Online Professional Counseling Degree Programs
While online study may not entirely prepare you to become a professional counselor, you can fulfill most of the academic prerequisites for licensure online. Learn about hybrid master's degree programs in counseling, which merge online coursework with on-site internship experiences. Check the prerequisites for enrolling in these programs, review common course topics you'd study, and get info about your job options as a professional counselor.
What Kind of Professional Counseling Degrees Can I Earn Online?
You can earn your Master of Arts or Master of Science in Counseling Psychology online; however, you'll need to complete internships and other experiences in person. While you can earn a Ph.D. in Counseling, online doctoral programs are not meant to prepare you for professional practice; the doctorate is mostly pursued by those wanting to become postsecondary teachers or advanced researchers. Online counseling degrees are only offered at the graduate level.
|Types of Online Degrees||Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Science (M.S)|
|Enrollment Requirements||Bachelor's degree; some programs require 12 credits of psychology courses|
|Online Availability||Most study can be completed online, but some campus visits required for experiences and residency requirements|
|Areas of Study||Counseling ethics, behavioral science, psychotherapy, psychotropic medications|
|Career Outcomes||Rehabilitation counselor, marriage/family therapist, substance abuse therapist, or mental health counselor|
|Licensure||Most online programs do not prepare for licensure; licensure requirements vary by state|
|Median Salary (2018)||$42,130 (for counselors, all other)*|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||14% growth (for counselors, all other)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Do I Need to Enroll?
Before you enroll in a master's degree program, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree. Some online schools also require that you complete 12 or more credits of psychology courses, including those in abnormal psychology, personality theory and psychological research.
How Do Online Programs Work?
While most study in an online counseling program will be completed through the Internet, you'll need to attend campus periodically to meet with professors and complete residency requirements. Online programs are designed to accommodate students with a busy work schedule or those who can't relocate.
What Will I Learn About?
Regardless of what type of program you enroll in, you'll learn about counseling theory, abnormal psychology, marriage therapy, substance abuse and research. You'll also complete coursework that addresses cultural issues in mental health, group therapy, data analysis and testing. Other coursework will teach you about the following:
- Professional counseling ethics
- Mental health issues of children
- Behavioral science
- Elderly psychology
- Human sexuality
- Psychotropic medications
How Can I Use My Degree?
Earning your degree online can prepare you for doctoral study or provide most of the requirements for licensure as a professional counselor. Once you meet licensing requirements in your state, you can diagnose mental illness, resolve family or marriage issues in group therapy, help clients overcome substance abuse and conduct psychotherapy interventions.
An online degree program also prepares you to help clients become more aware of their own mental health conditions. You can accomplish these and other counseling tasks in the following positions:
- Rehabilitation counselor
- Professional marriage therapist
- Substance abuse therapist
- Mental health counselor
Will Online Study Prepare Me For Licensure?
Overall, most online programs don't prepare you for licensure. Those that do are specific to the licensing requirements of the state where the online school is based. To attain your license, you may have to take additional courses through another school or complete residency requirements in the state where you plan to practice.