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.
The Top Graduate Counseling Degree Programs for the 2013-2014 School Year
Counselors will find many career paths when they graduate with a master’s degree. Here are examples of some of the careers a counselor can choose from: career, child, depression, domestic violence, grief, life, marriage, mental health, school, suicide, and many more. By choosing the right program with the right specialization tracks, budding counselors will find themselves on the path to an accelerated career and greater pay. Below is a ranking of the top Master in Counseling programs. These rankings were determined using student and faculty satisfaction surveys. Additionally, data was collected on previous students’ post-graduation successes, salaries, and job positions for the most accurate rankings possible.
University of Louisville offers graduate degree programs in Counseling. Students can choose from a Master’s of Education degree in Counseling and Personnel Services or a Ph.D. in Counseling and Personnel Services. The program trains students who are seeking career advancement into school administration for such positions as guidance counselors, mental health counselors and clinical counseling positions.
University of Washington offers a Master of Social Work degree with a concentration in Counseling. Students are trained in many aspects of social work and counseling including group dynamics, social welfare, interventions, ethics and values and social problems. Through a combination of classwork and field experience, students are exposed to a wide variety of social problems with diverse groups of people, helping them understand multiculturalism and specialized counseling techniques.
University of the Southwest offers a Master’s of Education degree with specializations in School Counseling or Mental Health Counseling. Classes are small, encouraging group interaction and discussions with faculty. Students are required to complete internships in schools or other community agencies, letting them put their skills to the test in public schools, homeless shelters and other settings.
Rhode Island College offers students Master’s degrees in School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Programs require up to 60 credit hours to graduate, using a combination of classwork and field experience to train students in counseling techniques. Students participate in research projects and measure their outcomes, giving them insight as to how techniques will work in the field. Internships are held in various places such as adoption agencies, alternative education programs and psychiatric hospitals.
Our Lady of Holy Cross College has what is considered to be one of the best counseling degree programs in the country. Offering a Master of Arts in Counseling, the program gives students three choices of concentrations. Students can choose from Community Counseling, Marriage and Family Counseling and School Counseling. Students are encouraged to develop themselves culturally and spiritually, and the school’s graduates are known throughout Louisiana for their skill and compassion.
Dallas Baptist University offers a Master of Arts in Counseling and a Master of Education in School Counseling. Dual counseling degrees are also offered in Children’s Ministry and Christian Education, allowing those students who wish to pursue further religious studies and employment opportunities within churches and other religious settings.
Heidelberg University offers a Master’s degree in Counseling that designed for working adults. Most classes meet only one night per week, while some meet on Saturdays. Classes usually last only eight weeks, allowing for quicker completion of the program. The accelerated format lets students earn degrees in as little as one year, and the school is fully accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
Kean University offers a variety of graduate counseling degrees from which to choose. Students can earn Master of Arts degrees in School Counseling, Clinical Mental Health and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling. Students in all programs are exposed to specialized studies in their field along with supervised field experience of up to 600 hours in an agency of their choosing.
Sioux Falls Seminary helps prepare students to live a Christian life of service to others, and offers a Master of Arts in Counseling for those wishing to help others work through their problems. The two-year program lets students have great flexibility in planning their curriculum based upon their interests. Students complete a clinical experience of three semesters in such settings as hospitals, churches or alternative schools.
University of Redlands offers a graduate degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Students are exposed to a variety of counseling techniques and theories both in the classroom and in clinical settings. Internships are a vital part of the program, allowing students the chance to work with many different groups of clients and discover where they can best use their skills.
Eastern Mennonite University offers a Master of Arts in Counseling for its students. The faith-based program, which combines the best aspects of psychology and religion, allows students to blend together their counseling skills with their faith and values to help clients overcome problems. Students find employment as School Counselors, Mental Health Counselors, Substance Abuse Counselors and Family Counselors in many different organizations.
Saint Louis University offers graduate degrees in Counseling for students interested in working in schools, community counseling agencies and other organizations. A combination of classes and field experience is used to give students a complete perspective on the helping profession, enabling them to be comfortable working with a diverse group of clients.
Lakeland College in Wisconsin offers a Master of Arts degree in Counseling that is unmatched for its flexibility. Designed for working adults, students can choose to attend class one evening per week or on Saturdays over a 12-week period in any semester of their choosing. For those students who prefer online classes, they can select the BlendEd class format, which lets them access their classwork and complete all assignments online.
Oklahoma State University offers Master of Science degrees in Community Counseling and School Counseling. Both programs use a combination of classroom discussions and field experiences to help train students to work in a variety of settings with very diverse groups. Students can complete clinical experiences in schools, community mental health agencies, hospitals and other organizations.
Mid-America Christian University offers students a Master of Counseling degree that allows for specialization in Pastoral/Spiritual Direction, Marital and Family Therapy, Professional Counselor and Addiction and Substance Abuse Counseling. Students at the school are eligible to receive college credit for real-world experience, helping them reduce the cost of attending school while letting them complete their studies quicker.
East Tennessee State University offers students numerous choices for graduate degrees in Counseling. Students can choose to specialize in Community Agency Counseling, Elementary and Secondary School Counseling, Higher Education Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy Counseling. Using a combination of coursework and internships, students gain the knowledge necessary to work with diverse groups of clients in various settings.
Loma Linda University offers Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Counseling. Students can choose specialties in Marriage and Family Therapy, Family Studies and Child Life Specialist. Affiliated with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, the school puts a premium on blending one’s faith and values in with their studies to create a faith-based approach that will solve problems and nurture souls.
Spring Arbor University offers a Master of Arts in Counseling for on-campus students. Taught from a Christian perspective, the 50 credit program lets students concentrate in School Counseling or Community Counseling. In addition to classroom studies, students are required to complete a 100 hour practicum and a 600 hour internship.
Oregon State University Cascades offers a Master of Science degree in Counseling with concentrations in Clinical Mental Health Counseling or School Counseling. Practical experience is strongly emphasized in the program, with students completing practicums and internships in community colleges, community mental health clinics, hospitals and nursing homes and other facilities.
Gonzaga University, ranked as one of the best college values in the Western United States, offers students several graduate degrees in Counseling. Students can choose from Master of Arts degrees in School Counseling, Marriage and Family Counseling and Community Counseling. Through its philosophy of nurturing people’s mind, body and spirit, the school encourages students to work with as many diverse populations as possible to gain a greater understanding of people’s lives.
Centenary College offers a 60 credit hour Master of Counseling Psychology degree program for students with an interest in helping others. Meeting the criteria for the New Jersey Professional Counselor Licensure, the program uses classroom discussion to learn counseling theories, then internships and practicums to put those theories to the test.
Waynesburg University offers a Master of Arts in Counseling that gives students many options. The classes are offered at three locations in Pittsburgh and at the main campus, meeting two evenings per week for five semesters. The 60 credit hour program lets students specialize in Addictions Counseling or Clinical Mental Health Counseling, using classes and internships to help students gain the necessary skills to help people in need.
William Carey University offers a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology that combines scientific theory with practical experience. Students gain their practical experience in a variety of settings including community mental health agencies, churches, school guidance programs and nursing homes. Students can choose to concentrate in many areas including Christian Counseling, Gerontology Counseling, School Counseling and Community Counseling.
Johnson State College offers a Master of Arts in Counseling to students who want to make a career of helping others. Students can specialize in school guidance counseling, college counseling or substance abuse and mental health counseling. Internships are required, and are usually individually designed by students and faculty depending upon a person’s interest. Courses are offered in the evenings and on weekends, with students having five years to complete the program.
St. Mary’s University offers graduate degrees in Counseling for students who want to make a career of helping others. Degrees are available in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, allowing students to choose what area they wish to specialize in. Using classes and internships, students take what they learn in class and put it to the test with actual clients.
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary offers a Master of Arts in Counseling for those students who want to counsel people from a Christian perspective. A total of 62 credit hours is needed for graduation, with students meeting the educational requirements to become Licensed Professional Counselors in Missouri. Upon graduation, students can find employment as a Pastor, Chaplain or Professional Counselor.
Biblical Theological Seminary offers a Master of Arts in Counseling for students planning on careers in ministry or other religious areas. Students are taught from a Christian perspective about how various counseling techniques and religion are intertwined, enabling counselors to work with clients of very diverse backgrounds in churches, hospitals, schools and mental health agencies.
Webster University offers students a Master of Arts in Counseling at its United States campus as well as locations in Switzerland and the Netherlands. The degree combines classroom instruction and practical experience, with students having several concentrations from which to choose. These include Mental Health Counseling, Family Life Counseling, Community Counseling and Marriage and Family Counseling.
Eastern University offers a Master of Arts in Counseling and Master of Science degrees in School Counseling and General Counseling. Taught from a Christian perspective, the program’s goals are to create students who are able to leave school and begin making a difference in people’s lives.
Hampton University offers Master of Arts degrees in several counseling concentrations. Students can choose from Community and Mental Health Counseling, Pastoral Counseling, School Counseling and Student Affairs. Ranked in the top 100 best psychology programs in the country, Hampton provides students opportunities to use classroom theory in the real world by completing internships in clinics, hospitals, churches and other places.
La Sierra University offers a Master of Arts in Counseling for students who are ready to make careers of helping others. Affiliated with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, the school has a long history of graduating excellent counselors from its program. Faculty act as mentors to students, providing them with nurturing and advice on how best to help others and be their best personally and professionally.
Wayland Baptist University offers a Master of Arts in Counseling with two concentrations from which to choose. Students can specialize in school counseling or professional counseling, and allow students to meet the educational requirements necessary to become licensed professional counselors. The program requires 49 credit hours for completion, and includes internships in mental health agencies or schools.
Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania offers graduate degrees in Counseling for its students, with four concentrations from which to choose. Students can choose from School Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, College Counseling or College Student Personnel. The program is fully accredited, allowing students to sit for licensing exams upon finishing their studies.
Assemblies of God Theological Seminary offers a Master of Arts in Counseling that provides tracks for licensure or non-licensure. The licensure track requires 51-66 credits and prepares students to become Marriage and Family Therapists or Licensed Professional Counselors. The non-licensure track prepares students to work in settings where licensure is not needed, such as churches or community agencies.
Pittsburg State University, with graduate programs that have been highly-ranked by The Princeton Review, offers students graduate degrees in Counseling in a variety of areas. Degrees can be chosen in School Counseling, Community Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Students completing these programs are eligible to sit for the LPC exam in over 40 states.
University of South Alabama offers Master of Science degrees in School Counseling and Community Counseling. Students use a combination of classroom instruction and internships to gain the knowledge necessary to help clients of various cultures and socio-economic backgrounds.
Adler School of Professional Psychology offers graduate degrees in Counseling in a variety of disciplines. Offering programs at campuses in Chicago and Vancouver, students can choose from such programs as Rehabilitation Counseling, Marriage and Family Counseling, Community Counseling and Counseling Psychology. Students can also choose a specialization in Military Psychology, learning how to counsel veterans who are experiencing psychological trauma resulting from combat or other actions.
West Texas A&M University offers graduate degrees in Counseling that let students specialize in Clinical Mental Health and School Counseling. The university prides itself on its ability to train students to work with a variety of clients from different backgrounds, enabling students to be well-prepared for employment upon graduation.
New Jersey City University offers graduate degrees in Counseling for its students. Master’s of Arts degrees are awarded in Counseling, with optional certifications available in Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Associate Counselor and School Counselor Certification. The school is deeply committed to advocating for social justice, and teaches its students to do the same before and after graduation.
San Francisco State University offers a Master of Science degree in Counseling with a concentration in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling. Graduates of the program report having little trouble finding employment upon graduation, with offers coming from public and private community agencies, hospitals, schools and other places.
Columbia International University offers graduate degrees in Counseling taught from a Christian perspective. The school’s method of treating patients is through the heart, the head and the hands. These translate to personal and spiritual development, professional knowledge and research and effective interpersonal and clinical skills.
Truman State University is set to begin offering a Master of Arts in Counseling beginning in January 2014. Available to 25 students initially, classes will meet two evening per week during fall, spring and summer semesters. An advantage to this program is that students will be able to be employed full-time while completing the degree, letting them balance work and family responsibilities.
Montclair State University, ranked among the best schools in the country by Forbes Magazine and U.S. News and World Report, offers graduate degrees in Counseling that are some of the nation’s best. Specializations include Addictions, Community Counseling, School Counseling and Student Affairs. Students can take day, evening, weekend and online classes.
Lenoir-Rhyne University offers a Master of Arts in Counseling which lets students specialize in Clinical Mental Health or School Counseling. Taught from a Christian perspective, students can take experiences gained in the classroom and community and become well-rounded professional counselors. The program boasts many success stories from its graduates, with some becoming graduate school administrators and others being named Counselor of the Year at their respective employer. Students can design their own curriculums, which gives them added flexibility and the chance to proceed at their own pace.