Online Master’s in Counseling Psychology Degrees

For those who have a passion for psychological theories and human behavior, a career in counseling psychology could be a great fit.

Counseling psychology involves applying knowledge of psychological principles to the counseling of individuals from all stages of life.

If you are interested in counseling psychology, you should understand what it takes to become licensed in your state. Generally speaking, to become a counselor, you must have a minimum of a master's in counseling psychology (or related counseling program), which is where this guide will start.

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MA in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine
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Why Consider a Master's in Counseling Psychology Online Degree?

Counseling can be a great way for professionals to reach out to others in their time of need, which is why some students find that a degree in counseling can set them on the path to a satisfying career that can last a lifetime. The compensation level can also be attractive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual median salary for a counseling psychologist was $82,180 as of May 2020. Additionally, the job outlook can be promising. BLS data notes that this field is growing at a rate of 8% annually, which is roughly the average for all professions.

So if you're looking for a career that pays well and has lots of job opportunities, earning an online counseling psychology degree is a good idea. Not only will an online counseling psychology degree allow you to find work in a field that interests you, but you can also study for it from anywhere.

When you get an online counseling psychology degree, you don't have to commute to campus since you can watch videos and complete online lessons from your computer at home. This saves you time and gas money, and it often means you can still work traditional weekday hours at your job since you can typically do your schoolwork at night if necessary. As a result, getting an online counseling psychology degree may be your best option if you're busy but want to start a new career soon.

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Steps to Obtain an Online Master's in Counseling Psychology

As you look to complete an online counseling psychology degree program, there are a few basic steps to be aware of.

1. Earn an undergraduate degree in psychology or a related field.

Generally speaking, an undergraduate degree will take about four years to complete. This degree provides the foundational concepts and skills you will build on when enrolled in an online master's in counseling psychology program.

2. Choose from the online master's in counseling psychology programs.

Next, select the online counseling psychology degree program that is best suited for your professional goals, as well as your lifestyle and schedule.

3. Consider your future.

As you prepare for an online master's in counseling psychology program, consider whether you might also want to pursue a doctoral-level degree. Some online master's in counseling psychology programs have built-in pathways to a doctorate.

4. Complete coursework and research for your online master's in counseling psychology degree.

For most students, completing an online master's in counseling psychology degree takes around two years total. However, this can vary by program.

Path to an Online Master's in Counseling Psychology Program

To be accepted into an online master's in counseling psychology program, you may need to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or above during your bachelor's program. The entirety of most master's level programs can be completed in about two years and require anywhere from 45-80 credit hours for completion.

Consider the GRE Entrance Exam

In recent years, online programs have become available in great numbers, making the decision process much more fluid for upcoming students. Some of these online programs may require that you complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) for admission, but many counseling programs waive the GRE or require no GRE for entry.

The Coursework and Educational Experience of the Program

Once you have been accepted into the online master's in counseling psychology program, you may be expected to take part in coursework that includes classroom discussions, interactive class meetings, individual quizzes and homework, and online exams. Online master's in counseling psychology programs typically allow students to engage in self-learning and self-driven assignments to encourage individuality.

Gaining Experience After Earning an Online Counseling Psychology Degree

In the field of counseling psychology, it is important that students gain the skills to independently navigate patient diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up. At the conclusion of your online master's in counseling psychology program, you may be expected to take part in a cumulative project or research proposal that exhibits your skills in the field.

Some colleges have different projects and evaluations to determine whether you have the necessary knowledge for future licensure. After you have completed all of these steps, you may be on track to fulfill a one-to-two-year work experience requirement as well as sit for the board exam for counselors.

Online Master's in Counseling Psychology Admission Requirements

The admissions requirements for an online master's in counseling psychology program can vary depending on the university. It can sometimes be challenging to decipher what you need to achieve to be granted admission based on the school you're applying to without leaving out any crucial steps.

To give you a better idea of what to expect when applying to programs, take a look below at some of the requirements for an online master's in counseling psychology degree program.

Undergraduate Requirements

Some online counseling psychology degree programs require that students hold an accredited undergraduate degree in psychology, counseling, or a related discipline. Accreditation is required at every point of the educational process for those who plan to pursue licensure. This process can include the validation of coursework, experience, and relevance to the field of counseling psychology. Not only does the title of your degree count during this requirement, but your performance may also be weighed. Some schools require that students achieve a 3.0 or higher GPA to be accepted into their programs.

GRE Requirements

As mentioned, while it is not required by every school, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) could be a requirement for the university you choose for your graduate degree. The exam was designed to test the skills of undergraduate learners prior to entering graduate-level programs. Scores are provided after students have completed the test, which can then be forwarded to schools during the application process. Schools that require the GRE for an online master's in counseling psychology will have the requirement listed on their website and may have acceptable scores listed as well. If you must take this exam for the program you choose, you can take it during or after completing your undergraduate degree.

Transcripts, Letters of Recommendations, and Resume

If you decide to enroll in an online master's in counseling psychology program, you are likely to need to submit copies of official transcripts from any college or university you've attended. This is part of the initial degree verification process and is required for all degree programs. Some programs may require letters of recommendation, which can be drafted by previous professors or even employers if the field you work in is relevant to the degree program. Some colleges may require that students also submit an official resume. This is usually only requested if students are required to have some work experience as part of the college admissions process.

Essay Questions and Personal Statements

Another requirement of online counseling psychology degree programs may include the completion of essay questions and personal statements. Essay questions are usually formatted to reveal your reasoning for choosing the field, what you can contribute to the field, and experiences that have helped you grow into a more knowledgeable professional. In lieu of essay questions, some schools may require that you write a personal statement, which can include more about your own personal experiences and how they are related to your interest and investment in counseling psychology.

Online Master’s Degree Program in Counseling Psychology and Coursework Overview

Once you have been admitted into an online master’s program in counseling psychology program, you may find that you are entering into an educational experience that is different from your undergraduate education. At the master’s level, students may be given the opportunity to take a more self-directed approach to learning through the use of convenient online formats.

During the course of your online counseling psychology degree program, you may be expected to take part in interactive class lectures on a weekly basis, complete assignments and submit them via an online portal, and post discussions and respond to classmates on a regular basis. Some of the other features of this online counseling psychology degree program, including length and courses, are noted below.

Program Length

The length of an online master’s in counseling psychology program can be different depending on what you prefer as a learner. Many master’s degree programs provide students with the option of pursuing a degree at an expedited rate — between one to two years — while others can be expanded depending on the needs of the student. Since this degree program can require anywhere from 45-80 credit hours for completion, the standard completion time is between two to three years for students at full-time enrollment.

In addition to the time spent learning the coursework, most programs require students to participate in one or two practicum experiences, many of which are conducted in designated locations during the program. The practicum requirement may include the need to be present on-campus or may be set up through local organizations. The requirements for each university’s practicum for online master’s in counseling psychology programs should be listed clearly on their website.

Sample Courses for Online Master’s in Counseling Psychology

As you move forward in your online master’s in counseling psychology program, you can take courses that are both specific to counseling and relevant to the field of psychology as a whole. The theories and principles associated with the diagnostic assessment and treatment of patients should be taught in detail throughout your experience. If you plan on choosing a separate specialization in counseling psychology, you may see a slight change in your curriculum. Some of the more common generalized courses for an online counseling psychology degree are below.

  • Psychopathology in Counseling: In this course, students can learn to implement diagnostic skills from the user of the DSM-5. Students may also take part in coursework and projects that involve the practice of diagnostics through case studies and research.
  • Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy: Students in this course can take a look at the theories of counseling from a psychoanalytic perspective. This course investigates the theoretical frameworks that surround counseling and the implementation of psychotherapy.
  • Cultural Diversity in Counseling: This course can provide students with a better understanding of our diverse society from a counseling provider’s standpoint. This course seeks to help students set aside biases and opinions to be more well-rounded professionals regardless of their workplace.

Potential Emphasis Selection of Counseling Psychology

Counseling psychology is a broad field that includes the treatment of all people. If you have an interest in working with a particular group within society or want to work in a specific field, you may find that choosing an emphasis for your degree can be beneficial. One major benefit of choosing a degree emphasis is the extra expertise and education you receive. This can set you apart from others when applying for careers in your specialized area of practice once you’ve earned your online master’s in counseling psychology.

The implementation of specializations with a traditional or online master’s in counseling psychology program allows for students to become more accustomed to their area of interest, without sacrificing time and effort while learning a more generalized practice. If you are undecided about a particular emphasis, our experts have provided a few specializations for you to read about. These areas are some of the most commonly chosen for counseling psychology students.

Marriage and Family Therapy

Counseling professionals who specialize in marriage and family therapy play a large role in managing attachments and connections within the family unit. If you have an interest in providing hands-on counseling to families in need, this is a great place to specialize.

Behavior Therapy

The field of behavior therapy is likely to become more prominent in the coming years. Specializing in behavior studies and therapy can help provide you with helpful methods for observing, assessing, and changing unwanted or harmful behaviors in patients.

Women’s Counseling

Providing a detailed focus on issues that are typically experienced by women, women’s counseling is a great option if you want to counsel women through difficult periods in life. Support through marriage, childbirth, and menopause is a large portion of what is addressed in this line of work.

Child and Adolescent Counseling

If you have the desire to work with children and adolescents throughout your career, you may find this emphasis to be of interest. Counselors in this domain focus on the emotional and developmental needs of children and adolescents in school and at home.

Master’s in Counseling Psychology Careers and Salaries

One of the best ways to determine if you should get an online master’s in counseling psychology degree is to think about what you can do with it. Consider if this degree will lead to a job you want — with the salary and job stability you deserve. One of the most common ways to use this degree is to become a psychologist. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for this role is about $82,000. This is typically the highest paying option for people who have an online counseling psychology degree, though you can increase the salary by gaining more experience in this field over time. 

You can also specialize in working with certain populations. For example, you can become a school psychologist and make about $78,000 per year, or you can work in a hospital and make about $91,000 on average. If you want to mostly work with married couples and families, the likely salary would be about $51,000, according to the BLS. If you use your online counseling psychology degree to work in sociology, you could make $86,000, or you could become a survey researcher and make about $60,000. Clearly, your online master’s in counseling psychology degree will leave you with several well-paid career options.

Who Should Consider an Online Master’s in Counseling Psychology?

If you have the desire to move forward into an online master’s in counseling psychology program and have a passion for assisting people through difficult times, counseling psychology could be a great option for you. This field can be a primary choice for those who have a profound interest in the practice of counseling and the theoretical components of psychology.

This guide outlined some of the requirements, educational programs, time frames, specializations, and salaries that can frame a career in counseling psychology. There are many educational programs that may help set a foundation for you to progress on your path and fit your personal needs as well.

You should keep researching online master’s in counseling psychology programs to learn which one could be right for you.

Sources:
American Psychological Association, “A Career in Counseling Psychology”
American Psychological Association, “Counseling Psychology”
American Psychological Association, “Pursuing a Career in Counseling Psychology”
PayScale, Counseling Psychologist Salary
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Psychologists

List of Online Masters in Counseling Psychology Programs

Pepperdine University 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters

Pepperdine University 🗹 Online

National Louis University 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters 🗗 Doctorate

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters

MS Psychology
NECHE Accredited

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) 🗹 Online 🗗 Masters 🗗 Bachelors

Touro University Worldwide 🗹 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.