Earning an Online Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology

Everything you need to know about getting an online master's degree in counseling psychology.

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Overview of Online Master's Degree Program in Counseling Psychology

A counseling psychologist combines theory and practice to determine a patient’s psychological needs and devise a strategic treatment plan. An online master's degree in counseling psychology can help you get an entry-level position in this field of social science, such as school or substance abuse counselor. Counseling psychologists must be tolerant and empathetic, as a large part of their work involves listening to their patient’s problems.

Many students who are entering this program have their bachelor's degree in general psychology and want to specialize in order to advance in their career. Truthfully, there are not many jobs available for those with a bachelor's degree in psychology, as most entry-level positions in the field require at least a master's degree. Bachelor's degree earners will have a hard time advancing past the position of psychologist’s assistant. An online master's degree program provides students with the in depth knowledge required to be able to counsel their own patients.

Most online programs have a these or non-thesis option.

The program typically takes between two and three years to complete, depending on how much time you have to devote to your classes. During that time, you will learn the skills needed to be able to work independently. You may work with patients who have a variety of psychological issues, or specialize in one type of service such as anxiety disorders.

Applying to an Online Counseling Psychology Master's Degree Program

Before applying to a master's degree program, you must have first earned a bachelor's degree. Most programs do not require students to have an undergraduate degree in psychology. However, if you do not have any experience in the field, then you should consider taking some undergraduate courses in psychology and sociology to increase your chances of being accepted into a program.

Although not all online graduate programs in counseling psychology have the same admissions requirements, there are general materials that most graduate schools require. Along with your application, you will need to submit a personal statement, two to five letters of recommendation, your college transcripts and your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. The minimum GPA requirement is usually 3.0. However, there are schools who have higher and lower requirements.

How to Choose an Online Master's Degree Program in Counseling Psychology

When making the important decision of where you will attend online graduate school, you should research the professors who you will be working with. Although you won’t be working side-by-side with your professors as in a traditional bricks-and-mortar college, you should still pay attention to their past accomplishments and research in the field, as they will be influencing your education significantly.

Take the time to browse through the courses offered. Does the program demonstrate a generalist approach? Or does it specialize in a particular area of psychology, such as substance abuse? Your educational background will reflect the type of job you move into after earning your degree, so it is important that you choose an online program that will help you meet your career goals.

Some online programs are offered completely online, while others combine campus-based and online courses to complete a curriculum. You may be required to visit the campus for one class or a few semesters. The type of program you choose is a personal decision, that should be made after taking into consideration how much time you can devote to your degree.

What to Expect in a Counseling Psychology Online Master's Degree Program

The online master's degree program in counseling psychology teaches students to treat psychologically otherwise healthy patients with specific problems. This is different from a clinical psychology program in which students learn to treat patients with severe mental illnesses. Some course examples include human development, legal issues for clinicians, group therapy, alcohol and chemical dependency, testing and assessment techniques, etc.

Typically, online counseling psychology master's degree programs teach using a scientist-practitioner model, which provides students with both theory and practice in their field. Even in the online programs, an internship is usually a part of the graduation requirement because students should have hands-on practice before entering into their career. This allows the student the time to perfect their communication skills and practice various forms of treatment techniques.

Lectures and seminars are usually delivered through a live chat or pre-recorded video. Typically, students in an online masters degree program have the opportunity to discuss the information they are learning and comment on their peers assignments. Although peer-to-peer and teacher-student interactions are not the same as in a traditional masters degree program, you are still able to form bonds and make professional contacts that could last after graduation.

Most online programs have a thesis or non-thesis option. Students who choose to complete a thesis will need to complete an in depth research paper on a specific subject within clinical psychology that interests the student, such as child development. Make sure you have a strong passion for whatever thesis topic you choose, as you will be working on it for much of your degree program.

Top 10 Online Grad Schools for a Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology

  1. Saint Leo University Online
  2. University of Phoenix - Online School
  3. Colorado Technical University - Online School
  4. Walden University - Online School
  5. Capella University - Online School
  6. Argosy University, Online Programs
  7. Grand Canyon University, Phoenix
  8. Nova Southeastern University - Online School
  9. Christian Leadership University - Online School
  10. Liberty University - Online School



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