Can I Get a Counseling Degree Online?


Updated March 19, 2024 · 3 Min Read

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You can earn a master's in counseling online — but are online counseling degrees respected? Will an online degree limit your licensure or employment options?

There's good news if you are considering an online counseling degree. Most employers and state licensing boards treat online and on-campus counseling programs the same. As long as you choose a reputable program, you can benefit from the flexibility of an online schedule without sacrificing quality or career options.

Popular Online Counseling Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

How Do Online Counseling Degrees Work?

The requirements for an online counseling degree are the same as an on-campus degree. In an online program, you often take the same classes taught by the same faculty as in-person programs. The only difference is the delivery method.

During an online counseling program, you complete coursework online with either live class sessions or recorded lectures. You also gain counseling experience through practicums and internships in your local area.

Some programs require on-campus residencies where you meet classmates and faculty. In other programs, you do not need to travel to campus to earn your master's degree.

Advantages of Earning Your Master's in Counseling Online

For many counseling graduate students, an online learning format offers several advantages. First, learning online means more flexibility in your schedule. That can make it easier to work while in a master's program. Or you can choose an accelerated online program to fast-track your education.

Second, earning your degree online can save you money. You'll pay fewer on-campus fees and limit your commuting costs. And you can compare tuition rates to find the most affordable online counseling program.

Finally, an online format means you can find specialized master's in counseling programs that match your career goals. By enrolling online, you can attend a top program without the cost and disruption of relocating.

Are Online Counseling Degrees Respected?

Before investing in a master's degree, you want to make sure your education will translate into the workforce. So are online counseling degrees respected by employers? Can you earn a license with an online counseling degree?

In short, an accredited online counseling degree meets the same high standards and licensing requirements as an in-person program. As a result, state licensing boards and employers do not differentiate between online and on-campus coursework. In fact, diplomas rarely state whether you earned your degree online or in person.

While it's critical to choose a reputable, accredited school to earn your degree, you can pursue a master's in counseling online, knowing that it's a respected option.

Choosing the Right Online Counseling Degree

Before applying to online counseling programs, you need to find programs that match your schedule, budget, and career goals. Here are some factors to consider when choosing an online counseling degree.

Consider a Specialty

During an online counseling program, you can specialize in several areas. Choosing the right program can set you up for career success after graduation. A few types of counseling degrees commonly available online include:

When researching programs, review the specialization options and curriculum to find an option that matches your educational goals.

Evaluate School and Program Accreditation

Always choose an accredited school to earn an online degree. Accredited institutions meet the highest standards for academic quality.

For counseling degrees, you should also consider programmatic accreditation. In some states, including Ohio, North Carolina, and Kentucky, you need to attend a CACREP-accredited master's program to become a licensed counselor. Florida will also require programmatic accreditation after July 1, 2025.

Research the licensure and certification requirements in your state to make sure your online degree qualifies.

Understand State Licensing Requirements

Counselor licensing requirements vary by state. Online programs offered in one state may not qualify for licensure in another state. That means it's critical to understand state licensure requirements in the state where you plan to practice.

Contact programs to learn whether they meet the state licensing requirements in your state. Most states also provide lists of approved programs or requirements for licensure candidates educated out-of-state.

Consider Course Delivery and Scheduling

An online learning format prioritizes flexibility, but each program has different course delivery methods and schedule requirements. For example, some programs do not require set login times, while others have live class sessions.

You can also consider whether the program offers part-time enrollment, accelerated tracks, or a cohort model. These factors can shape your experience in the program.

Evaluate In-Person Requirements and Support

Many online counseling degrees include in-person requirements. Compare the practicum or clinical requirements at different programs when researching your options. It's a good idea to check whether the program offers placement assistance or if you need to find your own qualifying sites.

Similarly, check whether the program requires on-campus residencies, which can add to the total cost.

Counseling Degree FAQs

Are online counseling degrees respected by employers?

Yes, online counseling degrees are respected by employers because accredited online programs meet the same high academic standards as on-campus options. In fact, many programs grant the same diploma to all graduates, regardless of the delivery format. In addition, an accredited online counseling degree meets the same state licensure requirements as an in-person degree.

Getting a master's in counseling online can be challenging because you need to balance online classes with in-person clinical requirements. However, if you have strong time management and organizational skills, earning your master's online might be a good choice. With an online format, you have greater flexibility to meet degree requirements.

Earning a master's degree in counseling online generally takes two years for full-time students. The length depends on the program and your enrollment status. For example, part-time students may graduate in three years, while some accelerated programs take less than two years.

Getting a master's in counseling online can pay off. That's because an accredited master's in counseling meets the requirements for careers as a marriage and family therapist, clinical mental health counselor, or school counselor. An online format can also help you save costs and balance school with work.

Page last reviewed on March 4, 2024

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