Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Counseling Degrees 2021

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Prospective counselors face a bright employment outlook. According to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counseling field should add 79,000 jobs from 2019-29, leading to an above-average 25% job growth rate. School and career counselors should enjoy a projected 8% job growth rate in the same time period.

Counselors must hold a bachelor’s degree in counseling, psychology, or a related field. While many earn their degrees through traditional on-campus programs, some choose to enroll in affordable counseling programs online.

Online bachelor’s in counseling degrees are identical to on-campus degrees and differ only in format. Distance learners use web-based learning platforms to stream lectures and study at their convenience. Online degrees are often less expensive than on-campus programs, allowing candidates to save money on transportation and fees.

You can find a list of the most affordable online counseling degrees below.

Methodology

View ranking methodology here.

Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Counseling Degrees

Rank School Location
1 University of Louisville Louisville, KY
2 Toccoa Falls College Toccoa Falls, GA
3 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS
4 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
5 Bay Path University Longmeadow, MA

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.

  1. University of Louisville
    Location

    Louisville, KY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A public university in Louisville, Kentucky, UofL offers an online bachelor of science in organizational leadership and learning (OLL), focused on counseling and human relations. The program prepares students to apply the fundamentals of mental health, including the impacts of diversity and the latest methodologies, to leadership roles in organizations and businesses.

    Beyond general education requirements, the program requires 29 credits of core coursework and 15 credits of OLL track courses. Work specialization and elective credits required depend on the results of the student's prior learning assessment, which gives course credit based on nontraditional learning experiences such as military training or work history. All students must complete a culminating program exit experience, which may include a site-based practicum or a portfolio with a final reflective paper.

    Courses Include

    • Culture, Social Justice, and Advocacy
    • Instructional Strategies and Group Facilitation Techniques
    • Managing Projects in the Workplace
    • Occupational Learning
    • Advanced Occupational Experiences

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $499 per credit
    • Credits Required: 120 credits
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  2. Toccoa Falls College
    Location

    Toccoa Falls, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A small, private college in Toccoa Falls, Georgia, TFC offers a fully online bachelor of science in counseling psychology. The program focuses on the intersection between faith and mental health, preparing students for scripture-based counseling careers. Students also learn to prioritize their own mental health and spiritual maturity in recognition that the best counselors are healthy themselves.

    In addition to general education requirements, all students must take 30 credits of Bible and theology courses. All learners complete the same core courses, along with their choice of six elective credits. They must also complete a final research project, an internship, or both. Those going into research careers or doctoral studies often choose the research project, while those interested in clinical careers typically select the internship.

    Courses Include

    • Foundations of Spiritual Formation
    • Christ-Centered Counseling
    • Premarital & Marital Counseling
    • Research Methods in Psychology
    • Counseling for Addictions

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $345 per credit
    • Credits Required: 126 credits minimum
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  3. Fort Hays State University
    Location

    Hays, KS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    FHSU, a public university based in Hays, Kansas, offers a 100% online bachelor of arts or bachelor of science in sociology-addictions counseling track. The two programs follow a nearly identical course of study, but the BA requires a foreign language while the BS does not.

    In addition to general liberal arts requirements, all students take a series of core courses in sociology followed by 30 credits focused specifically on addictions. Enrollees must also complete two three-credit practicum experiences. The program leads to licensure in Kansas as an addictions counselor. Those from other states should contact their local licensing board for more information.

    Courses Include

    • Understanding Society: Introductory Sociology
    • Sociological Theory and Literature
    • Addictions Counseling with Families
    • Group Counseling with Addiction Populations
    • Pharmacology & High Risk Medical Issues

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $182 per credit (in-state) / $251 per credit (Contiguous State Resident Program or Midwest Student Exchange Program) / $530 per credit (out-of-state)
    • Credits Required: 120 credits
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  4. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Liberty, a private, evangelical Christian university located in Lynchburg, Virginia, offers an online bachelor of science in psychology-crisis counseling. This non-licensure program brings a Biblical perspective to the field of psychology, integrating a Bible-based worldview with the latest crisis counseling techniques. The program requires students to complete a 125-contact-hour internship.

    Students prepare specifically to provide short-term trauma therapy rather than long-term counseling. Crisis counseling typically lasts just a few weeks, addressing the most urgent immediate needs of traumatized clients. Many students go on to graduate school to become licensed counselors.

    Courses Include

    • Christian Life & Biblical Worldview
    • Survey of Old & New Testament
    • Multicultural Counseling & Research Issues
    • Foundational Principles of Crisis Response
    • Acute Stress, Grief & Trauma

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $390 per credit (full-time) / $455 per credit (part-time)
    • Credits Required: 120
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  5. Bay Path University
    Location

    Longmeadow, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A private university in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Bay Path offers a fully online bachelor of arts in psychology: counseling foundations through the university's American Women's College. Note that the program only enrolls adult women.

    The curriculum focuses on the latest theories, techniques, and research methods in mental health, with the goal of applying the lessons learned to today's most complex social concerns. In addition to general education requirements, all students take the same series of core psychology courses along with 12 credits of psychology electives. Near the end of their program, all students take two leadership and personal growth courses, followed by an individualized capstone project.

    Courses Include

    • Adolescent & Adult Development
    • Cognitive Psychology & Neuroscience
    • Counseling Diverse Populations
    • Women as Empowered Leaders and Learners
    • Strategies for Personal and Career Growth

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $400 per credit
    • Credits Required: 120 credits
    • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)

Applying to an Online Bachelor’s Program in Counseling

Applicants interested in online bachelor’s in counseling degrees adhere to the same admission guidelines as on-campus learners. Candidates are expected to possess a high school diploma, although some institutions accept GED certificate-holders. While many colleges set a minimum GPA around 2.0, an even higher GPA can increase a candidate’s chances of admission.

Most institutions set minimum SAT and ACT scores. Applicants should submit their high school transcripts and standardized test scores, and may need to provide letters of recommendation and a personal essay. Prospective students can also enhance their applications by outlining any related volunteer or work experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where do counselors work?

    Counselors find employment in many different settings. School counselors, unsurprisingly, work at elementary, middle, and high schools. Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors take jobs at hospitals, residential mental health facilities, and outpatient clinics. They may also work in prisons, juvenile detention facilities, halfway houses, and employee assistant programs.

  • What is accreditation and why is it important?

    When you invest so much time and money into your education, you probably want to rest assured that your degree has value. Accreditation is an evaluation system used to ensure that schools and programs adhere to quality standards. Counselors need accredited degrees to obtain licensure and certification, and employers prefer to hire job candidates with degrees from accredited schools. Look for programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

  • Can I get a bachelor's degree in counseling online?

    Yes. Online degrees are becoming increasingly common. An online bachelor’s in counseling degree follows the same curriculum as a traditional on-campus program. However, candidates review course materials on distance education platforms, logging on to watch lectures at their convenience.

  • What can I do with an online bachelor's degree in counseling?

    Individuals with an online bachelor’s degree in counseling usually go the same route as professionals with a traditional counseling degree, applying for state licensure and seeking employment. Some graduates decide to pursue a master’s degree, which can lead to more opportunities and greater earning potential.

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