Online Master's Programs in Counseling

Bachelor's degree-holders can enroll in online master's programs leading to three different types of degrees in three related fields - counseling, school counseling and rehabilitation counseling. Read on to learn more about online learning and what you'll study in each of these three counseling program options. Schools offering Mental Health Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How Do Online Counseling Master's Programs Work?

Generally speaking, online programs allow you to earn a degree in your chosen field of study without having to report to on-campus classes. However, most degree-granting institutions expect you to complete 1-2 weeks of on-campus residency hours to familiarize yourself with the school and to interact with other students. Mandatory clinical experiences can often be completed at a facility near you. A master's degree usually takes 2-3 years to complete.

Online course materials are generally posted by professors and accessed by students via online learning platforms, like Blackboard Vista and WebCT. These programs allow you to download lectures and lecture notes, e-mail or chat with professors and fellow students, submit assignments, take exams and post responses to class discussion questions. In addition to a computer and a reliable Internet connection, you may need certain software like Microsoft Word, Adobe Reader or Windows Media Player to view course materials in written document or multimedia formats.

Technology Requirement A computer with Internet access that meets the hardware and software specifications set by the institution
Counseling Degree Courses Psychopharmacology, addiction, patient evaluation, mental health, family counseling
School Counseling Degree Courses Psychology, behavior modification, student assessments, adolescent group counseling, vocational counseling
Rehabilitation Counseling Degree Courses Medical disabilities, psychological counseling, case management, vocational counseling, career placement assistance

What Can I Learn in a Counseling Master's Program?

Master's degree programs in counseling focus on teaching the applied and theoretical skills necessary to work as a mental health counselor after graduation. You can earn a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling, a Master of Science (M.S.) in Mental Health or an Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) in Counseling.

M.A. and M.S. programs will prepare you to provide mental health counseling services to populations of all kinds in an individual or group setting. Courses in Ed.S. degree programs often teach you to provide mental health care to adolescents, children and at-risk youth populations. Regardless of degree type, most programs require completion of 48-60 credits of graduate-level coursework. You'll be expected to complete a 900-hour clinical internship at a hospital or public clinic to hone your skills in a professional setting. Your curriculum might include courses like:

  • Community mental health services
  • Foundations of addiction
  • Group therapy
  • Theories of patient evaluation
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Substance abuse and families
  • Psychosocial development
  • Marriage and family counseling

In some cases, earning a master's degree in counseling can prepare you for professional licensure in the home state of your school. However, because licensing regulations vary widely from state to state, you should check with your state's licensing board or agency for more details.

What Will I Learn in an Online Master's Program in School Counseling?

Although course and graduation requirements may differ based on school and degree type, online school counseling master's programs will generally teach you how to provide school-aged children and adolescents with psychological counseling. Completion of a field internship at an elementary, middle or secondary school is usually required. Topics commonly covered include the following:

  • Theories of school counseling
  • Conducting student assessments
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Adolescent group counseling
  • Behavioral counseling
  • Career and vocational counseling
  • Adolescent behavior modification

Some online programs confer an M.A. degree, while others culminate in a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree. In order to gain acceptance to most programs, you might be required to have some background in the social sciences, be it a bachelor's degree in a related area or completion of several relevant undergraduate courses. References or letters of recommendation are often required as well.

Some states allow you to apply for licensure after completing a master's program in school counseling. Licensing requirements often vary from state to state.

What Courses are Included in a Rehabilitation Counseling Master's Program?

If you're interested in helping people function with emotional or physical disabilities, you may want to pursue an online master's degree in rehabilitation counseling. Because the work of a rehabilitation counselor is based heavily in the health sciences, degrees are generally conferred in M.S. format. Course curricula for master's degree programs in rehabilitation counseling typically include instruction in mental counseling and social skills acquisition for rehabilitative patients. Most programs require completion of a 600-hour clinical internship at a school-approved facility. Additional course topics could include:

  • Psychological counseling for rehabilitation patients
  • Vocational counseling
  • Career placement assistance
  • Foundations of medical disabilities
  • Case assessment and management

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:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »