Skip to Content

National Counselor Exam (NCE)

What Texas State University Students Need to Know about the NCE:

The NCE is a 200-item multiple choice examination designed to assess knowledge and skills determined to be important for providing effective counseling services. Passing the National Counselor Exam is a requirement for licensure in many states, including the State of Texas. See the Applying for a License page for the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors (LPC Board) for more information.  

Here is some basic information about taking the NCE:

  • Since our counseling program is CACREP-accredited, students can choose to take the NCE before or after graduation. If you apply to take the NCE while you are still in the counseling program, you will actually be applying to become a National Certified Counselor (NCC). As part of this certification application, you will be able to take the NCE.  If you choose to take the NCE after graduation, you will apply to take the NCE though the LPC Board and will not include application for the NCC. See the table below for more information about the differences between these two options.
  • Students do not have to take the NCE prior to graduation. The NCE is not the Comprehensive Exam (CPCE), which is a requirement/exit examination for graduation from the Professional Counseling Program. A separate email will be sent via the student listserv when the CPCE application is available online. 
Taking the NCE During Graduate School Taking the NCE After Graduate School
Cost: $335 Cost: $275
NCE is offered twice every year: in April and October. NCE is offered each month.
NCE is administered as a computer-based exam. NCE is administered as a computer-based exam.
Scores take up to eight weeks to process (after you graduate). Scores are available right after you take the NCE.
You are applying to become a NCC and take the National Counselor Exam. You are applying with the LPC Board to take the National Counselor Exam for licensure.
The NCC is a credential (certification), not a clinical license. Being a NCC offers several benefits such as having a professional credential and access to professional resources, products, and discounts. You can choose if you want to pursue becoming a NCC or not.
There is a delay in working toward your LPC due to wait time for NBCC to send official NCE scores after you verify graduation through an official transcript. There may be a delay in working toward your LPC, because you have to graduate and then take the NCE. You can register for the NCE as soon as you graduate and then apply for the license after you pass the exam.
Texas State University requires that you pass the CPCE prior to applying to become a NCC and take the NCE. You will have passed the CPCE and met all graduation requirements (including graduating!) prior to applying to take the NCE.
Sign up through Texas State University and then register and pay through NBCC. NBCC sends you a link to the registration process via email. Sign up by completing the form found on this site:

Counseling Program Requirements for NCC Eligibility

program requirements

Professional Counseling Program requirements for students to be eligible to apply for the NCC credential and take the NCE while in the program include:

  • Students are current degree-seeking counseling students in the Texas State University Professional Counseling Program (students from other schools must be approved through their own counseling programs)
  • Students have completed six of the eight core CACREP subject areas.
  • Remaining two of the eight core subject areas must be enrolled in during the semester of the exam.
  • Students have passed the CPCE exam.*
  • Students should be enrolled in Practicum or Internship the semester they plan to take the NCE.

If you have met/will have met all of these requirements, then click on the link to the online NCC sign up page below. The sign up page provides information allowing the Texas State University Professional Counseling Program to verify student eligibility and create an "NCC Eligible Student List." We will provide this list to NBCC soon after the stated sign-up deadline, and NBCC will then send students on the NCC Eligible Student List a link to the NCC credential process/NCE online application. You must be on the Texas State NCC Eligible Student List to get an invitation to begin the NCC credential process and sign up through NBCC to take the NCE.

*CPCE clarification - If you have not yet taken the CPCE, but plan to take it three or more months prior to the NCE, you can complete the NCC Sign Up application. Texas State must be able to confirm that you passed the CPCE several months before the NCE due to NBCC application due dates for participating universities. An example of this is if you plan to take the CPCE in September, you could not sign up to take the NCE in October. You would instead sign up to take the NCE the following year in April.


NCC Application Process

If you meet program requirements to apply for the NCC, you are able to sign up during the dates listed below. Due to NBCC deadlines, these dates cannot be extended.  

NCE Test Date

Sign Up Dates

Sign Up Due Date

April 2022

Aug/Sep 2022 TBD

September TBD

October 2021

March 25-April 10, 2021

April 10, 2021 


Here are the NCC/NCE sign up procedures:

1. Complete NCC Sign Up through Texas State - Complete the NCC Sign up through Texas State University Professional Counseling Program to be endorsed by our program to become an NCC and take the NCE. You must assure that you have met eligibility requirements (listed above) before you complete the sign up. You will receive an email confirmation of the preliminary sign up (not the official NCE application). If there are any issues with your application, such as not meeting eligibility requirements, Dr. Purswell will email you before the deadline.


(Application link available only during the dates listed above).


2. Complete NBCC online application and pay for the NCC/NCE - NBCC will review the list sent by Texas State University, and then NBCC will send an individual email to approved students on the list. You will have to submit an ethics disclosure. This may take several weeks after our deadline. The email will have a subject line similar to: "You have been endorsed for National Certification." It will direct you to the ProCounselor website to begin the NBCC sign up process. NBCC will provide a Student Tip Sheet to assist students in the NBCC/NCE sign up process. They will also direct you to a list of local testing sites, where you will decide upon the date and location to test within the testing month indicated. After completing this step, you may be contacted by NBCC and Affiliates with opportunities for counseling students/counselors unrelated to the NCE.


3. Prepare for and take the NCE! - Take time to study for the exam! It's an expensive exam, so you want to do your best. NBCC will send a confirmation letter about one to two weeks before the exam. Follow the guidelines on that letter, including what you need to take to the exam (e.g., Identification and NBCC confirmation letter). Arrive early for the exam and use your mindfulness skills to be mentally and emotionally prepared. You can do this!


4. Receive results  and complete LPC and NCC application processes after graduation. The day of examination, you will receive an unofficial score report. The LPC Board used to accept this as verification of passing the NCE exam, but no longer accepts it as verification of passing the exam. This means that after graduation, you will need to complete the rest of the NCC application process by providing NBCC with an official transcript documenting the degree has been conferred/awarded. Texas State typically releases these up to 2 weeks after graduation (check with the Registrar's Office for specific dates). NBCC will then work to complete your NCC certification and send you an Official NCE Score report that can be sent to the LPC Board for the LPC-Intern application. This process can take up to 8 weeks. The website for the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors is Texas LPC Board.


Where can I take the NCE?

If you are an eligible Professional Counseling Program student, you can take the NCE exam while you are still enrolled in the counseling program.

As of April 2018, the NCE for current Texas State students will be administered through a PearsonVUE testing center. This will allow you to select from several testing centers in Central Texas area, and select your test date within the testing month specified. NBCC will send you a letter to confirm testing information about two weeks prior to the exam.

If you are planning to take the NCE AFTER graduation, you will register for the exam here. After submitting that application, NBCC will provide a list of Pearson VUE testing centers where the NCE is administered monthly. Be sure to choose the option for STATE LICENSURE, not certification


How is the NCE Scored?

The NCE uses 160 items of the 200-item exam to determine if a test taker meets the minimum passing score. The other 40 items undergo field testing to establish suitability for future use. Test takers will not know which items are being field tested when they take the NCE. 

The maximum possible score on the NCE is 160. NBCC determines the minimum passing score, which varies between versions, using a modified Angoff procedure. The NCE is not scored on a curve, so scores are not influenced by other test taker's results. NBCC will not release your examination score to a third party without your written consent. 

National Board for Certified Counselors. (2014). Content covered in the NCE. Retrieved from


NCE Content Areas

The NCE covers the Content Areas listed below. 

NCE Content Areas

Content Area Definitions

Texas State Counseling Courses

Human Growth and Development Studies that provide an understanding of the nature and needs of individuals at all developmental levels. COUN 5368 - Developmental Issues 
Social and Cultural Foundations Studies that provide an understanding of issues and trends in a multicultural and diverse society. COUN 5301 - Professional Counseling Orientation or
COUN 5328 - Intro to School Counseling
COUN 5316 - Counseling Diverse Populations
Helping Relationships Studies that provide an understanding of counseling and consultation processes. COUN 5307 - Theories of Counseling and Personality
COUN 5354 - Basic Techniques in Counseling
Group Work Studies that provide an understanding of group development, dynamics, counseling theories, group counseling methods and skills, and other group work approaches. COUN 5358 - Dynamics and Processes in Group Counseling
Career and Lifestyle Development Studies that provide an understanding of career development and related life factors. COUN 5355 - Career Counseling
Appraisal Studies that provide an understanding of individual and group approaches to assessment and evaluation. COUN 5305 - Assessment in Counseling
Research and Program Evaluation Studies that provide an understanding of types of research methods, basic statistics, and ethical and legal considerations in research. COUN 5391 - Research Seminar
Professional Orientation & Ethics Studies that provide an understanding of all aspects of professional functioning including history, roles, organizational structures, ethics, standards, and credentialing. COUN 5350 - Advanced Counselor Ethics

NCE Study Resources

Students start to study for the NCE by participating in classes and studying class notes. Students will have also taken the CPCE, which can serve as a review for the NCE. The library has made the following resources available through the Alkek Library. The link below takes you directly to a list of resources:

NBCC also offers a Student Information page with additional resources regarding the NCE: NBCC Student Information


National Certified Counselor (NCC) Credential

NBCC logo

The National Certified Counselor (NCC) is a voluntary credential that identifies to members of the public and prospective employers that you have met national certification standards based on research conducted in the field. The NCC is not a clinical license, so students cannot practice with an NCC credential. Students must hold licensure as an LPC or as an LPC-Intern, under the supervision of an LPC-Supervisor, to practice counseling within the State of Texas. 

The NCC credential can be an effective profile booster in your job search. As a credential holder, you can use the NCC designation on your résumé and business cards. In addition, you will have access to various professional resources, product discounts and professional liability insurance discounts. 

To hold the NCC, you must have a qualifying master’s or doctoral degree, pass a national exam, meet experience and supervision requirements, adhere to a strict code of ethics, and participate in continuing education activities. You must renew the credential regularly. 



If you are a TEXAS STATE UNIVERSITY student in the Professional Counseling Program and have questions about the NCE, contact our Program's Campus NCE Coordinator, Dr. Katie Purswell at  or contact NBCC at

All other students or applicants not affiliated with Texas State University should contact NBCC directly or the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors.