Interested in a career in counseling? We ranked the 20 fastest online bachelor’s degree programs for you.
If you want to make a profound, positive impact on individuals and their families, even communities, then you may wish to consider a career in counseling. And one of the fastest ways to start your career as a Counselor is with an accelerated Bachelor’s of Counseling.
These accelerated programs allow you to enter the job market with a degree in less than the standard four years.
Sometimes these programs offer a time-to-graduate of just two years, and sometimes even less!
After earning an online bachelor’s in counseling degree, you will have the professional knowledge and skills in aiding people and groups in dealing with difficult life situations.
These can include mental health issues like depression and anxiety, as well as natural disasters, deaths of loved ones, divorce, and school or career setbacks.
Many counselors also provide useful advice for addicts dealing with substance abuse, such as drugs and alcohol, which will enable them to lead healthy lives.
Counselors can also work with children and teenagers as well as adults, even the elderly, in their commitment toward helping others lead better lives and become the better versions of themselves.
Bachelor’s degrees in in counseling programs are offered in one of two formats, namely:
Whichever counseling degree format is chosen, the credits earned after completion of the program can be transferred to a graduate program in counseling and other related educational programs. In this regard, prospective students must verify the national or regional accreditation and transfer agreements of the college or university offering the online counseling programs. Accreditation isn’t just about quality of education but also about transfer of credits, availability of state and federal financial aid, and other crucial aspects.
Furthermore, many of the online programs featured here aren’t “counseling degrees” per se. Instead, these degree programs allow their students to prepare for counseling careers through rigorous counseling-centric coursework and internship. Some are also accepted as academic credentials for certification exams in the counseling profession, thus, their inclusion. Examples include bachelor’s degrees in psychology and behavioral health.
Many programs also offer counseling concentrations, usually as part of a bachelor’s degree in psychology, but there are also standalone counseling programs.
Your choice in a counseling concentration must be carefully considered because it will affect your professional practice including your certification, clientele, and career trajectory.
Key Point: Most of these bachelor’s degrees in counseling concentrations are part of the statutory or regulatory requirements in securing professional certifications in counseling.
While both on-campus and online accelerated counseling degree programs usually have the same admission requirements, the latter tend to be more selective due to the fast-paced coursework.
Prospective counseling students will likely work harder and smarter to earn the counseling degree, oftentimes the entire academic year including summer terms.
Online accelerated counseling degree programs usually accept transfer students. The credits earned from prior college coursework, AP and CLEP courses, military training and experience, and work or life experiences can be transferred into a bachelor’s degree in counseling program. The more credits transferred, the faster the undergraduate counseling degree can be earned.
While the admission requirements vary, the general requirements include:
Key Point: Due to the challenging coursework of accelerated bachelor’s degree in counseling programs, prospective students may also be required to pass a series of interviews to determine their suitability.
The typical bachelor’s of counseling degree programs require completion of 120 to 180 credits depending on their academic calendar (semester or quarter, respectively).
The number of credits include transfer credits with programs also requiring a specific number of credits earned in the college or university (i.e., credit residency requirement).
The credits earned in an accredited online bachelor’s in counseling degree program can be transferred into a master’s degree in counseling and other related programs, too.
Students in online accelerated counseling degree programs can earn the academic credential in two to four years depending on their transfer credits and course load per semester or quarter.
Instead of the usual 1-2 courses every term, students may be required to take 2-3 courses per term to earn the counseling degree in three years or less. Summer term matriculation is also common.
While an undergraduate counseling degree will open opportunities in counseling careers, meaningful career advancement comes with continuing education (e.g., an advanced degree) and professional certifications.
In most professional certifications, a master’s degree is a must, as well as passing a certification exam and complying with other certification requirements.
For aspiring mental health counselors, the NBCC-National Board for Certified Counselors has two professional credentials—the National Certified Counselor and the Clinical Mental Health Counselor.
Each one has a specific certification exam—National Counselor Examination and National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examinations, respectively.
Other specialty counseling professional certifications include:
Key Point: State licensure is different from certification, but most states require appropriate board certification as part of state licensure.
A few examples include:
Key Point: Check with your state about licensure requirements including continuing education credits.
Both online and on-campus undergraduate counseling degree programs consist of general education courses, as well as major and concentration courses, and electives.
The concentration courses will differ depending on the concentration, such as the addiction counseling concentration focusing more on substance abuse and rehabilitation methods.
Most counseling programs, nonetheless, provide online students with a comprehensive overview of counseling as a profession. The online courses can then include discussions about its history and contemporary issues, principles and practices, and research methods. The common course titles include:
Key Point: Some online bachelors in counseling degree programs may have an internship or practicum component, which may be a virtual or remote arrangement.
Students will develop professional counseling skills in an accelerated counseling degree program. The crucial counseling skills include:
Since both standard and accelerated counseling degree programs have the same credits and courses, earning a counseling degree in either program is accepted.
In fact, employers aren’t likely to ask whether your counseling degree was earned on-campus or online or in a standard or accelerated program! Your diploma and official transcripts won’t explicitly state these aspects either.
Online bachelor’s in counseling degree programs use a learning management system (LMS), which can be a web-based technology or a software app, with features for planning, implementing, and evaluating the learning process of online students.
The user interface of an LMS, such as Canvas, Blackboard, and Moodle, can be operated by students, instructors, and administrators.
The online learning experience in earning an online counseling degree can include a mix of asynchronous and synchronous online classes, as well as weekly assignments, live sessions, and discussion boards. Online students must keep up with the coursework through regular log-ins and other methods.
Earning an online bachelor’s degree in counseling can cost between $38,000 and $57,000 with per-credit costs ranging from $315 to $445, on average. But online students must also consider other fees that on-campus students may not be required to pay, such as a technology fee.
Residency status may also affect the total cost of attendance for online students in accelerated counseling degree programs. In some cases, in-state and out-of-state students may pay the same tuition and other fees. Eligibility for financial aid may also differ between on-campus and online students.
The rich opportunities in counseling careers continue to attract individuals to online counseling programs, even the demanding accelerated programs with their condensed coursework. Projected employment growth for behavioral disorder, mental health, and substance abuse counselors is 22%!
The most popular counseling careers for professionals with the appropriate academic credentials and professional certifications and licensures are as follows:
In choosing our list of the 20 fastest online bachelor in counseling degree programs, we considered various criteria.
Specifcally, we looked for programs accredited by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC) and Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) are among the primary accreditation agencies for counseling programs.
Key Point: When choosing the best online undergraduate counseling program for yourself, you may also want to consider the ease of transition into a graduate program, particularly if you want to be a certified and licensed counseling professional.
Students of University of Cincinnati Online programs agree that its inclusive learning environment enables them to promote diversity in education. In fact, 27% of UC Online’s graduates are first-generation college students, an honor that the widely-recognized national university takes pride in.
The BS in Substance Abuse Counseling program follows the UC tradition of research-oriented academics with an emphasis on real-world applications. Students prepare to become qualified clinicians with intensive coursework in substance abuse disorders and counseling methods, pharmacology, and strategies for recovery and rehabilitation.
With its pioneering spirit, the University of Cincinnati was the first university with a cooperative education model. The medical college with its biomedical research labs and teaching hospital is at the forefront of life-changing research, such as in diphenhydramine and a live polio vaccine.
UC is great for students who:
Love the research component of higher education and look forward to research opportunities
UC might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer a more rural campus
Nestled in picturesque Vermillion, the University of South Dakota boasts of numerous academic programs, state-of-the-art facilities, and the State’s only medical and law school. But it isn’t all serious stuff here as USD also hosts the National Music Museum and various clubs and organizations for its students.
The NASAC-accredited BS in Addiction Counseling and Prevention program prepares students for the certification exam administered by South Dakota’s Board of Addiction and Prevention Professionals (SDBAPP). Students develop their knowledge and skills through an extensive curriculum covering the etiology, nature, and prevention and treatment of substance abuse. Communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills development is also emphasized in the bachelor’s in counseling program.
The counseling online program offers two specializations—Treatment and Prevention.
With an expansive 274-acre campus, USD offers a blend of traditional and modern buildings, such as the Old Main and the Lee Medicine & Science Building, respectively. Both Vermillion and USD have also grown in population, size, and progress, a sign of their close relationship.
USD is great for students who:
Prefer a rural campus but also like a wide range of academic disciplines that a city-based university offers
USD might not be the best fit for students who:
Like the big city, big campus vibe
ASU Online offers over 300 top-ranked bachelor’s degree programs in diverse disciplines, from business to science and technology. Online students thrive with the excellent student support services, the tutelage of its award-winning faculty, and the up-to-date learning experiences.
The BS in Counseling and Applied Psychological Science program consists of 40 classes with each class completed in an accelerated format of 7.5 weeks. Students receive foundational knowledge in the theories of counseling, addiction, developmental psychology, and trauma. Students also complete a hands-on capstone experience for experiential learning purposes.
Innovation is in ASU’s DNA, and it has been proven multiple times via third-party awards and research discoveries. Entrepreneurship is also in its blood, as manifested by partnerships like the Starbucks’ employee program. Indeed, ASU has come a long way from being known primarily as a party school!
ASU is great for students who:
Value innovation, research and development, and academic excellence in their college journey
ASU might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer a party school
Southern New Hampshire University continues to reinvent its programs to fit the changing needs of learners, employers, and employees. Named as among the best regional universities, cited for its innovative approach, and recognized for the excellence of its distance learning programs, SNHU guarantees the best student experiences!
Students of its BA in Human Services with a Concentration in Substance Abuse program agree! In addition to learning the theories of addiction counseling, students also get experiential learning opportunities. Graduates can sit for drug and alcohol counseling certification exams, too.
SNHU is known for its active community involvement and civic engagement with numerous partnerships with social service agencies and nonprofit organizations. Its employees also contribute to their communities via its paid Volunteer Time Off (VTO) program.
SNHU is great for students who:
Love a large student body for its rich networking opportunities
SNHU might not be the best fit for students who:
Like a smaller student body where familiarity and camaraderie underline relationships
With its singular focus on liberal arts, Midwestern State University is the only Texas university with a membership in the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC). Students here love the 225-acre campus with its residential vibe, expansive playing fields, and proximity to downtown.
Students in the BS in Substance Abuse Counseling program prepare for careers as licensed chemical dependency counselors in mental health clinics, hospitals, and substance abuse facilities. The bachelor’s in counseling program has a flexible course delivery suitable for adult learners and working professionals.
Earning a degree at MSU means recouping your cost of college education sooner (i.e., high ROI). Enjoying the college journey is also fun with the campus’ expansive areas, amazing artworks, and abundant socialization opportunities.
MSU is great for students who:
Benefit from a liberal arts-centric education while also learning the technical skills appropriate for their field
MSU might not be the best fit for students who:
Like a more citified campus vibe with a large student body
Among the largest Christian universities globally, Liberty University takes pride in its large student body, too, both on-campus and online. Note that as a conservative Christian school, undergraduates are usually required to complete Bible studies classes and follow the Liberty Way.
Students in its BS in Bible—Christian Counseling program are interested in a ministry career with an emphasis on Christian counseling methods. The bachelor’s degree program has asynchronous courses in biblical theology, Christian counseling fundamentals, and stories of prophets.
Online students are welcome to explore the campus and use its facilities, even participate in its wide range of events throughout the school year. Concerts, open mic nights, movies are open for all.
Liberty University is great for students who:
Like the convenience of online programs while also feeling welcome on campus
Liberty University might not be the best fit for students who:
Dislike being told about what to do (and not to do) about their lifestyle and faith
The 70-acre campus of Regent University features neo-Georgian architecture and large spaces for socialization and solitude. Such is its striking beauty that it’s a consistent presence in lists of the South’s most beautiful campuses! Of course, its faculty members are top-notch as well, with many being Yale, Harvard, and Oxford graduates.
The BS in Psychology—Clinical & Counseling Psychology program consists of rigorous coursework in counseling skills, case management, group facilitation, and marriage and family therapy counseling. Every course is taught with a Christian worldview and with emphasis on decision-making and problem-solving skills. The bachelor’s degree prepares students for graduate studies.
Students enjoy the best of their academics and extracurriculars with over 230 annual campus events, sports programs, and student organizations. Off-campus attractions are within easy distance, too, with the likes of dynamic city establishments and resort beaches available.
Regent University is great for students who:
Like a large campus with a diverse student body, as well as a mix of on-campus and off-campus recreational opportunities
Regent University might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer a more secular education with little to no emphasis on Christian values
Diversity and a welcoming atmosphere are what makes Old Dominion University Global among the best online universities in the United States! More than one-third of its students are from underrepresented ethic groups while more than a quarter of faculty members belong to minority groups. The diversity of cultures make for a caring online community at ODU Global!
The BS in Human Services program accepts students with prior college coursework (i.e., degree completion) and freshman students without college college credits. Earning the bachelor’s degree prepares students for entry-level counseling and human services positions. Students complete a supervised internship or submit a work-related human services portfolio. Graduates are eligible to sit for certification exams in Virginia.
Old Dominion isn’t just about academic excellence! Students develop their real-world skills and work toward their personal development through fine art exhibitions, student organizations, and leadership opportunities.
ODU is great for students who:
Thrive in an expansive campus with a large and diverse student body
ODU might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer a small campus community
Intellect anchored on service and character sums up the college journey at Faulkner University. With such a philosophy, the university’s educator preparation programs have become the best in Alabama! Such a philosophy has also influenced its bachelor’s degree programs in other fields of study.
Among these programs is the BS in Counseling Psychology program, which consists of general education, core, and elective courses that strengthen students’ counseling skills. Courses cover developmental psychology, research methods, and behavioral statistics, as well as an internship and a capstone research project. s
The ever-expanding campus of Faulkner University now includes an adjacent 11-acre shopping center, which is also the location of the College of Health Sciences.
Faulkner University is great for students who:
Like a small university that offers plenty of extracurricular s
Faulkner University might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer a secular college education
Despite its Christian orientation, Grand Canyon University is a welcoming institution with a diverse student population. Located in Phoenix, GCU encourages its students to take advantage of the networking, extracurricular, and employment opportunities the city has to offer.
The BS in Counseling—Emphasis in Addiction, Chemical Dependency, and Substance Abuse program prepares students for challenging careers in counseling. Students learn about theories and practices of substance abuse disorders and their appropriate counseling. The bachelor’s degree in substance abuse counseling features accelerated 7-week courses in psychopharmacology, relapse prevention, and multicultural counseling, among others.
GCU’s campus expansions have made it even more student-friendly with new classrooms, athletic facilities, and laboratories. Students also enjoy their college life with GCU’s numerous clubs and organizations, annual events, and sports events.
GCU is great for students who:
Like an ever-expanding campus with plenty of co-curricular and extracurricular opportunities
GCU might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer a small campus community
Among the best regional college institutions in the Midwest, Ottawa University is affiliated with both the American Baptist Churches and the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma. Known for the prowess of its speech and debate teams, Ottawa is also a pioneer in forensic studies. Indeed, Ottawa is no stranger to odd combinations that work well!
The NASAC-accredited BS in Addiction Counseling program has an accelerated coursework that prepares students for professional counseling work. The coursework integrates the theories, research, and practices of addiction disorders and counseling that enables students to create effective treatment and prevention plans. Students seeking a bachelor’s degree in Addiction Counseling must complete supervised clinical experience.
On-campus co-curricular and extracurricular programs means boredom isn’t an issue among students! Over 30 student clubs and organizations, Greek letter societies, and honor societies, among others, welcome students to their fold. Music ensembles, sports clubs, and theater groups make for a fun college experience, too.
Ottawa University is great for students who:
Love a small campus community where students rub elbows in different settings
Ottawa University might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer a larger campus community where anonymity and notoriety can be enjoyed
The Blue Raiders of Lindsey Wilson College have won 78 individual national titles and 19 national championships! The college isn’t an inward-looking institution either, with its strong community engagement, such as the recent Safe Halloween for families.
The Bachelor in Human Services and Counseling program consists of a comprehensive curriculum with courses in community mental health counseling, substance abuse, and case management, even clinical supervision. Students must keep up with the accelerated 8-week courses.
Students prepare for productive and informed lives through a combination of excellent academics and service learning opportunities in and out of the state. Community service is a common theme in student life.
Lindsey Wilson College is great for students who:
Thrive in an environment that fosters Christian brotherhood and service along with academic and professional excellence
Lindsey Wilson College might not be the best fit for students who:
Desire a large campus community with a more secular environment
“Knowledge joined with love” is the driving philosophy behind the enduring success of Alvernia University. The bachelor’s degree programs are imbued with Franciscan values, Catholic traditions, and liberal arts-centric curriculum. While students benefit from the inclusive sense of community, academic rigor makes for a challenging college experience. Note that Alvernia is also among the best national universities designated as a doctoral university.
The accelerated BA in Addictions & Mental Health Treatment program is designed for adult learners with a strong drive to become certified alcohol and drug counselors. Courses are in the accelerated 7-week format and cover areas like treatment and prevention, case management, and counseling methods. Students complete a 12-credit field experience equivalent to 400 in-person hours.
Transformational education is what Alvernia University prides itself on. Students thrive in an inclusive and innovative learning environment where the liberal arts are valued.
Alvernia University is great for students who:
Benefit from a Catholic-based education where ethical leadership is emphasized
Alvernia University might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer a large community where secularism and professionalism are emphasized
With its robust liberal arts-centric programs, Seton Hill University guarantees its students a quality education in diverse disciplines including counseling. Many of its facilities, such as the Child Development Center and Center for Family Therapy, are also learning environments for students in its counseling programs.
The BA in Behavioral Health program prepares students for successful careers in individual and family counseling practice, particularly as behavioral health professionals. The accelerated 8-week courses enable students to gain fundamental knowledge in social work, sociology, and psychology. Students also undergo a supervised, on-site internship
Numerous accolades make Seton Hill University a powerful presence in the educational landscape of Pennsylvania! This is an Apple Distinguished School, as well as a top-ranked regional university in the North and a top school in social mobility. With its 200-acre beautiful campus, no wonder it’s a magnet for students from all walks of life.
Seton Hill is great for students who:
Like challenging coursework, a liberal arts education, and a small campus community
Seton Hill might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer a large community of learners and teachers
With its reputation for academic excellence, Notre Dame College Online attracts the best and brightest to its programs. The exceptional faculty combined with student-focused curricula contributes to the dynamic online community. Plus, the academic variety means learners from all walks of life and levels of education will find suitable programs.
The BA in Psychology program has four tracks for students to choose from—Clinical and Counseling Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Psychology as a Science, and Applied Psychology. Students are encouraged to adopt intellectual curiosity and skepticism so that they, too, can make meaningful contributions to the field.
Sitting on a picturesque rural 50-acre campus, Notre Dame College offers diverse extracurricular activities to its students. The performing arts shows include concerts, art shows and choir shows. Sports is also encouraged with numerous athletic teams and annual intramurals being present.
Notre Dame College is great for students who:
Love a liberal arts-centric education combined with technical training in a specific field
Notre Dame College might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer a large student body
The Rocky Mountain region is blessed with the presence of Colorado Christian University, among the fastest-growing universities in the country. Its tremendous growth speaks of the combination of excellent academics and student experiences that CCU offers its on-campus and online students. Innovation is also at the heart of its constant improvements in its faculty, curriculum, campus life, and facilities.
The BS in Applied Psychology with an Emphasis in Clinical Counseling program enables students to explore human nature and its theories with a robust Christian perspective. Students learn to integrate the science of human behavior with the Christian faith, all in a conducive learning environment where communication, critical thinking, and creativity are encouraged.
Aspiring elementary teachers may want to consider CCU’s top-ranked undergraduate elementary teacher preparation program where students train in the best practices in classroom management and clinical practice.
CCU is great for students who:
Like to give back to the community via service learning opportunities and global outreach programs
CCU might not be the best fit for students who:
Dislike compulsory attendance of church services as part of graduation requirements (i.e., only for undergraduate students with at least 12 credits matriculated; transfer students are exempted)
Students of Malone University aren’t required to sign a statement of faith—only the faculty and staff members are required to do so. This means a diverse student body with different religious backgrounds, from Christians to non-Christian faiths. So, come and check out the academic programs at Malone and enjoy its beautiful campus!
The accelerated BA in Psychology and MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program enable students to earn the academic credentials for professional certifications. Students in the counseling program complete 12 credit hours in the graduate component. The CACREP-accredited program has high pass rates and employment rates, too.
Building meaningful relationships with people at Malone University is possible, thanks to its wide range of networking and socialization opportunities. In the course of building personal relationships, students also challenge themselves to become better leaders.
Malone University is great for students who:
Thrive in a small community of learners and teachers where personalized attention is possible
Malone University might not be the best fit for students who:
Love a party college
If you’re looking for career advancement via a bachelor’s degree, then look no further than EKU Online! With over 50 programs in all levels of higher education offered in an online format, EKU welcomes both freshmen and transfer students. First offered in 2006, the online programs are offered in six colleges.
The BS in Psychology program prepares students for diverse careers in psychology and its related fields. Students choose from eight concentrations with the counseling-relevant options being Substance Abuse, Psychiatric Rehabilitation, and Child and Family Psychology. The accelerated 8-week terms combined with six start dates, free online tutoring, and financial aid options make it popular among adult learners.
Students love the combination of a large campus in a fairly small town with plenty of recreational options, from restaurants and bars to water activities at Lake Reba and Wilgreen Lake.
EKU is great for students who:
Prefer a large student population in a rural campus
EKU might not be the best fit for students who:
Like a small student population where familiarity rules
Known for the exceptional quality of its Environmental Health Science Program, East Central University offers more than 70 academic programs. There are five colleges/schools within ECU including the College of Education and Psychology where aspiring counselors learn the ropes in an educational setting.
The BA in Human Services Counseling program has an extensive curriculum combining theory and hands-on experience that empower students toward their success. Students choose from several concentrations, too, including Counseling, Rehabilitation, Aging, and Prevention Science. The 8-week courses cover topics in human behavior, case management, and intervention techniques.
Chickasaw Breakfast & Tribal Hymns, Tiger Geek Squad Bake Sale, and Stickball & Soup are just a few of the fun extracurriculars for students! Plus, students can boast that they went to the same college as Kevin Turner, George Nigh, Robert S. Kerr, and Tom Colbert!
ECU is great for students who:
Love a small university that offers a wide range of academic programs known for their excellent quality and affordable cost
ECU might not be the best fit for students who:
Like a party school
There’s no waste of your time, effort, and money when you pursue an academic credential at Capella University! Students gain relevant knowledge and skills that make them great employees, entrepreneurs, and leaders in their fields! Every program features a carefully crafted curriculum that enables students to apply what they learn immediately.
The BS in Psychology Pre-Counseling program consists of general education, core, and elective courses as well as three master’s degree courses. Students then get a head start on their graduate studies and, thus, save on time and money. Courses include introductions to psychotherapy and counseling, psychology of personality, and abnormal psychology.
Every program has measurable learning outcomes that allow students to compare their actual knowledge and skills against the expectations. Capella uses outcome reports, records, and student satisfaction surveys for measuring overall student success.
Capella University is great for students who:
Love the flexibility and convenience of online programs combined with reasonable tuition fees for a private institution
Capella University might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer a smaller student body