Many states now require you to hold at least a master’s degree in counseling if you want to be licensed to work independently as a counselor. Getting this advanced degree can open a number of career doors and help you qualify for an increased salary, but many decide not to go back to school because of the high costs of education. Luckily, scholarships and grants are readily available to help counseling students pay for school.
Scholarships versus Grants
Scholarships and grants are very similar in that they are both provide students with money for school and do not need to be repaid after graduation. However, while scholarships are given based on merit, grants are given based on financial need. There is some overlap here, but typically scholarships require you to write an essay or provide information about your undergraduate GPA and skills, while grants require you to prove that you actually need the money to be able to afford school. At the graduate degree level, most scholarships are given in the form of fellowships, which come attached to responsibilities to serve as a teaching assistant or research assistant. Grants can be given for general education purposes or can be used to fund a specific research project that you pursue while earning your degree.
Scholarships (or fellowships) for counseling students are most readily available directly from colleges, but some outside organizations offer them to students as well. Some of the places you can start your search for counseling scholarships are with the following organizations: the American School Counselor Association, the American Counseling Association, Zeta Phi Beta, and the U.S. Department of Education Rehabilitation Services Administration.
Like scholarships, college grants for counseling students at the master’s degree level are most commonly available directly from colleges and universities for their students. You can check with your school’s financial aid department to see what funds are available and learn how to apply. As an undergraduate student, you likely receive money from the Pell Grant, a federal grant available to all students in need, regardless of major. Even though this money will no longer be available to you as a graduate student, there are some outside organizations where you can find grants, including the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and the U.S. Department of Education.
Top Online Masters in Counseling Degrees
While the training and education requirements to become a counselor vary by state and specialty, a master's degree is typically required to become licensed. Counseling specialties available for study at the master's level include addiction counseling, career counseling, mental health counseling, school counseling, professional counseling, and more. The schools below all offer accredited online programs in these subjects.
MS in Addiction Counseling
MS in Career Counseling
MS in Counseling Studies
MS in Mental Counseling
||Capella University › The online counseling programs at Capella University in School Counseling, Career Counseling, Marriage & Family Counseling, Mental Health Counseling, and Counseling Studies feature diverse curriculums that include online coursework, residencies, and field experiences to prepare students to be eligible for state licensure.
MS in Forensic Counseling
MS in Mental Counseling
||Walden University › Walden University offers both an MS degree in Mental Health Counseling and an MS degree in in Forensic Counseling. These curriculums are designed to prepare graduates to enter the workforce immediately, where they incorporate there skills throughout the fields of healthcare and forensics.
M.Ed. in School Counseling
MA in Professional Counseling
MA in Pastoral Counseling
||Liberty University › Liberty University's online M.Ed. in school counseling, MA in professional counseling, and MA in pastoral counseling programs prepare students for state licensure and national certification, and ultimately for careers in mental health agencies and private practices. The curriculums integrate faith and counseling, theories and skills, and legal issues.
MS in Psychology
MS in General Psychology
MS in Addictions Psychology
MS in Behavioral Psychology
||Kaplan University › Kaplan University, one of the nation's largest online universities, has a variety of Masters in Counseling degrees available through accredited, online programs. These programs deal with psychology and the interaction of various forms of treatment on the human mind, building upon the groundwork for students seeking careers in counseling. Students can find specializations in Psychology, General Studies, Addictions Psychology, and Behavioral Psychology.
MA in Career Counseling
||University of the Rockies › The University of the Rockies Master's program in Psychology with a Career Counseling specialization offers students the ability to learn how psychological research influences job seeking and career decisions. The curriculum empowers graduates to assess the performances of job candidates, and use group dynamics to build driven teams.
MS in Addiction Counseling
MS in Professional Counseling
||Grand Canyon University › The Grand Canyon University MS programs in Professional Counseling and Addiction Counseling allow students to meet the requirements for licensure in Arizona. For those do not live in Arizona, they will be prepared to begin the process of certification in their respective states.
Ed.D. in Counseling Psychology
MA in Forensic Psychology
MA in I/O Psychology
MA in Sport Psychology
||Argosy University › Argosy University offers professional education in business, education, and psychology. The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree in counseling psychology enhances the counseling expertise of those seeking leadership or teaching positions within the field. Other psychology-related online programs include the MA in forensic psychology, MA in industrial/organizational psychology, and MA in sport-exercise psychology.