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    Lee University
    May 26, 2024  
Lee University Catalog 2018-2019 
Lee University Catalog 2018-2019 [Archived Catalog]

College of Arts and Sciences Graduate Studies in Counseling

J. Matthew Melton, Dean

Graduate Studies in Counseling

J. Trevor Milliron, Graduate Program Director
Heather Quagliana, Holistic Child Development Program Chair
Kirstee Williams, Marriage and Family Therapy Program Director
Richard Albright, School Counseling Program Chair

Mission and Philosophy

The counseling faculty at Lee University affirms its commitment to counseling as an effective, viable means of assisting individuals and families in the prevention of problems and in coping effectively with personal, social and spiritual problems.

We believe that God exists, that He is the source of all truth and that He calls us into relationship with Himself and others. The theological paradigm which portrays human nature as created by God, sinfully altered by the fall and redeemed in Jesus Christ provides the foundation of our understanding of human nature. The primary purpose of all our counseling programs is to develop within the students knowledge, appreciation, understanding, ability and skills which will prepare them for responsible Christian service in a complex world.

The practice of counseling is based on theory and research information, an understanding of ethical practices and a set of professional and interpersonal skills. Exposure to conceptual frameworks, research findings and informed practice is the basic curriculum model employed. It is recognized that an interaction of these components is essential.

The counselor, regardless of his/her theoretical stance, functions as a change agent. Effective and positive change is brought about by assisting clients to examine and modify their behavior for more effective living and by assisting clients to cope with, adjust to or otherwise negotiate the environments affecting their psychosocial well-being. For optimal change to occur, the counselor must also be sensitive to the spiritual needs of the individual. We believe that the grace of God and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are the ultimate experiences through which individuals can achieve wholeness and maturity.

The counseling faculty, while representing diverse views, is in agreement that individual beliefs and theoretical patterns must be fostered in graduate counseling students. Faculty members represent an array of models and information which they make available to students to help them clarify their own philosophical, theoretical and practical positions. Special emphasis is given to the enhancement of self-awareness and personal value clarification regarding such issues as the nature of humankind and the meaning of life. Students are continually encouraged in the process of maturation in the image of Christ. The opportunity to consider and refine a personal perspective on life is encouraged as an evolving aspect of individual development.

The counseling faculty is also dedicated to establishing a professional identity appropriate for students in each degree program. Specifically, we seek to encourage identification with the profession of counseling through active membership in organizations and divisions including the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, the Tennessee Association of Marriage and Family Therapy,  the American School Counselor Association, and the Tennessee School Counselor Association.

Lee University identifies its public service region as being generally coterminous with the geographic scope of the denomination. While most students come from the United States, the student body typically consists of representatives from a broad range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Because of this geographic span, programs serve a racially, ethnically and culturally diverse student body. The institution has adopted the policy that no person in whatever relation with Lee University shall be subject to discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, disability or other basis protected by law. 

Master of Science in Holistic Child Development

The Holistic Child Development Program is designed to prepare a student for working in child development and advocacy organizations both domestically and internationally.  Coursework emphasizes legal and ethical issues in working for non-profits and NGOs, utilizing community resources, and research-supported interventions. 

Master of Science in Marriage and Family Studies

The Marriage and Family Studies Program is composed of a minimum of four semesters of approved graduate study. The typical full-time student will complete the program by following a 2-year track. A minimum of 36 semester hours is required. The program core provides educational preparation in human growth and development, human sexuality, systems theory, and research. This program is not intended for those seeking licensure. Rather, this is an ideal program for those wanting to work in administrative roles in family services agencies or in family ministries at a church. This program requires either a final comprehensive examination or a thesis. The thesis option is ideal for students considering doctoral work in family studies.

Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy

The Marriage and Family Therapy Program prepares professionals as broadly trained mental health professionals with a specialty in working with relationships.  Graduates of the program are trained to work in a wide variety of settings including mental health centers, substance abuse centers, church counseling centers and private practice.  Completion of the degree is the first stage toward licensure as a marriage and family therapist.  All MFT students are required to complete 500 hours of direct clinical services, half of which will be working with couples and families.  In addition, students are required to complete over 100 hours of supervision in the delivery of those services. The Marriage and Family Therapy Program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).

Master of Science in School Counseling

At the heart of the Master of Science program in School Counseling is the recognition of the inseparability of the school and the community and the role that counselors have in being advocates for all children and adolescents within these contexts.  The program will lead students to develop skills in guiding and counseling children and adolescents, in facilitating team-building efforts, collaboration and coordination between teachers, parents, support personnel and community resources and in developing and implementing school guidance and counseling programs. Therefore, the purpose of the Master of Science program in School Counseling (PreK-12) is two-fold: (1) to provide a route to initial school counselor licensure and (2) to educate school counselors to become advocates and systems specialists who are capable of assessing, developing, implementing and sustaining programs for youth PreK- 12 from diverse backgrounds.

Students who successfully complete the degree program and meet all standardized test requirements and other conditions set by the state are eligible for school counselor licensure in grades PreK-12 (Praxis II - School Counselor Exam).

The Master of Science program in School Counseling would benefit students with undergraduate degrees in psychology, sociology, human development or teacher education that are seeking to become a licensed school counselor in the PreK-12 school setting. Students entering the program may often be mature students embarking on a career change or those who begin immediately upon completion of the undergraduate degree. Applicants must have earned a baccalaureate degree. The program offered by the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences includes integrated academic and field-based experiences that provide the knowledge base and develop the skills, abilities and understanding needed for success as a school counselor in an elementary or secondary school environment. The curriculum is designed to equip graduates to assume roles as professional counselors who will emerge as leaders in the field of school counseling.

Program Goals

Counseling programs at Lee University are based upon the following goals, which reflect both programmatic and individual needs:

To provide a curriculum which contains an appropriate balance between both didactic and experiential learning.

To provide a curriculum which reflects faculty expertise and competencies, students’ needs for credentialing and the community’s needs for well trained professionals.

To provide students with the opportunity to test out their newly acquired skills in a structured, supervised environment.

To provide a comprehensive program which is open to change and revision based upon the changing needs of students, faculty, the institution and society.

To provide a comprehensive program that enables students to gain knowledge and experience that will enhance their identity as a professional.

To provide a program that teaches the theory and practice of counseling in conjunction with application of Christian principles and values.

To provide a learning environment which is sensitive to the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

Admissions Policies


Application materials for any of our degree programs may be obtained from the graduate admissions coordinator.

Applications will not be acted upon until all required documents have been received (including transcripts, letters of recommendation, and entrance exam scores). In order to allow time for the university and the program admissions committee to process the applications, it is advisable to have applications completed by the following dates:

April 1 for Fall matriculation
November 1 for Spring matriculation


Applicants who are granted regular admission must meet minimum requirements. Among those elements of the total evaluation process are the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • An undergraduate cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or above on a 4 point scale (highly recommended). 
  • A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above on a 4 point scale for any graduate work completed.
  • No specific undergraduate major is essential for admission. Applicants are encouraged to have eighteen undergraduate credits in the social sciences, such as human development, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and statistics. Applicants without adequate preparation may be accepted upon the condition that they register for additional courses deemed necessary by the admissions committee.
  • Scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE Institutional Code: 1401) OR the Miller Analogies Test (MAT Institutional Code: 2540) must be provided. Scores must be no more than five years old. The GRE Advanced tests and Subject tests are not required. For regular admission, scores should be in the 50th percentile or higher.  NOTE: Individuals who have completed a graduate degree at an accredited college or university are not required to submit GRE/MAT test scores. Also, test scores are waived for students with an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above from a regionally accredited college or university.

Each applicant must submit the following:

  • Completed Lee University Graduate Studies online application (  
  • $25 application fee (non-refundable).
  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended.
  • Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE Institutional Code: 1401)
    Scores from the Miller Analogies Test (MAT Institutional Code: 2540) if required (waived if undergraduate GPA is 3.0 or above)
  • Three recommendation, two of which must be from former professors familiar with your work (recommendation are included as part of the online application process).
  • Autobiographical information (guidelines are included in the online application).
  • Personal interview for those who are finalists in the application process (phone interviews may be conducted in cases where face-to-face interviews are impossible).
  • MMR Immunization Verification (if born after January 1, 1957).  The Certificate of Immunization form ( must be completed and signed by a licensed health care provider and returned to the Lee University Health Clinic prior to registration.
  • Proof of Chicken Pox Immunity (Required for all full-time students born after 1979).

International Students

The university is authorized under federal law to enroll non-immigrant alien students on an F-1 visa. International applicants are expected to apply well in advance of their projected beginning date. All academic records and other credentials must be accompanied by an official English translation. If transfer credit from an institution outside the United States is desired, an evaluation from World Education Services (WES) must be submitted. [Refer to the “Transfer Credit” section under Graduate Academic Policies for additional information.] 

In addition to general admissions requirements, international students must supply the following:

  1. All applicants who are not native speakers of English and who will be attending the university on a student visa, and who are not graduates of an American college or university, are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Information on this test can be attained by writing to TOEFL Educational Testing Service; Princeton, New Jersey, 08540, U.S.A. (or go to All test scores should be sent directly from the testing agency to Lee University (Lee University Code: 1401). To be admitted to Lee University graduate studies without English remediation, a minimum TOEFL score of 61 (iBT) is required. Remediation requirements are determined by the Director.
  2. Financial Statement: An applicant on an F-1 student visa must supply, on the form provided by the university, sufficient evidence of financial support for the applicant and all members of his/her family who will accompany the applicant to Lee. This requires that the applicant certify that his/her intent is to attend full time and that no employment will be required. 

All of the above credentials must be received and approved before a SEVIS Form I-20 can be issued to the applicant.  More information can be found in the Graduate International Student Booklet.

Hours Required

A minimum of 36 semester hours is required to complete the Master of Science degree in Holistic Child Development.

A minimum of 36 semester hours is required to complete the Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Studies.

A minimum of 60 semester hours is required to complete the Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.

A minimum of 60 semester hours is required to complete the Master of Science degree in School Counseling.

Transfer Credit

A maximum of six semester hours of credit may be transferred into the program. Approval for the substitution of required course work is made on an individual basis in consultation with the student’s advisor and the Program Director.

Non-Degree Status

Students desiring to take courses without full admission status in our program may choose one of the following options. With any category of non-degree status, students will be required to complete a non-degree status application and submit official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. If at any time non-degree students wish to pursue one of the Master of Science programs, full admission status will be required including a separate application and all other full admission status requirements. Completion of course work under non-degree status does not guarantee that students will be granted full admission status.

A maximum of six semester hours may be taken at the applicant’s risk as an unclassified student. Enrollment will be limited to specific entry-level courses. Courses must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies in Counseling. Professionals who hold a master’s degree in counseling or a closely related field but do not satisfy state requirements for licensure may take a maximum of six courses with non-degree status through one of the Counseling programs. 

Admission with Deficiencies

Students may be admitted into the program with deficiencies if they lack appropriate course work in their undergraduate programs. Deficiencies should be completed during the first year of study. Credits taken to make up deficiencies do not count toward the 60 hour credit requirement.

Full-time vs. Part-time

Although it would be the faculty’s preference, students need not always take a full-time course load.  However, degree requirements must be completed within 6 years of matriculation. 

Once students are admitted they are expected to maintain continuous enrollment (a minimum of three hours during both the fall and spring semester), and make satisfactory progress toward their degree. If a student has not maintained continuous enrollment, he or she must go through the re-entry process and contact the Program Director at least ten weeks prior to the semester in which he or she wishes to re-enter. The admissions committee can:

  1. Grant re-entry without conditions.
  2. Grant re-entry conditionally.
  3. Deny re-entry.

Generally, if the student is making satisfactory progress toward a degree, re-entry will be approved without conditions. However, evidence of delayed progress without reasonable grounds (e.g. multiple requests for re-entry, several semesters not registered) may result in option (2) or (3) above. Students who anticipate discontinuities in registration should inform their advisor in writing.

Completion Requirements for Degrees in the Graduate Programs in Counseling

  1. A maximum of six (6) hours of transfer work from an accredited institution and approved by the Director of the Graduate Programs in Counseling may be counted toward the graduate degree.
  2. Candidates must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.
  3. Grades below a “C” are unacceptable and may be grounds for dismissal from the program.
  4. No more than two “C’s” are acceptable. The candidate will be dismissed from the program with a third “C” or below.
  5. Candidates must apply for graduation in accordance with the university’s published policy.
  6. Students must complete the program within six (6) calendar years from the completion of the first course.

Ethical Standards

The program endorses and abides by ethical standards of service delivery and research established by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists and American School Counseling Association, Lee University and the State of Tennessee. In accordance with these ethical standards, master level students are not permitted to engage in the independent practice of counseling. Information on professional ethics is distributed to and reviewed with each incoming class on an annual basis and reiterated in counseling courses and seminars.

The Counseling Graduate Committees

It is the responsibility of each Counseling Graduate Committee to give administrative oversight to the specific graduate program. The committees consider and recommend curricular changes to the Graduate Council, approve all program policies, assess effectiveness of the graduate program, serve as the Admissions Committee, review candidacy, and approve applicants for graduation.