Degrees in mental health counseling are typically found only at the graduate level; however, several bachelor's programs could help students enter related careers or pursue mental health graduate education. Online programs may lead to a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Science, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a specialization in Mental Health or a Bachelor of Science in Mental Health and Human Services.
Several undergraduate universities, including both public and private institutions, offer distance learning options in this field, but many programs require students to gain relevant experience through on-site participation. Bachelor's programs usually take around four years of full-time study, but those who transfer previously earned college credits could finish in less time.
These programs typically require a blended format: online courses and in-person residencies, clinical internships, or volunteer sessions.
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Bachelor's Degree in Mental Health Counseling
Students in undergraduate mental health counseling programs explore a range of topics, including community health and family counseling. General education courses, such as human anatomy and English composition, are also required. Most online programs allow candidates to complete assignments in a self-paced manner, and lectures may be pre-recorded so they can be accessed by students at any time.
Information and Requirements
Although students in an online bachelor's degree program do not attend class on-campus, online chat rooms and message forums give students the ability to participate in class discussions and to ask questions. Some programs do require students to attend short, on-campus residencies at certain points during the semester. Hands-on clinical internships or volunteer sessions at an approved mental health setting may be required of candidates in online mental health counseling degree programs.
Some core courses that may form part of an online mental health counseling bachelor's program are:
- Chemical Dependency Counseling
- Case Management
- Assessment and Planning
- Issues in Professional Practice
- Introduction to Social Services
Many students use this degree as a stepping stone to more advanced degrees, such as master's or doctoral degrees. An advanced degree is often necessary for entry into certain clinical careers, although an online bachelor's degree may qualify students for some entry-level positions. Some of the mental health related careers for which graduates may be qualified include the following:
- Psychosocial rehabilitation
- Special education
- Case management
- Early childhood services
Students can earn a bachelor's degree in mental health counseling online by completing a program that combines online courses with on-site participation in residencies and internships. Course topics that students will study include case management, assessment and planning, and introduction to social services.