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Counseling and Student Affairs

Graduation, Comprehensive Exams, and Certification

Applying for Graduation

When do I apply for graduation?

You are required to complete the application for graduation the semester prior to completing your program (i.e. if you are scheduled to graduate Spring or Summer 2015, you must apply for graduation Fall 2014). Visit the CEBS Comp Exam webpage for the date, details, and application.

Where do I apply for graduation?

The application for graduation and required fee ($55) must be submitted through TopNet. After you log in, go to Student Services > Student Record > .Application for Graduation. The WKU required fee covers the cost of printing and auditing your degree, and the fee for your cap and gown. This fee must be paid even if you decide not to participate in the commencement ceremony. For more information, visit:

Comprehensive Exams

Who is required to take the comprehensive exam?

All students in the counseling master’s degree program are required to take "comps." Once you have applied through the department and been approved to complete the comp exams, you will be directed to complete your CPCE application and pay the required fee ($50) for that exam. Rank I and student certifications do not take this exam.

What should I expect from comps?

  1. Take the CPCE; you will be given four hours to complete this exam but most students finish in less time. The comprehensive exam is comprised of the 160-question multiple choice national Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) exam developed and graded through the National Board of Certified Counselors. A passing score will be determined based on the national average - 1 standard deviation of that particular exam. 

  2. If a passing score on the CPCE is not received, the second phase of comps will include a written exam that includes two essay questions specific to the counseling specialty developed and graded by program faculty. 

When do I take the exam?

The comprehensive exam can only be taken during the final semester of your program. An email will be sent out on the listserv notifying you of the application deadline and the date, time and place of the exam. Check the Dates & Deadlines on the right for the date, details, instructions, and application. You need to take care of any “Incomplete” (X) or “In Progress” (IP) grades on your transcript before you will be cleared to take the comprehensive exam.

National Certification Examination (NCE)

What is national certification?

Graduates from a CACREP-accredited counseling program may qualify to become Nationally Certified Counselors (NCC) after passing the 200-question multiple choice National Counselor Exam (NCE) and providing graduate transcripts. This certification through the National Board of Certified Counselor (NBCC) indicates to the public and employers that the counselors have met the national standards set by the counseling profession.

The National Counselor Exam (NCE) is optional to become a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate (LPCA); however, it is required for full LPCC licensure in KY by the time you have completed the requisite hours under supervision. All students preparing for the comp exams will be better prepared for the NCE, which covers similar academic knowledge and preparation (pass rate in low 80%).

When can I take the NCE?

The NCE is very similar to the CPCE; therefore, you are encouraged to take the NCE during the same semester or immediately after graduation to take advantage of your test preparation for comps.  It is only offered in April or October so those graduating and taking comps in the summer may choose to take the exam in April or wait until October to take the NCE. If you are a current student during the exam registration, you will register through WKU.

If you are interested in taking the exam (NCE), you can expect the following:

  1. An announcement will go out on the listserv notifying students of the deadline each semester. Registration is typically 6 months in advance of the exam.
  2. Students will notify the department of their intentions to take it if registering for the NCE while you are a current student; recent graduates should apply for the exam independently (skip to step 4). 
  3. The campus coordinator (Dr. Wolf) will submit the eligible students to NBCC and upon acceptance, the NBCC will email students and invite them to apply for the exam. Follow the instructions and pay the application fee ($335) to take the NCE.
  4. Study for the exam (see sidebar for suggested resources). The study material is the same for the comps CPCE.
  5. Approximately 7-10 days before the exam, applicants will receive exam admission information.
  6. The NCE will be administered on campus on the date listed under Deadlines and Due Dates
  7. You should receive your official results within approximately 2 months of the exam date; you can access the results on your ProCounselor account and via mail notification.
  8. Upon graduation and receiving a passing score on the exam, submit your final graduate transcripts to the NBCC to complete the certification application process.
  9. Complete the ongoing continuing education requirements, adhere to the NBCC Code of Ethics, and pay the annual fee to maintain the active certification(s).

Check with  your faculty advisor if you have further questions. Learn more by visiting the NBCC information for students.

What are the benefits of being nationally certified?

  • Generates client referrals for you through CounselorFind (NBCC's referral service linking potential clients to nearby NCCs).
  • Travels with you when you relocate in or outside the US.
  • Helps to keep you in touch with current professional credentialing issues and events through The NBCC's newsletter
  • NCCs are often given discounts on professional liability insurance (e.g., Lockton Affinity).
  • May help with licensure portability in states requiring the NCE exam.

Dates & Deadlines

  • May 5, 2017 Deadline to register for summer comps (summer graduates only). View instructions and complete application.
  • May 12, 2017 Counseling graduation ceremony (1-2pm, GRH 2064) and WKU graduation ceremony (5-7pm, Diddle Arena).
  • Jun 10, 2017 Summer Comp Exams (9am-12pm)
  • Jul 2016 Deadline to complete the online NCE application and pay the fee ($335) for the Oct 2016 exam. See the student tip sheet on applying.
  • Oct 2017 Deadline to register for fall Comp Exams. View instructions and complete application.
  • Oct 2017 NCE exam
  • Oct 2017 Fall Comp Exams (9am-1pm)
  • Oct 2017 Deadline to pre-register for the April 2018 NCE Exam (if graduated before Aug 2017, apply directly to NBCC)
  • Jan 2018 Deadline to complete the online NCE application and pay the fee ($335). See the student tip sheet on applying.
  • Feb 2018 Deadline to register for spring comps (spring graduates only). View instructions and complete application.
  • Mar 2018 Spring Comp Exams (9am-12pm)
  • Apr 2017 Deadline to pre-register for the October 2018 NCE Exam (if graduated before Jan 2018, apply directly to NBCC)
  • Apr 2018 NCE exam

Helpful Links


Comps & NCE Exams

 State Licensure

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 Last Modified 5/4/17