Master's Program



When is the application deadline?

The priority deadline is January 15. All application requirements must be submitted in order for the application to be considered complete. Applications will be reviewed after the priority deadline as space is available.

What is required?

For application requirement information, visit the program information in the USF 2023-2024 Graduate Academic Catalog.

Do I need to take the GRE?

Yes. The Graduate Record Exam is required. This is one of many tools the admission committee uses to evaluate applicants. If the applicant has graduate level course work in a related field or a completed a master’s program already, the applicant can request a waiver. The waivers are issued at the discretion of the Program Director. 

What should I include in my statement of purpose? How long should it be?

The statement of purpose provides you an opportunity to introduce yourself to the admission committee and describe why you believe this degree is a good fit with both your professional background and professional aspirations.

It also will serve as a writing sample. Be sure to proofread accordingly.

There is no set length, but most are between 1-2 pages.

Who should write my letters of recommendation?

Your letters of recommendation should come from individuals who know you in a professional and an academic setting.

It is required that at least one of the recommenders is someone who can attest to your academic abilities and should be a former instructor or professor.

What does it look like when I ask for someone to complete a letter of recommendation?

The requested part will receive an email that looks very similar to the email included below:

Email Subject: University of South Florida Recommendation Request


XXXX XXXXXXX has requested that you write a letter of recommendation for admission to a graduate program at the University of South Florida. By requesting a recommendation through the University’s online application system this applicant has agreed to waive the right to view the recommendation letter that you submit. 

Optional message from the applicant: 

Thank you for your assistance!

Do I need to provide transcripts from all institutions including when I got an Associate’s Degree?

Yes, you will need to submit transcripts from your Associate’s Degree and any/all institutions you have attended since high school.

I applied to University of South Florida as an undergraduate and have already submitted past transcripts. Do I need to submit again?

No. If you had submitted these transcripts to USF in the past for undergraduate admission, you do not need to resubmit.

I received a graduate certificate from another institution. Should I submit transcripts from that program?

Yes. Please submit all academic coursework since high school. The graduate certificate may have classes that could transfer into this program.

How do I check the status of my application?

Find out where you are in the application process every step of the way. Check your application status to see items received, items missing, new information requested and our admission decision. Here’s how:

When are new graduate students accepted?

Students are accepted on a rolling basis with priority given to those who have a completed application by January 15.

When do graduate students start?

Students start in the fall semester only.

How many hours can I transfer into the program?

The Graduate School will accept coursework constituting up to 40% of the USF Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling Program at the discretion of the Chair and the Program. The following rules apply to all transferred credit:

  • Transfer courses are accepted at the discretion of the program and instructor.
  • Transfer credits must be from a program accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) or the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
  • Courses that were completed to meet the requirements for another degree cannot be counted as transfer credit toward a second degree.
  • Students must petition through the Graduate Transfer Course Form to have transfer credits accepted into the graduate program, and students are responsible for providing a syllabus for each course to be considered. The Graduate Transfer Course Form can be found here: This must be completed and submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies preferably in the first semester, but no later than the second semester the student is enrolled in the graduate degree program.
  • A grade of B or better must be earned in order for transfer credits to be approved.
  • Field placement coursework will not be accepted as transfer credit under any circumstances.
  • Transferred courses must be at the graduate level and acceptable to the program.
  • Courses that were earned seven or more years before the student applied for admission to the program will not be accepted as transfer credit.
  • Transfer of direct equivalent courses syllabi must be approved by the faculty member who teaches the course and a copy of the syllabi must be submitted for approval. Please submit to your Academic Advisor here and they will forward to the correct faculty member.

Can I have required courses waived in the program?

No. The only exception is transfer of direct equivalent courses from Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) or Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredited graduate programs. In addition, courses will not be waived for work experience.

I was accepted but haven’t taken any classes for a few semesters? Do I need to reapply?

You will need to reapply if you haven’t taken any courses for a year (3 semesters).


What is the cost of the program?

The cost of the program can be found on the Tuition and Fee Information on the USF Controller’s Office. Please be sure to pay attention the resident status (Florida resident vs. out of state tuition).

Are there scholarships available?

Yes, there are scholarships available. The RMHC program encourages students to apply for scholarships within USF as well as nationwide. Please refer to the scholarship guide for more detailed information.


When are classes offered?

Due to our cohort model only certain classes are offered certain semesters so typically the schedule remains the same from year to year. Students follow a plan of study and semesters run concurrently (no summers off). Each class generally meets once per week (except online and summer). Class meeting times are listed below (subject to change).

  • Fall & Spring:
    • Morning  =  9:30am - 12:15pm
    • Afternoon = 2:00pm - 4:45pm
    • Evening = 6:00pm - 9:15pm
  • Summer Session C:
    • Morning = 9-1:15
    • Evening = 6-10:15
  • Summer session A varies

Can I be a part-time student?

Yes, many of our students currently take this route. We have a part-time plan of study to follow. The only exception to this is Internship which is full time and takes place the last semester of the program. It may be a challenge trying to locate a placement site that only allows evening hours. We also offer evening courses for students wishing to take all evening classes. They have not had any difficulty as long as they begin and continue on the evening “cycle.” Students should follow the part time plan of study so as to not miss out on taking classes when they are offered and lengthen their time in the program.

For more information, please explore our various plans of study and schedule of courses.

How long does it take to complete the program?

For a full-time student, it will take 2 years and one semester. Depending on the part-time plan of study the amount of time will vary, though it will be less than 5 years.

For more information, please explore our various plans of study and schedule of courses.

What is the thesis track? Who should pursue that?

For students who are passionate about research or are interested in pursuing a doctoral a program, the thesis track may be a good fit for you.

Students who pursue the thesis track will complete the 54-credit hour core and use the 6 remaining credits to work with a faculty member in the thesis program. An oral defense of the thesis is required.

I think I may want to do research but not necessarily a thesis. What are my options?

The faculty members in the Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program are fantastic and many are involved in interesting, cutting-edge research. If you are interested in working with a faculty member but not necessarily in the thesis, you are encouraged to create an independent study to assist in research.

How big is the cohort?

Approximately 40 new students begin each fall. We keep our program intentionally small to create a community of learners who will ultimately be the foundation for your professional network.

What are some student activities?

Each semester the student organization for RMHC iLINC hosts several activities. The activies range from tailgating to yoga in the park to scholarship workshops. iLINC is 100% student led and a fantastic way for students to develop leadership skills as well as enhance their graduate student experiences.

As a preeminent research institution, USF has a huge graduate student presence. RMHC students are welcome to participate in general graduate student activities as well as more focused activities within the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences and in health-related disciplines.


What can I do with this degree?

Graduates pursue a diversity of career paths including opening their own private practices, working at state and federal agencies such as the VA (Veteran Affairs) or VR (Vocational Rehabilitation), non profit agencies focused addictions, marriage and family therapy, and trauma.

What makes the USF RMHC program so special? Why do students choose this program?

  • Amazing faculty who are top of their field in research and clinical skill building;
  • Real-World Preparation: Our graduates have nearly a 100% job placement rate. With over 100 approved field placements in the Tampa Bay Area, our students are well prepared to serve their communities in private practice or agency work;
  • Vibrant Student Community: Our students develop deep personal and professional relationships with each other during their graduate studies; and
  • Preparation for Credentialing: Students can pursue LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Counselor) or CRC (Certified Rehabilitation Counselor) credentials based upon the specialty track selection in the program. Students can also prepare for the MCAP (Masters in Certified Addictions Specialist) or LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy) credentials through optional graduate certificate programs..

I want to open a private practice, is this the degree for me?

All that is required to open a private practice is a license. You do not need to pursue a doctoral degree in order to open a private practice.

What is the difference between pursuing this degree to become a LMHC or PsyD?

Both LMHC and PsyD are clinical degrees. LMHC is a master's level degree and license, so it is usually takes less time to complete the degree. PsyD degree is a doctoral degree, so a student is required to complete a doctoral thesis although it may require less work compared to the Ph.D. Clinical Psychology degree.

The scope of work overlaps in that both degrees lead to clinical work but certain psychological testing (personality tests, IQ test, etc.) can only be administered by doctoral-level practitioners.


What do it mean to be licensed? Why does it matter?

The RMHC program offers several paths to licensure. Being licensed means you are recognized by the Florida Board of XXX as a professional in the counseling or related field. Licensure provides legitimacy to your degree and expands career opportunities.

Where can I get information about licensure?

For licensure as a Mental Health Counselor, please visit Florida Department of Health - LMHC. For licensure as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, please visit Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification.

Which licenses/credentials can I pursue?

Depending on your plans of study, graduates can become licensed mental health counselors, certified addiction professionals, and certified rehabilitation counselors. To learn more about each, please refer to the website.

Does it cost extra to pursue the tracks?

The cost of student tuition is per credit hour.  The master’s degree program is 60 credit hours.  While the majority of the courses needed to complete a certificate are built into the degree, additional credit hours beyond 60 are necessary to complete the certificate. This can be done in as little as 63 credits. You will work with your advisor to plan to use elective credit hours to complete the majority of courses required for certificates. 

What is CACREP?

CACREP stands for the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. We are proud to be accredited by CACREP because it ensures the gold standard of counselor education and makes the licensure process easier state by state.


Where do students complete their field placement experiences?

Each graduate will complete a minimum of 900 counseling hours with our agency partners upon graduation. We have approximately 200 agency partners (and growing) around the Tampa Bay area including St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Sarasota, Ocala, and Orlando.

I want to work with a specific population (Veterans, individuals with substance abuse issues, families, etc.). Can I customize my field placement experience based on interest?

When it is time to begin your field placement, you will have the opportunity to search for agencies who work with specific populations. You can also interview with agencies in particular geographic areas around the Tampa Bay region.

I want to do my practicum next semester. What do I need to do?

  • At approximately six weeks into a new semester, Dr. Amanda DePippo sends out a "Field Placement Announcement" to all students interested in Practicum I, II, or Internship for the following semester (or in the case of Spring, for the following semester(s) since she asks for interest for both Summer and Fall). In the Announcement, she specifies a date by which the student must submit the Field Placement Application and Field Placement E-Form. These documents MUST be submitted in order to be eligible to register for the class for that following semester.
  • If the student already has a site confirmed, they should submit the Field Placement Application and proof of professional liability insurance. Insurance can be obtained through Health Care Providers Service at The next step is to submit an on-line Field Placement E-Form to Dr. Amanda DePippo.
  • If the student does not have a site, he/she should review our Intern Placement Tracking Database (IPT) for a list of our approved sites. The organization ID is: usfrmhc. If you do not yet have a username and password, you will receive that in your Foundations course during your first semester in the program. If he/she needs assistance in obtaining a site, contact Dr. DePippo at 813-974-1265 or send an email. The student should speak with the placement site and arrange an interview toward the goal of working at that site the next semester for the appropriate number of hours. If the site is not listed as a pre-approved site placement, site approval must be given by Dr. Amanda DePippo and a Handbook for Field Supervisors and Agencies must be distributed. Once a site is secured, follow the same process stated in #2.
  • When approval has been granted by Dr. DePippo, a permit to register for a Practicum or Internship class will be issued. Be aware that permits are: a) issued on a first-come, first-serve basis; and b) class specific, i.e., once you're permitted for a specific class, there is a very good chance that you will not be able to transfer into another one. Once a permit has been issued, a student may register for the associated practicum or internship class.
  • A separate application and proof of insurance must be filled out for each Practicum I, Practicum II, and Internship.
  • Please note: You may view the How To Secure a Field Placement Site webcast. Also, some general tips are offered on the Field Placement E-Form.


I am coming from another state and need to complete a number of courses for licensure. Can I take classes at USF?

Yes, we have non degree seeking students each semester take classes to complete licensure requirements, pending availability, instructor approval, and program director approval.

If you are licensed as a mental health counselor from another state or are currently enrolled/graduated from a CACREP-accredited clinical mental health counseling program, you may apply to take pre-approved classes as a non-degree seeking student. Permission into classes are subject to availability, instructor approval, and program director approval. Preference is given to currently enrolled degree-seeking students.

Please follow this process:

  1. Fill out the Non-Degree Application through the USF Registrar
  2. Once you are accepted, email Tatiana Acosta with the following information:
    * Your university ID (U#)
    * Reason and proof of need for the course. A letter from the Florida Board detailing the course(s) you need for licensure will demonstrate your need.
    * The course(s) you are requesting
  3. Register for the class upon receiving the permit

How many classes can a non-degree seeking student take?

A student can take up to 2 classes/semester and a total of 12 credit hours.

Which courses are available for non-degree seeking students?

  • RCS 5450: Fundamentals of Substance Abuse (Summer online) 
  • RCS 6476: Human Sexuality (Spring = Tues/6:30-9:15, Summer = Wed/6-10:15)
  • RCS 6906: Counseling in Community Settings (Independent Study: varies by semester) 
  • RCS 5035: Concepts/Applications (Fall = online)
  • MHS 5480: Human Growth & Development (Summer = Online)

Who would benefit from the Graduate Addictions & Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate?

Students who are interested in learning more about addictions and substance abuse counseling should pursue this certificate. Some of the students in the certificate are also current students in the master’s program. There are also a number of students who are professionals working in the field seeking opportunities to refine their skills in addictions and substance abuse counseling.

Are the GREs required for the Graduate Certificate in Addictions and Substance Abuse Counseling? How long is the certificate?

The Graduate Certificate in Addictions & Substance Abuse Counseling is a total of 15 credits, does not require a GRE, and available fully online. Students will learn about etiology of addiction, the addiction cycle, counseling approaches, and skills in working with special populations.

The certificate prepares students for State Certification as an Addiction Professional (MCAP).

Are the GREs required for Non-Degree Seeking Students?

No, the GREs are only required for admission to the master’s program.