Top 5 Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Programs of 2022

| Staff Writers

Top 5 Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Programs of 2022

Are you ready to find your fit?

Best Counseling Degrees Badge
With more and more people seeking mental health counseling services in the U.S., the counseling profession continues to grow. In fact, the number of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors could increase by nearly 80,000 professionals from 2019-2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That's a projected growth rate of 25% -- much faster than the national average for all occupations. If you want to become a clinical mental health counselor, first you need to meet the requirements for licensure. That includes a master's in clinical mental health counseling. These programs typically last 1-2 years, depending on the program format and the student's past experience. Online degrees often offer more flexible options, allowing distance learners to enroll in accelerated programs or study at their own pace. This page lists the best online master's in mental health counseling programs, all of them accredited and offering students a valuable education.

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

Applying to a Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program

In order to apply to counseling master's programs, prospective students need at least a bachelor's degree. Schools typically prefer candidates with an undergraduate degree in psychology, education, or a related field. However, some schools consider applicants who studied something entirely different. If you chose an unrelated undergraduate major, you can always boost your application by volunteering at a mental health services agency. Applicants should also possess a minimum undergraduate GPA ranging from 2.5-3.0. They should submit their official transcripts, resume, and recommendation letters. Some programs also require a personal essay in which students describe their education and career goals. Many schools expect prospective students to submit standardized test scores from the GRE or MAT as well. During the application process, candidates may need to participate in an admissions interview.

Best Online Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Degree Programs

  1. Wake Forest University
    Location

    Winston-Salem, NC

    Founded in 1834, Wake Forest University is a private university in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The university comprises six schools and colleges and offers more than 45 academic majors and 60 minors. More than 8,000 students attend Wake Forest.

    Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

    Wake Forest offers an online master of arts in clinical mental health counseling program. Degree-seekers complete a practicum and internship. The curriculum explores eight areas of advanced counseling. Coursework features group work and career development, and learners gain foundational cultural knowledge.

    In addition to online coursework, students complete two required residency sessions. During the residencies, faculty evaluate each student's competency. The master's in mental health counseling requires 60 credit hours, which learners complete part time.

    Graduates qualify to take the National Clinical Mental Health Exam and pursue the licensed clinical professional counselor credential. Degree-seekers should check their state's licensure requirements, as some states require in-person coursework.

    Applying to Wake Forest

    Applicants submit a personal statement and three letters of recommendation. Wake Forest charges an $80 application fee. Candidates participate in a virtual interview with an admissions advisor. Required prerequisites include a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 2.5 GPA. Applicants also need a minimum 300 GRE score with a writing score of at least three. Wake Forest waives GRE requirements for some applicants.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
    • Tuition: $1,510 per credit hour ($90,600 total)
    • Required Credits: 60 credit hours
    • Program Length: 36 months (part time)
    • Delivery Format: fully online courses with some in-person requirements
  2. Pepperdine University
    Location

    Malibu, CA

    Pepperdine University is a private Christian institution based on an 830-acre campus in Malibu, California. Founded in 1937, Pepperdine offers undergraduate and graduate programs in business, psychology, liberal arts, law, and education. The university enrolls approximately 3,500 undergraduate students per year.

    Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology

    Pepperdine delivers an online master of arts in clinical psychology program with two tracks. Learners can pursue a licensed clinical counselor path. These students prepare to diagnose and treat mental health issues such as substance-use disorders.

    The licensed marriage and family therapist path emphasizes the diagnosis and treatment of issues pertaining to marital and parent-child relationships. Degree-seekers on this track gain the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue the licensed professional clinical counselor or associate marriage and family therapy credential.

    Online students learn from the same professionals who teach on-campus courses. Pepperdine delivers online courses synchronously. Because licensure requirements vary by state, prospective students should ensure Pepperdine's program meets their state's requirements.

    Applying to Pepperdine

    Students must reside in the U.S. throughout their enrollment at Pepperdine. Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Prospective students submit a personal statement and two letters of recommendation. Pepperdine charges a $55 application fee and does not require GRE scores.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission
    • Tuition: $1,700 per unit
    • Required Credits: 62 units
    • Program Length: 27 months
    • Delivery Format: fully online classes (synchronous) plus clinical training
  3. Grace College and Seminary
    Location

    Winona Lake, IN

    Founded in 1948, Grace College and Seminary is a private Christian school in Winona Lake, Indiana. Approximately 1,200 learners study on campus. The institution offers more than 90 majors and minors in areas such as ministry, business, and behavioral sciences. Grace launched its graduate-level counseling program in 1995.

    Master of Clinical Mental Health Counseling

    Grace offers a fully online master of clinical mental health counseling program. Students progress through the curriculum in cohorts. The program integrates a Christian perspective. Coursework emphasizes ethics, theory, diagnosis, and clinical experience. Students undergo counseling sessions to improve their self-awareness and overcome personal issues. These sessions help learners develop an understanding of clients and improve their counseling abilities.

    Each year, students participate in a week-long, on-campus residency program. Participants grow spiritually while developing clinical skills. The accredited master's program prepares students to obtain Indiana licensure. Out-of-state learners may need to complete additional licensure requirements. Some states require in-person coursework.

    Applying to Grace

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited school and a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Prospective students must undergo a background check, which requires a $50 fee. Applicants provide a professional reference and participate in a phone interview with a representative of the admissions committee.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
    • Tuition: $586 per credit hour ($34,620 total)
    • Required Credits: 60 credit hours
    • Program Length: 36 months for full-time students
    • Delivery Format: Fully online classes plus a one-week, in-person residency each term
  4. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    Founded in 1971, Liberty is a private Christian institution. The university offers more than 700 academic programs, including 450 online options. Liberty enrolls more than 100,000 students. The university is based on a 7,000-acre campus in Lynchburg, Virginia.

    Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

    Liberty's online master of arts in clinical mental health counseling program features a structured internship and practicum. The program focuses on evidenced-based practice, legalities, theories, and multicultural counseling. Degree-seekers gain clinical skills. The curriculum comprises 60 credits. Transfer students can bring up to 30 credits. Learners must maintain a 3.0 GPA to remain in good standing and qualify for the clinical experience.

    The accredited program prepares Virginia residents to pursue the licensed professional counselor credential. Prospective students should check their state board's requirements.

    Applying to Liberty

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited school and a minimum 2.7 GPA. Candidates need at least three credits in statistics or math. Application materials include two professional recommendations, a statement of purpose, and a $50 application fee.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
    • Tuition: $565 per credit (full time), $615 per credit (part time)
    • Required Credits: 60 credits
    • Program Length: 24 months
    • Delivery Format: Fully online classes with two on-campus intensives (36-40 hours each)
  5. Sacred Heart University
    Location

    Fairfield, CT

    Located in Fairfield, Connecticut, Sacred Heart University was founded in 1963. The private Catholic university delivers liberal arts programs. Nearly 9,300 students attend the institution. SHU offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs from its 350-acre campus.

    Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

    SHU's online master of arts in clinical mental health counseling program allows working professionals to pursue the degree at their own pace. Students gain professional counseling skills. Coursework fosters learners' ethics, spirituality, and cultural sensitivity. Coursework covers topics including human growth and development, ethical and cultural approaches, and wellness throughout life.

    In addition to online courses, students complete 600-1,000 internship hours. Graduates often pursue leadership roles in the human services and mental health fields. The accredited program qualifies graduates for licensure in many states. Most students graduate in 2-3 terms.

    Applying to SHU

    Admission requirements include an application fee, two letters of recommendation, and a state-specific acknowledgement form. Prospective students participate in an interview through videoconferencing. Applicants need a bachelor's degree and a minimum 2.75 GPA. SHU does not require GRE or MAT test scores.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
    • Tuition: $800 per credits
    • Required Credits: 60 credits
    • Program Length: 24 months
    • Delivery Format: Fully online courses (asynchronous) plus two week-long residencies and 600-1,000 internship hours

Methodology

View ranking methodology here.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What do clinical mental health counselors do?

    Clinical mental health counselors provide mental health services to patients. Unlike nonclinical counselors, these professionals work with patients who have more serious mental or behavioral issues. They can also assess, diagnose, and treat patients with psychotherapy or other mental health approaches.
  • What is accreditation and why is it important?

    Within the higher education system, accreditation is put into place to ensure that students receive a quality education. Aspiring mental health counselors can only obtain state licensure if they possess an accredited degree. Employers look for job candidates with accredited degrees, as well. When searching for accredited programs, look for credentials from agencies like the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
  • Is an online master's in mental health counseling a good degree?

    An online master's in mental health counseling is a good degree for anyone who wants to become a mental health counselor. It can also serve as a good degree for students who eventually hope to earn their Ph.D. Remember to make sure you find an accredited online mental health counseling program, which guarantees that your degree will have value when looking for jobs.
  • What can I do with a master’s in clinical mental health counseling degree?

    A master's in clinical mental health counseling prepares graduates to become licensed clinical professional counselors. Some students prefer to go into a certain specialty, like substance abuse and addiction, school counseling, or geriatric counseling. Others might aim to work in academia as a professor, while others might go into social and community services.

Recommended Reading

Helping you prepare and gain the most out of your educational experience.

Are you ready to do impactful work in your community?

Choose what you’d like to specialize in, and discover which schools offer a counseling degree that can help you make a difference.