- 2020’s Best CACREP-Accredited Online Counseling Master’s Programs
- FAQs About Online Master’s Counseling Programs
- Paying for Your Online Counseling Degree
- Accreditation for Online Counseling Degrees
- What’s Next After Your Online Counseling Degree
- Continuing Education & Related Degrees
- Additional Resources for Counseling Students and Professionals
2020’s Best CACREP-Accredited Online Counseling Master’s Programs
Earning a master’s degree in counseling online these days is an attractive and practical option, and as more and more colleges offer online degrees in counseling, the choice of which school to attend gets even more challenging. To help you get started in your search, we’ve researched online counseling master’s programs throughout the U.S. to find what we consider the best ones available. Our choices are based on several important criteria, including CACREP accreditation, licensure and certification preparation, overall value-for-money, and student support. Learn more about our top-rated online master’s counseling programs below and see who stands out in 2020.
FAQs About Online Master’s Counseling Programs
Success in any degree program, online or otherwise, starts with understanding the particular program itself. That means you’ll have to dig into the details of the programs you’re considering to understand what to expect and make sure it’s right for you. Below are answers to some of the most important questions about online master’s counseling programs.
Paying for Your Online Counseling Degree
It’s important to get going early on your plan for paying for your degree. College can be expensive, and lining up funding may seem like a daunting task. Don’t let that stop you, though. There’s a wealth of financial sources out there to help pay for your online counseling degree. Here’s a brief rundown of what you may qualify for:
Accreditation for Online Counseling Degrees
Accreditation is the process through which colleges and their degree programs are vetted and determined to meet certain minimum academic standards. It’s your way of assuring that the program you choose is worth your time, effort, and money. There are two basic forms of accreditation, both of which are important. Institutional accreditation concerns the overall quality of a college or university. Institutional accreditation of colleges and universities in the United States is administered through a number of Department of Education approved regional and national agencies.
Programmatic accreditation concerns the quality of degree programs themselves. The most prominent accrediting body for counseling master’s programs in the U.S. is the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP). However, some specialized counseling degree programs are accredited by other organizations. For example, school counseling programs may be accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), while the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) accredits some psychology and mental health counseling master’s programs. Information on accreditation can be found on the websites of these accrediting agencies, as well as school and program websites. Another great resource for accreditation information is this Department of Education database.
What’s Next After Your Online Counseling Degree
Before making the decision to earn your master’s in counseling degree, it’s important to have a clear idea of what awaits you in terms of your professional career once you graduate. Below are answers to several important questions to consider before starting down your counseling master’s academic path.
Do I need certification or licensure to work in counseling?
Both certification and licensing play important roles in professional counseling practice in the U.S. Certification concerns the process by which non-governmental organizations acknowledge that a practitioner in a certain professional field has met a set of predetermined practice standards. A number of organizations offer professional certifications in the counseling field. Among the most valued are:
- National Certified Counselor (NCC): Certification applicable to all professional counselors, i.e., not limited to any specific area specialization. Obtaining NCC certification may be a prerequisite for earning other specialization certifications.
- Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC)
- Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC)
- Master Addictions Counselor (MAC)
- National Certified School Counselor (NCSC)
Licensure concerns the state-administered approval process that individuals must go through to legally practice their profession within their states of residence. Whether or not a license is required to practice in your state depends on the specific area of counseling specialization and the particular state. It’s a good idea to contact your state’s governing agency to learn about any licensing requirements prior to beginning your master’s program.
What can you do with an online master’s degree in counseling?
When choosing a degree program, your interest in a particular area of the counseling profession is obviously important, but it’s not the only thing you should consider. It’s just as important to have a solid understanding of the professional options and career opportunities that await you upon graduation. Factors to consider include availability of jobs in your area, work settings, continuing education requirements, and, of course, pay. Professional certification and licensing requirements are also important considerations, both in terms of practice options and career advancement potential.
A great source of information and data on careers of every type, including the counseling profession, is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here’s a look at the salary and job growth estimates for counseling professionals from the BLS’s Occupational Outlook Handbook:
|Career||Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)||Median National Annual Salary (2019)|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||22% (Much Faster than Average)||$46,240|
|Marriage and Family Therapist||22% (Much Faster than Average)||$49,610|
|Rehabilitation Counselor||10% (Faster than Average)||$35,950|
|School and Career Counselors||8% (Faster than Average)||$57,040|
Continuing Education & Related Degrees
A master’s degree in counseling is an excellent terminal degree choice for anyone intent on a satisfying and rewarding career as a professional counselor. However, it’s far from the only option available to those interested in the public health field. Below are a few examples of degrees to consider if you are thinking about public health as a career but not specifically in counseling field, or if you are currently working as a professional counselor and seeking to advance or expand your career options.