Finding the Right Counseling Degree

Education is the backbone of a career in counseling. A Master's level education is a requirement for licensure in every state and most employers will not take a second look if there isn't a master's degree listed on a Curriculum Vitae. A Bachelor's Degree is a must have prerequisite for a master's in counseling degree program. In very few instances would a Bachelor's degree be enough for one to practice counseling.

The BLS projects 18% employment growth for the counseling profession through 2018.

Bachelor's Degrees in Counseling

Undergraduate degrees in counseling, psychology and sociology are common choices for students on the path to become professional counselors. The undergraduate counseling, psychology and sociology curriculum provides a foundation for the topics that will be presented in a master's degree program. This is not to say that a bachelor's degree in another field will not be applicable. Students with a bachelor's degree in another field might just need to complete some additional prerequisites for a master's program in counseling or related field like psychology. There may be some exceptions, but in the majority of cases a master's degree in an area of counseling or psychology will be a requirement for licensure to practice as a professional counselor.

Master's Degrees in Counseling

After completing an undergraduate education, the next step in the path to becoming a professional counselor is to select a Master's in Counseling program. CACREP programmatic accreditation is an important consideration. Most states require applicants for licensure to have completed a master's program at a nationally or regionally accredited institution or have completed a program that is accredited by CACREP. Even if a state's education requirements state that an applicant must complete a program accredited by CACREP, there are options for those who did not. Applicants may need to submit an official transcript that shows which courses were taken. It is important to check the education requirements for licensure in your state prior to selecting a non-CACREP accredited program. Find licensure requirements by state here.

CACREP Accredited Online Master's in Counseling Programs:

Capella University offers three online CACREP - accredited Master's programs: Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy and School Counseling. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their programs.

Northwestern University Online Master of Arts in Counseling - Aspiring clinical mental health counselors, earn your master's online from The Family Institute at Northwestern University in as few as 18 months. This CACREP-accredited program offers accelerated, traditional, and part-time tracks. Career-changers welcome. GRE not required. Request information.

MPCAC Accredited Online Master's in Counseling Program:

NYU Steinhardt's online MA in Counseling and Guidance - Learn more about NYU’s online MA degree that prepares you to become a school counselor in as few as 18 months. Graduates can pursue certification and employment in pre-K–12 schools. Bachelor’s required. Request information.

NYU - Online Master of Arts in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness. Aspiring mental health counselors are prepared to pursue licensure with NYU Steinhardt’s MPCAC-accredited online counseling master’s. Students can earn their degree in as few as 21 mos. GRE not req. Bachelor's degree required.

It is not uncommon to be unsure of the counseling specialty you will want to practice in. A master's in Mental Health Counseling is a commonly selected program in this case. If you know the counseling specialty you want to practice in already, then you are ahead in the game and may want to select a Master's in Counseling with that area of specialization or focus.

Selecting a CORE accredited Master's in Rehabilitation Counseling program may be a consideration if your aim is to pursue practice in rehabilitation counseling. However, CORE accreditation is not a requirement for certification by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC).

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