Becoming a counselor requires rigorous training and on-the-job experience. Aspiring counselors can qualify for entry-level positions with a bachelor’s degree, but earning an online master’s in counseling opens up additional job opportunities in the field of mental health.
The most affordable online counseling degrees take approximately two years to complete. Universities use different application requirements, which can include prerequisite coursework in psychology or counseling and a minimum undergraduate GPA. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for counselors to grow by 25% between 2019 and 2029, much faster than the national average growth rate for all occupations (4%).
Read on to explore some of the most affordable master’s in counseling programs, including information on accreditation, courses, and potential career paths.
Southeastern's most affordable online counseling degree offers a master's in school counseling that takes degree-seekers just over 12 months to complete. Coursework includes assessment in counseling, human growth and development, and counseling children and adolescents. The program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
Southeastern's Career Management Center (CMC) offers degree-seekers and alumni numerous virtual resources, including online appointments, career development guides, and links to job exploration websites. The CMC also features teamwork and collaboration skill-building exercises and leadership tips. As students near graduation, they can research the latest open jobs on an exclusive job board.
Admission requirements include a minimum 2.0 undergraduate GPA, a valid teaching license, and two years of teaching experience. All degree-seekers pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of residency. Incoming students must submit FAFSA results to apply for institutional aid programs.
Average tuition cost : $238 per credit hour
Graduation rate: 32.9%
Estimated years of completion: 12 months
Admissions requirements: 2.0 undergraduate GPA, a valid teaching license, and two years of teaching experience. All degree-seekers pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of residency. Incoming students must submit FAFSA results to apply for institutional aid programs.
In ULM's online master's in counseling program, degree-seekers select between clinical mental health counseling and school counseling. Aspiring school counselors can specialize in elementary or secondary education. Clinicians-in-training can choose among child, adolescent, and adult specialization options. Both programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.
The ULM Career Center website offers learners to access free resume critiques, virtual career fairs, mock interviews, and how-to videos that cover interviewing skills. Additionally, students can log in to Focus 2 Career to explore potential careers.
Applicants need a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and a minimum 290 combined GRE score. ULM does not charge out-of-state tuition. Online degree-seekers may qualify for federal grants, loans, or work-study opportunities, depending on their FAFSA results.
Average tuition cost: $5,159 per semester
Graduation rate: 47%
Estimated years of completion: 2 years
Admissions requirements: Applicants need 3.0 undergraduate GPA minimum and a minimum 290 combined GRE score.
BU's master's in counseling online program awards an MS in clinical mental health counseling. The curriculum includes courses in qualitative research methods and program evaluation, introduction to counseling theories, and the diagnosis of mental and behavioral disorders. Students must complete a two-part residency and a four-part internship.
Career Services (CS) advisors help learners write a resume, hone interviewing skills, and network with potential employers. Specialized CS services for veterans include a transitioning guide and links to federal job websites. Degree-seekers may also register for a virtual career fair on Handshake.
Prospective degree-seekers submit a resume, two recommendation letters, undergraduate transcripts, and a 1,000-word statement of interest. They must also pass a criminal background check and need a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA. Online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate as on-campus learners. BU provides links to multiple private scholarships and grants.
Average tuition cost: $11,385 per year
Graduation rate: 21.14%
Estimated years of completion: 2-3 years
Admissions requirements: Applicants must submit a resume, two recommendation letters, undergraduate transcripts, and a 1,000 word minimum personal statement.
Prospective students who want academic flexibility enroll in NMHU's most affordable online counseling degree. The program offers concentrations in clinical mental health, clinical rehabilitation, rehabilitation, and vocational evaluation in rehabilitation. Each concentration requires a practicum and an internship in the second year. Some learners may need to complete coursework on NMHU's Las Vegas, New Mexico, campus.
The Career Services Center (CSC) provides learners and graduates with many resources, including OptimalResume, resume critiques, and the latest job postings. Students can also access O*NET's self-assessments to narrow down a career path. The CSC website also features guidance on how to create an attractive Handshake profile.
Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, two references, and a resume. NMHU does not offer conditional admission to applicants who do not meet the GPA cutoff. Online graduate degree-seekers may qualify for one of four institutional scholarship programs.
Average tuition cost: $19,410 per year
Graduation rate: 25%
Estimated years of completion: 2-3 years
Admissions requirements: Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, two recommendations, and a resume.
LU features affordable master's in counseling degrees with options in clinical mental health counseling, counseling and development, and a specialization in professional counseling. Each 60-credit degree includes coursework in counseling skills, group counseling theories and techniques, and individual counseling theories. Most full-time students can earn the degree in just 30 months.
Career Development (CD) professionals help degree-seekers improve interviewing skills, create a LinkedIn account, and use Handshake. The CD website offers online resources, such as virtual career events and workshop presentations. Alumni can explore professional development guides covering workplace professionalism and time management skills.
Applicants need a minimum 3.5 undergraduate GPA and must submit GRE scores. Each counseling master's degree charges the same affordable tuition rate. LU's Student Financial Aid Handbook details how learners can qualify and apply for federal financial aid programs.
Average tuition cost: $18,000 for program
Graduation rate: 31.7%
Estimated years of completion: 2-3 years
Admissions requirements: Applicants must have a minimum 3.5 undergraduate GPA and must submit GRE scores.
PVAMU offers one of the most affordable online counseling degrees. Core courses include orientation to school counseling and development, career development counseling, and organization and administration of school counseling programs. Degree-seekers also complete one school practicum and two school internships.
Students can explore many resources on PVAMU's Career Services website, including a resume template for teachers, common resume mistakes, and job postings. PVAMU offers Focus 2 Career to help students find the right career path. Learners can also participate in an online mock interview and search for positions on Handshake.
Applicants need a valid teaching license and two years of experience. Other application materials include three recommendation letters, a cover letter, and a teaching service record. Texas degree-seekers can apply for a Texas Public Education Grant or TEXAS Grant. Out-of-state students can explore various institutional aid opportunities.
Average tuition cost: $15,523 per year
Graduation rate: 36%
Estimated years of completion: 2-3 years
Admissions requirements: Applicants must have a valid teaching license, two years of experience, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement or cover letter, and a teaching service record.
Medaille's online master's in counseling program trains the next generation of clinical mental health counselors. The 60-credit, two-year degree requires a three-semester internship and coursework in cultural and social diversity, psychopathologies, and child abuse mandated reported training. Medaille counseling alumni work at hospitals, managed care organizations, and substance abuse treatment centers.
Students nearing graduation can explore the MavJobs board to browse career opportunities. Learners can also log in to TypeFocus to take a career self-assessment. Students can sign up on Handshake to attend virtual career fairs that attract major employers.
Admission requirements include undergraduate transcripts, a letter of intent, and three recommendation letters. Medaille does not charge out-of-state tuition, and veterans receive an automatic 5% tuition discount. Learners can explore several ways to fund their education, including payment plans, institutional aid, federal grants, and loans.
Average tuition cost: $875 per credit hour
Graduation rate: 38.24%
Estimated years of completion: 2-3 years
Admissions requirements: Applicants must submit an undergraduate transcript, a personal statement or cover letter, three recommendation letters.
USM's master's in counseling online degree features a concentration in rehabilitation and includes courses in psychiatric rehabilitation, vocational counseling and placement, and perspectives in chemical dependency. Learners complete 63 credits and attain 600 internship hours at a local healthcare facility. The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.
The USM Career and Employment Hub (CEH) allows students and alumni to schedule virtual appointments, attend online events, and gain assistance crafting resumes and cover letters. CEH events introduce learners to major state employers such as Covertrus, Sweetser, and Northern Light Health.
USM admits new learners only in the fall semesters. Prospective students need a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA. Other application materials include a resume, essay, three recommendation letters, and either MAT or GRE scores. Students can browse several private scholarship opportunities on the USM scholarships website.
Average tuition cost: $5,892 total
Graduation rate: 40%
Estimated years of completion: 2-3 years
Admissions requirements: Applicants must submit a transcript showing a minimum GPA of 2.5, a resume, cover letter, three recommendation letters, and a MAT or GRE score.
Prospective learners researching the most affordable online counseling degrees with concentration options may want to consider OU. The degree's four concentrations include Christian counseling, expressive arts therapy, gerocounseling, and treatment of trauma abuse and deprivation. This hybrid program requires some on-campus courses at one of OU's three national campuses.
Career Development and Placement advisors help students with virtual job fairs and seminars, interviewing guidance, and job listings. Kansas students can use the Kansas Career Pipeline to research jobs. All learners can speak with an advisor concerning internship and job shadowing opportunities.
Graduate application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, three recommendation letters, and a two-page essay. OU does not charge out-of-state tuition, and online degree-seekers pay an affordable distance-education fee each term. Students who earned a bachelor's degree from OU may qualify for the $500 Alumni Impact Scholarship.
Average tuition cost:$635 per credit hour
Graduation rate: 40%
Estimated years of completion: 2-3 years
Admissions requirements: Applicants must submit a transcript showing a minimum GPA of 3.0, three recommendation letters, and two page essay.
WVU's affordable master's in counseling program emphasizes clinical rehabilitation and mental health. The 18-course, 63-credit curriculum requires courses in the medical aspects of rehabilitation, vocational evaluation and system techniques, and rehabilitation client services. Degree-seekers also complete two pratica and an independent study project.
The WVU Career Services website features multiple resources for students and alumni, including resume-building software, a professional etiquette guide, and elevator pitch tips. Virtual services include Handshake and Focus 2 Career. Degree-seekers can also learn how to use social media effectively during a job hunt.
Applicants need a minimum 2.8 undergraduate GPA and must take the GRE or MAT. Other admission requirements include three recommendation letters and a personal statement. WVU waives out-of-state tuition for online degree-seekers. Graduate students can apply for a College of Education and Human Services scholarship.
Average tuition cost:$10,098 per year
Graduation rate: 55.9%
Estimated years of completion: 2-3 years
Admissions requirements: Applicants must submit a transcript showing a minimum GPA of 2.8, three recommendation letters, a personal statement, and must take the GRE or MAT.
UMass Boston's most affordable online counseling degrees include counseling and rehabilitation counseling. Both run entirely online and take full-time degree-seekers two years to complete. Students in the rehabilitation counseling program analyze sociocultural considerations in counseling, the foundations of rehabilitation, and vocational rehabilitation and placement.
Career Services and Internships curates several job-hunting resources, including a customizable career plan worksheet, a private job board, and the Career Resource Library. This library features a free collection of books and research materials covering job search skills and personal development tips. Other services include virtual job fairs.
Prospective students with a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA can apply for the spring or fall semester. Applicants must submit MAT or GRE scores, three recommendation letters, and a statement of interest. Learners who live outside of Massachusetts pay approximately double the in-state tuition rate. New degree-seekers submit FAFSA results to apply for institutional financial aid.
FHSU offers three fully online master's in counseling programs: college counseling/student affairs, clinical mental health, and school. The degrees require 54-60 credits, and each requires coursework in counseling skills development, lifespan human development, and the foundations of counseling. All students complete at least one practicum, and clinical mental health degree-seekers meet all academic requirements for a Kansas counseling license.
Career Services (CS) professionals help online students with a social media mindfulness guide, mock interviews, and career-ready competencies. Other CS resources include GoinGlobal, an online database that highlights international career opportunities.
FHSU admits new degree-seekers at three points each year. Applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts, recommendation letters, and standardized test scores. Although FHSU does not charge out-of-state tuition to online degree-seekers. In-state distance-education students pay slightly more than their on-campus peers.
Texas residents training for a career as a primary or secondary school counselor often choose UT Tyler's master's in counseling online program. The fully online degree includes a 500-hour practicum that gives learners experience at their job site or another local school. The curriculum features courses in the cultural diversity of clients, the foundations of school counseling, and professional school counseling.
UT Tyler Career Success (CS) helps students choose the best job by hosting virtual career fairs, one-on-one coaching sessions, and career assessments. Online learners can explore these and other CS resources by creating a Handshake account.
Admission requirements include GRE scores, an active teaching license, and undergraduate transcripts. UT Tyler uses a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA cutoff and requires applicants to submit a criminal background check and personal essay. Texas degree-seekers with financial need may qualify for up to $2,000 in aid through the Texas Public Education Grant.
NCCU offers some of the most affordable online counseling degrees. Learners can choose from career counseling, clinical mental health counseling, and school counseling programs. The latter degree requires 51 credits and prepares learners to work as primary or secondary school counselors. Career counseling alumni can work at colleges, private schools, or nonprofits.
Career Services (CS) features numerous resources, including a career path guide, job search preparation tips, and internship boards. Virtual programs and workshops cover career development skills and at-home internship opportunities. Alumni can explore links to job boards that highlight the best open positions throughout North Carolina.
Admission requirements include a minimum 2.7 undergraduate GPA, GRE scores, and two recommendation letters. Out-of-state students pay approximately four times the in-state tuition rate, and online learners do not pay fees. Learners can apply for institutional scholarships after submitting FAFSA results.
UNT's affordable master's in counseling uses a 19-course, 60-credit curriculum and trains learners for careers as rehabilitation counselors. Courses include assessment, research and program evaluation, and counseling theories and techniques. Students complete over 700 hours of supervised fieldwork experience in a clinical setting and can customize the educational experience by selecting one elective.
Career Center (CC) resources such as Handshake and Career Communities help learners in their job search. The CC website also includes a Featured Companies section that highlights local employers and open positions.
Applicants need a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA or a 3.4 graduate GPA. Application materials include a self-statement on a theme, a resume, and two recommendation letters. The College of Health and Public Service awards six scholarships to eligible degree-seekers who submit a separate application and earn excellent grades.
USU's most affordable online counseling degree uses a 95% online curriculum. Learners spend one week on the university's Logan campus during both summer terms. Required courses include rehabilitation counseling skill development, perspectives on disability, and rehabilitation of persons with clinical mental illness. Students remain in good academic standing by maintaining a 3.0 graduate GPA.
The USU Virtual Career Center (VCC) offers online learners Handshake, career expiration tools, and a career tutorial through Canvas. The VCC website also publishes free articles covering work-life balance, transitioning from college to career, and careers that allow professionals to apply their passions.
Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, three recommendation letters, and GRE or MAT scores. Out-of-state degree-seekers pay approximately 25% more on tuition compared to Utah residents. USU considers all incoming students for multiple institutional aid opportunities. Learners can explore additional scholarships after they enroll.
MACU degree-seekers can choose from five online master's in counseling concentrations: addiction and substance abuse, applied behavioral science, clinical mental health, couples and family, and pastoral and spiritual direction. Coursework covers topics such as psychopathology, theories of counseling, and individual counseling. Each concentration also requires a 600-hour internship at an approved job site.
Learners can access many free resources, including Proquestion, WorldCat Library, and the Gale Virtual Reference Library. Career Development tools include career fairs and self-assessments. Students can also receive a free resume and cover letter critique.
MACU does not charge an application fee, and prospective students apply online before submitting supplementary materials. Each counseling concentration charges an identical per-credit tuition rate, and out-of-state learners pay the same as Oklahoma residents. While MACU does not award institutional scholarships to online degree-seekers, students can still apply for federal grants and loans.
SAU offers two master's in counseling online programs: an MS in college counseling and student affairs and an MS in clinical and mental health counseling. The former requires 51 credits in topics such as counseling theories, skills, and supervision. Learners can graduate in approximately three years. Clinical mental health counselors-in-training need 3.5-4 years to graduate and earn 60 credits.
Career Services (CS) advisors provide learners with resume templates, virtual career fairs, and events covering job-hunting tips and transferable skills. Other online resources include video presentations on composing a resume and preparing for an interview. CS also features a guide on Zoom etiquette.
SAU accepts new degree-seekers in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Applicants must submit GRE, GMAT, or MAT scores. Prospective students need a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA. Arkansas residents pay the most affordable tuition rate at this public university.
WTAMU's most affordable online counseling degrees include an MA and an M.Ed. MA degree-seekers analyze counseling interventions with children and adolescents, diagnosis and treatment in counseling, and essential helping skills in counseling. The M.Ed. program features a modified, shorter curriculum option for learners with a master's degree.
Students gain access to Career Services' (CS) career assessments, job board, and employer information guides. CS advisors' expertise helps over 90% of master's degree-seekers find a full- or part-time job soon after graduation.
Applicants to the M.Ed. program need a teaching license and at least one year of experience. Prospective students need a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA. WTAMU charges a small per-credit fee to out-of-state learners.
UWA's affordable master's in counseling degrees include school counseling, counseling and psychology, and guidance and psychology. The school counseling program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation and qualifies Alabama educators for a school counselor endorsement. Other counseling degrees emphasize lifespan development, the techniques of educational research, and statistics.
Students can get help researching potential careers, preparing a resume, and honing interviewing skills through Career Services (CS). CS' online Career Expo attracts employers throughout Alabama and the South.
The school counseling program requires applicants to possess an active teaching license. Applicants must submit three recommendation letters and a professional goals essay. Although a public university, UWA charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all degree-seekers.
One of the most affordable online counseling degrees, NAU's school counseling program requires coursework in career development, counseling children and adolescents, and individual counseling theories and techniques. Students can select between a thesis and non-thesis option. Learners who choose the latter take two more courses.
The Career and Success Services (CSS) website features a job and internship board, interviewing tips, and a career exploration guide. Learners can make an appointment with a CSS advisor to discuss career goals or perform a mock interview. Other CSS resources include professional development seminars and virtual events.
Admission requirements include two recommendation letters, a letter of intent, and a current resume. NAU charges the same tuition rate to in-state and out-of-state learners. International degree-seekers pay more than double. Graduate students may qualify for an institutional grant based on their FAFSA results.
ESU's online master's in counseling program offers a hybrid MS in clinical counseling with two optional concentrations in clinical addictions and clinical mental health counseling. The core curriculum in all three pathways requires coursework in substance abuse in counseling, multicultural counseling, and counseling theories. Learners also complete a practicum and an internship.
Virtual resources on the Career Services (CS) website include part-time jobs, resume and cover letter advice, and mock interviews. Learners can log in to Handshake to explore these benefits and research upcoming online job fairs and events. CS helps students without professional experience research relevant internship and volunteer opportunities.
Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, three references, and GRE scores. All students pay the same affordable per-program tuition rate. Financial aid options include federal grants and loans. ESU offers a free financial literacy guide to all learners.
Mercy's master's in counseling online program features a 48-credit, three-year curriculum and a concentration in school counseling. Coursework includes counseling and application, research methodology, and multicultural perspectives in counseling. Students stay in good academic standing by maintaining a 3.0 graduate GPA. Learners can choose one of two licensure tracks: English or bilingual counseling.
Career and Professional Development (CPD) advisors host webinars covering Mercy's career academies, local employers, and financial literacy. The CPD blog features information regarding interviewing best practices and how to earn supplemental income while in school. Students can also download a resume and cover letter guide that aligns with their career goals.
Mercy requires an essay (800-1,000 words), two recommendation letters, a resume, and undergraduate transcripts. Online learners pay the same per-credit tuition rate as their on-campus peers. Students can apply for all institutional aid programs by submitting the Mercy College Endowed Scholarship Application.
CSC's most affordable online counseling degrees confer an MA, and students can choose between school counseling and clinical mental health counseling. Coursework includes counseling and communication skills, career and lifestyle development, and research design and data analytics. Nebraska degree-seekers who select the clinical mental health counseling degree fulfill all academic requirements for state licensure.
The CSC Career and Academic Planning Services (CAPS) website features the newest job opening and career fair information. CAPS offers numerous tips and tools covering resume basics, interviewing techniques, and a professionalism guide. CAPS also works with local employers to host on-campus interview days highlighting different industries.
CSC does not require standardized test scores or recommendation letters, but it asks all prospective learners to interview. Out-of-state online degree-seekers do not pay a higher tuition rate, and the university does not offer a flat tuition rate to full-
Wright State's affordable master's in counseling features concentration options in addiction counseling and clinical rehabilitation counseling. Clinical rehabilitation degree-seekers analyze psychosocial rehabilitation, career counseling and development, and systems theory. Both concentrations require a 100-hour practicum experience, 40 of which involve direct contact with patients.
Counselors-in-training can turn to Wright State's Student Success Services (SSS) to research the best job-hunting resources, including Handshake, virtual career fairs, and employer resume critiques. SSS hosts annual events that feature employers from different industries. These and other SSS initiatives help master's degree alumni earn an average $49,500 salary.
Prospective students who do not possess a minimum 3.3 undergraduate GPA must submit GRE or MAT scores. Other application steps include an interview with a faculty member. The Graduate Tuition Scholarship Program awards funding to degree-seekers who earn at least a 3.0 graduate GPA.
Our Methodology, Explained
Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.
Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates
Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid
Admission and enrollment rates
Number of program options
Online Enrollment Score
Portion of learners taking at least one online course
Everything You Should Know About Earning a Master’s in Library Science
What can you do with a master's degree in counseling?
The answer depends on which concentration degree-seekers select. Graduates can work in hospitals, schools, or social welfare agencies, among other job sites.
How long does it take to get a master's degree in counseling?
A typical master’s in counseling online program requires two years to complete. Part-time degree-seekers may need an additional year. Some universities may also offer an accelerated option.
How much does it cost to get your master's in counseling?
Learners should expect to pay the same per-credit tuition rate as on-campus students. However, online learners save money on their education by not commuting to campus, living in a dorm, or paying for a meal plan.
What is the highest-paying counseling job?
In 2019, licensed psychologists earned a median annual salary of $80,370, according to the BLS. Salaries vary throughout the United States.
Can you get a masters in counseling online?
Yes, you can get a master’s in counseling online. Most online master’s in counseling require students to earn 45 to 60 credits. However, each program has different requirements.
Master’s in Counseling Degree Overview
Becoming a counselor can take years of studying, but the good news is that if you are interested in obtaining a master’s in counseling, you can obtain it online. A master’s in counseling will prepare you to be a licensed counselor, social worker, mental health specialist, or psychologist. You should complete at least 30 or more credits to earn your degree, depending on the master’s in counseling program requirements. Students will take courses like psychopathology, professional counseling, group counseling theory and practice, marriage and family therapy, addiction, and substance abuse.
An online master’s in counseling will allow you to set your schedule to complete assignments. You can choose to enroll in the program part-time and full-time. A full-time program usually consists of four academic semesters, with each semester consisting of at least nine to 12 credit hours. However, a full-time program can be completed within two years, while a part-time program may take three years or more.
Admission Requirements for Online Master’s in Counseling Programs
The admission requirements to apply for an online master’s in counseling program varies by program. However, most online master’s programs in counseling require candidates applying to hold a bachelor’s degree and a minimum 2.5 GPA. Additionally, students should submit an official transcript, letters of recommendations, and a personal statement. Not all programs require GRE/LSAT/ETC scores. However, some may require a GRE.
What Common Courses Are Offered in Master’s in Counseling Program?
Courses in an online master’s in counseling program emphasize assessment and counseling techniques, psychological development, and research methods. Graduation requirements can also include one or more practicums or internship experiences. Practicums and internships allow degree-seekers to apply new knowledge and skills in clinical settings and network with future peers.See below for five common courses in many of the most affordable online counseling programs. Keep in mind that course names and requirements vary by program. Prospective students can contact a university to gain specific information about a master’s in counseling online program.
Human development refers to people’s physical and mental growth over a lifetime. This course emphasizes major theories and how people transition between life stages. Learners leave this introductory course with a basic understanding of fundamental psychology principles, concepts they can build upon in more advanced coursework. Additionally, human development exposes degree-seekers to different reasons why people seek counselors. This knowledge helps students select an appropriate concentration and career path.
Theories of Counseling
This course helps students form their own answers regarding how counselors help patients and work with them effectively and appropriately. Learners analyze different theoretical approaches and how each can affect the counselor-patient relationship. Students also evaluate their personal values and determine how those values might affect their future interactions with patients. Like with human development, degree-seekers take theories of counseling in their program’s first year.
Career counselors help people explore careers, define career goals, and deal with unexpected events that include losing a job unexpectedly. Learning outcomes include understanding the importance of career assessments and how career counselors use the results to help their clients create a career plan. This course appeals to students training for a career as a high school career counselor. Graduates can also pursue jobs at employment agencies.
This advanced, specialized course covers how people react to trauma and how counselors can mitigate the effects. Coursework trains degree-seekers to quickly evaluate patients, apply crisis counseling best practices, and use psychological first aid. Counselors who specialize in crisis counseling work with patients immediately after a traumatic event to ensure that they do not develop post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, or other long-term psychological disorders.
No matter their concentration, counselors should know how to identify whether a patient has a psychological condition that can include major depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia. Coursework includes using the Diagnostic Statistical Manual to analyze concepts such as differential diagnosis, psychopathological assessments, and cultural factors that can lead to a mental health disorder. This upper-level course can require multiple prerequisites. Learning outcomes may include applying evidence-based counseling best practices to diagnose disease.
Concentrations in Masters in Counseling
A master’s in counseling can open doors for you in various fields such as family and marriage counseling, substance abuse counseling, mental health counseling, and more. The five most popular concentrations in Master’s in counseling include career or vocational counseling, mental health and wellness counseling, rehabilitation counseling, addictions counseling, and marriage and family counseling.
With a concentration in career or vocational counseling, you can counsel individuals on career life and career planning. A concentration in mental health and wellness will give you the skills to specialize in mental health like anxiety and depression. A concentration in addiction counseling will give you the ability to help individuals addicted to drugs, alcohol, painkillers, and other substances. Lastly, specializing in marriage and family counseling will enable you to counsel relationships, families, and marriages.
Most master’s in counseling programs require 35- 60 credits. Mental health counseling usually requires 60 credits. However, the number of credits will depend on the program you choose since all programs have different requirements.
Career and Salary Outlook for Master’s in Counseling Graduates
While earning a master’s degree, counseling majors can work with their academic advisor and university career counselors to explore potential career paths and prepare accordingly. Learners should start this process as soon as possible, as each job may use different licensure or certification requirements.Read below for four career opportunities for online master’s in counseling alumni. The BLS projects the need for each position to grow significantly between 2019 and 2029. These professionals earn median salaries that allow them to live comfortably in most parts of the county.
School and Career Counselor: These counselors work with high school students to identify strengths, transferable skills, and roadblocks to academic success. They work with learners one-on-one or in small groups and collaborate with teachers, administrators, and parents. They need a state-issued license and a master’s degree.
Rehabilitation Counselor: People with mental or physical disabilities turn to rehabilitation counselors to learn new skills and receive career training. These counselors also refer clients to other services and create treatment plans. They may specialize in a specific group, such as young adults, the elderly, or veterans.
Marriage and Family Therapist: These therapists work with couples and their children to identify relationship problems and suggest solutions. Primary job responsibilities include meeting with clients in small groups, maintaining confidential records, and referring clients to other professionals. Many professionals start a private practice to help people in their community.
Health Educator and Community Health Worker: These professionals serve their town or city by providing educational programs and small group counseling sessions that promote mental and physical health. Health educators can work at public health departments or hospitals, while many community health workers find employment at social services agencies.
What is the ROI for a Master’s in Counseling degree?
In general, the tuition for a master’s in counseling will largely vary depending on the program you select. For example, an online master’s in counseling at a public college will be more affordable than an online master’s in counseling at a private college. The BLS projects that the jobs for counselors will grow by 25% by 2029, which is 4% faster than the national average growth rate for other jobs in the U.S.
Your financial return on investment will depend on various factors such as where you live and where you work and your experience level. According to the BLS, the average annual wage for school and career counselors was $58,120 in May 2020, while the average annual salary for elementary and secondary school counselors was $64,960. The lowest annual salary was received by healthcare and social assistance professionals, with an average annual salary of $42,300.
Why Should I Get a Masters in Counseling?
Some entry-level counseling positions require only a bachelor’s degree, and professionals can explore additional job opportunities with an online master’s in counseling. With this degree, counselors can make a positive impact on people’s mental well-being.
Opportunities to Make a Difference
If you’re passionate about helping people and feel curious about human behavior, mental health, and psychology, a counseling career may be a good fit for you. As you immerse yourself in your work, you’ll be able to witness life-changing experiences.
Range of Career Paths
Counselors can work in a variety of settings such as rehab centers, state centers, public and private schools, hospitals. This kind of flexibility and mobility can allow you to consider various career paths, locations, and work environments. Some degree-seekers earn a master’s degree to gain the research and analytical skills they need for a doctoral program.
The demand for the most recognizable counseling careers is growing and is expected to keep a steady rise. For example, school and career counselors can expect eight percent job growth from 2019 to 2029, while mental health counselors could witness a 23 percent growth. by 2026. A master’s in counseling can also help you achieve a greater professional milestone, gain more experience, and even help you switch your career.
Accreditations for Master Programs in Counseling
Prospective degree-seekers should consider only the best affordable master’s in counseling programs. At a minimum, a university should possess regional accreditation. In the United States, six regional accreditation agencies determine whether colleges and universities provide a satisfactory educational experience. Individuals who graduate from a school that lacks this essential accreditation may face difficulty obtaining a job, licensure, or certification.
Online learners should also feel assured that their program provides the same educational experience that on-campus students receive. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) awards national accreditation only to colleges and universities that offer excellent online programs. Learners should disregard online degrees that lack DEAC accreditation.
Some of the most affordable online counseling degrees feature programmatic accreditation from an outside organization, such as the American Psychological Association. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation maintains a list of all reputable programmatic accreditation agencies on its website.
Certifications and Licensure for Counseling Majors
Counselors may need a license or certificate to practice. States issue licenses to candidates who meet specific qualifications and mandate renewal requirements. Professional organizations award certifications to professionals who meet similar criteria. Workers with an online master’s in counseling may need one or both to obtain fulfilling and lucrative positions.
National Certified School Counselor
Licensed school counselors with at least two years of experience and a master’s degree can earn the NCSC. The certification requires an endorsement from an NCSC-certified counselor and supervised work experience. School counselors with this certification may receive an automatic pay raise and other benefits, depending on where they work.
Marriage and Family Therapy License
Each state uses different licensure requirements that can include a master’s degree, up to 4,000 hours of supervised work experience, and passing both a clinical and a state-specific ethics exam. States also require continuing education hours from authorized vendors, such as universities and professional organizations, for renewal purposes.
Mental Health Counseling License
Educational requirements can include a master’s or doctorate, depending on the state. States also ask that candidates pass one or more examinations, attain supervised work hours, and submit a criminal background check. After earning one of the most affordable online counseling degrees, candidates may need up to two years to meet these and other requirements.
Scholarships for Master Counseling Students
Master’s degree-seekers can explore multiple scholarship opportunities to help cover education costs. Prospective learners can click the embedded links below to view any updates to application requirements, deadlines, and award amounts.
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate and graduate degree-seekers who participate in initiatives that advance social and economic justice can apply. The scholarship committee considers applicants’ financial need. Applicants must submit a 1,000-word personal statement, two recommendation letters, and FAFSA results by the April 1 deadline. Awardees receive notification in the summer. Amount: $15,000
Who Can Apply: The American Psychological Foundation awards this grant to master’s and doctoral degree-seekers who specialize in anxiety research. Application materials include a five-page research proposal, project timeline, expected budget, and resume. The grant committee uses a Sept. 15 application deadline and does not provide feedback on applicants’ research proposal. Amount: $8,500
Who Can Apply: Master’s and doctoral degree-seekers majoring in mental health can apply for this annual award. Applicants submit a resume reflecting their involvement in either extracurricular or volunteer activities, unofficial transcripts, and an essay containing 2-3 pages on a prescribed topic. Applications are due by March 5. The Melanie Foundation announces recipients on June 30. Amount: $2,500
Who Can Apply: This grant awards funding to one student performing original research concerning the psychological stigma surrounding visible disabilities. Applicants should apply by Oct. 1 and submit a goals statement, project timeline, and one recommendation letter from a faculty advisor. Recipients can spend the award money on any research-related expenses. Amount: $10,000
Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports students who live in Dauphin, Cumberland, or Perry County. Applicants must plan to pursue a degree in dentistry, nursing, physical therapy, or engineering. The scholarship committee may select multiple recipients. Applicants must demonstrate community service experience and must submit a personal essay describing their interest in their chosen field. Amount: Varies Deadline: March 15
If you’re looking to obtain a master’s in counseling, there are multiple scholarships to explore. Prospective students can begin applying for these scholarships by researching each one to see if they qualify. Most scholarships require a personal statement letter, at least two recommendation letters, undergraduate transcripts, and FAFSA results. FAFSA can also help provide financial assistance to students who need financial support.
What Are the Top Online Master’s in Counseling Programs? Here Our Top 10
Our list is based on specific metrics we consider for affordability rankings. The average net price above is based on the total price for out-of-state students living off-campus (not with family) in 2019-2020. For more details on how we rank schools, see our methodology page.