Counseling psychology is a sub-field within psychology. It was developed to help people explore and understand their thoughts and feelings, overcome adverse circumstances and improve their overall mental health. People may benefit from the services of a professional trained in counseling psychology in a variety of settings including schools, hospitals, or social service programs.
While becoming licensed as a counseling psychologist requires a PhD, earning an online master’s in counseling psychology certainly has its benefits. Some counseling psychology programs lead to licensure as a family or marriage therapist or as a substance abuse counselor. Counseling psychology programs may also offer specialized training to individuals who want to work in schools. Other counseling psychology master’s degree programs serve as a stepping-stone to a PhD in Counseling Psychology which is a specialization in psychology providing advanced assessment and diagnostic services.
We researched the most affordable institutions offering an online master’s programs in counseling psychology. These programs are housed in various institutional departments in accredited universities and provide a good variety of the educational opportunities in this diverse field. Graduate tuition rates were obtained from College Navigator and our ranking is based on the “resident” rate.
10. Sofia University – Palo Alto, California
Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology Online
Sofia University features a unique holistic counseling psychology program with tracks in marriage and family therapy and/or professional clinical counseling. Students complete a one-year supervised practicum in preparation for their professional role. While coursework is offered online, students get together twice a year for intensive residency sessions. New students are admitted to the program for the fall, winter, and spring sessions. Most students can complete their degree in three years.
9. Capella University- Minneapolis, Minnesota
Master of Science in Clinical Psychology-Clinical Counseling Specialization Online
Capella University features an innovative master’s in in clinical psychology that studies the interwoven principles of psychology and counseling. Students gain a foundation heavily rooted in psychology while developing the skills needed to pursue a career in clinical counseling. Courses include:
- Clinical Interventions
- Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy
- Ethics and Multicultural Issues in Psychology
Students benefit from hands-on training by completing a during a practicum and internship experience in their own community.
8. Colorado Christian University- Lakewood, Colorado
Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
The clinical mental health counseling master’s degree program offered by Colorado Christian University is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). This rigorous training program includes:
- experiential learning
- mentoring relationships.
Students need to be culturally sensitive mental health providers. Every aspect of the curriculum is integrated with Christian faith and evidence-based practice. Optional areas of emphasis are available in marriage and family therapy or substance use disorders. The program is designed for the adult learner and even those with the busiest schedules can complete their degree in just 30 months.
7. California Baptist University- Riverside, California
Master of Science in Counseling Psychology Online
The low-priced master’s in counseling psychology online from California Baptist University is a 60-credit hour program taught from a Christian perspective. Students are trained for a career in either marriage and family therapy or professional clinical counseling. Courses are offered through a blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning, which is great for busy working adults. Core requirements include:
- Couples Therapy and Intimate Partner Violence
- Human Communications in Group Process
Students also complete 24 hours of individual psychotherapy and 50 hours of group psychotherapy with a licensed psychotherapist independent of CBU. Most students can complete their degree in about two years.
6. Brandman University – Irvine, California
MA in Psychology, Professional Clinical Counseling
Brandman University features a budget friendly online master’s in counseling psychology that gives students hands-on experience in a variety of professional clinical settings. The program meets the academic requirements needed to become licensed as a LPCC in California. Students can take specialized courses in areas like:
- crisis and trauma counseling
- community and environmental mental health
Hands-on training occurs during the three practicum experiences. Students are admitted to the program several times during the year. Applicants should submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, and an autobiographical essay to be considered for admission.
5. Grand Canyon University- Phoenix, Arizona
Master of Science in Psychology with an emphasis in Life Coaching
The master’s in psychology with an emphasis in life coaching from Grand Canyon University focuses on a variety of coaching models and techniques. Course offerings include:
- Contemporary and Ethical Issues in Psychology
- Business and Organizational Coaching
Students can transfer in up to 12 credits of previous graduate level work, potentially saving thousands in tuition. Graduates are equipped to start a private practice or go to work for an organization. Professional roles may include:
- relationship coach
- executive coach
- general life coach.
4. University of Missouri- Columbia, Missouri
Master of Education in Educational, School and Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Mental Health Practices in Schools Online
Tuition:$9,478/in-state and $25,946/out-of-state
The University of Missouri features a low-cost online master’s in counseling psychology with no on-campus residency requirements. Courses are taught by the same expert faculty who teach on campus. There are four different emphasis areas for students to choose from:
- Mental Health Practices in Schools
- Positive Coaching and Athletic Leadership
- School Counselor-Elementary and Secondary with Certification
- Educational Psychology-Student Learning and Well-Being
Students usually take one to two courses each semester and can complete their degree in two years. Online students get the great low in-state tuition rate regardless of where they live.
3. Liberty University- Lynchburg, Virginia
Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
The budget friendly online master’s in clinical mental health counseling from Liberty University is a 60- credit hour program that inspires others to create positive change. Students gain an understanding of human psychology while learning to help people overcome trauma and harmful behavior. Two on-campus incentives bring students together on-campus to network and engage in hands-on training. A two-semester internship allows students to start honing their professional counseling skills.
2. Adams State University- Alamosa, Colorado
Master of Arts degrees in Clinical Mental Health
The counselor education online master’s program at Adams State University is a CACREP accredited program that prepares students to become mental health counselors or school counselors. New cohorts begin for the fall, spring and summer terms. Courses are delivered in a convenient online format which is a great fit for working students. A one week intensive is required each summer, giving students the opportunity to network and engage in professional development. There is no GRE or MAT requirement to be accepted into the program, simplifying the application process.
1. Lamar University- Beaumont, Texas
M.Ed in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Online
Tuition:$6,397/in-state and $13,759/year out-of-state
Our most affordable online master’s in counseling psychology is offered by Lamar University, a member of the Texas State University System. Lamar features a Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling that gives students the skills needed to support people struggling with a variety of issues including substance abuse and marital conflict. The comprehensive curriculum includes online coursework, two, five-day residencies, a practicum, and an internship. Courses include:
- Abnormal Human Behavior
- Substance Abuse Counseling
- Professionalism, Ethics and the Law
Graduates meet the coursework requirements needed to become an LPC in the state of Texas.