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Counseling Degree Programs in Illinois

Written by: Sara Walters
Last updated: May 2020

Counselors assist clients to overcome and cope with mental health, behavioral, social, and emotional issues. They work with all kinds of patients, including couples and families, individuals, those suffering with substance abuse, and young people in schools.

In Illinois, counselors earn an annual mean wage between $41,430-$69,900, depending on the specific counseling field in which they practice. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that counselors working as marriage and family therapists tend to earn more than those practicing general counseling.

To obtain counseling licensure in the state, applicants must earn a master's or doctoral degree in counseling from an accredited program and pass a national certification exam. Applicants must submit proof of graduation from an accredited program to qualify for the certification exam.

This guide provides rankings of the best accredited Illinois counseling degrees for learners interested in practicing as licensed counselors in the state.

Career Outlook for Counselors in Illinois

Counselors in Illinois work in a variety of specialized fields and positions, including rehabilitation, substance abuse, marriage and family therapy, school and career counseling, and mental health counseling. Each type of counselor may work in different industries and work environments, with different earning potentials. Counselors frequently work with local and state governments, individual and family services centers, schools, and health practitioners.

Depending on where they work, counselors may provide services to patients and clients of all demographics, including children, adolescents, and adults. Job duties, patient populations, and services vary based on each counselor's specialization and workplace.

The BLS projects 13.1% employment growth for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors in Illinois and 6.6% for rehabilitation counselors by 2026. Illinois ranks in the top five highest paying states for general counselors. The Chicago metro area also boasts one of the highest employment rates for counselors in the country. 

Counseling Degree Programs in Illinois


Argosy University – Chicago

College of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences

Easily accessible by bus or subway on North Michigan Avenue just a few blocks from Millennium Park in the heart of the Windy City, Argosy University – Chicago is one of 28 campuses nationwide of the private for-profit college system owned by the Education Management Corporation. Formed from the merging of the American School of Professional Psychology and the Medical Institute of Minnesota, Argosy University has been ranked as the 30th best online college by the Guide to Online Schools. Within the College of Psychology and Behavior Sciences, the Department of Counselor Education is committed to providing academic learning with flexible learning formats to prepare highly qualified counseling professionals.

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Community Counseling

Designed to provide students with a solid foundation for counseling practice with a multi-faceted focus on developmental and preventive mental health services, the accredited M.A. in Community Counseling program introduces students to the basic skills of individual, group, family, community, and organizational interventions. Students are prepared as master's level practitioners with knowledge of social diversity to assume specialized roles in individual or group counseling, case management, professional consultation, and/or supervision in a variety of mental health services. All graduates are eligible to pursue licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Illinois upon completion.

Accreditations

  • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Senior Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

Contact Information

225 North Michigan Avenue Suite 1300
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 777-7600
auchi_isr@argosy.edu
http://www.argosy.edu/locations/chicago-downtown/programs/community-counseling-degree-59412.aspx


Argosy University – Schaumburg

College of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences

Within blocks of the second largest public library in Illinois at the Schaumburg Township District Library, Argosy University – Schaumburg is one of 28 campuses for the private for-profit system spread across the nation to provide postsecondary education conveniently for working adult learners. Situated in the northwest suburbs of Chicago along an 87-mile bike path network in the village of Schaumburg, Argosy University has been ranked as the 30th best online college consistently by the Guide to Online Schools. The College of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences is focused on preparing practitioners who are grounded in the fundamentals of behavioral science and able to apply clinical research to ethical professional practice.

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

The M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at the Schaumburg campus aims to offer human services providers with the extensive knowledge and variety of skills needed to effectively serve in the counseling program. Designed to parallel with the prevailing state licensure and certification requirements, the curriculum covers topics in professional identity, social and cultural diversity, human growth and development, career counseling, helping relationships, group dynamics, assessment, research, program evaluation, communication, and interpersonal effectiveness. According to the 2012 graduation survey, 100 percent of graduates from the accredited counseling program actively seeking jobs were employed within six months.

Accreditations

  • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Senior Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

Contact Information

999 North Plaza Drive Suite 111
Schaumburg, IL 60173
(847) 969-4900
ausch_isr@argosy.edu
http://www.argosy.edu/locations/chicago-schaumburg/programs/clinical-mental-health-counseling-degree-431912.aspx


Bradley University

Department of Leadership in Education, Human Services, and Counseling

Positioned in the historic West Bluff residential neighborhood on an 85-acre campus in the heart of the largest metropolitan area in downstate Illinois in Peoria, Bradley University is a comprehensive private institution offering a world-class education to more than 5,700 students in over 100 academic programs. With 96 percent of students having at least one experiential learning experience in their career-related field, Bradley is currently ranked as the 5th best college and 7th best value school in the Midwest by the U.S. News and World Report. The Department of Leadership in Education, Human Services, and Counseling offers graduate education to prepare administrators and counselors for practice in schools or non-profit work.

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

With an emphasis placed on human development, the M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program aims to prepare professional counselors to work in diverse populations of clients in a variety of mental health settings to promote growth. Through a seamless blend of cognitive and experiential learning, the curriculum includes 60 credit hours, including 9 credits in specialty area coursework on clinical counseling and a thesis. Adhering to the ethical standards of the American Counseling Association, the program also offers graduate students a chance to gain practical experience with licensed faculty at the on-campus Counseling Research and Training Clinic to provide services to populations throughout the six-county area.

Master of Arts (M.A.) in School Counseling

Following the human development counseling model for preparing counselors who have the ability to recognize the profound interactive effect of people and human systems, the M.A. in School Counseling program is intended for counselors who wish to practice their skills in public or private school settings with children K-12. Ensuring that all graduates are eligible to sit for the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE), the program involves 61 credit hours covering topics in human growth, research methodology, interpersonal behavior, counseling ethics, organizational leadership, psycho-diagnosis, crisis intervention, individual appraisal, family counseling, practicum, and two field internships relevant to the specialty.

Accreditations

  • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • National Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
  • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA)

Contact Information

Westlake Hall Room 330A
1501 W. Bradley Avenue
Peoria, IL 61625
(309) 677-3193
aviles@bradley.edu
http://www.bradley.edu/academic/departments/lehc/programs/cmhc/


Chicago State University

Department of Psychology

Governed by a Board of Trustees appointed by the Governor of Illinois, Chicago State University is a comprehensive public state institution that was founded in 1867 to provide quality learning experiences to minority students who were otherwise denied access to economic and social educational benefits. Not only has Chicago State been ranked first for awarding degrees to African Americans and fourth for awarding degrees to Latino students in Illinois, but it also is ranked 18th in the nation for granting degrees to minority students in all fields. The CSU Department of Psychology is committed to producing highly qualified graduates who are equipped with the skills to serve the complex counseling demands in urban school and community settings with a specific emphasis on diverse youth and their families.

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Intended for individuals with an interest in pursuing professional careers in community agencies such as mental health clinics, substance abuse treatment centers, and non-educational settings, the accredited M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program focuses on producing developmental practitioners and consultants with strong preparation in clinical intervention. Through a curriculum consisting of 60 required credit hours, students engage in coursework on topics of lifespan development, group counseling, multicultural issues, assessment and diagnosis, treatment interventions for youth, family systems counseling, counseling ethics, research, and psychopathology. In addition, students must complete a total of 100 hours of practicum and 900 hours of internship in an approved clinical field placement.

Master of Arts (M.A.) in School Counseling

Based on the Developmental Counseling Model, the Master of Arts in School Counseling program aims to prepare graduate students to serve the mental health needs of the entire school community in diverse urban settings. Requiring students to complete a total of 51 semester credits, 100 hours of practicum, and 600 hours of internship experience in an urban school environment, the program qualifies graduates to sit for examinations for the State of Illinois School Service Personnel Certificate with an endorsement in guidance. If interested, students in this program also have the option to complete a few extra courses to gain a Bilingual specialization focused on Hispanic/Latino socio-cultural backgrounds.

Accreditations

  • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA)

Contact Information

Harold Washington Hall Room 311
9501 South King Drive
Chicago, IL 60628
(773) 995-2359
counseling@csu.edu
http://www.csu.edu/cas/psychology/graduate/index.htm


Concordia University – Chicago

College of Graduate and Innovative Programs

As a private comprehensive university of the Lutheran Church centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and based in a strong liberal arts foundation, Concordia University – Chicago is located in the suburban village of River Forest just 10 miles west of the metropolitan hub of Chicago. Serving more than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students in its four distinctive colleges, CU Chicago is ranked as the 83rd best university in the Midwest by the U.S. News and World Report. The College of Graduate and Innovative Programs has been specifically structured to meet the unique needs of graduate level students with nationally respected and accredited advance degree programs in flexible scheduling formats.