Counseling Degree Programs Online

A counselor talking to a patient in an office.

At Mid-America Christian University, we are committed to empowering students to become compassionate guides for those facing life’s challenges. You’ll find our counseling degree graduates offering support to individuals, couples, families, and groups in settings such as schools, churches, communities, and hospitals. Each one is dedicated to helping their clients find pathways through the problems that are causing their mental and emotional turmoil, ways to improve their communication and coping skills, and good mental health. They practice with sensitivity, an ethical approach to diversity and spirituality, and a results-oriented focus.

If you’ve always felt the call to help others find a path forward, our online Master of Science (MS) in Counseling degree program, with four available specialty tracks, can provide you with the training you need to advance your skill set as a mental health professional.

Counseling professionals from all backgrounds choose MACU for its many benefits, including the following:

Largest in Oklahoma. According to Hanover Research, MACU’s MS in Counseling program produces more graduates than any other counseling program in the state, which speaks to our supportive learning environment, quality academic resources, and overall student satisfaction.

Field-Experienced Faculty. All of the professors who teach in the MS in Counseling program also work in private practices, and they bring the insights they’ve gained through their experience into the classroom in the form of case studies and discussion topics.

Transfer Friendly. At MACU, we seek to honor every milestone of your academic journey and to accelerate your degree path through our flexible transfer credit policy.  

Explore MACU’s Counseling Degree Programs

As a Christian university, we offer an MS in Counseling program that teaches professional counseling skills and scientific methodology while also being rooted in faith-based practice, preparing you with the ethical foundation you’ll need to guide and serve diverse client populations. You’ll also have various opportunities to build your skill set and your professional network through a required practicum and internships in your area.

The MS in Counseling program at MACU is available in either a 100% online format or a hybrid online and on-campus format that requires just one night a week on campus. To further focus your online MS in Counseling toward your career goals, you can choose from four degree emphasis areas: 

  • Applied Behavioral Science: This non-licensure emphasis area is designed for students who want to pursue nonclinical counseling roles. With a focus on Christian counseling, the program requires all MS in Counseling program core courses excluding the practicum and internship.
  • Addiction and Substance Abuse: This specialized emphasis area focuses on counseling theory and practices for treating alcohol and drug addiction. Graduates can pursue a licensed alcohol and drug counselor (LADC) credential.
  • Clinical Mental Health Counseling: This specialized emphasis area focuses on clinical psychotherapy and psychopharmacology solutions, marital and family treatment techniques, and child and adolescent counseling practices. Graduates can pursue a licensed professional counselor (LPC) credential.
  • Marital, Couples and Family Counseling/Therapy: This specialized emphasis area focuses on interpersonal communication in counseling and relationships, marital and family treatment techniques, and clinical issues of aging, death, and dying. Graduates can pursue a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) credential.

The following related degrees are available through the MACU School of Behavioral Science and Counseling:

  • Bachelor of Science (BS) in Psychology: The BS in Psychology program is available in either an online or on-campus format. Earning a BS in Psychology can lay the groundwork for an MS in Counseling degree program. It offers an optional concentration in Christian Ministries or Criminal Justice.
  • Addiction and Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate: The online Addiction and Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate is available to students with a graduate degree in a related field who want to qualify for the licensed alcohol and drug counseling/mental health (LADC/MH) credential.

MACU also offers a Master’s in School Counseling degree through our Master of Education in School Counseling program.

Why Enroll in a Counseling Degree Program Online?

If you’re looking to advance your career in counseling without losing momentum in your current job, enrolling in the online MS in Counseling program can help you gain the skills you need at your own pace. MACU’s flexible MS in Counseling program also can prepare you for a role in research, education, administration, or policymaking in any of a wide array of professional settings. Our counseling Master’s degree provides an excellent foundation for doctoral-level studies as well. 

Students choose MACU’s online counseling degree program for reasons that include the following:

  • Designed for concentrated study, our program allows you to focus on just one course at a time. This helps ensure you fully grasp each topic before moving on to the next.
  • Our flexible learning format allows you to progress on your terms while maintaining a manageable work-school-life balance.
  • We aim to make every online student feel connected to our faculty, staff, and university community through numerous engagement opportunities.

What Can You Do With a Counseling Degree?

At a time when the number of individuals experiencing mental health issues is growing, the need for skilled, insightful, and research-driven counseling professionals is clear. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is projected to grow 18% from 2022 to 2032, which is much faster than the average growth projected for all occupations (3%). Employment of marriage and family therapists is projected to grow 15% over the same period.

Curious about what career outcomes you can expect once you’ve earned an MS in Counseling at MACU? Take a look at some jobs related to each of our four emphasis areas:

Applied Behavioral Science

Policy Advocate
Median Annual Salary: $59,000*

Youth Pastor
Median Annual Salary: $42,000*

Addiction and Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse Counselor
Median Annual Salary: $49,710**

Social Services Manager
Median Annual Salary: $74,240** 

Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Mental Health Counselor
Median Annual Salary: $49,710**

Marriage and Family Counseling

Marriage and Family Therapist
Median Annual Salary: $56,570**

*2024 salary data from Payscale
**2022 salary data from the BLS

Why Choose MACU for Your Counseling Degree Program?

In addition to MACU’s institutional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the MS in Counseling program is approved by Oklahoma’s State Board of Behavioral Health and aligned with Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) curricular standards.

MACU was recently recognized by online learning platform as one of the best online counseling degree programs in the U.S. for educational excellence, affordability, faculty quality, and more. The site also applauded our accelerated learning format, particularly in combination with our life experience credits

We not only help adult learners earn their online degrees quickly, we also provide them with consistent career networking opportunities and help prepare them for licensure through coursework, practicums, and internships.

Frequently Asked Questions

How portable is a Master’s in Counseling degree between states in the U.S.?

A Master’s in Counseling degree program provides foundational training designed to lead students toward licensure in their state.* However, counseling licensure requirements do vary by state, so it is important for you to understand portability considerations when choosing a program.

Each state sets its own specific standards for supervised clinical hours, exam cut scores, and continuing education requirements to earn licensure as a counselor. For example, Oklahoma, where MACU is located, requires 300 practicum hours, while other states mandate 500 hours or more.

The good news is you can enroll in an accredited MS in Counseling program anywhere in the U.S. The key is working closely with your school to shape your clinical experiences to satisfy the requirements in the state where you plan to practice. MACU helps students design customized practicums and internships based on their destination state’s standards.

However, the primary responsibility lies with you to research, understand, and stay updated on licensing policies in your current or future home state. Some states have subtle differences in their criteria, so regular monitoring is important.

While varied state standards present portability challenges, a Master’s in Counseling still establishes a strong foundation. With proper planning and guidance from the school, you can earn a Master’s in Counseling degree from your program of choice while also meeting your state’s specific requirements for counseling licensure. Checking with your destination state’s licensing board will help you craft the best path for your practice.

What are the differences between a Master of Arts (MA) in Counseling and a Master of Science (MS) in Counseling?

Every Master’s in Counseling offered by an accredited institution like MACU can lead to licensure as a professional counselor in most U.S. jurisdictions.* All counseling programs cover essential theories, techniques, and ethics, and provide practical experiences such as internships or practicums. Graduates with an MS in Counseling and graduates with an MA in Counseling can pursue similar career paths in counseling, therapy, education, administration, or advocacy.

If you are an aspiring counselor who is especially passionate about the exploration, research, and scientific aspects of human behavior, an MS may be the right educational pathway to a dynamic, fulfilling career. As an MS program, MACU’s Master’s in Counseling program centers on an insightful blend of technical acumen and empathetic practice, training professionals to make a meaningful difference in their field.

MS programs tend to distinguish themselves by emphasizing scientific methods and quantitative research. This analytical focus equips you with the tools you need to explore the underlying mechanisms that drive behavior, emotions, and relationships. By understanding these complexities, you can develop therapies and interventions that are rooted in empirical evidence.

In addition, many MS programs like MACU’s offer specific tracks in areas like Applied Behavioral Science, Addiction and Substance Abuse, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and Marriage and Family Counseling. These specialization options give you an opportunity to hone your skills in a particular field, positioning you as a qualified professional who can provide skillful assistance. Whether your interest lies in helping individuals overcome addiction or supporting families in crisis, a counseling degree that underscores a science-based approach offers a pathway to significant growth in your work.

What are the typical requirements for admission to an MS in Counseling degree program?

If you are considering earning an MS in Counseling, the ideal pathway is through a related undergraduate degree, such as psychology, social work, human services, or nursing. An undergraduate degree in one of these compatible areas ensures you have the foundational knowledge needed to succeed in a graduate-level counseling program.

However, even if your undergraduate degree is in an unrelated field, you can still pursue a counseling career. Many MS in Counseling programs provide opportunities for students without a compatible background to demonstrate their qualifications and readiness through prerequisite coursework.

For example, applicants who majored in business, engineering, or the arts in college can often enroll in post-baccalaureate psychology, statistics, or research methods courses prior to starting their MS in Counseling degree program. Successfully completing these prerequisites at an accredited university like MACU demonstrates the academic preparation needed in areas like human development, interpersonal skills, ethics, and scientific research methodology.

Taking undergraduate prerequisites can also be an option if your cumulative undergraduate GPA is below the minimum required for direct admission. Completing prerequisites gives you a chance to bring your GPA up to a satisfactory level and exhibit your ability to excel in courses relevant to the counseling curriculum.

While the MS in Counseling program is a rigorous graduate program, numerous pathways exist for prospective MACU students from all backgrounds to demonstrate their qualifications through targeted coursework. With proper prerequisite preparation, those without a directly compatible undergraduate degree can position themselves for admission success.

What other application requirements are necessary for an MS in Counseling degree program?

Many MS in Counseling programs also require:

  • Letters of Recommendation. These letters should ideally come from individuals who can attest to your academic abilities, professional experience, and personal qualities that make you a suitable candidate for the program.
  • Statement of Purpose. A well-written statement of purpose may be a crucial component of some applications. This is where you can explain your motivations for pursuing an MS in Counseling, your career goals, and how the program aligns with your aspirations. Use this opportunity to showcase your passion and commitment to the field.
  • Standardized Tests. Some programs may require applicants to submit scores from standardized tests, such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Be sure to check the specific requirements of the program you are interested in, as not all schools mandate standardized test scores. MACU, for example, does not require standardized test scores for admission to its graduate degree programs.
  • Interview. In some cases, schools may conduct interviews as part of their admission process. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your interpersonal and communication skills, which are essential in the counseling profession.
  • Work or Volunteer Experience. While not always mandatory, having relevant work or volunteer experience in the counseling or mental health field can strengthen your application. It demonstrates your commitment to the profession and provides insight into your readiness for the program.
  • Background Checks and Clearances. Due to the nature of counseling, some programs may require background checks and clearances to ensure the suitability of applicants to work with vulnerable populations.

You should research the specific requirements of the MS in Counseling program you’re interested in, as these requirements can vary from one institution to another.

Are there opportunities to do clinical work or internships with an online counseling degree program?

Pursuing an MS in Counseling degree online can provide you with exceptional flexibility, but perhaps you’re concerned such programs lack opportunities for collaboration and clinical experience compared to on-campus programs. 

MACU’s accredited online counseling program facilitates clinical practicums and internships that allow students to put their skills into practice. Like on-campus students, online learners can choose a suitable site near them and receive both on-site supervision and support from university faculty.

By blending online convenience, collaborative learning, and clinical immersion, today’s online MS in Counseling program offers holistic training and close working relationships with faculty and fellow future counselors. You’ll receive comprehensive preparation for counseling licensure and career success.

What is the difference between LPC and LPCC counseling credentials?

LPC and LPCC are counseling credentials, but their meanings can vary by state.

LPC stands for licensed professional counselor:

  • Definition: This is a common credential, signifying a licensed counselor who provides therapy services to individuals, couples, families, and groups.
  • Scope: LPCs work in diverse settings and help clients with a wide range of mental health issues.
  • Requirements: Typically, LPCs need a Master’s in Counseling or a related field, supervised clinical hours, and a passing score on a state licensing exam.

LPCC stands for licensed professional clinical counselor:

  • Definition: The LPCC credential is held by counselors with advanced clinical training.
  • Scope: LPCCs often have a broader scope of practice than LPCs have, including the ability to perform clinical assessments and diagnoses, to treat more complex mental health conditions.
  • Requirements: Becoming an LPCC usually requires a Master’s in Counseling or a doctoral degree in counseling, substantial supervised hours, and a passing score on a comprehensive licensing exam, which may include clinical assessment components.

Please note that these titles and requirements can differ among states, so you should check with your state’s licensing board for accurate information.

*Responsibility of the Master’s in Counseling Student: Ultimately, the responsibility for staying up to date on your state’s licensure requirements falls on you as the student. To ensure the portability of your degree, you need to remain informed about the evolving licensure regulations in the state where you intend to practice. This involves staying in touch with your state’s licensing board and proactively addressing any additional requirements it may have.

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