CACREP-Accredited Online Counseling Programs

Last updated: October 2020

If you’re ready to look for online counseling programs leading to a graduate degree, you have a lot of decisions to make. What specialty should you pursue? How long will it take to earn your degree?

An important consideration is whether the program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). CACREP certifies that you receive high quality education.

Start your counseling career by requesting information from our sponsored CACREP-accredited program:

counseling at northwestern

Earn an MA in Counseling from Northwestern and Become a Mental Health Counselor. No GRE Required.
Now accepting applications for the 2021 cohort.

Sponsored

Sponsored Faculty Interviews

Interview with Dr. Nate Perron, Core Faculty at Counseling@Northwestern, a 2U powered program.

“...I believe our students are exposed to important content in the program that challenges the status quo. Students are encouraged to think and practice multiculturally, and to advocate for the needs of individuals and communities as core elements of the counseling profession." Read the full interview with Dr. Perron.

Interview with Tonya Davis, Director of Clinical Training at Counseling@Northwestern, a 2U powered program.

“I am all in, with all hands-on deck. I believe that because of this type of investment, our students have the full capacity to be self-reflective, authentic, congruent, multiculturally competent and aware clinicians ready to go forth and be strong social justice advocates and intentionally thoughtful change agents in the field of counseling and beyond." Read the full interview with Dr. Davis.

74 CACREP-Accredited Online Counseling Programs

CACREP says it certifies each degree program individually. Programs voluntarily submit a self-study to be reviewed by counselors and counselor educators to ensure that students receive a quality educational experience. 

Schools eligible for CACREP certification must have institutional accreditation, so issues such as financial viability and resources are addressed. 

These 49 schools feature 74 CACREP-accredited online counseling degrees.

Adams State University

Alamosa, Colorado

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • M.A.: 60 credit hours. 
  • Ph.D.: 66 credit hours. 
  • Both programs require 100 practicum hours, 600 internship hours.

Adler University

Chicago, Illinois

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 62 credit hours

Antioch University New England

Keene, New Hampshire

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours
  • 100 practicum hours
  • 900 internship hours

Asbury Theological Seminary

Wilmore, Kentucky

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 75 credit hours
  • 600 hours of internships

Auburn University

Auburn, Alabama

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours
  • 100 practicum hours
  • 600 hours clinical practice or internship

Bellevue University

Bellevue, Nebraska

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours
  • 100 practicum hours
  • 600 hours clinical internship

Bradley University

Peoria, Illinois

Program Overview

Program length: Three years

Program Requirements

Credit requirement: 60 credit hours, 750 practicum hours and internship

Capella University

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling: 90 credit hours, 100 practicum hours, 600 internship hours
  • M.S. in Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling: 72 credit hours, 500 internship hours
  • M.S. in School Counseling: 72 credit hours, 100 practicum hours and 600 internship hours
  • Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision: 72 credit hours, 100 practicum hours and 600 internship hours

Central Connecticut State University

New Britain, Connecticut

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours

College of William and Mary

Williamsburg, Virginia

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours for each program
  • 100 practicum hours
  • 600 internship hours

Colorado Christian University

Lakewood, Colorado

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours

Concordia University Chicago

River Forest, Illinois

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours

Concordia University Irvine

Irvine, California

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours

East Carolina University

Greenville, North Carolina

Program Overview

  • Program length: Three years.

Program Requirements

  • M.S. Counselor Education: 
    • 60 credit hours
    • 100 practicum hours
    • 300 internship hours.
  • M.S. Rehabilitation and Career Counseling: 
    • 62 credit hours
    • 600 internship hours

 Freed-Hardeman University

Henderson, Tennessee

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours

Gallaudet University

Washington, D.C.

Program Overview

  • Program length: Three years

Program Requirements

  • M.A. in School Counseling: 75 credit hours
  • M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling: 69 credit hours

 Grace College

Winona Lake, Indiana

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours

 Hodges University

Fort Myers, Florida

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours

 Indiana Wesleyan University

Marion, Indiana

Program Overview

  • Program length: Two to three years. Two three-day intensives.

Program Requirements

  • M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, 60 credit hours. 
  • M.A. in School Counseling, 48 credit hours.

Lamar University

Beaumont, Texas

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours
  • 100 practicum hours
  • 300 internship hours

Liberty University

Lynchburg, Virginia

Program Overview

  • Program length: Two to four years. Two on-campus intensives.

Program Requirements

  • M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling: 60 credit hours, two-semester internship.
  • M.A. in School Counseling: 48 credit hours. 
  • Ph.D in Counselor Education and Supervision: 60 credit hours.

Lindsey Wilson College

Columbia, Kentucky

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours

Lock Haven University

Lock Haven, Pennsylvania

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours
  • 100 practicum hours
  • 600 internship hours

Malone University

Canton, Ohio

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours
  • Practicum 
  • Two-part internship.

Marshall University

Huntington, West Virginia

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours
  • 600 internship hours

Messiah University

Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Program Overview

  • Program length: Two to four years. Two one-week intensives each year.

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours

 North Carolina Central University

Durham, North Carolina

Program Overview

  • Program length: Up to three years

Program Requirements

  • M.A. in Career Counseling: 48 credit hours
  • M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling: 60 credit hours.
  • M.A. in School Counseling: 51 credit hours

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, North Carolina

Program Overview

  • Program length: Up to three years

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours
  • 600 internship hours

Northwestern University

Evanston, Illinois

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Enrollment in:
    • The Standard Curriculum: 24 courses OR
    • Bridge to Counseling Program: 27 courses included coursework to orient students to key theories of the field
  • Accepting applicants for the April 2021 cohort
  • 200-hour Practicum
  • 600-hour Internship

Admissions Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Current Resume
  • Statement of Purpose
  • One Supplemental Essay
  • Recent Photo
  • Official scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) if post-secondary work was outside the United States
Discover Northwestern University's online master of arts in counseling program by requesting information from Counseling@Northwestern.

Sponsored

Oregon State University

Corvallis, Oregon

Program Overview

Program Requirements 

  • 90 credit hours
  • 600 internship hours

 Palo Alto University

Palo Alto, California

Program Overview

  • Program length: Nine to 12 quarters. One-week summer residency.

Program Requirements 

  • 93 quarter credits
  • 100 practicum hours
  • 300 internship hours

Regent University

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Program Overview

  • Program length: Three years

Program Requirements 

  • M.A.: 60 credit hours
  • Ph.D.: 66 credit hours.

Saybrook University

Pasadena, California

Program Overview

Program Requirements 

  • 60 credit hours
  • 700 hours of field experience

Shippensburg University

Shippensburg, Pennsylvania

Program Overview

Program Requirements 

  • 48 credit hours

Spring Arbor University

Spring Arbor, Michigan

Program Overview

Program Requirements 

  • 60 credit hours for Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • 66-69 credit hours for School Counseling
  • 100 practicum hours
  • 600 internship hours for both programs

St. Bonaventure University

St. Bonaventure, New York

Program Overview

  • Program length: Two to three years

Program Requirements 

  • 60 credit hours

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology - Online

Chicago, Illinois

Program Overview

Program Requirements 

  • 60 credit hours
  • 100 practicum hours
  • 600 hours clinical practice

Thomas University

Thomasville, Georgia

Program Overview

Program Requirements 

  • 60 credit hours

Union Institute & University

Cincinnati, Ohio

Program Overview

Program Requirements 

  • 60 credit hours

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Fairbanks, Alaska

Program Overview

  • Program length: Two to three years.

Program Requirements 

  • M.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling: 60 credit hours. 
  • M.Ed. in School Counseling: 48 credit hours.

 University of Hawai'i at Manoa

Honolulu, Hawaii

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 48 credit hours

University of Houston-Victoria

Victoria, Texas

Program Overview

  • Program length: Three years

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours

University of Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours

University of Louisiana at Monroe

Monroe, Louisiana

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Pembroke, North Carolina

Program Overview

  • Program length: Three years.

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours
     

University of the Cumberlands

Williamsburg, Kentucky

Program Overview

  • Program length: Three years.

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours for M.A. degrees
  • 66 credit hours for M.A.Ed.

Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours

Wayne State College

Wayne, Nebraska

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours

Wright State University

Dayton, Ohio

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 69 credit hours, 100 practicum hours
  • 600 internship hours 

What is CACREP Accreditation?

CACREP accreditation means online programs meet standards in various areas, such as program mission, content, objectives, student advising, faculty qualifications, support, self-evaluation and more. 

When programs are reviewed by CACREP, some standards address issues at the institutional level (such as financial aid), but most of the application and review focus on the program that offers the graduate degree in counseling. Degree-specific programs hold CACREP accreditation, not the department or college in which it is housed. 

Many CACREP-accredited programs feature courses that focus on common core areas:

  • Assessment and testing
  • Career development
  • Counseling and helping relationships
  • Group counseling and group work
  • Human growth and development
  • Internship
  • Practicum
  • Professional counseling orientation and ethical practice
  • Research and program evaluation
  • Social and cultural diversity

CACREP Accredited Counseling Program Coursework

CACREP accredited counseling programs are dedicated to fostering and facilitating conducive learning environments. Degree specialty areas in addiction counseling, clinical mental health counseling, and marriage, couple and family counseling should consist of approved graduate-level study. Each specialty including career, rehabilitation, college and school counseling with the aforementioned, is held to a foundational, contextual and practice standard which incorporates both coursework, counselor identity development and field work.

Many CACREP accredited programs feature courses that should focus on the eight common core areas below:

Professional Counseling Orientation and Ethical Practice

History and philosophy of the counseling profession and its specialty areas.

  • Learn the different roles of counselors across all specialties and lifespans.
  • Develop an awareness of advocacy issues in regards to social barriers and equality.
  • Review required administrative counseling credential knowledge including licensing, accreditation and ethical standards.
 

Social and Cultural Diversity

Multicultural and pluralistic characteristics within and among diverse groups nationally and internationally.

  • Develop a multicultural view of diverse counseling concerns.
  • Explore power and privilege as it relates to the counseling dynamic.
  • Learn techniques and strategies to eliminate these barriers of diversity.
 

Human Growth and Development

Theories of individual and family development across the lifespan.

  • Grasp theories of learning, human development throughout the lifespan, and abnormal personality development.
  • Develop an inclusive approach to human developmental disorders which includes physiological, neurological and biological factors.
  • Analyze external factors that affect human development and proper counseling intervention techniques.
 

Career Development

Theories and models of career development, counseling and decision-making.

  • Learn an introduction to different theories of careers, career decision-making and career counseling.
  • Develop an understanding of appropriate evaluations for assessing work conditions and how they apply to a client's life.
  • Establish specific techniques for developing career skills within the use of assessments and the goal of career planning and exploration.
 

Counseling and Helping Relationships

Theories and models of counseling.

  • Evaluate different theories and techniques that provide the most measurable outcomes for clients.
  • Explore important helping relationship skills including counseling interventions, case conceptualization and essential interviewing.
  • Develop an understanding of suicide prevention strategies.
 

Group Counseling and Group Work

Theoretical foundations of group counseling and group work.

  • Understand preferred techniques and counseling interventions for effective group work.
  • Explore theoretical dynamics of a group’s process and development.
  • Expand understanding of the ethical considerations involved in group work.
 

Assessment and Testing

Historical perspectives concerning the nature and meaning of assessment and testing in counseling.

  • Learn effective methods for conducting appropriate tests and assessments.
  • Apply test results for diagnostics and for planning specific interventions.
  • Understand the importance of reliable and valid testing practices.
 

Research and Program Evaluation

The importance of research in advancing the counseling profession.

  • Understand the importance of research in the progression of the counseling field.
  • Evaluate the differences between quantitative, qualitative and mixed research methods.
  • Analyze and use data for counseling.
 

Practicum

Professional hands-on experience under the supervision of a licensed professional counselor.

  • Participate in a fully supervised counseling practicum experience of a minimum of 100 hours over a full academic term.
  • Apply a minimum of 40 hours of direct contact with clients.
  • Interact weekly with supervisors, including a minimum of one hour per week of individual supervision and a minimum of 1.5 hours per week of group supervision.
 

Internship

Professional hands-on experience applying skills, theories and approaches with clients under the supervision of a professional licensed counselor.

  • Participate in a minimum of 600 supervised hours in a relevant specialty area working with clients.
  • Engage in a minimum of 240 hours of direct one-on-one or group client service.
  • Meet minimum supervision requirements of one hour per week of individual supervision and a minimum of 1.5 hours per week of group supervision. All supervision is provided by a CACREP-approved supervisor.
What else should you look for in an online master's in counseling program? Discover the important factors to your online counseling degree with these guides.

Counseling Licensure

Once you earn a graduate degree in counseling, the next step is typically licensing or certification for practitioners. Some counseling fields require a license or certification to practice and accept insurance payments. Licensing and certification requirements may vary by state or based on the type of counseling to be practiced.

Many states have licensing tiers for those who have degrees and are fully certified, and one for those who have completed their master’s degrees but have not yet completed additional coursework, field work, examinations or other training.

Most state counseling licensing and certification requirements include:

  • Master's degree in counseling
  • Clinical supervision hours
  • Background check
  • Counselor examination
  • Additional certifications for specialities
  • Continuing education

Find out more about how to become a counselor. Also, learn about some counseling specialties below.

How to become a school counselor

School counselors provide a wide range of services to students, from evaluation of abilities, identification of issues that impede participation in school, and preparation and presentation of workshops. Counselors also provide referrals, consultation with staff, and collaboration with school personnel and parents.

There are a few common steps to take to become a school counselor:

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree in behavioral, social science, or education. 
  • Earn a master’s degree in school counseling.
  • Complete graduate internship experience. 
  • Pass any required licensing exams. 
  • Apply for and earn additional certifications.
  • Stay current on trends and changes in the field.

How to become a mental health counselor

Mental health counselors diagnose and treat mental, behavioral and emotional issues. Mental health counselors may work with different populations to treat their specific needs, such as adolescents, children, the disabled, the elderly, and military personnel.

These are some of the common steps to become a mental health counselor:

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree in behavioral, social science or psychology.
  • Earn a master’s degree in mental health counseling.
  • Complete graduate and postgraduate internship experience. 
  • Pass any required counseling licensure exams.
  • Apply for and earn additional certifications.
  • Stay current on trends and changes in the field.

More counselor career guides

CACREP-accredited online counseling programs are available in other career specializations. Here are some of the other counseling careers to consider:

  • Career counselor: Help workers make good choices about work, education and life.
  • Child counselor: Help youth clients with physical, emotional or mental impediments.
  • College counselor: Help with academic, mental and behavioral wellness.
  • Grief counselor: Help people suffering from loss, death of a loved one, divorce or other personal grief.
  • Military counselor: Help with mental, emotional and social concerns of the military.
  • Pastoral counselor: Combine therapy and theological training to help patients.
  • Rehabilitation counselor: Help with physical, mental, developmental or emotional disabilities.
  • Substance abuse counselor: Help for mental and physical treatment for substance abuse.

FAQs

What is CACREP accreditation?

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accreditation process and status indicates to prospective students and other stakeholders that a counseling or related program is committed to educational and professional quality. Last updated in 2016, these standards for CACREP accreditation were created to unify the counseling profession in counselor identification, clarify specializations and with skill development in mind.

Is CACREP accreditation important?

CACREP accreditation may be useful if you are considering licensure so it’s important to consider your career goals to determine whether or not CACREP accreditation is an important factor. CACREP-accredited online counseling programs are certified to provide high quality education. 

Does CACREP accredit online counseling programs?

The CACREP accredits online programs and they meet the same accreditation standards as non-online programs. The standards include key performance indicators so that online programs are evaluated by the university and updated to meet student needs.  

Do all states require CACREP accreditation for licensure?

Each state sets their own rules for licensure and certification. Some states require CACREP- accredited programs or equivalent, while other states merely require regional accreditation. Make sure to check with your state’s licensing board to see whether or not CACREP accreditation is required for licensure.