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Pursuing a master’s degree in counseling is an excellent choice for individuals passionate about helping others overcome challenges and support their mental well-being. An accelerated program allows you to fast-track your education, earning your degree in a shorter time frame while maintaining the same high academic and professional preparation standards.

Whether you are a recent graduate seeking an expedited entry into the counseling profession or a mid-career professional looking to advance your skills and credentials, these accelerated online programs offer a convenient and efficient way to achieve your goals.

How Do Accelerated Degree Programs Work?

Accelerated master’s degree programs offer a unique and efficient pathway for individuals seeking to enter the counseling field. These programs are designed to expedite earning a counseling degree, enabling students to graduate and enter the workforce quickly. First, however, it’s essential to consider whether an accelerated program is the right fit for your educational and career goals.

These programs are ideal for motivated individuals with a solid academic foundation and a clear focus on pursuing a counseling career. While these programs can be challenging, if you are driven, self-disciplined, and able to commit significant time and effort to your studies, an accelerated program can offer a streamlined path toward achieving your professional goals.

On the other hand, traditional master’s degree programs may be more suitable for individuals who prefer a slower-paced, in-depth educational experience. If you need more time to fully understand and apply complex counseling theories and practices, a traditional program would likely be a better option for you.

Admission Requirements

The specific admissions requirements may vary depending on the institution offering the program, but they generally include the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree: Applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree in any field from an accredited institution. Some programs may require specific prerequisite courses related to psychology or counseling.
  • Minimum GPA: Most programs have a minimum GPA requirement, typically around 2.5 to 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Letters of recommendation: Some programs require applicants to submit letters of recommendation from professors, employers, or others who can speak to their academic abilities and potential as a counselor.
  • Statement of purpose: A statement outlining the applicant’s reasons for pursuing a counseling degree and career goals is commonly required.
  • Resume or CV: Applicants may need to submit a resume or curriculum vitae detailing their educational background, work experience, and any relevant skills or certifications.

Structure and Format

Accelerated master’s in counseling online programs are designed to compress the coursework and degree completion timeline. The exact structure may vary, but some standard features include the following:

  • Intensive course schedules: Students often take courses in shorter sessions, such as six to eight weeks, rather than the traditional 16-week semester format. This allows for a more concentrated and faster-paced learning experience.
  • Full-time commitment: Accelerated programs typically require students to enroll full-time, taking multiple courses simultaneously, to expedite degree completion.
  • Shorter breaks: There may be shorter or fewer breaks between sessions to maintain momentum and complete the program quickly.
  • Summer coursework: Some programs offer courses during the summer months to further accelerate progress.

What Can I Do with a Master’s in Counseling?

With a master’s degree in counseling, you gain a solid foundation in theory, techniques, and practical skills that open doors to diverse, rewarding careers. Whether you specialize in mental health, school counseling, substance abuse, or career development, your expertise can be applied across various settings and populations.

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors

Median annual salary (May 2021): $48,520

Projected job growth rate (2021-2031): 22%

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors play a vital role in supporting individuals struggling with addiction, behavioral issues, or mental health challenges. While a bachelor’s degree is often the typical entry-level requirement, many employers, particularly in the mental health field, prefer candidates with a master’s degree.

Counselors in these fields provide assessment, treatment, and support services to people with various challenges, including substance abuse, behavioral disorders, and mental health conditions. They often work in hospitals, mental health clinics, community centers, and private practices.

In terms of average pay, the salary for counselors in these fields can vary significantly depending on factors like location, experience, and education. As of May 2021, the median annual wage was $48,520. However, counselors with a master’s degree and specialized training may command higher salaries. The field is expected to grow considerably in the next decade, with a projected job growth rate of 22%.

Rehabilitation counselors

Median annual salary (May 2021): $38,560

Projected job growth (2021-2031): 11%

Individuals who possess a genuine passion for helping people with disabilities lead fulfilling lives may thrive in a career as a rehabilitation counselor. Rehabilitation counselors provide guidance, support, and counseling to patients with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities. They assist clients in overcoming barriers, maximizing their independence, and achieving personal and vocational goals. It is worth highlighting that a master’s degree is typically the entry-level education requirement for this field.

As of May 2021, rehabilitation counselors earned a median yearly salary of $38,560. As a result, the demand for individuals in this field will increase by 11% over the next ten years.

Rehabilitation counselors often find employment in hospitals, community agencies, schools, rehabilitation centers, and private practices. They typically work one-on-one with clients but may also offer group therapy sessions.

School and career counselors

Median annual salary (May 2021): $60,510

Projected job growth (2021-2031): 10%

School and career counselors are crucial in guiding students and individuals through their educational and career journeys. They provide support, guidance, and resources to help individuals make informed decisions about their academic and professional paths. Like other counseling careers, a master’s degree is typically the entry-level education requirement.

Counselors in this field saw a median salary of $60,510 as of May 2021. The field is expected to grow by 10% over the next decade.

School and career counselors work in various settings, including elementary, middle, and high schools, colleges, and universities. They typically provide individual counseling sessions but may be required to give the occasional group presentation and complete administrative tasks related to student records and program planning.

Our Research

This list features some of the best online accelerated Master’s in Counseling programs in the country. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution, either public or private, with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions.

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of the best online accelerated Master’s in Counseling programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications, such as U.S. News & World Report, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

The 50 Best Online Accelerated Master’s in Counseling Programs

Best Accelerated Online Master’s in Counseling Programs Badge 2024

Fort Hays State University

Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Chadron State College

Southern Arkansas University

Liberty University

Angelo State University

Gwynedd Mercy University

University of West Alabama

UT Tyler

University of Louisiana Monroe

Regent University

Northwestern University

UT Martin

K-State Olathe

University of North Dakota

Indiana Wesleyan University

University of Denver

Southeastern University

University of Nebraska at Kearney

Oregon State University

NSU Florida

Adams State University

Mercy College

Morehead State University

Our Lady of the Lake University

Lincoln Memorial University

Antioch University New England

Seton Hall University