Best Online Bachelor’s of Counseling Degree Programs for 2023

BEST ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN COUNSELING

Find top-ranked online bachelor’s in counseling degree programs to prepare students with patience, compassion, and the desire to help others to become professional counselors.

Key Takeaways

  • Counseling is an important discipline that requires professionals to be patient and active listeners and communicators.
  • Undergraduate counseling students gain fundamental knowledge of the discipline, and learn research strategies that qualify them for administrative work.
  • While a bachelor’s program in counseling gives your career a headstart, a master’s degree is required to become a licensed professional counselor.

Top 10 Online Bachelor's in Counseling Degrees

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  1. University of Cincinnati
  2. Regent University
  3. Lipscomb University
  4. Faulkner University
  5. Methodist University
  6. Southwestern Assemblies of God University
  7. Peru State College
  8. East Central University
  9. Paine College
  10. Colorado Christian University
  1. Columbia College 99%
  2. University of Cincinnati 85%
  3. Southwestern Assemblies of God University 85%
  4. Methodist University 79%
  5. Arizona Christian University 76%
  6. Bay Path University 75%
  7. Lipscomb University 74%
  8. Faulkner University 65%
  9. East Central University 65%
  10. Toccoa Falls College 62%
  1. Peru State College 20 to 1
  2. University of Cincinnati 19 to 1
  3. Regent University 19 to 1
  4. Southwestern Assemblies of God University 18 to 1
  5. East Central University 18 to 1
  6. Union College, Kentucky 17 to 1
  7. Toccoa Falls College 16 to 1
  8. Lindsey Wilson College 16 to 1
  9. Colorado Christian University 15 to 1
  10. Lipscomb University 14 to 1
  1. Methodist University $36,960
  2. Bay Path University $35,781
  3. Lipscomb University $35,752
  4. Arizona Christian University $30,624
  5. Union College, Kentucky $28,889
  6. Lindsey Wilson College $25,718
  7. Faulkner University $23,490
  8. Ohio Christian University $22,506
  9. Kentucky Christian University $22,130
  10. Toccoa Falls College $21,490
  1. Methodist University $38,428
  2. Bay Path University $19,235
  3. Lipscomb University $17,100
  4. Regent University $15,590
  5. Colorado Christian University $13,474
  6. University of Cincinnati $13,224
  7. Toccoa Falls College $12,240
  8. Ohio Christian University $10,416
  9. Faulkner University $10,374
  10. Lindsey Wilson College $9,548
  1. Ohio Christian University
  2. Columbia College
  3. Arizona Christian University
  4. Lindsey Wilson College
  5. Toccoa Falls College
  6. Kentucky Christian University
  7. Union College, Kentucky
  8. Bay Path University
  9. Colorado Christian University
  10. Paine College
  1. Regent University 41%
  2. Paine College 52%
  3. Union College, Kentucky 56%
  4. Kentucky Christian University 58%
  5. Toccoa Falls College 62%
  6. East Central University 65%
  7. Faulkner University 65%
  8. Lipscomb University 74%
  9. Bay Path University 75%
  10. Arizona Christian University 76%
  1. Paine College 5 to 1
  2. Ohio Christian University 8 to 1
  3. Methodist University 10 to 1
  4. Bay Path University 12 to 1
  5. Kentucky Christian University 12 to 1
  6. Arizona Christian University 12 to 1
  7. Columbia College 12 to 1
  8. Faulkner University 13 to 1
  9. Lipscomb University 14 to 1
  10. Colorado Christian University 15 to 1
  1. East Central University $5,791
  2. Peru State College $7,680
  3. University of Cincinnati $10,099
  4. Paine College $14,596
  5. Southwestern Assemblies of God University $17,404
  6. Colorado Christian University $17,476
  7. Regent University $18,820
  8. Columbia College $20,880
  9. Toccoa Falls College $21,490
  10. Kentucky Christian University $22,130
  1. East Central University $4,402
  2. Kentucky Christian University $4,950
  3. Southwestern Assemblies of God University $7,650
  4. Union College, Kentucky $8,160
  5. Peru State College $9,120
  6. Columbia College $9,120
  7. Lindsey Wilson College $9,548
  8. Faulkner University $10,374
  9. Ohio Christian University $10,416
  10. Toccoa Falls College $12,240

Featured Programs

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Exploring Counseling As A Degree and Career Path

If you have a desire to help people overcome life’s challenges and hopefully improve their lives, consider a bachelor’s degree in counseling. Graduates of online bachelor’s in counseling can join the workforce as social workers, abuse counselors, probation officers, and community service managers.

For others, a degree in counseling is a pathway to earning a graduate degree and licensure as a family and marriage therapist, school counselor, or mental health counselor.

There is a constant high demand for professionals in this area. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2020 and 2030, the demand for community service managers will grow by 12%, and a 22% demand for substance abuse counselors.

Counseling Degree Career Paths

  • Substance Abuse Counselor: Also called addiction counselors, substance abuse counselors handle and care for people who are struggling with addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, and gambling. These professionals also help individuals with eating disorders and other common behavioral issues.
  • Counselors develop individualized treatment plans that teach their clients effective coping methods and guide them in discovering the underlying triggers of their addictions. Note that counseling degree professionals who plan to go into private practice must have a master’s degree and a license.

  • Social and Community Service Manager:  These managers supervise community programs that support groups and individuals. They serve a very diverse group of people, including veterans, children, and people who are dealing with specific challenges like hunger, homelessness, or substance abuse.
  • Other duties include hiring and supervising employees, creating and managing programs, and assessing these programs for efficiency. Although most of these roles only require a bachelor’s in counseling, some positions require a master’s degree.

  • Probation Officer: Probation officers assist and support people who are under probation. They make and implement rehabilitation plans, provide supervision and resources, and regularly check progress. These professionals work closely with courts, law enforcement, and social service agencies.
  • Probation officers can also provide other services like support for people struggling with addictions, or career training. In most jurisdictions, probation officers should have completed professional training at a state police academy.

  • Career Counselor: Career counselors are trained and knowledgeable in helping people identify possible career options and qualifications. By assessing education and training and using aptitude evaluations, career counselors can help people find suitable jobs. These professionals are often seen working at colleges, social service offices, staffing agencies, or private practice.

Online Bachelor’s in Counseling: What to Expect

Students who complete counseling programs need strong communication skills, empathy, and patience. Online counseling programs take 3-4 years, and 120-130 credits of full-time study to complete. While many schools strongly focus on the online bachelor’s program, there are also institutions that offer a combination of bachelor’s and master’s in counseling, allowing students to earn these degrees in just 5 years.

Concentrations of the Online Bachelor’s in Counseling:

  • Addiction
  • Mental Health
  • Human Services
  • Child and Adolescent Development
  • Christian Counseling

Frequently Asked Questions About Counseling Degrees

A bachelor’s degree in counseling is an excellent program for those with patience, compassion, and the desire to help others.

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Whether students choose to earn their bachelor’s in counseling online or on campus, they can expect to take courses in psychology, sociology, human development, and psychotherapy.

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Earning a bachelor’s in counseling requires between 120-129 credits, which most students complete in four to five years.

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Though most counseling-related positions require a master’s degree in counseling and a few years of supervised clinical work, students with an undergraduate degree in counseling can gain experience as research or administrative assistants to psychologists. Those who earn their bachelor’s degree in counseling, however, typically go on to choose a specialty and earn their master’s.

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Best Online Bachelor's in Counseling Degree Programs
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How We Rank the Best Online Bachelor of Counseling Programs

What’s in an online bachelor’s degree in counseling program and when can it be considered an “excellent” option for students? The answer lies in, among other things, the comprehensiveness of the coursework!

Excellent coursework allows students pursuing mental health counseling and similar other types of counseling concentrations to obtain the counseling skills and academic knowledge of the program to prepare them for a graduate degree or entry-level practice.

Professional counselors make up the faculty and teaching staff of the online counseling degree programs on our list. With experienced teachers, students learn only from the best!

The online programs that we’ve listed here are also regionally accredited, which means they are compliant with academic standards and offer students a superior learning environment and experience.

Median Salaries of Similar Careers in the U.S.

The following graph depicts the average salaries of similar occupations to Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors in the U.S.

Source: U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS

Annual Salary
44740Rehabilitation Counselors
49730Counselors, All Other
53490Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
59660Marriage and Family Therapists
63090Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors
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Best Online Bachelor’s in Counseling Degree Programs

  1. #1

    University of Cincinnati

    Cincinnati , OH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    34K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1225/26

    Online Degrees

    BS in Substance Abuse Counseling
    • Required Credits: 60-120
    • Completion time: 2-4 years
    • Format: Online
  2. #5

    Regent University

    Virginia Beach , VA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $19K

    Acceptance

    41%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1080/25

    Online Degrees

    BS in Psychology-Clinical And Counseling
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion time: 4 years
    • Format: Online
  3. #7

    Lindsey Wilson College

    Columbia , KY

    Tuition + fees

    $26K

    Graduation

    40%

    Student body

    3K

    Online Degrees

    BS in Human Services And Counseling
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion time: 4 years
    • Format: Online
  4. #11

    Union College, Kentucky

    Barbourville , KY

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    37%

    Student body

    1K

    Online Degrees

    BS in Substance Abuse Counseling
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion time: 4 years
    • Format: Online
  5. Tuition + fees

    $22K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    841/18

    Online Degrees

    BS in Counseling Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  6. #16

    Methodist University

    Fayetteville , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    37%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/20

    Online Degrees

    BS in Psychology

    Concentrations

    • Counseling/Clinical Psychology
    • Human Performance Psychology
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion time: 3.5-4.5 years
    • Format: Online
  7. #17

    Paine College

    Augusta , GA

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    52%

    Graduation

    8%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    876/17

    Online Degrees

    BA in Social Science

    Concentrations

    • Psychology - Counseling
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion time: 48 months
    • Format: Online
  8. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1028/19

    Online Degrees

    BA in Behavioral Health

    Concentrations

    • Counseling
    • Coaching
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Family Studies

    Concentrations

    • Marriage and Family Practicum
    • Family Counseling
    • Human Sexuality
    • Psychology of Marriage
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
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Online Counseling Programs Looking for You

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Online Degree Frequently Asked Questions

If this is your first time taking an online course, the experience may require a time of adjustment. Although you’ll typically learn the same material and take the same exams as your on-campus peers, going online will require greater independence and responsibility than going in person. You’ll be accountable for your own time management, for harnessing the online educational technology that you’ll need to use, and for completing the course requirements, such as listening to lectures, learning lessons, reading texts, and handing in assignments. This means you’ll need to create a suitable workspace for yourself, maintain a realistic schedule, and take the initiative in building relationships with your instructors and classmates. With online college, your goal is to find a balance between independence and engagement.

No. The only part of online education that’s easier than campus-based education is ease of access: all you need is a computer and an internet connection for online education. But even this seeming advantage of online education can be misleading: what’s easier, studying online with your computer and internet connection from your home where you need to cook, clean, pay rent, and maintain a job? Or studying on campus in a dorm where all your living needs are handled by the school, and college staff are there to help you every step of the way?

If you take the commute to campus out of the equation, campus-based education is easier. All the support structures available on campus for students, especially with real people to help you in person, are not there online. The demands on you as an online student will largely be the same as for your campus-based counterpart, but without the same helps.

In general, your online courses will present the same material and test you in the same way as traditional in-person courses. In many cases, you’ll even have the same instructors as your on-campus counterparts. In fact, if you are adjusting to the experience of independent learning with remote educational technology for the first time, online college may be considerably more challenging than campus-based college. For a few insights on how to manage this new online experience, check out our 10 Tips for Adjusting to School Online.

Accreditation is especially important when it comes to online college. This is because the online education landscape is a mix of highly-reputable non-profit institutions on the one end and less-than-reputable for-profit institutions on the other end. Accreditation gives you the power to identify the more reputable actors in online education. Accreditation is a stamp of approval from an independent accrediting agency indicating that a college or university is meeting standards of quality and credibility. School-wide accreditation falls into two major categories: regional and national accreditation. Regional accreditors generally hold jurisdiction only over schools in the states comprising their region, whereas national accreditors hold jurisdiction over schools in all states. Regional accreditation is widely regarded as a more rigorous standard of quality and credibility than national accreditation.

Attending a college or university that is not regionally accredited could limit your opportunities. For students seeking an online education, we strongly recommend that they opt for regionally accredited schools. Regional accreditation ensures eligibility for federal loans and grants, ensures your college credits can be transferred between schools, and ensures that your degree credits can be accepted if you wish to earn an advanced degree. For more on this important topic, check out our What is Accreditation and Why Does It Matter? College & University Accreditation Guide.

As long as your online college degree is regionally accredited (see the previous point), you should have little difficulty transferring most of your credits or credentials to another regionally accredited undergraduate school. Every school carries its own standards and procedures for granting a transfer of credits. In many cases, you will encounter some bureaucratic haggling in which some of your credits will be transferred and others may be refused. However, provided that you have attended an online school with recognized regional accreditation, you should be in good shape in transferring your credits earned online.

In most cases, as long you graduate from a well-regarded, regionally-accredited online college, prospective employers won’t look sideways at your degree. In fact, unless you attend an exclusively online college or university, there will likely be no specific indicator on your degree, transcript, or resumé differentiating your school from its brick-and-mortar counterpart. This means that your employer will likely only differentiate between an online and in-person degree if you mention this distinction.

Some employers may express the concern that because you did your degree online, you may need to transition from an online education experience to in-person workplace experience. But in an age of Covid, that concern seems much diminished. The fact is that much employment these days is remote. And collaboration increasingly happens online over Zoom. Many employers will therefore view your online degree as evidence of valuable 21st century professional skills such as independence, self-motivation, time management, and tech savvy.

If you are a student who thrives on the dynamic energy of in-person discussion, who requires the physical surroundings of a classroom to feel engaged, or who considers the social aspects of education to be of equal importance to the actual content of your courses, online education will be less than ideal for you (though depending on your circumstances, it may also be the only viable option).

While there is much in traditional campus-based education that can be substituted or simulated through the online medium, some students may find that there is nothing that can replace the conversation, collaboration, and motivation that occur in an actual in-person classroom setting. As you transition to online education, one of the biggest challenges you will likely face in getting the most out of your online classes is overcoming this difference between “real reality” and “virtual reality.” Fortunately, we’ve got some great Tips for Online Education Beginners.

The advantages of online classes are many. Above all, online courses give you the freedom and flexibility to attend class from anywhere that works for you, whether you’re at home, in a coffee shop, or in a quiet conference room at work. In many cases, you’ll also enjoy the convenience of asynchronous learning opportunities-educational experiences that you can complete at your own pace and on your own schedule. This may include pre-taped lectures, ongoing chat-board discussions, and 24/7 access to digital materials. And of course, just as there are some learners who prefer the energy of a live classroom, there are those who learn best when working in their own personal space, free from distractions. If this sounds like you, you might find the solitude of online learning to be a major advantage.

Resources for Online College-Bound Students

Whether you’re just getting started on your college search, you’re looking for survival tips on your way to a bachelor’s degree, or you’re preparing for the transition into grad school, we’ve got guides, how to’s and tons of other valuable resources to keep you moving forward in your educational journey.