Online Mental Health Counseling Degrees 2021
By ACO Staff with contributions from Amy Mallory-Kani
Published on August 10, 2021
Mental Health Degrees
Mental health counselors provide counseling and treatment services to patients who suffer from behavioral disorders or addiction. A mental health counseling degree prepares students to work in hospitals, private clinics, and substance abuse treatment centers as counselors.
Schools offer on-campus and online mental health counseling degrees. The flexibility of online programs appeals to professionals who want to continue working while they complete their degree. Admission requirements generally include transcripts, test scores, recommendation letters, and writing an essay or personal statement.
Job opportunities for counseling degree holders continue to grow much faster than the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects mental health counseling jobs to grow 25% between 2019-2029.
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Questions to Help Determine being a Mental Health Counselor
Mental health counselors evaluate patients' emotional and behavioral health and provide appropriate treatment plans.
A bachelor's degree in counseling typically takes four years of full-time study to complete.
Salaries vary by education, location, and specialization. However, the BLS reports that counselors made a median salary of $46,240 in 2019.
Therapists generally need a master's degree or doctorate to practice, while counselors may practice with only an associate degree in some states.
Online Mental Health Counseling Degrees 2021
Oregon Institute of Technology offers a fully online, 4-year bachelor's degree in applied psychology, with areas of concentration in education, health, counseling and business. Advisers help students tailor electives to their interests and career goals, and required externships - which often can be completed near the student's home - expose them to possible future careers such as mental health technicians, behavior analysts, probation officers, teachers, career or school counselors, or human resources professionals. Graduate school is another option. Also required for graduation are a capstone course, at least 45 credits taken at OIT, and a C average or better in major courses.
The 100% online BS degree in rehabilitation studies at the University of North Texas is a great choice for students wanting to enter the mental health field in places such as addiction treatment facilities, mental health centers, veterans affairs offices and community agencies. This program can also be ideal for those planning to continue to graduate school and eventual licensure in mental health counseling. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours, including a 1-semester practicum with a human services agency. With a few additional credits, students can add a specialization, certificate or minor to their degree.
The fully online, 4-year BS in counseling psychology at Toccoa Falls College can be paired with a counseling, family studies or psychology minor, and can be an ideal option for students planning a career in areas such as human services, business, education or ministry counseling. Students can also continue to graduate school for professional licensing. Examples of upper-level courses include Bible and theology classes combined with major courses. Internship, research, service and outreach requirements will need to be completed prior to graduation.
Students seeking online mental health-related bachelor's degrees at Clarks Summit University (CSU) can choose from counseling ministries or addiction counseling programs. Both options provide a biblical approach to psychology and counseling and are geared toward students planning a career in church counseling or addiction counseling along with those wanting to advance in a ministry career. Of the 121 necessary to graduate, 18 can be used towards a CSU online master's in counseling, which can lead to professional state licensure. The bachelor's degrees are 4-year programs; however, up to 90 previously earned credits can be transferred in to shorten the length considerably.
Hobe Sound Bible College is accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) and offers a fully online BA in counseling degree. The program typically takes 4 years, and consists of 129 credit hours, with credits required in general education, the Bible and major and minor credits. An internship is also required for graduation. Courses are in 7-week blocks, with assignments due at the end of each week. This degree can lead to Biblical Counselor or Pastoral Counselor board certification, while providing a foundation for those planning on graduate work and licensure in professional counseling.
Students interested in earning an online bachelor's degree in mental health counseling can choose between Crown College's BS degrees in psychology/counseling and alcohol and drug counseling (ADC) . Both programs are 100% online, 4-years and asynchronous , with a required internship prior to graduation for the ADC program if state licensure is desired. Graduates of the psychology/counseling program have gone on to work in areas such as human services, human resources, public relations and parachurch ministries, or continued on to graduate school. A master's in counseling is also available online at Crown.
Faulkner University is a private Church of Christ-affiliated school located in Montgomery, Alabama. Faulkner's online Bachelor of Science in counseling psychology is a hybrid degree program that requires completion of 121 credit hours, including 71 credit hours in the field. All coursework is offered online in an asynchronous format, allowing students to complete their degrees in less than 4 years, if they prefer. In addition, the student must complete an online capstone project and internship at an approved facility near their home. This degree helps prepare students for careers in counseling, human services, psychology and some areas of ministry, and is a good choice for those interested in continuing on to graduate programs in counseling or marriage and family therapy.
The University of Maine at Machias' online Bachelor of Arts in psychology and community studies is a hybrid degree program that combines online coursework with field work and internship participation in the student's hometown. Students must also complete a senior capstone project developed with community partners of their choosing. The degree offers 2 concentration areas: disabilities in youth and applied psychology. Examples of recent job titles for graduates with this degree include caseworker, developmental therapist, program coordinator, child protective social worker, behavioral health professional and crisis counselor.
Mental health-related undergraduate degrees at Southern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) include a pre-professional bachelor's degree in counseling, which is a good fit for those planning to pursue professional licensure through graduate work. The school also offers a bachelor's degree in human services, which has concentrations in counseling, psychology, social work and criminal justice. Graduates often work in areas such as church ministries, government agencies, nonprofit groups and mental health clinics. All are 100% online, 4-year programs, with 126 credits required for graduation. Approved transfer credits and credits for life experience are accepted for this degree, and online students may be eligible for a 15% tuition grant.
John Wesley University offers a fully online bachelor's degree in Christian ministry, with an emphasis in counseling. This 4-year degree serves as preparation for various careers in social services and can also go towards a master's degree for those planning to become a licensed counselor. In addition to 120 credits, students will participate in an internship and community service prior to graduation. Students can transfer in up to 90 credits, and can may also earn credit for military and professional training, life experience and CLEP testing.
What Are the Goals of a Mental Health Counseling Degree?
Typical mental health counseling programs cover topics like behavioral psychology, psychopathology, and social and emotional development. Programs also feature clinical experiences that allow students to gain hands-on training at clinics, hospitals, and other treatment facilities.
Many mental health counseling degrees often offer opportunities for specialization. Learners may choose to study specific areas like childhood development, marital and family studies, or substance abuse counseling. Specializations provide students with additional qualifications that may enhance their job prospects.
Why Get a Mental Health Counseling Degree?
A mental health counseling degree offers many personal and professional benefits. The following list outlines several benefits of earning an online mental health counseling degree.
- Increased Job Opportunities: Degree-holders typically qualify for more jobs than those without degrees.
- Public Service: Counselors provide essential services to the public and serve as frontline workers.
- Practical Expertise: A mental health counseling degree provides students with the practical expertise that they need to succeed in the field.
- Improved Health Outcome: Mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment improve the well-being of individuals and communities.
- Better Earning Potential: A bachelor's degree often increases a counselor's earning potential.
What Are the Requirements for a Mental Health Counseling Degree?
Admission requirements for mental health counseling programs vary by school and degree level. However, schools typically require test scores, reference letters, and transcripts from high school or college. Additional requirements may include a personal statement, resume, and background check.
Once enrolled, students complete core and specialized courses on psychology and human development. Programs also typically require students to complete a certain number of clinical hours under the supervision of a licensed counselor.
Professional Organizations for Mental Health Counseling Students
Professional organizations provide students with opportunities to network and learn more about their profession. These groups may offer career counseling, mentoring, and professional development opportunities. Membership also provides access to credentialing that counselors need to stay current in the field. The list below highlights three organizations that may appeal to mental health counseling students.
Scholarships for Mental Health Counseling Students
Mental health counseling students may qualify for many scholarships. Some scholarships offer funding for more specialized study, while others apply to general study in a counseling field. This list outlines several scholarship opportunities for students earning an online mental health counseling degree.
Who Can Apply: The Leopold Schepp Foundation hosts an annual scholarship for undergraduate and graduate students who express a commitment to human services. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.3 GPA and submit reference letters and evidence of financial need. The scholarship is open to U.S. citizens only.
Amount: Up to $9,000
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate and graduate students majoring in psychology or a related field, like counseling, qualify for this scholarship opportunity. Applicants must submit an essay on how relationship professionals can help people navigate the challenges of online dating.
Who Can Apply: The Zeta Phi Beta Society offers this annual scholarship to undergraduate and graduate learners studying counseling. The scholarship covers one year of full-time academic study. Applicants must submit proof of enrollment.
Dr. Amy Mallory-Kani has nearly 15 years of experience as a professor, writer, and student advocate in higher education. Her work has appeared in a number of online publications and scholarly journals. She lives with her family in Indianapolis.
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