Counselors provide support and assistance to clients facing difficult situations, such as drug addiction, divorce, and mental illness. These professionals help clients set goals, develop healthy habits, and cope with stress in positive ways. Intellectually challenging and deeply rewarding, roles in this field are also growing quickly. If you have a passion for helping others, earning a master's in counseling online sets the stage for you to pursue diverse career opportunities in this dynamic field. In this guide, we'll explore the benefits and challenges of earning an online master's in counseling degree.
Choosing a Program
There are several factors to consider before selecting an online master's in counseling degree, including your interests and career goals. Most programs include a series of core courses designed to impart fundamental concepts and skills such as counseling theories, human growth and development, and research methodology. Additionally, some programs offer concentrations, or specialized academic tracks focusing on specializations like behavioral analysis, marriage and family therapy, and school counseling. Choosing a concentration lets you develop a specialty while earning a degree, which prepares you to sharpen your skills further in graduate programs or begin a career in a particular field.
An online master's degree in counseling may also include an internship or practicum component, requiring a period of direct participation in a professional or clinical setting. While some distance learners prefer programs that offer hands-on experience, others may not have the time or resources to fulfill an in-person requirement.
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Online Bachelor's in Counseling Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
The Best Online Bachelor's in Counseling Programs
1 Liberty University
Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, offers an online bachelor's in psychology with a specialization in Christian counseling. The online bachelor's in counseling teaches students to approach counseling from a Christian perspective. Students learn Bible-based counseling methods and analyze theoretical approaches and psychotherapy techniques.
The curriculum comprises 120 credit hours, 30 of which must be taken through Liberty. Students must complete half of the program's major requirements through Liberty. General education requirements include coursework in communication, math, technology, and Christian life and thought. Foundational major courses cover topics such as psychology of personality, issues of Christian counseling, and behavioral modification. Students complete an internship, which provides real-world experience.
Graduates pursue careers in case management, Christian counseling, administration, mental health services, and community relations. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent and a 2.0 GPA. Online students pay discounted tuition rates and work with on-campus advisors to explore financial aid options.
Liberty University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SASC).
2 Clarks Summit University
South Abington Township, Pennsylvania
Clarks Summit University offers two programs for students earning a bachelor's in counseling online: a bachelor's of science in counseling and a bachelor's of science in counseling ministries. The counseling program teaches counseling and psychology topics from a biblical perspective; students develop counseling skills and learn to encourage spirituality in clients. The 123-credit program covers areas such as adolescent and adult psychology, building a biblical lifestyle, and personality theory. The counseling ministries program focuses on philosophies and methods of biblical counseling and is ideal for students pursuing counseling careers within the ministry. The program's 122 credits include courses in biblical studies, dynamics of discipleship, and pastoral counseling.
Online classes are offered in eight-week sessions and have structured due dates. Online coursework is delivered through Moodle. Applicants must complete a series of questions about their spiritual background and goals and must submit an essay response, high school transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores.
Clarks Summit University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MICHE).
3 Southwestern Assemblies of God University
Located in Waxahachie, Texas, SAGU offers an online bachelor's degree in counseling with an optional minor in addictions counseling. Students explore scripture and theological concepts and learn about personalities, events, and developments in church and Pentecostal history. Students write a philosophy of ministry, in which they explain the church's mission, and take an exam to earn credentials for ministry in their field of choice. Graduates understand the relationship between psychology and the Christian faith, and they use both to counsel clients.
The 127-credit program requires 52 general education credits, 57 major credits, and 18 elective credits. The curriculum covers topics such as methods and techniques in marriage and family counseling, psychology of selfhood and the Christian faith, and theories of personality. Online students have access to on-campus resources and facilities, including the career center, the wellness center, and the counseling center. Applicants must submit high school or college transcripts and ACT or SAT scores and must have at least a 2.0 GPA.
Southwestern Assemblies of God University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
4 John Wesley University
High Point, North Carolina
John Wesley in High Point, North Carolina, offers a bachelor's degree in counseling online program. The Christian counseling degree prepares students for counseling careers at local churches and faith-based ministries. Students learn to minister healing, hope, and encouragement in individual counseling sessions, group sessions, and marriage and family sessions. Graduates pursue careers as church counselors, camp counselors, and rehabilitation counselors.
The curriculum comprises general education courses, a biblical studies requirement, and core major courses. Classes cover topics such as counseling methods, principles of Christian counseling, and psychology of abnormal personality. Students learn to understand various types of people in unique circumstances and how to help them solve problems through biblical and Christian methods.
Students complete an introduction to psychology course and a psychology elective before undertaking core major courses. Electives allow students to customize their degree to fit their interests and career goals. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent, must have completed high school prerequisites, must have an SAT score of at least 860 or an ACT score of at least 18, and must have a 2.0 GPA.
John Wesley University is nationally accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE).
5 Crown College
Saint Bonifacius, Minnesota
Crown College in Saint Bonifacius, Minnesota, offers an online counseling bachelor's degree incorporating a biblical perspective. Students in the fully online Christian counseling program learn about psychological theories from a Christian perspective and participate in skills-based training. A minor in drug and alcohol counseling is available for students interested in careers in Christian rehabilitation or addictions counseling.
The program requires 125 to 131 credits; students customize the degree with electives. The curriculum covers topics such as foundations of Christian thought, diversity issues in counseling, and theories of counseling and psychotherapy. Graduates work as addictions counselors, human resources and services workers, community relations workers, administrators, and church counselors. Online students pay discounted tuition rates and have access to on-campus resources, including facilities that help students explore financial aid opportunities.
Applicants must submit high school or college transcripts, a form agreeing to the Crown College faith statement, and a spiritual life essay.
Crown College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
6 Toccoa Falls College
Toccoa Falls, Georgia
Located in Georgia, Toccoa Falls College offers an online bachelor's program in counseling that combines Christian principles with counseling methods. The 126-credit program includes 69 general education credits, 15 elective credits, 54 major credits, and a service and outreach requirement. Classes cover topics such as Christ-centered counseling, family therapy, and foundations of spiritual formation. A counseling internship and a service and outreach project provide real-world experience and develop practical skills to help students secure employment after graduation.
Online resources include access to an academic advisor, counseling, and career services. The IT department helps distance learners with technical issues, and online libraries and tutoring opportunities are available. Online students are eligible to study abroad, and those who live within 40 miles of campus can participate in athletics.
Toccoa Falls College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
7 Hobe Sound Bible College
Hobe Sound, Florida
Based in Florida, HSBC offers an online counseling bachelor's program. The 129-credit program includes Bible, general education, and major courses. The curriculum covers topics such as marriage therapy, crisis intervention, foundations of faith, and family therapy. Students learn to use faith and psychology to counsel people in unique situations. The program promotes spiritual development and prepares students for a variety of counseling careers. Students may receive a limited number of credits for related life experience.
Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Students submitting a GED must have a minimum score of 410 on each test and a standard score of 450. HSBC's programs are designed for students with experience in Christian ministry, though students of any age are welcome to apply. Transfer students must have at least a 2.0 GPA. Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA and must complete at least 30 credits through HSBC.
Hobe Sound Bible College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE).
8 Crossroads College
Crossroads College in Rochester, Minnesota, offers an online bachelor's degree program in counseling that prepares students for careers in counseling and caregiving. Graduates pursue careers as camp counselors, church counselors, family counselors, and marriage counselors. The 120-credit curriculum covers topics such as counseling and ethnic diversity, foundations of marriage and family systems, and theories of personality and psychotherapy. Students learn to combine Christianity and psychology to counsel clients and bring them hope and healing. During the program, students develop their faith and their counseling skills.
Applicants must submit high school transcripts or proof of GED completion, lifestyle expectations, a writing sample, two professional recommendations, and a pastoral or spiritual leader reference. Transfer students must have at least 45 transferable credits with a 2.0 GPA. Online students pay discounted tuition rates and have the opportunity to meet with an on-campus advisor to learn about financial aid options.
Crossroads College is nationally accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE).
Online Bachelor's in Counseling Careers
Counselors work with diverse populations and specialize in many different areas. Whether you're interested in assisting the elderly or helping high school students select the right college, your personal strengths and interests will undoubtedly align with one of counseling's many subfields. Graduates can pursue on a variety of jobs, including the following examples.
School Counselor: School counselors help students achieve academic and personal growth. They may conduct interviews and aptitude assessments, develop individual academic plans, and assist students with college applications. Most entry-level positions require a master's degree.
- Median Annual Salary: $54,560
- Projected Growth Rate: 11%
Mental Health Counselor: These counselors assess and develop treatment plans for clients struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues. Most mental health counselors are required to have a master's degree and internship experience.
- Median Annual Salary: $42,840
- Projected Growth Rate: 20%
Substance Abuse Counselor: Also known as addiction counselors, these counselors help clients develop positive, drug- and alcohol-free habits and coping methods through individual or group therapy sessions. Many incorporate principles from 12-step programs into their work.
- Median Annual Salary: $42,150
- Projected Growth Rate: 20%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics