2023 Cheapest Online Colleges for Counseling Degrees (2023)

Can I get a counseling degree online?

Today's students have access to a wide range of online degree programs in counseling, psychology, sociology, and related fields. Some degree programs offer specializations such as substance use and addiction counseling, marriage and family, Christian counseling, offender rehabilitation, and victim advocacy. These options prepare students to address the unique needs of specific populations in a counseling setting. If you're considering a career in counseling, earning a bachelor's degree, whether online or in person, is often just the first step in achieving your career goals. Most career counseling positions also require amaster's degreefor state licenses.

Counselors generally pursue a few different career paths, depending on their interests:

  • Some serve as school counselors where they work with children and adolescents in grades K-12 or adults in a higher education setting.
  • Others become mental health counselors and work in clinical settings. This may involve a focus on specific populations such as the elderly, children, couples, or families.
  • Substance use and addiction counselors work with people to help them overcome addiction to drugs, alcohol, and other substances that negatively affect their health and well-being.
  • Some counselors work with incarcerated people. They support them in prison and during their transition after release.

Online programs follow the same curriculum and degree path as on-campus programs. Many students prefer to take classes online due to its convenience, flexibility, and affordability. Some online programs include live-streamed lectures at set times, while others allow students to view pre-recorded lectures on their own schedule. Additionally, online classes are often available as full-time or part-time crash courses. Finally, online degrees attract many students because they can be significantlymore accessible.

Students interested in earning a counseling degree online should always look for an accredited program.

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All of the programs listed on this page are offered by accredited colleges and universities. Accreditation ensures that colleges and universities meet universal academic standards and signals to schools/employers that graduates have received a quality education. Students interested in earning a counseling degree online should always look for an accredited program.

Is it worth taking an online course in counseling?

When considering whether an online counseling degree is worth it, students should think about their professional and personal goals, why they are interested in the field, how much time and money they can invest in their education, and what they will get out of it. the end. From that.

Professional counselors work directly with patients to help them overcome emotional, psychological, social, and physical difficulties that affect their personal lives. Counselors connect people with the resources and tools they need to help improve their overall health and well-being. If you feel compelled to work as a counselor, you will likely need to earn both a bachelor's and master's degree to become licensed, and an online degree is a viable option for either.

Although a graduate degree in counseling is a requirement for licensure and certification, students do not need a bachelor's degree in counseling to enter a master's program or even the field. Those who earn their bachelor's degree in another field are still eligible to apply to a counseling master's program, but may need to complete additional prerequisites. There are also opportunities to work in counseling without a degree, such as through nonprofit organizations or working as a peer counselor, case manager, or assistant counselor.

counseling careers

It's also important to consider how much money you'll earn upon graduation and employment rates for your chosen career path. The following salary data and job growth outlook provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) can give prospective students a clearer picture of what their financial future might look like in each career. From the list of counseling careers below, school and professional counselors tend to earn the highest median salaries, while rehabilitation counselors earn the lowest. Projected job growth is highest for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors and lowest for correctional treatment specialists.

Specialists in Corrective Treatment

Some counselors are trained to work with people who are in prison or have recently been released. They provide direct support to individuals transitioning out of correctional facilities by creating rehabilitation plans that may include substance abuse counseling, job training, safe housing assurance, and other resources/services. These counselors also administer drug tests and help people meet other requirements after they are released from prison.

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  • Job prospectus:The BLS places probation officers and correctional treatment specialists in a single category. They have aProjected growth rate of 4%, which aligns with the national average for all occupations.
  • Salary:Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists earn median salaries of $54,290 per year (or $26.10 per hour).

Marriage and family therapists

These therapists help couples and families deal with a variety of problems to improve interpersonal relationships within their family.

  • Job prospectus:The BLS projects a rapid growth rate of22% from 2019 to 2029for marriage and family therapists.
  • Salary:Professionals in the field earn median salaries of $49,610 per year (or $23.85 per hour). Counselors working for state governments earn significantly higher median salaries, averaging $72,230 per year. Meanwhile, those who work in ambulatory care centers earn approximately $52,140 per year.

rehabilitation counselors

Rehabilitation counselors work with patients with physical, mental, emotional, or developmental disabilities to help them overcome any setbacks or limitations they may experience. This could include coordinating care, accessing resources or services, working with employers to help them understand the needs of employees, and helping clients resolve any issues in their lives due to their disability.

  • Job prospectus:The need for rehabilitation counselors is expected to grow in10% from 2019 to 2029.
  • Salary:Rehabilitation counselors earn average salaries of $35,950 per year (or $17.28 per hour) according to the BLS. State government employees (excluding education and hospital officials) earn the highest median salaries for this job at $51,260 per year.

School and professional counselors

School counselors work with middle and high school or college students to help them navigate the academic, social, and emotional landscapes while enrolled in school. Career counselors, on the other hand, work with people at various stages of their professional lives to support them in defining their careers, determining some professional goals and the steps to achieve them.

  • Job prospectus:The need for school counselors and professionals in8% from 2019 to 2029, which is twice as fast as the national average of 4% for all occupations
  • Salary:School and career counselors have the highest median wage rates for counseling occupations at $57,040 per year (or $27.42 per hour).

Substance abuse, behavioral disorders and mental health counselors

BLS combines these three roles into one occupation. Although they may be different, there are often crossovers between positions.

  • Job prospectus:Compared to the national average of 4% for all jobs, this specialty has significantly higher employment rates than many other occupations. Especially as states begin to move away from incarcerating people with drug and alcohol dependencies in favor of court-ordered counseling and treatment services, the need for substance abuse counselors, disorder behavioral and mental health.25% from 2019 to 2029.
  • Salary:Counselors in this field earn an average salary of $46,240 per year (or $22.23 per hour). Those who work for government agencies earn the highest salaries at $52,720 per year. Hospitals are also a major industry for counselors in this field, with hospital employees earning average salaries of $49,100 per year.

Common Bachelor's Degree Courses in Counseling

Course requirements for a bachelor's degree in counseling differ by program, but generally cover some basic subjects that prepare students to work with people facing challenges. Below are some of the more common program courses, which aim to provide students with a solid foundation in the history and ethical best practices of the counseling profession.

  • Behavior Disorders in Children and Adolescents:Many counseling programs require a sequence of courses that cover problems that can occur throughout life. This course presents theories of human development and methods for diagnosing and treating behavior problems in youth. Students learn to examine their patients' social contexts, including race, class, and gender, and the effects these have on their behavior.
  • case management:In this course, students learn the administrative side of their chosen field. Teachers teach client assessment, treatment plan options, and legal requirements associated with effective record keeping. Topics covered in this course may include treatment in various clinical settings, evaluating a patient's home, and managing case-related stress.
  • Ethics in Counseling:This course presents a history of counseling ethics and currently accepted standards of ethical behavior. Teachers often present what-if scenarios where the correct behavior is not immediately clear. Students focus on learning how to build trust with clients while adhering to legal mandates governing intervention, record keeping, and patient confidentiality.
  • group process:This course can be helpful in understanding the social pressures on different customer populations. Specifically, teachers discuss the formation and function of various groups. Topics covered include social dynamics, leadership styles, and communication within a larger group.
  • crisis intervention:Students study how to assess clients who are experiencing mental health crises and apply proven techniques to improve the situation. They will be asked to consider the legal landscape and the ethical requirements of intervention in real and hypothetical situations. Students taking this course as part of a concentration (eg, substance abuse counseling) can focus their work on scenarios related to their preferred population.
  • Pharmacology in addiction counseling:This course teaches the physiological basis of addiction. The goal is to better understand the brain chemistry underlying chemical dependency and the effects that various substances have on different body systems. This course may also cover prescription drug interactions and discuss how scientists design clinical trials to test drug safety.

How much does an online counseling degree cost?

Generally speaking, online degree programs are more affordable than on-campus programs. In this list of affordable online counseling degrees, tuition fees range from $4,500 to $13,500 per year. The cost of the degree depends on where you enroll and how many credits a program requires to graduate. For the 2020-21 academic year, the average tuition rates for all online degree programs at public universities were$12,570 per year, while private universities charged an average of $14,068 per year for online programs. On average, public universities are more affordable than private ones. Although schools may offer institutional grants and scholarships to help lower the cost of education.

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Fast facts about online high school

  • Public Universities:$12,570 per year
  • Private universities:$14,068 per year

The cost of a degree also depends on whether you have credits from previous college experience that you can transfer and apply toward your degree. Online programs often have flexible transfer policies that allow students to reduce the number of credits needed to complete the course. Many attend community colleges to earn credits at a lower cost. They can then later apply these credits toward their bachelor's degree (depending on individual school transfer policies). Alternatively, a student may decidetransfer your college credits onlinefor a program on campus.

Financing an Online Counseling Degree

Students who earn their bachelor's degree in counseling online qualify for the same financial aid as on-campus students. Financial aid comes from federal and state governments, colleges/universities, and private organizations (eg, non-profit organizations or corporations). Federal and state aid is often in the form of grants, work-study funding, and student loans. Scholarships from your college/university, your programs department, private companies, and nonprofit organizations can also help offset the cost of tuition and other educational expenses.

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More than half of employers offer educational programs as part of their employee benefits package.

Some students may also qualify for school assistance through their work. according to astudy 2019According to the Society of Human Resources Management, more than half of employers offer educational programs as part of their employee benefits package. Military students, veterans, and their families may also qualify for aid through the GI Bill and other military education programs.

Always check the program's eligibility requirements to make sure you qualify, as certain factors may play a role, such as accreditation or funding. Contact your college's financial aid office to make sure any financial aid you receive can be applied toward your online degree.

assistance request

Students apply for most types of aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form determines a student's financial need and eligibility for federal funds and extra aid from their state and college. Our completeFAFSA Guidedescribes how the application process works and some common mistakes to avoid when completing the form.

After exhausting other financial aid options, students can obtain private or federal student loans to help bridge the gap between free aid and the cost of higher education. Federal student loans are generally preferred over private lenders due to their low, fixed interest rates and flexible repayment options.

Whileundocumented studentsare not eligible for federal financial aid, they qualify for grants in some states. Along with state aid, many undocumented students use scholarships to help pay for their education, as some are open to students regardless of citizenship, while others are specifically for undocumented students, such as those listed byimmigrant ancestry.

Where to look for additional financial assistance

Check with your school's program department and financial aid office for information on additional funding opportunities. The following scholarships are open to counseling students seeking a bachelor's degree:

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scholarship eligibility requirements Amount
Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign
  • Currently enrolled as a full-time student in high school or college
  • Must show proof of acceptance into a college or university
$ 1.500
Lullellia W. Harrison Counseling Scholarship
  • Enrolled in a counseling degree program
  • Awarded for one academic year of full-time study
it varies
Scholarship to Raise Mental Health Awareness
  • Current high school or college student
  • US citizen or legal resident
  • Must have personally experienced or been around someone with mental health issues
$ 500


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