Counseling Degrees

Despite the fact that counseling is such a practical and people-oriented field, it is possible to complete degrees in counseling on all levels — from associate to doctorate — online.

A student holding a qualification in counseling has many areas of specialization to choose from and there are also numerous related careers in fields where counseling degrees are considered invaluable. Studying online would also give a student the flexibility to complete a degree in less time than it would take on-campus.

Online Counseling Associate Degrees

Online counseling associate degrees are scarce but serve to give a student a broad outline of the field of counseling.

Associate of Arts in Psychology — Christian Counseling: Liberty University
This degree program consists of core courses in psychology and a specialized course concentration in Christian counseling and students have to complete 60 credit hours in order to earn the qualification. Students will acquire a basic grounding in both qualitative and quantitative forms of research, the use of ethics in psychological practice today and the socio-cultural contexts that affect a persons' psychological development. Individual courses are divided between foundational studies and investigative studies and include:

  1. Contemporary World Views (foundational studies);
  2. Psychology of Personality (foundational studies);
  3. Survey of Biblical Literature (investigative studies); and
  4. Introduction to Christian Thought (investigative studies).

Further information concerning this degree program can be obtained directly from Liberty University 1971 University Boulevard, Lynchburg, VA 24502 (tel: 800-424-9595

Online Counseling Bachelor's Degrees

Online bachelors counseling degrees are also hard to find, as counseling is a specialization rather than a major, but there are a few available.


Bachelor of Science in Addiction Counseling: Grand Canyon University

This degree is only available online and has been developed to offer students bachelor level training in substance abuse treatment. The focus of this degree is twofold and students will learn the science behind why people become addicted to certain substances as well as the psychological skills needed to comfort and counsel those who have become addicted. Individual courses offered as part of this program include:

  1. Introduction to General, Organic and Biochemistry (core course);
  2. World Civilization before 1500 (core course);
  3. Foundation of Alcohol Abuse and Human Behavior (addiction counseling major); and
  4. Family Dynamics and Substance Abuse / Addiction (addiction counseling major).

Students who are interested in this course should contact GCU directly at 3300 W Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ 85017 (tel: 1-800-586-9907

Online Masters Counseling Degrees

A student has a great deal of variety when it comes to online master's counseling degrees, as there are several areas of specialization to choose from.


Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling: Walden University

This program is accredited by The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) in that it is designed to prepare students to sit for counseling license examinations in many states. It also concentrates on developing a student's practical skills through the use of fieldwork assignments, interactive simulations and one-on-one residencies and culminates in a student's preparing a Capstone Project. Individual courses include:

  1. Prevention, Intervention and Consultation;
  2. Foundations for Graduate Study in Mental Health Counseling;
  3. Professional Identity and Ethics in Counseling; and
  4. Interviewing and Observational Strategies.

Those who require further information concerning the master's program can contact Walden University directly either through their or by calling them on 1-866-492-5336.

Master of Science in School Counseling: Capella University

This program is also CACREP accredited and has been developed around the model prepared by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA). A student who graduates with this qualification will be able to develop and manage counseling programs as well as interact with and counsel learners on a educational, personal and social level. The program consists of core courses, specialization courses as well as one elective course and individual course choices include:

  1. Survey of Research in Human Development and Behavior (core course);
  2. Life Planning and Career Development (core course);
  3. Development School Counseling and Pupil Services (specialization course); and
  4. Counseling and Guidance with Children.

Anyone wanting further details concerning this program can reach Capella University at their campus at 225 South 6th Street, 9th Floor, Minneapolis MN, 55402 (tel: 1-888-227-2736)

Master of Arts in Counseling: Northwestern University

The field of counseling grows every year, creating more opportunities for clinical mental health counselors to help those in need of effective counseling services. Counseling@Northwestern is the latest innovation in online learning from The Family Institute at Northwestern University, which offers one of the most prestigious Master of Arts in Counseling degrees in the United States. Through Counseling@Northwestern, students across the country attend live, weekly online classes taught by Northwestern faculty. Individual courses making up the program include:

Online PhD Counseling Degrees

Online doctoral counseling degrees are also rather common, and are even more specialized than the master's qualifications.


Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling: Liberty University

This doctoral program offers graduate students two possible areas of specialization: professional counseling and pastoral care and counseling. It also qualifies students to counsel in either private or public practice as well as to teach counseling. The program consists of 63 credit hours in total, of which 6 will go towards an internship and another 6 towards a doctoral dissertation. Individual courses include:

  1. Philosophy and Religion of the Helping Professions (pastoral care and counseling);
  2. Intermediate Statistics and Quantitative Research (pastoral care and counseling);
  3. Issues in Integration (professional counseling); and
  4. Applied Counseling Theories (professional counseling).

Students who wish to request further information regarding this doctoral program can contact Liberty University directly (see above contact details).

PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision — Forensic Mental Health Counseling: Walden University

Walden's basic PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision has many specialization areas including Counseling and Social Change, Consultation, and Trauma and Crisis. The Forensic Mental Health Counseling specialization will equip students to create a career in the criminal and justice system specifically designed to provide counseling services to people in environments such as drug courts, correctional institutions and juvenile justice courts. Courses offered include core courses, foundation research courses and specialization courses such as:

  1. Social Change, Leadership and Advocacy for Counseling Professionals (core course);
  2. Research Theory, Design and Methods (foundation research course);
  3. Treatment of Forensic Populations (specialization course); and
  4. Mental Health Law (specialization course).

Those interested in this degree can contact Walden University directly (see above contact details).

Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Studies: Capella University

Although this degree program is not designed to meet licensure requirements for the various counseling professions, students who graduate from the program will be trained to counsel in such fields as human sexuality, geriatric mental health, and compulsions and addictions. Core courses, specialization courses and electives make up this degree's curriculum and representative courses are:

  1. Epistemology of Practice Knowledge (core course);
  2. Psychopathology: Assessment and Treatment (core course);
  3. Child and Adolescent Counseling (specialization course); and
  4. The Family in the Social Context (specialization course).

Those wishing to obtain further details concerning this course can reach Capella University at the address given above.

Career Opportunities and Salary Scales

There are two basic areas that people with qualifications in counseling can practice in: licensed professional counseling in one of several different fields and jobs in related areas, which include positions like church administrator, admissions counselor, pastor and university professor.

The most common fields of licensed professional counseling are the following:a

  1. Guidance and Career Counseling: here counselors work with children of all ages as well as both young and older adults and give advice about matters relating to educational and vocational choices. A guidance counselor with 5 years experience will earn an average of $42,500 per year;
  2. Marriage and Family Counseling: here counselors work with dysfunctional families to help them identify and work together to overcome their problems and the average annual salary for a marriage counselor is $45,300;
  3. Mental Health Counseling: here counselors work to improve people's mental conditions by examining and gaining an understanding of those social and environmental factors that impact upon their mental health. The average annual salary paid to a mental health counselor is $36,000;
  4. Rehabilitation Counseling: here counselors work with those with physical, mental, emotional or developmental disabilities in an attempt to help them fit into mainstream society. The average annual salary for a rehabilitation counselor is $49,800; and
  5. Substance Abuse Counseling: here counselors work in places like drug and alcohol treatment centers, social welfare agencies and homeless shelters and help people overcome addictions. The average annual salary paid to a substance abuse counselor is $37,750.

Average annual salaries paid to people practicing in non-core counseling areas include the following:

  1. Admissions counselor (university or college level) with 5 years experience: $35,000;
  2. Postsecondary professor (higher education) with 5 years experience: $45,000;
  3. Pastor with 5 years experience: $38,000;
  4. Church administrator with 5 years experience: $28,000.


Counseling is an exciting field where students can specialize in many different areas. Given, furthermore, the wealth of online counseling degrees that are available today — some of which are only available online — obtaining a counseling qualification through distance learning is a viable, and cost-effective, option.