The Fastest Way to Earn a Counselor Degree Online

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In the United States, there are approximately 351,000 mental health counselor positions, and the demand for professional counselors is growing at a much-faster-than-average rate. As a result, earning a counselor degree online can lead to an exciting career with ample opportunities.

However, not everyone wants to spend four to six years acquiring a Bachelor’s degree and then potentially another 18 months to two years to get a Master’s (based on full-time attendance). Fortunately, there are ways to earn a counselor degree online in less time. If that’s appealing, here’s what you need to know.

How Fast Can I Get an Accelerated Degree?

Accelerated degree programs are designed to help students complete their education faster than the average length of time it takes. Precisely how quickly a student can progress varies from one school to the next. Primarily, that’s because accelerated counseling degree programs can have different structures.

Some online counseling degree programs allow students to take a larger number of courses each session, require summer attendance, or use both of those strategies to shorten the timeline. Certain programs shorten the required number of weeks to complete each class. Others may allow students to use their previous professional experience to eliminate the need to attend specific courses.

Generally, an accelerated Bachelor’s degree helps students complete the required number of credits within three years. For Master’s degrees, completion in one year may be possible. However, exactly how long it takes varies based on the school’s approach, the student’s dedication, and other factors.

What Do the Programs Involve?

Accelerated counseling degree programs aren’t unlike their traditional variants when it comes to the courses taken. Generally, students need to handle any general education requirements – such as mandatory courses in English or mathematics – as well as a minimum number of classes related to their counseling major. Typically, Bachelor’s degrees require 120 credits, while Master’s need between 30 and 60.

The exact courses involved can also vary by school. Additionally, some counseling degrees are focused on a specialty area – such as addiction or marriage and couples counseling – while others are more general. However, colleges and universities typically post all of the course requirements on their websites, usually on pages describing the specific degree.

Along with classroom-based instruction, counseling degrees may have other requirements. For example, internships or practicums are often required, providing the students with clinical experience.

What Should I Look For in a Program?

When you’re exploring counseling degrees online, make sure the school and the program are both regionally accredited. That ensures the educational quality meets basic standards. Plus, it shows that the school and program are regularly assessed for quality, as accreditation is frequently reevaluated to make sure that the ongoing educational experience is suitable.

It’s also critical to select a counseling program that leaves you well-prepared for any licensing exams. Counselors need state-issued licenses to provide their services, so choosing a school that can support that goal is essential.

Students should look at the program’s pass-fail rates, as those can also help determine if the educational quality and the overall experience are suitable. Finally, spend time reading testimonials from students outside of the school’s website allows applicants to get insights from others who’ve pursued that degree.