NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Stephen F. Austin State University received the No. 1 ranking from for having the top-value counseling master's degree in Texas. is an organization committed to helping students find the best higher-education counseling programs. The rankings were created using the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs online directory to find accredited counseling programs in Texas.

The top 10-ranked schools were based on program completion rate, job placement rate, licensing exam pass rate, accreditation length, research productivity, and tuition and fees.

Dr. Le'Ann Solmonson, director of SFA's professional counseling program and professor, said she is thrilled to see this level of recognition for SFA's program.

"We recognize and take seriously the responsibility of training professional counselors. We have high expectations for our students, and they rise to the challenge," Solmonson said. "We believe we do an excellent job training counselors. This ranking provides validation to the strength of our program."

SFA's 60-hour master's in professional counseling program includes three degree concentrations: school counseling, clinical mental health counseling and clinical rehabilitation counseling. The program is a combination of online and face-to-face courses.

Solmonson boasted the program's unique philosophy and approach. Students in the three programs take a common set of classes comprising 48 hours and then take 12 hours in their specialization. This arrangement provides students with exposure to all three areas. Regardless of their specialization, students have strong clinical training, Solmonson said.

All three programs lead to the Licensed Professional Counselor credential. The school counseling and clinical rehabilitation counseling students also are certified in their specialization, Certified School Counselor and Certified Rehabilitation Counselor.

"The ability to obtain dual credentials is another unique aspect of our program," Solmonson said. "We have students who have received their degree at other universities and come to us for the additional coursework to get the second credential."

The program's size is another feature that sets it apart from competing universities.

"With an enrollment between 65-80 students, we know our students and develop relationships with them. We love watching them grow as people and as professionals," Solmonson said. "We receive very positive feedback from employer and internship site supervisors and consistently hear that our students stand out."