Earning Your Online Counseling Degree

a girl examines online counseling degree information on her laptop

The ability to obtain a degree online has opened the educational world to many people who otherwise could not take advantage of higher learning. Aspiring students with hectic schedules can now obtain degrees in fields like mental health counseling. There are many ways to get such an online degree if you have the correct information.

Online Pros and Cons

One of the most important benefits of doing a degree online is convenience. Online students can access their educational materials at any time without neglecting other responsibilities such as work or caring for children. Another plus is easy access to a wealth of information; most colleges have digital libraries and psychology journals that are right at students’ fingertips, making research easily available. Web-based communication such as email and instant messaging also gives students constant access to their professors, making discussions over coursework easy.

There are few drawbacks to an online degree. Granted, online students don’t have the camaraderie of the college classroom, and they may miss out on opportunities for direct interaction with instructors and fellow students. Contemporary online courses, however, have digital discussion and participation elements that make up for some of these shortcomings.

Time and Cost

Most states require mental health counselors to have completed Master of Science in psychology or counseling. The master’s degree is usually prefaced by a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts in a related field such as psychology, sociology, or social work. What sort of counseling you wish to pursue will determine what master’s degree you should earn. A typical master’s degree is earned through a two- to three-year program, depending on whether the student is attending classes full time or part time. A full-time student is typically enrolled in 12 or more hours per term, while part-time students have a schedule of fewer than 12 hours.

The cost of an online counseling degree varies considerably depending on the college. Many state colleges offer online degree programs that range from $22,000 per year for a full-time student to upwards of $45,000 at a private college. Fortunately, there are many funding opportunities that can help defray the cost of online tuition.

Technology Requirements

Primarily, online students must have access to computers with up-to-date software and a fast, dependable Internet connection. Some online classes will require a download of their own interface software, while others will use software that is readily available on the web. A printer and a quiet, organized study space are also valuable for online students. The ability to read online counseling and psychology journals can give you an edge in counseling classes.


Completing an online counseling degree is simple if the factors of time, money, and access to technology are attended to. Online coursework can be both rewarding and practical, especially for stay-at-home parents caring for children, workers with hectic schedules, and people who live far away from traditional college campuses.

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