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Distance Education Options for Master of Counseling Degrees

written by: Nicki H•edited by: Sarah Malburg•updated: 12/5/2011

The demand for counselors in the United States is growing and universities are creating online programs to meet this demand. An online masters of counseling degree is a virtual approach to breaking into this career. Here’s a guide to earning your masters of counseling degree by distance education.

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    Demand Growing for Counselors

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for counselors is good, with 11% growth by 2016. These individuals work in a variety of settings including treating individuals with substance abuse issues, mental health disorders and other challenges.

    But before becoming a licensed counselor, most states require that you complete a master’s degree in counseling. Fortunately, many colleges have created online masters of counseling degree programs. These programs allow students to earn their degree in a virtual environment.

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    Grand Canyon University

    This university offers an online master’s of counseling degree in two separate formats: Addiction Counseling and Professional Counseling. Each program takes up to two years to complete, depending if the student chooses a part-time or full-time track.

    The Addiction Counseling program prepares students to treat substance abuse disorders. After completing the program, students can apply for licensure to become a substance abuse counselor in their state.

    Earning a Master of Science Degree in Professional Counseling will prepare students to become licensed counselors. The curriculum was prepared in accordance with the National Board for Certified Counselors for the National Certified Counselor credential (NCC).

    For current tuition rates, please see Grand Canyon University's web site.

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    Walden University

    This school provides a master’s degree in mental health counseling. Walden is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs, which is required by many states.

    The curriculum includes 102 credit hours focusing on foundation courses, field experience and a thesis. The program will take up to two years to complete on a full-time track.

    Check out Walden University's web site for information on tuition and fees.

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    Capella University offers a Master’s in Counseling Studies

    Another online master's of counseling degree option is Capella University. Capella’s curriculum is designed to prepare students to become licensed counselors for both the private and government sectors. Students will be required to complete 48 credit hours including classes like Ethnic and Cultural Awareness, Theories of Personality, and Foundations of Addictive and Compulsive Behavior. Students are also allowed to choose two elective courses.

    For the most current costs and fees, see Capella's web site.

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    Apply for Financial Aid

    Earning your counseling degree by distance education can be expensive. If you need financial assistance, complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) form. This will allow the government to review your situation and provide low-interest loans or grants.