Master of Counselling Studies – MCounsStuds

Massey’s Master of Counselling Studies will prepare you for a career as a counsellor and a provisional member of NZAC.

Type of qualification

Master's degree

Level of study

Postgraduate study

Once you’ve graduated with a bachelor’s degree – or have equal experience – you can study at the postgraduate level. Doctoral qualifications require additional entry requirements.

More about study levels

NZQF level 9

Our courses follow the New Zealand Qualification Framework (NZQF) levels.

Find out more about NZQF levels

Time to complete

2 years part-time. Not available for full-time study.
Up to 5 years part-time
Part-time available

Where you can study

Distance and online

International students

International students are not New Zealand citizens or residents.

Definition of New Zealand citizens and residents

Not open to international students
Note: Selected entry qualification.
  • While mostly taught online, this qualification includes compulsory in-person block courses.
  • Study a Master of Counselling Studies – MCounsStuds

    This is an NZAC-accredited professional qualification that requires completion of the prerequisite Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling and Guidance, or equivalent. Entry into the Master of Counselling Studies involves a selection process.

    We welcome your interest in studying at Massey at an advanced level in the field of counselling. You will join a counselling and teaching community that will collaborate with you to continue the unique journey that has brought you to the point of wanting to study further in this field. 

    When you study the Master of Counselling Studies, you will be part of a counsellor education programme that aligns with Massey's commitment and responsibility to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

    We will assist you in developing:

    • a perspective of bi-cultural and multicultural practice
    • cultural humility
    • a desire to learn, understand, and support  people through life’s challenges in a positive and healing way that enhances wellbeing, including mana atua, mana whenua, mana tāngata, for individuals, groups, families, and communities
    • recognising and understanding the reality and impact of diversity
    • self- awareness and personal growth.

    This master’s level counselling qualification is an NZAC-accredited professional qualification that requires completion of the prerequisite Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling and Guidance, or equivalent. Entry is via a selection process.

    A MCounsStuds is a good fit if you:

    • seek to become a credentialed counsellor working collaboratively with clients to assess needs
    • want to acquire the knowledge, attitudes and behavioural competencies necessary for understanding and enhancing individuals, groups and communities
    • want awareness of and expertise in drawing on a range of approaches to enable such objectives, including that of Te Ao Māori. 

    Entry requirements

    Admission to Massey

    All students must meet university entrance requirements to be admitted to the University.

    Specific requirements

    This is a selected entry qualification. This means there are a number of extra requirements.   

    To be considered for entry the Master of Counselling Studies you will:

    • have been awarded or qualified for Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling and Guidance, Postgraduate Diploma in Education (Counselling and Guidance), or a Postgraduate Diploma in Rehabilitation (Rehabilitation Counselling), or equivalent, and
    • have achieved at least a B grade average across all courses in the qualifying programme, and
    • have sufficient personal or professional experience to be likely to successfully engage in the qualification, and
    • meet the requirements for registration as a counsellor as determined by the New Zealand Association of Counsellors in terms of good character and fitness to be a counsellor.

    You will be selected on the basis of a process which includes providing: 

    • a copy of your official academic transcript/s
    • a copy of your current curriculum vitae (including education and employment for at least the last five years)
    • a completed NZ Police Request and Consent form, along with two pieces of verified identification (one of which must be photographic) from the list of acceptable forms of identification on the Checklist
    • copies (not originals) of police reports from every country you have lived in for more than 12 months in the last 10 years.

    As part of the application you will also complete an admission form (PDF) that requires comment on:

    • a personal statement about what your exposure to the domain of counselling as a consumer, learner. and/or provider has been
    • your understandings of the significance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi to matters of wellbeing services, biculturalism, bi-cultural counselling practice and pluralistic counselling approaches
    • a description of and contact details for an agency/setting where you would be able to undertake your counselling practicum placement
    • names and contact details of two referees who you know in ways relevant to this programme context
    • the name and contact details of a professional counsellor, external to the proposed practicum placement setting, who you would be able to engage with periodically through the programme for the purposes of professional supervision.

    Application closing date

    Due to the degree of interest in the field of counselling and in the Master of Counselling Studies qualification, as well as considerations concerning numbers able to be managed within this intensive programme, admission is by a selection process (see details below)
    Applications close on 6 October for study commencing the following year.

    English language requirements

    To study this qualification you must meet Massey University's English language standards.

    About the selection process

    The selection panel will be looking for readiness in relation to personal and interpersonal awareness, respect for diversity, a bicultural focus, and attitudes demonstrating openness to growth and development within your learning. They will also be looking for the ability to participate in cooperative group learning and to maintain a professional attitude regarding engaging with peers, as well as the overall capacity to fulfil the requirements of the professional development courses. 

    You will have a demonstrated active interest in the human services area, shown through involvement in relevant personal development experiences, and some prior experience and training relevant to the counselling field. 

    We will also consider issues relating to fitness to practice. We rely on a) your honesty if you think there are circumstances we need to know about that will impact on your work as a counsellor, b) concerns raised or observed during your PGDip study and c) any confidential notification made to us by a third party about your readiness or suitability to be a counsellor.  

    In addition, when you are selected for the qualification you will be asked to sign a statement of expectations which will guide your professional behaviour in the programme. 

    Health and disability 

    If you have any short- or long-term ability challenges, including learning disabilities, impairment, personal or health, mental health, addictions or trauma issues that may affect your study, please include a summary of these in your application. Such information will be considered within the selection process and will be confidential to the university staff processing your application. 

    Curriculum vitae

    In your CV please include details of your educational and professional qualifications, employment and volunteer history with dates and descriptions of roles and responsibilities. Also list any memberships of associations/organisations and a list of peer reviewed publications and research reports, if any. 


    The application process for the Master of Counselling Studies will include an initial screening of your application and supporting documentation, with a focus on potential suitability and readiness for the programme. If the material suitably and adequately meets the eligibility criteria for further consideration, you will be invited to attend online individual wānanga and a group discussion/wānanga. All applicants will be advised as soon as practicable of the outcome of the considerations and any appropriate next steps.

    ‘Fit and proper person’

    If there are any circumstances in your personal or professional life that are disclosed as a part of your application, or become evident during the programme, these will be considered, with particular attention to fit and proper persons criteria, given that the qualification involves preparation for functioning in the counselling profession at large. Information disclosed in your application will be held confidential to the University staff involved in assessing your application.

    The Master of Counselling Studies qualification enables your acceptance into provisional membership of the New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC), with advancement to full membership being based on meeting specific NZAC criteria.

    Personal Statement

    Included in the application, your personal statement should include comment on why you have decided to pursue counselling training. In addition, please describe your strengths relevant to the counselling field in a pluralistic society, and how you hope the qualification will cultivate these. If there are any circumstances in your past personal or professional life that you need to disclose as a part of your application, these will be considered during the selection process and will be confidential to the staff assessing your application.

    In addition, describe what you have learned about counselling, including your understanding of te Tiriti o Waitangi and bicultural and pluralistic approaches, obtained through any of:

    • voluntary involvement with organisations which provide training and supervision to their volunteers, as well as other relevant life experiences such as Lifeline, and/or
    • paid employment which provides training and supervision to their volunteers, as well as other relevant life experiences such as case management, social work, or addictions support
    • as well as other relevant life experiences.


    We require the names and contact details of two people who can act as referees for you. A referee should be someone who has known you for one year or more in the capacity of employer, educator, work colleague or person of community standing, e.g. kaumātua, minister or similar. Your referees should not be friends, flatmates, relative or people who have not known you for less than a year. The information your referees supply is confidential to those involved in the selection process.

    Safety checks and disclosure of criminal convictions

    All applicants are required to undergo a number of safety checks. This includes police vetting (including confirmation of identity) and further checks required under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014, Vulnerable Children Regulations 2015 and the Children’s Action Plan. You will be required to permit the Institute of Education to ask the New Zealand Police to disclose any information held about you on the Police record system.

    Feel free to get in touch with us through the ‘Get advice’ button on this page if you have any questions or to request a guidebook.

    Prior learning, credit and exemptions

    For information on prior learning, exemptions and transfer of credit or other questions:

    English language skills

    If you need help with your English language skills before you start university, see our English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses.

    Maximum time limits for completion

    There are maximum time limits to complete postgraduate qualifications. This qualification has a maximum time limit of four years. If you do not complete within the maximum time, you may be required to re-apply for the qualification if you wish to continue your studies.

    Official regulations

    To understand what you need to study and must complete to graduate read the official rules and regulations for this qualification.

    You should read these together with all other relevant Statutes and Regulations of the University including the General Regulations for Postgraduate Degrees, Postgraduate Diplomas, and Postgraduate Certificates.

    Returning students

    For returning students, there may be changes to the majors and minors available and the courses you need to take. Go to the section called ‘Transitional Provisions’ in the Regulations to find out more.

    In some cases the qualification or specialisation you enrolled in may no longer be taking new enrolments, so may not appear on these web pages. To find information on the regulations for these qualifications go to the Massey University Calendar.

    Please contact us through the Get advice button on this page if you have any questions.

    Structure of the Master of Counselling Studies

    Counselling practice placement

    You should provide indications of a likely agency/setting where you would be able to undertake your counselling placement within New Zealand, along with details of any approaches you have made in that regard. Contact details, such as agency name, location, and contact person should also be provided. If you are invited to join the programme, the programme’s Placement Coordinator will collaborate with you regarding potential placement matters to help ensure that any such placement is compatible with the programme requirements. The placement will need to be formally approved by the Placement Coordinator, so please do not make any final commitments prior to being accepted into the programme and having the location approved.

    The placement setting could be your place of employment if you are currently working formally as a counsellor and the setting is appropriate for your programme learning. This must be within an agency/organisation (not as you functioning as a freelance private practitioner), and the work must be conducted in accordance with the New Zealand Association of Counsellors' Code of Ethics.

    If you do not have a definite placement location potentially available to you at the time of application, we will look to help you in any canvassing of opportunities, but ultimately it will be your responsibility to determine a suitable practicum arrangement. Final entry into the programme will be dependent on such an arrangement being available and approved prior to commencement within the programme itself.

    Within the programme you will need to complete a minimum of 200 hours (actual client-contact time) of counselling practice (on average, about four contact hours per week). These hours are to be divided equally between each of the following two courses:

    • Professional Development in Counselling I (Year 1)
    • Professional Development in Counselling II (Year 2)

    In addition, there is a requirement within the fieldwork/practicum context to complete a minimum of 200 hours of extended professional development experience, with this being of relevance to the role of counsellor and separate from client contact. These hours will be similarly divided over the two Professional Development (PD) years.

    Professional supervision during placement

    During your counselling practice placement, you will need to undertake a minimum of 20 individual professional supervision sessions with an approved supervisor. As with the counselling hours, these sessions will be divided equally between each of the two Year 1 and Year 2 Professional Development courses.

    The supervision sessions will need to be with a supervisor who is external to the practice placement, experienced in counselling, and a member of a relevant professional body, preferably NZAC. The supervisor will need to be identified and approved prior to commencement within the programme. 

    You will also need to undertake a minimum of 10 hours (5 hours in each of the two PD years) of Puawananga Kaitiakitanga/cultural consultation with an approved cultural consultant. In addition, the programme will include fortnightly evening online group supervision related to programme requirements and practice issues.

    Research Project course

    A Research Methodologies in Education course (267721), or approved equivalent, is required in the first year of the Master of Counselling Studies programme and is a pre-requisite for the Research Project course.

    Contact Course Workshops/Wānanga

    Completion of this programme requires attendance at two compulsory contact campus-based workshops/wānanga in each of the two professional development years. These are scheduled for (i) mid- to late-February, and (ii) late July each year, with exact dates being confirmed by the time of selection confirmation notification. The first of these wānanga will cover 8-10 days and include an initial Noho Marae experience followed by five days on-campus in Palmerston North, and the second will involve eight full days on-campus in either Wellington or Auckland.

    Online Discussion classes

    For the PD1 and PD2 courses, there will be separate online fortnightly discussion classes on relevant professional topics. The groups will be on alternate weeks for each PD course cohort and will be held in the early evening and require compulsory attendance.

    Completion of the Master of Counselling Studies

    The degree requires a minimum of two years and a maximum of four years to complete and is awarded based on successful completion of all components, involving the two professional development courses, The Research Methodologies in Education and the Research Project. The two PD courses must be undertaken sequentially in the first two years. They will focus largely on competency development and will involve Pass/Fail considerations, rather than academic marks/grades.

    Courses and specialisations

    Key terms

    Each qualification has its own specific set of courses. Some universities call these papers. You enrol in courses after you get accepted into Massey.
    Course code
    Each course is numbered using 6 digits. The fourth number shows the level of the course. For example, in course 219206, the fourth number is a 2, so it is a 200-level course (usually studied in the second year of full-time study).
    Each course is worth a number of credits. You combine courses (credits) to meet the total number of credits needed for your qualification.
    Some qualifications let you choose what subject you'd like to specialise in. Your major or endorsement is what you will take the majority of your courses in.

    Credit summary

    120 credits

    • Compulsory courses – 75 credits
    • Research report – 45 credits


    • Completion of supervised practice.

    Course planning key

    Courses that need to be completed before moving onto a course at the next level. For example, a lot of 200-level courses have 100-level prerequisite courses.
    Courses that must be completed at the same time as another course are known as corequisite courses.
    Some courses are restricted against each other because their content is similar. This means you can only choose one of the offered courses to study and credit to your qualification.

    Compulsory courses (Choose 120 credits from)

    Choose 120 credits from
    Course code: 253740 Professional Development in Counselling I 30 credits

    The development of attitudes and skills for effective counselling practice, informed by current research and undertaken in the context of campus-based workshops and field-based supervised practice.

    Restrictions: 209751 and 253761

    View full course details
    Course code: 253762 Professional Development in Counselling II 30 credits

    A continuation and integration of personal and professional development undertaken in Professional Development I whilst pursuing field-based practice and campus-based workshops.

    Prerequisites: 253761 Restrictions: 209752

    View full course details
    Course code: 253800 Research Project in Counselling 45 credits

    A negotiated research project related to relevant aspects of counselling or counselling-related activity.

    Prerequisites: 267721 or 267740 or 267741 or 267782 or 267783 or an approved research methods course or courses Restrictions: 209758 or 253758

    View full course details
    Course code: 267721 Research Methodologies in Education 15 credits

    An advanced study of quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods research design in education. Theoretical and practical issues of research are studied under three course themes: context for research, research designs, data collection and analysis.

    View full course details

    Fees and scholarships

    Fees, student loans and free fees scheme

    Your tuition fees may be different depending on the courses you choose. Your exact fees will show once you have chosen your courses.

    There will also be some compulsory non-tuition fees and for some courses, there may also be charges for things such as study resources, software, trips and contact workshops.

    Already know which courses you're going to choose?

    You can view fees for the courses that make up your qualification on the course details pages.

    Student loans (StudyLink) and Fees Free scheme

    You may be eligible for a student loan to help towards paying your fees.

    The New Zealand Government offers fees-free tertiary study for eligible domestic students. Find out more about the scheme and your eligibility on the Fees Free website. To use the site's eligibility checking tool, you will need your National Student Number.

    Current and returning Massey students can find their National Student Number in the student portal.

    Fees disclaimer

    This information is for estimation purposes only. Actual fees payable will be finalised on confirmation of enrolment. Unless otherwise stated, all fees shown are quoted in New Zealand dollars and include Goods and Services Tax, if any. Before relying on any information on these pages you should also read the University's Disclaimer Notice.

    Careers and job opportunities

    Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi.
    With your contributions together with mine, our people will thrive.

    Graduates of the Master of Counselling Studies will be professionally prepared to contribute to counselling service delivery within a variety of wellness and mental health services. These could be in school settings, community agencies, addiction/recovery centres, crisis programmes, residential programmes, or in private practice.

    Many individuals and communities experience traumatic or challenging events, encounter loss/grief, and/or grapple with addictions. They typically seek more purposeful lives and how to better relate in their intimate, personal, and professional/work/career-related relationships. While this qualification focuses on wellbeing and optimal growth, a trauma informed, post-traumatic growth approach is included within the training.

    The qualification maintains a primary focus on wellbeing, healing, and the restoration and affirmation of human dignity. Students will have opportunities to become aware of various practice modalities, including those established within the counselling traditions, and those emerging within indigenous frameworks. Tihei-Wa Mauri Ora, a “construct that shows a life continuum, where periods of light and darkness are normalised as proper and valid, given their space and time in [people’s] lives.” (Teina Piripi & Vivienne Body, New Zealand Journal of Counselling, 2010, v.30 n.1, pp.34-46).

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