Earning an online bachelor's in counseling allows students to both pursue a career helping others overcome challenges and create a better life for themselves.
Graduates may enter the workforce as substance abuse counselors, social workers, community service managers, or probation officers. Others use this degree as a stepping stone to a graduate degree and licensure as a marriage and family therapist, mental health counselor, or school counselor.
Many of these professionals experience high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 25% job growth for substance abuse counselors and 17% employment growth for community service managers between 2019 and 2029.
To learn about the many counseling career opportunities, how to choose a program, and admission requirements, read our bachelor's in counseling program guide.
What Are the Best Online Bachelor's in Counseling Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:
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|1||Toccoa Falls College||Toccoa Falls, GA|
|2||Clarks Summit University||Clarks Summit, PA|
|3||Bay Path University||Longmeadow, MA|
|4||Crown College||Saint Bonifacius, MN|
|5||Liberty University||Lynchburg, VA|
|6||Ecclesia College||Springdale, AR|
|7||Fort Hays State University||Hays, KS|
|8||Calvary University||Kansas City, MO|
|9||Johnson University||Knoxville, TN|
|10||Regent University||Virginia Beach, VA|
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2020 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Counseling Programs
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Toccoa Falls College
|Toccoa Falls, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
TFC is a Christian university in Georgia that offers several online degrees, including a bachelor of science in counseling psychology. Online learning at TFC uses an asynchronous format that allows students to complete coursework remotely.
Students typically take two courses per eight-week session. The curriculum includes coursework in crisis and trauma therapy, developmental psychology, psychology of religion, and Christ-centered counseling. TFC also gives students the opportunity to complete an independent study project that entails writing a research paper.
Applicants must submit high school transcripts and SAT, ACT, or CLT test scores. Students must also submit a personal testimony statement detailing their relationship and commitment to Christ.
Clarks Summit University
|Clarks Summit, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 57%||
CSU is a Christian university in northeast Pennsylvania. The school offers several remote programs, including an online bachelor of science in counseling. CSU also offers a dual-enrollment program that allows students to begin graduate coursework and earn a bachelor's and master's in a shorter amount of time.
The 123-credit bachelor's program uses an asynchronous format, allowing students to complete all coursework online at any time of day. The curriculum explores topics such as tests and measurements, personality theory, and marriage and family dynamics. The program does not require an internship, but CSU encourages students to complete one.
CSU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and offers tuition discounts for Christian workers, military members, and CSU alumni. Applicants must submit official transcripts and complete an interview.
Bay Path University
|Longmeadow, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
Bay Path — based in Longmeadow, Massachusetts — offers an online bachelor's degree in counseling through the American Women's College. The program's asynchronous learning format may appeal to students who need to continue working or juggle other responsibilities.
It typically takes four years to complete this program, but students may select an accelerated option and graduate faster. The curriculum includes communicating for leadership, behavioral research methods, and counseling ethics and professional development. Students must complete a capstone to graduate.
Bay Path is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. Applicants must possess a high school diploma with a minimum 2.0 GPA or a GED, HiSET, or TASC certificate. Applicants must submit official transcripts and complete a phone interview.
|Saint Bonifacius, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
Crown is a Christian university located in St. Bonifacius, Minnesota. The school offers a variety of degrees, including an online bachelor's degree in counseling and psychology. Online learning allows students to complete all coursework remotely at any time of day.
The 125-131-credit program typically takes four years to complete. Students explore topics such as the foundations of Christian thought, diversity issues in counseling, crisis intervention, and group dynamics.
First-time college students should possess a high school diploma or the equivalent. Applicants must submit official transcripts from previously attended schools and a spiritual life essay. They also need to sign the Crown College Statement of Faith agreement form.
|Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
Liberty — based in Lynchburg, Virginia — offers an evangelical Christian education in a variety of subject areas, including counseling. Its online bachelor's degree in Christian counseling is available entirely online and uses an asynchronous format. Liberty allows students to transfer in up to 75% of their degree requirements, which may save students time and money.
The 120-credit program typically takes 3.5 years to complete and prepares students to pursue a graduate degree. The curriculum explores Christian counseling for marriage and family, Christian counseling for children, and psychology and Christianity. Students must complete an internship to graduate.
To qualify, students must possess a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA in previous high school and/or college coursework. Applicants must submit official school transcripts, a high school self-certification form, and an online application.
|Springdale, AR||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 20%||
Ecclesia College is a Christian university in Springdale, Arkansas. It offers several online degree programs, including a bachelor of science in psychology and counseling. Online learning at Ecclesia College uses an asynchronous format that allows students to complete all assignments remotely at any time of day.
The 120-credit program uses a Christ-centered approach to prepare students for a career in counseling. The curriculum includes coursework in human sexuality; Holy Spirit in counseling; counseling skills; and urban social issues: people, problems, and policy. Students must also complete a capstone that involves a counseling practicum and a senior ministry project.
Ecclesia College is nationally accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education. Applicants must submit proof of high school graduation (or the GED equivalent), SAT or ACT test scores, and references.
Fort Hays State University
|Hays, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
FHSU — in Hays, Kansas — offers an online bachelor of arts or bachelor of science in sociology with an addictions counseling track. Students may complete all coursework online, although some professors may require proctors for exams.
The 120-credit program comprises general education, core, and track courses, including grant writing, social inequality, ethics in addictions counseling, pharmacology and high-risk medical issues, and client management procedures. Students must also complete an internship to graduate.
To qualify, students must possess a high school diploma or GED certificate. FHSU also accepts transfer credits from regionally accredited colleges or universities. Applicants must submit official transcripts from previously attended schools and SAT or ACT test scores. Transfer students or adult learners over the age of 21 do not need to submit test scores.
|Kansas City, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Calvary is a Christian university located in Kansas City, Missouri. It offers over 48 online degree programs, including a bachelor's in biblical counseling. Online learning uses an asynchronous format, and students typically complete the program in four years.
This online bachelor's degree in counseling includes 126 credits and focuses on developing counseling skills based on biblical principles. The curriculum includes classes like introduction to Christian missions, counseling addictions, biblical counseling of youths, and counseling troubling emotions. Students must complete an internship and counseling project to graduate.
Qualifying candidates must be high school graduates or possess a GED certificate. Applicants must submit official transcripts from previously attended schools, ACT or SAT scores, a pastoral reference form, and a personal reference. They also need to read the university's statement of faith. Calvary is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
|Knoxville, TN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 63%||
JUTN is a Christian university in Knoxville, Tennessee. The school offers several online options, including a bachelor's program in pastoral care and counseling that caters to working professionals looking to launch a career in Christian counseling.
Students who earn this bachelor's in counseling take 120 credits and can complete all coursework remotely. The curriculum covers topics like exegetical methods, conflict and communication, spiritual formation, and biblical teaching and preaching. Students must also complete a counseling ministry practicum.
Prospective students must possess a high school diploma or GED certificate. The program requires applicants to submit official transcripts, ACT or SAT test scores, a reference from a spiritual mentor, and an essay. Students must also formally commit to the JUTN lifestyle.
|Virginia Beach, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
Based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Regent educates about 10,000 students annually. The school offers many options to distance learners, including an online bachelor's in clinical and counseling psychology that is taught from a Christian perspective. Faculty deliver online classes through eight-week sessions.
In addition to general education requirements, participants take 36 credits of psychology courses, including a capstone seminar in ethics and professional identity. Students also complete 15 credits dedicated to the clinical and counseling psychology concentration, covering topics like group facilitation and counseling skills.
To apply, online students must submit unofficial transcripts and proof of a government-issued ID. Regent is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Counseling Program?
Students pursuing careers in counseling and social service need empathy, patience, and strong communication skills. Those who excel in analysis and problem-solving also find success in this growing field.
Most online bachelor's in counseling programs require 120-130 credits and take approximately 3.5-4 years of full-time study to complete.
Most online bachelor's in counseling programs require 120-130 credits and take approximately 3.5-4 years of full-time study to complete. Some schools offer a combined bachelor's and master's in counseling that allows students to earn both degrees in about five years. A practicum or internship allows enrollees to implement their learned skills.
Most programs offer concentrations that allow students to focus on their interest area. Some potential specializations include:
- Addictions: Students interested in substance abuse counseling or social work in the field of addictions may consider this concentration.
- Mental Health: This specialization focuses on treating individuals, families, and groups struggling with mental and emotional disorders. Mental health counselors need a master's and licensure.
- Human Services: This concentration prepares students to work in community service organizations.
- Child and Adolescent Development: This concentration propels learners toward a career helping children and adolescents overcome challenges and heal from trauma.
- Christian Counseling: This specialization teaches students counseling methods from a Christian perspective.
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Counseling Program?
In addition to general education requirements and concentration coursework, most programs offer similar foundational courses. These classes cover topics like ethical considerations, counseling theories, assessment and treatment, and human growth and development. The following section highlights a few common classes in an online bachelor's in counseling program.
- Introduction to Counseling
This introductory course lays the foundation for a bachelor's in counseling. Learners explore the field's various concentrations, fundamental concepts, and basic theories. Students also learn the duties and responsibilities of counselors in various settings, such as clinics, schools, and community centers.
- Ethical Leadership
This class covers basic ethical principles and decision-making in counseling. Covered principles include confidentiality, informed consent, respect for autonomy, and nonmaleficence, or do no harm. Coursework covers the ethical dilemmas counselors face and the legal standards and codes specific to this profession.
- Crisis Counseling
This course introduces students to crisis intervention models. Common topics include assessment strategies and necessary skills when interviewing individuals in crisis. Enrollees learn to recognize and assess substance and physical abuse, trauma, depression, and suicide. Participants explore the use of emergency intervention and ongoing crisis counseling.
- Abnormal Psychology
This course explores the symptoms, causes, and treatment of abnormal behavior. Students learn diagnosis protocol and the sociocultural, psychological, and biological influences that shape behavior. Additional topics include clinical and pharmacological treatment options and ethical considerations for referral.
- Social Psychology
This course delves into social behavior through the lens of psychology. Students learn the key theories behind how people think and why they behave and relate differently in specific settings. This course covers small group behavior, individual perception, attitude formation, and the social influences and motivations that shape behavior and thoughts.
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What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Counseling Degree?
A bachelor's in counseling degree prepares students for a career helping others overcome challenges. Whether serving communities as a social and community service manager or helping individuals overcome addictions as a substance abuse counselor, graduates find fulfilling careers supporting individuals and groups.
This degree can lead to lucrative positions experiencing high demand. For instance, the BLS projects 17% employment growth for social and community service managers between 2019 and 2029. These managers earned a median annual salary of $69,600 in 2020. Those who work for local governments earned a median annual wage of $85,550.
Learn more about counseling careers and see where a bachelor's in counseling can take you by visiting our counseling careers guide.
- Social and Community Service Manager
Social and community service managers oversee community programs that support individuals and groups. These professionals serve diverse groups, including children; veterans; and those facing specific challenges, such as substance abuse, hunger, or homelessness. Specific duties may involve hiring and supervising staff, implementing programs, and evaluating programs for effectiveness. Some positions may require a master's degree.
- Substance Abuse Counselor
Substance abuse or addiction counselors treat and support individuals struggling with addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, and sex. They also help individuals struggling with eating disorders and other behavioral issues. Following evaluation, these counselors develop a treatment plan that includes teaching clients coping methods and helping them discover underlying triggers. Many use the principles of 12-step programs. Counselors pursuing private practice need a master's and licensure.
- Social Worker
These professionals work with community organizations to improve programs, services, and social conditions impacting individuals and groups. They assist and advocate for people experiencing specific challenges, such as debilitating illnesses. While a bachelor's degree prepares graduates for entry-level positions, clinical positions require a master's and licensure.
- Probation Officer
Probation officers assist and support individuals placed on probation. These officers create rehabilitation plans, provide resources and supervision, and monitor progress. They work closely with law enforcement, courts, and social service agencies. A probation officer may provide services like career training or support for those struggling with addictions.
- Career Counselor
Career counselors help clients determine possible career choices and qualifications. Using aptitude assessments and evaluating education and training, these professionals help individuals find suitable jobs. Career counselors may work in colleges, employment and staffing agencies, social service offices, or private practices. Some positions require a master's and licensure.
Counseling Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Counseling Programs
- Is a bachelor's in counseling worth it?
A bachelor's in counseling can prepare students for lucrative and rewarding careers. Graduates can work in a variety of settings, including schools, government agencies, community organizations, and nonprofits. They can also work in numerous roles, such as social worker, addiction counselor, and community service manager.
- What can I do with a bachelor's in counseling?
Many degree-holders work in the social services sector in organizations that provide support to community members. Graduates often work as social workers, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, career counselors, and probation officers. This degree also paves the way to a master's and licensure, which can lead to additional opportunities and greater earning potential.
- Are counseling majors in demand?
Yes. The BLS projects 17% job growth for social and community service managers between 2019 and 2029, well above the average 4% job growth for all occupations The BLS projects even greater demand for substance abuse counselors, with a projected 25% employment growth rate during this same period.
- How much money can I make with a bachelor's in counseling?
According to PayScale data from March 2021, graduates with a bachelor's in counseling earn an average annual salary of $53,710. Salaries vary based on the position and employer. For instance, social workers earned a median annual wage of $51,760 in 2020, according to the BLS, but social workers in local government agencies earned $55,500 per year.
- What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in counseling?
Social and community service managers earned a median annual salary of $69,600 in 2020. Managers who work in local government agencies boast even higher earnings, with a median annual wage of $85,550. While probation officers earned a median annual salary of $55,690 in 2020, those in the top 10% earned a median wage of more than $98,510.