Awards and Scholarships

There are a number of awards and scholarships students may be considered for, some which include monetary awards and some professional recognition (Scholarship awarded to Counseling Graduate Students only)


Specific deadlines and processes will be announced by the Department in the fall semester each year. Department scholarships are intended to honor students who demonstrate commitment to various communities or areas of specialty. Monies attached to these scholarships tend to be modest and may vary from year to year.

Dr. John Blando is a retired member of the Department of Counseling, beloved professor, and leader in gerontological counseling. Upon his retirement, alumni initiated a scholarship in his name to be given to students who demonstrate a commitment to working with older adults and the field of gerontological counseling. (Amount variable).

Faculty coordinator: Dr. Rebecca Toporek,

Dr. Amy Hittner was a long time faculty member of the Department of Counseling, Department Chair, Associate Dean of the College, a leader in the counseling community and now Emeriti Professor at San Francisco State University. This award was established to honor Dr. Amy Hittner, and is given to a student of exceptional scholarship and a clear, demonstrated dedication to multicultural persons. Student must meet the following criteria: Graduate student in Counseling; minimum GPA of 3.0 in the courses taken for the Master’s in Counseling; Must have at least one semester remaining before graduating from SF State; and Must demonstrate financial need through a written statement that also includes educational or life goals (max one page); preference given to students approved by university for financial assistance, but financial aid not required.

Faculty coordinator: Dr. Rebecca Toporek,

Dr. Peggy Smith was a long-time faculty member in the Department of Counseling, Department Chair, and provider in Counseling and Psychological Services. She was committed to excellence in teaching and service and upon her passing in 2002, the Counseling Clinic (a joint partnership between the Department of Counseling and Counseling and Psychological Services) was named the Peggy Smith Clinic. Dr. Smith left a legacy of excellence and her estate bestowed funds from which the Department of Counseling chose to create a scholarship fund. Two to three academically outstanding students per year are awarded this scholarship.

Faculty coordinator: Dr. Rebecca Toporek,

This scholarship is awarded to students who have a demonstrated track record of service to African Americans. Each scholarship shall be for a period of one year, and any additional scholarship to a student shall be granted only upon a reapplication by the student. Eligible students will have enrolled for a minimum of 6 units in the semester when being considered for the award. Further, the student must have completed a minimum of one semester in the graduate counseling program with a grade point average of no less than 3.0. Applicants will document their demonstrated track record of service to African Americans by a personal statement describing the specific ways they have contributed to African American communities (including specific organizations, dates, and activities) and how their post master's experience will continue to directly serve African Americans.

Faculty coordinator: Dr. Rebecca Toporek,

In 2018, the Department of Counseling celebrated its 70th Anniversary and chose to use the proceeds of the Celebration Event to create an emergency fund for students experiencing an extreme unexpected event which may prevent them from completing their studies. Although we know many of our students are challenged financially, and pursuing a graduate degree is an expensive venture, this is a very limited fund and is reserved to extreme circumstances.

This scholarship is named after Salvador Chávez, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico as a young man, and his life partner Edward Hascall.  Sal Chávez was a bilingual, bicultural counselor who graduated from the Department of Counseling with a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, got a PhD in Psychology from the Wright Institute and many years later, taught in the Department of Counseling for 14 years.  He demonstrated exceptional commitment to students as a clinician, supervisor, and professor. These scholarships are for graduate students in good standing in the Department of Counseling at San Francisco State University.  Recipients must demonstrate community involvement.  

Training Grants, Research and Project Stipends

The Equity and Justice-Focused School-Based Mental Health Training Project (EJF-SBMH-TP) is a five year (2023-2027) US Department of Education: Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration grant designed to address the mental health crisis among California youth by increasing the workforce supply of culturally and linguistically diverse school-based mental health services providers trained to work in high-need public schools. This project will establish a workforce pipeline between SF State’s counselor training program and high-need schools in Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). Each year, the Department of Counseling will award $10,000 stipends to 20 students that commit to completing one academic year of school-based fieldwork in a project approved high-need K-12 school, and one academic year of full-time service as a school-based mental health provider in a high-need school post-graduation. Students can receive more than one stipend throughout their training programs.

The Equity and Justice-Focused Integrated Behavioral Health Counselor Training Project Site is a four year (2021-2025) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant that provides opportunities for students to apply for a $10,000 stipend for their second year of internship (29 students eligible each year). The project is a direct response to the behavioral health crisis among our California youth, particularly those from underserved and historically marginalized communities. The project will increase the supply of master level behavioral health counselors from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who are trained to work in Integrated Behavioral Health within healthcare professional shortage area (HPSA) sites with at-risk children, adolescents and TAY; establish a workforce pipeline between SF State’s counselor training program and Bay Area Federally Qualified Healthcare Settings (FQHC) and/or HPSA sites; and expand EJF-IBH practices with our partner behavioral health agencies. Students in all Specializations are eligible to apply for this stipend with priority for those having specific interest in working in integrative behavioral health.

Students in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program are eligible for a training stipends/scholarship each year (20 students each year thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Education; 2019-2024). Students receive approximately $10k-13K annually for one or all of the years in they are in the program. Stipends can be used for anything (rent, books, expenses, tuition, travel etc.). The stipends entail a “work payback” which requires graduates who received a stipend to work in a non-profit behavioral health organization or a state/federally funded agency that serves those with health and behavioral health conditions and disabilities for two years for each year the stipend was received.

University Recognition

This award is based on a record of distinguished scholarship and outstanding service to the community as determined by faculty and the student’s transcripts. Members of the faculty of the Department of Counseling nominate graduating students whom they feel have an outstanding record of achievement in their work with us. This pool of nominees is then discussed and, by consensus, the faculty determines who will make up the final pool of nominees to represent our finest students. From this finalist pool, 2-3 winners are selected by the faculty. One of these winner’s name is forwarded to the College of Health and Social Sciences as our nominee for college Hood recipient. The hood recipient is then selected by the college from among a number of department nominees. This process takes place in the spring semester. This award is an honor of recognition by the university, there is no monetary fund connected to the award.

Faculty coordinator: Dr. Rebecca Toporek,

Other announcements for national, state and local awards may come up throughout the year and will be posted on the Coun-l list serve. For general information about other scholarships, financial aid and tuition information, including student employment, visit the SF State Graduate Studies website “Funding your Education” or the SF State Financial Aid website.