Online Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling

As a mental health counselor, you could help families and individuals handle issues, such as stress, addiction, substance abuse, marital discord and even aging. Read on to learn more about earning an online master's degree in mental health counseling. Schools offering Mental Health Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Why Should I Pursue a Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling Online?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you usually need at least a master's degree to practice as a licensed mental health counselor (www.bls.gov). Online programs are designed to appeal to students who work full time or can't necessarily make it to campus everyday. Both online and on-campus programs can prepare you to sit for mental health counseling licensure examinations. However, completion of a program approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs can help ensure that you're ready to apply for licensure (www.cacrep.org).

AccreditationProgram should be approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs to ensure that it prepares you for licensure
CourseworkChild and adolescent counseling, individual and group counseling, family therapy, psychopharmacology, psychiatric rehabilitation
Other RequirementsIn-person seminars, internships and practicums may be required
Licensure RequirementsRequirements vary by state but typically require a master's degree in counseling or therapy, a licensure exam and a state-specified number of hours of clinical practice
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 20% increase for mental health counselors*
Average Salary (2014) $43,990 for mental health counselors*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Can I Expect During a Program?

Online programs can last 2-3 years and typically consist of 60-91 credits. Completion can lead to a Master of Science or Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling. Common courses that you might encounter include case evaluations, child and adolescent counseling, individual and group counseling, behavioral theories, family therapy, substance abuse, psychopharmacology and psychiatric rehabilitation.

Online courses can be conducted in real time, through live chats or video streaming. While the majority of classes are available remotely, schools may require you to attend limited seminars on campus. In addition, most programs contain a practicum component and multiple internships. Internships and practicums must be completed in person at a school-approved facility near your location.

How Do I Receive Licensure?

Mental health counseling licensure requirements vary from state to state, but you typically must earn a master's degree in counseling or therapy, pass an examination and complete several thousand hours of clinical practice after graduation. You can learn more about your specific state's requirements through the online directory of state licensure boards maintained by the American Mental Health Counselors Association (www.amhca.org).

What Are the Employment Prospects and Wages?

The BLS stated that employment possibilities for mental health counselors were expected to increase 20% from 2014-2024. This greater-than-average increase may be due to the growing use of counseling methods in place of more expensive treatments performed by psychologists and psychiatrists. As of 2014, the BLS reported that the mean annual wage for mental health counselors was $43,990.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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