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Updated, realigned coursework will better serve students and prospective employers.
SAHE, Counseling programs announce name changes
Graduate programs will offer more flexibility
Leah Jackson

NATCHITOCHES – The University of Louisiana System approved name changes to two graduate degree programs offered through Northwestern State University’s College of Education and Human Development. Effective this summer, the M.A. in Student Personnel Services (SPS) will be changed to Student Affairs in Higher Education (SAHE) and the M.A. in School Counseling will be known as Counseling.

“The requested program name changes are a critical first step to update and align programs to meet student, employer, state and professional needs,” said Dr. Vickie Gentry, dean of Northwestern State’s College of Education and Human Development. “The name changes will help clarify the focus and direction of these two programs and will aid recruiting and retention efforts. Northwestern State is committed to long-term growth of both programs, which support critical needs in our state and across the nation.”

Administrators believe the name change from SPS to Student Affairs in High Education clarifies program goals and streamlines coursework from the previous 48 hours to now 36 hours for students interested in pursuing careers in higher education administration. SAHE is a 36-hour program and will be 100 percent on-line for Fall 2012.

“This concentration is for individuals interested in working in a post-secondary setting who will help students work through social, developmental and academic issues,” said. Dr. Henrietta Pichon, coordinator of Student Affairs in Higher Education. “The redesign requires students pursuing this career path to take more administrative courses. They learn to connect with individuals and help then navigate the university. Our program is about meeting the needs of students and engaging the students to help them be as successful as possible. It’s a very impactful career.”

“The shorter, stand-alone program will provide flexibility for students seeking to combine school with work and family commitments,” Gentry said. “Northwestern State is committed to continuing its legacy as a leader in students affairs/higher education and being able to serve a broader market, including individuals interested in working in community colleges. Currently, there are no other programs like this at the Master’s level offered in Louisiana.”

The newly named Master’s in Counseling is a 60-hour program with two concentration areas in school counseling and clinical and mental health counseling. The new name will allow the university to more easily respond to changes in state or accrediting counseling agencies standards and adjust degree requirements without disrupting other programs, such as Student Affairs in Higher Education. The name change and concentration reorganization will also facilitate Northwestern State’s priority to renew accreditation by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

“In 2015 licensure requirements for Licensed Professional Counselors in Louisiana will be moving from a 48 hour degree requirement to a 60 hour degree requirement,” said Dr. Gerra Perkins, program coordinator. “This program redesign will ensure that our candidates meet the highest standards and are fully prepared to offer mental health services in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, community agencies and private practice.

The redesign also reflects the changing standards in Louisiana for both school counselors and mental health counselors, Perkins said.

“Many students currently enrolled in our 48 hour programs are choosing to change into the 60 hour program because of the benefits it will offer them in the long-term,” Perkins said. The 60 hour program is designed for seven semesters, including two summers, for students enrolled full-time. Some classes are on-line.

“While Northwestern State recognizes and supports the critical area of K-12 school counselors, it also recognizes community counseling needs, such as colleges, community health agencies, rehabilitation centers and hospitals,” Gentry said. “Mental health counselors with a Master’s degree are one of Louisiana’s fastest growing occupations.”

The name changes reflect the recommendation of an SPS/Counseling Task Force composed of university faculty and graduate students who were charged to identify programs’ needs and recommended changes.

“Louisiana workforce needs and the state requirement to meet CACREP accreditation for school counselors prompted the program redesign. By designing two concentrations within a Counseling degree, Northwestern State offers students a program that will result in their preparation for employment in varied counseling roles,” said Dr. Paula Furr, head of the Department of Educational Leadership and Technology.

For information about SAHE, contact Pichon at For information on the Counseling program, contact Perkins at For information about other graduate programs available through Northwestern State’s Department of Education Leadership and Technology visit or contact Furr at