Counseling Majors: Information and Requirements

Students considering a career in counseling can find a variety of degrees that focus on helping people cope with tragedy, mental illness, addiction, and other life issues. Students can find undergraduate and graduate degrees in this field.

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Essential Information

A bachelor's degree in counseling is usually pursued in general counseling studies and biblical counseling. While general counseling programs focus on therapeutic methods and counseling theories, biblical counseling programs also look at the Bible and Christian methodology. A master's degree is required of professionals who want to qualify to become licensed counseling practitioners.

Bachelor of Science in Counseling

Bachelor's degree candidates study group and family counseling, theories and practices in counseling, therapeutic methods, and psychology topics. Degree concentrations may include children and teen studies, criminal justice, and addiction counseling. Though most counselors need a master's degree, students who choose addiction counseling as a concentration in a bachelor's degree program may be eligible for certification as an addiction and prevention services counselor.

A bachelor's degree in counseling program is frequently coupled with another major in social sciences - such as theology, psychology, sociology, or communication - to support the counseling degree education. The degree program is divided almost evenly between general education classes and counseling courses. Courses may include:

  • Atypical psychology
  • Group therapy practices
  • Family dynamics in counseling
  • Criminology
  • Delinquency of juveniles
  • Substance abuse

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Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Counseling

A bachelor's degree in biblical counseling may also be called a bachelor's degree in Christian counseling. The degree program incorporates Christian and secular theories into counseling methodology. Core curriculum combines biblical studies of the Old and New Testament with counseling techniques, theories and practices. Biblical counseling degree programs are intended to provide foundational education for graduate degrees in counseling.

Undergraduate degree students can expect a mix of general education, core and biblical classes. Coursework may entail subjects relating to:

  • Sexual disorders
  • Relationship therapy
  • Treating depression
  • Theology in relation to counseling
  • Therapy for abuse and violence
  • Philosophy

Popular Career Options

Most careers in counseling require at least a master's degree; however, positions may be found by individuals with a bachelor's degree. Positions can include:

  • School counselor
  • Social worker
  • Parole counselor

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an increase of 20% for overall employment of mental health counselors between 2014 and 2024. Growth in this field is expected to be driven by greater numbers of people seeking counseling (www.bls.gov). The BLS reports that mental health counselors earned a median salary of $41,880 as of May 2015. Meanwhile, educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors earned a median salary of $53,660 in that same year, and family and marriage therapists earned a median salary of $48,600.

Continuing Education

There are multiple certificate programs available for counseling graduates. Most are specialty programs related to substance abuse counseling or career counseling. Some certificate programs require a bachelor's degree for admittance. Another option for graduates of a bachelor's degree in counseling program is to pursue a master's degree in counseling.

Licensure and certification usually requires a master's degree in counseling, though it varies by state and discipline. Master's degree programs can take 2-5 years to finish and typically entail monitored fieldwork, which is required for licensure and state certifications. Graduate degree concentrations may include rehabilitation of substance abusers, elderly counseling, relationship therapy, and career counseling.

Though clinical counselors usually need a master's degree, there are several major-related jobs for those with a bachelor's degree. Majors offer varied concentrations, including mental health, addiction, and Christian counseling.

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