Why consider a Master's in Counseling? The Master's in Counseling can be structured to include the components that you choose to best fit your future career. As you can read in the following sections, there are numerous specialized areas that you can choose from when you begin your program - all leading to different types of careers in the field.
Making the decision to pursue the Master's in Counseling can provide you with the most opportunity in comparison to lower level degree programs. If helping people is your goal in the field of counseling, pursuits of the master's program may be your best option for future success.
Consider a Featured Online Counseling Program
|School and Program Information||Online Program?|
Master's in Clinical Psychology
Bachelor's Degree Required
No GRE Required
Bachelor’s degree and minimum 2.5 GPA requiredLearn More
|University of Denver|
Online MA in School Counseling
Designed to adhere to CACREP standards
✔ Live, online classes
No GRE Required; Minimum GPA 2.5 Required
Earn your degree in as few as 24 monthsLearn More
Online MA in Counseling and Guidance
GRE not required; Bachelor’s degree and minimum 2.5 GPA required
Complete in as few as 18 monthsLearn More
|University of Southern California|
Online Master of Education (ME) in School Counseling
Prepares you for school counseling credential
✔ Live, online classes
No GRE requirement
Bachelor’s degree and minimum 2.5 GPA requiredLearn More
Bachelor of Science in Psychology
With FlexPath, you can earn a bachelor’s in psychology in 16 months for $15,000
Choose from General Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis, or Pre-Counseling specializationsLearn More
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Online CACREP Accredited programs | Online MPCAC Accredited programs
Steps to Getting a Master's in Counseling
Before you choose your university and degree program, you may need to complete a few steps to ensure that you have covered all requirements for future licensing. Each state has different expectations, making it extremely important to explore what is required for the career that you desire.
1. A Bachelors of Counseling (or similar)
Beginning at the onset of your college experience, you should choose a bachelor's program that complements future learning in counseling. Most students choose either the Bachelor's in Counseling or Bachelor's in Psychology, since both programs can provide foundational knowledge that can be utilized throughout their careers.
The bachelor's program can take around 4 years to complete. If you have the capacity during this learning process, you should consider seeking out entry-level positions related to counseling services or mental health. This type of experience can be beneficial to add to your resume after graduate-level programs.
2. A Masters of Counseling
Once you have completed your bachelor's program, you should seek out graduate programs that best suit your career path. If you are interested in working with people that are experiencing negative symptoms of mental illness or disorder, a Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling might be a great option for you.
Regardless of which specialized area you choose to focus on, you should pick a degree program that has received accreditation from the CACREP. This organization accredits reliable degree programs that can lead you into licensure after completion.
3. CACREP Accreditation
Master's programs accredited by the CACREP can be found on-campus and online, so your needs should designate which option you choose. Once you are enrolled, you should be prepared to complete independent research projects, in-person experiences, and practice with assessments and treatment planning along the way.
Your program can take anywhere from 2-3 years to complete. During the last semesters of your experience, you may be required to identify a supervision resource to carry out after your program has been completed. Your 2 year supervision period is a requirement of licensure and can help you learn more about applying your skills in the field.
4. Specify a Program Area
One of the most intriguing facts about choosing counseling as your degree field is that it can include specializations in several different specialty fields. Some of the most common degree programs focus specifically on mental health and treatment, but there may be plenty more options for you to choose from for your career.
Counseling as a discipline can focus on providing clients with support during their normal lives or when aversive factors interfere with normal functioning. During school years, children can be subjected to changes in their development, social pressure, and stresses associated with making educational decisions at different points of their experience.
School Counseling is a sector of counseling that can put you in touch with school-aged children in need of guidance and life counseling. This specialization can be found at numerous universities across the U.S. and can help you align your learning experience and supervision requirements from start to finish.
Gerontological or Adult Counseling
Age-related counseling specialties can also be beneficial for upcoming students with the desire to influence particular groups during their career. Gerontological Counseling, Youth Counseling, and Adult Counseling are all areas in which you can specialize at the master’s level.
Substance Abuse Counseling and Rehabilitation Counseling
If you have a mission related to helping people work through specific struggles within their lives, you might be a great candidate for programs focusing in Substance Abuse Counseling, Grief Counseling, or even Rehabilitative Counseling. These specializations can put you in touch with clients that are in need of positive support, strength building, and progression through life’s most challenging circumstances.
Top 10 Careers with a Masters in Counseling
- Clinical Mental Health Counseling
A large number of new licensed counselors seek out careers in clinical mental health. In this field, professionals can work with clients that have been diagnosed with mental illnesses or disorders, and even assist clients that have been observed to have disrupted behavior symptoms. In this field, you can work for mental health organizations or even in hospitals across the U.S.
- Mental Health Counseling
Mental Health Counselors can work with clients in community settings, providing support and guidance through past life experiences, trauma, and even the everyday stresses of life. Clients for counselors in this field may be incredibly diverse, making it necessary for counselors to have knowledge of various developmental stages and related treatment methods.
- School Counseling
If you are intrigued with how counseling can contribute to the overall success of different specialized areas, school counseling may be a great specialization for you to consider for your degree program. As a licensed counselor in this area, you can work with school age children as they address their struggles in personal, educational, and developmental areas of their lives.
- Youth and Adolescent Counseling
Counselors with a mission to provide guidance to specific age groups can be valuable resources in the field of counseling. Youth and Adolescent Counselors can work with children from ages 5 through their teenage years. You can work with children as they progress through some of life’s most complex developmental stages, assist with working through traumatic events, and help clients set goals for success in their futures.
- Marriage and Family Counseling
Upcoming professionals that have an interest in providing support to couples and family groups could pursue a career as a Marriage and Family Counselor. These professional specialize in helping people address strengths and weaknesses within their relationship, establish better foundations for communication, and working through issues that have caused strain. In this field, you can work for mental health organizations or in private practice.
- Rehabilitative Counseling
Rehabilitative Counselors take on a slightly different approach to helping their clients lives normal and happy lives. In this field, you can work with people that have disabilities or impairments that require them to learn or re-learn new skills for living normal lives. As a counselor in this area, you can assist adults with learning independent skills in the home, assist clients with working through the frustration of losing access to skills, and develop treatment plans for your clients to achieve these goals within certain time frames.
- Career Counseling
Once you have established yourself in a career in Career Counseling, you can help others identify their own strengths and abilities for finding careers that are fitting for them. You can work for career training centers, mental health organizations, or in private practice with this type of degree certification. During your daily work, you might conduct personality tests, skills assessments, or questionnaires to assist you in developing career plans for your clients.
- Addiction Counseling
Counselors can often help their clients work through unhealthy thoughts and habits that can impede their ability to live normal lifestyles. Addicting Counseling involves working with individuals and groups to identify root causes for seeking out substances, alternative paths for behavior, and support systems to help along the way. Addiction counselors may work for rehabilitation centers, in hospitals, or even private organizations.
- Gerontological Counseling
Gerontological Counseling is a specialized field that focuses on providing mental health services to the aging population. In this field, you might work with individuals that are working through grief, feelings of despair due to illness and degeneration, or even those that are living in retirement homes or in hospice services. As part of your career in this field, you may also work with families with aging relatives as their care for their loved ones.
- Grief Counseling
Counselors working in grief specialties can help people that have experience a recent loss of a loved one, received diagnosis of a dangerous disease or illness, or with individuals that have experienced loss in different parts of their lives. If you pursue a career in this type of counseling, you could potentially work for mental health services providing a wide range of specialties or in private practice.