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April 4, 2011 

Contact Glena Temple, Ph.D., dean of the School of Letters and Sciences, at 608-796-3393 or or Debra Murray, Psy.D., director of the Mental Health Counseling program, at 608-796-3720 or 


LA CROSSE, Wis.—Viterbo University has been granted approval to offer a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling (MHC) degree and plans are to begin the program this fall. 

This additional graduate program will mark Viterbo’s first new master’s level program since the university added a Master of Business Administration program eight years ago. 

Viterbo was informed this week by the Higher Learning Commission that its application to offer the graduate program in counseling had been approved and that the university’s proposal “is well planned and well resourced. This reflects the team’s confidence that the institution has the capacity to deliver this program with quality.” 

Like Viterbo’s other graduate programs, students will be able to enroll on a full-time or part-time basis and many classes will be offered in the evening or on weekends, continuing Viterbo’s successful formula of offering flexible scheduling options for adult students. 

Debra Murray, Psy.D., a psychology professor and chair of the psychology department, will head the new program. 

“We have been planning for this for a long time,” she said, “and it will be top notch. The Master of Science degree in Mental Health Counseling is consistent with the values and Franciscan tradition of the university. The counseling emphasis flows from our mission much like our programs in social work, addictions studies, and criminal justice. It’s about offering hope and help.” 

“Our program requirements will be rigorous,” Murray added. “Individuals confronting mental health and substance abuse issues are often marginalized and we want to make sure that their needs are addressed by the best programs and professionals available.” 

According to Glena Temple, dean of the School of Letters and Sciences, Viterbo indicated in its application that program requirements will exceed state and national standards with the idea that the university will seek full Council of Accreditation for Counseling Educational Related Programs (CACREP) accreditation after three years—the minimum possible time period. “CACREP is the ‘gold standard’ for counseling programs and all of our preparations have been made with that in mind,” Temple said. 

Viterbo’s program will be unique. Students enrolling in the mental health counseling program will be able to select an emphasis area for advanced training in addiction counseling, integrative health counseling, or child and adolescence counseling, Murray indicated. 

Most often, graduates go on to pursue careers such as correction facility counselors, social service agency directors, family therapists, and addiction counselors. 

Specific details regarding the program are at and the university expects to begin the program with 15 students. 


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