Make a lasting impact with a specialization in child and adolescent counseling

By the age of 16, more than two thirds of children report experiencing a traumatic event.1 Even when not faced with a distinctly stressful experience, children, tweens and teens can be seriously impacted by the various challenges that are a part of growing up. From causing difficulty building healthy relationships to increasing the potential to develop chronic health issues and addiction later in life,2 childhood trauma can be life-altering. Fortunately, research shows that interventions with trauma-informed approaches such as those with a licensed professional counselor can make a significant impact on the lives of children struggling with stress and trauma.3 Become a trusted part of a child's support network when you earn your online Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) with a specialization in child and adolescent counseling.

Behavior and emotions are unique in youth in comparison to adults. The specialization has provided me with techniques and tools to provide quality therapeutic interventions for the specific developmental needs of children and adolescents.
Ellie G., CMHC master’s ‘23

Man and woman with two children talking to counselor

Marquette University offers a child and adolescent specialization for our online counseling master's students because we know how critical it is to have professionals trained specifically to help this vulnerable population.

When you earn your online child and adolescent clinical mental health counseling degree from Marquette, you'll have the opportunity to dig into the unique challenges faced by younger clients and enhance your counseling skills with contemporary techniques for working with adolescents.

Why is child and adolescent counseling important?


of children and young people ages 3-17 in the U.S. have a mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral health disorder4


increase in suicidal behaviors among high school students in 2019 compared to the decade before4


estimated percentage of children with mental health disorders who go without care5

A holistic approach to mental health counseling

The online counseling master's degree with a child and adolescent specialization will help you prepare to provide well-rounded care for your young clients. Mental health counselors working with youth must be prepared to face a host of challenges not present with adult clients. From communicating with parents and caregivers to helping children express their emotions and needs constructively, there are many special aspects to this type of care.

This master's degree in counseling specialization, like all of Marquette's degree programs, is designed with a community focus and aims to instill students with a mission to advocate for the greater good.

Young male in hooded sweatshirt smiling and speaking to counselor

Online master’s in child and adolescent counseling curriculum

Marquette's flexible online counseling program features both synchronous and asynchronous course components. This allows you to primarily work on your own schedule but also gives you the opportunity for discussion and exploration with your peers who are also pursuing counseling careers. All online counseling master's students will complete 20 courses (60 credit hours) total.

Specializing students will complete:

  • 15 core counseling courses (45 credit hours) alongside general track students
  • 1 child and adolescent counseling specialization course (3 credit hours)
  • 1 elective (3 credit hours)
  • 1 practicum course (3 credit hours) focused on child and adolescent development
  • 2 internship courses (3 credit hours each) focused on child and adolescent development

View the full curriculum.

woman speaking to child

Krystyne Mendoza
It’s important to know that the specialty aspect in a master’s program only comes after you have developed the foundation. Sometimes, students know that they only want to work with children and adolescents, however, neglect to realize that they must also learn how to work with adults in order to be able to specialize well. Most children have adult caregivers. Many adults have children. Thus, it is important to know that the specialization process happens near your final year in the program, as the first two years are focused on gaining core knowledge that will support you in being able to specialize well.
Dr. Krystyne Mendoza
Clinical Assistant Professor, Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology
Young girl speaking on a couch with counselor holding a clipboard

Specialization course:

Counseling with Children and Adolescents (3 Credit Hours)

This course is designed to expand upon the experiences gathered from prior course work with a focus on children, youth and adolescents. The primary goal of this course is to expose clinical mental health counseling students through both didactic and experiential activities to counseling with a child or adolescent population. This is a course designed to give students the opportunity to provide service, experience collaboration and learn from young people to apply to the counseling context. Students will have an opportunity to practice working with youth and learn a variety of empirically supported treatments, gaining knowledge and resources for how to implement evidence-based practice and a strength-based approach with children and adolescents.

male counselor fist bumping child

Preparing for a career in youth counseling

As a student in Marquette's online counseling master's program, you will take 15 core courses to build a powerful foundation of assessment and diagnosis skills and counseling techniques along with a specialization course in youth counseling and one additional elective course. You will also complete one practicum and two internship courses focusing on child and adolescent counseling where you can gain confidence as a counselor through hands-on experiences.

Our students have had practicum and internship experiences at sites including:

  • Children’s Hospital Wisconsin
  • Rogers Hospital
  • Behavior Clinic at Penfield Children's Center
  • Sixteenth Street Community Health Center

Learn more about practicum and internship experiences.

I have gained a lot of knowledge and experience through my internship site on the necessary skills I need to work with this population. My site has taught me how to do that in a safe and responsible way in order to be the best counselor I can be for my clients and their caregivers. I have learned to approach counseling strategies in different ways that will be the best fit for a given situation or family dynamic.
Amanda F., CMHC master’s ‘23*
Admissions deadlines
Priority application deadline
July 15
Fall 2024 term
Application deadline
August 12
Fall 2024 term
Next start
August 26
Fall 2024 term

*Student completing on-campus program

  1. Retrieved on February 23, 2023, from
  2. Retrieved on February 23, 2023, from
  3. Retrieved on February 23, 2023, from
  4. 2022 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2022 Oct. CHILD AND ADOLESCENT MENTAL HEALTH. Available from: Accessed February 22, 2023.
  5. Koppelman J. Children With Mental Disorders: Making Sense of Their Needs and the Systems That Help Them. NHPF Issue Brief. 2004 Jun 4;(799):1–24. Available from https://www​.ncbi.nlm​ Accessed February 22, 2023.