Why This Matters

  • LEARN THE 8 CORE COUNSELING COMPETENCIES

    Counseling education is based on eight core areas, including ethics, human development, social and cultural diversity, and helping relationships. A bachelor’s program will introduce you to the basics of these competencies.

  • THE U.S. NEEDS 60K NEW COUNSELORS BY 2026

    Overall employment of mental health, substance abuse, and behavioral disorder counselors is expected to increase by 23% within the next seven years, which is much faster than the average for all other occupations.

  • MANAGEMENT POSITIONS WILL INCREASE BY 18%

    The demand for social and community services managers is also rising, with 26,500 new positions predicted by 2026. Having a bachelor’s degree enhances your employability for these types of leadership roles.

Our Research

Undergraduate counseling degree programs are typically Bachelor of Science degrees, meaning you will get in-depth knowledge of psychology principles and counseling techniques. While all programs cover foundational skills for working as a counselor, some programs include a more narrow focus on a topic such as substance abuse counseling.

All of the programs on our list have regional accreditation. This is especially important in a field like counseling, where a bachelor’s degree is typically a stepping stone towards a master’s degree. Most master’s programs require that you have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited school to be eligible for admission. Attending a non-accredited school can be an obstacle to furthering your education in the future.

We evaluated each program on the list based on their course offerings, cost, flexibility, and price, then calculated an Intelligent Score on a scale from 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best online degrees in counseling are affordable, respected, and flexible.(For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 66 hours to write this article
  • 106 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 371 education programs we compared

The Top 30 Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Counseling

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What You Should Know About This Degree

Individuals who are interested in mental health and helping others often consider studying either counseling or psychology. The two fields are related, but have key differences, including the level of education needed, the focus and scope of practice, and available job opportunities. You may want to research both fields before deciding which type of program is best suited to your interests and career goals.

Being a counselor can be rewarding, but also very demanding. Counselors must work with diverse populations, and exercise compassion and patience with individuals in stressful or difficult situations. The job can be emotionally and mentally demanding; those entering the field should consider if they have the right aptitudes to be a counselor.

Because of the delicate nature of counseling, rigorous training is required. While there are some entry-level jobs available to individuals with a bachelor’s degree in counseling, you will need at least a master’s degree in counseling to receive your license and be eligible for most jobs. It’s important to be prepared for these additional requirements when embarking on your counseling education.

The courses for our listed programs are offered completely online, although some programs have optional or required practicums that require in-person attendance. Clarify these requirements with a program representative before enrolling, to ensure that you can fit this program component into your schedule.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Online Bachelors Counseling programs:

  • What type of orientation does this program have? Programs housed at faith-based institutions may approach the subject from a theological perspective. Consider whether this orientation aligns with your own beliefs and practices, or if you prefer a secular-based program.
  • Does this program have an accelerated bachelor’s-to-master’s track? As previously mentioned, a master’s degree in counseling is the minimum education level required for most counseling jobs. Some institutions offer an accelerated program that allows you to start taking graduate level courses prior to receiving your bachelor’s degree, cutting down on the time and cost of your counseling education.

In addition to researching program content and requirements, be sure to look at the school’s admissions requirements, and explore your financial aid options. Knowing what you need to submit for your application, and when deadlines are will help your admissions process go more smoothly. Financing your education is an important consideration, and options can include loans, scholarships, assistantships, and tuition benefits from your employer.