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Top 20 Small Colleges for a Counseling Degree

Best Counseling Degrees - Top Small Colleges

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By: BCD Staff
March 2018

Attending a small college to get an undergraduate degree in counseling has many advantages. In a small school setting, you will naturally get to know your peers and develop strong connections with faculty. A one-on-one connection with a faculty member in your chosen field of study will allow for a mentoring relationship to support you in getting the most out of your education, exploring specific interest areas, work-related referrals, and references for graduate school. Most of the schools on this list have student-to-faculty ratios of one faculty member for every twenty students or better.

The programs included on this list cover a range of bachelor's degrees in specialty areas including addictions counseling; music therapy; art therapy; counseling and health psychology; marriage, couple, and family counseling; and school counseling. These counseling programs allow graduates to go directly into the workforce in the human service field, and they also provide a springboard for graduate study. Graduates can build careers in a number of areas including in education, social service agencies, addiction counseling, government organizations, and human resources. Students interested in working as licensed professional counselors with individuals, couples, and/or families will need to complete a masters degree and the post-graduate professional licensure process. Despite their relatively small size, many of these institutions also offer master's degree programs in counseling and related fields. For more information on potential career paths, see our write-up on Psychology and Counseling Careers and Professional Organizations.

We have sorted this particular list by overall undergraduate graduation rate, a reflection of the priority we're placing on an institution's ability to see its students to the workforce or grad school in a timely fashion. With that said, we encourage you to examine the richness and variety of the many excellent offerings represented here throughout the list.


Ranking the Best Small Colleges for Bachelor's in Counseling Degrees


Arcadia University

Glenside, PA

Arcadia University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with an Art Therapy Emphasis. The program is centered on training students in evidence-based practice. Students will work closely with faculty and peers as they engage in research and internships. Unique features of the program include opportunities to complete your degree at an accelerated pace and study abroad opportunities around the world.

Courses include: introduction to psychology; research methods; learning and cognition; behavioral neuroscience; social psychology; personality psychology; and senior course.

  • Graduation Rate: 61%
  • Undergraduate Population: 2,473
  • Net Price: $27,471

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St. Thomas Aquinas College

Sparkill, NY

The School of Arts and Sciences at St. Thomas Aquinas College offers an undergraduate counseling degree in Art Therapy. Students in the program will learn to use art in a therapeutic way to support individuals and groups struggling with mental health challenges. Students in the program engage in an internship to gain hands-on experience and gain professional skills to enhance future employment opportunities and graduate school admissions. In the past, students in the program have had the opportunity to travel to St. Petersburg Russia to provide art therapy to students in an orphanage.

Graduates of the art therapy program have pursued careers in settings including: hospitals; schools; psychiatric facilities; prisons; private practice; and crisis centers.

  • Graduation Rate: 62%
  • Undergraduate Population: 1,722
  • Net Price: $20,823

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Lancaster Bible College

Lancaster, PA

Lancaster Bible College Counseling and Social Work Department offers a number of undergraduate degrees in counseling. The undergraduate counseling degrees offered include Bachelor of Science in Addiction Counseling; Bachelor of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling; Bachelor of Science in Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling; Bachelor of Science in Professional Counseling; and Bachelor of Science in Professional School Counseling. Students interested in an education with a biblical worldview will find the degree to match their career goals at Lancaster Bible College. Students will benefit from individual attention with the 15 to 1 student-faculty ratio.

Courses include: group experience and self-evaluation; systems of counseling- Christian; principles and techniques of counseling; systems of counseling- psychology; group counseling leadership skills; applied counseling and psychological methodologies; counseling and psychological assessment techniques; human growth and development across the lifespan; abnormal psychology; addictions counseling; research design and statistics for counselors; marriage counseling and psychotherapy; and family counseling and psychotherapy.

  • Graduation Rate: 62%
  • Undergraduate Population: 1,472
  • Net Price: $19,732

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University of St. Francis

Joliet, IL

The University of St. Francis offers a Bachelor of Arts in Substance Abuse Counseling. Electives for this degree are offered in the areas of criminal justice; psychology; social work; recreation and sport management. The Substance Abuse Counseling Program has been approved by the Illinois Certification Board as an Advanced Accredited Training Program, meaning that graduates of the program are prepared to take the exam for certification as a Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Counselor (CADC). Graduates will also be competitive applicants for a master's level counseling program.

Courses include: general psychology; introduction to chemical dependency; group dynamics; lifespan development; abnormal psychology; introduction to forensic psychology; ethics in addiction counseling; psychopharmacology for addiction counselors; introduction to counseling and psychotherapy; advanced techniques in substance abuse treatment; diverse populations in addictions counseling; and substance abuse treatment and prevention.

  • Graduation Rate: 63%
  • Undergraduate Population: 1,620
  • Net Price: $17,968

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Edgewood College

Madison, WI

Edgewood College offers undergraduate degrees with a counseling focus in Art Therapy and in Pre-Music Therapy. The Art Therapy program is designed to introduce students to the practice of art therapy in preparation for graduate school. The program works to engage students in hands-on learning through community partnerships and supervised field experience. The Pre-Music Therapy major works to prepare students for graduate school in Music Therapy. This program is ideal for students who hope to use music for healing in diverse settings in the field of health.

Courses include: digital art and design; darkroom photography; ceramics; introduction to art therapy; multicultural art in the USA; application of art therapy in a multicultural context; world music; and music structure theory and practice.

  • Graduation Rate: 63%
  • Undergraduate Population: 1,661
  • Net Price: $24,111

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William Jessup University

Rocklin, CA

William Jessup University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with concentrations available in Counseling and in Community Mental Health. The program is designed to integrate a Christian Worldview throughout the curriculum and training. With a variety of concentrations, available students can select the course of study that best matches their career goals. Graduates of the program have gone on to successfully pursue graduate school and careers in areas including clinical counseling; social work; corrections/probation work; rehabilitation counseling; and mediation/court advocacy.

Courses include: introduction to psychology; psychology and Christian thought; developmental psychology; introduction to addiction in society; marriage and family; human services; personality theory; small group dynamics; group counseling; counseling skills; cross-cultural issues in psychology; human sexuality; gender studies; abnormal psychology; counseling of addictive behavior; grief and loss; professional skills; and treatment of chemical dependency.

  • Graduation Rate: 65%
  • Undergraduate Population: 1,165
  • Net Price: $22,263

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Indiana Wesleyan University

Marion, IN

Indiana Wesleyan University Marion offers a Bachelor of Science with a Major in Addictions Counseling. Students in this program will learn to consider the whole person when treating addiction including the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual needs of the individual and/or family. Students will learn through coursework and fieldwork through the program's partnerships with community organizations. Students who are interested have the opportunity to work towards an Associate of Science degree which will help enhance professional opportunities upon graduation. Graduates of the program will be prepared to integrate theory and research with the biopsychosocial-spiritual approach to treating the disease of addiction with culturally diverse populations.

Courses include: addictions theory; psychopharmacology; urban encounter for the helping profession; addictions counseling skills; theory and practice of group counseling; counseling addicted and dysfunctional family systems; addiction programs and professional development; developmental psychology; child development; adolescent growth and development; physiological psychology; psychology of abnormal behavior; theories of personality; and minority group relations.

  • Graduation Rate: 65%sprin
  • Undergraduate Population: 2,782
  • Net Price: $19,519

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Marywood University

Scranton, PA

Marywood College in Scranton, PA offers two undergraduate degrees designed to prepare learners for future careers in counseling. Marywood's bachelor of arts in art therapy program includes foundational coursework for students to learn art and healing, approaches of art therapy, and therapeutic applications of art in anticipation of graduate study. Students study studio art and human behavior through classroom and hands-on experiences. The bachelor of science in psychology and counseling services degree at Marywood is structured to provide theoretical and clinical learning experiences to students that will continue to pursue graduate degrees in clinical psychology. Psychology students study psychology across the human lifespan and approaches to counseling. Both programs require students to complete 120 credit hours for degree completion.

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Carroll College

Helena, MT

Carroll College offers a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. The program is designed to provide a foundation in psychology that will enable graduates to take what they have learned into the specific field that they are interested in and continue graduate study at the University of their choice. Students have the opportunity to work closely with peers and faculty on small group projects, research, practicums, and experiences in local mental health organizations. Graduates of the program report feeling prepared for graduate school and careers in a variety of settings including mental health counseling; social services; law enforcement; and teaching.

Courses include: general psychology; developmental psychology; child psychology; adolescent psychology; social psychology; history and systems in psychology; theories and practice in counseling psychology; abnormal psychology; fundamentals of learning; research methods; physiological psychology; and brain and behavior.

  • Graduation Rate: 66%
  • Undergraduate Population: 1,380
  • Net Price: $25,449

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Mercyhurst University

Erie, PA

Mercyhurst University, a Catholic liberal arts institution, offers a Bachelor of Arts in Art Therapy and a Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy. The Art Therapy program includes coursework in art therapy, studio art, and psychology with a focus on learning to use art to address client goals and issues. The Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy is approved by the American Music Therapy Association and focuses on using evidence-based music interventions in clinical settings. Students who complete the Music Therapy program will be eligible to take the national exam to earn the credential Music Therapist-Board Certified (MT-BC). This credential is required for professional practice in the field.

Courses include: art therapy- introduction; art therapy- materials and methods; art therapy- practices; introduction to psychology; developmental psychology- children; developmental psychology- adolescence; personality; human growth and development; abnormal psychology; introduction to sociology; and social psychology.

  • Graduation Rate: 67%
  • Undergraduate Population: 2,464
  • Net Price: $21,648

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Immaculata University

Immaculata, PA

Immaculata University offers a Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy. This liberal arts program offers courses in music, music therapy, and psychology to support students in having a strong understanding of the psychology of music and psychopathology. Upon completion of the program, students are eligible to take the Music Therapy Board Certification exam of the Certification Board for Music Therapists. Graduates of the program will be competent in working with individuals and groups providing assessment, treatment planning, and using music, particularly guitar, piano, and voice therapeutically in a variety of clinical and educational settings.

Courses include: orientation to music therapy; music therapy foundations; didactic practices of music therapy; medical practices of music therapy; psychiatric practices of music therapy; ethical practice in music therapy; music therapy research; theoretical orientations to music therapy clinical practice; psychology of music; foundations of psychology; developmental psychology; and abnormal psychology.

  • Graduation Rate: 67%
  • Undergraduate Population: 1,555
  • Net Price: $29,386

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Emmanuel College

Boston, MA

Emmanuel College offers a couple of counseling focused undergraduate degrees with their Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a Concentration in Counseling and Health Psychology and a Pre-Professional Program in Art Therapy. In both programs, students will gain a foundation in psychology and current mental health challenges and theories with a focus on relieving stressful and life-impacting symptoms. Students have the opportunity to engage in meaningful internships at the local, nationally recognized institutions, including Massachusetts General Hospital; Boston Children's Hospital; and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Located in Boston, students have access to all the benefits of a big city, while experiencing all the benefits of a small college, with Emmanuel's 13 to 1 student-faculty ratio.

Courses include: general psychology; physiological bases of behavior; cognition; health psychology; child psychopathology; adult psychopathology; relationships, marriage and the family; cross-cultural psychology; race, gender and sexuality; child psychology; adulthood and aging; adolescent development; visual language for design and communications; introduction to art therapy; and principles of art therapy.

  • Graduation Rate: 67%
  • Undergraduate Population: 2,012
  • Net Price: $31,891

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University of Detroit Mercy

Detroit, MI

The University of Detroit Mercy offers a Bachelor of Science with a major in Addiction Studies. A minor in addictions studies is also offered. The program is designed to meet the diverse needs of students with full-time and part-time programs of study available. Courses are offered in the evening in order to allow students to maintain work and family commitments while pursuing their degree. Coursework covers drug and alcohol addictions, sexual addictions, gambling addictions, and co-occurring mental health disorders. An optional clinical internship is available for students who are interested in that. Graduates will be prepared to enter the workforce with the skills to provide prevention, assessment, and intervention services to individuals and families impacted by the disease of addiction.

Addictions studies major courses include: introduction to addiction studies; assessment of substance use disorders; techniques of individual counseling; substance use disorders in youth; process disorders- gambling and sexual addiction; family theory and therapy; group methods; prevention and intervention of substance abuse; spirituality and recovery; and multicultural competence in treating substance-related-disorders.

  • Graduation Rate: 68%
  • Undergraduate Population: 2,646
  • Net Price: $22,382

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Union University

Jackson, TN

Union University is a private Christian University.The Department of Art at Union University offers an Art Therapy Degree. The program is designed to provide students with a foundation in art and psychology in preparation for graduate study in the field of art therapy. Union University works to attract a diverse student population with traditional students, home educated students, and international students. Union University works hard to provide all students with the support they need to be successful and reports a freshman retention rate of 91%.

Courses include: sculpture; photography; painting; ceramics; art therapy internship; introduction to psychology; developmental psychology; abnormal psychology; theories of personality; advanced general psychology; experimental psychology; psychological assessment; and introduction to counseling.

  • Graduation Rate: 68%
  • Undergraduate Population: 2,286
  • Net Price: $25,759

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Wartburg College

Waverly, IA

Wartburg College offers a music therapy bachelor's degree to students interested in applying evidence-based music therapy in clinical and educational settings. Wartburg has two degree tracks, one for music education and music therapy designed for learners that want to teach at the K-12 level. The second track, a bachelor of music in music therapy, provides future mental health professionals with coursework to become a board-certified music therapist. Students in both of Wartburg College's music therapy participate in classroom learning and practicum experiences to develop and apply knowledge of music theory, human development, and individual and group behavior. Both degrees also provide students with opportunities to do an six-month internship.

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University of Evansville

Evansville, IN

The University of Evansville offers a Bachelor of Science in Art, Pre-Art Therapy. The Department of Art offers this degree with a core curriculum in art to provide a foundation and framework for all art majors. From there, students move on to focused study in their chosen art major. The Pre-Art Therapy major is designed for students who want to work professionally in art and psychology, using art as the tool to enhance people's mental health. Students are supported by faculty in ensuring that their coursework includes the psychology courses necessary to be eligible for a graduate program in Art Therapy.

Courses include: introduction to art therapy; introduction to studio art; introduction to the visual arts; design; computer graphics; basic photography; drawing; creative development and art therapy; life drawing; printmaking; watercolor; art and culture; and art therapy seminar.

  • Graduation Rate: 69%
  • Undergraduate Population: 2,248
  • Net Price: $22,068

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Nazareth College

Rochester, NY

A Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy is available at Nazareth College. This program is approved by the American Music Therapy Association. Students in the program will have in-depth music training including the performance opportunities, similar to other music majors, throughout their time in the program. Students in the program also engage in focused clinical training. Under the supervision of a board-certified music therapist students will progress through the program beginning with clinical observation and building to leading sessions in community health clinics and the College's state-of-the-art Music Therapy Clinic.

Courses include: introduction to music therapy; psychology of music; instrumental methods and repertoire for music therapists; music in therapy; research in music therapy; music therapy internship; functional piano for music therapists; introduction to psychology- natural science; and psychology of the exceptional individual.

  • Graduation Rate: 69%
  • Undergraduate Population: 2,159
  • Net Price: $28,379

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Springfield College

Springfield, MA

Springfield College offers a Bachelor of Science in Art Therapy. Students can choose the concentration in Art Therapy as a major or minor. The program offers a core curriculum in addition to a number of electives that students have the opportunity to choose from as they work towards their degree. Students have the opportunity to work closely with faculty and with artists and art therapists in the community. The art therapy program takes pride in their facilities and strives to provide accessible workspaces for students who are motivated to creating and collaborating. Graduates will be prepared to work with diverse populations and/or pursue a graduate degree in art therapy.

Courses include: art therapy with special needs populations; pre-practicum in art therapy and art education; multicultural issues in art therapy; studio in painting; studio in ceramics; human development; abnormal psychology; printmaking for the art therapist; arts and ideas; psychology of art and artists; art in the community; and art therapy and the elderly client.

  • Graduation Rate: 70%
  • Undergraduate Population: 2,114
  • Net Price: $28,368

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Elizabethtown College

Elizabethtown, PA

A Major in Music Therapy is offered at Elizabethtown College. This degree combines coursework in music, psychology, biology, and music therapy with the goal of training students to use music therapeutically. Students will learn a variety of comprehensive skills including the ability to perform with their principal instrument; utilize music and non-music therapeutic skills to support clients in music therapy sessions; communication skills with client and stakeholders; the critical professional skills required by a music therapist; and the ability to apply research professionally. Students have the opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom in practical clinical experiences on and off campus under the supervision of a board-certified music therapist.

Courses include: introduction to music therapy; music therapy and clinical populations; music history; music therapy methods and techniques; music technology; psychology of music and research methods; professional internship in music therapy; abnormal psychology; lifespan development; child and adolescent development; and adult development and aging.

  • Graduation Rate: 74%
  • Undergraduate Population: 1,737
  • Net Price: $28,518

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Maryville University of Saint Louis

Saint Louis, MO

A Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a Concentration in Rehabilitation is available at Maryville University of Saint Louis. Students who elect to pursue the concentration in Rehabilitation will take specific courses and have practical experience that leads to a strong foundation in the process of rehabilitation counseling. This degree will prepare graduates for entry-level social service positions or for graduate school in rehabilitation counseling or a related field. Faculty at Maryville University take advantage of the small college setting to get to know and mentor students as they work towards their academic and professional goals.

Courses include: general psychology; critical thinking in psychology; human development throughout the lifespan; abnormal psychology; social psychology; multicultural psychology; human cognition; the individual and society; medical aspects; communication and helping skills; employment and disability; substance abuse; issues in counseling; and psychiatric rehabilitation.

  • Graduation Rate: 75%
  • Undergraduate Population: 2,967
  • Net Price: $26,654

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To develop the ranking of Top 25 Small Colleges for an Undergraduate Degree in Counseling, we used information gathered from the Institute of Education Sciences' College Navigator to evaluate colleges and universities with under 3,000 students. For this list, we chose to look at schools offering four-year undergraduate degrees. Next, we cross-referenced with Council for Higher Education Accreditation to keep only regionally accredited schools. We then checked each college and university to confirm that they did offer a degree with a counseling emphasis, track, or concentration, such as addiction counseling, mental health counseling, community health services, clinical counseling, and counseling psychology. Finally, we sorted the schools by graduation rate, and we present the top 25 schools in our ranking.

See also: 25 Most Accessible Bachelor's in Counseling Degree Online Programs