ALMA — Students will gain the skills needed to pursue a career in multiple areas of work; including mental health, human services and private practice, in the new Alma College Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) program.

The limited-residency program, set to begin in August 2024, will be led by Julie Robinson, a licensed clinical professional counselor who has served as an administrator in accredited programs for more than 25 years. The Alma College program has been approved by the Higher Learning Commission; the college intends to apply for accreditation by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) in the future.

“We are pleased to offer a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Alma College, and delighted to welcome Julie Robinson to our faculty,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Sean Burke. “We believe this program aligns well with Alma’s goal to improve the community around us through education, by giving students the skills they need to offer mental health services to a wide variety of clientele in the areas they live.”

The Alma College CMHC program is designed to provide flexibility in scheduling and ease of access for its students. It’s a 60-credit-hour program that can be completed in as little as 2 ½ years and will provide students with the skills needed to pass the National Counselor Examination (NCE). Courses are delivered online, with two on-campus residencies in central Michigan, from faculty who have doctoral degrees from a CACREP-accredited counselor education and supervision program or have taught full time at a CACREP-accredited program prior to 2013.

Courses will focus on topics including trauma, marriage and family therapy, substance abuse, grief and bereavement, behavior modification, crisis intervention and more. Social and cultural diversity is a key feature of the program; students will gain the skills needed to contribute to the advancement of mental health equity and social justice in society. Faculty in the Alma College program will work with students to identify internship opportunities in areas suited for their individual interests.

“Our goal is to be as hands-on as possible, while providing a sense of convenience for our students. They will learn from trained and experienced faculty, and do it at a time of day that is best-suited to meet their needs,” Robinson said. “Our goal with respect to class offerings is to give our students a taste of different populations they may be interested in specializing in.”

  • From hands-on research placements to travel and internships, at Alma, we pride ourselves on offering an education that’s as unique as you. Read more at

An Alma College strategic investment task force spent three years considering different areas of study to add to its offerings before selecting CMHC. The task force considered it to be a good fit for Alma, in part because of the rising number of jobs available. According to labor market analysis, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors and mental health counselors are projected to become two of the fastest-growing occupations in Michigan over the next decade.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics identified changes in the criminal justice system and military veterans’ counseling needs, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, as the primary reasons that have driven the fast growth.

“We utilize something called a scholar-practitioner model, which means that our focus is on teaching students the content of being a counselor, while practicing what they are learning in the field,” Robinson said. “This is opposed to a research-based program, like clinical psychology. Our focus is on teaching and implementation.

“What we find is that often, people don’t need a background in psychology to take part in this program. You start from the same place as everyone else. It appeals to anyone who is seeking to make a difference in their communities through mental health counseling.”

Robinson comes to Alma from Southern New Hampshire University and National Louis University, where she served as a member of the faculty in their counseling programs. She previously served as the department chair and director of clinical training at Argosy University, in Schaumburg, Ill., where she taught graduate-level, CACREP-accredited courses, managed faculty and placed students at clinical community counseling agencies to complete practicum and internship experiences.

Robinson is considered an industry expert on play therapy in children, having presented to several organizations and published research in various academic publications. She holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in counselor education from the University of North Texas.

For more information on the Alma College Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC), including how to apply as a student, visit or call (989) 463-7176.