More than 51,000 professional counselors worldwide hold the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential. These individuals share a common standard of education, training and experience. In addition to meeting educational standards, applicants for the NCC must pass the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and fulfill supervised experience requirements.

Obtaining the NCC provides layers of benefits to NCCs as well as the profession, employers and the public. Learn more about the benefits of national certification.

Applying for the NCC as a Student

National certification and state licensure are often confused. The NCC is a master’s level, voluntary credential administered by NBCC and held by many counselors in addition to their state license. State licensure is mandatory to practice counseling independently; these standards are set by regulatory boards in each state. Learn more...

The NCC for Graduate Students application program provides an avenue for well-advanced students and very recent graduates to begin the application process for national certification. If your school participates in this program, applications and instructions will be available through a designated campus coordinator at the school. The campus coordinator (usually a faculty or staff member) provides administrative support in the process, allowing NBCC to offer program participants a reduced NCC application fee.

To see if your school currently participates in this program, click on the List of Participating Schools. If your school is not on the list and is interested in participating, a faculty member should contact NBCC at

View requirements for the NCC certification.

Examination Requirement

The National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE), which is a requirement for the NCC credential, is the same exam used by about 40 states for the state counselor license. Read more about the NCE and available study guides.

After the Exam

Once a student passes the NCE, there are additional steps required before the NCE score verification can be sent to a third party such as a state licensure board. Learn more about this process.