What Is a Master's Degree in Counseling?
Most master's-level programs were designed to provide students with a more focused perspective of their chosen field. Counseling, for instance, can give learners additional knowledge and support that pertains to the wellness and mental health of people from various lifestyles, backgrounds, and cultures. It can cover subjects including therapeutic methods for individuals and groups, wellness promotion, and guidance through everyday struggles and decisions.
Typically, master's degrees in counseling are between 2-3 years in length. For most counseling graduate degrees, a bachelor’s in counseling, psychology, or a related field is a prerequisite.
MA in counseling degrees are offered on-campus and online. Online graduate programs in counseling are growing, and there are a number of highly reputable universities with CACREP-accredited, campus-based programs.
As a required part of most counseling degree programs, students may also be required to take part in supervised training, internships, or practica as part of their completion process. Counseling programs were designed to give students the opportunity to learn how to effectively help those in need of guidance, and provide the right skills for doing so.
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What to Look for in a Master’s 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 the school you have chosen provides this track as part of their counseling program.
Be Aware of State Licensure Requirements
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.
Many 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.
Length of Time for the MAC Program
Program length is something you should definitely review prior to choosing which degree program is right for you. 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 costs as well.
Master of Arts in Counseling online degree prices can vary significantly between schools and programs. You should take the time to thoroughly research the quality of education, the specializations, and the financial costs of pursuing your degree.
Top Masters in Counseling Programs
Below is a list of resources for online master’s programs in counseling. Take a look at them for more in-depth information on the featured programs, requirements, accreditation, and specializations.
Steps Toward Becoming a Counselor
The process of becoming a counselor can involve earning a Master of Arts in Counseling online and then following the steps to licensure. Although obtaining a master’s-level education is a 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.
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, or psychology can prepare you for the information, research, and practice that will follow in graduate-level programs. Most bachelor’s programs take around four 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 a master’s or doctorate degree. The master’s program consists of anywhere from 1-3 years of courses that include the finer 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 you have gained the skills to help people make important life decisions. This experience can help you learn individualized competencies and habits that can improve the quality of work throughout your career.
State requirements for counseling licensure may vary. It is vital that you research your state specifically to determine what steps you should take to ensure licensure.
For counseling licensure, 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 under a licensed counselor, and successfully pass a state board examination in counseling.
Notable Master of Arts in Counseling Online Degrees
Below are some of our featured MA in counseling online programs. Take a look for more information.
Seton Hall University – Online Master Of Arts In Professional Counseling
Seton Hall University provides an M.A./Ed.S program in counseling that can help keep 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 required courses include Counseling Theory, Abnormal Psychology, Counseling and Community Agencies, 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 two 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. To be considered for admission, 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 who 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 everyday life. One of the key aspects of focus is implementing a diverse frame of mind that assists practitioners in 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. Requirements for this online program include the completion of an accredited undergraduate degree program, background check, three-credit-hour practicum, internship, and comprehensive examination.
Palo Alto University – Online Master Of Arts In Counseling
Master of Arts in Counseling online degree 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. Students who 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 who wish to pursue different routes in counseling may find a program like this desirable. The flexibility of this online program is suitable for both in-state and out-of-state students who have busy lives. 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, Family Systems Theory, Crisis and Trauma Counseling, and Multicultural Counseling Theories and Techniques. The program consists of 93-quarter-units, including the implementation of fieldwork, group assignments, and workshops. The entirety of the program for online students is 11 quarters, but it can also be completed in nine.
Online Master’s in Counseling Accreditation
One of the most important considerations when choosing a Master of Arts in Counseling online degree is accreditation. In short, accreditation ensures 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 entire schools.
CACREP-Accredited MA in Counseling Programs
In counseling, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is a leading resource for students who 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 are relevant to the degree.
Organizations such as this one encourage schools to continuously review and improve their programs, so students get the best opportunity to obtain appropriate and current knowledge in counseling.
See our review of CACREP-accredited programs.
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 recognizing high-quality programs for graduate-level learners.
A more focused accreditation allows students to rest assured of 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 master’s-level programs.
This agency seeks to promote programs that specialize in scientifically-based psychology and counseling, encouraging the implementation of science and practice within the learning experience. In college-level programs, it is necessary that the teaching and delivery methods used by instructors be consistently updated and innovative.
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.
See our review of MPCAC accredited programs.
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 calling 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 comparable to in-person learning, since most online programs are taught by the same instructors. Students can even enjoy the benefits of an in-person practicum and supervised work experience, since this is also a requirement for online programs.
If you find yourself determined to get into the field of counseling, you may be surprised at the quality and availability of the degree programs in your area. Our team hopes this guide has proven to be helpful and informational on your journey to collegiate success.
Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, Counseling Specialties
Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, Why Should I Choose an Accredited Program?
Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council
Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council, Mission
List of Online MA in Counseling Programs
University of Denver 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters
University of Southern California 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters
Capella University 🗹 Online Masters
Our Lady of the Lake University 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters
University of West Alabama 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters
University of West Alabama 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters
CACREP Accredited Online Programs
CACREP (Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs) is the top accrediting board for counseling programs. Below, you will find a list of all of the CACREP accredited counseling programs in Online.