Master’s in Mental Health Counseling Programs Online

Perhaps one of the most commonly awarded counseling degrees, a master’s degree in mental health counseling prepares individuals to meet the mental, emotional, and behavioral health concerns of different populations by use of psychotherapy, therapeutic support, assessment, treatment planning, and crisis management.

Sometimes referred to as clinical mental health counseling, a graduate degree is required for counseling licensure and practice in all of the United States. Earning an online master’s in mental health counseling may seem like a backwards route for a profession with mostly in-person interaction. However, accredited programs ensure that students fulfill their clinical experiences in person and prepare them with mirrored on-campus coursework.

When choosing your online master’s in mental health counseling, you should consider several factors: accreditation, online student support, clinical experience placement assistance, class sizes, and live discussions.


Mental Health Counseling Program Accreditation

For any online degree in the helping professions, accreditation offers the mark of approval for meeting career standards in best preparing future professionals. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Programs (CACREP) and the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) set standards for online master’s in mental health counseling programs that meet the needs of clients, the changing landscape of the profession, and incorporate current researched trends in mental health.

CACREP Accreditation

CACREP accredited online master’s in clinical mental health programs met general standards as well as specialized curriculum aspects such as:

  • History and the Development of Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Including Theories, Models, and Techniques of Counseling
  • Role of the Clinical Mental Health Counselor, such as Advocate for Persons with Mental Health Issues
  • Principles of Biopsychosocial Case Conceptualization
  • Neurobiological and Medical Foundations of Addictions and Co-Occurring Disorders
  • Etiology, Nomenclature, Treatment, Referral, and Prevention of Mental and Emotional Disorders
  • Understanding the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and Mental Disorders (DSM) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD)
  • Psychopharmacological Medications

MPCAC Accreditation

MPCAC accredits a handful of online master’s in mental health counseling programs and have more science-based standards in education and training. Curriculum requirements for accreditation are:

  • Professional Identity & Ethical and Professional Standards
  • Evidence-based Theories and Practice of Counseling & Psychotherapy
  • Multiculturalism and Diversity
  • Theories of Psychopathology and Other Systems
  • Tests, Measurements, and Other Behavior Assessments
  • Research Methods and Program Evaluation
  • Career Development
  • Biological Basis of Behavior
  • Development Basis of Behavior
  • Social, Organizational, Community Basis of Behavior

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Online Student Support Services

An integral aspect of online learning is having the support of the university and program department on your schedule. Some online master’s in mental health counseling programs have online specific student support, with an understanding of the need for flexibility to meet your needs. Unlike on-campus students with office visits, as an online student you should have access to faculty and student support staff when you are logged in. These online student support offices may have extended office hours, virtual meeting times, and an array of online resources to support you and your graduate education.

Clinical Experience Placement Assistance

In order to complete your accredited online master’s in mental health counseling program and obtain licensure, you must complete a clinical experience of internship hours. These types of experiences will give you the opportunity to put your learned skills and knowledge into action. Even with previous experience, sometimes landing an internship site can be difficult. For online learners, some universities do not have specific internship placement teams - only offering services to those on-campus students. However, there are programs that support their online learning students in finding internship placement sites close to your home, no matter where you call home.

Small Class Sizes

To increase your support as a distance learner, smaller class sizes provide opportunistic interactions between you, your peers, and your instructor. For online master’s in mental health counseling programs, having the availability of your instructor for one-on-one discussions may increase your understanding of course content, the role of mental health counselors, and developing as a practicing professional. When the ratio is 15:1 or less between students and instructors, professors may also be able to provide more one-on-one discussion and face time with you.

Live Discussions - Synchronous Learning

There are two types of online learning, synchronous and asynchronous. In asynchronous online master’s in mental health counseling programs, students log on at any time to submit their coursework, participate in discussions, and ask their instructors questions. Synchronous learning allows students and instructors to meet online at a predesignated time to interface virtually. Typically this occurs weekly. Some online master’s in mental health counseling will incorporate the two types of learning to ensure that online students have time to ask questions live and also work on their assignments and studies offline.

Adams State University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Arts in Counseling
  • Program Length: 2 1/2 years
  • Instruction Method: Asynchronous

Program Requirements

  • 60 Credits
  • Completion of five consecutive semesters
  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA
  • Complete 12-credit hour internship

Admission Requirements

  • Completed online application with $30 fee
  • Official transcripts from baccalaureate degree
  • Two letters of professional recommendation
  • Personal statement, 3-5 pages typed, double-spaced on your past helping experiences, future goals in the helping profession, and personal qualities that will enable you to be an effective counselor
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75

Antioch University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Program Length: Three years for full-time students
  • Instruction Methods: Asynchronous

Program Requirements

  • Two intensive week-long residencies
  • A semester-long practicum (100 hours)
  • A three-semester internship (900 hours) 

Admission Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 2.7
  • International students must live in the U.S. and have a TOEFL score of 550 for the paper-based test or 79 for the Internet-based examination
  • Supplementary admissions statement
  • Resume
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Completion of an admissions interview with a faculty member

Bellevue University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Science in Clinical Counseling
  • Program Length: Two to three years
  • Instruction Methods: Asynchronous

Program Requirements

  • 60 Credit Hours
  • 100-hours practicum
  • 600-hours internship
  • Residential and online students are responsible to complete practicum and clinical internship hours under supervision of a licensed counselor.
  • Candidates for the master’s degree program must have completed a prerequisite requirement of 6 credit hours in the behavioral sciences.

Admission Requirements

  • A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, or a U.S. equivalent degree from a nationally or internationally accredited college or university
  • GPA of 2.5 or better from the most recent 60 credits of coursework earned toward the bachelor’s degree OR
  • GPA of 3.0 or better in previous graduate level coursework earned toward the graduate degree
  • May require letters of recommendation and essays in certain circumstances

Bradley University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Arts in Counseling
  • Program Length: Two to three years
  • Instruction Method: Asynchronous

Program Requirements

  • 60-61 Semester Credit Hours (CACREP Accredited curriculum)
  • Completion of 750 hours of supervised experiences: practicum - 100 Hours, internship - 650 Hours
  • Two required campus-based residencies

Admission Requirements

  • Completed graduate online application  with $40 application fee
  • Admissions essays on one of the following:
    • Achievements and work experience relevant to one's interest in and capacity for graduate study
    • Career objectives and how this graduate program at Bradley University will assist in attaining these goals
  • Official transcripts from an accredited baccalaureate university or college
  • Maintained a 3.0 GPA for the last 60 credit hours of undergraduate work
  • Three professional letters of recommendation - one must be a current supervisor
  • Official GRE or MAT scores may be used if other requirements are not available
  • Complete the program's online screening interview.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Program Length: Three years
  • Instruction Methods: Asynchronous

Program Requirements

  • Required Core Courses: 51 credits
  • Electives: 9 credits
  • Total Program: 60 credits
  • Two, four-day residencies at the Chicago campus.
  • 100-Hour Practicum
  • 600-Hour Internship

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • GPA of 3.0
  • A course in psychology, with a grade earned of C or better
  • A course in either statistics or research methods, with a grade earned of C or better
  • An interview with Program Director/Department Chair and/or designee
  • Application/Apply Online
  • Application Fee: $50
  • Two-page essay
  • Official College/University Transcripts from all regionally accredited schools where degrees have been earned
  • Official transcripts
  • Three Letters of Recommendation from professors and/or supervisors

Cornerstone University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master's Degree in Counseling
  • Program Length: Three to Four Years
  • Instruction Methods: Asynchronous

Program Requirements

  • 69 Credit hours
  • 100 hour practicum experience
  • 600 hour internship experience

Admission Requirements

  • Application
  • Official undergraduate transcripts with at least a 2.5 GPA from an accredited university
  • Ministry Reference
  • Personal Reference

Edinboro University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Arts in Counseling
  • Program Length: 2 to 3 years depending on student’s pace
  • Instruction Methods: Asynchronous

Program Requirements

  • 60-63 credits
  • A degree student may not be admitted to Candidacy until:
    • At least 12 semester hours of degree credit have been completed
    • An Application for Admission to Candidacy has been filed with the advisor
    • The student has maintained a minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Comprehensive examination
  • Cpstone project in one designated class
  • 12-credit internship of 600 hours of on-site experience

Admission Requirements

  • Online graduate application and application fee
  • An official transcript verifying an earned bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Three letters of reference and contact information to be submitted via online application
  • Writing sample of up to 500 words
  • Admissions interview

Grace College

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Program Length: Two to three years
  • Instruction Method: Asynchronous

Program Requirements

  • 60 Credits
  • Completion of practicum and internship
  • Attend a seven to ten day reisdency on campus annually
  • Comprehensive "exit exam" 
  • Development of a portfolio

Admission Requirements

  • Official transcripts from an accredited undegraduate university
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Complete online application
  • Two references, one professional and one spiritual
  • Pass a background check
  • Resume Submission
  • Phone Interview

Hodges University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Program Length: Two 1/2 to Three years
  • Instruction Method: Asynchronous and Synchronous

Program Requirements

  • 60 coursework credits
  • 150-Hour Practicum
  • 600-Hour Internship
  • Four weekend-long residencies

Admission Requirements

  • Official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate program
  • Completed application with $50 fee
  • Interview
  • Admission Essay
  • Online Learning Study Eligibility form

Indiana Wesleyan University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Program Length: 2 ½ to 5 years full-time or 3 ½ to 5 years part-time
  • Instruction Methods: Asynchronous

Program Requirements: 60 credits

Admission Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree and official transcripts from an accredited college or university
  • An undergraduate grade point average of 3.0
  • Six credit hours in Psychology, of which three credit hours must be in Abnormal Psychology (Developmental Psychology for Student Development Counseling and Administration)
  • Six credit hours in Bible
  • GRE taken within five years of application to the program. Verbal (V) score of at least 146 required.
  • Submit an autobiography
  • Three recommendations

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Lamar University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Program Length: Depends upon enrollment
  • Instruction Methods: Asynchronous

Program Requirements

  • 60 credits
  • 100-Hour Practicum
  • 600-Hour Internship
  • Attend two residencies

Admission Requirements

  • Complete online application and pay a one-time application fee of $25
  • Official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended*
  • Applicants for the MEd in Clinical Mental Health Counseling need a GPA of 2.75 (cumulative or last 60 hours)
  • Students must have a valid state-issued teaching certificate upon enrollment
  • Applicants must have at least two years of teaching experience
  • US Citizen or Permanent Resident

Lindsey Wilson College

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Education in Mental Health Counseling
  • Program Length: N/A
  • Instruction Method: Asynchronous

Program Requirements

  • 60 Credits
  • 150-Hour Practicum
  • 600-Hour Internship

Admission Requirements

  • Official transcripts from baccalaureate degree
  • Online Application

Lock Haven University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Program Length: Up to three years
  • Instruction Methods: Asynchronous and Synchronous

Program Requirements

  • 60 Credits
  • 100-Hour Practicum
  • 600-Hour Internship

Admission Requirements

  • Undergraduate degree in psychology or related discipline
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Work and/of life experience surrounding clinical mental health counseling
  • Personal interview
  • Completed online application
  • Official transcripts from previous universities
  • Three letters of professional recommendation, at least one discussing your ability to succeed academically
  • Statement of Professional Goals - one page in length

Malone University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Program Length: Up to three years
  • Instruction Methods: Asynchronous

Program Requirements

  • 60 Credits
  • 100-Hour Practicum
  • 600-Hour Internship

Admission Requirements

  • Undergraduate degree from an accredited university
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Completed online application
  • Official transcripts from previous universities
  • Two Professional References
  • Autobiography - Two to three pages
  • Personal interview

Messiah College

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Arts in Counseling
  • Program Length: Two to four years
  • Instruction Method: Asynchronous

Program Requirements

  • 60 Credits
  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA
  • Recommendation of graduation from advisor
  • Six credit internship and one practicum
  • Attend at least one professional counseling conference
  • Attend two one-week, one campus sessions

Admission Requirements

  • Official transcripts verifying baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution
  • Completed application with $30 fee
  • Minimum cumulative undergraduate 3.0 GPA
  • Personal statement of purpose, 300-500 words
  • Two recommendations
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • 150 word answers to four essay questions
  • State Authorization (Messiah can NOT accept online graduate students taking classes while living in Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, or Wisconsin)

New York University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Arts in Mental Health and Wellness
  • Program Length:1 ½ to 2+ year depending on enrollment basis.
  • Instruction Methods: Asynchronous and Synchronous

Program Requirements:

  • 60 Credits
  • Completion of 700 hours of field work

Admission Requirements:

  • Completed online graduate application
  • Application Fee: $75, priority application timelines are $45
  • Statement of Purpose: Introduction of your goals, interests, career plans and reasons why you are pursuing a master's degree in counseling.
  • Current Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • Transcripts from every postsecondary school uploaded. If admitted, you will need to provide official copies.
  • Two letters of recommendation from academic references.
  • If your native language is not English, you will need to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores.
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North Carolina Central University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling
  • Program Length: N/A
  • Instruction Methods: N/A

Program Requirements

  • 60 Credits
  • 100-Hour Practicum
  • 600-Hour Internship

Admission Requirements

  • Undergraduate degree from an accredited university
  • Minimum GPA of 2.7
  • Completed online application with $40 fee
  • Two Recommendations
  • GRE Scores
  • Application Essay

North Carolina State University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Education in Counseling
  • Program Length: Three years
  • Instruction Method: Asynchronous and Synchronous

Program Requirements

  • 60 Credits
  • Internship completion

Admission Requirements

  • Official transcripts verifying baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution
  • Online and Department Application with fee
  • Resume
  • GRE or MAT scores
  • TOEFL for International Students
  • Three Academic Recommendations

Northwestern University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Arts in Counseling
  • Program Length: 18 months to three years
  • Instruction Methods: Asynchronous and Synchronous

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
  • 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
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Palo Alto University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Program Length: Up to three years
  • Instruction Methods: Synchronous

Program Requirements

  • 90 Quarter Credits
  • 100-Hour Practicum
  • 600-Hour Internship
  • One week summer residency
  • Coursework completion of a B grade or better

Admission Requirements

  • Undergraduate degree from an accredited university
  • Official transcripts from previous universities
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA recommended
  • Completed online application with $50 fee
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Three letters of recommendation - academic or professional
  • Interview with the program director via videoconference

Regent University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Arts in Counseling
  • Program Length: Two years
  • Instruction Methods: Asynchronous

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours
  • 100-Hour Practicum
  • 600-Hour Internship

Admissions Requirements

  • Bachelors from a regionally accredited college or university
  • A minimum of a 3.0 GPA for all undergraduate coursework
  • Complete application online and pay application fee
  • Submit official and unofficial transcripts and test scores
  • Writing sample
  • Recent resume or curriculum vitae
  • Pre-admissions workshop

Union Institute and University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Program Length: Two years minimum
  • Instruction Methods: Synchronous

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours
  • 100-Hour Practicum
  • 600-Hour Internship
  • Three 3-day residencies
  • Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examiniation

Admissions Requirements

  • Undergraduate degree from an accredited university
  • Official transcripts from previous universities
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA recommended
  • Completed online application
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Personal Statement: Personal and professional goals
  • Professional reference - at least one from a person who can evaluate potential for clinical work
  • Individual Interview

University of Louisiana-Monroe

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Program Length: Two years
  • Instruction Methods: N/A

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours
  • Internship

Admissions Requirements

  • A minimum combined score of 900 on the GRE General Test or a minimum combined score of 290 on the new GRE General Test
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 overall or on the last sixty semester hours of undergraduate course work
  • A bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Complete an application online, submit official transcripts from all schools attended, and submit a score from either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Administration Management Test (GMAT)
  • Have official transcripts sent directly from the issuing institution or evaluation agency in a sealed envelope or send electronically

University of Massachusetts - Boston

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling
  • Program Length: Two to three and a half years
  • Instruction Methods: Asynchronous

Program Requirements

  • 60 Credit Hours
  • 100 Hour Practicum
  • 600 Hour Internship
  • One Two-Week Summer Session

Admission Requirements

  • A Bachelor’s Degree from an Accredited College or University
  • Online Application
  • Official Previous Transcripts
  • Minimum 3.0 Undergraduate GPA
  • GRE/MAT Scores
  • Three Letters of Recommendation
  • Statement of Intent
  • Resume
  • Personal Interview

University of the Cumberlands

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Arts in Professional Counseling
  • Program Length: Two to three years
  • Instruction Methods: N/A

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours

Admissions Requirements

  • Completed Graduate Application and payment of the associated fee
  • A completed Bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on (a lower GPA may be acceptable for conditional admittance)
  • Official transcripts must be received for all coursework
  • Submit a 500-word Statement of Purpose for graduate study
  • Submit two letters of reference

Wake Forest University

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Master of Arts in Counseling
  • Program Length: Two to three years
  • Instruction Method: Asynchronous

Program Requirements

  • 60 Credits
  • 200-Hour Practicum
  • 600-Hour Internship

Admission Requirements

  • Complete online application with $75 fee
  • Official transcripts verifying baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution
  • Undergraduate GPA greater than 2.5
  • GRE Scores
  • Three Letters of Recommendation