Online master's programs in community counseling prepare students to work with individual clients and groups on issues ranging from substance abuse to psychological disorders. Students in these programs learn about assessment issues, treatment plans, research methods and ethics.
Online master's degree programs in community counseling are generally designed to accommodate the schedules of working students. Courses are offered online, but brief visits to campus may be required. Students must complete an extensive supervised internship in an approved facility.
Graduates usually need to be licensed in order to work as professional counselors. Requirements vary by state but often include completion of a master's program, supervised clinical experience and a licensure exam. Students should verify the accreditation status of any online program they are considering.
Master's Degree in Community Counseling
Generally, students may complete all coursework online. However, a program may require students to visit the campus for a weekend or a week in the summer to meet faculty. Students must also complete a 600-hour internship program at an agreed upon facility (though exact hours are institution dependent). A supervisor, who must be approved by the department, oversees the internship. Programs range from 54-60 credit hours in length.
An institution may let students take a readiness survey to determine their suitability to take an online program. It measures a student's motivation, technical competency and typing speed, among other factors. Students need a reliable computer the meets the school's system requirement with an Internet connection. Students will need to learn the course delivery system (i.e. WebCT) and have basic computer skills, which will allow them to set up accounts, send e-mails and download files.
Popular Master's-Level Courses
Coursework covers graduate-level topics in psychology, research, ethics and standards in the field. Coursework is typically delivered using an online content management system through the school's website. It permits students to interact with peers and instructors, in addition to viewing lectures or obtaining notes and assignments.
Theories of Counseling
A course in the theories of counseling provides students with an overview of counseling techniques. Topics cover cognitive and behavioral theories, along with their uses. Case studies and counseling processes are also discussed.
This course introduces students to the various aspects of counseling, such as group dynamics, ethical issues and leadership. Topics explore the different types of groups, approaches to group counseling and adaptations of counseling theories to meet different needs.
Students in this course examine ethical and legal standards and practices used in counseling. They study the history of counseling, legal obligations and professional conduct.
The role of mental health counseling within communities is the focus of this course. The financial, legal and organizational aspects of public human health service systems and private health care are also covered.
Marriage and Family Counseling
Students gain the skills they need to provide counseling for couples and families in this course. Students learn about client assessment, intervention strategies, preventative approaches and conflict resolution.
Job opportunities for all substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors are expected to grow quickly, at a rate of 22% from 2018-2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Graduates may find job opportunities working in a number of settings, such as clinics, community health centers or private practices, among other locations. As of 2019, the median salary for mental health counselors ranged from $31,000 to $59,000, including bonuses and overtime pay, according to Payscale.com.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates may pursue an optional credential as a National Certified Counselor or certification in a specific counseling area. They may advance to supervisory positions with experience or choose to pursue additional education.
Students can earn online community counseling master's degrees that cover courses such as group counseling and ethics. It is important to note that counselors must be certified by the state in which they reside in order to practice.