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State approves new BW graduate degree in clinical mental health counseling

To boost enrollment and address the critical shortage of licensed mental health practitioners, the State also announced scholarship support to greatly reduce tuition for what will be BW's newest master's degree program.

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Baldwin Wallace University has earned both Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) approval and scholarship funding for a new Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) degree program.

BW is now accepting inquiries from interested students and expects to begin enrolling students into the 24-month graduate program for an August start, pending final Higher Learning Commission (HLC) approval.

Surging need for counselors

The Ohio Council of Behavioral Health and Family Service Providers has documented a "workforce crisis" in the field, while the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected jobs in the counseling sector will grow by 25% between 2019 and 2029.

Currently, there are not enough graduates entering the field to meet demand, with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) recently reporting only one provider was available for every 350 individuals in need of services.

Financial incentives address shortage

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Dr. Erin West, associate professor and founding chair of BW's counseling department

As Ohio seeks to address a shortage of licensed mental health practitioners, the state has made $230,000 in Behavioral Health Workforce Expansion Program funding available to students who enroll in BW's new degree program.

The substantial scholarship awards, starting at $14,000 per student, will reduce tuition by two-thirds.

"We're grateful to the State and excited for our students to have scholarship support that will make this quality, in-person program among the most affordable," said Dr. Erin West, associate professor and founding chair of BW's counseling department. "We have worked hard to design a degree program that removes barriers for students who want to work in this field."

Easy scheduling, 24-month program

The program includes creating a 24-month cohort model with classes that will meet during the same one-and-a-half-day blocks of time each semester.

"That predictability should give students confidence that they can plan and align work and family schedules around on-campus classes without having to face scheduling changes from semester to semester," said Dr. Randy Moate, associate professor of counseling, who worked with West to design the program.

In-Person, Hands-On Learning

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Dr. Erin West (left), associate professor and founding chair of BW's counseling department, and Dr. Randy Moate (right), associate professor of counseling

In addition, each cohort of students will experience small class sizes with active, experiential learning.

"Through role play exercises, relevant clinical examples and experiential activities, our students will understand how and why the topics they're learning about in class will be useful to them as a professional counselor," West said. "We look forward to supporting counseling students as they become excellent and compassionate counselors and build the foundation for a meaningful, life-long career."

Information and application

Following ODHE approval, BW's CMHC program application has been submitted to the accreditor and is pending HLC approval as a final step before opening the application.

For more information, visit the Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree program page.

Interested candidates may also email or call the BW Department of Counseling chair, Dr. Erin West, at ewest@bw.edu or (440) 826-6893.

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