Consider a Featured Online Counseling Degree Program

Consider a Featured Online Counseling Degree Program

There is an enormous need for mental health counseling services in the United States. In 2021, approximately 41.7 million adults sought counseling or treatment for their mental health, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. With the demand for mental health professionals and counselors at such a high rate, online accredited counseling programs serve as an excellent opportunity to gain valuable skills and join a growing workforce. Before applying for these programs, it's crucial to have a better understanding of the types of degrees and concentrations available.

Types of Online Counseling Programs

If you want to pursue a career in counseling, there are several academic paths. You might choose to enroll in one of the following online programs:

  • Bachelor’s degree: Counseling majors receive a broad overview of the field and develop practical skills that are applicable to entry-level positions in counseling centers, community clinics, and rehabilitation facilities.
  • Master’s degree: When pursuing a master's degree, students conduct extensive research and narrow the focus of their studies in preparation for careers in areas like career counseling, school counseling, and family therapy.
  • Doctorate degree: Doctoral programs in counseling offer advanced training for students hoping to become administrators in healthcare facilities, researchers and educators in academia, or licensed professional counselors in private or public practices.

Master's and doctoral counseling programs also often involve practicums, internships, and externships that help students meet state licensure requirements and gain hands-on experience.

What to Look for in an Online Counseling Program

With so many online counseling programs to choose from, it's important to know how to narrow them down. Focusing on a few specific factors may help simplify your search.

Program Fit

Consider how well a particular program fulfills your needs. Some online courses are offered asynchronously so that students can view pre-recorded lectures and complete their work at the times that work best for them. Others are in a synchronous format and require students to attend live-stream lectures and group sessions on a specific day each week. Explore the format of the courses offered in the counseling program and determine whether they work with your other obligations.


The cost of an online counseling degree differs depending on the type of school and whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student. As a general rule, public colleges and universities are more affordable than private schools, and resident students often pay substantially lower tuition rates than non-residents. However, reciprocity agreements and financial aid may help offset the tuition at a more expensive or out-of-state school. Make sure that the tuition, fees, and other expenses of your preferred program are within your budget.


Accreditation status is a crucial consideration when selecting an online counseling degree program. Accreditation ensures the credibility and quality of a degree program, which is important for students and potential employers. Look for accreditation by organizations including:

  • The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP): The CACREP evaluates the content and faculty of master's and doctoral programs.
  • The Master's in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC): Colleges and universities offering master's and doctoral degrees in counseling and psychology can seek accreditation through MPCAC.
  • The Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE): If you're planning to complete a master's or doctorate in marriage and family therapy, look for accreditation by the COAMFTE.
  • For students applying to bachelor's programs, it's important to verify that a school has received national or regional accreditation.


    Your exploration of online accredited counseling programs should include a close look at the curriculum. Examine the class offerings and concentrations to ensure that they align with your interests. In addition, search for classes that are more likely to help you achieve your academic and career goals.


    The quality of an academic program largely rests on the skills of the faculty. When conducting your research, read over any faculty bios, looking for points including:

    • Specializations
    • Amount and type of experience
    • Credentials
    • Publications
    • These details will help you identify a program that will allow you to work with a faculty member who is an expert in your area of interest.

      Types of Counseling Concentrations

      Online counseling programs often offer different concentrations that help prepare you to work with specific types of patients. Concentrations focus on the skills necessary for careers like:

      • Mental health counselors specializing in mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress
      • Substance abuse counselors who treat people suffering from addiction
      • School counselors working with students in public and private schools
      • Marriage and family therapists who offer services to families and couples struggling with conflict, stress, and trauma
      • Rehabilitation counselors helping clients with disabilities overcome challenges and reach their goals
      • Select the degree concentration that will best prepare you for your career.

        How to Pay for Your Online Counseling Program

        The cost of a degree shouldn't prevent you from achieving your goals. When looking for ways to pay, consider these options:

      • Scholarships: Search for scholarships that are program-specific or designed for your circumstances. For example, some scholarships are designed for first-generation college students.
      • Financial aid: Apply for federal loans and work studies to help offset the cost of tuition. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a great place to start.
      • Grants: This form of financial aid does not require repayment. The federal government and many state governments provide grants for students based on need and merit.
      • Reach out to a financial aid specialist at your preferred school for more information about potential sources of aid.

        Featured Online Counseling Programs

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

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