Online Counseling Psychology Degree Programs

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WHAT IS A COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE?

Counseling Psych degree programs help you to provide mental health counseling services. You could study the science behind counseling. And, you could learn methods to help patients work through their issues.

Counseling Psychologists often need to earn a PhD degree. A PhD in psych or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) is most common. But the road to each of these starts with going for your Bachelor’s degree. Your undergrad degree doesn’t have to be in Psych, but this major happens to be one of the most popular.

A program in this field look at the human mind and personality. For instance, you may learn about the biology of mental processes or behavioral psych. And, you may learn how social and cultural factors can affect a person’s behavior. These courses could offer the ground work for future study in the field.

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TYPES OF ONLINE COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE PROGRAMS

B.S. in Psychology – Applied Behavior Analysis

M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Ph.D. in Addictions Psychology

This program may prep you for grad studies or a career path. The program covers concepts like learning theories and behavior principles. You may learn how to work with those who have mental health and behavioral issues.This program is designed to help you prep to counsel diverse patients. You’ll learn theories and methods for mental health counseling. And, you’ll explore areas like career assessment and professional ethics.This PhD program covers the ins and outs of drug abuse and addictive behaviors. You’ll learn about co occurring disorders, treatments, and more. The program is designed for mental health pros and is not meant to lead to a license.
Course Examples:

  • Intro to Psych
  • Special Needs Children
  • Abnormal Psych
Course Examples:

  • Diversity & Multiculturalism
  • Couples and Family Counseling
  • Addictions and Drug Abuse
Course Examples:

  • Addiction and Related Disorders
  • Family Systems
  • Group Therapy

COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE ONLINE PROGRAMS

Programs in this field cover the theory and practice of clinical counseling. You will learn to apply the principles of the field while treating patients from diverse back grounds. Before going for a degree in this field, your journey will have other steps. To earn a Bachelor’s in Psych may be a good point to start.

BACHELOR’S DEGREE

A Bachelor program takes a broad look at human behavior. Programs are often in many disciplines. That means they have courses across the sciences and humanities. You’ll study biological, clinical, and sociological forces in Psych. You may even be able to focus on a field of study, like Addiction Studies or Child Psych.

Common programs include:
  • B.S. in Psych – This degree may have a lot of math and science courses. You may take more courses in the Psych major, and fewer electives. You may even be able to choose a field of study, like Neuroscience or Applied Behavior Analysis. Students that pursue this program may intend to pursue grad studies, later.
  • B.A. in Psych – This degree may take more of a broad based approach. You could take more courses outside of the major, like humanities courses. The focus may be on soft skills, like critical thinking. These could apply to other career areas, besides Psych.
Programs have courses like:
  • Developmental Psych
  • Cognition and the Brain
  • Abnormal Psych
  • Undergrad Research in Psych

And, most programs feature gen ed courses, like English and Bio.

MASTER’S DEGREE

Master’s degree programs often focus on how to work with patients. You may learn to assess patients and choose evidence based treatments. You’ll also study how to counsel people from diverse cultures and back grounds.

Programs include courses like:
  • Theories and Methods of Counseling
  • Family Therapy
  • Addictions Counseling

Programs may also have a practicum to introduce you to counseling strategies. And in most cases, you’ll need to pursue one or more supervised internships.

Some Master’s programs in the field could help you pursue a license. Requirements to get a license vary by state. You may need to complete a certain amount of credits or supervised experience. If getting a license is your goal, it’s key to find programs designed for this outcome.

DOCTORAL DEGREE

Most Counseling Psychologists earn a Psy.D. or Ph.D. in Psych. These programs both include Psych course work, research, and supervised experience. That said, each takes a different approach.

A Ph.D. in Psych is a research degree. You may study statistics and the procedures for experiments. Often, you must research and write a dissertation. That said, the program may include both theory and how to apply it. So, earning a Ph.D. could prep you for a clinical career path.

A Psy.D. degree program focuses on clinical practice. You will learn how to work with patients in a counseling setting. They may study how to diagnose mental illness, perform an intervention, and more. Often, Psy.D. programs require exams and practical work instead of research and a dissertation.

WHAT DO COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE COURSES LOOK LIKE?

Some common courses include:

Intro to Counseling Psychology: In this course, you may cover a broad overview of counseling psych. You could learn both the science behind this profession and how to practice it.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT uses many methods to help patients with mental health problems. In this course, you could learn all about CBT and how it’s applied.

Statistical Design: Wondering how to better collect and understand data in psych research? This course may cover the tools and methods you need.

Lifespan Development: Explore how humans develop, from birth to death. In this course, you could learn how our thoughts and emotions change in our lives.

Professional Counseling Ethics: This course looks at rules of conduct for counselors. You could learn how people in this role handle tough issues.

Group Counseling: Take a look at how to work with groups of patients. In this course, you could study group theory, ethics, and how to act as a leader.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET A COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE?

Earning a Bachelor’s in Psych may take about four years, full time. Online Psych programs are about 120 to 125 credits.

Master’s in Psych programs can take about two years to earn. They could range from 30 to 50 credits. But, programs designed to help you prepare for counselor licensure could be longer.

Earning a Ph.D. or PsyD could take between four and eight years. This may include a one year internship in a clinical setting.

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COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE PROGRAM EXAMPLES

School# of Credits RequiredStart DatesMinimum Months to Complete
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology36Multiple12
Ashford U36Multiple72 weeks (about 18 months)
Pepperdine U36-48Fall, Spring, Summer18

HOW MUCH DOES A COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE COST TO EARN?

Counseling Psychology students paid a median in state public tuition of $7,094 in 2017. Median tuition for out of state private schools was $27,580. Compare tuition costs for the below master’s level psych programs:

School# of Credits RequiredCost Per CreditTotal Tuition Cost
Walden U90$465$47,015
Grand Canyon U36$515$18,540
Purdue U – Global60-75$420$25,200-$31,500

TOP COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGY SCHOOLS

Last check, there were 343 schools that offer Counseling Psych programs. From those schools, 10,269 Counseling Psych degrees were awarded to students.

School2017 Degrees awarded2019/20 Tuition (out of state unless *)
Liberty U766$22,747*
Lamar U500$18,622
Webster U242$28,700*
Troy U234$16,708
Capella U202$14,540*
Lindsey Wilson College194$25,350*
National U194$13,320*
California Institute of Integral Studies166$20,500*
Adams State U152$20,864
Amberton U146$7,950*

Estimated for full time, beginning undergrad students

ACCREDITATION FOR ONLINE COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGY PROGRAMS

An accredited Counseling Psych programs must meet certain standards and undergo regular review. This helps you know you are pursuing a high quality education.

Depending on your career goals, some states may require you to graduate from an APA accredited program. The American Psychological Association (APA) accredits Counseling Psych programs at the PhD level. They also accredit internship programs (required for PhD study) and post doctoral residency programs.

Currently, APA does not accredit undergrad or grad programs. But, you can still look for Psych programs from accredited schools. Your school must be accredited if you hope to qualify for federal financial aid.

Another accrediting organization worth knowing about is CACREP. CACREP is the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. They accredit Masters and PhD programs in counseling.

Potential benefits of attending CACREP programs are:

  • They ensure the quality of accredited programs
  • They review programs based on professionally approved standards
  • Grads could perform better on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE)

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE?

By the most recent count, there were 2.64 million Psych grads in the work force. And, this group showed a one year growth rate of 3.83%. The occupation that employed the most Psych grads was Counselor.

Far more females earned Counseling Psych degrees than males. In fact, 81.5% of degree holders were female. The average age of a degree holder in the work force was 41.2 years old.

TOP SALARIES BY STATE FOR COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE HOLDERS

The following is for Clinical, Counseling or School Psychologists. Salary and employment numbers will differ for other career paths.

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
California17,310$108,350
Oregon1,040$103,870
New Jersey3,760$98,470
District of Columbia710$95,500
Hawaii450$94,550

COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGY CAREER PATHS AND POTENTIAL SALARIES

REHABILITATION COUNSELORS

Rehab counselors help those with physical, mental, or emotional issues to live independently. They work with clients to over come or manage the personal, social, or psychological effects of disabilities on employment or living.

Median Salary: $35,630 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 10% (Faster than avg)

Typical Entry level Education: Master’s degree

SUBSTANCE ABUSE, BEHAVIORAL DISORDER, AND MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELORS

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors advise those who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, mental health issues, or other mental or behavioral problems. They provide treatment and support to help clients recover from addiction or modify problem behaviors.

Median Salary: $44,630 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 22% (Much faster than avg)

Typical Entry level Education: Bachelor’s degree. However, it depends on the state and employer, educational requirements can vary from a high school diploma and certification to a master’s degree. You can even find Psych Masters that don’t need a GRE for admission.

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPIST

Marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome problems with family and other relationships. They treat a wide range of mental health problems like depression and anxiety. They can help people to learn coping skills to handle and resolve issues. Often, they help their client’s discuss their feelings and help to teach them the skills to cope with their problems.

Median Salary: $50,090 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 22% (Much faster than avg)

Typical Entry level Education: Master’s degree

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Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

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This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The financial aid information on this site is for informational and research purposes only and is not an assurance of financial aid.