The National Institute of Mental Health suggests that within a given year, 26.2% of Americans have a diagnosable mental health disorder. The impact on lives is incalculable and the economic burden is immense.

There is a growing demand for professionals dedicated to helping people who are diagnosed with a wide range of mental health conditions. Mental Health Counseling is a fulfilling career opportunity for those interested in working with individuals, families, and groups to address and treat emotional and mental disorders.

The New York State Department of Labor reports that the overall employment of counselors is expected to grow “faster than average,” which indicates an expected increase of between 21% and 35% for all counselor positions through 2012. Furthermore, they report a figure close to 2,500 for the number of average annual job openings in the counseling professions.

In order to prepare students for the future in meeting this growing demand, the College of Staten Island (CSI) will launch a new Master of Arts degree in Mental Health Counseling. Admission into this program is highly competitive, with space for only 15 students in the fall 2009 inaugural class. Applicants are not required to be working in the mental health field.

This degree will lead to a New York State License in Mental Health Counseling, allowing graduates to work with individuals, families, and groups in a number of settings, including hospitals, outpatient programs, schools, and the criminal justice system, as well as in private practice.

Applications are being accepted now and on a rolling-admission basis for this 60-credit program offered in the Department of Psychology. Applicants will need a BA/BS degree with five undergraduate courses in psychology, a minimum grade point average of 3.0, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

The program requires full-time study and will require three fully supervised internships after the first year of course work. It is designed to meet the educational criteria consistent with New York State Licensure, and is based on the model recommended by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

“The program is interested in attracting new college graduates as well as people already working on Staten Island in mental health positions,” said Dr. Judith Kuppersmith, program director. “Earning a master’s degree will give those already working in the field a tremendous amount of current information and practice that will expand their career opportunities in areas where there are insufficient numbers of well-trained professionals with New York State Licensure.”

Kuppersmith added that “voids exist in post-September 11 NYC in regard to trauma and grief counseling expertise. Our program will also offer students specialty courses in their last semester, which include trauma and grief, addictions, working with immigrant families, and counseling practices in the deaf and hard of hearing population.”

Dr. Nan Sussman, chairperson of the Psychology Department at CSI says that the registered licensure-qualifying program has many benefits, such as “small class size that allows for substantial student-faculty interaction; renowned faculty, including researchers with national reputations; and licensed psychologists and mental health counselors with clinical and supervisory expertise. There will also be outstanding opportunities for practicum and internship placements.” She added that the tuition is very affordable, at only $270 per credit for NYS residents.

To learn more about the requirements or to apply, contact the Office of Recruitment and Admissions at 718.982.2019 or

CSI's Department of Psychology is offering a new Master of Arts degree in Mental Health Counseling.