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 become a mental health counselor and 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.
Featured Master's in Mental Health Counseling Graduate Schools Online
Featured Online Master's in Mental Health Counseling Programs
Master of Arts in Counseling, Specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
2 - 3 Years
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 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)
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.
Insights into the Full List of Mental Health Counseling Degree Programs Online
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
The BLS describes mental health counseling as a form of treatment for anxiety, depression, grief, low self-esteem, stress, suicidal impulses, and other mental and emotional health issues and relationship problems. Mental health counselors work with individuals, families, couples and groups to evaluate problematic behavior, develop treatment plans and monitor recovery.
What degree do I need to be a mental health counselor?
According to the BLS, the skills and qualities important to working as a mental health counselor are compassion to understand clients’ difficulties; interpersonal skills to develop productive working relationships; ability to listen well and understand clients’ needs; patience to manage their negative emotions; and communication skills to clearly express evaluations, treatment options, follow-ups and other necessary information. The BLS also notes that many counselors have coped with their own difficulties before becoming professionals, giving them special insight into the circumstances of their clients.