The Complete List of Accredited Online Schools & Colleges Offering Counseling Degrees & Degree Programs for 2013
The most widely recognized accrediting association for counseling programs is the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), an independent agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
CACREP accredits master’s and doctoral programs in different types of counseling specializations, including addiction counseling, career counseling, clinical mental health counseling, family counseling and school counseling as well as counselor education and supervision. Many counseling jobs require applicants to either graduate from a CACREP-accredited online counseling program or earn a similarly accredited traditional degree.
CACREP grants accreditation based on four criteria:
- Institution: CACREP certifies that the degree program is offered as part of the academic institution’s graduate-degree offerings and is offered by the institution itself, and that the institution has the necessary financial, technical and staff resources to run such a program.
- Academic Unit: CACREP evaluates the course offerings of the counseling degree program to ensure that the school offer a certain number of credit hours in the appropriate subject areas.
- Faculty and Staff: In its evaluation of the faculty and staff of a counseling degree program, the CACREP ensures that the teaching loads of the program’s faculty are consistent with those of the institution’s other graduate-level units, and that the faculty and staff hold the required credentials for their positions.
- Evaluation: The CACREP looks at the evaluation process of the counseling degree program, ensuring that faculty are able to effectively evaluate students during and after their studies, and that students have a way to evaluate the faculty as well.
According to the CACREP’s directory, there are 11 accredited online counseling programs offered by five universities.
Students attending a top accredited online counseling university can expect to take classes that will expand their knowledge in the following core subject areas:
- Group Counseling: Students will have the opportunity to learn group counseling through both theory-based education and role-playing. Students study dynamics between group members and leaders and learn about the therapeutic value of group counseling sessions.
- Crisis Intervention and Disaster Counseling Students enrolled in an accredited online counseling college will learn what to do in cases of crises, disasters and other trauma-causing events. They will learn to identify types of crises and explore different intervention methods for each.
- Human Growth and Development: Students will learn about the needs of people at all developmental levels and in multicultural contexts. The course curriculum includes theories of learning and personality development, individual and family developmental theories.
In addition to gaining essential knowledge, students will leave the best accredited online counseling courses with the following skills:
- Research: Students will be familiar with various research models, including experimentation, program evaluation, qualitative measurement and case study design to gather and evaluate data.
- Interviewing: One of the most-practiced skills in the best accredited online counseling colleges is interviewing in order to gain insights and understanding from patients or clients.
- Assessment: A graduate of an accredited online counseling school will be skilled in assessment techniques and able to apply basic concepts to individual, group, couple, family and child appraisals.
Most graduates of degree programs in counseling go on to pursue a career in one of several counseling specializations, including addiction counseling, career counseling, clinical mental health counseling, family counseling or school counseling. Most professions in counseling require a master’s degree in counseling, preferably from a CACREP-accredited institution. Students interested in a career in counselor education and supervision will need a doctorate in counseling.
Graduates with an online master’s degree in counseling can become school counselors in a variety of K-12 educational institutions or career counselors either at the high school or college level. They may also choose to work with adults as addiction counselors at clinics or non-profits or as mental health counselors in clinics or private practices. However, they will need to augment their degrees with internships where they can practice their skills in person.