What to look for in a Masters program in Counseling?
After you have decided that a Master’s in Counseling is right for you, the next step is finding a program that is suitable for what you require. Most students begin by addressing a school’s reputation or reliability as part of the decision-making process.
This type of information can be gained by investigating a school’s accreditation or through student reviews of the particular program. In addition to reliability, if you plan to choose a certain specialization, you should ensure that the school you have chosen provides this track as part of their counseling program.
Be Aware of State Licensure Requirements by State
Most specialized tracks in counseling are followed up with state licensure, so it is important to review what your state requires from a degree program prior to enrolling. From state to state, the requirements can sometimes vary.
A lot of states require specific accreditation to become licensed as a counselor after graduation, so ensuring your degree program has this accreditation can save a lot of time and heartache throughout the acquisition process.
Length of Time for the MAC Program
Lastly, tuition and length of time for completion are 2 factors that you should definitely review prior to entering into a particular program. With the introduction of online educational programs, students are seeing a profound difference in the estimated completion time between universities. Some online programs claim that a Master’s in Counseling can be completed in 1-2 years, while others claim their programs take 2-3 years.
Differences in Tuition Cost
If you have an expectation of time for completing your master’s program, you should take into consideration the differences among universities throughout your search. The same can go for tuition as well.
Online degree programs can sometimes get pricey, while others are on track with what traditional program cost to learners. The solution for this conundrum involves taking the time to thoroughly research the quality of education, the specializations, and the opportunity and financial costs of pursuing your degree.
Steps Toward a Graduate Degree in Counseling
The process to becoming a counselor at the master’s level consists of a few steps that are required in most states. Although obtaining master’s level education is the most commonly associated step to becoming a counselor, there is more involved in the long run. Our team has put together this short guide to assist you in learning what it takes to become a counselor through the achievement of a master’s degree.
The first step in any successful college plan is obtaining a relevant and accredited bachelor’s degree. At this level, you could pursue a degree that focuses on counseling, psychology, or even social work.
Having a background in social services, mental health, and psychology can prepare you for the information, research, and practice that will follow in graduate level programs. Most bachelor’s programs take around 4 years to complete, with some students finishing earlier by taking the maximum number of courses throughout their experience.
After completing a bachelor’s program, students then have the option to pursue master’s or even doctoral programs in counseling. There are different forms of counseling degrees at this level, including the M.A. and M.S. The master’s program consists of anywhere from 1-3 years of courses that include the fine aspects of human interaction, counseling, and wellness.
This program may also require you to present your knowledge in the form of reports, presentations, or through working in a supervised environment. The integration of field experience at this level is what truly introduces students to the environment in which they will work post-graduation.
As a standard requirement for licensure as a counselor, you may be required to work under the supervision of a licensed counselor for 1-2 years before having the option to obtain your license. This requirement ensures that you have gained the skills necessary to help people make important life decisions. This experience can help you learn individualized skills and habits that can improve your quality of work throughout your career.
From state to state, you may notice slight variations in what is required to be a licensed counselor. It is vital that you research your state specifically to determine what steps you should take to ensure licensure in the future. Most states require that you obtain a minimum of a Master’s degree in Counseling from an accredited university, take part in 1-2 years of supervised work experience under a licensed counselor, and successfully pass a state board examination in counseling.
Notable Online MA in Counseling Programs
Seton Hall University – Online Master of Arts in Professional Counseling
Seton Hall University provides a M.A./Ed.S program in Counseling that is suited for students on track for careers in professional counseling. An interesting component of this degree program is that it is transitional in nature – providing information for both counselors and educators. The curriculum was designed to implement both characteristics of professional counseling and education, allowing students to explore the realm of counseling from a practitioner and educator perspective.
Pursuing a degree with dual goals can set the stage for more diverse career options upon graduation. The program itself consists of a 60 credit hour requirement, which is broken down into 20 courses. Some specific courses that are required for students include Counseling Theory, Abornmal Psychology, Counseling and Community Agencies, Ethics, and Appraisal and Assessment in Counseling.
In addition to the course requirements for this program, students may also expect to enroll and take part in 2 residencies that are conducted on-site. These residencies are required in an effort to give students the opportunity to work alongside professionals in a real-world setting. In order to be considered for admissions, students should be able to provide transcripts from all previous college-level degree programs, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and a resume/personal statement.
Liberty University – Online Master of Arts in Professional Counseling
Liberty University provides a more specialized degree program for students that desire a career in professional counseling. The Master of Arts in Professional Counseling curriculum is centered around the skills and knowledge required to effectively help individuals and groups through difficult problems presented in every day life. One of the key aspects of focus throughout this degree program is implementing a diverse frame of mind that assists practitioners with providing services to people from a variety of backgrounds. Students are encouraged to look beyond their own beliefs in an effort to guide people in a proactive and unbiased fashion.
Students enrolled in the counseling program are expected to complete 60 hours for graduation. Throughout these hours, students can take courses such as Multicultural Counseling, Human Growth and Development, Assessment Techniques in Counseling, Crisis Counseling, and Psychopathology and Counseling. Requirements for this online program include previous completion of an accredited undergraduate degree program, background check, 3 credit hour practicum, internship, and comprehensive examination.
Palo Alto University – Online Master of Arts in Counseling
Online counseling programs are available in great quantities throughout the United States. Individual programs that provide options for students and a diverse curriculum can be found through a thorough online search of available programs. Students that wish to get the most from their degree program should consider colleges that have dual goals or choices for enrolled students. The online Masters in Counseling from Palo Alto University was designed to give students the option of pursuing either the Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) or the Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) distinction.
Providing different options for specializations is what sets this program apart from other related online programs. Students that wish to pursue different routes in counseling may find a program like this one desirable. The flexibility of this online program is suitable for students that reside in the state of California and even for those that live out of the state. Through rigorous coursework, students can learn to apply their knowledge of clinical assessment, intervention, research, and standard counseling.
Courses for this program include Life Span Development, Clinical Interviewing, Family Systems Theory, Crisis and Trauma Counseling, and Multicultural Counseling Theories and Techniques. The program consists of 93 quarter credits, including the implementation of fieldwork, group assignments, and workshops. The entirety of the program for online students is 11 quarters.
Online Masters in Counseling Accreditation
A Masters in Counseling can allow students to pursue many different professional goals. For some, one on one counseling with individuals or families may be the right path, while others may wish to specialize in certain services such as marriage and family therapy or rehabilitation. This highly diverse degree option can be the right choice for people that are both sensitive to the feelings of others and determined to make a difference in the lives of those with difficult life circumstances.
If you are thinking that you might want to pursue a Masters in Counseling from an online university, there are definitely some factors to consider when choosing from the large pool of available schools. Probably one of the most important aspects of a degree program is that of accreditation. In short, accreditation ensures that the degree program meets national requirements for programs within their specialization. There are many different agencies available that provide accreditation services for individual programs or for schools entirely. In counseling, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is a leading resource for students that seek reliable and approved degree programs. The CACREP emerged in 1981 and has worked hard to ensure that college-level programs offering degrees in counseling have curricula that is relevant to the degree. Organizations such as this one encourage schools to continuously review and improve their programs, so that students get the best opportunity for knowledge in counseling.
MPCAC Accreditation at the Master’s Level
At the master’s level, there are also accreditation agencies such as the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) that specialize in providing high quality programs for graduate level learners. A more focused accreditation allows students to rest assured in the usefulness and integrity of their college program. The standards of the MPCAC were set forth to assist in the consistent change and improvement of masters level programs.
This agency seeks to provide promotion of programs that specialize in scientifically based psychological and counseling, encouraging the implementation of science and practice within the learning experience. In college level programs, it is necessary for constant innovation in the information delivery methods providing by instructors. The MPCAC is an excellent resource for schools that wish to provide the most up to date methods and data for current students. Having this type of accreditation can help students grow confident in their program of choice.
Making the Final Degree Decision
Counseling is a field that calls upon dedicated students to make a difference in the lives of others. Most students choose this program because they know that it can be a channel for them to express their need to help others in a professional and reliable way. Through master’s programs that focus on counseling, students can learn the history of the art of counseling, methods for counseling individuals and families, and different specializations that can provide expertise in various areas.
Since counseling is such a well-known degree area, these programs are widely available in an online setting. Pursuing this degree online is not a sacrifice of quality, since most online programs are taught by the same instructors present at traditional universities. Students can even enjoy the benefits of an in-person practicum and supervised work experience, since this is also a requirement during online programs.
If you find yourself determined to get into the field of counseling, you may be surprised at the quality and availability of these programs within you area. Our team hopes that this guide has proven to be helpful and informational on your journey to collegiate success.