The Top 23 Most Affordable Online Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Degree Programs 2018

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For those who feel an aptitude for helping others or a call to give back to their communities, counseling may be a particularly good fit as a potential career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is projected to increase by 23 percent in the period from 2016 to 2026. Students will want to consider the job market in their field of interest as they select a program of study. An excellent way to earn the education necessary to become a professional counselor is to enroll in an online master’s in counseling program. The online modality allows you to complete your studies from anywhere, while participating in your practicum and internship experiences in your local community. If you are interested in learning about psychology and human behavior, using your skills and knowledge to help those in need, and earning a degree in a field with a promising job market, consider an online master’s in counseling.

Ranking the Most Affordable Online Clinical Mental Health Counseling Graduate Degrees

#23 Northwestern University

Evanston, IL
Master of Arts in Counseling Online

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The online master’s in counseling program at Northwestern University is designed to develop self-reflective counselors working in the field to help others. The program is CACREP-accredited and offers several flexible pacing options such as traditional, accelerated, and part-time. Most coursework is completed online, however students must participate in some in-person collaborative experiences as required for graduation. Start dates for the online program are in January, April, June, and September. Northwestern University’s program offers students a specialization in child and adolescent counseling. Students in the counseling program complete 800 hours of practicum and internship fieldwork.

#22 Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, NC
Online Master of Arts in Counseling

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Wake Forest University’s online master’s in counseling degree is CACREP-accredited and available fully online. Students complete 60 credits in coursework on subjects such as crisis management, life span development, and research and statistical analysis in counseling. Students also engage in practicum and internship components as requirements for completion of the program. Applicants must submit GRE scores, as well as letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and must also submit to a phone interview as well as a virtual web-based interview. Master’s students can select as a concentration either clinical mental health counseling or school counseling.

#21 North Carolina State University

Raleigh, NC
Online Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

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North Carolina State University provides an online master’s in counseling to students who wish to earn licensure in the field. The program is designed according to a cohort model in which students study part-time year-round for three years, including summer sessions. In the final year of study, students will be required to attend some weekend classes on campus. In order to qualify for admission, student applicants must submit scores on the GRE or MAT. Curriculum in this program includes courses on career counseling, multicultural counseling, and group counseling. Additionally, students must complete practicum and internship components.

#20 Antioch University – New England

Keene, NH
Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Online

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St. Bonaventure University provides a master of science in clinical mental health counseling to distance learners across the county and around the world. This program is nationally accredited by CACREP. Students enroll in one 7-week course per term and can finish the program in as few as three years. Courses are completed online, with the exception of two four-day, in-person residencies. Students must complete an internship as part of their program requirements. Financial aid and military aid are available to help cover the cost of tuition for students who qualify. Online students benefit from technical assistance, library services, and online student success coaches.

#19 North Carolina Central University

Durham, NC
Online Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling

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The online master’s in counseling at North Carolina Central University is CACREP accredited and prepares students to become licensed professional counselors. Students complete 60 credits of fully online coursework. With the addition of three additional courses, graduates will meet the educational requirements for licensure as a Clinical Addictions Specialist in North Carolina. Students must complete 700 hours of field experience under supervision in order to graduate from the program. Master’s-level students at North Carolina Central University receive instruction with emphasis on theoretical development, multiculturalism, and ethical training in the mental health counseling program.

#18 Bradley University

Peoria, IL
Online Master of Arts in Counseling – Clinical Mental Health Counseling

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The online master’s in counseling available at Bradley University gives students the opportunity to choose between two specialization tracks: clinical mental health counseling and professional school counseling. The program’s CACREP-accredited core curriculum, which puts degree candidates on a direct path to counseling licensure, features course topics like group counseling, crisis intervention, and psychopharmacology. Bradley’s degree also delves into the relatively new field of neurocounseling, with a core course that allows students to explore the relationship between the brain and human behavior.

#17 Lamar University

Beaumont, TX
Online Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

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Requiring degree candidates to earn 60 credits, Lamar University’s online master’s in counseling focuses on clinical work and includes core courses in human development, abnormal behavior, fundamental counseling skills, and counseling for substance abuse issues. The program’s curriculum also includes multiple seminars, a practicum, and two internship courses. Students must complete 100 hours of work in a professional setting for the practicum. Graduates of the program can find employment at community agencies, in private practice, and medical facilities like hospitals and clinics.

#16 Lock Haven University

Lock Haven, PA
Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Online

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Preparing students to practice in various types of professional settings, the online master’s in counseling offered at Lock Haven University fulfills most states’ educational requirements for licensure in the field. Through courses covering topics like family counseling, program evaluation, and ethical and legal issues, degree candidates learn the fundamentals of counseling and what it takes to succeed in professional practice. If they so desire, students can specialize their studies in child/adolescent counseling, military and veterans, or clinical mental health counseling. In total, learners must complete 60 credits to earn their master’s degree in counseling.

#15 St. Bonaventure University

Saint Bonaventure, NY
Online Master of Science in Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

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St. Bonaventure University provides a master of science in clinical mental health counseling to distance learners across the country and around the world. This program is nationally accredited by CACREP. Students enroll in one 7-week course per term and can finish the program in as few as three years. Courses are completed online, with the exception of two four-day, in-person residencies. Students must complete an internship as part of their program requirements. Financial aid and military aid are available to help cover the cost of tuition for students who qualify. Online students benefit from technical assistance, library services, and online student success coaches.

#14 Regent University

Virginia Beach, VA
Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Online

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Regent University offers an online master’s in counseling with a Christian worldview. Their program is CACREP-accredited and prepares graduates for entry to the counseling field in a variety of settings such as community mental health agencies and schools. Students complete 60 credits throughout the program, including an internship requirement. Applicants must provide scores from either the GRE or the MAT for admission to the master’s program in counseling. Three different options are available to choose from when it comes to the pace at which students complete the program. Earning this degree helps graduates meet the educational requirements for licensed counselors in their states.

#13 Colorado Christian University

Lakewood, CO
Master of Arts in Counseling Online

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Colorado Christian University provides an online master’s in counseling program regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association and nationally accredited by CACREP. Students take courses in counseling as well as the Bible and theology. Classes are available online, with the exception of an on-campus residency in Lakewood, Colorado for five days each summer of the program. Students complete 60 credits, including a 9-credit practicum/internship component. In order to graduate from the program, students must receive a passing score on the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam and have completed all other degree requirements within six years of enrolling in the program.

#12 Messiah College

Mechanicsburg, PA
Online Master of Arts in Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling

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Messiah College offers students in their online master’s in counseling program the ability to complete their degree in a time frame between two and six years. Additionally, rolling admissions allows students to begin their course of study at one of various points during the schoolyear. Most courses can be completed online, with the addition of weeklong, intensive classes on campus in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Students may choose from one of three concentrations: clinical mental health counseling; marriage, couple, and family counseling; and school counseling, each of which comprises 60 credits. Graduates from this CACREP-accredited program will be prepared to sit for the national licensing exam necessary to become a licensed mental health counselor.

#11 Malone University

Canton, OH
Online Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

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Malone University’s online master’s in counseling gives students the flexibility of multiple start date options and the freedom to move at their own pace through the program. Continual collaboration with an academic advisor enables students to adjust their pace as their needs change while they progress through their studies. Practicum and internship components are completed over three semesters in this CACREP-accredited program. Students earn their master’s in clinical mental health counseling over the course of three to three and a half years, and advance to careers in various settings, such as hospitals, mental health agencies, schools, and substance abuse treatment centers.

#10 Grace College and Theological Seminary

Winona Lake, IN
Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

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Grace College has been offering graduate degrees in counseling since 1955. Their online master’s in counseling degree was created in 2010 and is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Students in this program earn 60 credits almost entirely online, with the exception of an annual residency consisting of seven to ten days on campus in Winona Lake, Indiana. Grace College incorporates scripture into the program to create spiritually competent counselors. The program, which includes a practicum and internship, follows a cohort model, and can be completed in three years by full-time students.

#9 Bellevue University

Bellevue, NE
Master of Science in Clinical Counseling Online

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An online master’s in counseling at Bellevue University provides students with the education necessary to begin their careers as mental health counselors. The CACREP-accredited program includes practicum and internship components that online students complete in their home states under the supervision of an approved, licensed clinician. The program requires the completion of 60 credits. Applicants to the master’s in counseling program must have completed a six-credit requirement in behavioral sciences. Students in this online program must attend two on-campus residencies, one after admission to the program, and the other prior to starting their internships.

#8 Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR
Master of Counseling in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Online

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Oregon State University provides a part-time, hybrid learning experience with its Master of Counseling in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Students are prepared to work in many fields, giving professional counseling services in many setting such as community-based organizations, hospitals, agencies, group practices, and residential facilities. While there is online coursework, students are required to attend in-person classes help two Fridays and Saturdays each term in Salem, Oregon. Students are able to complete the program in 3.5 to 4 years in a cohort based teaching model. This program holds accreditation from CACREP and allows students to take exams needed to meet initial eligibility requirements for professional counseling licensure in Oregon.

#7 Palo Alto University

Palo Alto, CA
Online Master of Arts in Counseling

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Palo Alto University offers its Master’s Degree in Counseling program with an emphasis in Clinical Mental Health for students looking to serve their communities as licensed mental health professionals. Graduates who reside in California have the opportunity to pursue both the Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) licenses. As an interactive online synchronous program, students can choose two classes per quarter, offered in the evenings. The entire program last for two years and nine months. This master’s in counseling program is accredited by CACREP.

#6 University of Louisiana at Monroe

Monroe, LA
Online Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

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The University of Louisiana at Monroe’s CAREP-accredited Master of Science Degree in Counseling has a track specifically for Clinical Mental Health Counseling. The program exists to guide diverse students at the graduate level toward acquiring the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to be successful counselors. Graduates of this program can look forward to potential counseling careers such as mental health counselor, group facilitator, rehabilitation counselor, life coach, and more. Completion of this program leads to meeting the academic requirements necessary to take the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) exam in Louisiana.

#5 Capella University

Minneapolis, MN
Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling Online

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The Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling online program at Capella University is a comprehensive degree that helps students prepare to pursue state licensure eligibility. Students benefit from blended, flexible learning that incorporates online courses as well as in-person learning. Capella offers a unique online learning experience that can be tailored to an individual’s own schedule and learning style. Fieldwork requirements cover 100 hours of practicum and 600 hours of internship. Curriculum includes courses on such topics as foundations of addiction and addictive behavior, human sexuality, and ethical and legal issues in professional counseling. The Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is accredited by the CACREP.

#4 Lindsey Wilson College

Columbia, KY
Online Master of Education in Counseling & Human Development

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Lindsey Wilson College provides an CACREP-accredited Master of Education in Counseling and Human Development with a Specialization in Mental Health Counseling for students seeking academic licensure requirements for Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The program consists mostly of coursework designed to help develop knowledge and skill base of mental health counseling, but speciality coursework is offered with the Mental Health Counseling specialization. Courses include Diagnosis of Mental & Emotional Disorders, Evaluation of Mental & Emotional Status, and Treatment of Mental & Emotional Disorders. Graduates can look forward to professional opportunities in private practice, city and state human services departments, community mental health centers, correctional departments, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, and many more.

#3 Walden University

Minneapolis, MN
Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Online

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Walden University provides a CACREP-accredited online MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling for mental health professionals seeking licensure on many state counseling boards. Walden’s comprehensive curriculum includes classes as well as supervised field work and a practicum. The program employs many active leaders in the field and extensive clinical practice experience, helping students develop knowledge and skills to help others. Once completed, graduates of this online master’s in counseling degree are qualified to sit for licensing exams and to meet the academic licensure requirements of many state counseling boards.

#2 Adams State University

Alamosa, CO
Online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

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Adams State University offers an online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program with the goal of preparing counselors with key knowledge and skills to work in a variety of settings. The broad range of skills offered through the program allow graduates to pursue positions in many fields such as mental health clinics, private practice, hospitals, social services, residential treatment facilities, and corrections. Students who complete the program meet the educational requirements for the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Colorado. Although all classes are online, participants in the program are required to attend a one-week session on the Adams State campus in each of the two summer sessions. This program is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, CACREP, and The Colorado Department of Education.

#1 University of the Cumberlands

Williamsburg, KY
Online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

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University of the Cumberlands offers a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling online for individuals interested in becoming a licensed counselor in the area of general mental health. Graduates from this program can pursue positions in many community settings, such as private practice, clinical mental health centers, community agencies, hospitals, and correctional facilities. Core coursework includes psychological assessment in clinical practice, human growth and development, and counseling during grief and crisis. All graduate courses are online, with the exception of the Physician Assistant program. Some courses require specific online meeting times, so students should expect to be available and in class for one and a half hours one day per week. This program is fully accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

 

Methodology: This list was created using data from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs. We looked for programs offering master’s degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in an online format. We evaluated each program’s website to confirm they were offered online and gathered tuition information. Programs were ranked by tuition.

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About the author: Kirsten Hughes is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, with her Masters in Education from the University of Oregon. Kirsten has provided direct services to youth and families, in a variety of roles and a range of settings, for the last 15 years. Kirsten particularly enjoys supporting young people as they navigate the challenges that come with transitioning from high school to college and beyond. Kirsten lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family.