program as an international student at Metropolitan State University of Denver consists of several additional steps. The following instructions and checklist will guide you.

International Students must:

  • complete all of the same requirements as domestic students;
  • have achieved a minimum TOEFL score of 540 (or a score of 76 on the Internet version)

or a score of 6.0 on the IELTS

  • submit the required immigration documents for issuance of an I-20.

Deadlines for international student admission are available on individual program websites. A non-refundable $50 application fee applies. The Graduate Admissions Application is available on the Office of Admissions website.

Foreign transcripts must also have an official English translation done by a certified translator, if applicable, and a professional, course-by-course evaluation showing equivalency to a U.S. bachelor’s degree. World Education Services, wes.org, or Education Credential Evaluators, ece.org, are recommended professional transcript evaluation service providers.

Students may not be eligible for state licensure; it is the responsibility of the student to check eligibility status.

Non-Degree Seeking Students

Students may be admitted to the graduate degree program as non-degree-seeking and may take up to nine credit hours as a non-degree-seeking student. Non-degree-seeking students do not qualify for financial aid and must re-apply and pay a new application fee in order to become degree-seeking. Completing coursework as a non-degree-seeking student does not guarantee admission into a degree-seeking program. These nine credits will count toward transfer credits if the student is admitted as a degree-seeking student.

Prior Learning Assessment

Due to state requirements, we do not allow for Prior Learning Assessment.

Transfer Students

No more than 9 graduate-level, transfer credits (semester hours or equivalent) will be accepted. These credits must have been completed no longer than six years prior to the admission term and must be from a regionally accredited, U.S. institution or equivalent. 

The program has discretion over acceptance of transfer courses. A minimum grade of “B” is required for each transfer course. Applicants should check the program website and/or contact a program advisor for details.

Required Orientation

Students must attend an Orientation to Masters Level Education before beginning the program. This session will cover the conceptual framework for the counseling profession with an emphasis in addictions counseling. Orientation is designed to prepare students for the graduate learning experience at MSU Denver. Students will have opportunities to develop and strengthen the skills necessary to succeed as graduate students in the health sciences.  Emphasis is placed on utilizing the tools for graduate success.

Orientation introduces students to the requirements for successful participation in a curriculum on a hybrid platform (in class and on-line). It provides a foundation for academic and professional success as a scholar-practitioner. Topics include the relationship of mission and vision to professional goals; development of a student-centered program of study and Professional Development Plan; strategies for on-line success; introduction to the brick-and-mortar and on-line libraries; and introduction to critical thinking, professional writing, and academic integrity. Assignments focus on practical application of writing and critical-thinking skills and promote professional and academic excellence as they relate to practice in psychology and counseling.

Program Requirements

Students must successfully complete all courses comprising 60-66 credit hours. Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 in any academic term. Any student falling below a 3.0 in any given term will be placed on academic probation and be required to develop a remediation plan with an academic advisor for raising the GPA above 3.0.

The university residency requirement for a master’s program is the total number of semester hours required for the program minus nine.

Students who fail to raise their GPA over 3.0 after 15 credits will be dismissed from the program. No grade lower than a B- (Satisfactory in practicum and internship courses) will count toward degree completion. Students receiving a C+ or lower will be required to repeat the course. Students must be aware that the sequential coursework policy will often require students to take time off to repeat the coursework. Students who do not successfully complete a course with a B- or better after the second attempt will be dismissed from the program.

Students may enroll in no more than fifteen (15) credit hours per semester. Students who wish to take over 15 credits must seek approval.  For additional information, please contact the Program Director at 303-615-1063, or addictionsmasters@msudenver.edu.

With the exception of undergraduate students accepted in to the “Early Entry to Masters of Science in Clinical Behavioral Health, Emphasis in Addictions Counseling Pathway”, no course may count toward both the master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree.

Graduate students are considered full-time if they are registered for six (6) credit hours, half-time if registered for three (3) credit hours. Financial aid requires students to be registered for a minimum of three (3) credit hours.

Students must complete the master’s degree within six (6) calendar years from the semester of initial enrollment.

Students not enrolled for three (3) consecutive semesters (including summer) must submit a re-admission application. Students requesting re-admission must be in good academic standing and must submit their application for re-admission to the master’s program in which they have been enrolled.  Students who readmit into the program will be held to the policies and curriculum of the later term in which they officially restart the program.  An approved re-admit application is valid for one academic year from the re-admit semester. Students who are not in good academic standing are not eligible for the readmit application process and must fully apply to the program. For additional information, please contact the Program Director at 303-615-1063, or addictionsmasters@msudenver.edu. Academic policies and the Student Code of Conduct will be employed to all MSU Denver students, regardless of level.  Access the Student Code of Conduct.

Enrolled students should refer to the Academic Policies and Procedures section of the Graduate Catalog for a listing of all grades and notations including incompletes and withdrawals.  In addition to adhering to the University requirement for “incomplete” eligibility, students are not allowed to have more than one outstanding “incomplete” at one time. This status will initiate an automatic performance review and will not be in good academic standing.

Practicum and Internship Process

All students are required to participate in two, 3 credit Practicum experiences and a 6 credit Internship that will count towards the Licensed in Addictions Counselor (LAC).  Students may complete internship in 3 or 6 credit increments, based on the number of hours they are able to dedicate to their field experience in a given semester. Students will attend a seminar as a part of their credit load.  Students may opt to participate in a second internship to gain more mental health experience as well as collect additional LAC hours prior to graduation.

Advancement to Candidacy

A review of a candidate’s plan of study and progress must be conducted as soon as all the minimum requirements have been met and no later than the first day of the term in which the student expects to complete the degree. Minimum requirements for the review include completion of any provisional admission requirements, an approved plan of study that will lead to meeting the degree requirements, posting of any transfer work to the student’s record, and a grade point average of “B” or better in all work completed to that point. Successful completion of the review and approval by the appropriate student services office and the Office of Graduate Studies constitutes Advancement to Candidacy.

Master of Science in Clinical Behavioral Health, emphasis in Addictions Counseling Program Requirements

Courses will be offered in a sequenced format. The sequential coursework framework means not all courses will be offered each semester.  Student advising is essential for effective course planning.

Additional Courses for LPC requirements

Students may apply for licensure through the state, two years post Master’s after having met state requirements.  NOTE: Students will need to apply through the state for their LAC as well, post Master’s (Field hours will count towards LAC licensure).