Counseling Psychology Online Degrees 

The science of counseling psychology takes an in-depth look into a person's individual and social functioning. Rather than identifying general emotional responses - like in general counseling - counseling psychology attempts to look at the internal processing that leads to problematic emotions, behavior, and interactions.

The goal of investigating these processes is to locate areas in need of positive change. Counseling psychologists can develop helpful treatment programs that can attempt to restructure a person's internal processes for a more positive approach to normal functioning, interacting, and coping with stress and change.

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MA in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine
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What is Counseling Psychology?

Through the use of common psychological and counseling techniques, therapies, and life changes, therapists within this discipline can assist their clients with making meaningful changes that have the potential to increase their overall quality of life. Professionals in this field often work with clients that are struggling with addiction, depression, anxiety, or extended grief.

Upcoming students that are intrigued by this field of psychology can pursue training through graduate-level degree programs. Higher education can lead to more in-depth knowledge pertaining to normal and abnormal psychological processes, which can result in more knowledge and expertise with clients in the field.

While the master's route is the most common for upcoming professionals, it can be possible for some students to pursue alternative routes toward a career in this field. Degree programs leading to this career field are listed in the section below.

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What Degree Levels are There for This Program Area?

As a new collegiate learner, it can be overwhelming to review the different educational paths toward becoming a counseling psychology professional. Our team’s goal is to provide you with straightforward information about the educational paths you can take in this field, as well as information about which path is the most beneficial.

Bachelor’s Degree in Counseling or Psychology

Many students considering this career field begin their educational experience with a Bachelor’s in Psychology or Counseling. Some universities may even offer online Bachelor’s in Counseling Psychology programs as a beginner’s option to gain expertise in this field.

Licensure for psychologists and counselors cannot be obtained at the bachelor’s level, so your involvement in these undergraduate programs should be for building foundation knowledge for later learning at the graduate level. Once you have completed your 4-year bachelor’s program, you can move forward to a master’s program of your choice.

Master’s in Counseling Psychology

The most popular degree program for upcoming counseling psychology specialists is the online Master in Counseling Psychology degree. This program can be found in many different formats, with some offering further specializations in specific treatment groups.

Counseling-focused programs that lead to licensure are often accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). This agency is the leading source of reliability and accuracy for counseling programs.

Online Master’s in Counseling Psychology Programs

The master’s level is generally the most common option for upcoming counseling psychology professionals, primarily because this is the minimum degree level needed for licensing. The online master’s can be an even more convenient option for students that are in need of flexibility during their learning experience.

Self Study, Research with Online Courses

Online Master’s in Counseling Psychology programs can provide students with virtual courses that involve self-study, research, critical thinking, and group activities. The benefits to taking courses online can include increased independence, strength in problem-solving, and growth in self-discipline.

Since more and more students may be balancing higher education with a full-time career, many colleges have recognized the need for more flexible online degree programs. A current search of available programs may show that you can choose from a number of reliable online programs.

Multiple Online Programs

During our search, our team located many different online Master in Counseling Psychology programs for interested learners. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology currently provides a few different options for incoming learners considering different specialized paths.

The online Master’s in Counseling Psychology at the Chicago School is available with specializations in Addiction Disorders Treatment, Child and Adolescent Treatment, and Trauma and Crisis Intervention. Any of these specializations could provide specialized training for specific groups in the psychological population.

Consider Specialty Tracks

The University of Missouri offers a multi-dimensional degree program titled the online Master’s in Education in Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology. This program can provide learners with the opportunity to engage in learning about psychological, emotional, and educational counseling for students in public school systems.

This unique degree program can also provide you with the training you need to properly analyze and treat various emotional and social diagnoses in the educational setting. Specializations offered for this program include Positive Coaching, Mental Health Practices in Schools, and Student Learning and Well-Being.

Master of Counseling Psychology Curriculum

Before you submit your application to online Master’s in Counseling Psychology degree programs, you should engage in a thorough review of each one and its components. Reviewing the curriculum and expectations of a degree program can help you prepare for the road ahead and provide you with valuable insight into the core of the subject matter that will be covered.

The courses that make up your master’s programs may be general in nature or encompass topics related specifically to your chosen specialization. Overall, the courses may focus on the same core subjects so that you enter the field with the skills you need to succeed. Some of the most common courses in these programs include:

  • Assessment and Psychotherapy: Since this degree program focuses on the psychological aspects of professional counseling, you may see psychology-focused courses like Assessment and Psychotherapy. This course delves into the person-centered concepts of psychotherapy, as well as other common approaches like Gestalt and transpersonal.
  • Evaluation and Treatment of Addictions: This is another common course found in multiple degree programs. This course can outline some of the popular methods for analyzing and assessing client addiction, developing a relevant treatment plan, and follow-up services for clients in the generalized counseling setting and within treatment centers.
  • Psychology of Aging and Social Psychology: The Psychology of Aging, Social Psychology, and Abnormal Psychology may also be courses included within your Counseling Psychology degree program. These courses seek to educate students on the psychological changes that take place through natural aging, social interaction and nurturing, and life experiences or physical development.

If you have a very specific career goal in mind, reviewing the curriculum for counseling psychology online degree programs can help you identify which school is best suited to your needs.

What Can You Do with a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology?

The combination of a high-quality educational path, involvement in professional organizations, and field experience can create a powerful foundation for expertise in the field. As you take your knowledge and motivation into the profession, you might be searching for job offers that encompass your desires as an incoming counselor.

Potential Career Paths

Some graduates and licensees in the field of counseling can utilize their knowledge of counseling psychology in general counseling practice. Careers in this area can be found in mental health agencies, healthcare organizations, and even in private practice.

Counseling psychology professionals may even make use of their skills and expertise in an educational setting. Specialized training and licensure can lead you into school counselor positions within school systems in your area.

One of the most intriguing aspects of counseling psychology is that this specialization can be applied to many specific career areas. Addictions treatment, marriage and family therapy, individual or group therapy, and even sports psychology are options for you to consider as you transition into this incredible career field.

Salaries for Counseling Psychology Professionals

Your potential salary can differ significantly based on your location, years of experience, and counseling specialization. Consider these median salaries for different types of counselors, according to 2021 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors: $48,520
  • Rehabilitation counselors: $38,560
  • Marriage and family therapists: $49,980
  • School and career counselors: $60,510

Keep in mind that the specific type of employer can also cause substantial differences in yearly earnings. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, counselors in elementary and secondary schools earn a median salary of $63,460, compared to $49,430 for counselors at colleges, universities, and professional schools.

Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology

If you are interested in moving even higher with your educational journey, you may want to consider Doctorate in Counseling Psychology programs. These programs can provide you with more insight into the research, leadership, and expertise available in this field and can potentially lead to even more unique career options after graduation.

Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology Online

If you are one of the many students considering becoming a licensed psychologist, online Ph.D. programs in counseling psychology may be the degree of choice for your career goals. These 4-year programs often include online learning, research, and in-person residencies throughout the degree process.

Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology Curriculum

Most counseling psychology programs require students to explore familiar subjects in more depth. Some common courses in these programs include:

  • Career Development and Counseling: Students explore the major theories of career development, choice, and adjustment.
  • Psychology of Immigration: This class focuses on the psychological implications of immigration, including the emotional responses and trauma that can occur.
  • Ethical and Professional Issues in Counseling Psychology: In this course, students learn about ethical and professional behavior and practices that must be maintained by counselors.
  • Social justice and Systems Change: In this class, students learn about the psychological aspects of issues related to social justice.

Ph.D. programs in counseling psychology generally also require students to complete a practicum involving clinical training and the completion and defense of a dissertation. Some also involve a comprehensive assessment in the form of an exam.

What Can You Do with a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology?

The job opportunities available to students who graduate from master’s in counseling psychology programs are also applicable to students who complete a Ph.D. program. However, receiving your Ph.D. may also open doors to additional careers.

Career Paths

After graduating from a counseling psychology Ph.D. program, you may qualify for higher-level positions in the field. For example, you may be a strong candidate for a position as an administrator in a mental health facility, hospital, or government agency.

Some graduates of counseling psychology doctoral programs also enter the world of academia and research. With a Ph.D., you may be qualified to become a lecturer, professor, department head, or dean at a college or university. Tenure-track positions are especially sought-after because they offer excellent job security.


After graduating with a Ph.D. in counseling psychology, you may be well-positioned to pursue careers with strong earning potential. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2021, the median annual salaries for common counseling psychology careers were:

  • Postsecondary psychology teachers: $77,860
  • Postsecondary education administrators: $96,910
  • Medical and health services managers: $101,340
  • School psychologists: $78,780
  • Clinical and counseling psychologists: $82,510

You may also choose to pursue a career in private practice or as a counselor. The salaries for these positions may initially be similar to those for students with master’s degrees, but they are likely to grow significantly over time due to your academic and professional accomplishments.

Most Important Organizations To Know

As a prospective employee in the field of counseling or psychology, it can be beneficial to become knowledgeable and involved in professional organizations. Some professionals even go on to become members of multiple organizations as a means of gaining insight into different specializations and concentrations in their general fields.

One of the largest and most popular professional organizations in the field of counseling is the American Counseling Organization. Joining this organization can help you connect with counselors in many different specialized practice areas, including Counseling Psychology.

The American Psychological Association can also be an intriguing professional organization for upcoming counseling psychologists. This organization can provide you with resources, learning materials, and professional support throughout your career.

Within the American Psychology Association, the Society of Counseling Psychology focuses specifically on this unique career field. Professionals, students, and research professionals can share knowledge, current trends, and changes in the area of counseling psychology.

How to Become a Clinical Psychologist

Clinical psychologists use theories related to therapy and counseling to provide services to patients. They often work in hospitals, schools, and other healthcare facilities. Becoming a clinical psychologist requires a combination of education, training, and professional experience.


Although there are some employers that hire clinical psychologists with master’s degrees, most require students to have completed a doctoral program in psychology. In general, students spend between 8 and 12 years completing their bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees before obtaining licensure as clinical psychologists.

Pre-Professional Experience

Depending on the state where you intend to become licensed, you may need to complete a postdoctoral fellowship prior to obtaining licensure. This requires that you complete a certain number of clinical hours before you are eligible to become licensed as a clinical psychologist. While specific requirements vary, most graduates complete their postdoctoral fellowship in one to two years.

Clinical Psychology Licensure

Once you have obtained your degree and finished any required fellowships, the final step toward becoming a clinical psychologist is obtaining licensure. To do so, you will need to meet the minimum score requirement on a lengthy exam that covers eight content areas.

Known as the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology, the exam is administered over a period of four hours and fifteen minutes. According to the American Psychological Association, it is meant to evaluate your foundational knowledge of psychology and includes 225 questions related to everything you learned over the course of your graduate studies.

List of Programs

Capella University 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters 🗗 Doctorate

Northwestern University 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters

Pepperdine University 🗹 Online

Our Lady of the Lake University 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters

Capella University 🗹 Online Doctorate

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology 🗹 Online

Lamar University 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters

Liberty University 🗹 Online

Capella University 🗹 Online Doctorate

Our Lady of the Lake University 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters

Northcentral University 🗹 Online Courses Start Weekly

University of Wisconsin – Superior 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters

University of Wisconsin – Superior 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters

Post University 🗹 Online

Colorado Christian University 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters

Colorado Christian University 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters

Colorado Christian University 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters

Capella University 🗹 Online

Colorado Christian University 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters

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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