Completion of an accredited online master in counseling is often a prerequisite for many counseling jobs, especially those requiring state licensure. Graduate programs in counseling are available in all 50 states. The American School Counselor Association lists 15 online master’s degree programs in counseling as accredited graduate programs for licensure. These programs build on the foundation laid by an online bachelor’s degree in counseling, focusing on different counseling settings and other specializations. The online master degree in counseling prepares graduates for careers as drug abuse counselors, school counselors or private psychiatrists. A field-based service or practicum component is usually incorporated into online counseling masters degree requirements. Some graduates go on to obtain an online PhD in counseling to practice psychology or teach in higher education.
How long does it take to earn a counseling master’s degree online?
To graduate from the best online masters programs in counseling it normally takes 2 years. Thus, about 37 quarter-credit hours of coursework are required.
What are the admission requirements for an online master’s in counseling?
A number of the top online master degree programs in counseling require students to submit the following for admissions purposes:
- Application form
- Undergraduate transcripts
- Revised Graduate Records Exam scores (Revised GRE)
- Personal statement or Essay
- Letters of recommendation
A bachelor’s degree in counseling in a related field such as the following fields, is generally required of candidates for online masters counseling programs:
- Behavioral Science
- Social Work
What types of online master’s degrees in counseling can students pursue?
Students can pursue one of several different online masters degrees in counseling at accredited online masters in counseling schools. The following is a list of some of the types of counseling masters degree students typically choose:
- Mental Health: Students seeking a mental health concentration in their counseling masters degree online program learn more about the therapeutic application of counseling practices. Much of the coursework focuses on topics such as psychopathology, human development, grief counseling and abuse counseling.
- Educational Counseling: Those students specializing in educational counseling can be licensed for elementary, secondary or postsecondary counseling. The educational counseling specialty requires students to explore issues in child psychology, behavioral development and family counseling.
- Marriage and Family: This concentration within counseling promotes healthy, holistic relationships among groups or couples. Community counseling, family therapy, family origins and marital systems are studied in this graduate program.
- Addictions Counseling: Another therapy-based concentration in online master’s degrees in counseling is addictions counseling. Students in this specialty explore gambling addiction, drug addiction, addictive behavior and eating disorders.
- Community Counseling: Graduate degrees with a concentration in community counseling generally lead to work as personal coaches or aides. Coursework includes subjects such as multicultural counseling, career counseling and group counseling.
What can students expect to learn in an online counseling master’s degree program?
The theories and practices taught by the best online master’s degree counseling programs prepare students to provide state-licensed services at hospitals, schools, churches or a number of other settings. Regardless of location, counseling students learn about behavioral therapies, emotional development and the effect of culture on psychology.
Popular classes taken by students enrolled in top online master programs in counseling include:
- Counseling Theories and Techniques- This class explores varying theories of psychology and counseling, including group, drug abuse and educational counseling. Students in this lecture-style course study counselor-client relationships, counseling practices and history of counseling theory.
- Group Dynamics- Students preparing for careers in group counseling learn to lead groups through effective therapy sessions. This course explores group psychology, group psychotherapy and practical concepts in group counseling.
- Professional and Ethical Issues- Online masters degree counseling programs prepare students for the legal and ethical ramifications of their work. Risk management, legal standards and professional licensing are explored in this class.
What careers can students pursue after graduating from counseling masters programs online?
Counseling master’s programs online graduates can choose from a variety of different job options. Some careers online master’s programs in counseling students can choose from include:
- School and Career Counselor- These people help students or professionals work through social, personal and career growth issues. School and career counselors earn an average annual salary of $56,540 in the United States. Expected increases in public school and university enrollment are expected to create a 19% increase in this type of employment between 2010 and 2020.
- Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists- These professions are typically combined statistically because of similarities in practice and subject matter. Counselors specializing in either mental health or marriage and family address emotional problems that prohibit healthy relationships between patients and their loved ones. As of May 2011, the average wage for these professionals was $48,710 per year. Employment is expected to increase rapidly, by 39% before 2020, as the population grows and people continue to seek help for mental health issues.
- Rehabilitation Counselors- This career path also requires a masters degree as the minimum educational requirement for licensure. Rehabilitation counselors work with patients who live independently and are confronting emotional or physical problems in order to work and contribute to society. A student pursuing this career path can expect to earn an average salary of $37,070 per year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment in this career will grow by 28% between 2010 and 2020, due largely to increased numbers of populations like the elderly and people with disabilities.
Professionals looking to make a career out of helping people in need can find a spot for themselves inthe field of counseling. Counselors with a master’s degree will have a much easier time getting hired and working in positions that offer top salary. Because counseling is a career which deals with mental state and health, six years of education is necessary to be hired by many organizations, schools, corporations, or to go into private business. Salaries for counseling professionals range from $44,000 to $140,000 on the upper end of the pay grade for different positions. While salary is mainly dependent on job title and location, going to the right school can also be helpful. Here are some things prospective students should look for in a Master in Counseling program.
Counseling professionals will benefit their career by specializing in a niche track. These specialties include clinical mental health, trauma, counseling psychology, professional counseling, school counseling, substance abuse, rehabilitation, and more. Many programs will offer in-field experience for students in their specialty of interest to further skills and help students get a leg up when it comes time to apply for jobs.
High quality counseling is the result of ongoing research into the complexities of the brain, human emotions, and the effects of the environment on the human psyche. Much of the top research in this field is completed at graduate colleges. Professionals who are interested in doing research during their career should prioritize attending a program that is already working on research and getting media and publication attention, as well as offering a master’s in science for counseling. Research projects range widely including subjects such as special education, school psychology, measurement, and more.
Certification is required for many counseling positions as well as better pay. For example, a mental health counselor makes $30,325-$53,872/year, but a licensed professional counselor makes up to $62,848, and a marriage/family therapist (certified) can make up to $140,000/year. Most graduate programs offer a certification track where students graduate ready to take their certification exams or with the qualifications and in-field hours required to be certified on the spot.