Bachelor’s Degree in Counseling Programs

Counseling is a broad field with several different focuses and career paths. With a bachelor's in counseling, students can learn the necessary skills to work with individuals and families in various settings.

If you enjoy helping people, this degree program might be a good fit. The program covers counseling practices and theories, human development, research methods, and psychopathology. People with a bachelor's degree in counseling can work in various settings, such as mental health clinics, hospitals, and schools.

Consider an online counseling program: With our unique programs - from child and adolescent development to forensic psychology - you'll be prepared for a wide variety of careers in case management, research, human resources, youth services and social services. Learn more.
MA in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine
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Overview of Online Bachelor's in Counseling Programs

There are a few different ways to obtain a bachelor's degree in counseling, including online, in-person, and hybrid. Not only that, but many programs offer an accelerated program for those who can attend full-time and want to complete the program quickly.

An online program gives the most flexibility, whereas you get the benefit of a traditional classroom with an in-person program. A hybrid program combines the best of both program types.

Regardless of the program type, you'll get to work on a specialization that interests you the most, including substance abuse, rehabilitation, or mental health.

Below is a list of some of the more than 80 online bachelor's degrees in counseling programs, covering topics such as psychology, substance abuse, and addiction counseling.

Consider a Featured Online Counseling Program

☰ For detailed degree information, view the guides to:
Online CACREP Accredited programs | Online MPCAC Accredited programs

What Can You Do With an Online Bachelor's Degree in Counseling?

 The most common careers for students with a bachelor's degree in counseling are:

 School Counselor

School counselors work in K-12 settings, both public and private, to assist students with academic and social skills. In addition, career counselors and advisors usually help students in higher education choose employment paths. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average salary in 2021 for a school or career counselor was $60,510 per year, with a projected growth of 10% (faster than average) between 2021 and 2031.

 Mental Health Counselor or Substance Abuse Counselor

Mental health and substance abuse counselors assist clients with various issues, including addiction, alcoholism, and depression. The average salary in 2021 for a substance abuse counselor or a mental health counselor was $48,520 per year, with a projected growth of 22% (much faster than average) between 2021 and 2031.

 Rehabilitation Counselor

A rehabilitation counselor helps people with emotional or physical disabilities live independently. The average salary in 2021 for a Rehabilitation Counselor was $38,560 per year, with a projected growth of 11% (much faster than average) between 2021 and 2031.

 Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and family therapists help couples and families with their relationships. The average salary in 2021 was $49,880 per year, with a projected growth of 14% (much faster than average) between 2021 and 2031.

Bachelor’s Degree in Counseling Program Admission Requirements


While the admissions process varies for each program, most schools require a 3.0 minimum GPA for consideration. You will also need to show proof of a high school diploma or GED, along with transcripts.

 Application Requirements


While each program has different application requirements, you can use the Common App to streamline the process.

Application Fee

Application fees range from program to program, some as low as $40, while others can be as high as $100. However, don’t let this deter you from applying, as many programs offer application fee waivers.


All programs require you to submit your high school transcripts or proof of your GED. Additionally, if you’ve completed any college courses, you must include a college transcript with your application.

Test Scores

Unless you’re transferring from another college, you’ll likely need to submit SAT or ACT scores with your application. And while some programs have a minimum score requirement, others look at your application as a whole.

Letters of Recommendation

Many programs require you to submit letters of recommendation to show your academic and personal worth. These recommendations are often written by teachers or those in the community that can speak to your work ethic and values.

Tips for Choosing a Bachelor’s in Counseling Program

 Choosing a suitable bachelor’s in counseling program can be overwhelming, especially if you are just starting your research. But the following tips can help you narrow down your options.

 Determine what’s important to you.

The first step is determining what’s important to you in a prospective program. Factors include location, cost, degree specialization, program length, curriculum requirements, accreditation, and the type of program (in-person, online, or hybrid).

Choose an accredited program.

While seemingly endless programs may offer a bachelor’s in counseling degree, it’s essential to ensure that you choose a regionally accredited university or college. There are many benefits to attending an accredited program, including the capability to apply for financial aid, the ability to transfer to other colleges more seamlessly (if needed), and the guarantee of knowing the program is academically sound.

 Look for additional educational opportunities.

If your long-term plan is to complete your bachelor’s in counseling degree and then apply for a master’s and doctorate, you may want to consider the available post-graduate options at each school.

 A master’s degree in counseling can significantly increase your job opportunities, while a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) can help you secure high-level counseling jobs.


Counseling Bachelor’s Degree Curriculum

 While there are numerous options for counseling programs across the US, there are usually courses that most students take regardless of their program or specialization.

 The options below highlight some standard bachelor in counseling courses:


Introduction to Psychology

This course is a primer for all counseling students, highlighting the principles and theories regarding the human mind and behavior. In addition, students learn the history of psychology and its evolution over time.

 Introduction to Counseling

The Introduction to Counseling course reviews the history of counseling, along with theory and practice. In addition, students will explore the counseling relationship, ethical principles, and credentialing requirements.

 Methods of Counseling

Students will learn about interviewing techniques in counseling, including guiding a session, assisting the client in defining their concerns, and communicating their goals.

 Crisis Intervention

This course teaches students the crisis intervention theory and introduces advanced interviewing techniques and assessment tools for issues such as abuse, trauma, substance abuse, and depression.

 Diversity Issues in Counseling

As a counselor, you will be exposed to clients from various cultural, social, and economic backgrounds. This course teaches students how attitudes, biases, racism, and personal beliefs can affect counseling.

Other typical courses in a bachelor of counseling degree include:

  • Human development
  • Personality theories
  • Family therapy
  • Abnormal psychology


Once you get past the general coursework for your bachelor’s degree, you can focus on your specialization.

Some of the more popular disciplines are:

  • Addiction counseling
  • Career counseling
  • Clinical mental health counseling
  • Clinical rehabilitation counseling
  • Marriage, couple, and family counseling
  • Rehabilitation counseling
  • School counseling
  • Mental health counseling

 How Long Does It Take to Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Counseling?

 Like most bachelor’s degree programs, completing a bachelor’s degree in counseling usually takes four years. Depending on the type of program you choose, the required credits can range between 120-180 credits, depending on whether the program uses a semester or quarter-based system.

 Full-time students will complete the program faster than part-time students, but there are also options for accelerated bachelor’s degree programs. These faster-paced programs allow students to complete their degrees in as little as three years.


How Much Does a Counseling Bachelor’s Degree Cost?

 Various factors determine the cost of a bachelor’s in counseling. For example, a community college or junior college is usually much more affordable (average $3,440 per year) than a four-year college (average $9,410 per year). And if you are interested in attending a private school (in-person or online), the tuition increases significantly to $32,410 per year (on average), according to College Board.

There are additional costs to consider when planning which program to attend. For example, if you’re attending a program in person, you’ll need to consider housing, parking, and the cost of commuting. However, all students must consider student fees, computers, and books.

While the cost of college can seem overwhelming, most programs offer financial aid, including federal loans, grants, and scholarships. You can also qualify for work-study programs.

Post-Graduation Certification and Licensures

 Certificates and licensures can help counselors gain employment in more fields or get promoted to advanced positions. They can also help counselors become more competitive in their area, with the potential for higher salaries. These are just a few of the more common ones:

 State Counseling License

Every state has different licensing requirements, but most will require a counseling degree, the completion of an internship, and a state licensure exam.

 National Certified Addiction Counselor, Level I

The NCAC I certificate is the way to go if you want to be an addiction counselor. It requires state licensure, three years of experience, 270 hours of substance abuse disorders training, and a passing score on the NCAC I exam.

 National Certified Adolescent Addictions Counselor

If you want to work with children as an addictions counselor, the NCAAC requires state licensure, five years of experience, 270 hours of substance abuse disorders training, and a passing score on the NCAAC exam.

 Sexuality Counselor Certification

If you want to work as a sex therapist or counselor, the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) offers a sex counselor certificate. In addition to three years of counseling experience, you must do field experience and complete at least 90 hours of sexual education.

List of Programs

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters 🗗 Bachelors

East Central University 🗹 Online 🗖 Bachelors

Capella University 🗹 Online

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Capella University 🗹 Online

Post University 🗹 Online

University of West Alabama 🗹 Online 🗖 Bachelors

Counseling Career Guide

Still Looking for a Counseling Degree?

Here are some of the most popular online counseling programs. On each page you will find a detailed write-up of the program, specific courses, and schools that offer that program that are currently accepting applicants.

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