Typical Timeline of Study
The average amount of schooling for this type of degree is 6 years overall, including approximately 4 years for undergraduate school and 2 years for graduate school. Following educational requirements, 1-2 years of supervised work experience follows, which varies depending on the applicant’s individual state requirements.
Campus or Online Mental Health Counseling Degree?
The influx of online degree programs has added the addition decision on whether or not to pursue your degree online. In mental health counseling programs, students can choose to take courses in a traditional setting or through online educational programs. Your current lifestyle and learning preferences can play a role in your decision to go either direction.
Online degree programs are a great way for students to pursue their degree while continuing to work. If you are currently employed and have no desire to quit your job and attend school full-time, you should consider online degree programs. However, keep in mind that the independence and flexibility of online degree programs requires students to have a strong dedication to learning and the ability to meet deadlines.
Traditional degree programs have always set the standard for mental health students. While some students prefer the privacy and self-reliance of online degree programs, there are students still out there that benefit from the standard brick-and-mortar experience. Students that are coming straight out of high school or bachelor’s level programs may find traditional programs to be beneficial due to their hands-on direction and face-to-face instruction.
Differences Between Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate Level Mental Health Degrees
Mental health degrees can have different applications – depending on the level of the degree program. Whether you are just starting out on your educational journey or you are moving forward into more advanced degree programs, our team has the information you need to better understand what each degree level can do for you.
Undergraduate Mental Health Counseling programs are a great first step for people that are interested in entering the field of mental health. Introductory courses such as Psychology, Sociology, and Lifespan Development are taught at this stage, which can give students a better understanding of the foundations of mental health and the various counseling techniques that have been developed to help treat them. Completion of a degree at this level can help people find entry-level careers as mental health specialists or case managers for people that have been diagnosed with mental illnesses.
Master’s level programs are typically more focused on the nature of mental health counseling, which involves coursework that touches more on the different techniques available for mental health counseling. Coursework at this level can include classes such as Mental Health Diagnostics, Treatment Planning, and Counseling Techniques. After completing this degree level, students have the option of obtaining supervised work experience and becoming licensed as mental health counselors.
PhD programs in Mental Health Counseling can provide students with a more research-oriented approach to this discipline. For upcoming professionals that want to provide more insight into the field of mental health counseling, PhD programs are a great option. At this level, students can engage in independent research projects that can contribute to the field as a whole, engage in in-person counseling experience, and learn leadership skills that are relevant within mental health counseling.
Undergraduate Degrees in Mental Health Counseling
Accreditation of a university ensures that the degree will be accepted by the student’s respective state for licensure. Mental health counseling is a career path that requires licensure upon completion, so college choice is a huge determinant in a student’s future.
As with most other majors, students must first delve into a bachelor’s degree program. Most people find that psychology and counseling majors (a Bachelors in Counseling) are both great complementary degrees for a future master’s degree in counseling.
Typical Mental Health Courses
While in an undergraduate program, students are required to complete various general education requirements. These courses include, but are not limited to mathematics, humanities, and history courses. Communications courses are also effective for those pursuing a mental health counseling degree. Future professionals should choose an undergraduate degree that contributes to their future career in mental health services.
Mental Health Counseling as a Career
Working in the mental health counseling field involves identification of mental illnesses or ailments, development of treatment plans, and implementation of psychological techniques in order to assist clients with emotional issues, coping needs, or general life adjustment.
As a licensed mental health counselor, new professionals will find that the demand in their field is high. Mental health counselors work with a variety of different people from varying backgrounds. The expectation for growth in recent years is over 29%, making this an ideal choice for new students.
How To Become a Mental Health Counselor
Mental health counseling is a field that draws in new prospects each year. This field is intriguing to upcoming students due to its contribution to the health of society from the mental health view point. People that suffer with common mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and stress seek out mental health counselors to provide support and direction during their time of need. If you are find the field of mental health to be interesting and want to know what it takes to become a mental health counselor, our team has the answers you seek.
The path to becoming a mental health counselor begins at the bachelor’s level. Students entering into bachelor’s programs typically choose degree concentrations such as Psychology or Counseling in order to learn the basics of the field prior to moving into higher degree programs. The curriculum that is involved with these undergraduate programs can introduce students to the mental health discipline from an exploratory and developmental stand point. Some mental health counselors in the field may also choose to pursue a Bachelor’s in Social Work in order to fully expand their resume as a mental health professional.
After achieving a bachelor’s degree, students are then prepared to move into graduate-level education programs. At the master’s level, students have the option of pursuing different specializations for their degree program – depending on what interests them in terms of a career. Master’s in Mental Health Counseling are a popular choice for upcoming students, as well as the Master’s in Counseling and the Master’s in Counseling Psychology.
The minimum requirement for becoming licensed as a mental health counselor is a Master’s degree in Counseling or Psychology. While the master’s level is the most common degree level for mental health counseling prospects, some students do choose to move forward into doctorate-level degree programs. Graduates must then engage in around 2 years of supervised work experience as well as an accumulative examination within their state. Once these requirements have been met, graduates are ready to become licensed and begin working in the field.
What Kind of Degree Do I Need To Become A Mental Health Counselor?
There are many different components that go into mental health counseling. Psychology is a major factor in this field, since it deals directly with the mental and emotional differences between people that having mental health disorders. Counseling is also another important topic that professionals within this field require. The counseling techniques and applications that are taught through educational programs can assist professionals with providing support to people that have been diagnosed with mental ailments. With that being said, these two subjects are the most important degree choices for professionals that are seeking a career in this field.
An interesting fact about master’s programs is that students can blend their interest through the use of degree specializations and concentrations. For instance, a student that is interested in learning more about the various mental illnesses and their symptoms, but still wants to pursue a career in counseling might benefit from choosing a Master’s in Psychology with a concentration in Mental Health Counseling. For students that want to focus specifically on the counseling techniques, the Master’s in Mental Health Counseling is a great choice. Consider the following Masters programs:
Masters in Counseling Degrees
Accreditation for Mental Health Graduate Programs
The search for the best school can be overwhelming for upcoming college students. There are so many factors to consider including the length of time to completion for a degree program, the costs, and the reputation of the university being chosen. One of the most important things to consider when reviewing different degree programs is the program-specific accreditation that is attached to them.
For mental health counseling degree programs, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is the most prominent accreditation agency throughout the United States. This organization is responsible for reviewing the curriculum within these degree programs to ensure that students are providing with coursework that can assist them with becoming effective professionals in the field.
During your search process, you should be able to view a program’s accreditation information on the degree’s webpage. If you notice that the university has regional accreditation, but no program-specific accreditation, you might not be able to become a licensed counselor through completion of that program.
How Much Does A Mental Health Counseling Degree Cost?
The college that you choose for your mental health counseling program can have a direct effect on how much you pay for your education. Some universities have higher rates due to having a higher application rate, while others simply have more fees associated with their degree program which drives up their prices. Our team of experts has looked as some CACREP-accredited programs in order to provide you with a better idea of the costs you can face from enrolling in these programs.
Walden University is an online university that currently offers an accredited MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. This school lists their total tuition costs for this program at $37,665. The labs and other fees associated with this degree program total out to $4,385, bringing the entire total of tuition and fees to $42,050.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is another popular online school that is dedicated to psychology-related degree programs. This university lists their tuition costs for MS programs at $1,127 per credit hour, which can total well over $40,000 for a standard master’s level program. Fees for this university include a lab fee of $100 per semester, a criminal background check fee of $45, and insurance fees that can vary depending on the student.
Mental Health Counseling Degree Salary and Job Growth Information
- Mental Health Counselors – All Fields:: $46,050 on average per year with an expected growth of 10% over the next decade (BLS).
- Mental Health Counselors – Local Government:: $55,880 on average per year (BLS).
- Mental Health Counselors – Individual and Family Services:: $44,580 on average per year (BLS).
- Mental Health Counselors – Residential Intellectual and Developmental Disability, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Facilities:: $39,060 on average per year (BLS).
What Do Mental Health Counselors Do?
Mental health counselors work with people suffering from mental disabilities that are having issues with everyday life. Stress, communication, and abuse are just a few of the many aspects of counseling that professionals will come in contact with.
An Example of a Mental Health Counseling Client
Helping people find solutions to their struggles is one of the main duties of a mental health counselor. As an example, a counselor may have a client that suffers from an anxiety disorder. This client needs help completing daily tasks.
The client is distracted by stresses in her life and needs assistance developing a plan of action. A mental health counselor would evaluate the client’s lifestyle, determine the stressors and their development, and implement a treatment plan accordingly. The effects of these treatments will result in the patient’s lifestyle being changed for the better.
Clinical Settings for Emotional and Behavioral Issues
There is no replacement for a great mental health counselor. These counselors are needed in varying fields, ranging from clinical settings to private practices. Mental health counselors provide a knowledgeable consult for emotional issues as well as other behavioral issues.
In a world that is filled with high personal expectations and a strong work ethic, mental health counselors are needed to ensure that individuals are facing challenges with dignity and making choices that will lead their lives in the right direction.
Counseling Degrees by State