Counseling Graduate Programs Online are offered at the certificate, masters, and doctoral levels. Masters in counseling online programs may help students with little or no experience prepare for state licensure.
Online Counseling Graduate Programs
Some programs may even offer concentrations in top areas like addiction, mental health, or school counseling. These make space for students to fine-tune their professional identity and goals. Meanwhile, best online counseling doctoral programs are often designed for experienced counselors interested in pursuing roles in education, leadership, and research. Whether you’re already active in professional counseling or want to get started, online counseling degree programs could support your goals in a convenient, flexible format.
What to Expect in Counseling Graduate Programs Online
While they may require little more independence online graduate counseling programs could provide flexibility and convenience. That could be an advantage if you are employed, a busy adult, or live too far from an accredited counseling program. Programs are typically designed to be flexible and portable. Many of them deliver courses, materials, and even library services through a course-management system.
However, just because you’re earning your counseling degree online doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll miss out on the collaborative experience of the physical classroom. In online programs, students and instructors may use threaded discussion boards, white boards, chat rooms, email, and multimedia presentations to create that community atmosphere.
That said, many counseling graduate programs online still have elements you’d need to complete in person. This would usually be field experience. Some programs may help you organize these experiences in your community or do so on your behalf. Others might give students a little more independence in setting it up.
Types of Online Counseling Graduate Programs
Counseling graduate programs online may issue several different masters and doctorate degrees or certificates upon completion. Each type of program or degree may align with different career goals, skill sets, or areas of interest. As such, it may be useful to consider your own goals when deciding which programs to apply to.
Earn a Masters in Counseling Online
Online Counseling Masters Programs may include a wide range of degree options and areas of concentration. Because many of these programs are designed to help people prepare for licensure, it’s possible that your selected program may include in-person requirements on campus or in internship or practicum settings. Specific prerequisites to apply may vary, but common requirements include a bachelors degree or coursework in psychology or another related field, and GRE scores.
Online Master of Arts in Counseling
Students in online Master of Arts in Counseling programs may explore human thought process, emotion, and motivation. Programs often require around 60 credits to complete the program in entirety. Also, it is not uncommon to have to take part in personal psychotherapy sessions, an internship, and practicum.
Some schools offer more concentrated areas of study where a student may acquire the skills to provide counseling services to a specific group. Below are a few common examples.
- Addiction Counseling: An Online Masters in Counseling with a focus on addiction might cover theory, applied psychology, and counseling related to substance abuse. Courses might also cover human development, child and adult psychopathology and treatment, professional ethics, assessment, and counseling techniques. This emphasis may help students develop the skills needed to offer guidance and treatment to people who struggle with addictive behaviors.
- Mental Health Counseling: An Online Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling may provide students with skills to offer therapeutic assistance for patients with mental illness. Courses might provide tools to assess clients in crisis, theories of psychotherapy, and ethics.
Online Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
The online Master of Education (MEd) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling may help students develop tools and know-how to provide clinical counseling to a broad range of groups. Course content might cover multiple types of therapy, interpersonal relationships, symptom categories, and substance abuse. Also, a practicum and several for-credit internships are often required.
Online Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology
Online Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology Programs may cover topics such as lifespan development, human sexuality, and applied psychological research. Some programs may also explore neuroscience and pharmacology. Some programs may also prepare students to pursue licensure as Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) or Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC).
Online Counseling Doctoral Programs
The Online PhD in Counseling is typically a research-oriented program. Coursework often dives into current theories and best practices, and may empower learners to mix their scholarly research with practical expertise. Some online counseling doctoral programs may allow students to earn their Master of Science in Psychology while they work toward their doctorate. In addition to earning a PhD in counseling online, some programs may offer a PsyD option.
Online Counseling Certificate Programs
Online graduate certificate in counseling programs are often relatively short, around 16 course credits. Different programs may be ideal for students seeking preliminary licensure, completing annual continuing education requirements, or professionals interested in learning more. Applicants tend to have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology, counseling, or a related field. In their coursework, students might explore basic theory, skills, and techniques. Also, course topics might cover motivation, leadership theory, communication, data analysis, and responses to psychology and sociology.
What Are Online LPC Programs?
Some counseling graduate programs online may be designed to prepare students to pursue licensure as professional counselors (LPC). Professional Clinical Counseling is one of several behavioral health services that requires a state license for private practice. While the specific professional title conferred may vary from state to state, one usually needs a masters level education, and post-degree supervised practice to earn it.i
Online LPC Programs often follow set guidelines in their educational process.
- Coursework (ethics, counseling theories)
- Residencies to learn and practice basic skills (e.g. role play)
- Fieldwork (supervised internship and practicum in approved location)
Professional Titles: Therapist vs. Counselor vs. Psychologist
Because the specific usage can change from state to state, some confusion exists around the titles of therapist, counselor, and psychologist. Understanding the general differences between each of them could be helpful in identifying what you want and the programs that could help you get there. Below, we’ve broken down the basics of each.
What Is A Licensed Psychologist?
Licensed psychologists typically hold a PhD in Psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree, and may start out with a Masters in Counseling Psychology. Those who practice independently are usually state-licensed. This means they have fulfilled internship and supervised professional practice requirements, in addition to passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (BLS).
As health professionals, their education is based on clinical psychological research into the human brain and behavior. This means, they may assess and make clinical evaluations of clients’ mental health and diagnose mental illness.
What Is A Therapist?
The use of the title “therapist” is a protected one, meaning it usually requires a state license and masters level education. That said, it’s fairly broad, and could include various types of Psychologists, Licensed Social Workers, Counselors, Art Therapists, as well as Marriage and Family Therapists.
Therapists often take a behavioral approach rather than a scientific one. Some of the degrees that may offer routes to the protected title of therapist might include: Master in Psychology, Master in Marriage and Family Therapy, Master of Social Work, Master in Counseling, or a Doctorate in any of those fields.
What Is A Licensed Professional Counselor?
The title “counselor” is often used as an umbrella term for both licensed clinicians with advanced degrees and other forms of counseling, such as mental health and school counseling. It usually requires a state license and masters level education.
While counselors may lack the clinical research found in other psychology programs, licensed professional counselors (LPC) do use intervention skills. LPCs work to empower their patients to work through life challenges. This especially includes motional, stress, anxiety, career, school, and relationship issues. They may work with clients to find strategies that might improve their ability to cope with trauma, strengthen self-esteem, and promote positive changes.
Familiar with human development across the lifespan and consultation theories, they often provide individual, couples, family, or group counseling. Online counseling degree programs may help to instill these practical skills in learners.
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Professional counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals (ACA).ii
What is Online Counseling Program Accreditation?
Online counseling programs are typically offered through regionally-accredited universities. However, many students may be interested in programs that are programmatically accredited in addition to holding regional accreditation.
In counseling, CACREP accredited online programs are those that have been professionally approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). These programs tend to follow specific standards and guidelines for masters and doctoral counseling degree programs.
Find Counseling Graduate Programs Online
Compare online counseling degrees at the masters, doctorate, and certificate levels. Easily scroll through paid programs and contact the schools with the on-page form. Some online universities have rolling admissions which means, if you are accepted, you may not have to wait too long to get started. Check it out now!
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
|Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA||$110,010||230|
|San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA||$106,160||240|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$102,260||660|
Schools with Online Counseling Graduate Programs
|Master of Science in Counseling in Clinical Mental Health Counseling||Divine Mercy University||MS|
|Master of Arts in Counseling||LeTourneau University||MAC|
|Human Services Certificate in Counseling||University of California – Santa Cruz||N/A|
|Mental Health Counseling and Human Services||New England College||MS|
|M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an Emphasis in Trauma||Grand Canyon University||MS|
|Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology – Counseling Psychology||Northcentral University||N/A|
written by Rana Waxman
GradSchools.com offers 26 Online Counseling Graduate Programs
Are online counseling degrees respected? ›
Online counseling certificates are just as respected as in-person certificates, and your state will view any accredited program in the same way when it comes to licensure.What is the best degree to become a counselor? ›
Requirements for Counseling Jobs
Most states require a minimum of a master's degree in social work, psychology, or counseling. Advancing your studies can help you prepare for licensure as a marriage and family therapist or clinical mental health counselor, as well as work towards leadership roles in the industry.
Employment of relationship therapists, clinical social workers, mental health counselors and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners is projected to grow 23% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations overall, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.Is a masters in counseling psychology worth it? ›
Yes, a masters in mental health counseling is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting 12% job growth in community and social service occupations over the next 10 years, much faster than the average for all occupations.What is the highest paid counseling job? ›
- School Counselor. ...
- Career Counselor. ...
- Mental Health, Marriage, and Family Counselor. ...
- Rehabilitation Counselor. ...
- Gerontological Counselor.
- MA in Counseling Northwestern University. ...
- Master's in Clinical Psychology - (Licensed Professional Counselor) Psychology@Pepperdine. ...
- Master of Science in Counseling: Clinical Mental Health Counseling University of Phoenix.
Like many other healthcare professions, mental health counseling requires a four-year undergraduate degree as a foundation. This bachelor's degree is usually in counseling, psychology or a related field. To work as a licensed professional mental health counselor, you will likely need a master's degree.What's the difference between a counselor and a therapist? ›
Counselors tend to offer short-term care, while therapists tend to offer long-term care. Therapists can be more past focused and counselors more future focused. Counselors often have a set number of sessions, and therapists often work on an ongoing basis. Therapists are more likely to treat mental health conditions.What type of therapist is most in demand? ›
- Rehabilitation counselor.
- Mental health counselor.
- Behavioral therapist.
- Career counselor.
- Recreational therapist.
- School counselor.
- Substance abuse counselor.
- Marriage and family therapist.
But it turns out that it's more than possible to generate six figures as a private practice therapist. In this article, I'm going to take it a step further and share how I generate six figures a year while working part-time as a private practice therapist.
What is the easiest therapy degree to get? ›
Some of the easiest options include online counseling degree programs, programs in career and school counseling and generalist studies in mental health counseling.Are online degrees less prestigious? ›
As many as 83% of business leaders see an online degree at a “well-known” institution as having the same value as an on-campus degree. If they are not familiar with a school, however, or the institution isn't known for producing prepared graduates from its programs, your degree may not be seen as having the same value.Do employers care if your degree is online? ›
Online colleges are becoming more popular, but prospective students may still worry about their credibility. We're here to set the record straight: An online degree holds just as much weight as a traditional degree. In fact, data shows that most employers don't even differentiate between the two types of degrees.What are the disadvantages of online Counselling? ›
- There is less intimacy: Some clients need that in-person meeting to create that intimate therapist-client bond that makes for a successful therapy journey.
- It isn't always covered by insurance: Some insurance companies do not cover online counseling.
Effectiveness. Research shows that teletherapy provides the same quality of care as traditional therapy. According to the American Psychological Association, teletherapy is just as effective as in-person sessions for treating a wide range of mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety disorders.