Master of Arts in Professional Clinical Counseling

The mission of Brandman University’s Professional Clinical Counseling (PCC) program is to educate, prepare, and develop competent counselors who promote equitable treatment by applying ethical, clinically-relevant, and culturally-informed practices to serve individuals in diverse communities.

Program Learning Outcomes

MA PCC Students

  • Assessment, Psychopathology, and Diagnostics: Students will apply assessment techniques, including crisis evaluation and diagnostic assessment, to clinical issues.
  • Ethics: Students will apply ethical and professional decision making to the practice of psychotherapy and counseling.
  • Career Counseling: Student will apply career development theories and techniques to work and career issues and problems.
  • Advanced individual Counseling: Students will apply relevant theoretical interventions to clinical problems of individuals.
  • Diversity: Students will demonstrate awareness, understanding, sensitivity, and respect for diversity and inclusion.

Professional Clinical Counseling Program Description

The Master of Arts in Professional Clinical Counseling program is designed to prepare students to apply relevant and evidence-based counseling theories, strategies, and interventions to clinical cases. Students of this program will be proficient in identifying client specific presenting problems and developing treatment plans that account for cultural and environmental factors. This program prepares students to be culturally understanding and serve every client equitably. As a result, students of this program are encouraged and empowered to value the lives of all human beings, and to treat every person with respect.

Specifically, students in the MA PCC program are trained and prepared to create a therapeutic environment that allows for their clients to thrive. They will consider diversity and cultural issues before suggesting a working clinical diagnosis. They will be proficient in identifying an effective theoretical modality with which to treat a client. Students will know when and how to seek information by researching relevant clinical studies as well as consulting with clinical supervisors or course instructors to fine-tune their clinical conceptualizations. They will also competently design treatment plans tailored to the needs of each client.

Admission to the Program

Admissions decisions to the Master of Arts in Professional Clinical Counseling (MA PCC) program are based on evaluation of all application materials and information provided by the applicant. Submission of all required application materials does not guarantee admission to the program. Any applicant dismissed for any reason from another program in a related field is not eligible for admission to the MA PCC program at Brandman University. Admission to the MA PCC program is restricted to residents within the United States in states where the University is authorized to offer the program. Admissions decisions are not subject to discussion or appeal.

The PCC Program is available in most states. However, for state-specific regulatory reasons, the PCC program is not authorized in certain states and cannot provide field placements or PCC degrees in those states. When a student plans to move from the state in which they began their program to a different state, it is essential that the student consult in advance with their Advisor and Program Director. If the student relocates to a state in which the program is not authorized, the student will be unable to complete the program.

The following requirements must be completed in order to become eligible for consideration for admission to the program:

  1. Satisfactorily fulfill graduate admission requirements for Brandman University as stated in the catalog. (See the Graduate Admissions section.)
  2. If the student uses Option Two in the Brandman University graduate admissions requirements, submit passing scores from one of the following standard admission tests:
    1. Graduate Record Examination (GRE): achieve a minimum score of 300 on the combined scores of the verbal and quantitative subsections of the GRE or score at or above the 60th percentile on the Graduate Subject Test in psychology.
    2. Miller’s Analogies Test (MAT): achieve a scaled score of 400.
  3. Admission is also contingent on the quality of the autobiography and the recommendation forms. The student should submit an autobiography, which must be at least three to four typed pages in length and conform to the following guidelines:
    1. Include childhood, family and (if applicable) marital data and values derived from these experiences in relation to your choice of a career in marriage and family therapy/counseling. Incorporate two or three relevant experiences that have helped to shape your development and personality; and
    2. Discuss how you arrived at this point in your career development. Include any relevant professional experience.
  4. Submit three recommendation forms from individuals who know you in a professional, and/or academic, and /or personal context (i.e. skills with youth, intellectual problem solving skills, character). Relatives may not submit recommendations.
  5. The application process includes submission of both the Graduate Admissions application and the Psychology program supplemental form as well as viewing and acknowledging that the program video was reviewed. The application packet must be complete, including an autobiography, recommendation forms, and the ethical and responsibility statement form.  Psychology program faculty may require an interview with the applicant if clarification is required.
  6. Note that licensing and certification agencies typically have regulations denying licensure or certification to anyone who has been convicted of a felony, most especially one which reflects an offense which would be a cause for disciplinary action if committed by one already holding the license. Please contact the licensing board in the state you plan to license for clarification of how a conviction may affect licensing. This clarification should be done before the application for admission to this program is submitted.
  7. Students must have regular admission status prior to enrollment in graduate coursework.
  8. Students admitted to the Master of Arts in Professional Clinical Counseling program will be admitted to the Catalog based on the program start date and not the admission date.

Transfer of Coursework

A maximum of 12 semester credits or 18 quarter credits may be accepted in transfer toward the Master of Arts in Professional Clinical Counseling degree program.

Program Requirement Deadlines

All requirements for the Master of Arts in Professional Clinical Counseling program, including courses accepted for transfer credit from other institutions, must be completed within a seven-year period. The seven-year period for Brandman courses begins at the end of the session in which the course was taken.  For transfer courses from other institutions, the seven-year period begins at the end of the semester or quarter in which the course was taken.  Interrupted enrollment does not alter the seven year period for completion of all graduate requirements.

When compelling circumstances warrant, students may petition for an extension of the seven-year limit for any Master of Arts in Professional Clinical Counseling program requirement. Approved petitions must include the new date to which approval of the course or other program requirement has been extended. Petition decisions may be appealed only to the Dean of Arts and Sciences.  Decisions made by the Dean are final and binding. 

Advisement/Orientation

Prior to admission, students are required to review, and submit acknowledgement of the review, of the Masters of Arts in Professional Clinical Counseling program advisement and orientation video. This video contains pertinent program information focused on advising students of program requirements such as core courses, advancement, practicum, and much more. Upon admission, students are strongly encouraged to contact and maintain a mentoring relationship with their faculty mentor. Faculty mentors are assigned to students based on the student’s last name. Students who seek to identify their faculty mentor upon admission should consult their academic advisor.   

Brandman University is committed to providing an accessible educational experience for all learners. If you require accommodations for a disability to fully participate or meet any of our program requirements, please contact the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) at oae@brandman.edu or visit the OAE MyBrandman page to register for services.

Advancement to Candidacy

Each student in the MA PCC program is required to complete a clinical evaluation known as advancement. To qualify for advancement, students must complete the 10 courses listed below. In addition, students must apply for advancement a minimum of two sessions prior to the start of practicum. At the time of the advancement interview, each student will be provided with a vignette for which the student will discuss an assessment, potential legal and ethical issues, crisis concerns, a working diagnosis, potential clinical goals, and a case centered treatment plan grounded in a specific theoretical modality. For more detailed information about advancement please reach out to the Field Support Team at mftpccfield@brandman.edu. If you are in need of accommodations for a disability for  the advancement evaluation, please contact the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) at oae@brandman or visit the OAE MyBrandman page to register for advancement evaluation accommodations.

PSYU 502History and Foundations of Therapeutic Practices3
PSYU 506Ethical & Professional Issues3
PSYU 510Psychopathology & Diagnosis3
PSYU 516Assessment and Treatment of Substance Abuse3
PSYU 518Child/Adolescent Psychopathology and Child Abuse Reporting3
PSYU 520Advanced Individual Therapy I3
PSYU 521Advanced Individual Therapy II3
PSYU 524Clinical Issues in Human Diversity3
PSYU 530Theory and Practice of Group Therapy3
PSYU 539Crisis and Trauma Counseling3
At the advancement to candidacy interview, the student will meet with a faculty committee. The committee determines whether the student is prepared to be formally declared a candidate for a Master of Arts degree in Professional Clinical Counseling and be permitted to proceed into the practicum phase of the program.
Total Credits30

Ethical and Professional Standards

Students are expected to meet all program standards and abide by the ethical standards of the profession and the Brandman University Student Code of Conduct. Since the MA PCC program involves preparing people to work in the helping profession, the program faculty assumes the responsibility for reasonably assuring that individuals who complete the program are not only academically competent, but are aware of and are capable of functioning within the established ethical and professional standards of the profession. A student in the MA PCC program must adhere to the ethical standards propounded by the relevant professional associations and should understand that he/she is being trained in a program which is not only academic, but also professional in nature.

The university has both the right and obligation to evaluate continually, and, if necessary, to suspend or terminate the student’s participation in the master's program at any point for ethical violations and/or personal unsuitability for the profession. This philosophy is consistent with that of most clinically oriented graduate programs which are engaged in explicitly or implicitly certifying that their graduates are competent to engage in the practice of psychotherapy.

It is understood, therefore, that students will be required to maintain appropriate professional, ethical, and personal standards in order to continue in the program. Faculty will assess each student’s status in meeting these standards on a continuing basis, and students experiencing difficulties will be advised as to appropriate means of remediating such difficulties by the faculty or Dean’s Office.

Professional Conduct

The MA PCC professional conduct policy applies both to current MA PCC students and graduated MA PCC students. Brandman University is committed to providing an accessible educational experience for all learners. If a student requires accommodations for a disability to fully participate in the professional conduct process below, please contact the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) at oae@brandman.edu or at (949) 341-9976 to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.

For current MA PCC students, the professional conduct procedures are as follows:

Step One Meeting: When a MA PCC program faculty member observes or becomes aware of behavior that brings into question a student’s ability to maintain appropriate professional, ethical, or personal standards, the faculty member shall meet with the student to discuss the behavior and to advise as to appropriate means of remediating such behavioral concerns. This meeting may be attended by a staff member. A second faculty member may also attend. A staff member will attend the meeting silently for the purpose of documenting the meeting's proceedings. The meeting shall be held in Zoom or on a similar virtual conference platform. Subject to written approval from all participants, the meeting shall be recorded with the URL for the recording provided to the student, the presiding faculty, and the program director.

The student may choose to have a silent observer attend the meeting. This does not include attorneys. The presence of attorneys at the meeting is not permitted as the meeting is not meant to function as a court of law. The silent observer may not participate directly in the meeting. Failure to comply with these rules may result in the removal of the silent observer or the termination of the meeting. One five-minute recess may be requested during the course of the meeting if the student wishes to consult with the silent observer.

During the meeting, the faculty member(s) will identify the behaviors of concern, discuss the behavioral concerns with the student, solicit the student’s response to the behavioral concerns in question, and advise the student as to appropriate means of remediating the behavioral concerns. The staff member will document the meeting's proceedings. After the meeting, the program director will provide a written summary of the meeting to the student, including the identified behaviors of concern, the advisement provided by faculty, the student's response during the meeting, and any additional advisement for remediating the behavioral concerns warranted by the meeting's proceedings.

The faculty member may, at their discretion, proceed to conduct a Step One Meeting in the absence of a student who fails to appear despite having been provided advance notice of the meeting. The student will be considered to have waived their opportunity to participate in the meeting. After the meeting, the program director will provide a written summary of the meeting to the student, including the identified behaviors of concern, the advisement provided by faculty, and the student's failure to attend the meeting.

The following conditions automatically require a Step One meeting if the student has not yet had a Step One meeting, or a Step Two meeting if the student has previously had a Step One meeting but not a Step Two meeting:

  • Termination of a student's practicum placement by placement site personnel
  • Failure of the student to secure a practicum placement after interviewing at 7 sites

Step Two Meeting: At any time after the Step One Meeting, if the MA PCC program director deems that, a student’s ability to maintain appropriate professional, ethical, or personal standards remains in question and behavioral concerns remain unresolved, a second meeting shall be convened.  This second meeting shall be attended by the program director, field director, and student. All responsibilities in this policy assigned to the program director may instead be fulfilled by the vice chair. If the faculty member who met with the student in step 1 was the program director or vice chair, the Dean will appoint a different psychology faculty member to substitute for the program director or vice chair in steps 2 and 3 of this process. A staff member will also attend the meeting silently for the purpose of documenting the meeting's proceedings. The meeting shall be held in Zoom or on a similar virtual conference platform. Subject to written approval from all participants, the meeting shall be recorded with the URL for the recording provided to the student, program director, and field director.

The student may choose to have a silent observer attend the meeting. This does not include attorneys. The presence of attorneys at the meeting is not permitted as the meeting is not meant to function as a court of law. The silent observer may not participate directly in the meeting. Failure to comply with these rules may result in the removal of the silent observer or the termination of the meeting. One five-minute recess may be requested during the course of the meeting if the student wishes to consult with the silent observer.

During the meeting, the program director and field director will identify the behaviors of concern, discuss the behavioral concerns with the student, solicit the student’s response to the behavioral concerns in question, and advise the student as to appropriate means of remediating the behavioral concerns. The staff member will document the meeting's proceedings. After the meeting, the program director will provide a written summary of the meeting to the student, including the identified behaviors of concern, the advisement provided by the program director and field director, the student's response, and any additional advisement for remediating the behavioral concerns warranted by the meeting's proceedings.

The program director and field director may, at their discretion, proceed to conduct a Step Two Meeting in the absence of a student who fails to appear despite having been provided advance notice of the meeting. The student will be considered to have waived their opportunity to participate in the meeting. After the meeting, the program director will provide a written summary of the meeting to the student, including the identified behaviors of concern, the advisement provided by the program director and field director, and the student's failure to attend the meeting.

Step Three: At any time after the Step Two Meeting, if the MA PCC program director and field director deem that the student’s ability to maintain appropriate professional, ethical, and/or personal standards remains in question and the behavioral concerns remain unresolved, they may recommend to the Dean that the student be suspended or dismissed from the MA PCC program. The Dean may suspend or dismiss the student from the program, with written notice provided to the student. The suspension or dismissal takes effect upon the Dean's issuance of the official letter of suspension or dismissal. A student dismissed from the program under the professional conduct policy is not eligible for readmission to the MA PCC program.

A notice of suspension will specify (a) the earliest date at which the Dean will consider lifting the suspension; (b) the steps that the student must take in order for the Dean to consider lifting the suspension; and (c) the deadline by which the student must complete those steps and request that the suspension be lifted. If, by that deadline, the student has not submitted a request that in the Dean's assessment is sufficient to warrant lifting the suspension, the suspension will convert to dismissal from the program, with written notice provided to the student. That dismissal takes effect upon the Dean's issuance of the official letter of dismissal.

Step Four: A student who is dismissed or suspended from the program may, within 30 calendar days of receipt of the dismissal or suspension notification, petition the Dean’s ruling to a professional review committee. The petition process is documentation-based and does not include a synchronous hearing. To file a petition, the student must submit to the Dean a written petition with supporting documentation appended. The Dean will forward the written petition and supporting documentation to the professional review committee. After review, the professional review committee will issue a final ruling within 30 calendar days of Dean's receipt of the student's petition. The committee’s ruling is not subject to appeal.

For graduated MA PCC students, for whom information is discovered after the time of their degree completion regarding alleged ethical or professional violations that occurred during the time they were enrolled in the MA PCC program, the professional conduct procedures are as follows:

  1. When the MA PCC program director and/or field director learn that a graduated student may have committed ethical or professional violations during the time they were enrolled in the MA PCC program, they may investigate the allegations.
  2. After reviewing their findings, the program director and field director may choose to convene a Professional Conduct Meeting. This meeting shall be attended by the program director, field director, and graduated student. A staff member will also attend the meeting silently for the purpose of documenting the meeting's proceedings. The meeting shall be held in Zoom or on a similar virtual conference platform. Subject to written approval from all participants, the meeting shall be recorded with the URL for the recording provided to the student, program director and field director.
    1. The graduated student may choose to have a silent observer attend the meeting. This does not include attorneys. The presence of attorneys at the meeting is not permitted as the meeting is not meant to function as a court of law. The silent observer may not participate directly in the meeting. Failure to comply with these rules may result in the removal of the silent observer or the termination of the meeting. One five-minute recess may be requested during the course of the meeting if the student wishes to consult with the silent observer.
    2. During the meeting, the program director and field director will identify the behaviors of concern, discuss the behavioral concerns with the graduated student, and solicit the student’s response to the behavioral concerns in question. The staff member will document the meeting's proceedings. After the meeting, the program director will provide a written summary of the meeting to the graduated student, including the identified behaviors of concern and the graduated student's response.
    3. The program director and field director may, at their discretion, proceed to conduct a Professional Conduct Meeting in the absence of a graduated student who fails to appear despite having been provided advance notice of the meeting. After the meeting, the program director will provide a written summary of the meeting to the graduated student, including the identified behaviors of concern and the graduated student's failure to attend the meeting.
  3. Based on their investigation and on the proceedings of the Professional Conduct Meeting, if the MA PCC program director and field director deem that the graduated student committed egregious violation(s) of ethical or professional conduct during the time that they were enrolled in the MA PCC program, and that such violation(s) would have merited a recommendation to the Dean of suspension or dismissal from the program if the violation(s) had been discovered when the graduated student was enrolled in the program, the program director and field director may recommend to the Dean that the graduated student's degree be revoked. The Dean may issue the graduated student a letter of intent to revoke the graduated student's degree.
  4. A graduated student receiving a Dean's letter of intent to revoke the student's MA PCC degree may submit a written appeal to the Dean with supporting documentation, within 30 calendar days of transmission of the Dean's letter of intent. This appeal process is documentation-based and does not include a synchronous hearing. After review of the student's written appeal and supporting documentation, the Dean may or may not decide to revoke the graduated student's degree, with written notice of either outcome provided to the student.
  5. A graduated MA PCC student whose degree is revoked may, within 30 calendar days of transmission of the notification of degree revocation, petition the Dean’s ruling to a professional review committee. The petition process is documentation-based and does not include a synchronous hearing. To file a petition, the graduated student must submit to the Dean a written petition with supporting documentation appended. The Dean will forward the written petition and supporting documentation to the professional review committee. After review, the professional review committee will issue a final ruling within 30 calendar days of Dean's receipt of the graduated student's petition. The committee’s ruling is not subject to appeal.
  6. If a graduated MA PCC student's degree is revoked, and if the student had been a California resident at the time of degree conferral, the program's Board of Behavioral Science (BBS) liaison will inform the BBS that the student no longer holds a degree from Brandman University.  If the graduated student resided in Washington at the time of degree conferral, the program's Washington State Department of Health (WDH) liaison will inform the WDH that the student no longer holds a degree from Brandman University. In addition, and only If known, the University representative will also inform the state governing body where the student is currently in clinical authorized practice.

Personal Therapy

The faculty believes that participating as a client in individual, group, couple, or family therapy is an important educational aspect of a program to prepare mental health professionals. Experience as a client in personal therapy is, therefore, one of the program requirements for the Masters of Arts in Professional Clinical Counseling degree. The requirement is met through a minimum of 20 sessions of individual, group, couple, or family therapy conducted by a current licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed clinical social worker, licensed clinical psychologist, board-eligible psychiatrist, or a licensed mental health worker of equivalent status. Psychoeducational groups or classes that help a student better understand a disorder such as depression or a treatment modality such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) will not count towards the personal therapy requirement.

Up to five of the 20 sessions can be completed through telehealth / teleconferencing. If telehealth or teleconferencing is selected, the student must ensure that the therapist is licensed in the student’s state of residence. The therapist will complete and email the personal therapy verification form to psychalerts@brandman.edu for review and approval. This verification must be on file prior to degree conferral.

Additional personal therapy may at any time be required by program faculty for the student to continue in the program. The student has the right to choose his/her own licensed therapist for this requirement within the limitations of ethical standards prohibiting dual relationships and the criteria of the paragraph above.

Practicum

Each student must have the practicum site Field Agreement completed and approved by the university and the practicum site prior to starting any trainee hours at the approved site. After completion of 15 credits in the MA PCC program, the student will receive an email from the Field Practicum Specialist encouraging him or her to connect with the Field Support Team by email.  This email will provide the student access to copies of the appendixes and instructions for creating their student file. In addition, the student must submit the practicum appendices (A, B, & C), a copy of their personal liability insurance, and a copy of their clinical supervisor’s active license. The student liability insurance is a program requirement that compels all students to furnish and produce evidence of insurance prior to enrolling in practicum.

Students must advance to candidacy prior to registration for practicum. Once enrolled in practicum, students are required to attend, participate, and complete all required assignments related to the practicum. To remain enrolled in practicum, students must be placed and actively engaged at a clinical agency, working with clients, and routinely meeting with their assigned clinical supervisor. If a student is not actively seeing clients (for any reason), the student must either drop the practicum course or will receive a grade of “NP” which will require the student to retake the practicum course. Students must keep their practicum instructor or members of the Field Support team informed of any changes to their status at a practicum location (termination from agency, challenges with supervision, concerns that warrant a break). Required practicum hours are designated by the student's state of residence and detailed information is provided in the practicum course.

If a student does not complete the required practicum hours and/or the Capstone Case Study paper and presentation during the required practicum courses series, s/he will be automatically enrolled in the required PSYU 695 Practicum Continuation course (0 credits) and required to pay a Practicum Continuation fee, until the student receives a grade of a “P” in the PSYU  688, 689, and 690 courses or until the student's seven-year program completion timeline has expired. Students will accumulate hours toward their practicum requirements when enrolled in PSYU 688, 689, and 690 or 695 (see practicum or advisement guide for more details). A student will need to be enrolled in PSYU 695 for as many sessions are as needed to complete all practicum requirements, and a fee will be assessed for each term in which a student is enrolled in this course.

If a student chooses to take a break (stop out) and fails to return to the University to resume their practicum requirements within two years (2) years post the last day of the session in which the student was most recently enrolled in practicum), the student will be required to retake the full practicum series of courses upon their return to the University. Any fieldwork hours previously clocked will no longer count. All previously earned grades in practicum courses will be converted to “NP.”

The student may elect to begin the Capstone Case Study in  PSYU 689 Practicum II  Work on the written portion of the case study will continue through the remaining practicum course(s) and must be concluded by the end of PSYU 690 Practicum III. The case study presentation will be completed in Practicum III. The case study requirement will be fulfilled after passing the Capstone Case Study paper and the oral presentation. The practicum courses are graded on a pass/no pass basis. Practicum courses are to be taken consecutively and cannot be taken concurrently. Refer to the Student Handbook for more details about the Capstone Case Study.

Brandman University is committed to providing an accessible educational experience for all learners. If you require accommodations for a disability to fully participate in your practicum placement, please contact the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) at oae@brandman.edu  to request disability accommodations. In addition, please reach out to your PCC Field Support Team at mftpccfield@brandman.edu. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for accessibility needs.

Specific Requirements for the Master of Arts in Professional Clinical Counseling

Grade Point Average Requirements

Students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average throughout their course of study in the MA PCC program. A student must receive a letter grade of “B-” or better in a course for successful completion. If a student falls below a 3.0 in a course or a 3.0 overall GPA, student remediation will occur via the university's probation process, found in the current university catalog.

Foundation Courses
PSYU 502History and Foundations of Therapeutic Practices3
PSYU 506Ethical & Professional Issues3
PSYU 522Individual and Family Development3
PSYU 528Research and Bibliographic Methods3
PSYU 534Clinical Assessment3
Foundation Courses Subtotal15
Marriage Therapy
PSYU 514Couples Therapy3
Marriage Therapy Subtotal3
Multicultural Counseling and Techniques
PSYU 524Clinical Issues in Human Diversity3
Multicultural Counseling and Techniques Subtotal3
Adult Counseling Core
PSYU 510Psychopathology & Diagnosis3
PSYU 520Advanced Individual Therapy I3
PSYU 521Advanced Individual Therapy II3
Adult Counseling Core Subtotal9
Specialized Topics
PSYU 516Assessment and Treatment of Substance Abuse3
PSYU 518Child/Adolescent Psychopathology and Child Abuse Reporting3
PSYU 530Theory and Practice of Group Therapy3
PSYU 536Psychopharmacology3
PSYU 538Assessment and Treatment of Sexual Disorders3
PSYU 539Crisis and Trauma Counseling3
PSYU 542Community and Environmental Mental Health3
PSYU 545Transition to Work and Career3
Specialized Topics Subtotal24
Practicum
PSYU 688Practicum I *3
PSYU 689Practicum II *3
PSYU 690Practicum III *3
Practicum Subtotal9
Total Credits63
*If a student does not complete the required practicum hours and/or the Capstone Case Study during the PSYU 688, 689, 690 course series, s/he will be enrolled in a required PSYU 695 Practicum Continuation course (0 credits) and required to pay a Practicum Continuation fee, per each course and session, until the student receives a P in the PSYU 688, 689, 690 courses or until the student's seven-year program completion timeline has expired. Students will accumulate hours toward their practicum requirements only when enrolled in PSYU 688, 689, 690, or 695.