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20 November 2023

UC's Master of Counselling is the only postgraduate Counselling programme in the South Island. Our graduates who work in professional practice enhance the positive growth, wellbeing, and mental health of individuals, families, and groups. Learn more about postgraduate study in counselling at UC.


Counselling is a process in which people evaluate themselves, make choices, accept responsibility for those choices and decide on courses of action that are consistent with those choices.

The relationship between counsellor and client is an alliance, in which both trust and understanding are essential. The research and professional domain of Counselling overlaps with other professional areas such as Psychology, Health Sciences, Social Work, Education and Sociology.

UC's Master of Counselling is the only postgraduate Counselling programme in the South Island and takes a solution-focused approach. Graduates working in professional practice will enhance and promote the positive growth, wellbeing, and mental health of individuals, families and groups.

Counselling is a profession that attracts people who have a developed understanding of themselves, a high level of empathy, the basic desire to help other people and an interest in issues of social justice. Applicants to our programme are expected to demonstrate self-knowledge, sensitivity, empathy, communication skills, respect from others, professional awareness and self-development.

We offer the flexibility to study full or part-time and utilise distance learning, enabling students to continue to work while studying for their qualification. We mostly use a format of intensive workshops (for practice-based teaching) alongside internet-based teaching and learning activities. The intensive workshops vary between two to five days.

Practical experience in a related field is recommended before applying for the Master of Counselling. This could include church work, volunteering at a school, telephone counselling or working with a community mental health provider. Experience which encourages the development of skills for relating to people are also valuable, for example, nurse aiding, working in a rest home or working with children with special needs.

There are three pathways available in the Master of Counselling, each with slightly different entry requirements. The pathways are:

  • Incorporating counselling papers COUN671 and COUN681 in other postgraduate programmes. Here entry requirements are determined by the other programmes.
  • Studying part-time towards a Master of Counselling. This normally involves enrolling in COUN671 and/or COUN681. Entry requirements are similar to those for other post-graduate programmes.
  • Studying full-time, or transferring into the limited-entry papers (COUN675 and COUN672) with the intention of completing the Master of Counselling for which you need an undergraduate degree, preferably with a major in social sciences and practical experience in counselling, teaching, nursing, social work or an equivalent profession.

Applications for the limited entry courses (COUN675 and COUN672) open on September 1 and close on October 1 of each year. Please see the Application and Enrolment information page for detailed information on requirements for entry.

Selection is based on written applications, academic records, referees' reports and interviews. Interviews will be scheduled in November. To be selected for an interview you must be eligible to enrol in the Master of Counselling programme.

This means you must include the following with your application: If you are a new postgraduate student in the Faculty of Health send certified copies of all previous tertiary academic transcripts from universities other than Canterbury and details (verified by an employer or supervisor) of your work history as a counsellor.

If you are a continuing postgraduate student in the Faculty of Health include details (verified by an employer or supervisor) of any work history as a counsellor.

For those wanting to add counselling theory and skills to their health or education profession, the Postgraduate Certificate in Counselling Studies (PGCertCounSt) will provide the knowledge and practice to enhance your professional helping skills with a range of clients, students, or colleagues.

The PGCertCounSt is also an ideal pathway into applying for the Master of Counselling, a degree which enables graduates to obtain provisional membership with the New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC).

The Postgraduate Certificate in Counselling is made up of two courses:

Master of Counselling Programme Structure

Master of Counselling Programme Structure
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