The Best Online Master's in Counseling 2020

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Graduates who earn a master's degree in counseling online can work in roles such as school counselor, marriage and family therapist, and substance abuse counselor.

These professionals enjoy strong job prospects. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors to grow 22% between 2018 and 2028, which is significantly higher than the national average for all occupations.

Top 10 Online Master's in Counseling 2020

#1 New York University New York, NY
#2 Northwestern University Evanston, IL
#3 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
#4 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
#5 North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC
#6 Auburn University Auburn, AL
#7 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR
#8 San Diego State University San Diego, CA
#9 West Virginia University Morgantown, WV
#10 University of North Texas Denton, TX

Students who earn a master's in counseling online have the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. Online learning also allows students to attend the top programs in the country without relocating.

Best Online Master's in Counseling Programs

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4

The University of Alabama 

Tuscaloosa, AL

About this school

Founded in 1820, the University of Alabama is the flagship school of Alabama's public university system. UA grants a variety of degrees through 13 academic divisions, including an online master's degree in rehabilitation counseling. The rehabilitation counseling program trains graduate students to provide counseling services for individuals with disabilities and their families.

The 60-credit rehabilitation counseling program includes online coursework with live class lectures that allow online learners to interact with faculty members and fellow students. Graduate students take courses on topics like counseling skills, vocational rehabilitation case management, and substance abuse counseling. Students also complete a clinical experience at an approved local site. Full-time students can graduate in two years.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. UA also requires GRE or MAT scores, three letters of recommendation, official transcripts, an admission interview, and a statement of purpose. Applicants who do not meet GPA or test score minimums may receive conditional admission.

Graduation Rate
72%
5

North Carolina State University 

Raleigh, NC

About this school

A public institution founded in 1887, North Carolina State University enrolls over 35,000 students each year. Graduate students at NC State can earn a master's in counseling online with a clinical mental health counseling concentration. The program focuses on clinical counseling theory and practice.

The online counseling master's degree qualifies graduates to take national licensing exams during the final semester of the program. Students take courses on topics like multicultural counseling, group counseling, and clinical assessment strategies. Learners also complete a practicum and a specialized internship in clinical mental health counseling, gaining practical experience in the field.

NC State only admits North Carolina residents to its online program. Applicants must submit GRE or MAT scores, three letters of recommendation, and official transcripts. The admission committee looks for academic achievement, evidence of professional qualities, and leadership experience. Applicants must also complete an interview.

Graduation Rate
81%
6

Auburn University 

Auburn, AL

About this school

A public institution that hosts over 30,000 students annually, Auburn University dates back to 1856. The school offers an online master's degree in clinical rehabilitation counseling that trains students to serve as a rehabilitation counselor, working with youth and adults with disabilities.

This 60-credit, online master's in counseling degree prepares graduates for certification and licensure. Students can choose from two options: a master of education or a master of science. The 60-credit master of education does not require a thesis, but the 64-credit master of science program does. Regardless of track, all graduate students complete a 100-hour practicum and 600-hour internship. Online rehabilitation counseling students also complete a week-long, on-campus residency each semester.

Prospective Auburn students must submit official transcripts, three reference forms, a writing sample, and a statement of intent. Applicants must also complete an admission interview.

Graduation Rate
78%
7

Oregon State University 

Corvallis, OR

About this school

Oregon State University is the flagship campus of Oregon's public university system and the state's largest institution, hosting nearly 32,000 students each year. Graduate students can earn an online master's in clinical mental health counseling or school counseling. These part-time counseling programs train graduate students in the theories and practices needed to offer professional counseling services.

The clinical mental health program uses a hybrid format, combining online coursework with two on-campus weekends each term. The curriculum examines topics like applied psychopharmacology, mental health counseling, and trauma-informed counseling. Students also study group counseling and counselor supervision. Graduates have the high-level knowledge, clinical experience, and clinical skills needed for roles in community counseling agencies, rehabilitation facilities, and college counseling centers.

The school counseling program offers mostly online coursework, but students must visit campus during two weekends per term. Courses cover topics like leadership of school counseling programs, special education issues, and group counseling procedures. Graduate students complete a practicum and internship during their second and third years to build practical skills.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, preferably with coursework in psychology, human development, and family studies. They must also submit official transcripts, a CV or resume, a statement of objectives, and letters of recommendation.

Graduation Rate
67%
8

San Diego State University 

San Diego, CA

About this school

A public research institution founded in 1897, San Diego State University enrolls over 35,000 students each year. SDSU offers an online master's degree in rehabilitation counseling for graduate students seeking a flexible learning environment.

Backed by the Consortium for Distance Education in Rehabilitation, this 60-credit rehabilitation counseling degree includes coursework in assessment in rehabilitation, applications of rehabilitation technology, and multicultural dimensions in rehabilitation counseling. Students also complete a practicum and internship to build clinical skills.

The program offers a concentration in clinical rehabilitation counseling that meets the education requirements for the licensed professional clinical counselor credential in California. Online learners can also specialize in areas such as cognitive disabilities, rehabilitation technology, and psychiatric rehabilitation.

Graduate students typically earn their degrees in three years. Only students located outside of the San Diego area can enroll in the online master's in rehabilitation counseling program. Students must contact the counseling program for information on admission requirements.

Graduation Rate
74%
9

West Virginia University 

Morgantown, WV

About this school

A public research institution that hosts nearly 27,000 students each year, West Virginia University grants degrees through 14 colleges and universities. The online master's degree in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling comprises 63 credits and includes two on-campus requirements.

Students complete coursework on topics like grief counseling, self-advocacy, and psychotherapy. In addition to coursework, students complete a 150-hour practicum, including at least 40 hours of direct service with clients. WVU encourages online counseling students to schedule additional hours at their sites to strengthen their experience.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.8 GPA. Applicants must also submit MAT or GRE scores, official transcripts, three letters of reference, and a statement of purpose.

Graduation Rate
60%
10

University of North Texas 

Denton, TX

About this school

Founded as a teacher's college in 1890, the University of North Texas is a public research institution that offers diverse undergraduate and graduate programs, including an online master's degree in rehabilitation counseling. The program prepares graduates for careers assisting individuals with disabilities. Alumni work in community rehabilitation centers, vocational rehabilitation agencies, schools, and addiction clinics.

The 60-credit program emphasizes skills such as goal-setting in the counseling process, teaching self-advocacy, and behavioral interventions. Graduate students take courses in case management, the vocational rehabilitation process, and assessment. Students also complete coursework in program evaluation, rehabilitation counseling principles, and counseling theories.

The program blends academic theory and technique with practical experience. Students complete internships that provide experience in a variety of rehabilitation services and professional organizations. The program meets the requirements for national certification as a rehabilitation counselor and licensure as a professional counselor in Texas.

Applicants must submit official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and an essay. The department conducts group interviews with qualified applicants, which take place on campus.

Graduation Rate
53%
11

Virginia Commonwealth University 

Richmond, VA

About this school

A public institution founded in 1838, Virginia Commonwealth University offers over 200 degree and certificate programs. The online master's in rehabilitation and mental health counseling provides a flexible route to a master's degree. The program prepares graduates for licensed professional counselor and certified rehabilitation counselor credentials.

The 60-credit rehabilitation counseling program includes 48 core course credits, nine internship credits, and three elective credits. Students complete 600 hours of a supervised clinical experience to strengthen their counseling skills. Online learners can complete the degree in two, three, or four years, depending on their enrollment status.

Prospective students must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA from an accredited college or university and submit official transcripts, a professional statement on their goals for graduate study, a resume, GRE or MAT scores, and three letters of reference. Students can transfer up to 12 credits toward the degree.

Graduation Rate
67%
12

Utah State University 

Logan, UT

About this school

Established in 1888, Utah State University is a public institution that offers an online master's in rehabilitation counseling that prepares students to take the national certified rehabilitation counselor examination. Graduates can pursue careers in mental health centers, university disability resource centers, and other rehabilitation service organizations.

The 60-credit program includes a practicum and an internship to build career-ready skills. Students complete most coursework online and two residencies on the USU campus in Logan. In addition to the core rehabilitation counseling curriculum, graduate students can pursue specialized programs in transition services and competitive integrated employment for people with significant disabilities. USU reports a 97% licensure or certification examination pass rate for graduates of the program.

Students can begin during the fall or spring semesters. Applicants must submit transcripts, test scores, and letters of recommendation. The program offers guidance on the admissions process from a dedicated advisor.

Graduation Rate
50%
13

Creighton University 

Omaha, NE

About this school

Founded in 1878 by Jesuits, Creighton University is a private institution that offers an online master of science in school counseling and preventative mental health. The online counseling program prepares graduates for counseling careers in school systems.

The curriculum emphasizes practical, project-based learning experiences. Graduate students learn to support students dealing with issues like bullying, low self-esteem, and drug use. The fully online program offers two tracks: a 36-credit track for professionals with teaching certifications and a 48-credit track for students without teaching credentials.

Core courses include ethical guidelines for school counselors, research in school counseling, and program assessment. Students can specialize in areas like elementary school counseling, secondary school counseling, and Pre-K-12 guidance counseling. The program includes a 600-hour internship that meets school counseling certification requirements.

Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. They must also submit a resume or CV, a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. Creighton may conduct a personal interview during the admission process.

Graduation Rate
81%
14

Wake Forest University 

Winston-Salem, NC

About this school

A private research institution, Wake Forest University dates back to 1834. Students at Wake Forest can pursue an online counseling master's degree in clinical mental health counseling or school counseling.

Both programs prepare graduates for certification and licensure and offer foundational courses in theories and models of counseling, statistical analysis in counseling, and professional orientation to counseling. Clinical mental health students complete specialized coursework in areas like helping relationships, lifestyle development, and program evaluation. They also complete a practicum.

The school counseling program incorporates coursework on school guidance and program development in counseling. The program also includes a school counseling practicum. Wake Forest reports a 95% pass rate on the national counselor examination for graduates from both master's programs.

Wake Forest offers technical support and tutoring services for online learners. Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 2.5 GPA. They must also submit GRE scores, a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation.

Graduation Rate
89%
15

Seton Hall University 

South Orange, NJ

About this school

A private, Catholic university that dates back to 1856, Seton Hall University grants degrees through 11 schools and colleges. Students can earn a master's degree in counseling online with a focus on professional counseling or school counseling.

The 60-credit professional counseling program offers a master's and education specialist degree. Designed for students interested in mental health counseling careers, the program includes coursework in counseling theory, counseling skills, and counselor ethics in practice. Graduate students complete two residencies in addition to online coursework.

The 48-credit school counselor program blends foundational, school counseling, and clinical courses. Students also complete a nine-credit internship at a local school. Approved by the New Jersey Department of Education, the program meets the requirements for a school counselor license.

The school prefers applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, three professional recommendations, a resume, GRE scores, and a personal statement. Seton Hill waives the GRE requirement for candidates with a 3.0 GPA or higher.

Graduation Rate
70%
16

St Bonaventure University 

Saint Bonaventure, NY

About this school

Founded by the Franciscan Brothers in 1858, St. Bonaventure University is a private university that offers online master's degrees in clinical mental health counseling and school counseling. Both programs establish strong professional foundations and cultivate a spirit of service to prepare graduates for licensure in the field. The clinical mental health counseling program reports a 98% pass rate on the licensed professional counselor exam.

These programs build strengths in individual and group counseling, professional practice, and communication. Counseling students take courses in abnormal psychology, techniques of counseling, and the profession of counseling. The program also incorporates an internship and two residencies to build clinical skills.

The school counseling program prepares students for careers in elementary, middle, and high schools. The curriculum includes classes on group counseling, multicultural counseling, and management of school counseling programs. Students also complete one internship and two residencies.

Prospective SBU counseling students work with a dedicated enrollment advisor to complete the admission process.

Graduation Rate
68%
17

University of Hawaii at Manoa 

Honolulu, HI

About this school

A public research university founded in 1907, the University of Hawaii at Manoa is the flagship campus of the state's public university system. UH Manoa offers a flexible, online master's degree in rehabilitation counseling.

The 48-credit master of science in kinesiology and rehabilitation science with a specialization in rehabilitation counseling trains graduates for careers in rehabilitation services, working with clients with disabilities. Students choose between a synchronous schedule with one set meeting time per week or an asynchronous schedule with no required login times.

In addition to online coursework, students complete a three-semester field experience in their local communities. Students can complete an additional 12 credits of fieldwork under a licensed mental health professional to meet the requirements for mental health counselor licensure.

Prospective students must submit official transcripts, three recommendation forms, a rehabilitation counseling specialization form, a resume, and a statement of objectives.

Graduation Rate
59%
18

Messiah College 

Mechanicsburg, PA

About this school

A private, Christian institution founded by the Brethren in Christ Church, Messiah College dates back to 1909. Messiah offers an online master's degree in counseling that prepares graduates for careers as clinical mental health counselors, couples counselors, and school counselors. The program prepares students to sit for the professional counseling licensure exam.

The 60-credit program offers three tracks: clinical mental health counseling; marriage, couple, and family counseling; and school counseling. Each track offers predominantly online coursework with week-long, on-campus intensives in January and July. The clinical mental health counseling track includes courses on substance abuse counseling, grief counseling, and evidence-based treatment of psychopathology.

The marriage, couple, and family counseling track examines topics like premarital and marital counseling, human sexuality, and integrative theories of family counseling. The school counseling track prepares graduates for a school counselor license through classes like effective practices of school counselors and administration of school counseling programs. All students complete a practicum and two internships within their specializations to build clinical skills.

Prospective students need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement describing their professional and educational goals. Applicants must also complete an admission interview.

Graduation Rate
78%
19

Bradley University 

Peoria, IL

About this school

A private institution founded in 1897, Bradley University offers two online counseling master's programs: a master's in clinical mental health counseling and a master's in professional school counseling. Both programs give students the flexibility to continue working while earning their degrees.

The 60-credit master's in clinical mental health counseling includes coursework on topics like substance abuse counseling, neurocounseling, and group counseling. Students also participate in two campus-based residencies focused on clinical skills.

The school counseling program examines topics such as brain-based interventions, K-8 school counseling, and high school-level counseling. Students also complete a thesis. Graduates from both counseling programs can take the National Counseling Exam and pursue licensure.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree and submit official transcripts, a resume, two letters of recommendation, standardized test scores, and an admission essay.

Graduation Rate
78%
20

University of Massachusetts-Boston 

Boston, MA

About this school

A public research university, the University of Massachusetts Boston offers several counseling master's programs online. Online learners can earn a master of education in school counseling, a master of science in mental health counseling, or a master of science in rehabilitation counseling.

All counseling students complete general counseling courses, specialization coursework, and clinical coursework. General counseling courses include counseling theory, professional and ethical responsibilities, and group counseling. Each program requires two clinical courses on campus, but students can complete the rest of their courses online.

The mental health counseling program uses a cohort model, meaning students take courses with the same group of peers throughout the program. The rehabilitation counseling degree meets education requirements for certified rehabilitation counselor licensure. The master's in school counseling program meets education requirements for a school counselor license in Massachusetts.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit GRE scores, two letters of recommendation, and a statement of their interests and intent. UMass Boston recommends that applicants have at least one year of paid or volunteer experience in a mental health setting.

Graduation Rate
48%
21

Regent University 

Virginia Beach, VA

About this school

A private, Christian university, Regent University offers online master's in counseling programs in clinical mental health counseling; marriage, couple, and family counseling; and school counseling.

The school counseling program includes courses in the principles of school counseling, program development for school counselors, and counseling children. The clinical mental health counseling program examines counseling techniques grounded in biblical principles, including coursework in treatment planning and trauma counseling.

The marriage, couple, and family counseling degree includes coursework on couples therapy, theories of human sexuality, and models of family therapy. In each counseling program, graduate students complete an internship to build clinical skills. Online learners also complete two week-long residencies during the degree.

Prospective students need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit a resume, unofficial college transcripts, and GRE or MAT scores. Regent conducts a pre-admission interview during the admission process.

Graduation Rate
59%
22

Gwynedd Mercy University 

Gwynedd Valley, PA

About this school

Founded in 1948, Gwynedd Mercy University is a private Catholic university that offers online counseling master's degrees in clinical mental health counseling and college counseling and student affairs. In each program, graduate students complete online coursework, two weekend residencies, and a fieldwork experience.

The school counseling master's program teaches students how to help young people build healthy coping skills. The 60-credit program includes coursework in school counseling intervention techniques, group counseling, and disabilities in the school setting. The part-time, 60-credit clinical mental health counseling program trains counselors to work with students in community colleges, career placement firms, and colleges.

Applicants need an accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement and complete an admission interview.

Graduation Rate
54%
23

Corban University 

Salem, OR

About this school

A private, Christian institution, Corban University enrolls around 1,200 students each year. The school's 60-credit, online master's in clinical mental health counseling prepares students for careers as licensed professional counselors. The program enrolls a new cohort each fall and takes two years of full-time study to complete. Students take mostly online courses, but they must meet one night per week on the Salem campus.

The counseling curriculum provides clinical mental health training with a Christian perspective. Learners study topics like ethical practice, the role of social and cultural diversity in counseling, and the diagnostic process. Courses include appraisal of the individual, trauma counseling, and theology and counseling. In addition to coursework, students complete a practicum and two internships.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit an essay and a statement of Christian faith and complete an admission interview.

Graduation Rate
67%
24

Clarion University of Pennsylvania 

Clarion, PA

About this school

Established in 1867, Clarion University of Pennsylvania is a public institution that offers an online master's in mental health counseling that prepares graduates for counseling licensure. The mostly online program includes an annual, one-week, on-campus residency.

The 60-credit curriculum emphasizes assessment, case management, group therapy, and crisis intervention. Graduate students take courses like human growth across the lifespan, career counseling, and intervention strategies. Learners also build clinical skills through practicum and internship requirements.

Students can customize the degree through electives on topics like counseling children, issues in rural counseling, clinical service delivery systems, and addiction counseling. Students can also choose to write a thesis.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit official transcripts, a current resume, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation. Candidates with a minimum 2.75 GPA can gain admission with strong GRE or MAT scores.

Graduation Rate
53%
25

Freed-Hardeman University 

Henderson, TN

About this school

A private institution associated with the Churches of Christ, Freed-Hardeman University offers both on-campus and online degrees, including an online master's degree in counseling. The 60-credit master of science in clinical mental health counseling blends skills-based classes with practicl learning opportunities through a practicum.

Through coursework and an internship, learners gain knowledge and skills in individual, couples, and group counseling. Students take courses on topics like clinical intervention, psychopathology, and addictions counseling. Learners also study diagnosis, assessment, and treatment planning. The counseling degree meets Tennessee's requirements for professional counselor in mental health services licensure.

In addition to the clinical mental health program, FHU offers a master of education in school counseling that prepares graduates for licensure as school counselors in Tennessee.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit transcripts, GRE or MAT scores, and an essay about their personal goals. Applicants must also complete an admission interview.

Graduation Rate
60 d%
👏

End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology

Online Master's in Counseling Programs Ranking Guidelines

Best Online Programs - Master's in Counseling

We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Choosing an Online Master’s in Counseling Program

Students pursuing a master’s in counseling online take coursework that builds on foundational concepts in psychology, sociology, and the health sciences. Graduate programs also emphasize ethical concerns and research standards and techniques. Learners gain not only important theoretical knowledge, but also the ability to apply best practices.

Students pursuing a master’s in counseling online take coursework that builds on foundational concepts in psychology, sociology, and the health sciences.

Additionally, because much of what counselors do involves interacting with people, practicums represent an important part of the curriculum in master’s degree in counseling online programs. Many schools provide options for students to complete these field experiences in their communities or at their current jobs, while other programs offer intensive on-campus practicum sessions over the summer. These options give distance learners the flexibility to complete requirements without dramatically interrupting their schedules.

Online master’s programs in counseling share many similar characteristics, but they may differ in terms of specialization options. Counseling is a large field and some schools offer a wide variety of concentration areas. Common specializations include clinical mental health, school counseling, marriage and/or family counseling, and substance abuse. Other programs focus on only one particular area, such as professional counseling. Your professional goals determine which online counseling master’s degree best suits your needs.

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

While online master’s degree in counseling programs generally build from the same pool of required coursework, other curricular specifics—such as advanced classes and capstone requirements — depend on the faculty and departmental focus. Most online counseling master’s programs also prepare students for professional examinations and state licensing requirements; however, you should be sure to check that a program provides the support you need to achieve your goals.

Curriculum for an Online Master’s Degree in Counseling

Advanced research methodology

This is a foundational course available in most master’s in counseling online programs. It teaches students how to conduct research according to the standards of the field, including how to write a proposal, develop variables, handle human subjects, and apply for funding.

Professional ethics and law

This class helps students understand federal and state laws, along with mandatory field-specific regulations. Course content may also include a historical look at famous cases that shaped the field.

Child abuse and neglect

In this course, students learn to identify signs of maltreatment, provide counseling and support to children, and follow through by accessing community resources to ensure that either the family dynamic changes or that a child is placed into a safe environment. These skills prepare students for careers as family therapists, child advocates, and school counselors.

Human development

Another common topic—particularly for programs based in clinical counseling — this course guides students through the stages of human development, including psychological, cognitive, and biological theories of growth. Students may analyze case studies and begin to develop their own styles of counseling.

Group counseling

This course trains students to become effective group facilitators, covering the purpose and types of group sessions. Students also learn techniques related to engaging group members and evaluating success.

Certifications and Licenses a Master’s in Counseling Prepares For

National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification

Students must pass this exam to become a licensed counselor in most states. It consists of 200 multiple-choice questions, which assess the test taker’s ability to provide effective counseling and related services. Eligibility requirements include a traditional or online master’s in counseling and 3,000 hours of post-graduate field experience, 100 hours of which must be supervised.

National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination

Passing this exam is an integral step to becoming a licensed mental health counselor in many states. The test tasks students with treating clinical issues in 10 simulated mental health cases, each of which is broken down into sections that lead students through the decision making and treatment process. To sit for the NCMHCE, candidates must hold a master’s degree and 3,360 hours of supervised postgraduate work experience.

Online Master’s in Counseling Careers

The counseling field encompasses many professions, and workers can find employment in hospitals as clinical counselors or at colleges and universities as career counselors. They can also develop their own practices as family and marriage counselors. By enrolling in an online counseling master’s program and obtaining the necessary postgraduate experience and licensure, individuals can build a career that is both lucrative and meaningful.

Genetic Counselor

These professionals provide assessment and support for families whose members find themselves at risk of an inherited condition, such as birth defects or genetic disorders. They guide patients through testing and connect them with healthcare and social support resources. Genetic counselors can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, physician offices, and laboratories. Certified counselors are required to have a master’s degree.

Median Annual Salary

$80,370

Projected Growth Rate

27%

Mental Health Counselor

These professionals can work in many different organizations, including private hospitals and pubic treatment centers. They diagnose conditions and provide one-on-one support to patients suffering from mental illnesses and related challenges like addiction. They also connect patients to community resources, including outpatient programs and job opportunities. To be a licensed mental health counselor, professionals must obtain a master’s degree or higher.

Median Annual Salary

$44,630

Projected Growth Rate

22%

School Counselor

Dedicated to the academic success and personal health of their students, school counselors can work in any education environment, from K-12 institutions to colleges and universities, depending on what degree they hold. These professionals provide academic guidance, community support, and career counseling. Many also possess the skills needed to handle cases of child neglect or abuse.

Median Annual Salary

$56,310

Projected Growth Rate

8%

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Colleges and universities in the U.S. must be accredited to confer valid degrees recognized by most professional bodies and employers. National accreditation is granted by organizations who have received authority from the U.S. Department of Higher Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which determine a school’s eligibility for federal funding and the quality of its programs, respectively.

Regional accreditation, which is usually considered more valuable than national accreditation, is granted by CHEA-recognized agencies and operates on a regional level. Six bodies grant this kind of accreditation in the United States, ensuring that schools meet certain academic and professional standards. Additionally, an online master’s degree program in counseling may hold accreditation from a field-specific institution, such as the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs or the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council.

Counseling Professional Organizations

Professional organizations offer individuals resources, connections, and services to help them build successful careers. Some, such as the National Board for Certified Counselors, oversee accreditation exams and offer test preparation materials and training sessions. Most organizations hold conferences and other networking events where counselors engage with their peers, giving them access to new job opportunities and collaborative research projects. For current students—and recent graduates who have yet to gain extensive work experience — these organizations are a good way to help people jumpstart their careers.

American Counseling Association

Established in 1952, the ACA is the largest organization for counselors in the U.S. and provides resources including a job board, online research tools, and grant opportunities. The association also hosts an annual conference and expo where professionals can build relationships and present their findings.

National Board for Certified Counselors

The preeminent organization for the certification of professional counselors in the country, the NBCC also engages in advocacy and research dedicated to protecting the rights of counselors and growing the field.

American College Counseling Association

The ACCA supports counselors, therapists, and social workers employed in higher education settings. Resources include a job board, networking and conferencing events, and grants for research and projects. The ACCA also houses an extensive digital library.

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