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Counseling and Student Affairs

Counseling 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 2018, you must apply for graduation Fall 2017). See the details below for more information on applying for comps and certification exams.

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, auditing your degree, and your cap and gown. This fee must be paid even if you decide not to participate in the commencement ceremony. For more information, visit: http://www.wku.edu/registrar/graduation_application.php

Comprehensive Exams

Who is required to take the comprehensive exam?

All students in the counseling master’s degree program (CMHC, MCFC, SC) are required to take and successfully pass "comps." Rank I and student certifications do not take this exam.

When do I take the exam?

The comprehensive exam can only be taken during the final semester of your program. Check the Dates & Deadlines on the right for the date, details, instructions, and application. An email may also be sent out on the listserv notifying you of the application deadline and the date, time, and place of the exam. 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.

To help you in planning, the dates below provide the tentative annual schedule for when the exams will be offered. Application dates are at the beginning of the semesters in which you plan to take the exam. The exams are typically conducted from 8:30am-1pm on the Saturdays indicated below:

  • Fall comps (December graduation)
    • Application due September 1
    • Exam on the last Saturday in September 
  • Spring comps (May graduation)
    • Application due February 1
    • Exam on the last Saturday in February
  • Summer comps (August graduation,
    even if you walk in the May WKU graduation ceremony
    • Application due May 1
    • Exam on the first Saturday in June

How do I prepare for comps?

  1. Complete the department application by the deadline listed on the right.
    1. Save your application with your file name in the following format: LastName_CompsAppSp17
    2. Email your completed application to directly to Belinda Wisdom at belinda.wisdom@wku.edu or fax it to (270) 745-5031.
  2. 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 for that exam ($75 paid directly to NBCC online via credit card).
  3. As you await the exam date, review your materials from class and refer to the study materials listed on the right to help prepare you for the exam. You may also talk to classmates who have previously taken them exam to find out what helped them prepare and successfully pass the exam.

What should I expect from comps?

  1. Arrive at the testing center by 8:30am to sign in, identify your seat, and receive your test and instructions. The exam should begin by 9am.
  2. Take the computer-based CPCE exam. 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 minus 1 standard deviation of that particular exam.
  3. 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. You must complete this portion successfully to graduate.

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

  • Mar 19, 2018 Deadline to pre-register for the October 2018 NCE Exam (if graduated before Jan 2018, apply directly to NBCC)
  • Apr 21, 2018 NCE exam
  • May 1, 2018 Deadline to register for summer comps (summer graduates only). Review the details and instructions at the center of this page and complete the application.
  • May 2018 Counseling graduation ceremony (1-2pm, GRH 2064) and WKU graduation ceremony (5-7pm, Diddle Arena).
  • Jun 2, 2018 Summer Comp Exams (8:30am-1pm)
  • Jul 2018 Deadline to complete the online NCE application and pay the fee ($335) for the Oct 2016 exam. See the student tip sheet on applying.
  • Sep 1, 2018 Deadline to register for fall comps (fall grads only). Review the details and instructions at the center of this page and complete the application.
  • Sep 2018 Deadline to pre-register for the April 2019 NCE Exam (if graduated before Aug 2018, apply directly to NBCC)
  • Sep 29, 2018 Fall Comp Exams (8:30am-1pm)
  • Oct 20, 2018 NCE exam
  • Jan 2019 Deadline to complete the online NCE application and pay the fee ($335). See the student tip sheet on applying.
  • Feb 1, 2019 Deadline to register for spring comps (spring graduates only). Review the details and instructions at the center of this page and complete the application.
  • February 23, 2019 Spring Comp Exams (8:30am-1pm)

Helpful Links


Comps & NCE Exams

 State Licensure

Some of the links on this page may require additional software to view.

 Last Modified 5/17/18