Accelerated master's degree in counseling programs vary in duration and degree requirements, but all are geared towards helping students earn a degree in less time and often at a lower cost. Additionally, the amount of time saved in comparison to a conventional master's degree will depend upon the individual program. Accelerated master's degree programs often allow students to begin graduate-level coursework during the junior or senior year of their undergraduate degree.
Admissions Requirements for Accelerated Master's Degree in Counseling Programs
Accelerated master's degree programs in counseling have varying requirements regarding what type of undergraduate degree is needed and when prospective students can apply. Some accelerated programs allow students to apply without having an existing bachelor's degree as long as they have achieved junior or senior standing in a psychology program. Other accelerated programs do require that students already have a bachelor's degree, with majors in psychology being preferred.
Additionally, accelerated master's degree programs in counseling have varying requirements when it comes to GPA, with some requiring a 3.0 or better. Oftentimes, a resume or CV is required to apply to this type of program. Additional requirements can include letters of recommendation (two or three are sometimes required), essays, statements of purpose, and group interviews. Not all programs require GRE scores. Some programs require nomination by a faculty member in order for a student to apply to the program.
Courses in Accelerated Master's Degree in Counseling Programs
The classes a student pursuing an accelerated master's degree in counseling takes will vary somewhat depending upon the college. However, there are common classes that many programs require. These generally include some classes on counseling-related research and other classes on specific issues counselors may choose to focus on (such as addictions, family counseling, eating disorders, or grief counseling). Degree programs also usually include several foundational courses, such classes on theories of counseling and psychotherapy. Below is a list of some example classes that students may take in these programs.
Counseling Theory and Practice
A counseling theory and practice course gives students a chance to explore the theoretical frameworks and practical aspects of being a counselor. Students taking this type of course may work on developing and refining their personal treatment philosophies. They might also determine how they want to implement their knowledge in a clinical practice.
Ethics and Legal Issues in Counseling
This type of course helps students understand the professional considerations specific to the counseling field. Some courses of this type review American Counseling Association ethical standards and how they apply to the counseling profession. Others discuss issues related to malpractice, including related privacy laws and criminal laws. Course topics may also include client rights, informed consent, case documentation, child abuse reporting responsibilities, crisis management, and third-party payment issues. These courses may discuss various ethical decision-making models that could be applied to a counselor's practice as well.
Group Counseling Theories and Techniques
Courses on group counseling allow students to explore group dynamics, group leadership skills, and intergroup relations. This type of class may offer students the opportunity to participate in group relations conferences or laboratory experiences that allow them to experience live group supervision. These courses may also provide students with knowledge regarding how to work in diverse multicultural groups or allow them to learn about decision-making groups, educational groups, and human service delivery groups in addition to therapy groups.
Substance Abuse or Addiction Counseling
Addiction counseling courses may provide an overview of the effects of addiction on individuals and the community as well as different intervention and treatment modalities for addiction. Some of these modalities may include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, family systems, and motivational interviewing. Culturally responsive treatment of addictions may also be explored in these courses.
Research Methods in Counseling
This course allows students to explore various research methods as well as the use of qualitative and quantitative statistics. Students can also explore methods used to conduct needs assessments and program evaluations. This type of course may be structured according to standards set by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
There are many options out there for students wishing to pursue an accelerated master's degree in counseling, all of which have somewhat different structures, admissions requirements, and curricula. However, these variations between programs mean that there are accelerated options available both for students who wish to start their master's degree during their undergraduate years and for students who already have a bachelor's degree in psychology or another subject.