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Best Online Master’s in Counseling Programs of 2022

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Best Online Master’s in Counseling Programs

To become a licensed counselor, many states require you to have a master’s degree. We have highlighted some of the best online master’s in counseling programs.

Through appropriate assessment, diagnosis, and treatment, counselors provide information and support to people struggling with career options, relationships, addictions, mental health issues, and other challenges. Earning a master’s degree in counseling online leads graduates to fulfilling careers as counselors in marriage and family, mental health, addictions, and professional counseling.

The growing acceptance of counseling as a form of healing and personal growth has resulted in job growth well above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that jobs for addictions, behavioral and mental health counselors will increase by 25% between 2019 and 2029.

Our Guide to the best online master’s in counseling program provides a comprehensive overview of career opportunities, admission requirements, and choosing a program.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master’s in Counseling Program?

An online master’s degree in counseling prepares graduates to help a diverse group of people in a variety of settings, including hospitals, schools, and private practices. Success in this career requires empathy, patience, and strong communication and interpersonal skills.

Most online counseling master’s programs require 60 credits and last 2 to 3 years. Internships and apprenticeships provide the experience necessary for state and job-specific approval.

Most Master of Counseling programs require students to choose a concentration for a major, however, students are not committed to that major for life. During their studies, regardless of their chosen specialization, students will acquire a training diploma in a variety of counseling topics, such as mental health counseling and substance abuse counseling. Majors tend to play a larger role in a student’s post-graduation career when pursuing a bachelor’s degree in a particular concentration.

Students should continue taking programs related to their area of ​​interest and consider majors when choosing a program. Some schools offer the following counseling specializations:

Substance Abuse and Addiction Counseling

This specialization provides students with the skills to assess and treat people with addictions.

Mental Health Counseling

This concentration prepares students for a career as a licensed professional clinical counselor or marriage and family therapist.

Trauma Studies

This concentration teaches students about the effects, prevention, and treatment of traumatic stress.

School Counseling

Students interested in working in an educational setting may want to consider this major.

Christian Counseling

This specialization focuses on faith-based foundations and prepares students to work in Christian ministries or churches.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master’s in Counseling Program?

An online master’s program in counseling builds on a student’s college education and focuses on advanced skills. Although courses vary, most programs include core courses in assessment and testing, group counseling, ethical practice, and cultural diversity. The next section examines typical courses in an online master’s advisory program.

Group Counseling

This course covers group dynamics and specific counseling techniques for small groups. Lessons explore how to engage group members and assess relationships within a group setting. Other topics include the phases of group therapy and the evaluation of the effectiveness of group counseling.

Counseling for Different Population Groups

Students will learn the skills and theories necessary to assess and counsel people from diverse populations. Topics covered include advocacy, gender roles, ethnicity, and social identification. College candidates also learn about their role in promoting social justice.

Ethical, Legal, and Professional Standards

This course focuses on the specific legal and ethical aspects of counseling practice. Coursework covers topics such as malpractice and confidentiality. Students research state-specific licensing standards and professional associations.

Crisis Counseling

Graduates learn about the effects of trauma and crisis intervention procedures. Topics covered include the assessment and prevention of suicide risk and the role of a counselor in an emergency response team.

Addiction Counseling

This course provides an overview of alcohol and drug counseling practices. Topics covered include 12-step relief and other recovery models, vulnerable populations, and available community resources. Other topics include the assessment and treatment of addictions related to gambling, food, hoarding, shopping, and sex.

Admission Requirements for Online Masters in Counseling Programs

All online master’s programs in counseling require a bachelor’s degree. Although most programs do not require a bachelor’s degree in counseling, some prefer courses in relevant fields such as statistics, psychology, or research methods. Most programs require a minimum GPA of 2.7 to 3.0.

In addition to official transcripts, most programs require up to three letters of recommendation from supervisors or professors. Candidates pursuing a master’s degree in school counseling may need work experience in a school setting or a teaching license.

In addition, prospective students should research the eligibility requirements for counseling services in their state to ensure that your program will help them find a job. CACREP accreditation is a good indicator that the program meets licensing requirements.

What Can I Do With an Online Masters in Counseling?

Career Prospect

An online Masters in Counseling prepares students to serve individuals, families, and groups with mental and behavioral disorders. These professionals work in a variety of settings, including private practices, schools, nonprofit organizations, correctional facilities, addiction centers, and hospitals.

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Consulting is expected to be a hot field for the next decade. The BLS projects job growth of 22% for marriage and family therapists and 25% for addiction, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors between 2019 and 2029.

Career Path

Addiction and Recovery Counselors

Addiction and recovery counselors help and support people recovering from addictions, which can include gambling, drugs, alcohol, hoarding, sex, and eating disorders. These counselors help their clients understand the root cause of their addiction and develop a recovery plan, which may include behavior modification techniques. Many of these professionals use the principles of the 12-step programs to help their clients.

Trauma Response Counselor

A Trauma Response Counselor recognizes the effects of trauma and understands how to manage its effects, including acute and post-traumatic stress disorders. These professionals offer evidence-based trauma treatments to patients, such as: cognitive processing therapy and desensitization and reprocessing of eye movements. These advisors may target specific groups, such as: veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

School Counselor

School counselors help K-12 students succeed in their social and academic lives. These professionals work with students, teachers, and parents to identify the causes of social unrest, behavior problems, and poor academic performance. School counselors can also provide academic and career counseling and deal with domestic violence, bullying, and addiction.

Marriage and Family Counselor

Marriage and family counselors deal with relationship issues within the family. Common problems include behavioral issues with children, lack of communication between family members, and substance abuse. Through observation, assessment, and diagnosis, these therapists help family members understand and treat underlying causes of their interpersonal challenges.

Mental Health Counselor

Mental health counselors work in a variety of settings, including private practices, hospitals, correctional institutions, rehabilitation centers, and social services. With the expansion of telemedicine in recent years, working from home may also be an option. These professionals help people with social and emotional problems, phobias, fears, and other mental health issues. Some mental health counselors specialize in a specific group, e.g. children, the elderly or prisoners.

2022 Best Accredited Online Masters Programs in Counseling

How We Rate Schools

We believe that a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. Our goal is to help you navigate the college selection process by providing transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are based on a few guiding principles and use the latest available statistical data from trusted sources. We hope that our approach will help you find the right school for you.

#1 Online College in Virginia

Liberty University

School Information

Location: Lynchburg, Virginia

Admission Rate: 51%

Graduation Rate: 47%

Institution Type: Private

Accreditation: Yes

Percent Online Enrollment: 92%

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Average Cost per Credit

In State | $565/Full time; $615/part time

Out of State | $565/Full time; $615/part time

Credits to Graduate: 60

Program Information

Program Accreditation | Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs

LU offers a Master of Clinical Mental Health Counseling as one of the top Christian universities in the country. This degree prepares students for state licensing as professional consultants. The program explores topics such as psychopathology, clinical diagnosis, crisis counseling, and treatment planning.

Each participant completes a mandatory internship in her residential area. Registered students meet professors and their colleagues during two intensive courses on campus. On average, they complete their studies in 2.5 years. Admission to the master’s degree in counseling requires a bachelor’s degree and a minimum GPA of 2.7.

Learn more about this program

#2 Online College in New York

New York University

School Information

Location: New York, New York

Admission Rate: 16%

Graduation Rate: 85%

Institution Type: Private

Accreditation: Yes

Percent Online Enrollment: 10%

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Average Cost per Credit

In State | $1,942

Out of State | $1,942

Credits to Graduate: 48-60

Program Information

Program Accreditation | Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council

As one of the top universities in the country, NYU offers two online master’s degrees in counseling. Students can specialize in academic counseling or mental health and wellness. Participants progress through each program as part of a cohort. Students take live online courses by enrolling full-time or part-time.

This school counseling course offers an optional bilingual school counseling orientation. Each registrant receives on-the-job preparation through hands-on experience and three 200-hour internships. All participants participate in experiential activities during an immersion on the NYU campus. Each applicant must have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum GPA of 3.0.

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#3 Online College in California

Hope International University

School Information

Location: Fullerton, California

Admission Rate: 37%

Graduation Rate: 54%

Institution Type: Private

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Accreditation: Yes

Percent Online Enrollment: 50%

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Average Cost per Credit

In State | $650

Out of State | $650

Credits to Graduate: 61 units

Program Information

Regional Accreditation | WASC Senior College and University Commission

This private Christian university offers an online master’s degree in counseling focused on marriage and family therapy. The program prepares students to obtain the qualifications of a Registered Professional Clinical Counselor and a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist. Participants can complete this program online through asynchronous classwork in 2 to 3 years.

The program includes psychotherapy, group therapy, and counseling and professional development. Internships and apprenticeships provide 700 hours of hands-on experience. Each candidate for the master’s degree in counseling must have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Learn more about this program

#4 Online College in Illinois

Adler University

School Information

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Institution Type: Private

Accreditation: Yes

Percent Online Enrollment: 42%

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Average Cost per Credit

In State | $1,442

Out of State | $1,442

Credits to Graduate: 62

Program Information

Program Accreditation | Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs

Adler specializes in training mental health professionals. Its Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling continues this tradition. Students learn to provide culturally appropriate services in a variety of contexts. Most courses are conducted asynchronously with some synchronous meetings. Each partner can improve their consulting skills through a 100-hour internship and a 600-hour internship.

All online students complete two five-day residencies on the Chicago campus. The program also requires classroom instruction and assessment elements for four courses. Graduates are eligible to sit the National Counselor Examination. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree and a minimum GPA of 3.0.

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#5 Online College in California

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los Angeles

School Information

Location: Los Angeles, California

Admission Rate: 13%

Institution Type: Private

Accreditation: Yes

Percent Online Enrollment: 82%

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Average Cost per Credit

In State | $1,253

Out of State | $1,253

Credits to Graduate: 60

Program Information

Program Accreditation | Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs

The Chicago School trains licensed and certified professional counselors. The practicing faculty teaches the online Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. The program meets the educational requirements for the title of Licensed Professional Advisor. The program involves assessing people and diagnosing mental health problems.

Each registrant completes two internships and a practicum of at least 700 hours. The extra-occupational course requires two attendance visits. Students can complete this Master’s degree in Counseling online in three years. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree. Applicants are not required to submit GRE scores.

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#6 Online College in Kentucky

University of the Cumberlands

School Information

Location: Williamsburg, Kentucky

Admission Rate: 80%

Graduation Rate: 44%

Institution Type: Private

Accreditation: Yes

Percent Online Enrollment: 91%

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Average Cost per Credit

In State | $400

Out of State | $400

Credits to Graduate: 60

Program Information

Program Accreditation | Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

UC is a Christian university in Kentucky. Its Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling prepares enrollers to work as mental health counselors, assessing, diagnosing, and treating mental disorders. The online program covers private practice and clinical supervision, marriage and family counseling, and child and youth counseling.

Every applicant gains practical experience during a 100-hour internship and two 300-hour internships. The school also offers an online master’s degree in addiction counseling. Admission to any of the master’s programs in counseling requires a bachelor’s degree and a 3.0 grade point average. Applicants with a grade point average between 2.5 and 2.9 may be considered if they complete an additional essay position.

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#7 Online College in Pennsylvania

Clarks Summit University

School Information

Location: South Abington Township, Pennsylvania

Admission Rate: 41%

Graduation Rate: 88%

Institution Type: Private

Accreditation: Yes

Percent Online Enrollment: 64%

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Average Cost per Credit

In State | $585

Out of State | $585

Credits to Graduate: 60

Program Information

Regional Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Pennsylvania-based CSU offers a master’s degree in counseling that emphasizes a biblical counseling model. The program prepares participants for the National Certified Counselor exam. Coursework covers abnormal behaviors, human development, and marriage and family counseling.

Each student completes a supervised counseling internship and internship. This Master in Counseling concludes with a comprehensive exam. Students can transfer up to 20 credits to the MS. The candidate must have a bachelor’s degree to be admitted.

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#8 Online College in Colorado

University of Denver

School Information

Location: Denver, Colorado

Admission Rate: 59%

Graduation Rate: 77%

Institution Type: Private

Accreditation: Yes

Percent Online Enrollment: 28%

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Average Cost per Credit

In State | $956

Out of State | $956

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Credits to Graduate: 72

Program Information

Regional Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission

DU’s Master of School online counseling prepares enrollers to seek employment as social justice-focused counselors. Coursework addresses counseling techniques, counseling theory, and life development. Students combine classwork with activities such as journaling and mock counseling sessions.

Each participant completes one 100-hour internship and two 300-hour internships at a local P-12 school. Students may also choose to participate in an on-campus immersion experience. Full-time enrolled students can complete the MA online in 24 months. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree and a minimum GPA of 2.5. Applicants are not required to submit GRE scores.

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#9 Online College in California

University of Southern California

School Information

Location: Los Angeles, California

Admission Rate: 11%

Graduation Rate: 92%

Institution Type: Private

Accreditation: Yes

Percent Online Enrollment: 17%

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Average Cost per Credit

In State | $2,035

Out of State | $2,035

Credits to Graduate: 49

Program Information

Regional Accreditation | Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Based in Los Angeles, USC offers a senior counseling program with a M.Ed. online in school counseling. The degree prepares enrollees to take on consulting roles in K-12 settings. Students attend weekly live online classes. They supplement student coursework and research projects with internships, fieldwork, and clinical studies.

This online master’s degree in counseling prepares students to earn the California Pupil Personnel Service qualification. Full-time and part-time enrollment options provide additional flexibility. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree and a minimum GPA of 3.0.

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#10 Online College in North Carolina

Wake Forest University

School Information

Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Admission Rate: 30%

Graduation Rate: 88%

Institution Type: Private

Accreditation: Yes

Percent Online Enrollment: 7%

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Average Cost per Credit

In State | $1,560

Out of State | $1,560

Credits to Graduate: 60

Program Information

Program Accreditation | Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs

Wake Forest’s Master of Counseling offers specializations in school counseling and clinical mental health counseling. Both paths require core and foundational courses. Topics include counseling theories and models, family counseling, and group processes in counseling.

Registrants gain practical experience during the internship. The degree prepares students for admission to the National Counselor Examination (NCE). Wake Forest has a 95% pass rate on the RCE. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree, a minimum 2.5 GPA, and GRE scores.

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FAQ about Master of Counseling programs

Is a Masters in Counseling worth it?

Yes. If you have the drive and passion to help people overcome psychological and behavioral challenges, a Master’s in Counseling provides the training needed to excel in the field. Most consulting jobs require a master’s degree, as well as internships, postgraduate clinical hours, and a state license. On U.S. News & World Report’s Top 100 Jobs for 2021 list, Addiction and Behavioral Disorder Counselor was ranked 16th, while Marriage and Family Therapists were ranked 20th.

What Can I Do With a Masters in Counseling?

Graduates with a master’s degree in counseling become counselors specializing in addictions, mental health and behavioral disorders, trauma, parenting, or marriage and family counseling. Some consultants focus on treating specific populations, such as children, the elderly, or veterans.

In addition to serving clients directly, graduates of the counseling master’s program can become clinical supervisors or program directors, or even open their own practice. Some students do their doctorate and become professors or research related to counseling.

Are Counselors in Demand?

The BLS assumes that the already high demand for consultants will continue to increase. As states move from incarceration to addiction counseling and treatment programs, employment opportunities for addiction counselors will continue to expand. Mental health counselors are also in high demand, especially in underserved communities and rural areas. The BLS projects that position for these consultants will increase by 25% between 2019 and 2029.

How Much Money Can I Earn With a Master’s Degree in Counseling?

Annual salaries for graduates with master’s degrees in counseling vary depending on the consultant’s specialty and industry. The BLS reported a median annual salary of $47,660 for mental health and addiction counselors in 2020. Mental health and substance abuse counselors working in the government sector earned a median annual salary of $54,070 in 2020.

What are the Highest Paying Jobs With a Masters in Counseling?

According to the BLS, marriage and family therapists working in the state government sector earned a median annual salary of $78,450 in 2020. Additionally, school and career counselors in elementary and secondary schools earned a median annual salary of $64 $960 the same year.

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