A closer look at the top five types of master’s and doctoral online degree programs.

Counseling is one of the fastest-growing professions in the U.S. Counseling degree programs, both online and on campus, are responding to the need for affordable, high-quality, and convenient programs for working adults. The demand for counselors is strongest in the areas of mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, and treatment for substance abuse and behavioral disorders.

Professional counselors help clients deal with emotional issues and problems in a nonjudgmental manner. They listen and respond with feedback and insights that enable their clients to better understand themselves—and help them handle challenges more successfully.

Job Growth and Salaries for Counseling Careers

Projections for job growth range from 12% for school and career counselors ($53,610 median annual wage) to 29% for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists ($41,500 median annual wage) to 31% for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors ($38,520 median annual wage).*

Top 5 Counseling Degree Programs

  1. PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision
    There are only a few online universities that offer a CACREP-accredited PhD in counselor education program. This type of doctoral program is highly respected and may offer several specializations to choose from, such as advanced research methods, consultation, counseling and social change, forensic mental health counseling, leadership and program evaluation, and trauma and crisis. This type of program can help prepare you for influential positions at the top of your profession in the area that interests you most.
  2. MS in Addiction Counseling
    This type of online master’s degree program can prepare you to work in a variety of settings—from hospitals and community mental health centers to drug courts and private practice—helping clients with substance abuse problems, addictive behaviors, and dual diagnoses. Look for programs that offer a practicum, supervised internships, and face-to-face residencies. Eligible master’s in addiction counseling programs can qualify you to sit for the Examination for Master Addictions Counselors (EMAC). The EMAC is a requirement for the Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) national certification and for addictions counselor licensure in some states.
  3. MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
    Top degree programs in clinical mental health counseling have achieved CACREP accreditation and provide specialized focus options for counseling different client populations, such as addiction counseling, career counseling, forensic counseling, military families and culture, and trauma and crisis counseling. Role-playing, case studies, practicums, supervised field work, internships, and residencies are commonly used to help students practice their counseling skills under the guidance of expert faculty and in collaboration with peers.
  4. MS in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling
    Only a select group of universities offer a CACREP-accredited online master’s program in marriage, couple, and family counseling. Such programs can help prepare you for a career in counseling, an area with projected job growth of 29% from 2012 to 2022.* Typically, you’ll gain skills for diagnosing mental and emotional disorders, as well as for helping clients handle stressful family issues such as divorce, family violence, and child-rearing practices. In addition to the required coursework and research, your chosen program should include many opportunities to practice and hone your new counseling skills.
  5. MS in School Counseling
    A master’s degree program in school counseling accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) enables graduates to better support students in grades preK–12 in handling a variety of school-related concerns. Ideally, your chosen program will offer specializations in critical areas such as addiction counseling, career counseling, crisis and trauma counseling, and military families and culture. Programs that offer a combination of coursework, a research project, and ample opportunities for students to practice their skills prepare school counselors to deal with academic problems, social challenges (such as bullying), and family issues that encroach on young people’s ability to learn and perform well in school.

Explore Walden University's online counseling degree programs for graduate students. Get the help you need to continue your education and advance your career goals. Earn your degree in a convenient online format that fits your busy life.


*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014–2015 Edition, School and Career Counselors, Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists, Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors, on the Internet at www.bls.gov/ooh/home.htm.

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