Guide to Master's in Counseling Degrees


Updated April 12, 2024 · 2 Min Read

check mark Edited by
Considering a career as a counselor? Learn about master's in counseling programs, including admission requirements, fieldwork experiences, and career pathways. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Earning a master's in counseling can prepare you to pursue several counseling roles. Learn how to make a difference as a licensed counselor, what to look for in master's programs, and what to expect in your fieldwork with this in-depth guide.

What to Expect from a Master's in Counseling Program

Within master's in counseling programs, you can focus on a particular type of client, such as school counseling or marriage and family counseling. Degrees also allow you to concentrate in patient conditions, such as substance use disorders, anxiety, or phobias. You can also focus your studies on a particular approach, such as cognitive behavioral counseling.

You do not need a bachelor's degree in counseling to apply to master's in counseling programs. Instead, you typically need a major or significant coursework in a social science, such as psychology.

Most master's in counseling programs take approximately two years for full-time students and 3-4 years for part-time students. A growing number of programs include online or hybrid classwork. Fieldwork, however, typically requires students to visit real-world work settings in person. A master's degree also prepares enrollees for the National Counselor's Examination or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination.

Internship and Fieldwork Experiences

A master's in counseling program generally includes a practicum in the first year and an internship in the second year. During the practicum, enrollees observe licensed professional counselors. The internship requires graduate students to perform counseling work under the supervision of a professional counselor.

The practicum and internship can provide valuable real-world experience and professional references for your job hunt after graduation. On-campus, online, and hybrid programs often arrange practicum placements and provide support for finding internships.

Popular Online Counseling Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

How to Choose a Master's Program in Counseling

The right master's in counseling program depends on your interests and professional goals. To find your ideal school, consider the curriculum, delivery options, and cost, along with financial aid options, application requirements, and the program's reputation.

The most important factor in program quality is accreditation, which occurs at the institutional and programmatic levels. Always ensure that your school and program hold accreditation from organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

The Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) reviews programs for quality as the primary programmatic accreditor in the field. CACREP accreditation is vital for licensing and quality, and this guide only lists accredited master's in counseling programs.

Top Counseling Master's Programs

Here are some of the best schools in the country where you can earn a master's in counseling. To narrow things down, we're featuring schools with a graduation rate of at least 80%.

Schools Offering Master's in Counseling Programs
School Name Campus Location Student Population Graduation Rate
Auburn University Auburn, AL 33,015 81.7%
Boston University Boston, MA 37,557 88%
Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY 36,649 97%
George Washington University Washington, DC 25,568 84%
Indiana University-Bloomington Bloomington, IN 51,000 81%
James Madison University Harrisonburg, VA 20,346 82%
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD 31,275 95%
Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA 7,590 87%
Marist College Poughkeepsie, NY 6,464 82%
Marquette University Milwaukee, WI 11,373 81%
Northeastern University Boston, MA 30,013 91%
Northwestern University Evanston, IL 21,000 95%
Santa Clara University Santa Clara, CA 9,178 91%
Syracuse University Syracuse, NY 22,000 82%
University of Dayton Dayton, OH 11,378 81%
University of Georgia Athens, GA 40,118 88%
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 28,711 96%
University of Rochester Rochester, NY 12,197 86%
University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI 50,633 89%

Master's in Counseling FAQs

What can you do with a master's degree in counseling?

With a master's in counseling, you can pursue work as a licensed counselor, including roles like marriage and family counselor, grief counselor, and school counselor.

Can you earn a master's in counseling online?

Many programs allow you to earn a master's in counseling online, though you must attend fieldwork in person. Schools may help you find fieldwork placements in your community, however.

What are the admission requirements for a master's in counseling program?

Most master's in counseling programs require each applicant to have a bachelor's degree in an area related to counseling, a 3.0 GPA, and at least two references. Some master's in counseling program admission requirements include scores from standardized tests, like the GRE.

Latest Posts