If you are looking for a career where you can directly help individuals on a one-to-one basis, you should consider Counseling Psychology. Counseling Psychologists help people who have physical, emotional, and/or mental health issues by improving their sense of well‐being, alleviating feelings of distress, and resolving crises. Counseling Psychologists can also provide assessments, diagnosis, and treatment of more severe psychological symptoms. This field has grown with many innovations and scientific developments. Today, many students take up Counseling Psychology into a career by getting a master’s degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects Psychology jobs to grow 3% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than the average rate for other professions. This guide focuses on all aspects of master’s in counseling psychology online programs, including the country’s best program rankings.
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Today numerous universities are offering a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology. But not all of them are considered the best. We have researched dozens of masters in counseling psychology online programs and created a list of the best, based on several parameters like affordability, program quality, graduate rates, teacher-student ratio, etc. Here is a list of the best counseling psychology master’s programs that are offered online.
Understanding Masters in Counseling Psychology Online Programs
Many students enroll in Counseling Psychology programs each year with the aspiration of making a good career. But students need to understand all aspects of Counseling Psychology before signing up as this field is complicated. In this section, we will dig deep into Counseling Psychology.
What is Counseling Psychology
The term “counseling” is of American origin, coined by Carl Rogers, who, lacking a medical qualification, was prevented from calling his work psychotherapy. In the US, Counseling Psychology, like many modern psychology specialties, started as a result of World War II. During the war, the US military had a strong need for vocational placement and training. In the 1940s and 1950s, the Veterans Administration created a specialty called “Counseling Psychology,” and Division 17 (now known as the Society for Counseling Psychology) of the American Psychological Association (APA) was formed.
In professional psychology, Counseling Psychology is a general practice and health service provider specialty. It focuses on how people function both personally and in their relationships at all ages. Counseling Psychology addresses the emotional, social, work, school, and physical health concerns people may have at different stages in their lives. It focuses on typical life stresses and more severe issues, with which people may struggle, as individuals and as a part of families, groups, and organizations.
Counseling is performed by a series of direct contacts with the individual, which aims to help them change their attitudes and behavior. It is always a personal one-on-one experience and cannot be performed in a group setting. As a specialty in the psychology field, Counseling Psychology encompasses research that psychologists conduct for systematic study and analysis of individual or group experiences and behaviors. Their research can have educational, occupational, and clinical applications. And can be applied in several broad domains:
Counseling Process and outcome
Supervision and training
Career development and counseling
Prevention and health.
Some unifying themes among Counseling Psychologists include an emphasis on assets and strengths, person-environment interactions, educational and career development, brief interactions, and a focus on intact personalities. The Society of Counseling Psychology unites psychologists, students, and professionals who are dedicated to promoting education and training, practice, scientific investigation, diversity, and public interest in the field of professional psychology.
Masters in Counseling Psychology Online Degree Types
If you have already earned your Bachelor’s Degree, the type of bachelor’s degree you hold will help determine which master’s degree program you should enroll in. Most universities that offer a Master’s in Counseling Psychology Online Degree allow you to choose either a Master of Science program, a Master of Arts program, or coursework leading to a Master of Education. The MS course of study will focus on the scientific foundations of counseling. The MA program often focuses on the techniques and practices of counseling. And M.Ed coursework prepares you to apply for the exam to become a Psychological Associate. The MS and the MA programs cover the same general subject material; however, each program covers the subject differently, and each program will prepare you for a different career choice.
MA Counseling Psychology
A Master of Arts program will focus on liberal arts and is geared towards individuals who possess a Bachelor’s Degree in English, Arts, or some other general degree with no focus in science. A Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology degree can lead to careers in social work, counseling, or therapy. When you choose a Master of Arts degree, you will not choose a specialization or a focus. Instead, you will take general courses, and once you have completed all of the general counseling courses required, you will need to turn in a thesis to graduate.
Graduates with an MA in counseling will generally not pursue licensing. While they can apply for a counseling license with their degree, many graduates with an MA in counseling will teach counseling or concentrate on performing research.
MS Counseling Psychology
A Master of Science (MS) in Counseling degree prepares graduates to become licensed professional counselors (LPCs) within their home states (each state may have different requirements). Suppose you have a Bachelor’s Degree with a focus in psychology or any other related field. In that case, it may be in your best interest to pursue a Master of Science degree in counseling. An MS in Counseling offers students who want to choose a specialty while still in school an advantage. Suppose you are interested in working in a specific setting. In that case, you can take classes with the appropriate subject matter and start working on your specialty before you complete your MS degree program. Only after you complete the program can you fulfill the requirements to earn your counseling degree. Graduates of an MS degree program focusing on counseling will generally move on to complete the clinical hours necessary to earn their license. Most MS graduates in counseling will look for positions in areas of their specialization.
M.Ed Counseling Psychology
The MEd in Counseling and Personnel Services, with a concentration in Counseling Psychology, fulfills the state board of psychology’s educational requirements to apply to take the exam to become a Psychological Associate.
The Master of Education (MEd) degree is similar to an MS in Education in that it requires extensive research. Each university will have different requirements. The MEd, also called the EdM, may require a master’s thesis, may need the candidate to submit a portfolio, or may take a comprehensive exam instead.
Specializations in Masters in Counseling Psychology Online Programs
In the program you choose, you may decide to specialize in a particular area. Two of the specializations in Counseling Psychology are:
Alcohol and Drug Counseling
In this concentration, you will understand the complex issues regarding alcohol and drug addiction in American society. You will learn the biological, psychological, and sociological effects of short and/or long-term use of substances on the individual, family, and community. You will learn how to assess, diagnose and treat those addictions using the latest and best practices. You may also be able to apply credits toward earning your professional counseling licensure.
Clinical Mental Health Counseling
This concentration provides you with the conceptual, analytical, and operational knowledge you will need to begin or advance your career in clinical counseling. Online courses cover a comprehensive study of the issues involved with assessing, diagnosing, and treating various psychiatric disorders. You’ll also develop an in-depth understanding of the primary models, theories, and techniques in individual, group, and family counseling.
Curriculum and Skills Gained in Masters in Counseling Psychology Online Programs
Areas of Expertise in the Counseling Psychology field include:
Counseling psychologists work to improve the well-being and quality of life of their patients. Much of this entails identifying emotional issues and behavioral patterns that create challenges in the patients’ home, work, and community life. To best serve your patients, your education will focus on skills such as:
Diagnosis of psychological disorders
Treatment and therapy
Diversity and cultural issues
Accreditation for Masters in Counseling Psychology Online Programs
For you to become a Counseling Psychologist, you must attend an accredited university. The organization that performs this function is the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CACREP accreditation is a requirement for licensure in many states. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) dictates accredited counseling degree programs.
Timeline for graduation from Masters in Counseling Psychology Online Programs
Most Master’s in Counseling Degrees includes two years of coursework and practical requirements. Some online master’s in counseling programs offer accelerated pathways that allow for earlier graduation, while part-time students can often take five years or more to complete their degrees. Master’s students also need Bachelor’s Degrees before they can apply.
Suppose you decide to become a Clinical Psychologist. In that case, you will need an undergraduate degree (four to five years of college) plus a doctorate (four to seven years of graduate school). For this specialty area, most students will spend between eight to 12 years in higher education.
Masters in Counseling Psychology Online Programs Admission Requirements
Like many master’s degrees, Counseling Psychology also has similar admission requirement such as
2.5 GPA in the undergraduate degree
Transcripts from the undergraduate degree
Statement of Purpose
Recommendation letters from people of influence in the student’s life
GRE test scores
Though students can earn a Bachelor’s in Counseling Psychology, they need a Master’s Degree to become a licensed counselor. Requirements for licensure vary by state, but they generally include:
Holding Graduate degree
Proof of several thousand hours working under a licensed counselor.
How to Pay for Masters in Counseling Psychology Online Programs
How to pay for a master’s degree is a question that many students struggle to answer. This applies to online master’s in counseling psychology students too. Here are some sources using which students can pay for counseling psychology master’s degrees:
FAQs about Masters in Counseling Psychology Online Programs
Q: What is MA in Counseling Psychology?
A: Am MA (Master of Art in Counseling) is a graduate-level degree in Counseling Psychology.
Q: What do Counseling Psychologists do?
A: Counseling Psychologists solve many problems that their patients are facing. Counseling Psychologists address the problems that have originated from developmental (lifespan), environmental and cultural perspectives. They include, but are not limited to:
School and career/work adjustment concerns.
Making decisions about career and work and dealing with school‐work‐retirement transitions.
Relationship difficulties‐including marital and family difficulties.
Learning and skill deficits.
Stress management and coping with negative life events.
Dealing with and adjusting to physical disabilities, disease, or injury.
The development of one’s identity.
Persistent difficulties with relating to other people in general.
Q: What colleges offer Counseling Psychology?
A: See our list of the “Best Masters in Counseling Psychology Online Programs” above.
Q: What can you do with a degree in Counseling Psychology?
A: A great benefit of pursuing a career in Counseling Psychology is the wide range of landscapes in which you can work. These include:
Health centers and clinics
Research and corporate institutions.
The skills acquired in your coursework include:
Being able to employ various techniques of assessment, prevention, and intervention related to mental health counseling
Applying theories of human growth and development to culturally diverse clients
Utilizing major research methods that are most commonly used in the counseling profession
Applying your skills to help others lead more productive and fulfilling lives.
Careers and Salary Outlook for Masters in Counseling Psychology Graduates
Counseling Psychologists are employed in various settings depending on the services they provide and the client populations they serve. Some are employed in colleges and universities as teachers, supervisors, researchers, and service providers. Others are employed in independent practice providing counseling, psychotherapy, assessment, and consultation services to individuals, couples/families, groups, and organizations. Additional settings in which Counseling Psychologists practice include community mental health centers, Veterans Administration medical centers, and other facilities, family services, health maintenance organizations, rehabilitation agencies, business and industrial organizations, and consulting within firms.
Counseling Psychologists often work in schools, private offices of health practitioners, family services centers, and outpatient care centers. Of the many industries that employ counseling and clinical psychologists, home healthcare services, colleges, and outpatient care centers serve as some of the top-paying workplaces.
Counseling Psychologists earn a mean annual wage of $87,450. However, several factors influence earnings, including geographic location, employer, experience, and education. The top-paying states for Counseling Psychologists include Oregon ($112,010), California ($111,750), Washington, D.C. ($106,900), and New York ($96,170). California, New York, and Texas hold the highest employment level for this profession.
Certifications and Licensing for Masters in Counseling Psychology Online Graduates
To work as a licensed Counseling Psychologist, you must meet certain requirements. Requirements vary by state but generally include:
A graduate degree in psychology from an accredited institution: Students should seek regionally accredited schools and APA-accredited psychology programs. Most states require a doctorate to earn clinical licensure as a psychologist, but some states may allow those with a masters to work as a counselor.
An internship or practicum of supervised clinical experience: The American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) requires a one-year, full-time, or two-year, part-time internship. Through role-playing and case studies in class and at residencies, you are given opportunities to practice counseling skills and concepts. Then, through supervised fieldwork and a practicum, you further develop the skills necessary to become a Counseling Psychologist.
Passing the required exam: Administered by the ABPP, this exam features both written and oral components.
Psychology Internship Opportunities
Completing an internship serves as an integral step to earning a Counseling Psychology license. The internship, or practicum, provides doctoral students with clinical experience before earning a license and practicing independently. Generally, these internships must include a calendar year of full-time experience, amounting to a minimum of 3,000 clock hours.
Internships serve as the final year of study for doctoral students. As learners approach this time, they must find and match with an accredited, approved internship site. Although psychology interns earn a salary, the pay tends to be low, as they are unlicensed and cannot bill for services.
The APA provides a comprehensive list of accredited internship programs, and individual university programs may help students match with an internship that meets their needs.
Internships may occur in all kinds of clinical settings, including colleges and universities, community health centers, and various government agencies, including the military. Interns work with supervising licensed psychologists, interacting directly with patients, and providing care.
What is the education track of a Counseling Psychologist?
Typically, education for a Counseling Psychology career begins with an undergraduate degree. Most students choose to begin with a bachelor’s in psychology as this offers a great foundation for advanced education that will follow. Counseling Psychology concentrations are uncommon, but some graduate programs offer more options to dive further into this specialty.
Following their education, aspiring Counseling Psychologists will need to complete and pass an exam to obtain licensure to practice within their residing state. They’ll also need to meet requirements every so often to make sure their knowledge of the field is current.
Additional Resources for Masters in Counseling Psychology Online Professionals
In recent decades, Counseling Psychology has expanded and is now represented in numerous countries around the world. Books describing the present international state of the field include:
Taken together, these volumes trace the global history of the field, explore divergent philosophical assumptions, counseling theories, processes, and trends in different countries, and review a variety of global counselor education programs. Moreover, traditional and indigenous treatment and healing methods that may predate modern counseling methods by hundreds of years remain significant in many non-Western and Western countries.
In the United States, the premier scholarly journals of the profession are:
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