Top Online Mental Health Counseling Master’s Degrees

See today’s top accredited schools for online mental health counseling programs, learn about admission requirements and costs, and explore career options for after graduation.

An online master’s in mental health counseling can unlock many opportunities, including getting a license to practice anywhere in the United States. This degree also gives necessary skills for helping people emotionally, mentally, therapeutically, and behaviorally. But which schools have what you’re looking for in a program: the right curriculum, flexible online programs, and a cost structure that makes sense for you? Start with a detailed ranking of 2023’s best online mental health counseling master’s, and then dive inside the programs themselves to get your journey started today.

Best Online Master’s in Mental Health Counseling Programs for 2023

About the ranking
1
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$

Students pursuing a career in mental health care can work toward their goal with a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Texas Tech. This program emphasizes the role of telehealth as a method of delivering distance-based care and is one of the first counseling education programs in the United States to train practitioners in clinical counseling skills and telehealth techniques. Texas Tech’s program was designed to accommodate students currently working full-time, so students may attend classes entirely online. Upon graduation, students can obtain certification as a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC), apply for licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in many states, and receive telehealth certification.

Program Highlights:

Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

  • Credits: 60
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $1,034.50-1,442.50/credit
  • Mode: Fully Online
  • Accreditation: CACREP

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
2
Henniker, New Hampshire
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$$$

New England College’s Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling provides students with the necessary education to apply for licensure as a professional counselor in their home states. Over 24 months, students gain the skills to support people experiencing various mental and emotional disorders. NEC’s program involves extensive field experience, with students assigned to clinical placements according to their talents and career goals. During these placements, participants are mentored by their host organization, an NEC faculty member and clinical coordinator, and the Director of the MS-CMHC program. To better meet students’ personal and professional needs, this program is offered 100% online.

Program Highlights:

The Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

  • Credits: 60
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $576/credit
  • Mode: Fully Online
  • Accreditation: NECHE

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation NECHE
3
Salisbury, North Carolina
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$

At Catawba College, master’s students can prepare for the National Counselor Exam (NCE) and gain the clinical hours and practical skills to help them serve others’ mental health needs. The program’s 60 credit hours are delivered as 45 hours of classroom instruction and 15 experiential hours of providing clinical services to clients. This MHS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is offered entirely online and prepares graduates for acquiring provisional licensure in counseling in North Carolina and other states with similar standards. After passing the NCE, students can apply to become Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associates (LCMHCA). Graduates may work in environments that include hospitals and health systems, school districts, colleges and universities, and private practices.

Program Highlights:

MHS, Clinical Mental Health Counseling

  • Credits: 60
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $599/credit
  • Mode: Fully Online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
4
Montreat, North Carolina
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

Montreat College offers a hybrid Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling to meet students’ flexible learning needs. This program operates as a combined seated and online model. Students attend class in person on odd-numbered weeks and complete asynchronous online coursework during even-numbered weeks. All in-person course components take place on Montreat’s Asheville or Charlotte campus locations. During their studies, candidates are educated in the history and development of counseling, theories and ethical practice, and competencies for working with diverse clients. Upon graduation, students will have met North Carolina Licensed Professional education requirements and are prepared for professional practice in private, community, government, and other mental health settings.

Program Highlights:

Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

  • Credits: 60
  • Length: 3 years
  • Cost: $595/credit
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Accreditation: CACREP

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
5
Greenville, North Carolina
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

At East Carolina University, students can earn an online Master of Science in Counselor Education to further their careers. ECU’s master’s program is ideal for students interested in working in various educational and human service settings. Students are encouraged to develop personalized approaches to their professional practice and given the freedom to design an elective study that coincides with their career interests. The program offers three areas of specialization: school counseling, clinical mental health counseling, or student affairs and college counseling. Once students have earned a master’s, they qualify to apply for school counseling licensure or for a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate license. Courses are offered entirely online to allow students to balance life’s demands alongside their studies.

Program Highlights:

Master of Science in Counselor Education

  • Credits: 60
  • Length: 2-6 years
  • Cost: $289.55-$1,020.05/credit
  • Mode: Fully Online
  • Accreditation: CACREP

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
6
Durham, North Carolina
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
7
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
8
Livingston, Alabama
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
9
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
10
Chicago, Illinois
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
11
Beaumont, Texas
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
12
Montgomery, Alabama
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
13
Lock Haven, Pennsylvania
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation MSCHE
14
Clarion, Pennsylvania
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation MSCHE
15
Bismarck, North Dakota
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
16
Fort Myers, Florida
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
17
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
18
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation ABHE
19
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation NECHE
20
Peoria, Illinois
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
21
South Orange, New Jersey
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation MSCHE
22
Buffalo, New York
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation MSCHE
23
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation WSCUC
24
Boston, Massachusetts
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation NECHE
25
Manchester, New Hampshire
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation NECHE

Inside Real Online Programs in Mental Health Counseling

Want more details about some of today’s best online programs for your mental health master’s? Explore curricula, cost, courses, and more with these three spotlights.

New York University

nyu-logo

New York University offers a two-year online master’s degree in mental health counseling. You can enroll full- or part-time to complete the 60 hours of coursework required. NYU’s degree combines core coursework with internship opportunities to help students understand group dynamics, ethical issues, theory and process, and abnormal psychology. Electives are also offered in bereavement counseling, marriage and family counseling, addiction counseling, career counseling, and more.
Each student participates in a counseling lab to establish basic counseling skills and sharpen self-awareness and insight. The lab is a prerequisite to the practicum, and the practicum is a prerequisite for any internships. Students must obtain a New York license in clinical mental health counseling to legally practice. NYU is accredited by the MPCAC (Master’s in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council) through 2025.

John Hopkins University

johns-hopkins-university-logo

John Hopkins University offers a two-year online Master of Science in Counseling designed to help students become advocates in the counseling industry. There is also a specialization focusing on clinical mental health. Students have five years to complete the 60-credits of coursework and 600 hours of internship.
Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school, a minimum GPA of 3.0, and at least two letters of recommendation. Students can expect to learn to assess needs, develop goals, and counsel individuals from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities. They also learn to facilitate group work in a mental healthcare setting as well as the competencies needed to evaluate and apply evidence-based practices.

University of Massachusetts, Boston

umass-boston-logo

The University of Massachusetts, Boston offers a two-year Master of Science in Mental Health that prepares students to meet the requirements for licensure in Massachusetts. Students must complete 60 hours of coursework online and attend a 2-week course in-person at the University of Boston. The degree gives the knowledge and skills needed the first semester for the internship and practicum requirements in the second year.

This degree helps students identify and collaborate with people of different backgrounds and gain the skills and values required of mental health counselors. They can also pick a concentration if desired.

Advantages of Earning an Online Master’s in Mental Health Counseling

One of the biggest advantages of earning an online master’s in mental health counseling is the ability to obtain a license to practice counseling. A bachelor’s degree does not provide this. Additional advantages include those detailed below.

  1. Furthering your career

    Obtaining a master’s degree in mental health counseling online allows you to further your career and possibly boost your salary. It teaches the approaches and skills necessary for counseling. This degree can open pathways to specialization or simply more advanced positions in the mental healthcare field.

  2. Flexibility

    Obtaining an online master’s degree in mental health counseling gives you the flexibility to complete coursework on your timeframe and in locations that work best for you. Most also allow for local practicums/internships, so you can fit them into your schedule and maintain the professional and personal balance you want.

  3. Cost-effective

    In many cases, online students pay resident tuition rates regardless of where they live. Add to that the savings in travel and an online degree is especially cost-effective.

What You’ll Learn in an Online Mental Health Counseling Degree at the Master’s Level

Students pursuing a master’s in mental health counseling can expect to learn about substance abuse, human development, human personalities, abnormal psychology, group counseling, trauma and suicide, assessment and testing, ethics, and more. They study how to identify, assess, and counsel individuals from multiple populations and backgrounds. Students also learn prevention methods, treatment, and program management options. Many courses also cover a basic understanding of psychopharmacology and how it affects mental health in patients.

  • Substance Abuse and Addictions

    This course teaches students to examine and diagnose multiple substance addictions in varying populations. They learn about addictive behavior, the effects of various drugs, and therapeutic and counseling treatment options. Some courses even cover a patient’s addiction effects on family members.

  • Counseling Families and Couples

    Students in this course review basic family system dynamics, theories, and techniques. The course covers theoretical foundations and ethical and legal issues regarding the family. Some schools offer specific marriage or parenting classes to meet the specific needs of clientele.

  • Crisis, Trauma, and Suicide

    This course is an introduction to the concepts, theories, and principles of crisis management. Students learn modern techniques of crisis management within the community, family, school, and individual settings as well as the resolution and prevention of such problems.

  • Counseling Skills

    This course introduces the skills, techniques, and processes for establishing a basic counseling relationship. Students learn the necessary attitudes and skills of an effective counselor and how those help clients. They also learn the process of helping the individuals.

  • Social and Cultural Counseling

    This course presents the cultural context of the counseling relationship and how factors and concerns such as culture, ethnicity, age, gender, socioeconomic status, gender orientation, religious values, and other characteristics affect individuals.

Specialization Options in Online Mental Health Counseling Programs

Most master’s in mental health counseling programs allow you to choose a concentration or specialization. Different schools offer different concentrations. Below are five different concentrations to give an idea of the options available.

  • Addiction Counseling

    Addiction counseling assesses a client’s willingness to change. Once this is established, a counselor helps identify triggers and how to avoid them. This concentration focuses on creating action plans, handling potential relapses, and repairing family relationships.

  • Rehabilitation Counseling

    Rehabilitation counseling involves work with clients disabled by an accident or disease. Counselors help handle emotional issues, provide specialized career assistance, and more. They help clients find emotional support and new ways to be productive. Students in this course can expect to gain a lot of hands-on experience.

  • Mental Health and Wellness Counseling

    Mental health and wellness counseling involves helping with emotional wellness struggles. Students learn different theories and practices and how they are effective. Mental health and wellness counselors guide individuals to their strengths and suggest coping methods for when troubling times arise.

  • Marriage and Family Counseling

    When problems occur, many families seek counseling to repair relationships. A marriage and family counselor facilitates and guides individuals to improved communication. This concentration teaches students to stay objective and to be sensitive to all sides of a situation while teaching clients how to communicate.

  • Career Counseling

    Career counseling is one of the more popular concentrations. Career counselors work in schools, businesses, and community agencies. Students are prepared to explore client’s aptitudes and interests and to help match them to the perfect work environment. A career counselor is responsible for helping throughout or during any part of a job search process.

Accreditation for Online Mental Health Counseling Degrees

Appropriate accreditation is an essential element to consider when choosing an online master’s degree program in mental health counseling. You can usually find which accreditations a school has on its website. If you can’t find it, call and ask.

Accrediting organizations for mental health counseling programs include the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC). Others like the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (NCATE) and the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) are also worth exploring.

Above all when it comes to accreditation for an online master’s degree in mental health counseling, make sure the school you choose is accredited by a program that will allow you to get your license.

What You Can Do with a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling

There are many job opportunities available to someone with a master’s degree in mental health counseling. These include being a counselor for a clinic, an on-staff therapist for a police station, a school counselor, or a counselor in private practice. Some of the top careers for those with a master’s degree in mental health counseling are detailed below.

Rehabilitation Counselor

Whether a person has a physical, mental, or emotional disability, they need creative solutions. That is where a rehabilitation counselor comes in. Rehabilitation counselors work in a variety of community and state facilities helping the disabled live better lives.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$23,820

$35,950

$63,790

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Mental Health CounselorActuary

Mental health counselors focus on helping individuals, groups, and families with mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, OCD, eating disorders, and personality disorders. Mental health counselors typically practice cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, humanistic theory, or a combination of these.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$29,520

$46,240

$76,080

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

School Counselor

Many students have more needs than teachers can meet, which is where a school counselor comes in. School counselors help individuals and small groups work through anxiety, bullying, low academic performances, and any problems students may be having at home.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$34,380

$57,040

$96,090

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Marriage and Family Counselor

Marriage and family counselors help with issues like depression and substance abuse, but they do so within the family unit. These counselors also address relationship issues like domestic violence, marital conflicts, infertility, and parenting teenagers.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$32,070

$49,610

$87,770

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Substance Abuse Counselor

Substance abuse counselors diagnose and assess substance problems and addictions. They customize treatment plans for recovering clients and help them during a crisis or relapse. These counselors also help clients overcome self-doubt and denial, so they can achieve a full recovery.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$29,520

$46,240

$76,080

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Costs and Financial Aid for Online Master’s Degrees in Mental Health Counseling

Earning a master’s degree in mental health counseling requires significant monetary commitment. Fortunately, many schools offer scholarships, work-study programs, fellowships, and governmental grants. Employer tuition assistance might also be available through an individual’s workplace. When considering a school, check its financial aid options to help in your decision.

What Your Online Master’s in Mathematics Might Cost

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Est. Total Tuition Cost

60

$770

$46,200

60

$1,867

$112,020

60

$882

$52,920

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Mental Health Counseling Master’s Degrees

What are the admissions requirements for an online master’s in mental health counseling?

Each school has a slightly different admission process, but there are many requirements that all schools have in common. Common elements typically include the following.

  • Transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Minimum GPA
  • Work experience

How long will it take to finish my online mental health counseling degree?

A master’s degree in mental health counseling typically takes two years of full-time coursework to complete. Part-time will take longer. A master’s in mental health counseling degree usually requires 60 credits, but there are also practicums and internships to consider. Also, if you’re attending online, not every course is offered during every part of the year. When considering which school to attend, check their timelines and requirements.

Can I earn a master’s in mental health counseling 100% online or do I need to visit campus?

This depends on the school. Some schools offer degrees completely online, while others offer a hybrid of online and on-campus classes. Some schools even offer online classes but require campus visits at the beginning of every semester. Check with the individual schools to find out for sure.