Northwestern College adds master’s programs in clinical mental health counseling and school counseling

Northwestern College will launch master’s degree programs in clinical mental health counseling and school counseling in May. Both feature 100% online coursework and extensive hands-on learning.

The clinical mental health counseling program is designed to be completed in two years by taking two eight-week courses at a time. The school counseling program is set up to be completed by working professionals in three years.

The programs are directed by Dr. Gregory Elliott, who joined Northwestern’s administration after teaching in the graduate counseling program at Colorado Christian University, where he received the Outstanding Faculty Award for the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences in May. The 2020–21 president of the Colorado Counseling Association, Elliott has extensive clinical practice experience, including directing the counseling center at Adams State University.

“I am very excited to have the opportunity to develop graduate counseling programs at Northwestern, which has established itself as one of the best Christian colleges in the nation,” says Elliott. “I look forward to producing outstanding counselors who love Jesus Christ and seek to be part of God’s restorative mission to hurting people.”

Elliott says there’s a desperate need for more counselors. For example, the American School Counseling Association recommends a 250:1 ratio of students to counselors, and Iowa is at 350:1, while the national ratio is 450:1. Elliott’s clinical specialization and research interests have been focused on working with suicidal clients and in training mental health clinicians to do the same. He notes that suicide rates have been increasing for 15 years. “God is calling people into the counseling profession to help bring hope into people’s lives,” he says.

Northwestern’s counseling programs are aligned with the standards and competencies of the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), from which the college will apply for accreditation after the first cohorts graduate. The school counseling program is approved by the Iowa Department of Education and the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners.

For more information about the programs, visit or Applications for the summer cohort open Jan. 15.