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Counseling Master's Degree

Counseling Online Master's Degrees

A master's degree in counseling, both a Master of Art and a Master of Science, is a broad degree that prepares students for a variety of counseling professions, in settings such as schools, churches, business offices and hospitals. Students look at counseling theories (including human development and ethics) and counseling applications, and learn problem-solving skills and critical thinking meant to be applied in counseling positions.

Some specializations within a master's in counseling include:

  • School counseling
  • Mental health counseling
  • Marriage, family and child therapy
  • Rehabilitation counseling
  • Drug and substance abuse counseling

Since plenty of counseling positions require at least a master's in counseling (such as marriage and family therapist), many people interested in the field go for the master's degree. Doctoral degrees aren't required for counseling positions, though if students want to become a psychologist or psychiatrist, that's the route they'll take. Though some employers may hire a school or rehabilitation counselor who only has a bachelor's degree, getting a master's in counseling may be wise, in order to be competitive for jobs.

Taking a counseling master's program online can prove to be convenient for students who have family or work obligations and need flexibility in their schedules. Plenty of online programs exist and may be even better for students who are disciplined and self-starters.

Counseling Admissions Requirements

Undergraduate degree requirements will vary from school to school. In many counseling graduate programs, a bachelor's degree in any subject is sufficient for admission (though one may feel more prepared coming into the program with a psychology, sociology or counseling undergraduate degree). Some schools prefer a student with a bachelor's degree in psychology. Undergraduate courses in statistics or research methods is even a requirement at some schools. GPA requirements vary widely by school and may be over 2.75 or even 3.0 at many schools.

Many schools require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Test of English for Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores, though it depends on both the college and the program.

Career Opportunities after Earning a Master of Counseling

Some professions and some employers require a master of counseling degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most states require school counselors to have a master's degree in school counseling or a related field. Most employers prefer career counselors to have a master's degree in counseling, with an emphasis in career development. To become a mental health counselor or a marriage and family therapist, a master's degree in counseling or marriage and family therapy is required.

Many careers tied to earning a master's degree in counseling have a bright future. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment growth is expected to grow between 2010 and 2020 by 36 percent for mental health counselors, 41 percent for marriage and family therapists and 19 percent for school and career counselors (bls.gov/ooh, 2012). The projected employment growth for all other occupations is 14 percent, which makes these counseling professions well above average career projected growth.

Post-graduation Salary Information with a Master of Counseling

Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not supply specific salary information for those with a master's degree in counseling, median weekly earnings in 2012 comparing those with a master's degree to those with other kinds of educational attainment are provided. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, master's degree holders made $1,300 a week versus $1,066 for bachelor's degree holders and $785 for associate degree holders (bls.gov/emp, 2012).

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does provide salary information for careers linked to a master's degree in counseling. In May 2012, mental health counselors made a national mean annual wage of $43,290 and marriage and family therapists made a national mean annual wage of $49,270 (bls.gov/oes, 2013).

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 edition, Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists - http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm#tab-1
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 edition, School and Career Counselors - http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Community-and-Social-Service/School-and-career-counselors.htm#tab-1
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment Projects, Education pays… 2013 - http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm
Wayland Baptist University, Master of Arts in Counseling (MA) - http://www.wbu.edu/master-of-arts-in-counseling/
University of North Texas, College of Education, Counseling - Master's Degree Program - http://www.unt.edu/pais/grad/gmcoss.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2012, Mental Health Counselors - http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211014.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2012, Marriage and Family Therapists - http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211013.htm

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