Graduate Programs in Counseling Psychology

A career in counseling psychology can involve helping people improve their quality of life at home, work, school and in the community. Learn about graduate degree programs and licensing requirements. Schools offering Addictions & Social Work degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Graduate certificate, master's and doctoral programs are all available in counseling psychology. In order to become licensed, it is often necessary to have a doctorate. Prerequisites vary by program level and format.

Programs M.S. and PhD in Counseling Psychology; PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision
Courses Cognitive development, personality research, fundamental statistics; internships and practica are part of the curriculum as well
Online Sometimes available in hybrid formats with distance learning and hands-on training
Licensing May need a doctorate to meet licensing requirements

What Are Graduate Counseling Psychology Programs Like?

Graduate-level programs in counseling psychology are offered on campus, online and as a combination of the two. In an on-campus program, all learning takes place face to face. In an online program, most of the learning will take place on the Internet, with the exception of a few courses, such as those that require hands-on training. In a hybrid program, you'll study on campus as well as online.

Graduate certificate programs may focus on a specific subfield of counseling psychology, such as addictions or child and family counseling psychology. Topics you'll study in a master's degree program include:

  • Developmental theory
  • Individual and group counseling
  • Advanced research evaluation and interpretation
  • Multicultural counseling techniques
  • Addiction issues and treatment

Depending on the program, you might be required to complete a capstone project and two practicums. Here's what you'll study in a doctoral degree program:

  • Advanced social psychology
  • History of psychology
  • Diagnosis and psychopathology
  • Theory of group counseling
  • Diversity issues in clinical psychology
  • Social neuroscience

You'll probably need to complete a practicum, an internship and a dissertation.

Will These Programs Prepare Me for Licensure?

While some graduate degree programs can prepare you for licensure, most master's degree programs are not designed to prepare you for licensing exams, but rather for a doctoral degree that will help prepare you to meet licensure requirements. Some master's degree programs will prepare you for licensure, but you might only qualify for licensure in a particular state. Counseling psychology licensing varies by state and details about requirements are provided by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. However, most counseling psychologists have to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.

What Requirements Will I Have to Meet?

For a master's degree program, you'll need a bachelor's degree for admission. Most doctoral programs will require at least a master's degree; however, there are some that will admit you if you only hold a bachelor's degree. You'll just have to spend an extra year in school to complete any additional coursework needed.

What Kind of Technology Will I Need?

For online programs, technical requirements include having broadband Internet access and an e-mail account. Some programs may require that you own a computer that's no more than three years old. You'll need to purchase a new computer if yours is older than that. In addition to using your computer or laptop, some programs offer course content that can be accessed on mobile devices, like an MP3 player or smartphone.

How Do I Pick a School?

Look for those schools that offer licensure preparation and those that are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). It's important to note that some programs that prepare you to meet licensure requirements are not accredited by the APA. Depending on the state you live in, graduating from an APA-accredited program may be required in order for you to become licensed. Here are examples of schools that offer graduate degree programs in counseling psychology:

  • Seton Hall University: PhD in Counseling Psychology
  • The Chicago School of Professional Psychology: Master of Science in Counseling Psychology
  • Purdue University: PhD in Counseling Psychology
  • Walden University: PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision
  • University of Kansas: PhD in Counseling Psychology
  • Frostburg State University: Master of Science in Counseling Psychology
  • University of Wisconsin Milwaukee: PhD specialization in Counseling Psychology

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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