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What are the Residency Requirements for Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees?

what-are-the-residency-requirements-for-online-masters-in-counseling-degreesIf you are planning to earn a Master's degree majoring in Counseling by studying the curriculum online, you may be wondering if there are residency requirements for counseling degrees that you earn through online portals. While most traditional graduate schools offering counseling degrees have strict residency requirements, the requirements for online degrees are a bit different. Even so, you will be required to complete a residency where you can interact with fellow students and also work with faculty in person. Read on, and find out why residencies are required and how you will fulfill this requirement when you study online.

What is a Residency Requirement?

When you are studying for a clinical degree, you are typically required to complete a residency requirement before you can earn your Master's degree in a health-related career area. Generally speaking, all clinical graduate counseling programs that are accredited by the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council or another accrediting body will require no less than one residency.

The purpose of a residency is to help professionals who will eventually earn a clinical license gain the hands-on experience that they need to build the experience and professional network that they need to apply what they have learned in class. You can cover much of the content, lectures and text online, but residencies must all be completed in-person with faculty, peers, and experienced practicing professionals in the field.

What are the Most Common Residency Requirements?

Most students who are studying for a Master's degree in Counseling are familiar with the fact that they must complete the curriculum and even a practicum. If you are studying online, you may be surprised to learn you also need to complete at least 2 residencies before you are granted your official Master's degree. Each of these experiences focuses on a different competency you will need to posses in clinical counseling settings. Here are two examples of residencies that current Master's students complete:

* Residency to develop multicultural competencies as needed in counseling
* Residency for clinical skill building in a group setting

How Are Counseling Residencies Structured When You Are Studying Online?

If you are earning a Master of Science in Counseling online, you should know that there are portions of your degree requirements that will call for you to work in face-to-face group settings. For participating in a residency, online students will have the option to take self-paced modules and assessments online.


Once completing the online course, the school will require you to travel to the site and to complete an in-person module that can range from 5 to 7 days. While you are with your faculty, you will receive direction, feedback and opportunities to network as you cover the competencies the residency is focusing on. Before you apply or enroll to an online counseling degree program, you should be sure you are able to meet the residency obligations.

While there are entry-level roles for students with an undergraduate degree in counseling, a Master's degree will open up opportunities for you. Once you have a graduate degree, you can work in teaching, research, social services, marriage counseling, school counseling, mental health counseling and substance abuse counseling. Make sure to review the licensing requirements in your state to learn more about the path you will need to take. Once you do this, review the residency requirements for counseling degrees and decide if studying online is right for you.