What Are the Basics of a Counseling Degree?

Counseling degree basics depend largely on the educational program in question. Most counseling degrees are offered at the master's level. Some areas that are covered in such programs include professional counseling, substance abuse counseling and school counseling. Keep reading to find out what you'd learn in a counseling degree program. Schools offering Mental Health Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Counseling Degrees

The field of counseling is expansive. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov, lists at least nine different areas of counseling, including educational, vocational, elementary school, high school, rehabilitation, mental health, substance abuse, behavioral disorder and marriage and family counseling.

Degree programs in these specializations will share a similar foundation of coursework in counseling, assessment and therapeutic interventions. Beyond that, the basics of a counseling degree program depend on the student's focus.

Important Facts About Counseling Degrees

Degree Options Bachelor's degree, master's degree, doctorate
Certifications Voluntary certifications are available through the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) and the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC)
Online Availability Some online programs are offered, particularly at the graduate level
Continuing Education Required to maintain licensure and/or certification

Master's Degree Programs in Counseling

Students who are enrolled in a Master of Arts or Master of Science in Counseling degree program might specialize in different areas, depending upon the offerings of the schools they attend. For example, they might focus on either professional or school counseling. Those who choose the school counseling option must meet objectives in areas such as human development and learning, evaluation, counseling and group guidance, professional knowledge and educational planning. The basics of a professional counseling specialization may include human growth and development, cultural and social foundations, and career and lifestyle goals.

Other specialization areas include mental health counseling and rehabilitation counseling. Students enrolled in a mental health counseling option could be prepared for licensure as mental health counselors. Their basic coursework includes mental health interventions, marriage and family therapy, treatment planning, assessment methods and clinical counseling. A rehab counseling specialization, which is based in coursework on substance abuse and addiction, could lead to certification.


Master's-level programs are designed to accommodate students of many different backgrounds. While it may be helpful, applicants do not necessarily need to have experience as counselors or hold undergraduate degrees in the field.

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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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.

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