The helping professions offer employment possibilities in fields like substance abuse counseling; vocational and school counseling; and marriage and family therapy. These professionals work in social service and community agencies, medical facilities, educational settings, and private practice.
Earning a bachelor’s degree in counseling online provides a convenient and inexpensive route to these opportunities, especially for working professionals and individuals seeking a career change. Distance learning works best for motivated and self-directed students who cannot or prefer not to attend campus-based programs.
Degree-seekers looking for a BS or BA in counseling online can find many options to consider. This guide ranks the most affordable regionally accredited schools that meet high academic standards, including degrees that hold specialized accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.
View ranking methodology here.
Top 10 Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Counseling Degrees
||Trinity International University-Illinois
||Fort Hays State University
||Bay Path University
||Virginia Beach, VA
||Saint Leo University
||St. Leo, FL
||University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
||Toccoa Falls College
||Toccoa Falls, GA
||Southwestern Assemblies of God University
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What to Expect From an Online Bachelor’s in Counseling Program
Several factors determine how long it takes to complete a bachelor of counseling degree online. Most semester-based programs require 120-160 credits, completed in approximately four years of full-time attendance. However, accelerated degrees may only require three years or less. Part-time programs, while taking longer to finish, enable distance learners to accommodate their studies with personal commitments.
While many schools offer fully online degrees, some programs incorporate hybrid courses or other in-person, on-campus components that impact the time needed to complete degree requirements.
In addition to general education courses, the counseling curriculum typically covers core courses in theories and methods, human services delivery, and conflict resolution. Students choose career-focused electives and concentrations in substance abuse, marriage and family relationships, child and adolescent counseling, and domestic violence. Licensing requirements for counselors vary by state but almost always require each learner to complete a supervised internship as part of their degree.
Drexel offers one of the most affordable online bachelor's degrees in counseling in the United States. The online program's innovative curriculum focuses on evidence-based practice for individual and group counseling. Throughout the program, learners focus on developing service plans, cultivating partnerships with family caregivers, and establishing a solid rapport with people with disabilities.
The flexible program features an entirely online format with no on-campus requirements. The skills-based curriculum includes specialized course requirements, along with hands-on training opportunities. The program comprises four 10-week quarters each year and includes 180 credits of coursework in topics like child and adolescent support, careers in behavioral health, and psychopharmacology for counselors.
Each applicant must hold a high school diploma or GED and complete 0-23 college semester credits from a regionally accredited institution. A transfer student must hold at least 24 semester credits with a "C" grade or higher from a regionally accredited institution with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5.
Trinity International University-Illinois
Students at TIU can pursue an affordable BA in counseling online program to learn research methods and conceptual theories to understand how people think and behave. Enrollees follow a Christ-centered curriculum, preparing to begin their careers or pursue graduate school.
The 124-credit curriculum comprises 47 major credits and 47-62 credits of general education requirements in communication, qualitative and analytical reasoning, and arts and humanities. All students must also complete a series of courses focused on the foundations of Christian living and thinking.
Degree-seekers who have previously completed coursework at the college level can complete their bachelor's degrees online to graduate in as little as 2-3 years. Among the specialized courses, learners explore research methods and design, the psychology of adolescence, and theories of learning.
Fort Hays State University
FHSU, located in Hays, Kansas, offers an affordable online bachelor's in counseling degree through its sociology department. The addictions counseling track provides a pathway to becoming a licensed professional in Kansas. Graduates can pursue careers in many different settings to work with groups or individuals.
Students interested in the addictions counseling track can pursue a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science degree. Both degrees require learners to complete core requirements, addictions counseling track courses, electives, and general education courses. Addictions counseling students explore sociological theory and literature, group counseling with addiction populations, and ethics in addictions counseling.
Each applicant must complete the Kansas qualified admissions pre-college curriculum with a minimum 2.0 GPA, a score of 21 or higher on the ACT or a 980 or higher on the SAT, or rank in the top third of their high school's graduating class.
Bay Path's bachelor of counseling degree online program provides learners with the latest theories and research, allowing them to better understand human behavior and the human mind. The fully online program emphasizes human cognition, motivation, and perception. Throughout the curriculum, degree-seekers focus on advanced behavioral research methods and mental health theories.
In addition to the counseling foundations major, students can consider other related online bachelor's programs with major options in child psychology, forensic psychology, foundations in alcohol and drug abuse counseling, human services and rehabilitation, and neuropsychology.
Each applicant must complete an application and a phone interview, along with providing official transcripts demonstrating a 2.0 minimum GPA. An applicant with fewer than 12 college credits to transfer also needs to provide proof of high school graduation or a GED certificate. Prospective students can connect with admissions counselors to ensure they meet all requirements before submitting their applications and supplemental materials.
Virginia Beach, VA
Regent, located in Virginia Beach, features an affordable online bachelor's degree in counseling focused on clinical and counseling psychology. The specialized program prepares students to think about psychological issues responsibly and logically through a Christian perspective.
During the rigorous curriculum, learners explore marriage and family dynamics, case management, and group facilitation. Enrollees also examine case management techniques, effective referral methods, crisis intervention, and treatment planning. The 120-credit hour program features eight-week course sessions, including both general education and major requirements.
The degree prepares students to use counseling and interviewing techniques that lead to effective problem-solving and decision-making. Graduates can pursue careers in counseling, social work/human services, marketing/sales, or high-level management. Many bachelor's degree-holders complete their program and choose to advance into a related master's program to pursue counseling licensure after graduation.
Saint Leo offers an affordable BA in counseling online program to prepare for careers in the helping fields. The psychology program in counseling focuses on teaching students to understand the human experience through personality theory, child and adolescent development, and race and ethnicity.
The specialized curriculum explores interviewing and counseling skills, abnormal psychology, and personality theory. Counseling students can consider internship opportunities that allow them to work in children's services, victim advocacy, addiction, and clinical research.
Bachelor's graduates can pursue advanced study in psychology and consider employment opportunities in mental earth facilities and human service settings. Psychology graduates can also consider careers in human resources management, advertising and sales, and business.
Each candidate must complete an online application, provide proof of high school graduation or a GED certificate, submit any official transcripts, provide official standardized test scores, and any professional training documentation.
University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
UC offers one of the country's most affordable online bachelor's counseling degree options. Its substance abuse counseling degree prepares students to help individuals with alcohol or drug addictions. Degree-seekers can take advantage of summer, fall, and spring start dates.
The fully online program allows degree-seekers to graduate within two or four years if they want to complete their requirements at a slower pace. The rigorous curriculum explores topics in historical perspectives in substance abuse counseling, drugs and behavior, and assessment and diagnosis in substance abuse counseling.
Each candidate must complete an application, provide official high school transcripts demonstrating a 2.7 minimum GPA, and submit SAT or ACT scores. A transfer student must hold at least 24 semester hours and a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Toccoa Falls College
Toccoa Falls, GA
TFC offers a bachelor of counseling degree online program to prepare learners for service within their church or community. The counseling psychology department combines aspects of psychology, skills in counseling, and principles of scripture, integrating them into practical application.
During the program, learners develop a better understanding of personal biblical values in Christian counseling. Enrollees also focus on the fundamental principles and theories related to psychology and counseling. Counseling psychology students can pursue minors in marriage and family counseling, psychology, or counseling. Choosing a minor allows learners to tailor their degrees to align with their career goals and interests.
During the admissions process, each prospective student must complete an application and pay the associated $30 fee, along with providing a personal statement, high school transcripts, and SAT or ACT scores.
Southwestern Assemblies of God University
SAGU offers one of the most affordable online bachelor's degrees in counseling for students interested in helping others overcome family conflicts, addictions, and spiritual crises. Enrollees enjoy access to full campus resources and support, including the career, wellness, and counseling centers.
Small class sizes allow degree-seekers to enjoy one-on-one interactions with instructors and cultivate a more individualized learning experience. SAGU students receive access to a financial aid team, designated to help them secure scholarships, grants, and other financial resources.
Each candidate must complete an application and provide transcripts from any college experience, along with high school transcripts demonstrating a 2.0 GPA or higher. A prospective student must also complete a placement test, although applicants with at least 21 credits of general education courses from an accredited college or university may waive this requirement.
Faulkner University offers one of the most affordable online BA in counseling programs in the nation. The degree includes core psychology courses to prepare learners for careers in human services, psychology, counseling, and certain areas of ministry. Students can also consider careers in marriage and family therapy.
During the rigorous curriculum, students explore topics in marriage and family development, personal and social adjustment, and professional counseling theories. The affordable program features tuition rates of $155 per semester hour. In addition to tuition, Faulkner includes a general fee of $300 per semester and a $65 per semester hour fee for online courses.
Each applicant must hold a high school diploma or GED certificate. Applicants out of high school for less than five years must provide ACT or SAT scores. A transfer applicant with at least 24 credits from a regionally accredited institution and applicants out of high school for more than five years do not need to provide standardized test scores.
Indiana Wesleyan University-National & Global
Students at IWU can enroll in one of the most affordable online bachelor's counseling degrees in the nation. The bachelor's degree in addictions counseling allows learners to graduate within 22 months in a cohort format. The fully online degree focuses on a Christian perspective throughout the curriculum.
Students complete their courses sequentially until finishing the program. During the rigorous curriculum, enrollees explore theory and practice of group counseling, addiction programs and professional development, and developmental psychology. Along with the required coursework, each degree-seeker must complete a practicum experience at a nearby location to apply the concepts they develop during their coursework to the field.
Each applicant must provide a high school diploma or proof of GED certification, transcripts from any prior college experience, and at least 60 transferable credit hours from a regionally accredited college or university.
OU features an online bachelor of counseling degree that allows learners to focus on addiction counseling. The online program develops students' critical thinking skills as they study the factors that influence the delivery of substance use disorder services and addiction counseling.
The program meets state board of behavioral health licensing and certification requirements. Graduates can work in addiction counseling agencies, residential treatment facilities, and state and local government agencies.
During the rigorous curriculum, enrollees explore human development and addiction, theories of personality and addiction, and addiction counseling issues. Each candidate must provide a completed application, along with payment for the $50 application fee, high school transcripts, and official transcripts from any college experience. Transfer students can bring in up to 80 credit hours toward their 124 credit hour bachelor's degree.
Career Outlook for Counselors
Completing a BS or BA in counseling online leads to careers in human services and mental healthcare fields. An undergraduate degree also fulfills the education requirement for a master’s program, which allows graduates to pursue even more personally and financially rewarding career paths.
Employment projections for every type of counselor indicate strong prospects for the near future. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 22% increase from 2018-28 for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor positions. These in-demand counselors, who earn a median salary of over $44,000 annually, provide treatment to people with alcoholism and drug addiction issues, eating disorders, and other mental or behavioral concerns.
Community health workers, marriage and family therapists, and school and vocational counselors can also expect job opportunities to expand at rates much faster than the national average, with annual salaries ranging from $45,000-$51,500 per year.