Admission to the MAC program is solely the function of five factors,
listed 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,
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:
- An undergraduate degree from a U.S. institution where
English is the language of instruction, or
- 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
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 experiences. This is a rare
situation, usually allowed only when the applicant demonstrates rich
life and/or cultural experiences, obvious 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
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
- your academic and professional preparation for graduate
study in psychology,
- your specific reasons for desiring entrance into the MAC
- your short-term and long-term career goals and
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
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
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. Think about it: Your statement should be
representative of the writing abilities you would offer as a
graduate student. If the statement is "C" quality work, what does
that say about your potential in the MAC Program?
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
- Recognize and be aware of the existence of those
personal issues, and
- 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
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:
- An experience in personal counseling helps crystallize a
student's goals to study counseling psychology.
- 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
- 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
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
- Ability (or potential) to move fluidly between theory
- 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
- Psychological self-awareness and emotional groundedness.
- Clarity of purpose and ability to be self-directed and
- Non-discriminatory and non-ethnocentric attitudes and
- Emotional maturity and readiness (this is not the same
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.