Application Deadlines

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September 1, 2024 Early Decision Application Deadline (Binding) for Spring Term 2025
September 15, 2024 Regular Admissions Application Deadline (Non-Binding) for Spring Term 2025
February 15, 2025 Early Decision Application Deadline (Binding) for Fall Term 2025
March 1, 2025 Regular Admissions Application Deadline (Non-Binding) for Fall Term 2025

Early Decision indicates the following: (1) an earlier completion deadline for applications; (2) to be reviewed according to other early decision applicants; and (3) to have your decision status known by two weeks after your interview date. Please note, this does not guarantee admissions into the program but only that you will know your admissions decision earlier. Early Decision is mostly recommended for those applicants who know SMU is their top choice for graduate school and applicants must have completed their undergraduate studies in order to be eligible. Applicants that apply for early decision and do not receive an acceptance may be reconsidered for program acceptance with the regular admission process.

Admission Requirements

Application and all supporting materials (essay, resume, 3 recommendations, official transcripts from all schools) must be received on or before the stated application deadline for the specified term for admissions consideration. Applicants are highly encouraged to submit their applications at least one week before the deadline to ensure receipt of all required application documents such as transcripts and recommendation forms and to routinely check their application status, through the application portal, to check for any missing documentation.

  • Baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution of higher education.
  • A completed online application. This process includes:
    • Submission of 2-page essay. Please write a two-page (no longer), double spaced essay on why you want to study counseling and your career aspirations. Please include experiences that have shaped the development of your identity and informed your choice to pursue professional counseling as a career.
    • Three recommendations. Include the name and email address of each recommender in your application. Slate will send an electronic form for your recommender to complete on your behalf. Please note, your recommenders need to have their completed forms submitted by the stated deadline in order for your application to be considered complete.
    • Resume. Please include employment information; counseling-related work experience; family, caregiver, or community service/volunteer work; fluent in sign or other languages or forms of communication; research experience; honors and awards.
    • TOEFL. TOEFL scores may be required of applicants who were born outside the U.S. or who completed their studies outside the U.S. Please see English Proficiency Requirements below for accepted minimum TOEFL scores.
    • Non-refundable online payment of $40 application fee.
  • Official transcripts from all institutions of higher education previously attended. Any and all transfer credit must appear on an official transcript which specifies the name of the course and the grade received. Cumulative GPA must be noted on a 4.0 scale. Transcripts in a language other than English which show grades on an alternate scale must be evaluated by a professional evaluation service. Click here for a list of approved evaluation services. Original copies should be submitted in English with all grades appearing on a 4.0 scale and must include a cumulative GPA assessment. Submit transcripts directly to the addresses listed below: (click here to link to transcript request form)

    • If sent electronically:

    • If sent through the physical mail:
      Graduate Application Processing
      PO Box 518
      Dallas, TX 75275-0518

  • A minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale). If you have a cumulative GPA of 3.0, no GRE is required. Please note that all grades in the undergraduate record are factored into the cumulative GPA. If the cumulative GPA is under 3.0, you must submit GRE scores with a minimum of 146 in Math, 156 in Verbal and 3.5 or higher in Writing within the last five years to be considered. Use the institution code 6660 and send scores electronically to or
  • Be advised that students who wish to pursue School Counseling certification who are currently teachers in private schools will need to plan carefully, research information, and confirm availability of both a supervisor to serve as an onsite supervisor who is a certified school counselor AND the presence of a developmental guidance program when contracting a field site for Internship.
  • PONI Day.  Applicants meeting the Masters in Counseling program's minimum requirements may be invited to attend a scheduled three-hour information / interview session (PONI Day) once the online application is completed in full and all transcripts are received. Program applicants must be prepared to attend the mandatory PONI Day as part of the application process. 
  • Background Check. Students completing their MS in Counseling at SMU, with the intent to practice as a therapist or counselor in the state of Texas, must complete post-graduate requirements outlined by the Texas Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors (LPC) and a criminal history background check. If you have concern whether any prior offense may affect your potential for licensure, you may request an early evaluation by the Texas Board of Examiners before beginning a graduate program in counseling. Visit their site for more information:

    Background Checks for Students pursuing School Counselor Certification

    Pursuant to the Texas Education Code (TEC), §22.083, individuals must undergo a criminal history background check prior to employment as a school counselor. Pursuant to the TEC, §22.0835, students must undergo a criminal history background check prior to starting their school counseling internships. Individuals previously charged with a crime who have questions about eligibility for a Texas educator certificate can obtain a criminal history evaluation from the Texas Education Agency

  • English Proficiency Requirements. If you were born outside the U.S., or you attended school outside the U.S., you may be required to demonstrate English proficiency by providing an acceptable TOEFL or IELTS test score. 

    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). SMU's Master’s in Counseling program requires a minimum TOEFL score of 100 on the internet-based test with the following minimum section scores: Listening (26), Reading (26), Writing (24), and Speaking (24). This test is administered by the Educational Testing Service ( The score must be reported to the Department of Counseling directly from The Educational Testing Service. The Counseling Program code number 6660.
    • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) ( SMU’s Master’s in Counseling program requires a minimum overall band score of 7.0 with a minimum of 7.0 in Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking skills. The score report is uploaded as a PDF by the applicant in the admissions application system.


  • Reapplication of Former Students. Students who do not enroll in classes for more than one full year must reapply to the Counseling Program. This reapplication will include completing an new application online, submitting an updated resume and essay, and completing an updated background check. Students will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis regarding whether or not they must attend PONI day again, and that determination will be made after faculty review of the application. If it is determined that a student does not need to attend PONI day, the previous PONI day score will be used in the final calculation of the review score. Students reapplying for admission will not have to resubmit transcripts.
  • Non-degree Seeking Students. Non-degree seeking students can apply to take elective specialty courses and core courses with the exception of clinical courses (Basic Clinical Methods, Group Counseling, and Advanced/Pre-Practicum, Practicum and Internship I & II). Students who wish to complete clinical courses must formally apply to the Counseling Program.
    Non-degree seeking students who hold a master’s degree in counseling or a related mental health degree must provide transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, have a minimum of 3.0 GPA in their graduate coursework, complete the application for enrollment, sign an informed consent and confidentiality agreement, and pay a non-refundable $40 application fee.
    Non-degree seeking students who have completed bachelor’s degrees and who are currently enrolled in a graduate program in counseling or related mental health field at another college or university may also be permitted to apply. However, in addition to the aforementioned requirements, they must also include a letter from their academic department on official letterhead stating they are good academic and professional standing within the program and are authorized to take the course(s).
    Non-degree seeking students must apply online and submit all required documents three weeks in advanced of registration for each term. Non-degree seeking students must also provide proof of liability insurance coverage, complete a background check, and complete the Protection of Minors training prior to enrollment.
  • Need additional information or assistance? 

Financial Information


Effective Fall 2023 Counseling students will be required to pay 100% of the general student fee costs and tuition will be reduced since fee charges will be assessed separately and directly by the Bursar’s office. Tuition for classes in the Master's in Counseling program for the 2023-2024 academic year is $725 per credit hour for Fall and Spring, plus general student fee costs. There will be no general student fee costs for the Jan, May and Summer semesters. A minimum of 63 credit hours will be required to earn this degree. Please check the Bursar's website for general student fee costs at

Students in the School Counseling Specialty who are current teachers and provide annual documentation from their school or district, will pay the TFA tuition rate. Please see the Bursar's website for TFA tuition rates.

Financial Assistance

Financial aid is available to students in the Master of Science program. Students applying for Federal Student Loans must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by going to The School Code for SMU is 003613. It is important that you refer to the link, More Information about Financial Aid for details about applying for and accepting financial aid, including recommended deadlines. All federal financial aid, including student loans, is managed by the Division of Enrollment Services Graduate Financial Aid Office which is located on the main campus. General financial aid questions should be directed to the Division of Enrollment Services by calling 214-768-3417 or through email at You may also contact one of the graduate financial aid advising staff directly by calling 214-768-3348 or by email at

Follow Graduate Financial Aid on twitter for financial aid status update and program announcements: @smu_gradfinaid.

Consider contacting your employer for tuition assistance information. Companies frequently provide tuition assistance for graduate programs to enhance the skills of their employees.

Financial Aid Bulletin

Southern Methodist University (SMU) will not discriminate in any employment practice, education program, education activity, or admissions on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, genetic information, or veteran status. SMU's commitment to equal opportunity includes nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.