Christian University in Oregon Restructures Counseling Degree Programs

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July information sessions provide details on George Fox University’s updates to mental health counseling and marriage, couple and family counseling offerings

This gives the students more choice in designing their course of study

George Fox University has restructured and renamed two of its graduate counseling degree programs to provide students more freedom in specializing their degrees.

Beginning this fall, the Oregon-based Christian university will offer a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a Master of Arts in Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling. The degrees replace the Master of Arts in Counseling and the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy, respectively.

Two information sessions are scheduled in July at the university’s Portland and Salem, Ore., locations. On Thursday, July 15, a meeting is scheduled at the university’s Salem site at 4600 25th Ave., N.E., in Salem. Later in the month, a session is scheduled Wednesday, July 21, at the Portland Center near Tigard, 12753 S.W. 68th Ave., in Portland. Both meetings run from 6 to 7:30 p.m., and there is no cost to attend.

With the new degree names come changes in curriculum and course offerings. Students in the clinical mental health counseling program, for instance, still need 56 credits to complete the degree. However, they now have the option of adding three credits of elective since three existing courses have each been reduced from three to two credit hours each. “This gives the students more choice in designing their course of study,” said Richard Shaw, chair of the university’s Graduate Department of Counseling.

In the marriage, couple and family counseling program, an additional six elective credits were created by credit-hour reductions in three courses and the elimination of another class.

“It is our desire to provide the best programs possible, so these changes are being made to ensure that we are keeping current with the changes in the field of mental health and providing the students the most freedom possible to pursue what God has laid on their hearts to study,” Shaw said.

Shaw said the department’s two distinguishing attributes – a commitment to an integrated understanding of the Christian faith and mental health, and a commitment to excellent clinical skills – remain unchanged.

The Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling prepares students to work with clients of all ages in a variety of settings. Graduates find employment counseling in child-abuse, youth services, corrections and mental health arenas. Many go on to pursue graduate study in education, social work, special education or other health and human services professions.

The program is generally two to four years in length. Upon completion, students are prepared to sit for the national licensure exam to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Oregon.

The Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling (MA or Certificate) program provides training on how to assist couples, families, children and individuals as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in a variety of clinical settings, including private, institutional, community, ecclesiastical, ethnic, and culturally and socioeconomically diverse outlets. The MCFC program is generally completed in three to four years.

George Fox also offers both a certificate and a Master of Arts in School Counseling, designed to equip individuals to work with students in public or private schools and to guide them through the development of educational and career goals.

Finally, the department’s Education Specialist in School Psychology (EdS) program equips students to test and assess K-12 students in public or private schools, analyze test results and discern need areas for children.

“With the changes we’ve made, we’re better aligned with national counseling accrediting bodies and more competitive with other schools on the West Coast,” Shaw said. “The Graduate Department of Counseling is poised to become a department of destination on the West Coast, and that excites me very much.”

More information on George Fox’s counseling programs, counseling clinic, Trauma Institute and Play Therapy Institute is available at

George Fox University is ranked by Forbes as one of the top 100 colleges in the country and highest among Christian colleges. George Fox is the only Christian university in the Pacific Northwest classified by U.S. News & World Report as a national university. More than 3,300 students attend classes on the university’s campus in Newberg, Ore., and at teaching centers in Portland, Salem, and Redmond, Ore., and Boise, Idaho. George Fox offers bachelor’s degrees in more than 40 majors, degree-completion programs for working adults, five seminary degrees, and 10 master’s and doctoral degrees.

Richard Shaw
Chair, Department of Graduate Counseling

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