Online Master’s Degree In Counseling

Pursuing a graduate degree in counseling can open up many employment and financial possibilities. Master’s-level graduates can become licensed in their respective states, making career opportunities even more plentiful.

There are numerous master’s in counseling degree programs, including online programs and traditional, campus-based degrees. Programs for a master’s in counseling online with no GRE requirement are also available. Online counseling master’s degree programs can be especially convenient options for students who need to maintain a more flexible schedule while advancing their knowledge and skills.

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Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Prospective students should choose a college that best fits their needs or may offer a specialization they are interested in. A multitude of online master’s degree programs across the country can prepare students for counseling licensure and working in the field.

Typically, students with undergraduate degrees in psychology or a related field are the best fit for these master’s programs. Those with degrees from other social or humanities-related majors can also complement their degrees with a master’s degree in counseling.

Taking an Online Counseling Degree Master’s Program

The flexibility of online college programs has allowed more individuals to get back into school and take graduate programs in fields such as counseling. Likewise, those that might already be working in counseling, psychology, or social work may have a great opportunity to continue their education with an online master’s in counseling degree. Many programs are built with the following in mind:

  • High-Quality Programs: The same faculty and curriculum as an in-person, campus-based program.
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) accreditation is a highlight for any counseling program.
  • Premium Learning Experience: Learning environment differentiation, with synchronous and asynchronous learning, can foster a better education.
  • Admissions Benefits: Removing barriers for admissions/entry, including GRE waivers. Some programs have no GRE requirement.
  • Short Program Length: Keeping the length of the program under two years, with flexibility included for many programs.

Top Master’s in Counseling Programs

Many resources can help prospective students find the right online master’s counseling degree for them. Students should consider factors such as specialization, admissions requirements, program length, and accreditation when doing program research.

Consider a Featured Online Counseling Program


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

Typical Graduate-Level Coursework

A graduate counseling program includes courses that break down the various aspects of counseling for the learner. Courses can cover topics such as:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Grief therapy

Although many degree programs can be completed online, most programs require that students take part in supervised clinical experience prior to graduation.

Counseling Licensure Requirements

Students who have completed their graduate degree in counseling and associated requirements can normally apply for licensure in counseling. Licensure requirements typically include graduation from an accredited university, a period of supervised work experience, and completion of a state board exam. However, the requirements may vary from state to state, so students are required to review their own state’s requirements before applying for licensure.

Specialties of the Master’s of Counseling

Depending on an individual’s interests, there are specialty majors that concentrate fully on a specific path. Some of the most popular specializations students can choose to pursue in a master’s of counseling program are:

  • Mental health counseling
  • Substance abuse counseling
  • Marriage and family counseling
  • School or career counseling

Mental Health Counseling Master’s Degrees

A variety of different specialty areas are available to students pursuing an online counseling master’s degree. Mental health counseling involves working directly with individuals with mild to moderate emotional distress. Working in this area includes planning and implementing action plans that will contribute to the success of a life improvement strategy.

Marriage and Family Counseling Master’s Degrees

Marriage and family counselors specialize in individual and group therapy. Conflict resolution and communication are a couple of the main concerns of individuals in this field, in an attempt to better relationships and understanding within marriage and family units.

School Counseling Master’s Degrees

School counselors work in educational settings and provide students of all grade levels with the counseling and support needed to deal with everyday struggles within the school systems. These counselors also work one-on-one with students to develop effective college plans or technical path schedules.

Many resources can help prospective students find the right online master’s counseling degree for them. Students should consider factors such as specialization, admissions requirements, program length, and accreditation when doing program research.

Typical Graduate-Level Coursework

A graduate counseling program includes courses that break down the various aspects of counseling for the learner. Courses can cover topics such as:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Grief therapy

Although many degree programs can be completed online, most programs require that students take part in supervised clinical experience prior to graduation.

Counseling Licensure Requirements

Students who have completed their graduate degree in counseling and associated requirements can normally apply for licensure in counseling. Licensure requirements typically include graduation from an accredited university, a period of supervised work experience, and completion of a state board exam. However, the requirements may vary from state to state, so students are required to review their own state’s requirements before applying for licensure.

Specialties of the Master’s of Counseling

Depending on an individual’s interests, there are specialty majors that concentrate fully on a specific path. Some of the most popular specializations students can choose to pursue in a master’s of counseling program are:

  • Mental health counseling
  • Substance abuse counseling
  • Marriage and family counseling
  • School or career counseling

Mental Health Counseling Master’s Degrees

A variety of different specialty areas are available to students pursuing an online counseling master’s degree. Mental health counseling involves working directly with individuals with mild to moderate emotional distress. Working in this area includes planning and implementing action plans that will contribute to the success of a life improvement strategy.

Marriage and Family Counseling Master’s Degrees

Marriage and family counselors specialize in individual and group therapy. Conflict resolution and communication are a couple of the main concerns of individuals in this field, in an attempt to better relationships and understanding within marriage and family units.

School Counseling Master’s Degrees

School counselors work in educational settings and provide students of all grade levels with the counseling and support needed to deal with everyday struggles within the school systems. These counselors also work one-on-one with students to develop effective college plans or technical path schedules.

Many resources can help prospective students find the right online master’s counseling degree for them. Students should consider factors such as specialization, admissions requirements, program length, and accreditation when doing program research.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Counseling Degree?

There are many different specializations, locations, and positions for prospective counselors to consider. Licensed counselors can work in a variety of different environments, including inpatient or outpatient medical centers, hospitals, government facilities, and even private practices. They also work with individuals struggling in various areas of their lives. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2021, many of the positions in this field pay above-average salaries and are projected to experience growth that is faster than average.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

These kinds of counselors work with groups and individuals in a number of settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and clinics. While they serve similar populations and sometimes have overlapping services, there are some differences between them. Specifically, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, also known as addiction counselors, work with clients who suffer from drug addiction, alcoholism, and other forms of addiction. Mental health counselors, on the other hand, offer treatment to clients who struggle with conditions like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to the BLS, the median salary for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors was $48,520. At a growth rate of 22%, employment for these counselors is projected to grow much more quickly than average over the next several years.

Marriage and Family Therapist

Students who complete a master’s in counseling online may also be qualified to work as marriage and family therapists. In this role, they engage with individuals, couples and families who are facing challenges. They offer guidance and techniques for coping with stressful relationship dynamics, trauma, addiction, and low self-esteem.

Marriage and family therapy is experiencing rapid growth, and the BLS projects that employment will expand by 14% between 2021 and 2031. The median annual salary for a marriage and family therapist was $49,880.

Rehabilitation Counselor

Rehabilitation counselors generally work with individuals who have physical, emotional, and developmental disabilities. They are commonly employed in rehabilitation facilities, veteran agencies, and senior citizen centers. They may help individuals work through the psychological effects of their disabilities, seek employment opportunities, and develop skills that will allow them to live more independently.

The BLS states that the median salary for rehabilitation counselors as of 2021 was $38,560 per year, which is slightly lower than average. As with many other counseling positions, however, the need for counselors over the next several years is high, with a projected growth rate of 11% through 2031.

School or Career Counselor

Many public and private schools hire counselors who can help support students achieve academic success. If you are interested in becoming a school counselor, you may have the option of working with students of different ages, from elementary school to college. In this role, you would help students determine their future career paths, address mental health struggles, and cope with behavioral issues.

School counselors are in high demand, with a projected growth rate of 10%, according to the BLS. They also make above-average income, with a median yearly salary of $60,510.

Clinical Social Worker

Some students who complete a master’s in counseling program opt to become social workers. Professionals in these positions assist individuals with receiving vital services and resources, such as food stamps, childcare, and healthcare. They also help clients cope with significant life events such as death, divorce, and abuse.

Employment for social workers is expected to grow quickly over the next several years at a rate of 9%, according to the BLS. The median salary for a social worker in 2021 was $50,390, which is higher than average for all careers in the United States.

Find the Right Master’s Program For You

Counseling is a growing field with increasing career opportunities. If you are interested in obtaining licensure and starting your career as a counselor, an online counseling master’s degree could be a great place to start. Explore our resources for more information on program details, licensure tips, and admissions information.

List of Masters Programs

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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.