Master’s in Counseling Online Degrees & Programs

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Through proper assessment, diagnosis, and treatment, counselors help provide insight and support for people managing relationships, mental health conditions, addictions, career choices, and other challenges. Pursuing a master's in counseling online can lead graduates to fulfilling careers as counselors in the fields of marriage and family counseling, substance misuse and addiction, mental health, and career guidance.

Employment opportunities are growing faster than average for counselors in many specializations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for substance misuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors will grow by 23% between 2020 and 2030 — about three times faster than the projected growth rate for all occupations.

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Why Earn a Master's Degree in Counseling Online?

Counselors provide vital services to people in their greatest times of need. If you want to help people fulfill their potential and live better lives, this career might be right for you. Counselors work in many different settings with people of all ages from all walks of life. Pursuing an online master's in counseling can provide access to a fulfilling career. Read on to learn about some of the main benefits of this degree.

Above-Average Earning Potential

According to the BLS, substance misuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earned a median annual salary of $48,520 in 2021 — higher than the median wage of $45,760 for all occupations. The BLS also reports that school and career counselors made a median salary of $60,510 in 2021.

Marketable Skills

Many online master's in counseling programs teach students marketable soft skills related to communication, interpersonal interactions, and listening. Students can also build analytical competencies and develop compassion, enabling them to help people in various stressful situations.

Job Growth

The BLS projects that jobs for school and career counselors will grow by 11% between 2020-2030. Additionally, substance misuse and mental health counseling occupations are projected to grow by 23% in the same period (BLS). These projections surpass the average projected growth rate of 8% for all occupations.

Work in a Variety of Fields

Many jobs will likely open up in the next several years for graduates with online counseling degrees. Furthermore, counseling professionals can pursue careers in many other fields. For example, a master's in counseling online can prepare individuals for jobs in military, healthcare, education, human resources, and business settings.

Featured Online Counseling Programs

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

Best Online Master's in Counseling Degree Programs

#1 Master’s in Counseling Online Degrees & Programs

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

LU offers an MA in clinical mental health counseling as one of the nation's top Christian colleges. This degree prepares students to pursue state licensure as professional counselors. The curriculum explores topics such as psychopathology, crisis counseling, and clinical diagnosis and treatment planning. 

Each participant completes a required internship and practicum in their local area. Enrollees meet with faculty and peers during two on-campus intensives. On average, they complete the degree in 2.5 years. Admission to the master's in counseling requires a bachelor's degree and a minimum 2.7 GPA.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $565/Full time; $615/part time
Out of State | $565/Full time; $615/part time

Credits to Graduate
60

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,417
Out-of-state
$15,417
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
51%
Students Enrolled
85,586
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#2 Master’s in Counseling Online Degrees & Programs

University of Southern California

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The Los Angeles-based USC features a top-ranked counseling program with an online M.Ed. in school counseling. The degree prepares enrollees to pursue counseling roles in K-12 settings. Students attend live online classes weekly. They supplement lectures and self-paced coursework with clinicals, fieldwork, and internships. 

This online master's in counseling prepares learners to earn the California pupil personnel services credential. Full- and part-time enrollment options offer added flexibility. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $2,035
Out of State | $2,035

Credits to Graduate
49

Program Information
Regional Accreditation | Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Average Tuition
In-state
$57,256
Out-of-state
$57,256
Retention Rate
96%
Admission Rate
11%
Students Enrolled
48,321
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
#3 Master’s in Counseling Online Degrees & Programs

New York University

  • New York, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

As one of the nation's top colleges, NYU offers two online master's in counseling. Students can pursue a specialization in school counseling or mental health and wellness. Participants progress through each program as part of a cohort. Learners attend live online classes through full-time or part-time enrollment. 

This school counseling degree offers an optional concentration in bilingual school counseling. Each enrollee receives field preparation through practicum experience and three 200-hour internships. All participants engage in experiential activities during an immersion on the NYU campus. Each candidate must possess a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,942
Out of State | $1,942

Credits to Graduate
48-60

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council

Average Tuition
In-state
$50,684
Out-of-state
$50,684
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
16%
Students Enrolled
52,885
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#4 Master’s in Counseling Online Degrees & Programs

Wake Forest University

  • Winston-Salem, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Wake Forest's MA in counseling offers specializations in school counseling and clinical mental health counseling. Both pathways require foundational and core courses. Topics include theories and models of counseling, family counseling, and group procedures in counseling. 

Enrollees develop field experience during internship hours. The degree prepares students to become eligible to sit for the National Counselor Examination (NCE). Wake Forest boasts a 95% pass rate on the NCE. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, a minimum 2.5 GPA, and GRE scores.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,560
Out of State | $1,560

Credits to Graduate
60

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs

Average Tuition
In-state
$54,430
Out-of-state
$54,430
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
30%
Students Enrolled
8,495
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
7% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#5 Master’s in Counseling Online Degrees & Programs

Clarks Summit University

  • South Abington Township, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The Pennsylvania-based CSU offers an MS in counseling that emphasizes a biblical counseling model. The program prepares enrollees to sit for the National Certified Counselor exam. Coursework explores human development, abnormal behavior, and marriage and family counseling. 

Each student completes a supervised counseling practicum and an internship. This master's in counseling culminates with a comprehensive exam. Students can transfer up to 20 credits into the MS. An applicant must possess a bachelor's degree for admission.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $585
Out of State | $585

Credits to Graduate
60

Program Information
Regional Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Average Tuition
In-state
$26,082
Out-of-state
$26,082
Retention Rate
78%
Admission Rate
41%
Students Enrolled
771
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
64% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

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.

#6 Master’s in Counseling Online Degrees & Programs

Adler University

  • Chicago, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Adler specializes in training mental health practitioners. Its MA in clinical mental health counseling continues that tradition. Students learn to provide culturally sensitive services in various settings. Most courses are delivered asynchronously with some synchronous meetings. Each enrollee can hone their counseling skills in a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship. 

All online students complete two five-day residencies on the Chicago campus. The program also requires face-to-face teaching and evaluation components for four courses. Graduates qualify to sit for the National Counselor Examination. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,442
Out of State | $1,442

Credits to Graduate
62

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs

Average Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,558
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
42% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#7 Master’s in Counseling Online Degrees & Programs

University of Denver

  • Denver, CO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

DU's online MA in school counseling prepares enrollees to pursue work as counselors focused on social justice. Coursework explores lifespan development, counseling theory, and counseling techniques. Learners blend classwork with activities like journaling and mock counseling sessions. 

Each participant completes a 100-hour practicum and two 300-hour internships at a local P-12 school. Students can also opt to take part in an on-campus immersion experience. Full-time enrollees can complete the MA online in 24 months. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and a minimum 2.5 GPA. Candidates do not need to submit GRE scores.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $956
Out of State | $956

Credits to Graduate
72

Program Information
Regional Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission

Average Tuition
In-state
$51,336
Out-of-state
$51,336
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
59%
Students Enrolled
12,931
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#8 Master’s in Counseling Online Degrees & Programs

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los Angeles

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The Chicago School cultivates licensed and certified professional counselors. Practitioner-faculty teach the online MA in clinical mental health counseling. The program meets the educational requirements for the Licensed Professional Counselor credential. The curriculum covers assessment of individuals and diagnosis of mental health issues. 

Each enrollee completes a practicum and two internships, totaling a minimum of 700 hours. The part-time degree requires two in-person residencies. Students can complete this master's in counseling online in three years. Admission requires a bachelor's degree. Applicants do not need to submit GRE scores.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,253
Out of State | $1,253

Credits to Graduate
60

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,992
Out-of-state
$10,992
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
13%
Students Enrolled
2,999
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
82% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
#9 Master’s in Counseling Online Degrees & Programs

University of the Cumberlands

  • Williamsburg, KY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

UC is a Christian college located in Kentucky. Its master's in clinical mental health counseling prepares enrollees to pursue work as mental health counselors and assess, diagnose, and treat mental disorders. The online curriculum explores private practice and clinical supervision, marriage and family counseling, and child and adolescent counseling. 

Each enrollee develops practical expertise during a 100-hour practicum and two 300-hour internships. The school also offers an online master's in addiction counseling. Admission to either master's in counseling program requires a bachelor's degree and a 3.0 GPA. Candidates with GPAs in the 2.5-2.9 range can receive consideration if they complete an additional essay prompt.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $400
Out of State | $400

Credits to Graduate
60

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,875
Out-of-state
$9,875
Retention Rate
69%
Admission Rate
80%
Students Enrolled
16,966
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
91% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#10 Master’s in Counseling Online Degrees & Programs

Hope International University

  • Fullerton, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

This private Christian college offers an online MS in counseling with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy. The program prepares students to pursue Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist credentials. Enrollees can complete this online program through asynchronous classwork in 2-3 years. 

The curriculum covers psychotherapy, group therapy, and career counseling and development. Practicum and internship components provide 700 hours of field experience. Each applicant to the master's in counseling must possess a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $650
Out of State | $650

Credits to Graduate
61 units

Program Information
Regional Accreditation | WASC Senior College and University Commission

Average Tuition
In-state
$32,250
Out-of-state
$32,250
Retention Rate
72%
Admission Rate
37%
Students Enrolled
1,130
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Our Top Pick

Liberty University - Lynchburg, Virginia

Why It's #1: Liberty University's MA in clinical mental health counseling program earns the top rank on our list of Best Online Master's in Counseling Programs. With 92% of students enrolled online, Liberty stands out for its capacity to serve distance learners from various backgrounds and locations. Furthermore, 99% of students at Liberty receive some form of financial aid. Liberty's clinical mental health counseling program holds accreditation from CACREP, which helps provide students with a solid path toward licensure and certification in numerous specialties.

How We Rank Schools

In order to create the Best Online Master's in Counseling ranking, the BestColleges Rankings Team sourced the most recent data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Navigator, both of which are hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics.

We identified 120 schools that qualify for our ranking list, and then applied our proprietary ranking methodology to identify the best schools offering this program in the nation. Each school is ranked based on a formula measuring academic factors (50%), affordability (25%), and the availability and popularity of online programs (25%).

What Programs Are Similar to Counseling? Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs.

Types of Master's in Counseling Degrees

Most online master's in counseling programs provide students with basic exposure to various subjects. They may also offer specialties, such as addiction counseling or school counseling.

Choosing a specialization allows a person to gain in-depth knowledge, preparing to work with a specific condition or population. Prospective students might find programs offering concentrations that align directly with their professional interests and career goals. Some counselors also choose more than one specialization.

Master's in Addiction Counseling This specialization provides students with the skills required to evaluate and treat individuals living with an addiction.
Master's in Mental Health Counseling This concentration prepares students for a career as licensed professional clinical counselors or marriage and family therapists.
Master's in Trauma Studies This concentration teaches students about the impact and treatment of traumatic experiences.
Master's in School Counseling Students interested in working in an educational setting may consider this specialization.
Master's in Christian Counseling This specialization focuses on faith-based fundamentals and prepares students to work in Christian ministries or churches.
Master's in Marriage and Family Counseling Students learn traditional and evolving methods for counseling couples and families.
Affordable Master's in School Counseling Cost effective degree options for students that want to pursue their master's in school counseling

Counseling Degree Curriculum

An online master's in counseling program builds upon a student's undergraduate education, focusing on advanced skills. Most online master's degrees in counseling require students to complete roughly 60 credits in 2-3 years. Learners often participate in practica and internships to gain the experience required for state-specific and occupation-specific licensure.

While coursework varies, most programs include core courses like assessment and testing, counseling theories, ethical practice, and cultural diversity. The following section delves into other classes that may be found in an online master's in counseling program.

Theories of Counseling

This course covers counseling theories and techniques that can be used to work with various populations or groups. Students learn to use theory to identify potential problems and apply effective treatment approaches. Additional topics may include the stages of group therapy and how to evaluate the effectiveness of group counseling.

Counseling Diverse Populations

Students learn the skills and theories needed to evaluate and counsel people from all populations. Covered topics include racial identity, ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity, and systems of oppression and privilege. Degree-seekers also learn about their role in promoting social justice.

Ethical, Legal, and Professional Standards

This course focuses on the legal and ethical issues specific to counseling practices. Coursework covers topics such as confidentiality and malpractice. Students learn about state-specific licensure standards and professional organizations.

Crisis Counseling

Degree-seekers learn the impact of trauma and crisis intervention procedures. Covered topics include assessing suicide risk and understanding a counselor's role on an emergency management response team.

Counseling Program Admission Requirements

In most cases, admission requirements are similar — if not identical — for on-campus and online master's in counseling programs. In addition to the materials listed below, prospective counseling students may need to hold a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as psychology or sociology. However, many programs accept applicants who hold bachelor's degrees in any field.

In some cases, applicants may need to complete a phone, Zoom, or in-person interview with a member of the admissions department.

Application

All online master's in counseling programs require prospective students to submit an application form. Application systems like the Common App and Coalition App primarily serve undergraduate students, so applicants to master's programs will likely need to apply on each individual school's website. These forms ask for basic details like an applicant's contact information.

Test Scores

Some online master's in counseling programs require applicants to submit GRE scores. While standardized tests can be daunting, you can maximize your chances of getting the score you need with the right GRE preparation resources. However, since counseling is a practice-focused field, not all programs require standardized test scores.

Letters of Recommendation

Most online master's in counseling programs require applicants to submit approximately 2-3 letters of recommendation. In most cases, you should ask for letters of recommendation from mentors or former undergraduate professors. If you have significant relevant professional experience or are several years removed from your undergraduate program, you can ask professional supervisors or managers.

Resume and Work Experience

Some counseling programs prefer to accept students who have worked for several years; however, since you need a state license to practice counseling, most programs do not require relevant experience. Regardless, in many cases, you must submit a professional resume so that programs can get a sense of your experience and background.

Essays

Many graduate counseling programs require prospective students to submit 1-3 application essays. In general, these essays are fairly short. Common prompts include a statement of purpose or a question about your professional goals. Schools use essays to get to know you better and make sure you are a good fit for the program.

Official Transcripts

All master's in counseling programs require applicants to submit official transcripts. If you have already completed some graduate coursework, you may be able to earn transfer credits in certain programs.

How to Choose an Online Counseling Program

Accreditation

Accredited schools and programs meet certain criteria related to academic quality. Students should seek schools with institutional accreditation, which is awarded based on standards related to finances, administration, and academics at the college or university level. Legitimate accrediting agencies are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Students who do not attend an accredited college or university cannot qualify for federal financial aid and might have difficulty finding employment after graduation.

Students should also find counseling departments that hold programmatic accreditation. Counselors in many states must hold a master's from a school accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) to meet licensing requirements. The Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council also offers programmatic accreditation. However, it is newer than CACREP, and no state licensing boards currently mandate this accreditation.

Cost

The true cost of college — including tuition, fees, room and board, and the cost of textbooks and other supplies — can vary widely between master's in counseling programs. To find the most affordable tuition rates, consider attending an in-state public university instead of an out-of-state private school. Additionally, to save on fees like transportation and room and board, consider enrolling in an online program instead of an in-person one.

Program Format

Distance learners must decide whether they prefer synchronous or asynchronous learning. Synchronous learning involves live, scheduled online class sessions, while asynchronous learning does not. Furthermore, online graduate students should determine whether they can enroll full time or if they need to study part time.

Location

Even if you enroll in an online counseling program, consider attending a school close to you. Most counseling programs include in-person practicum hours, during which you must work under the supervision of a licensed counselor. It is often easier to fulfill these requirements with a local school since your program will likely maintain relationships with local counselors.

Student Support

Student support services can make the difference between a great program and a bad experience, especially for online students. When choosing between programs, look for schools that offer services like advising, mentorship opportunities, internship placements, tutoring, and networking events.

How Do I Pay for a Master's Degree in Counseling?

Counseling Licensure and Certification Requirements

Counselors must fulfill essential requirements beyond a master's degree. For instance, they need to obtain licensure in the state where they practice. They can also voluntarily earn professional certification to deepen their knowledge base and advance their careers.

National Certification

Although not required, professionals can voluntarily obtain national certification in counseling to boost their credibility, career readiness, and employability. The National Board for Certified Counselors offers the national certified counselor (NCC) credential. In addition to passing the NCC exam, candidates must show evidence of the appropriate training and fulfill other requirements:

  • Certification requires a master's degree, certificate of advanced study, education specialist or educational specialist credential, or doctorate in counseling.
  • Applicants must have at least 3,000 hours of postgraduate work experience over a minimum of two years. Individuals may waive this requirement under certain circumstances.
  • Certification requires a passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) or the National Counselor Examination (NCE).
  • Applicants must hold a diploma from a CACREP-accredited institution or a school with institutional accreditation.

State License

Licensed professional counselors (LPCs) and licensed clinical professional counselors (LCPCs) work with individuals who require mental health or substance misuse care. LPCs must obtain a state-issued license to practice. They must renew this credential regularly according to state guidelines. Generally, a licensing board in each state determines the requirements and accepts applications for this credential.

  • State licensing typically requires at least a master's degree.
  • Most states require a certain number of years of supervised work experience.
  • Individuals must achieve a passing score on the NCMHCE or NCE.
  • State licensing boards may also stipulate required coursework and other educational experience.

Counseling Salary & Job Outlook

An online master's in counseling can prepare students to help individuals, families, and groups manage mental health and behavioral conditions. These professionals work in a variety of settings, including private practices, hospitals, community service organizations, addiction centers, correctional facilities, and schools.

Counselors are expected to be in high demand over the next decade. For example, the BLS projects 16% job growth for marriage and family therapists and 23% job growth for substance misuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors between 2020 and 2030.

Learn more about counseling careers and see where an online master's in counseling can take you by visiting our counseling career guide.

Counseling Career Types

Addiction and Recovery Counselor

Addiction and recovery counselors assist and support individuals recovering from addictions that may include alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, hoarding, and food. These counselors help their patients understand the root causes of their addictions and develop a recovery and relapse prevention plan, which may include behavior modification techniques. Many of these professionals use the principles of 12-step programs or a harm reduction approach to support their clients.

Trauma Response Counselor

A trauma response counselor recognizes the impact of trauma and understands how to treat its effects, including post-traumatic and acute stress disorders. These professionals provide patients with evidence-based trauma treatments, such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. These counselors may focus on specific populations, such as veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

School Counselor

School counselors help K-12 students succeed in their social and academic lives. These professionals work with students, teachers, and parents to identify the causes of poor school performance, learning or behavioral concerns, and social disorders.

Marriage and Family Counselor

Marriage and family counselors address relationship issues within a family unit, such as behavior problems with children, lack of communication between family members, and substance misuse. Through observation, evaluation, and diagnosis, these therapists help family members understand and address the underlying causes of their interpersonal challenges.

Mental Health Counselor

Mental health counselors work in various settings, including private practices, hospitals, correctional facilities, rehabilitation centers, and social service agencies. With the expansion of telehealth in recent years, working from home can also be an option. These professionals help people experiencing social and emotional conditions, phobias, anxieties, and other mental health conditions. Some mental health counselors specialize in a particular group, such as children, older individuals, or incarcerated people.

Featured Online Counseling Programs

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Counseling Programs

Is a counseling degree worth it?

A counseling degree can open doors to various careers that involve helping people address mental health conditions, substance misuse, and other challenges. An online master's in counseling provides the educational background necessary to work with individuals, families, and children. Counselors work with people to help them solve their problems and cope with difficult stressors.

Licensed counselors are also expected to see an increase in employment in the coming years. For example, the BLS projects that jobs for rehabilitation counselorswill grow by 10% between 2020-2030, exceeding the average projected growth rate of 8% for all occupations.

What is the difference between an MA and MS in counseling?

Individuals with a bachelor's in psychology or a related discipline might pursue a master of science (MS), which typically exposes learners to scientific research, lab work, and data analysis.

In contrast, a master of arts (MA) in counseling might suit individuals with a bachelor's in history, English, philosophy, and other fields in the humanities. MA programs generally offer an interdisciplinary approach and engage students in research that prepares them to work in clinical settings.

While the MS and MA differ, they both provide substantial theoretical and applied training. A person's interests and career goals should help them decide whether to pursue an MS or MA in counseling.

How long will it take to earn a master's in counseling?

Most individuals take 2-3 years to complete an online master's in counseling, which typically requires around 60 credits of coursework. This timeframe can also include an internship or practicum, allowing students to gain on-the-job experience.

Individuals who want to try and graduate sooner can look for online programs that offer an accelerated format. This may allow distance learners to finish assignments and exams at their own pace.

How much does a master's in counseling cost?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the median tuition and fees for graduate students at in-state public institutions was $11,673 during the 2019-20 school year. Private school and out-of-state enrollees typically paid more.

People in online programs often save money on transportation, housing, and other expenses, but they might pay more for technology services. Additional costs may be associated with labs, books and supplies, registration, and access to student health facilities.

How much does a counselor make?

Counselor salaries vary by location, employer, experience, specialty, and education. However, the BLS reports that school and career counselors earned a median wage of $48,400 in 2021, with the top 10% of earners making more than $98,190. Additionally, substance misuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors made a median salary of $48,520 in the same year, with the top 10% taking home more than $77,980 (BLS).

Although counseling professionals in the aforementioned roles earned more than the median salary for all occupations ($45,760), rehabilitation counselors earned less, with a median salary of $38,560.

Counseling Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

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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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