Fastest Online Counseling Degree Programs of 2022

Earning an accelerated degree in counseling can allow you to achieve your goals and help people sooner. Learn about fast online programs here.

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by Staff Writers

Published July 8, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
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People interested in helping others can consider an online bachelor's in counseling. Many states require a master's degree for licensed counseling positions. However, a bachelor's degree can qualify you for some counseling jobs while laying the foundation for further study.

An accelerated degree in counseling allows you to enter the workforce or a graduate program more quickly. A typical bachelor's degree takes four years of full-time study, but you can often finish an accelerated program in 2-3 years.

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Ready to start your journey?

Accelerated curriculums condense the typical degree timeline by allowing students to take on additional coursework per academic term. Unlike degree completion programs, accelerated online programs may not require students to have some college coursework.

Read on to learn more about accelerated programs, including admission requirements, typical coursework, and potential careers.

How Fast Can I Get an Online Bachelor's in Counseling?

Students in accelerated bachelor's programs can earn their degrees within three years. Fast-paced accelerated programs may allow learners with college credits to graduate in two years. Students can expect to take on heavy course loads during each term, including summer.

Most accelerated bachelor's in counseling programs require students to complete approximately 120 credits. One of the fastest ways to earn a bachelor's degree is to enroll in a degree completion program. However, these programs require significant college credits or credit for life or work experience.

What Can I Expect From an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Counseling Program?

An accelerated degree in counseling allows students to move toward their careers at a quicker pace than a traditional program. While most bachelor's degrees take four years of full-time study, you can usually finish an accelerated program in three years. If you don't have other significant commitments and can take on fast-paced coursework, an accelerated degree in counseling could be right for you.

Counseling programs often blend theoretical coursework with practical opportunities like internships and practica. Most programs require around 120 credits. You need a master's degree and a number of supervised hours to earn a state counseling license. Most counseling programs help you fulfill that requirement.

Some online bachelor's in counseling programs include concentrations, allowing students to specialize in a subfield of counseling. Possible options include addiction counseling, art therapy, mental health, child and adolescent development, and Christian counseling.

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Popular Online Bachelor's in Counseling Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Counseling Program?

Introduction to Counseling

Students often take this introductory course during their first semester of a bachelor's in counseling program. Possible topics include basic theories and the responsibilities of counselors in different professional settings.

Abnormal Psychology

This course delves into the roots of abnormal behavior, including symptoms and treatment strategies. Potential topics include clinical treatment and when to refer patients based on ethical frameworks.

Ethics in Counseling

Counseling involves several ethical considerations. This course helps students develop their own ethical decision-making systems, often relying on case studies to give examples of issues they might face.

Principles of Counseling Diverse Populations

In this course, learners explore how diverse populations are impacted by cultural, social, and personal issues. Students focus on how to eliminate bias in counseling and provide services in a culturally sensitive manner.

Internship or Practicum

Students can work in various settings like hospitals, social service agencies, churches, or rehabilitation centers. They gain hands-on experience by applying counseling methods and skills learned during classes to real-life scenarios.

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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Counseling Program?

Admission requirements are usually the same for on-campus and online bachelor's in counseling programs. In some cases, prospective counseling students may also need to complete an interview after applying to the program.

Application

All undergraduate counseling programs require students to fill out an online application form. Some schools require students to fill out a unique form on their website, while others participate in application systems like the Common App or Coalition App.

Test Scores

Some bachelor's in counseling programs require applicants to send in ACT or SAT scores. Other schools have eliminated this requirement or maintain test-optional policies, which allow prospective students to submit test scores only if they strengthen their applications.

Letters of Recommendation

Most online bachelor's in counseling programs require applicants to send in 2-3 letters of recommendation. Recent high school graduates should ask former teachers, counselors, or mentors to write these letters on their behalf, while adult learners should ask professional supervisors. No matter whom you ask, be sure to notify your recommenders several months in advance.

Essays

Many counseling programs ask students to send in 1-3 short essays as part of their applications. Prompts vary but commonly ask students to write a personal statement or explain their goals and aspirations within the field.

Official Transcripts

Official transcripts are an admission requirement for any accredited school. You should send in transcripts from high school and colleges you have attended, as you can earn transfer credit for previous college coursework.

What Can I Do With an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Counseling Degree?

Career Outlook

Between 2020 and 2030, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 23% job growth for substance misuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors. The BLS also projects 16% job growth for marriage and family therapists. The average projected growth rate for all occupations during that period is 8%.

Bachelor's degree-holders in counseling enter a high-demand field. However, some counseling jobs require a graduate degree and state licensure. While no degree can guarantee you a specific job, a bachelor's in counseling can prepare you to pursue a career as a mental health counselor, career counselor, probation officer, social worker, or social and community service manager.

See where a bachelor's in counseling can take you.

Learn More About Counseling Careers

Career Paths

Career Counselor

Career counselors generally work one-on-one with clients, helping them find a career that aligns with their goals, needs, and values. They can work for colleges and universities or in private practice. These positions usually require a bachelor's degree at minimum, however some employers prefer a master's degree. In some states, career counselors need a license to practice.

Median Annual Salary: $60,510

Substance Misuse, Behavioral Disorder, or Mental Health Counselor

These counselors work with individuals, couples, and groups, helping them cope with stress, anxiety, and addiction. These professionals can work in healthcare facilities, counseling centers, and private practice. Most jobs require at least a bachelor's degree. Mental health counselors typically need a graduate degree. They will need a license for private practice.

Median Annual Salary: $48,520

Social and Community Service Manager

Social and community service managers take charge of day-to-day operations at nonprofit organizations, religious groups, and government and social services agencies. They manage budgets, hire employees, and communicate with boards of directors. These professionals need a bachelor's degree and relevant experience.

Median Annual Salary: $74,000

Social Worker

Social workers help specific populations deal with day-to-day challenges through case work and access to services. Social workers need a state-issued license to practice, and professionals who provide clinical services need a relevant master's degree. However, a bachelor's in counseling is a great first step toward a career in social work.

Median Annual Salary: $50,390

Probation Officer

Probation officers hold sessions with people on parole or probation, helping them rehabilitate and work toward returning to day-to-day life. These professionals usually need a bachelor's degree and must often pass several exams before getting hired by the state.

Median Annual Salary: $60,250

Counseling Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

It is common for bachelor's degree-holders in counseling to pursue continuing education. Some counseling positions require a graduate degree and license. In many states, professional counselors need to complete continuing education or professional development hours to renew their licenses.

Bachelor's degree-holders can open the door to more advanced and lucrative positions by pursuing master's degrees in counseling. Many substance misuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counseling positions require an advanced degree, as do most marriage and family therapist jobs.

How Do I Choose an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Counseling Program?

Cost

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average cost of tuition and fees for students at a four-year institution was $16,618 during the 2020-21 school year. For the lowest rates, consider enrolling online at an in-state public university instead of an out-of-state private school.

Program Format

Before enrolling in an online program, distance learners must choose between synchronous or asynchronous learning formats. Synchronous learning includes live, scheduled online courses, while asynchronous learning allows learners to view recorded lectures when convenient. Online students can also choose between full-time, part-time, and accelerated enrollment.

Location

Even if you are an online student, you might want to pick a school that's close to you. Many online counseling programs require students to complete supervised hours, and these in-person requirements may be easier to arrange if you live near campus. Your school might also maintain relationships with local employers.

Accreditation

Accreditation is a third-party approval process that the U.S. The Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversee. Accreditation ensures the quality of a school's programs and offerings. Be sure to enroll only at accredited schools. Otherwise, you can't receive federal financial aid, and employers and other colleges may not view your degree as reputable .

Student Support

Student support is crucial for many degree-seekers, especially distance learners. Before committing to any program, check to see if you can access services like tutoring, career advising, mentorship opportunities, and internship placements.

Fastest Accredited Online Bachelor's in Counseling Programs

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

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How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

The school programs listed in this ranking were selected due to their accelerated formats — each program can be completed in less than four years. These programs were then ranked based on their overall academic quality, affordability, and online offerings. To learn more about our different rankings, read our ranking methodology.

#1

East Central University

School Information
Location Ada, Oklahoma
Admission Rate 59%
Graduation Rate 37%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 65% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $316
Out of State | $628

Credits to Graduate
124

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

With eight-week terms and asynchronous learning, students with ample college credits can earn this accelerated degree in human services counseling in 1-2 years. The school accepts up to 94 transfer credits. Participants can choose from five concentrations: aging, counseling, rehabilitation, services to the Deaf, and prevention science. 

First-year applicants must hold a GPA of 2.25 or higher. Transfer students must hold a minimum GPA of 2.0 and transfer in at least 24 credits.

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#2

Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix

School Information
Location Phoenix, Arizona
Admission Rate 82%
Graduation Rate 58%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 57% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $411
Out of State | $478

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Terms for ASU's online courses last 7.5 weeks. This schedule allows motivated students to earn an accelerated degree in counseling and applied psychological science in less than four years. To earn this BS, students complete general education and major courses, an online capstone course, and many electives. Learner can explore various areas of counseling, like abnormal psychology and theories of psychotherapy. 

Applicants must rank in the top 25% of their high school class and hold a GPA of at least 3.0 in core competency courses. Candidates must also meet minimum standardized score tests.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Fastest Online Counseling Programs

Can I get a bachelor's degree in one year?

Rarely, you can earn a bachelor's degree in one year. However, to do this you must have significant prior college credit or earn credit for professional, military, or life experience.

If you are starting out with no college credits, you can often earn a bachelor's degree in three years through an accelerated program. Some fast-paced programs allow you to graduate within two years. In both cases, expect to take a heavy course load each semester and study over the summer.

Are accelerated degree classes worth it?

The value of any online degree is subjective and depends on each student's situation and goals. However, for the right type of student, an accelerated degree is worth it. If you have the capacity to commit to intense coursework over a condensed time frame, an accelerated degree can launch you into the workforce in under four years. As such, these degrees typically provide a high return on investment.

However, if you have significant professional or family commitments, it can prove difficult to find the time for an accelerated program. Be sure to assess your commitments, obligations, and stress levels before enrolling in an accelerated bachelor's program.

Are accelerated bachelor's degrees as valuable as traditional degrees?

Accelerated bachelor's degrees are just as valuable as traditional degrees. Employers do not distinguish between accelerated bachelor's degree-holders and traditional bachelor's degree-holders. It is rare for colleges to list that you completed an accelerated program on your degree or transcript.

Furthermore, most accelerated programs cover the same course material as traditional degree programs. They just move through coursework at a quicker pace. If you can quickly master foundational knowledge, an accelerated program is just as valuable as a traditional degree.

Is an accelerated bachelor degree in counseling right for me?

It depends. If you are able to commit a significant amount of time to your studies, an accelerated bachelor's degree in counseling can provide a high return on investment, allowing you to quickly enter the workforce and start earning a salary. If you have other significant commitments, it may be difficult to fit accelerated coursework into your busy schedule.

If you do not have a full-time job or children and if you feel that you can cope with a fast-paced program, then an accelerated bachelor's degree may be right for you.

Are accelerated degree programs affordable?

It depends. U.S. News & World Report found that online bachelor's in counseling programs, including accelerated programs, cost an average of approximately $315-$445 per credit, which is $38,000-$57,000 for the entire degree..

If your school charges tuition per credit, you may not save much by enrolling in an accelerated program. However, if your school charges tuition by semester, you may save on overall costs, as you should spend fewer semesters enrolled in an accelerated program than a traditional program.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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