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Online Colleges for Counseling

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Methodology

To be included in these rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria for the specific subject being ranked:

  1. Offer at least one degree or certificate in that subject online
  2. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2015-16

Once we had our list of schools for each subject, we ranked them on six criteria:

  1. In-state tuition, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  2. Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  3. Accessibility, based on the admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  4. Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded by the school in 2015-16 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  5. Related subjects, based on the number of similar programs that the school offers at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  6. Variety of degree levels, based on the number of degree and certificate levels out of a possible nine that the school offers in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16

Methodology Sources

  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Sources:

  1. Academics, Allen County Community College, Accessed February 2018, https://www.allencc.edu/index.php/academic/49-student-services/student-services/296-transfer-equivalencies
  2. Adult Distributed Education, Hobe Sound Bible College, Accessed February 2018, https://www.hobeonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/course-catalog.pdf
  3. Behavioral Health/Addictions Substance Use Disorders, Rio Salado College, Accessed February 2018, http://www.riosalado.edu/programs/addictions-substance-abuse-disorders/Pages/default.aspx
  4. Counseling Majors, Clarks Summit University, Accessed February 2018, https://www.clarkssummitu.edu/online-programs/online-undergraduate-programs/counseling/
  5. Counseling Psychology, Toccoa Falls College, Accessed February 2018, http://tfc.edu/academics/degrees-and-programs/counseling-psychology/
  6. Online Learning FAQS/Clarks, Clarks Summit University, Accessed February 2018, https://www.clarkssummitu.edu/online-programs/online-undergraduate-programs/online-learning-faqs/
  7. Ready for a New Kind of Adventure? Toccoa Falls College, Accessed February 2018, http://tfc.edu/admissions/online-programs/
  8. Try Us Out, Rio Salado College, Accessed February 2018, http://www.riosalado.edu/web/interactive/default.aspx#body-container
  9. Academics, Allen County Community College, Accessed April 2018, https://www.allencc.edu/index.php/academic
  10. Addictions and Prevention Studies Program, Allen County Community College, Accessed April 2018, https://www.allencc.edu/index.php/academic/2-uncategorised/1364-addiction-and-prevention-studies-program
  11. Addictions Counseling Certificate, Allen County Community College, Accessed April 2018, https://www.allencc.edu/images/stories/allen/pdf_docs/Degree_Tracks/2013_Degree_Updates/Addictions_Counseling_Certificate_12_19_13.pdf
  12. Online Master's in Counseling, Southern New Hampshire University, Accessed February 2018, https://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/masters/ma-in-clinical-mental-health-counseling
  13. MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Antioch University, Accessed February 2018, https://www.antioch.edu/auonline/degrees-programs/counseling-wellness/clinical-mental-health-counseling-ma/
  14. Online Master's Degree in Counseling, Colorado Christian University, Accessed February 2018, http://www.ccu.edu/ccu/mac/online/
  15. Online Master's in Counseling and Human Services, Wake Forest University, Accessed February 2018, https://counseling.online.wfu.edu/
  16. Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2016, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-behavioral-disorder-and-mental-health-counselors.htm
  17. Mental Health Counselors, O*Net, Accessed February 2018, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1014.00
  18. What Skills are Needed to be a Therapist?, GoodTherapy.org, Accessed February 2018, https://www.goodtherapy.org/become-a-therapist/skills-needed.html
  19. Basic Counseling Skills, Virginia Commonwealth University, Accessed February 2018, http://www.people.vcu.edu/~krhall/resources/cnslskills.pdf
  20. Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2016, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-behavioral-disorder-and-mental-health-counselors.htm
  21. Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors, O*Net, Accessed February 2018, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1011.00
  22. How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor, Hazelden Betty Ford, Accessed February 2018, http://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/articles/graduate-school/how-to-become-a-substance-abuse-counselor
  23. Certified Addiction Counselor, CAC Certification, Accessed February 2018, http://www.addictionacademy.com/certified-addiction-counselor.php
  24. Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2016, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-behavioral-disorder-and-mental-health-counselors.htm
  25. Mental Health Counselors, O*Net, Accessed February 2018, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1014.00
  26. Facts About Clinical Mental Health Counselors, American Mental Health Counselors Association, Accessed February 2018, https://amhca.site-ym.com/page/facts
  27. Mental Health Counselor, US News Money, Accessed February 2018, https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/mental-health-counselor
  28. Rehabilitation Counselor, US News Money, Accessed February 2018, https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rehabilitation-counselor
  29. Rehabilitation Counselors, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2016, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/rehabilitation-counselors.htm
  30. Rehabilitation Counselors, O*Net, Accessed February 2018, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1015.00
  31. Counselor, CCCS of San Francisco, Accessed February 2018, https://www.cccssf.org/careers/Counselor_I.pdf
  32. Credit Counselor, US News Money, Accessed February 2018, https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/credit-counselor
  33. Credit Counselors, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2016, https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132071.htm
  34. Credit Counselors, O*Net, Accessed February 2018, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/13-2071.00
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Many individuals seek counseling help in their lives at one time or another: perhaps for grief, perhaps for help overcoming an addiction, or perhaps in order to come to terms with a personal trauma, to name a few possibilities. Counseling degree programs give students an opportunity to learn about the foundations of psychology, as well as to discover effective forms of communication and therapy. Armed with this knowledge, counselors can look for factors that could be creating issues in another person's life, as well as ways to help them overcome them.

Best Online Colleges for Counseling

School rankings can be useful tools for students who are looking to learn about the program options available to them and to consider a range of schools before making a choice. Here, we present our list of the five best online colleges for counseling, created using data from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). More details on the proprietary methodology we used to determine this list can be found at the bottom of this page.

1

Hobe Sound Bible College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$6,320
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
61%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
14
School Type
4-year

Hobe Sound Bible College offers an online associate and online bachelor's degree program in counseling, both coming from a Biblical perspective. The courses in these online programs typically last seven weeks. This means that students can complete two sessions of coursework each semester, as well as two sessions during the summer, if they wish.

The college's associate degree program in counseling includes five courses in the field with two electives, while the bachelor's program comprises nine courses and two electives. The bachelor's program also requires an internship, which gives students a hands-on space to practice and build their skills in the field. Both programs, like many of the other programs at Hobe Sound, also require students to complete several credits in Christian education field service.

Accreditation:

  • Association for Biblical Higher Education

Location:

11298 SE Gomez Avenue
Hobe Sound, Florida 33455-1065
 
2

Rio Salado College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$2,094
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
61%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
42
School Type
2-year

If you're particularly interested in addictions and substance use disorders, you may find yourself well suited for Rio Salado College, a college approved by the National Association of Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC). Three online certificate programs and an online Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in counseling degree program are offered through the school. Helpfully, the school ascribes to an open admissions policy, meaning that they accept any applicant who has earned at least a high school diploma or a GED certificate.

Students who feel apprehensive about taking online courses may be relieved to know they can try a demo course offered through RioCompass, the college's online delivery system. Many useful tools are available through this platform, including a message center, calendar, email and access to a student's online coursework.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission

Location:

2323 W. 14th Street
Tempe, Arizona 85281
 
3

Clarks Summit University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$22,510
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
50%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
15
School Type
4-year

Students interested in an online bachelor's in counseling degree may find the 123-credit program offered through Clarks Summit University to be a good fit. This Christ-honoring counseling program approaches tools and techniques of the field from a Biblical perspective. The program curriculum also stresses the worth of online discussions, where students can connect with other students from around the world, learning from one another's insights and experiences.

Most of Clarks Summit's courses are available in eight-week sessions, and students can start at the university during any of the university's five terms. Additionally, the school follows an open admissions policy. Online education is amply supported at Clarks Summit University; online students are assigned an academic advisor and can take advantage of many resources and services available through the school's Murphy Memorial Library.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Association for Biblical Higher Education

Location:

538 Venard Road
Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. 18411-1250
 
4

Allen County Community College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$2,850
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
66%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
80
School Type
2-year

The online addiction and prevention studies programs in counseling offered through Allen County Community College can be completed to earn a certificate, an Associate of Science or an Associate of Applied Science. These counseling programs focus on understanding addictions in various contexts, and may be able to help students learn the ropes of counselor or social worker careers pertaining to addiction prevention and/or rehabilitation.

In addition, the courses for the two online associate degree programs are sequenced to help students meet many of the general education requirements for programs at public universities in Kansas. The community college has an open admissions policy and also participates in course transfer and reverse transfer programs with other public schools in the state.

Accreditation:

  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges through the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

Location:

1801 N. Cottonwood
Iola, Kansas 66749
 
5

Toccoa Falls College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$21,414
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
48%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
13
School Type
4-year

Counseling psychology is just one of the many majors offered online through Toccoa Falls College, with minors available in counseling, family studies or psychology. This online bachelor's degree program integrates counseling skills with courses in psychology and principles from Scripture. An open admissions policy gives this nonprofit Christian college an element of accessibility that students from different walks of life can appreciate.

The picturesque Toccoa Falls campus is located near a natural waterfall, from which it takes its name. Online students are welcome on-campus for various programs and services; those who live within 40 miles of the school can even try out for a sport. Students who live outside of the 40-mile sports radius still have the option to participate in the school's Student Government Association from a remote location.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Location:

107 Kincaid Drive
Toccoa Falls, Georgia 30598
 

Degree Overview: Counseling

When people are going through a divorce, struggling with a drug addiction, or suffering from a mental illness, they may turn to people in the counseling field for relief from the pain they're experiencing. As a result, students who attend online colleges for counseling must get good training to handle the rigors of the job. This page provides information on the courses that may contribute to this training and the skills students might leave with when they graduate.

Online Counseling Courses

Online colleges for counseling often follow a rigorous curriculum in order to introduce students to the realities of the counseling field. The following is a sample of the subjects this coursework might cover.

  • Group counseling: In some cases, counselors are required to conduct therapy in a group setting, which allows patients to learn from each other as much as they do from the counselor. In order to teach students how to do this effectively, these courses may address group counseling theories, the role and impact of multiculturalism in group counseling, and the ethics that counselors should adhere to during this kind of therapy.
  • Crisis and trauma interventions: These courses are designed to familiarize students with the tactics that should be used in different types of trauma and crisis situations. Activities such as creating a sample crisis response plan may be used in these courses, where thinking ahead to potential emergencies is vital for success.
  • Marriage and family counseling: This course is meant to help students understand how counseling is conducted when a couple or family needs assistance. Professors might touch on areas such as conflict causes and resolution methods, dysfunctional relational patterns, and interviewing techniques designed to get to the heart of problems within a family unit.
  • Mental and emotional disorders: Students who take this class are expected to gain an understanding of different types of mental and emotional disorders and how they are treated. Course topics might cover DSM-5 classifications of disorders, developing a treatment plan for specific conditions, and the common medications that may be given to patients with PTSD, depression and anxiety.

Career-Related Skills to Develop

In order to be successful in the counseling field, students need to develop a variety of skills. Online colleges for counseling may help them cultivate many of these important skills, including the ones explored below.

    • Listening: Patients in counseling disclose many intimate details of their lives. It's imperative for professionals to have good listening skills in order to understand problems, make the right diagnoses and create an appropriate treatment plan.
    • Empathy: Empathy allows counselors to put themselves in their patients' shoes and understand what they're going through. This skill helps counselors to provide treatment without passing judgment.
    • Boundary setting: People who are going through life challenges may form unhealthy attachments to the professionals trying to help them. As a result, counselors must be able to create and enforce clear and healthy boundaries with their patients.
    • Interviewing: Counselors are often on a fact-finding mission when they work with patients, so they must have strong interviewing skills in order to determine what people's problems are. Professionals should know the right questions to ask and when to ask them.

Counseling Career Outlook

Counseling professionals help to change people's lives in some way, and that's not a responsibility to be taken lightly. Aspiring counselors should be well versed in the skills and know-how of the career they hope to earn. However, it's difficult to do this without knowing what career you'd like to aim for! As such, this page explores a few common counseling careers, from information on job duties to minimum education requirements.

Addictions Counselor
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$0
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
13,500
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
19.9
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree
In order to change the lives of those addicted to drugs and alcohol, these professionals use their counseling expertise to assess rehab center patients. They determine what their patients' needs are, create an appropriate treatment plan for each patient, and provide therapy to help patients understand the root of their addiction, with the goal of adopting healthy habits that promote sobriety. In order to earn an addictions counselor position, candidates are first expected to earn at least a high school diploma. However, many employers prefer those with a bachelor's degree or higher in a counseling-related discipline.
Mental Health Counselor
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$0
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
20,800
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
19.8
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Master's degree
Whether a person is going through a rough patch in their life or is suffering from a long-time mental illness, the work of mental health counselors can help to alleviate some of their pain. This is a huge undertaking, so those who want to work in this position are almost always required to earn at least a bachelor's degree. The education they receive is important for being able to perform the responsibilities of a mental health counselor proficiently. This may include: evaluating patients' mental condition; determining if a patient is at risk of trying to commit suicide; creating a treatment plan and making adjustments as therapy progresses; and coordinating with social service professionals if a patient is in crisis.
Rehabilitation Counselor
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$38,950
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
13,900
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
9.7
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Master's degree
Rehabilitation counselors work to help patients live independent lives in spite of a mental, physical, emotional or developmental disability. These professionals perform this tremendous service through daily duties such as conducting counseling sessions in individual and group settings; helping clients receive the medical services and resources they need; determining patients' strengths and helping them develop these abilities; and monitoring patients' progress and updating treatment plans when necessary.

Rehabilitation counselors are generally expected to have a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling. Depending on where these professionals work, they may be required to obtain a license from their state, which can entail working a certain number of hours and completing an examination.

Credit Counselor
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$49,460
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
3,800
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
13.9
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree
Professionals who work in credit counselor jobs help improve people's financial lives by advising them on how to manage debt. The daily duties of these workers include gaining an understanding of clients' financial situation by looking at their income, debts, and assets; reviewing clients' credit reports and helping them understand what their scores mean; creating a realistic debt payment plan for clients to follow; and educating people about bankruptcy. Though such a career may seem out of place on this list, the need to connect to clients and communicate with them about potentially sensitive matters is very much in line with the responsibilities of other forms of counseling as well.

The education needed to obtain a credit counselor position may vary depending on the employer, but some organizations may expect people to have a bachelor's degree in a finance-related discipline.

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