Counseling Psychology Programs & PhD Degree Programs
What are Counseling Psychology Programs?
A Master’s in Counseling Psychology degree centers on working with patients. You may learn how to assess mental health challenges. Then, plan a treatment approach to improve patient well-being. Studying counseling is not just about understanding others. Most programs help you get to know yourself, too. Expect to evaluate your own strengths and pursue human growth. You'll be ready to help your patients thrive.
Search Graduate Counseling Psychology Programs
written by Shannon Fandler
What Can You Do with a Masters in Counseling Psychology?
You could pursue community and social service career paths. Look for these in a variety of settings. Like a private practice. Or a community counseling center.
The industry is growing faster than average. There are 10% more jobs projected between 2021 and 2031 (BLS). Areas like professional counseling for drug abuse may have the most need. The same with school counseling. And counseling for career development.
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor roles are also growing. They should increase 22% between 2021 and 2031. That’s much faster than average. In fact, the field expects to add 77,500 new jobs. Many of these new roles may relate to mental health counseling. Also, addiction. And mental health services for veterans, according to the BLS.
The largest employers for counselors are outpatient centers. In particular, those that offer mental health and substance abuse help. One trend worth noting is the use of integrated care. This means a group of specialists work together. They use their different skills to treat many kinds of problems. Integrated care has led to fast growth for roles like Marriage and Family Therapist (BLS).
Do I Need a Master’s Degree to Become a Counseling Psychologist?
22% of Counseling Psychologists said they needed to earn a Master’s degree for their jobs. But, most Counseling Psychologists earn a doctoral degree (O*Net).
Steps to becoming a Counseling Psychologist include (according to BLS.gov):
- Earn a Ph.D. in Psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree.
- Complete clinical experience. In most cases, that includes an internship. Also, one to two years of supervised professional experience.
- Earn licensure. Check your state’s requirements to learn more. You can do so at the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.
- Pursue continuing ed courses. In some states, you’ll need continuing education to maintain your license.
What Jobs Can You Get with a Masters Degree?
Your graduate degree could be a step toward a career in Psychology. Or other areas, like social services. Most Counseling Psychologists must earn a doctoral degree in Psychology. These pros help people understand and manage personal challenges. They guide patients through issues at home, work, or the community. Some techniques they use include group counseling. And cognitive behavioral therapy.
Marriage and Family Therapists usually earn a Master’s degree in Psychology, per the BLS. Or, a related field. They help patients work through relationship issues. Family therapy can help patients cope with divorce. Or the loss of a loved one. Your graduate program could help you prepare for other career paths, too:
Demand for Counseling Psychologists is growing. That's according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Psychologist roles are projected to grow 6% between 2021 and 2031. Prospects may be best for those who have earned a doctoral degree. Or an education specialist degree. And, those who have post doctoral work experience. There may be more prospects for Psychologists in certain areas. Like rehab psychology. Or working with the elderly.
Popular Counseling Psychology Degrees
Counseling Psych degrees are reported by NCES under the category of Psychology. Let's look at the most recent update of the data (2009/10). Across the U.S., there were 32,762 Psychology degrees awarded to grad students. The majority (82%) of these programs were at the Master’s level.
If your goal is to pursue a career as a Counseling Psychologist, you may need to earn a doctorate. PhD programs in this field often use a scientist practitioner model. Candidates may do the following:
- Explore the science of psychology
- Conduct research
- Study the skills needed to work with patients
- Learn to communicate effectively
- Study when and how to do interventions
- Learn how to work with diverse patients
A PhD program covers more than a Master’s program. It may also be a standard for earning psychology licensure, depending on your state. Some PhD programs need you to have earned a Master’s degree, first. Usually that's in psychology, counseling or a related field. Others accept students with a Bachelor’s degree.
What Are the Requirements for a Master’s in Counseling Psychology Degree?
Most master's programs in this field need between 30 and 50 credits of coursework. Or more. Expect to take courses on both the theory and practice of counseling. You’ll study how to assess patients. And work with families and groups. You’ll learn about mental health disorders. Such as, depression and anxiety. And, you’ll explore evidence based treatments. Common courses include:
- Counseling Theory. Expect to take courses that delve into the how and why of counseling. Case studies and role playing may help you learn ways to work with patients.
- Multicultural Counseling. Most programs touch on cultural sensitivity. It's a great chance to uncover your biases. Like, those related to race, sex, age, and more. So, you can better serve your patients.
- Legal and Ethical Issues. Many programs offer a course on standards, laws, and ethics. You may study issues like patient confidentiality. And other laws that keep patients safe.
Finally, most Master’s programs also include a practicum. And, one or more internships. The goal is for students to gain supervised experience. Of course, the process of becoming a licensed professional counselor does not end there. Check with your state to learn about next steps after graduate school.
Wondering about admissions? Not all degree programs have the same requirements. But you may need:
- Transcripts for all higher education experience
- Minimum undergraduate GPA
- GRE scores
- Letters of Recommendation
What Should I know About APA Accredited Programs?
For certain Psychology careers, some states require you to graduate from an APA accredited program. That's the American Psychological Association. It accredits doctoral Psychology programs. They also accredit internship and post doctoral residency programs (This is key if you need to pursue clinical practice). APA bases accreditation on many factors. Like, curriculum quality. And the skills you'll learn in the program.
Choosing an accredited program is key. It helps make sure your program meets set standards. Other accrediting organizations include:
- Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). CSWE accredits bachelor and Master’s programs in Social Work. Roles such as Clinical Social Worker may call for a Master’s in Social Work. This should come from an accredited program.
- Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). CACREP accredits Master’s and doctoral programs in Counseling.
- Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC). MPCAC accredits Master’s programs in Counseling and Psychology.
How Long Does It Take to Earn a Master’s in Counseling Psychology?
Earning a Master’s in Counseling Psych may take around two years for full time students. You may be able to find part time programs. And online programs could help you earn your degree in a more flexible format.
Earning a doctorate takes much longer. Most programs take between four and six years. And don't forget licensure requirements. Meeting these can take more time after you graduate.
What Is The Cost of a Master’s in Counseling Psychology?
The average cost of a graduate degree from a public institution is $11,617 per year according to the NCES. You could find program more affordable than the average. And some are more expensive. This chart shows graduate tuition for four schools. (They offer psychology masters programs.) We compared those costs to the most affordable and most expensive college options.
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
|Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA||$110,010||230|
|San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA||$106,160||240|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$102,260||660|
Schools with Counseling Psychology Masters & PhD Degree Programs
GradSchools.com offers 488 Counseling Psychology Programs & Graduate Degrees
Loyola University Chicago
Pacific Oaks College
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Grand Canyon University
Northeastern State University
Amridge University (formerly Southern Christian University)
Clarion University Of Pennsylvania
Lock Haven University
University of Saint Joseph
Columbia College Chicago