One of the most important factors to consider when reviewing the best online counseling masters programs for you is the accreditation of the program. Having a degree from an accredited program may be one of the requirements for licensure in most states, so selecting a properly-accredited program could be very important. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) are two entities that confer accreditation for some of the top online counseling programs in the United States. It is best to review the licensure requirements in the state where you intend to practice in order to understand the degree accreditations you need to look for.
Online masters in counseling programs may offer live (synchronous) or not live (asynchronous) classes. Synchronous classes require that all students and the instructor be online at a set time in order to participate in face-to-face, real-time training and discussions. Asynchronous classes, on the other hand, allow students the flexibility to access the class content at their convenience. While reading assignments and homework still have specific due dates, students have the freedom to complete the coursework at times of their choice.
A program mobile application that is available offline allows students to continue learning at their own pace even when they don't have internet connection. Distance learners can benefit from flexibility so an offline-capable app would be a great asset to their learning process.
Small Class Size
In general, classes with smaller class sizes allow students more opportunities to participate in the learning process and interactions.
GRE Test Score Requirement
Most online counseling programs require successful passing of the Graduate Record Exam (or GRE). Some schools however, have waived the GRE test requirement.. Programs that waive the GRE requirement may focus on other criteria such as undergraduate GPA, professional references, essays and personal interviews when determining a candidate's acceptance in the program.
Campus Visit Requirements
Many online counseling programs require students to be present on campus for weeklong residencies or other in-person activities.
Field Placement Services
Online counseling program students need to complete clinical residencies at facilities such as hospitals and schools. Universities and colleges that have field placement teams have established relationships with many health and educational organizations across the country and are able to assist their students with placement within suitable facilities near their area of residency.
Why Choose an Online Counseling Program?
The most appealing facet of online education is the flexibility to obtain a degree without disrupting other aspects of your life such as family and career. Synchronous classes are usually scheduled in the evening, and asynchronous classes allow students to access the course assignments at times most convenient for them. They also allow students to complete any required residencies and internships at facilities near the student's home.
Online programs broaden widely the list of educational opportunities for prospective students. They can attend and receive a degree from some of the best online counseling masters programs in the country without having to worry about relocation and moving expenses or having to leave their family for months at a time.