Counseling Psychology Masters & PhD Degree Programs in Illinois
What is a Master’s in Counseling Psychology Degree?
A Master’s in Counseling Psychology degree centers on working with patients. You may learn how to assess mental health challenges and plan a treatment approach. And, you'll explore how to build respectful relationships with diverse people.
Studying Counseling Psychology is not just about understanding others. Most programs help you get to know yourself, too. Expect to evaluate your own strengths and how you can use them to counsel patients in an ethical manner.
written by Shannon Fandler
What Can You Do with a Masters in Counseling Psychology?
Master’s in Counseling Psychology graduates could pursue various roles in Community and Social Service occupations. This industry is growing faster than average, with 14% more jobs projected between 2016 and 2026. Areas like drug abuse and rehabilitation counseling may have the most need.
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor roles may grow 23% between 2016 and 2026. That’s much faster than average, with an expected 60,300 new jobs. Many of these new roles will likely relate to addiction and mental health counseling. In fact, the largest employers for counselors are outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers.
One trend worth noting is the use of integrated care in the mental health field. This means a group of specialists work together to treat many kinds of problems. Integrated care has led to fast growth for roles like Marriage and Family Therapist.
Do I Need a Master’s Degree to Become a Counseling Psychologist?
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 and one to two years of supervised professional experience.
- Earn licensure. Check your state’s requirements through the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.
- Pursue continuing education courses. In some states, you’ll need continuing education to maintain your license.
What Jobs Can You Get with a Masters Counseling Psychology Graduate Degree?
For instance, most Counseling Psychologists must earn a doctoral degree in Psychology. These professionals help people understand and manage personal challenges. They guide patients through issues at home, work, or the community. And, they help patients access the strengths and resources they need to live more fulfilling lives.
Marriage and Family Therapists usually earn a Master’s degree in Psychology or a related field. They help patients work through personal and interpersonal challenges. They may use techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy. And, they may help patients cope with everything from divorce to addiction.
A Counseling Psychology graduate program could help you prepare for these and other career paths.
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists
Marriage and Family Therapists
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
Psychologists, All Other
Top States for Employment: Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
Top Metro Areas for Employment: Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
|Bloomington, IL||$69,710||Not Reported|
|Rockford, IL||$66,870||Not Reported|
Demand for Counseling Psychologists is growing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Psychologist roles are projected to grow 14% between 2016 and 2026. That’s faster than average for all occupations.
Prospects may be best for those who have earned a doctoral or education specialist degree, along with postdoctoral work experience. And, there may be more opportunities for Psychologists who specialize in rehabilitation psychology or working with the elderly.
Popular Counseling Psychology Degrees in Illinois
Counseling Psychology degrees are reported by the National Center for Education Statistics under the category of Psychology.
In the most recent update of the data (2009/10), across the U.S, there were 32,762 Psychology degrees awarded to graduate students. The majority (82%) of these programs were at the Master’s level.
What is the Difference Between a Master’s in Counseling Psychology and a Master’s in Counseling?
Masters in Counseling Degree Guide
Masters in Counseling Psychology
Masters in Counseling
Sponsored Degree Example: MA in Counseling Psychology
Sponsored Degree Example: Online MA in Counseling – Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling Specialization
Length of Program: A minimum of 60 credits (licensure track)
Length of Program: 60 credits
About the Program: The MA in Counseling Psychology covers theory, practice, and advocacy. You’ll study contexts of counseling – from the scientific to the cultural. Rigorous coursework and field experience teach key counseling skills.
About the Program: This program covers the theory and practice of rehabilitating patients. You’ll learn how to help patients with disabilities, addictions, or other differences. And, you could study skills like case management and performing interventions.
No specific program accreditation
No specific program accreditation. The curriculum is designed based on CACREP standards.
If your career goal is to become a Counseling Psychologist, you may need to earn a doctorate. PhD in Counseling Psychology programs often use a scientist-practitioner model. Candidates explore the science of psychology and even conduct research. They also study professional skills needed to work with patients. These include communicating effectively, performing interventions, and understanding diversity.
A PhD program in Counseling Psychology is not only more comprehensive than a Master’s program. It may also be a standard for earning psychology licensure, depending on your state. Some PhD programs need candidates to have earned a Master’s degree 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 in Counseling Psychology programs require between 30 and 50 credits of coursework. Programs designed to prepare students for counselor licensure may require more credits.
Expect to take courses on both the theory and practice of counseling. You’ll study how to assess people in different contexts – like families and groups. You’ll learn about mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. And, you’ll explore evidence-based treatments to help patients work through their challenges.
Common courses include:
- Counseling Theory and Techniques. Expect to take one or more courses that delve into the how and why of counseling. Case-studies and role-playing may help you learn techniques for working with patients.
- Multicultural Counseling. Most programs touch on the importance of cultural sensitivity. A course like this could explore biases related to race, sex, age, and more. You’ll prepare to build stronger counseling relationships with patients of diverse backgrounds.
- Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling Psychology. Many programs offer a course on professional standards, laws, and ethics. You may study issues like patient confidentiality, licensure, and mental health laws.
Finally, most Master’s programs also include a practicum and one or more internships. The goal is for students to gain supervised experience while practicing counseling skills.
What Should I know About APA Accredited Programs?
For certain Psychology careers, some states require you to graduate from an APA-accredited program. (This may be a criterion for earning professional licensure in your state.) The American Psychological Association (APA) accredits doctoral Psychology programs. They also accredit internship and postdoctoral residency programs.
APA bases accreditation on standards like curriculum quality and the skills students learn. Choosing an accredited program can help ensure your education aligns with industry practices.
Other accrediting organizations include:
- Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). CSWE accredits baccalaureate and Master’s programs in Social Work. Roles such as Clinical Social Worker may call for a Master’s in Social Work 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 Psychology may take around two years for full-time students. Program length varies by school. Earning a doctorate, like a PhD in Psychology, takes much longer. Most programs are between four and six years in length.
Psychology Counseling Graduate Degrees in 3 Years or Less
|University||# Of Credits Required||Start Dates||Minimum Months to Complete|
Fall, Spring, Summer
24 -36 months
Fall and Spring
Fall, Spring, Summer
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. You could find programs both more affordable and more expensive than the average.
This chart shows graduate tuition for four schools with Counseling Psychology Graduate Programs. We compared those costs to the most affordable and most expensive college options.
Instate/Out Of State Tuition
What Are The Costs Per Credit for Masters in Counseling Psychology?
Cost per credit varies by institution. Remember that state universities may charge different rates for in-state vs. out-of-state students. Below are a few examples of cost per credit, reported by various schools.
|University||# Of Credits Required||Cost Per Credit||Total Tuition Cost|
90 quarter credits
$8,520, per 6 credit hours of part-time enrollment
Top 48 Counseling Psychology Graduate Programs in Illinois
- Offering two quality, competency-based online learning formats: FlexPath & GuidedPath
- Online degrees in business, counseling, education, health administration, human services, information technology, nursing, public health, psychology and social work.
- 97% of alumni agree FlexPath provided the flexibility they needed to pursue their degree (Alumni Outcomes Survey 2017)
Loyola University ChicagoAdvanced Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Counselor Training
The Chicago School of Professional PsychologyM.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Northcentral UniversityDoctor of Philosophy in Marriage & Family Therapy - Child and Adolescent Therapy Doctorate of Marriage & Family Therapy - Child and Adolescent Therapy Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology - Addictions Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage & Family Therapy - Therapy with Military Families Doctorate of Marriage & Family Therapy - Couple Therapy Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage & Family Therapy - Systemic Leadership Doctorate of Marriage & Family Therapy - General Family Therapy Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage & Family Therapy - Medical Family Therapy Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage & Family Therapy - General Family Therapy Doctorate of Marriage & Family Therapy - Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship
Northwestern UniversityMaster of Arts in Counseling
National Louis UniversityMA Clinical Mental Health Counseling EdD Counselor Education and Supervision
Loyola University ChicagoDoctor of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology
Governors State UniversityAddictions Studies Counseling
University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignRehabilitation and Disability Studies
Chicago State UniversityCounseling
Western Illinois UniversityMarriage and Family Counseling Counseling
Illinois Institute of TechnologyRehabilitation Psychology
Trinity International University (IL)Counseling Psychology
School of The Art Institute Of ChicagoArt Therapy
Southern Illinois University - CarbondaleRehabilitation Administration and Services Rehabilitation Counseling