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Fall final deadline is June 1, 2015. Please contact Sandy Brandt,, with any questions.

Graduate Studies



Physical location
438 Old Main

Mailing address
Graduate Studies
5000 Abbey Way SE
Lacey, WA 98503

Office hours
9 a.m. - 6 p.m.

9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Tuesday - Friday

Admission requirements

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Admission to the MAC program is solely the function of five factors, explained in detail below. Please note that weaknesses in any one factor can be compensated by excellence in other factors.

Factor 1: Academic background

A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university is required of candidates for admission into the MAC Program. More specifically, an undergraduate major in psychology is highly desirable. However, a psychology major is not essential. A minor in psychology is usually expected as the minimum academic background.

Note: Lack of undergraduate coursework in psychology does not automatically exclude you from consideration. You may be able to demonstrate equivalent academic training (such as majors or minors in social work, family studies, or other fields related to psychology) and excellence in other criteria for admission (experience, mastery over personal issues, letters of reference, GPA, etc.).

The MAC faculty reserves the right to offer especially promising students a conditional acceptance into the program. If in doubt, contact us and ask! In addition to academic course content, your previous GPA will be taken as a predictor of your ability to succeed in the MAC Program. We understand that poor grades can result from many factors, such as stress, work, or family obligations.

The MAC Program does not require GRE or MAT scores for admission; in the absence of such scores, prior grades are one of the best indicators of academic potential. If your previous grades were modest (mainly B's and C's), you may wish to address this in your goal statement and/or ask your references to address it.

Documentation of academic background and grades are taken from official transcripts. Official transcripts are required from each and every college and university you have attended, even those where you took only one or two classes. "Official transcripts" are usually defined as any sealed transcript that comes directly from the degree-granting institution, bearing the institution’s seal and the official signature of the registrar. Unsealed transcripts (i.e., transcripts opened by the student) or photocopies of official transcripts are not acceptable.

Students with no classes in any of the social sciences may be required to enroll in an undergraduate Introduction to Psychology or Human Development course prior to acceptance into the program, and then will be accepted on a conditional basis.

International students must submit proof of English proficiency in one of two ways:

  1. An undergraduate degree from a U.S. institution where English is the language of instruction, or
  2. An official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOFEL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score report (less than 2 years old) sent directly from the testing agency. For full admission we require a 79 IBT/213 CBT/550 PBT on the TOFEL or 6.5 band score on the academic version of the IELTS.

Those students who do not meet the minimum required English proficiency but are otherwise admissible will be conditionally admitted through our ESL program. Saint Martin's University is the sole judge of an applicant's English proficiency.

Factor 2: Clinical experience

Clinical experience in a reputable counseling facility (either voluntary or as a paid position) is typically expected as a minimum requirement for admission into the MAC Program.

Clinical experience may have been obtained from a variety of sources including, but not limited to: experience as a staff member in counseling facilities; work in community mental health agencies; and employment as a case worker in the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) programs (such as Child Protective Services or Family Reconciliation Services), other governmental agencies or programs (such as adoption agencies or detention centers), school counseling programs (such as a school counselor, interventionist, Head Start teacher, etc.), religious counseling facilities, or ministries.

We are generally looking for experience beyond an undergraduate internship, counseling connected to commercial services or products (such as diet counseling or smoking cessation counseling), and personal therapy — although those activities are recognized as valuable and helpful experiences.

In the past, some applicants to the MAC Program have been accepted despite limited clinical experience. This is a rare situation, usually allowed only when the applicant demonstrates rich life and/or cultural experiences, maturity, and excellence in other important areas. In other words, weakness in one area can be made up by excellence in other areas. Please note that such an exception is not a right of the applicant, but is a judgment call on the part of the MAC faculty. In such cases, students may be asked to obtain some experience in the field or to complete some volunteer work prior to and/or concurrent with the first few semesters of the MAC Program.

Factor 3: Appropriateness of goals

All applicants need to write a goal statement of three to five pages (typed, double-spaced). In this statement, you should describe:

  1. your academic and professional preparation for graduate study in psychology,
  2. your specific reasons for desiring entrance into the MAC Program, and
  3. your short-term and long-term career goals and objectives.

There is no problem with your having honest questions about your future academic or employment goals. However, you should show thought and planning, tentative though they may be at this point in time.

The statement is intended to be an introspective, autobiographical description. It should be specific enough to provide the reader with a concrete sense of your personal, professional, and intellectual development as it pertains to work and study in psychology. When writing your statement, it is appropriate to address personal issues and challenges as well as personal experiences with therapy (for more information, review factor 4).

Be sure to present your statement in a professional manner. Statements that contain spelling, grammatical and/or typographical errors, and that consist of less than three to five pages (double-spaced) reflect poorly on your potential for success in graduate work. Your statement should be representative of the writing abilities you would offer as a graduate student.

Factor 4: Ability to resolve issues

All therapists and counselors are human and, as such, have personal issues that threaten to impact the quality of the services they provide to their clients. The presence of such issues is not usually seen as a problem indicating non-acceptance of your application to the MAC Program. Indeed, it is often the presence of issues that provides the motivation for people to seek careers in the helping professions. Involvement as a consumer of therapy may, in some cases, be viewed as an advantage and a source of experience in the therapy process.

The major concern surrounding personal issues is that you are able to:

  1. Recognize and be aware of the existence of those personal issues, and
  2. Possess the ability to move toward resolution of those issues rather than projecting those issues onto your clients and/or your coworkers ("counter transference").

For these reasons, a paragraph addressing personal issues is appropriate to include in your goal statement (see factor 3). If you have particularly strong personal challenges, you may wish to encourage your references to address this area of concern in their letters of support. In considering your personal issues, both you and your references should discuss the potential risks of your personal issues interfering with the educational and/or therapy process.

The MAC faculty recognizes that participating as a client in individual or group therapy can be both a growth experience for the graduate student and a significant aspect of the program to prepare mental health professionals. Experience as a client in personal therapy is, therefore, one of the program requirements. All MAC students are required to obtain a minimum of 10 sessions of individual or group therapy conducted by a licensed mental health counselor, a licensed marriage and family therapist, a licensed clinical social worker, a licensed clinical psychologist, an M.D. psychiatrist, or a mental health therapist of equivalent status (the therapist's qualifications will need to be approved prior to beginning therapy); for more information on the therapy requirement, please see the MAC Student Handbook, chapters 2 and 3.

The goal of the therapy is three-fold:

  1. An experience in personal counseling helps crystallize a student's goals to study counseling psychology.
  2. Personal therapy affords one kind of direct experience in the counseling process (from the recipient's end). It is hypocritical for students to provide therapy to clients without experiencing what it is like to be in the role of a client.
  3. Personal therapy helps students resolve personal or growth issues. Some students are attracted to a counseling program so that they can work out unresolved mental health issues such as hidden addictions, approval-seeking, family-of-origin struggles, or personality disorders. Students need to be aware of personal issues if they are to avoid having their problems interfere with their effectiveness as therapists.

We find that most students have received some therapy prior to coming to Saint Martin's University. This is highly desirable. Regardless of personal therapy received prior to admittance into the program, however, all students are expected to receive at least 10 additional hours of individual, family, and/or group therapy while in the program. Students are encouraged to either continue on with successful prior therapy or to seek a new modality they have not previously experienced.

Verification of completion of therapy will consist of a letter written by the therapist on office stationery and completion of the Verification of Therapy Form, due in the MAC office (Old Main 412) no later than completion of your second semester of work; this form is generally submitted with application for degree candidate status. The therapist will not be asked to divulge specific information regarding the nature of the student’s personal issues.

Factor 5: The "Person of the therapist"

The selection of students from the pool of applicants to the MAC Program is a demanding task presenting numerous challenges. Some evaluation criteria are relatively simple to observe, such as GPA, specific experience in the field, and writing ability. However, there are other less objective issues which must be evaluated as well. It is this attention to what we call the "person of the therapist" and the student’s suitability to the field of counseling in training that makes our program distinct.

The MAC Program is known for training people to become true therapists, not just for providing a body of knowledge and a bag of techniques. The MAC Program has a clear psychotherapeutic focus, supporting students to become clinicians as well as scholars. For these reasons, during the selection process, considerable attention is placed on admittedly subjective qualifications of the applicants. These intangibles include (in no particular order):

  • Ability to work with abstractions and applications of theory.
  • Ability (or potential) to move fluidly between theory and practice.
  • Capacity for compassion and ability to be warm, enthusiastic, and nurturing.
  • Acceptance of others, appropriate social skills, and excellent people skills.
  • A tendency toward, and desire for, personal growth and enrichment.
  • Psychological self-awareness and emotional groundedness.
  • Clarity of purpose and ability to be self-directed and self-motivated.
  • Non-discriminatory and non-ethnocentric attitudes and behavior.
  • Emotional maturity and readiness (this is not the same as "age").

It is our opinion that while much of what it means to become a therapist can be taught, there are subtle qualities that make some people effective healers and others not. In fact, in our profession, we deal with the reality that some highly trained practitioners are nevertheless ineffective, or worse, harmful as therapists. This danger is most often related to lack of self-awareness, which can result in unethical practices and poor therapeutic presence.

The Office of Graduate Studies

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