The best online bachelor’s degree in Counseling is ideal for individuals with good interpersonal communication skills who want to help others.
The American Psychological Association reports that psychology is among the most popular college and university majors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates mental health counselors with a bachelor’s degree to grow 23 percent through 2030, which is much faster than the national average.
Do you have good interpersonal communication abilities, strong people skills, and like helping others? If so, you may want to explore an undergraduate degree in psychology with an emphasis on counseling. This bachelor’s degree will prepare you for entry-level positions, working with licensed psychologists or social workers in treating patients with substance abuse and behavioral or mental health issues.
Our Method: Ranking the 15 Best Online Counseling Bachelor’s Programs
To rank the 15 Best Online Counseling Bachelor’s Programs, Best Health Degrees editors researched accredited, trusted programs. We ranked these counseling programs according to price, accreditation, reputation, and salary potential from our initial pool, using data from IPEDS and Niche, U.S. News and World Report, and other higher education rating publications.
1. Washington State University-Global Campus
Here’s a highly recognized online BS in Psychology degree with a Clinical Counseling focus. This bachelor’s degree program allows you access to several perks such as the Online Psychology Student’s Resource Room, conducting undergraduate research, and acting as a faculty assistant.
In this 120-credit hour program, students take general education courses as well as core classes in psychology. Core studies include Psychology as a Science, Introductory Psychology, Experimental Methods in Psychology, and Elementary Statistics in Psychology. As you transition to your clinical counseling focus studies, you’ll be able to take Psychology of Gender, Principles of Developmental Psychology, Clinical Community Psychology, Health Psychology, Mental Health Counseling, and others. The program offers several electives in an internship, research, testing and measurement participation, and more.
You’ll complete a Freshman application if you’re a graduating high school student. You must also provide official academic transcripts, but ACT or SAT scores are not a requirement. Students applying who are 25 years old or older, you’ll complete the Adult Freshman application, which will ask for an essay, resume, and academic transcripts.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $542-$604 per credit hour
Fast Fact: U.S. News and World Report ranks this WSU program at #8 in its Best Online Psychology Programs, and Niche considers WSU as a Best Colleges for Psychology in America
WSU-Global bachelor’s in counseling
2. Central Washington University Online
Central Washington University takes a unique approach to its BA in Psychology by offering a small plan. This program requires a minor and is best if you plan to work in social or behavioral professions. The large plan is ideal if you plan to continue for a master’s degree.
You’ll take general education courses before entering the psychology major. The minor in this program will allow you to take a class in Clinical, Counseling and Community Psychology. In addition to that class, the small plan curriculum requires 45 credit hours in classes such as Introduction to the Major, Introductory Statistics, General Psychology, Research Methods in Psychology, and minor courses. A sampling of the minor studies includes Analysis of Everyday Behavior, Theories of Personality, Developmental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience, and others. You’ll also take the Senior Assessment, which prepares graduates for the next steps toward careers as professional mental health counselors.
To begin the admission process, you’ll complete an application for online students (with a $60 fee). You also will need to provide academic transcripts with a 2.0 GPA and submit a (FAFSA) application.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $422 per credit hour
Fast Facts: CWU ranks #122 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report and Forbes rates the school in its Top Colleges
CWU bachelor’s in counseling
3. University of Cincinnati Online
Suppose your career goal is to help treat people with substance abuse issues. In that case, you’ll want to explore the online BS Substance Abuse Counseling degree from this university with one of the best online undergraduate programs in the country. This online bachelor’s in counseling program can lead to licensure in the state of Ohio, and you’ll want to check with your state’s licensing board if you live outside Ohio.
This 100% online curriculum offers a solid foundation in the field. Among the classes you can take an Introduction to Substance Use Counseling, Assessment and Diagnosis in Addictions Counseling, Ethics in Substance Use Counseling, Co-Occurring Disorders in Treatment, Advanced Cultural Competence in Substance Abuse Counseling, Group Skills in Substance Abuse Counseling, Crisis Management Skills, and much more. You’ll participate in two Internships where you’ll have real-life experiences under the guidance of a qualified preceptor. The program also allows you to study issues in pharmacology, methods to prevent relapse, and diagnostic counseling for substance abuse.
For admission consideration, you’ll need to complete an application and submit academic transcripts and ACT/SAT test scores.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $5,460/per semester
Fast Facts: UC ranks #75 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs with Niche naming it one of its Best Colleges for Psychology in America
UC online bachelor’s in counseling
4. East Central University Online
You may be able to earn your degree in two years with this online Human Services Counseling degree from this Ada, Oklahoma university, with transfer credits. ECU Online has a liberal transfer policy and accepts up to 94 hours from an accredited school.
The degree requires 124-credit hours for completion, with 44 hours of general education classes and Human Services courses. You can choose from several specializations, including Counseling. Prerequisite psychology classes include Fundamentals in Counseling, Human Behavior and Social Environment, Interviewing Techniques, and a Human Services Counseling Internship. The counseling concentration offers Group Processes and Practices, Counseling Services, Employment and Placement Techniques, and Intervention Processes and Techniques.
You’ll apply for admission, which will require academic transcripts. You may be asked to provide letters of recommendation, a resume, ACT/SAT test scores, a personal statement, and/or proof of licensure.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $264/per credit hour
Fast Facts: ECU is rated at #50-#66 by U.S. News and World Report’s Top Public Schools as well as a Top Public School ranking by Niche
East Central University online bachelor’s in counseling
5. University of South Dakota
If your interests lie in helping people with addictions, you’ll want to look at the online Bachelor of Science in Addiction Counseling and Prevention from USD. The program holds accreditation by National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC).
The 120-credit curriculum leads to certification and allows you to choose a specialization in either counseling or prevention. You’ll take 45 hours in the major and required classes such as Ethical and Legal Issues in the Addiction Profession, Study of Alcohol Use and Addiction, Fundamental Skills of Group Counseling for Addiction, Addictive Family Systems and Family Counseling, as well as a supervised practicum in group and individual addiction counseling. You’ll also complete an Internship. The department offers a large selection of electives in addiction and other topics.
You can apply for this program through either the USD Application for Admission or the Common Application (with a $20 processing fee). Admission requirements include ACT/SAT scores and academic transcripts.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $355/per credit hour
Fast Facts: Niche considers USD one of its Top Public Universities in America as well as one of U.S. News and World Report’s Top Public Schools as well
University of South Dakota online bachelor’s in counseling
6. Saint Leo University
You can earn a BA in Psychology-Clinical Counseling degree online from this Florida university. This degree can help you enter the counseling profession as a researcher, caseworker, mental health counselor, crisis intervention counselor, and more.
The core courses require classes in Introduction to Psychology, Foundation of Psychology Seminar, Research Methods, and a seminar in Current Issues in Psychology. You’ll be able to take classes in the counseling specialization in Interviewing and Counseling Skills, Personality Theory, and Abnormal Psychology. Elective courses are available in Psychological Tests and Measures, Social and Cultural Foundations of Behavior, Introduction to Community Counseling and Mental Health, an Internship Seminar, Counseling Principles and Practices, and others. This bachelor’s degree requires 120-credit hours for completion, including general education courses and psychology major classes.
Online admission requires the completion of an application. Additionally, you need academic transcripts from all schools you’ve attended. You may be able to receive academic credit for any professional training or work experience, and you’ll want to discuss this with an Admission Advisor.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $380 per credit hour
Fast Facts: Saint Leo University opened in 1889 by order of Saint Benedict of Florida and is one of Money Magazine’s Best Colleges
Saint Leo University online bachelor’s in counseling
7. Regent University
This Virginia Beach school is a Christian university and awards an online, 120-credit hour BS in Psychology with a concentration in Clinical & Counseling Psychology.
You’ll take general education classes (Biblical Worldview, Communication, English, etc.) along with the psychology core requirements in this curriculum. Some of those classes involve studies in Developmental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Research Methods, Introduction to Psychology, Theories of Personality, and others. A Capstone Seminar in Ethics and Professional Identity is part of the core requirements. Among the concentration are courses in Counseling Skills, Case Management, Treatment Planning, Crisis Intervention, and also Survey of Psychological Assessments. This program will prepare you for numerous career options and post-graduate studies in the field.
You’ll apply to begin the steps to admission. Be prepared to submit unofficial academic transcripts and a copy of your government-issued ID (driver’s license or military ID).
Estimated Tuition Cost: $395-$450/per credit hour
Fast Facts: Regent University is #277 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report and is one of Niche’s Online Colleges in America
Regent University bachelor’s in counseling
8. Faulkner University
Faulkner University is a private Christian college in Alabama. It has an online BS in Counseling Psychology. This program prepares you to enter a career in addiction or family counseling, healthcare systems and hospitals, and also social work.
Comprised of general education coursework in Biblical Studies, math, history, English, etc., the degree has core requirements in the study of psychology. In addition, you’ll take classes in Introduction to Psychology, seminars in Special Topics in Psychology, Foundations in Psychology, Readings in Psychology, Research Methods, Developmental Psychology, Social Psychology, and an Internship and Capstone Research Project. The counseling concentration offers classes in Counseling Practice, Professional Counseling Theories, Abnormal Psychology, and Theories of Personality. Electives will round out your studies.
You must be a high school graduate, have ACT or SAT test scores, provide official academic transcripts for admission, and submit an application.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $740 per credit hour
Fast Facts: Founded in 1942, Faulkner University is #104-137 in the Regional Universities South category of U.S. News and World Report
Faulkner University bachelor’s in counseling
9. Coker University
This private university in Hartsville, South Carolina, is student-focused and awards an online BA in Psychology with a Counseling concentration. The school’s small size with approximately 1,000 students, allows for a low teacher-student ratio.
This degree’s curriculum includes general education studies and core psychology coursework, as shown in the school’s catalog. You’ll take classes in General Psychology, Introduction to Research Methods and Behavioral Statistics, Techniques of Counseling, Scope and Methods, Theories of Counseling, etc. Additionally, courses in Cognitive Psychology, Social Psychology, forensic psychology, and physiology psychology, among others. The department recommends you consider an Internship or graduate school to enhance your psychology degree.
You’ll begin admission consideration with an application. Admission requirements include academic transcripts demonstrating a 3.0 GPA (or GED certificate). Additional information requested, such as ACT/SAT scores, a phone interview, personal essay, letters of recommendation, etc. Admission decisions usually take seven days.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $425 per credit hour
Fast Facts: CU’s online programs rank as one of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs and are in The Princeton Review’s “Best Colleges: Region by Region.”
Coker University bachelor’s in counseling
10. Southwestern Assemblies of God University
Founded in 1927 as a collaborative of three Bible schools, SAGU provides an online BS in Human Services with a counseling specialization.
According to the school’s catalog, this 120-credit hours degree requires studies in general education and general biblical studies in addition to the Human Services coursework. Among the classes online students take for this bachelor’s degree are Introduction to Counseling, Cultural Issues in the Helping Professions, Advanced General Counseling, Advanced Methods and Techniques in Counseling, Developmental Psychology, and others. A field experience is part of the program, and, as an online student, you’ll want to discuss with the admission advisor how you’ll complete that requirement.
After applying, you’ll need to provide official academic transcripts showing a minimum of a 2.0 GPA. Additionally, the school may request other materials.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $399 per credit hour
Fast Facts: SAGU is one of U.S. News and World Report’s Regional Universities West and has accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
SAGU online bachelor in mental health counseling
11. Trinity College of Florida
This BA in Psychology with a counseling concentration is 100% online and rooted in a Christian worldview. (Note: there is also a Trinity College located in Hartford, CT. These two schools have no association).
The coursework requires General Studies and Bible and Theology, in addition to your major classes. Among the psychology classes are Introduction to Counseling, Psychopathology, Stress Management, Counseling Nontraditional Families, Crisis Counseling, Counseling Skills Lab, and Counseling Adolescents. You’ll also be able to choose electives from classes in Cognitive Psychology and Research Methods in Statistics. This program provides an understanding of psychological theories, concepts, and empirical findings.
Admission will require you to complete an application (and submit a $35 fee). You’ll also need to submit references, ACT or SAT scores, academic transcripts, and an essay.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $450 per credit hour
Fast Facts: TC of Florida began in 1932 and has accreditation from the Association for Biblical Higher Education Commission on Accreditation (ABHE)
Trinity College bachelor’s degree in counseling online
12. Crown College
Crown College is a Christian-based school that opened in 1916. You can earn a BS in Psychology Counseling completely online from this college.
The curriculum includes Christian Studies and General Education Core classes, as with other Christian-centered schools. For the Psychology Counseling major, you’ll take foundational courses in General Psychology, Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy, Crisis Intervention, Statistical Concepts, and Methods of Counseling. You’ll also have a slate of electives from which to choose. The degree requires a total of 125-credit hours for completion. Crown College also offers an Accelerated Counseling Master’s degree, if your goal is to continue to graduate school.
Admission to Crown College requires completing an application and submitting academic transcripts.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $425 per credit hour
Fast Facts: U.S. News and World Report includes Crown College in its Regional Universities Midwest rankings and Niche named it one of its Best Colleges for Psychology in America
Crown College online counseling degree program
13. Ecclesia College
Among the several online degree programs from this Arkansas-based, private evangelical Christian college, is a BS in Psychology & Counseling.
A review of the 120-credit hour program shows the curriculum is comprised of biblical studies along with general education courses. The major classes include General Psychology, Counseling Skills, Human Sexuality, Counseling Theory, Marriage and Family Counseling, along with other studies. Other studies are in Data Analysis & Interpretation, Abnormal Psychology, etc. YYou’llalso participate in a Counseling Practicum and may need to complete a Senior Project.
Admission is simple and starts with an application. YYou’llneed to be prepared to submit a reference form, academic transcripts, apply for financial aid, and ACT/SAT test scores.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $300/per credit hour
Fast Facts: EC has accreditation from the Association for Biblical Higher Education Commission on Education (ABHE) and was founded in 1975
Ecclesia College online counseling degree program
14. William James College
Located in the Massachusetts town of Newton, William James College awards a hybrid BS in Psychology and Human Services. This program is a bachelor’s completion program with online courses and 1-2 Saturdays per month for an on-campus course.
With an AA or AS degree (or 60-credit hours from an accredited college/university), you can earn your bachelor’s degree in 60-credit hours. Among the courses in this degree are Abnormal Psychology, Introduction to Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy, Introduction to Behavioral Health Care, Psychology of Aging, and Introduction to Family Systems and Family Therapy. You’ll also learn about Research Design and Methods in Psychological and Social Sciences, Chronic and Severe Mental Illness, and will complete a Senior Internship.
An application begins the admission process, which will require academic transcripts. Remember, this is a degree completion program, and you’ll need to have an AA or AS degree for admission.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $500 per credit hour
Fast Facts: WJC began as the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology in 1974 and has accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
15. Eastern Kentucky University
With this BS in Psychology with a Substance Abuse concentration, you’ll receive all the benefits of the on-campus program without going to the EKU campus. This 120-credit hour online bachelor’s degree curriculum is the same as the on-campus classes, and classes are in accelerated 8-week periods.
Along with core psychology studies, students take required general education classes, including humanities, science, and math. You may take Introduction to Psychology, Statistics and Research Methods classes, and courses in specific psychology disciplines, such as Cognition Learning, Social Personality, and a Capstone Project. The Substance Abuse concentration includes studies in Introduction in Behavior Therapy and Psychological Perspectives on Substance Abuse. A Capstone Project finishes the degree.
You’ll need to complete an application and provide academic transcripts. Prospective students should have at least a 2.0 GPA in prior work. If you’re a transfer student, EKU has a generous transfer policy and accepts up to 90 credit hours from accredited schools.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $417 per credit hour
Fast Facts: U.S. News and World Report rates EKU in its Best Value Schools ranking as well as one of its Best Online Bachelor’s degree Programs
Why Should You Get a Counseling Degree Online?
Distance education has long existed in the United States, beginning with correspondence classes during the Pony Express era and later the U.S. Postal Service. In the latter part of the 20th century, computers and the Internet dramatically changed how people could earn college degrees. Early online degrees were largely unaccredited. But as computer technology advanced and the Internet expanded, accrediting organizations and the U.S. Department of Education began to include online degree programs in accreditation.
To offer more enrollment opportunities, colleges and universities began to increase the number of online degrees shown. These degrees are the same as the on-campus programs, with the same curriculum and faculty. Online courses are more intensive and typically shorter in duration. Offering classes in relatively short 5-8 weeks segments, students can earn a degree in less time and less money. This is especially beneficial if you need to work as you pursue a degree. Online classes allow you to continue working and help you to have a more balanced work-life experience.
Most schools offer in-state tuition for their online degrees, regardless of your state of residence. This can significantly increase your school/program options and open more programs and opportunities without significant tuition costs.
How Do You Choose an Online Counseling Degree?
You should be confident the school you choose has regional accreditation. Accrediting non-profit organizations are recognized by the Department of Education to award accreditation. The schools in this ranking hold accreditation.
You’ll also want to be sure to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)® Federal Student Aid is available for accredited, online programs and schools need the FAFSA for consideration of scholarships or school-based grants for which you may qualify.
Finally, not all online programs are eligible to enroll students from all 50 states. Schools offering distance education and states participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA), which will open up more online degree program options for you. Check that the program is eligible for you to enroll based on your state of residence.
What Kind of Degree Should You Get to Become a Counselor?
The degree you need to become a counselor depends on your professional goals. To work in clinical mental health counseling as a licensed clinical psychologist, you’ll want to earn a master’s degree in psychology. Want to be a clinical psychotherapist? You’ll want to plan for a doctoral degree. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree? You’ll be able to work in the field under the supervision of a licensed or board-certified psychologist or counselor.
The type of undergraduate degree you’ll need depends on your interest. You can earn undergraduate degrees in Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorders, or Mental Health Counselor. A Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, with a counseling concentration, is the minimum degree you need to become a mental health counselor.
What Do You Learn in a Psychology Program?
The undergraduate psychology degree should include studies such as introductory coursework in psychology, research methods and statistics, and various cognitive, behavioral, abnormal, and forensic psychology concerns. You’ll want to search for a program that offers a counseling concentration that may offer an internship, practicum, and capstone project. Those experiences and a solid psychology curriculum will help you better move into a graduate program.
Lastly, be sure your degree is from an accredited college or university. While a bachelor’s degree doesn’t allow you to be licensed, it may help you earn certification in a specific area, such as Marriage and Family Counseling or Substance Abuse. You’ll want to check with your state to see what the licensing board requires and if your program meets certification requirements. And be sure to check out our list of traditional master’s degrees in counseling and our ranking of master’s degrees in psychology!
Where Can You Work?
Online counseling degree programs train graduates to pursue careers in many different roles. Graduates find career paths in private practice and in government agencies.
- Substance Abuse Counseling
- Licensed Professional Counselor
- Community Service Manager
- Licensed Counselors for Behavioral Disorders / Behavioral Disorder Counselor
- Substance Abuse Treatment
- Human Resources
- School Counseling