Online Programs to Consider
If you choose to move into the field of professional counseling, your minimum degree requirement for licensure is found at the masters level. The CACREP is your most trusted resource for finding online degrees at the masters level, since this organization provides students with an updated list of accredited schools on its website. Take a look at a few example schools that can be found through your search.
- Messiah College: Online Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling, and School Counseling
- North Carolina State University: Online Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Students Affairs and College Counseling, and School Counseling
At the masters level, many psychology programs may require additional certification in order to lead to licensure. Generalized online degree programs in psychology at the masters level can be found at a large number of schools all over the U.S. A couple of the schools offering this program online can be found below.
- Arizona State University: Online Masters in Psychology
- Purdue University: Online Masters in Psychology – Applied Behavior Analysis, Addictions, Forensic, and I/O Specializations Available
Pros and Cons of Psychology and Counseling
If you were to shadow students in each of these programs, you might notice that the focus of each is rooted deeply in the generalized field of psychology. The Masters in Counseling and Psychology were both developed from the same central focus, which each branching out into different techniques and goals at the graduate level.
Benefits of a Master of Counseling
The benefits of the Masters in Counseling include your ability to learn more about effective counseling techniques that can be relevant to all members of society. While counseling students can specifically focus on the needs of their clients, they lack the availability to influence their field through further research and development.
Benefits of a Master of Psychology
The Masters in Psychology could be the ideal choice for upcoming college learners with the desire to break apart complex problems and determine an effective and meaningful solution. Psychology as a science can be applied to several different professional fields, including business, education, and even healthcare.
A shortcoming of the Masters in Psychology is that it is focused more specifically on the scientific aspects of behavior and leaves out some of the generalized relationship and communication considerations found within the counseling program. Your decision to pursue either of these degrees should include a look at both the positive and negative effects of choosing them.
Classes to Take
- Intro to Counseling: Students enrolled in counseling programs may begin their experience with a course that outline the history and development of this field at the start of their classes. This course can introduce students to the general mission of this field, as well as founding professionals that aided in its growth.
- Research Methods: Majors in both counseling and psychology may spend some time training students to plan and implement relevant research projects during their studies. This course leads students through the conceptualization of a hypothesis, planning the research project, collecting data, and reporting results.
- Working with Diverse Populations: Both counseling and psychology professionals alike should extend their capabilities to people from all walks of life. Since these fields are based strongly on the needs of all people, learning different cultures, beliefs, and religions in this course can be beneficial to providing the best quality of care to everyone served.
Licensure for Counseling and Psychology
Most people enrolled in counseling degree programs intend on pursuing their license once completed with their studies. In order to meet all of the requirements for licensure in your state, you may need to spend a significant amount of time reviewing the requirements set forth for professionals in counseling.
Many states require that students obtain a minimum of a Masters in Counseling that has been accredited by the CACREP. In addition to the educational components, prospects of counseling must also work under the supervision of a licensed counselor for up to 2 years in a clinical setting.
Once these conditions have been met, students are eligible for sitting for the National Counselor Examination, which is the final step towards applying for licensure. You are encouraged to find your state's guidelines prior to enrolling in a program.
In psychology-based fields, different certifications can often have varying licensure paths. If you plan to work in fields of research or in specialized areas such as forensic psychology, licensing may not be required.
Other treatment fields such as Applied Behavior Analysis and School Psychology may require you to receive higher certification, engage in supervised clinical experience, and apply for licensure.
Careers Available to You
Counseling and psychology have grown into very important fields in the U.S. Each offer career options in different settings that can influence different populations with diverse needs.
As a counselor, you can choose to work in different specialized areas such as child and adolescent counseling, school counseling, clinical mental health counseling, and even marriage and family counseling. Each provides its own standard of care to the groups it focuses on, making it important for you to explore the type of people you would like to work with in the field.
Psychology careers can be found in education, research, or even partnered with law enforcement and social services. Careers in behavior analysis, school psychology, and clinical psychology are also available to students that are willing to pursue additional training and licensure in their future.