- Earn a master’s degree in mental health counseling or a related field (60 credits).
- Complete post-master’s supervised clinical work (2 years minimum).
- Pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE) licensing board examination.
- Apply for your Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) license through the Massachusetts Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professional Board.
Read more below about what's required for each step.
Licensure requirements for mental health counselors vary by state. If you plan to work in states other than Massachusetts, please review the list of state licensing boards and visit the appropriate website for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
How do I know if the master's degree program will fulfill all the requirements for licensure?
We have detailed the educational and pre-master's field experience requirements to qualify for LMHC licensure in Massachusetts. Graduates of the Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling will have fulfilled all these licensure requirements, but do make sure any other program you consider will do so as well.
What is required for my supervised experience after I earn the Master's in Mental Health Counseling?
In Massachusetts some of the requirements are:
- 3360 total hours in a minimum of two years.
- 960 hours of direct client contact (a maximum of 350 may be group counseling).
- 130 hours of supervision (75 hours must be individual supervision).
- Make sure that the licensed clinical supervisor meets the state requirements.
- In Massachusetts, the supervised experience cannot be completed in a private practice or by providing academic counseling.
Mass.gov provides a list of the complete Massachusetts LMHC requirements.
Once you start, this post-master’s experience needs to be completed within eight years.
Upon completing the master’s degree, graduates of William James College look for jobs that qualify for the post-master’s supervised experience, with an approved supervisor. Sometimes graduates are hired at the place where they completed their practicum or internship.
How do I prepare for and take the NCMHCE licensing examination?
You may take the exam at any time after graduation, but scores expire after five years. You would have to re-take the exam if you apply for licensure after your scores expire.
During your time in the program your professors will talk to you about the licensing exam and how to prepare for it.
There are many resources online and through other organizations that will assist with exam preparation.
The Massachusetts Mental Health Counselors Association has the latest information on exam dates and also offers its own (paid) exam prep workshops.
Other resources our students have found to be helpful are NCMHCE Exam and the National Board for Certified Counselors Examination Preparation.
Exam registration is through your ProCounselor account on the National Board of Certified Counselors website.
I've fulfilled all the requirements! Now how do I get my Massachusetts LMHC license?
Submit an application to the Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professions, which includes:
- Completed application form
- Official transcripts
- Documentation of pre-master’s field experience
- Documentation of post-master's field experience
- An academic requirements form, usually signed by your program director
- Letters of Reference
- Proof of passing the required licensing exam
- Passing a criminal background check