Study.com has analyzed online counseling degree programs to come up with a list of the best of the bunch. Our online degree rankings are unique in that they emphasize accessibility, affordability, and quality of education, which we considered the most important attributes in our school rankings.
For this list we used also used criteria that takes into account the type of degree offered, online support services available, financial help the university offers, and what kind of counseling licensure the program leads to. Although the programs making our list all feature online classes, they will most likely also require field experiences, practicums, or brief on-campus residencies so that you get to apply all that you've learned online to real-life counseling experiences.
1. North Carolina Central University
North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina makes the top of our list with three different online degree offerings in the field of counseling: a Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling, a Master of Arts in School Counseling, and a Master of Arts in Career Counseling. Each of these programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which means their online coursework has been thoroughly vetted and will prepare you for licensure in North Carolina. With both synchronous and asynchronous classes and only three short residency requirements (two of which require you to be on-campus, and one done by videoconferencing), you will be able to earn your master's degree with a lot of flexibility.
2. University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
Located in Cincinnati, Ohio, the University of Cincinnati rates high on the list due to their excellent online Bachelor of Science in Substance Abuse Counseling and their Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling. In addition to the informative coursework that will teach you how to help those with alcohol and drug addictions, this school allows you to organize much-valued field experience on your own, so you can complete it in your hometown or even at your current job. This university also offers a ton of great online services for students, including an online library, tech support, and student advisors.
3. Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University, which is located in Phoenix, Arizona, offers plenty of pathways for earning a counseling degree online, including a Bachelor of Science in Counseling with an addiction counseling emphasis, a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and Master of Science in Addiction Counseling. The MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is a real standout due to the fact that you can specialize in trauma, marriage and family therapy, Christian counseling, or childhood and adolescence disorders. When attending an online counseling program at Grand Canyon University, you will have access to learning resources, such as eBooks and calendar reminders, and get to connect to other students through projects and discussion boards.
4. University of the Cumberlands
Along with an online Master of Arts in Addiction Counseling and a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky also offers a rare online PhD in Counselor Education & Supervision degree, which can be completed in only three short years. This CACREP-accredited PhD will also allow you to specialize in addiction, leadership, assessment, or Christian ministries. A bonus of the two master's degrees is that you can transfer up to 30 credits of equivalent courses from another institution to help finish your degree quickly.
5. University of Louisiana at Monroe
At the University of Louisiana at Monroe you could earn either a Master of Science in School Counseling or a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Both of these online programs are CACREP accredited, and the school counseling program will prepare you for certification as a school counselor. These prepare graduates so well for their careers that each master's program had a 100% job placement rate in 2018. Both degree programs use online face-to-face classes and pre-recorded lecture classes so you get the benefit of real interaction with your professors but also are able to complete your assignments and lectures whenever and wherever you want.
6. Bob Jones University
Based in Greenville, South Carolina, Bob Jones University offers an online Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling. With flexible courses that feature livestream classes, this counseling degree aims to teach you counseling skills and theories in a biblical context. After you complete your online degree program, you will qualify for certification from the Association of Biblical Counselors, and you can take advantage of the university's career services to find the right counseling job that will put your newly learned skills to good use.
7. Grace College and Theological Seminary
Grace College and Theological Seminary, which is located in Winona Lake, Indiana, has an online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program that features 8-week courses that allow you to finish your degree in only 2-3 years. Your online classes will be highly interactive with discussion board, chat, forum, and email elements. For the annual required 7-day residencies, the university will arrange on-campus housing for you or help you get local hotel discounts.
8. Liberty University
One of the biggest perks of the online counseling program at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia is just how many options you have. They offer an Associate of Arts in Psychology degree in Christian Counseling, several master's degrees in counseling with specializations in addiction, school counseling, marriage and family, and pastoral counseling among others, a PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision, and an EdD in Community Care and Counseling. Most of these online programs feature quick 8-week courses, and you can start your program at almost any time of the year at one of their 8 start dates. To help finish your degree quickly, this university will accept transfer credits for both the undergraduate and graduate programs.
9. Nyack College
Nyack College in New York City offers an online Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling degree that can be completed in 3 years with annual week-long, on-campus residencies. The highlight of this program is the online cohort model that ensures there are only up to 24 students in one group, which means you will get to know your classmates and professors in a real, substantial way. The big plus for your future counseling career, though, is that this program will also lead to licensure.
10. California Baptist University
California Baptist University with a campus in Riverside, California has an online Master of Science in Counseling Psychology degree that can be completed in only 2 years. One of the best parts of this program is that it features both virtual hybrid classes with live online interactions and asynchronous classes that will let you work on your coursework at your own pace. This program will also prepare you for licensure in the state of California. This university is committed to ensuring you can earn your degree without too much financial strain, so it offers scholarships, financing plans, and even veterans' benefits.
11. Crown College
In Saint Bonifacius, Minnesota, Crown College offers several online counseling degrees: a Bachelor of Science in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, a Master of Arts in Counseling, a Master of Arts in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, and a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling. The best benefit of the counseling master's degrees is that they require enough internship hours to meet Minnesota LPCC licensure standards, which means you will be able to jump straight into your counseling career after graduation. The online MA in Counseling also only has a couple of 4-day on-campus residency requirements that are easy to fulfill in order to earn your degree.
12. Bradley University
Bradley University, which is located in Peoria, Illinois, has two online degree options, including the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and the Master of Arts in Professional School Counseling. These two programs have the amazing benefit of having a 12 to 1 student to professor ratio for a truly personal education experience. You will also only need to attend 2 week-long residencies on-campus. At the end of these online programs, you will also be fully ready to receive national certification by taking both the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam and the National Counselor Exam.
13. Concordia University-Wisconsin
Based out of Mequon, Wisconsin, Concordia University-Wisconsin allows you to earn an online Master of Science in Education with a school and professional counseling concentration that will fully prepare you for licensure. You can also add a Graduate Certificate in Christian Counseling to your degree as well. The biggest plus of this university's online program is you will be guided through your education by a personal student success advisor who will help you with planning your classes, attaining scholarships, and helping with little stresses along the way. They also offer online tutoring services to help you with your counseling courses.
14. Cornerstone University
With a campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Cornerstone University has an online Master of Arts in Counseling degree that allows you to specialize in addiction counseling, trauma counseling, or interdisciplinary studies. If you live outside of Michigan and want to gain licensure in your own state, then it's no problem with this program as they have a multi-state licensure specialization that will make sure you take the courses required by your state. The other great benefit of this online program is the 7-week and 15-week courses that will allow you to finish your degree in only 3-4 years.
15. Toccoa Falls College
Toccoa Falls College, located in Toccoa Falls, Georgia, is one of the few universities on our list that offers an online Bachelor of Science in Counseling Psychology. This undergraduate degree program will also allow you to earn a minor in counseling or marriage and family counseling. To help you on your education journey, this university also offers student services, such as an online librarian to help you find resources, IT support for your computer, and tutoring assistance. You can even access counseling services and connect with licensed professionals as well.
16. Huntington University
Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana has an online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree that will not only prepare you for licensure in Indiana but in other states as well. With online 7-week courses, you will be able to finish your degree quickly, and the required 700 hours of clinical experience can be completed right in your own community. To help finance your degree, this university offers payment plans, scholarships, and tuition discounts.
17. Touro University Worldwide
Touro University Worldwide in Los Alamitos, California has a fully online Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy degree. You can choose from three tracks, which include a clinical, non-clinical, and licensed professional. One of the best features of this program is that there are no residency requirements, and the non-clinical track has no practicum requirements. Touro University Worldwide also offers student success help in the form of advisement and a career center.
18. Southwestern Assemblies of God University
In Waxahachie, Texas, Southwestern Assemblies of God University makes our list due to the fact that they offer three different online counseling degrees: a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, a Bachelor of Science in Counseling, and an Associate of Science in Addictions Counseling. This university touts small class sizes that get you individualized attention. For the bachelor's degree, you will be able to earn up to 45 hours of credits for previous work experience, which will help you finish your counseling degree quicker, and can apply for scholarships that are only available to online students.
19. Mid-America Christian University
Mid-America Christian University, which is located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, has an online Master of Science in Counseling degree that will allow you to choose an addiction and substance abuse emphasis, a clinical mental health emphasis, or a marital, couples and family counseling emphasis. All three programs will prepare you for licensure through coursework, practicums, and internships. To help their adult learners earn their online degree swiftly, this university will give you credit for work experience, ministry experience, or community services experience.
20. Gallaudet University
Gallaudet University, which is located in Washington, D.C., offers two online degree options: the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and the Master of Arts in School Counseling. The MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program has a special emphasis on
hard of hearing and deaf patients, and partners with the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center. Each of these programs features a hybrid format with the clinical mental health degree requiring you to be on-campus for the first year, and the school counseling program requiring you to attend summer classes on-campus. Both online programs will help you choose the right field experience that will expand your skills.
21. Seton Hall University
Seton Hall University with a campus in South Orange, New Jersey makes our list with their truly unique online combined Master of Arts and Education Specialist on Professional Counseling degree program. This MA/EdS program will earn you two degrees with only 60 credits and 2 on-campus residencies. This university also has a Master of Arts in School Counseling degree that is approved by the New Jersey Department of Education. These online programs have been going strong for 14 years and counting and feature a faculty of counseling practitioners, ensuring the professors have experience in what they're teaching.
22. Alvernia University
Alvernia University in Reading, Pennsylvania has a CACREP-accredited Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling degree program that is a hybrid online/on-campus program. At this university, you will benefit from small class sizes and a collaborative educational environment. You will also be prepared for licensure in the state of Pennsylvania, and you could be eligible to achieve certification as a National Certified Counselors or a Certified Addiction Counselors. As of 2017, this program boosts an impressive 100% job placement rate.
23. Medaille College
Medaille College, located in Buffalo, New York, has an online CACREP-accredited Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree that will prepare you for licensure in the state of New York. This university is all about flexibility, as you can choose how many classes to take each semester, and the small class sizes get you one-on-one attention from your professors. You can also access online tutoring services to help you with tests or assignments.
24. Chadron State College
In Chadron, Nebraska, Chadron State College offers a Master of Arts in Education - School Counseling degree that mixes online classes with practicum experiences. The highlight of this degree program is that it will prepare you to be a school counselor in the state of Nebraska. You will also be able to choose an endorsement in PK-8 school counseling or 7-12 school counseling. You also get opportunities to intern in schools so that you acquire plenty of real-world experience.
25. National University
National University, a private nonprofit school in La Jolla, California, offers a 100% online Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program with two concentrations in marriage and family therapy or licensed professional clinical counseling. Both tracks require supervised practicums (225 hours for MFT and 280 hours for LPCC). This military-friendly school allows students to start their program at any time and finish faster by taking one course a month.
To get a more in-depth look at our school ranking methodology, please visit Study.com's ranking methodology page.