Some people find that helping others is what they need to do in their careers. This determination for altruism can be expressed through many different domains, some of which require higher education.
Counseling is a great way for professionals to reach out to others in their time of need. Some students find that a degree in counseling can set them on the path to a satisfying career that can last a lifetime. For those that have a passion for the psychological theories and attributes that contribute to human behavior, counseling psychology is a great place to call home. Counseling psychology is an interesting career choice that involves using knowledge of psychological principles in the counseling of individuals from all stages of life.
If you are determined to be a part of this field, you may be interested in knowing what it takes to get licensed within your state. In order to become a counselor, you must have a minimum of a Masters in Counseling Psychology, which is where this guide will start. Take a look at what our experts have provided throughout the helpful guide below.
What Does Getting A Master's In Counseling Psychology Online Degree Involve?
Starting at the beginning, the acquisition of a Masters in Counseling Psychology begins with getting into the right undergraduate program. During this 3-4 year increment, you will pick a major that is related to your desired field, such as Psychology, Counseling, or Sociology. Throughout this level you can learn the history and implications of psychology, which can contribute to how well you absorb the information in later studies.
In order to be accepted into a masters level program in counseling psychology, you may need to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or above during your bachelors program. You can choose a masters program through many different sources. These programs are found in traditional in-person environments as well as in online format. The entirety of most masters level programs can be completed in about 2 years and require anywhere from 45-80 credit hours for completion. Online programs are available in great numbers in recent years, making the decision process much more fluid for upcoming students. Some of these online programs may require that you complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), but there are many different programs that overlook this requirement. Once you have been accepted into the masters program, you may be expected to take part in coursework that includes classroom discussions, interactive class meetings, individual quizzes and homework, and online exams. Online degree programs typically allow students to engage in self-learning and self-driven assignments to encourage individuality.
In the field of counseling psychology, it is important that students gain the skills necessary to form their own conclusions about diagnosis, treatment, and follow-ups. At the end of your masters program, you may be expected to take part in a cumulative project or research proposal that exhibits your skills within the field. Some colleges have different projects and evaluations to determine whether or not you have the necessary knowledge for future licensure. After you have completed all of these steps, you may be on track for a 1-2 year work experience requirement as well as sitting for the board exam for counselors.
Online Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology Admission Requirements
Depending on the university, the admissions requirements for the Masters in Counseling Psychology program can be different from others offering the same degree. Through your research, it can become overwhelming to decipher what you need to achieve prior to admissions, without leaving out any important steps. Our team has recognized the need for more generalized data on these requirements. In response, our educational experts researched some of the admissions requirements for online programs offering this degree, in an effort to give you a better idea of what to expect when applying to programs in the future. Take a look at what they found below.
Some Masters in Counseling Psychology programs require that students hold an accredited undergraduate degree in psychology, counseling, or related discipline. Accreditation is required at every point of the educational process for those than plan to pursue licensure. This process includes the validation of coursework, experience, and relevance to the field of counseling psychology. Not only does the title of your degree count during this requirement, but your performance may also be weighed. Some schools require that students achieve a 3.0 or higher GPA in order to be accepted within their programs.
While not required by every school, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) could be a requirement for the university that you choose for you graduate degree. The exam was designed to test the skills of undergraduate earners prior to entering into graduate level programs. Scores are provided after students have completed the test, which can then be forwarded to schools during the application process. Schools that require the GRE will have the requirement listed on their website and may have acceptable score listed as well. If you must take this exam for the program you choose, you can take it after completing your undergraduate degree program.
Transcripts, Letters of Recommendations, and Resume
Any time you enroll in a graduate program, you are likely going to need to submit copies of official transcripts from any college that you have attended. This is part of the initial degree verification process and it is required for all degree programs. Letters of recommendation are required for some programs, which can be drafted by previous professors or even employers, if the field you work in is relevant to the degree program. Some colleges even require that students submit an official resume, but this is usually only requested if students are required to have some work experience as part of the college admissions process.
Essay Questions & Person Statements
Another variable requirement includes the completion of essay questions and personal statements. Essay questions are usually formatted to include your reasoning for choosing the field in which you are in, what you can contribute to the field, and experiences that have helped you grow into a more knowledgeable professional. In lieu of essay questions, some schools may require that you submit a personal statement, which can include more about your own personal experiences and how they are related to your interest and investment in counseling psychology.
Program and Coursework Overview
Once you have been admitted into the Masters in Counseling Psychology program, you may find that you are entering into a new experience than what you remember from undergraduate education. At the masters level, students may be given the opportunity to take a more self-directed approach to learning through the use of convenient online formats.
During the course of your degree program, you may be expected to take part in interactive class lectures on a weekly basis, complete assignments and submit them via the online upload feature, and post discussions and respond to classmates on a regular basis. Some of the other feature of this degree program, including length and courses will be noted below this section.
The length of a masters program can be different depending on what you prefer as a learner. Many online degree programs provide students with the option of pursuing a degree at an expedited rate - between 1-2 years, while others can be expanded depending on the needs of the student. Since this degree program can require anywhere from 45-80 credit hours for completion, the standard completion time is between 2-3 years for students at full-time enrollment.
In addition to the time spent in the classroom, most programs require that students take part in 1 or 2 practicum experiences, most of which are conducted in designated locations during the program. The practicum requirement may include the need for students to be present on-campus, or may be set through local organizations. The requirements for each university's practicum should be listed clear on the university's website.
As you move forward into your degree program, you can take courses that are both specific to counseling and relevant to the field of psychology. The theories and principles associated with the diagnostic assessment and treatment of patients should be taught in detail throughout your experience. If you plan on choosing a separate specialization to go alongside you degree in counseling psychology, you may see a slight change in the consistency of your curriculum. Some of the more common generalized courses for counseling psychology are below.
- Research Methods in Counseling:
- Psychopathology in Counseling:
- Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy:
- Cultural Diversity in Counseling:
Students may take part in learning the steps of a proper research project, including the formation of a research question, choosing participants, ethical and sound research practices, and results reporting.
In this course, students can learn to implement diagnostic skills from the user of the DSM-5. Students may also take part in course work and projects that involve practice of diagnostics through case studies and research.
Students in this course can take a look at the theories of counseling from a psychoanalytic perspective. This course investigates the theoretical frameworks that surround counseling and the implementation of psychotherapy.
This course can provide students with a better understanding of the diverse society from a service provider's standpoint. This course seeks to help students set aside bias and opinion to be more efficient professionals regardless of their workplace.
Potential Emphasis Selection
Counseling psychology is a broad field that includes the treatment of all people. If you have an interest in working with a particular group within society or want to work in a specific field, you may find that choosing an emphasis for your degree program can be beneficial. One major benefit to choosing an emphasis to your degree program is the expertise that the extra education can provide. Having that extra notation on a degree can set you apart from others when applying for careers within your specialized area of practice. The implementation of specializations with a degree program allows for students to become more accustomed to their area of interest, without sacrificing time and effort while learning a more generalized practice. If you are undecided about a particular emphasis, our experts have provided a few specializations for you to read about. These areas are some of the most commonly chosen for counseling psychology students.
Marriage and Family Therapy
Counseling professionals that specialize in marriage and family therapy play a large role in managing attachments and connections within the family unit. If you have an interest in providing hands on counseling to families in need, this is a great place to specialize.
The field of behavior therapy is likely to become more prominent in the coming years. Specializing in behavior studies and therapy can help to provide you with helpful methods for observing, assessing, and changing unwanted behaviors.
Providing a heavy focus in issues that are typically experienced by women, women's counseling is a great option if you want to counsel women through difficult periods in life. Support through marriage, childbirth, menopause, and even hormonal change is a large portion of what is addressed in this line of work.
Child and Adolescent Counseling
If you have the desire to work with children and adolescents throughout your career, you may find this emphasis to be of interest to you. Counselors within this domain focus on the emotional and developmental needs of children and adolescents, in school and at home.
If you have the desire to move forward into a degree program that can assist people with getting through difficult times, counseling psychology is a great option for you. This field is a primary choice for those with a profound interest in the practice of counseling and the theoretical components of psychology. Observing people wholly without focusing on specific aspects of their personality is what makes counseling psychology different from other aspects of counseling.
Online degree programs that focus on counseling psychology are available for you to enroll. It can be hard to sift through all of the available programs and find the one that fits your needs. Our team provided this guide to help you with sorting through the requirements, expectations, and timeframes that lie ahead of you on your journey. As you take the next step towards obtaining your Masters in Counseling Psychology, take the time to research each school thoroughly and choose a program that you are truly passionate about.