National Counselor Examination
and National Certified Counselor Credential

The process for students to apply for the NCC credential has moved from a paper application to an online format. If you are a recent graduate, you can apply as long as you are within 12 months of earning your Master's degree.

Doctoral students and recent graduates will now apply using the application for counselors who have graduated, which is available at


The National Certified Counselor (NCC) Certification requires:

  1. A master’s or higher degree with a major study in counseling, which the NBCC defines as a degree in which a minimum of 48 semester hours of the degree credits in counseling cover at least nine required counseling coursework content areas. The degree must include one course in professional orientation to counseling and at least six semester hours of supervised field experience in counseling.
  2. 48 semester or 72 quarter hours of graduate-level credit in counseling with a separate counseling course in each of the following content areas:
    • Human Growth and Development
    • Social and Cultural Foundations
    • Helping Relationships
    • Group Counseling Theories and Processes
    • Career Counseling and Lifestyle Development
    • Assessment in Counseling
    • Research and Program Evaluation
    • Professional Orientation to Counseling
    • Counseling Field Experience
      • Field experience must total at least 6 semester hours or 10 quarter hours of graduate credit.
  3. Two years and 3,000 hours of post-graduate counseling experience
  4. Two years and 100 hours of counseling supervision from a supervisor who holds a master’s degree or higher in mental health field.
  5. A passing score on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE).

NCE Exam

Taking the NCE is only one step in pursuing the NCC credential. This exam completed prior to students earning 3,000 hours of post-graduate counseling experience.

  • Students are encouraged to take the NCE before graduating and in close proximity to the CPCE because of how similar the information is on both exams.
  • If you have any questions regarding the NCC certification or the NCE exam, please email

Timeline for April 2015 NCC Application Cycle:

  • September 26: Campus coordinators receive participation agreement, nomination roster and informational PowerPoint.
  • October 15: Campus coordinators return documents to NBCC.
  • October. 15 – November 1: Eligible students receive link to application from NBCC.
  • January 12: Final e-mail reminder to students.
  • January 16: Application deadline.
  • On/around April 3: Approved applicants receive exam admission letters.
  • On/around April 11: Sites receive exam materials.
  • April 18: Applicants sit for the NCE.

NCC Credentialing Sequence: For Graduate Students

Application Phase

  • Receive a nomination to participate from your university’s campus coordinator.
  • Receive email instructions on the application process from NBCC.
  • Electronically submit your application and pay application fee ($310/$315) online.
    • Students in programs not accredited by CACREP will need to submit an unofficial transcript and enter their coursework.
    • Students in CACREP-accredited programs will not be required to submit coursework information.
  • Receive notice from your campus coordinator or from NBCC of any problems or issues with application.

Exam Phase

  • Read the pre-exam newsletter in StudentWorks on the NBCC website. The newsletter will look similar to the Example Newsletter.
  • Receive your examination admission letter with NBCC ID #.
  • Take National Counselor Exam.
  • Receive your score report and instructions for next steps in the certification process.
    • If failed, reregister for exam (NBCC will provide instructions with score report).
    • If passed, complete remaining credentialing requirements (NBCC will provide instructions).  CACREP and regionally- accredited applicants will have different requirements and different instructions.

Post-Graduate Phase

  • Upon graduation, provide NBCC with a sealed, official transcript documenting your degree conferral and completion of all NBCC required coursework areas.
  • (Regionally-accredited applicants only) Submit documentation for completing post-graduate experience and supervision requirements.
  • Receive full certification and NCC certificate in the US mail.
  • Receive your NBCC Continuing Education File folder for tracking required continuing education hours.
  • Pay annual maintenance fee ($80) to maintain your good standing.
  • Consider pursuing one or more of NBCC’s specialty credentials:  NCSC, MAC, CCMHC.

Roles & Responsibilities

NBCC’s role:

  • Provide campus coordinators with participation and roster documents for each cycle.
  • Perform professional review of candidates’ applications according to NBCC eligibility requirements.
  • Communicate with campus coordinator and/or students as needed to resolve application issues.
  • Provide testing materials and instructions to the designated campus exam administrator.
  • Release confidential score reports to individual participants and aggregate results to participating counselor preparation programs.
  • Pay exam administrators and proctors.

Campus Coordinator’s role:

  • Submit the participation and roster documents.
  • Encourage eligible students to apply.
  • Ensure that students understand they are applying for national certification (the NCC credential, not state licensure and not just an exam).
  • Remind students of the proper application procedures and assist them with any questions they may have. 
  • Identify an exam administrator who is not involved in awarding academic credit or grades to counseling students and who is familiar with the administration of standardized examinations.  Coordinate with that person as needed to arrange for an exam site and appropriate conditions for testing, including accommodations for examinees with special needs or those who are non-Saturday examinees.

Student’s role:

  • Familiarize yourself with the certification process by reading material posted on the StudentWorks website at
  • Apply, using the link provided by NBCC and carefully follow application instructions.
  • Identify any need for special examination accommodations and/or whether a “site switch” is needed for the exam location.