We have put together this website to help individuals interested in pursuing a degree and a career in counseling.
Are you interested in becoming a counselor or therapist? Are you interested in working with individuals, couples, families, or groups in a supportive and therapeutic way? Are you accepting, understanding, respectful, and thoughtful? Do you enjoy supporting people as they navigate challenges and make positive changes in their lives? If so a career as a licensed counselor or therapist may be a good fit for you.
Maybe you have always known that you want to work closely with people facing difficult situations and circumstances. Or, maybe you have faced and overcome a challenge in your life that has motivated you to help others overcome obstacles. Either way, if you are interested in a career as a counselor or therapist there are several steps you will need to take in order to become a competent, trained, skilled, and ethical practitioner in the field of counseling. The first steps include earning your undergraduate degree and your master's degree. Best Counseling Degrees provides resources to help you choose the degree and the college or university that will be the best fit for you.
We have done the research so you don't have to! We have looked at colleges and universities offering counseling programs across the country. We have evaluated and ranked counseling programs on numerous points of interest such as:
- both undergraduate and graduate programs
- all areas of concentration
- values such as accreditation and affordability
- online and on-campus programs
Our rankings are specific and comprehensive. If you are looking for a top notch degree in counseling, you will find it here!
How To Find The Best Counseling Degree Programs
Once you have made the decision to work towards a degree in counseling, you will be faced with the challenge of choosing the best counseling program to meet your needs. Because there are countless points to consider when choosing an undergraduate or graduate program in counseling, it can be overwhelming. However, Best Counseling Degrees has evaluated counseling programs for you so that you can easily explore your options based on what you are looking for.
If you are looking to earn your degree, the first step is to determine the level of degree you want to work toward. The most common degrees in counseling at each level are: Bachelor's (B.A. or B.S); Masters (M.A., M.S., M.Ed.); and Doctoral (Ph.D.or Psy.D.).
Next, you want to choose the program type that interests you the most. You may choose the program based on any number of reasons from the population you want to work with, to the setting you want to work in, or the salary you want to earn. For more information about careers you can pursue at the bachelors, masters, and doctoral degree level within the field of counseling keep reading and/or check out our resource on psychology and counseling careers .
Once you know the degree and the type of program you would like to complete, you can start to evaluate how and where you would like to earn your degree. Counseling degrees are available in three main formats: traditional on-campus; online (possibly with a minimal residency requirement for 1-2 weeks while in the program); and hybrid (a combination of on-campus and online courses).
If you have family and work commitments that make it hard to relocate, perhaps earning your degree online is the best option for you. There are many things to consider when choosing an online graduate program. For help, see our Top 10 Things to Consider When Choosing an Online Graduate Program in Counseling.
Or, do you feel you will learn best in the classroom, but you don't want to move across the country? We also have lists of degrees offered based on region. If you ready to live anywhere in the country but you want to earn a degree offered with a particular focus such as Art Therapy or Christian Counseling, we have those lists for you as well.
Some of Our Most Popular Rankings Include:
Bachelor's in Counseling
- Top 10 Online Bachelor's Degrees in Substance Abuse and Addictions Counseling
- 25 Most Accessible Online Bachelor's Degrees in Counseling
- Top 20 Christian Colleges for a Counseling Degree
- Top 25 Small Colleges for a Counseling Degree
Master's in Counseling
- 50 Most Affordable Accredited Marriage and Family Therapy Programs
- 30 Best Master's Degrees in Student Affairs and College Counseling
- Top 40 Most Affordable Accredited Master's in Rehabilitation Counseling Programs
- Top 25 Most Affordable Advanced Degrees in Pastoral Care and Counseling`
- Top 30 Most Accessible COAMFTE-Accredited Marriage and Family Therapy Master's Degrees
Online Master's in Counseling
- Top 10 Online Master's Degrees in Substance Abuse and Addictions Counseling
- Top 10 Most Affordable Accredited Online Master's in Rehabilitation Counseling Programs
- Top 10 Online Master's Degrees in Student Affairs and College Counseling
- Top 10 Accredited Online Master's in Marriage and Family Therapy Degree Programs
- Top 10 Accredited Online Master's in School Counseling Degrees Ranked by Affordability
- Top 10 Best Online Master's in Counseling Degree Programs
- Top 15 Accredited Online Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Degree Programs
- 25 Most Affordable Accredited Master's in School Counseling Online
- 5 Best Accredited Online Doctoral Degrees in Counselor Education and Supervision
- 50 Best Psy.D. Programs in Clinical Psychology
- 50 Best Doctoral Programs in Counseling Psychology
- 50 Best Doctoral Programs in School Psychology
- 50 Best Ph.D. Programs in Clinical Psychology
- Top 45 Most Affordable Accredited Doctoral Degrees in Counselor Education and Supervision
Each decision can feel like a big one but it will get you one step closer to reaching your goal! Do not let the process of finding the best counseling degree for you stress you out. We are here to help. For more information help with the process of applying to graduate school, see our Tips for Applying to Graduate School.
Accreditation and Counselor Licensing Basics
Within the field of counseling and therapy there are numerous licenses and areas of specialty you can represent. The type of licensure you pursue will depend largely on what graduate degree you obtained and the program you completed. Attending an accredited program is recommended for a more streamlined licensure process.
Major accrediting bodies for counseling are the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP ) and the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE ) and the American Psychological Association Commission on Accreditation (APA-CoA ).
It is always recommended that you contact your state licensing board to confirm that coursework meets stated requirements where you plan to practice. In order to obtain licensure, you will need to complete postgraduate supervised clinical hours and take the national certifying exam under the board that will grant you your license. Professional counselors and therapists are required to meet specific state standards as outlined by their board. Requirements can vary by state and area of specialty. Consult the licensing board in your home state for more information. For more information about how to contact your state licensing board see The American Counseling Association's list of licensing boards by state.
Careers and Salaries For Counseling Degree Professionals
One of the great things about a degree in counseling is that it offers so many different career paths. Counselors and therapists can choose from many areas of specialty and a variety of work settings. This career offers a high degree of flexibility. Counselors and therapists can choose their area of specialty, the population they want to work with, and the setting they want to work in. Counselors can choose to work with children, adolescents, adults, couples, or groups, in community mental health centers, hospitals, schools, or private practice. Counselors in private practice have the opportunity to be selective about the days and hours they choose to work. For more information about different careers and areas of specialty within the field of counseling, see our resource on Psychology and Counseling Careers and Professional Certifications
Salaries in the field of counseling vary widely based on several factors, including: license type; specialty; work setting; and where in the country you work. Depending on these factors, our research shows that annual salaries can range from anywhere between $25,000 to over $80,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the annual median pay for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists is $43,190, with a faster than average growth rate (projected at 19%) from 2014 to 2024.
Following are some of the most popular careers in the field of counseling. We have included information about the fields license/certification type median salaries. However, remember that these numbers reflect the median wage across the country, meaning that half of counselors and therapists earn less than this number and half earn more. Within licenses and areas of certification, salary will vary widely based where you live in the country and the setting in which you work.
- Licensed Rehabilitation Counselor: Median annual salary: $34,390
- National Certified Addiction Counselor: Median annual salary: $39,980
- Licensed Professional Counselor/ Clinical Mental Health Counselor: Median annual salary: $41,880
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist: Median annual salary: $48,600
- Licensed School Counselor/ Career Counselor: Median annual salary: $53,660
- Licensed Psychologist: Median annual salary: $72,580
Once you are ready to begin your job search or are working in the field see our Resources for Working Counselors and Therapists. We hope you take some time to explore the resources we have collected here for you at Best Counseling Degrees. You will find the top programs and schools in the country offering bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in counseling. We have worked hard to provide information that will help you in pursuing your goal of becoming a counselor or therapist.