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Distance learning degree programs in counseling psychology are offered at the master's level and may award a Master of Science in Psychology with a concentration in counseling psychology, a Master of Science in Counseling and a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling. Program coursework covers topics in psychology, psychotherapy, professional development and contemporary counseling issues. Specializations may be available in applied behavior analysis, substance abuse counseling or mental health counseling.
At the master's degree level, students may be able to demonstrate their acquired knowledge and skills through completion of a final project. They must also complete a practicum in addition to 60-70 credit hours of online coursework. Attendance at on-campus residency weekends taking place approximately 3-5 times per year is required of students as well.
Online programs in counseling psychology may require completion of 60-70 credit hours.
- Professional development and ethics
- Theories of psychotherapy
- Group psychotherapy
- Addictive disorders
- Career development
- Community psychology
- Personality psychology
- Life span development
- Research methods
- Practice of counseling
Most online counseling psychology programs require students to attend residency weekends on campus approximately 3-5 times per year, depending on the program. These residency weekends provide students with the opportunity to experience in-class instruction, meet with faculty members and network with fellow students.
Practicum and Licensure Requirements
In order to meet state licensure requirements, online counseling psychology programs require students to complete a practicum that provides them with supervised on-the-job training. The practicum must be completed in person, and prospective students should choose online programs that have the ability to place them at practicum sites reasonably close to their residences.
State licensure requirements vary. Students should consider where their online counseling psychology program is based. They should make sure that the program they choose meets the licensure requirements of the state in which they intend to practice.
Online courses may be offered in formats that are synchronous, requiring scheduled participation, or asynchronous, allowing self-paced studies. Distance learning students typically access courses through a virtual Study.com, such as Blackboard. Through this site, students are able to find and submit assignments, participate in online discussion forums, access lecture notes and instructional videos and e-mail instructors and peers. Students may be required to complete exams under the supervision of an approved proctor.
Continuing Education and Career Information
Completion of a master's degree in counseling psychology allows students to enter the workforce or pursue doctoral studies in clinical psychology or a related field. Students who choose to enter the workforce must pass state and national licensing exams in order to become licensed professional counselors.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), counselors typically work 40-hour weeks, and many work flexible hours in order to accommodate their clients' schedules. The BLS predicted employment opportunities specifically for mental health counselors would grow 20% from 2014-2024, which is faster than the national average for all occupations. These professionals earned a mean salary of $45,080 in 2015.
Students who would like to study counseling psychology online can enroll in a master's degree program that combines online coursework with practical fieldwork experience. They should expect to study such topics as research methods, addictive disorders and group psychotherapy.