When you decide you want to be a counselor, you have to consider the amount of time it will take to earn your bachelor’s degree in a counseling program. In most instances, if you have no prior college credits, a bachelor’s degree will take you four years. However, by working toward an accelerated counseling degree online, you can cut that time significantly.
One of the other benefits you can find within accelerated counseling degree programs is flexibility. Particularly if you’re working while you get your degree, you don’t have the time to go down to campus. Online courses allow you to log in at your convenience. You can take courses during the day or at night. As long as you’re watching the instruction and completing the participation requirements, you can set your own schedule.
Methodology: How We Ranked the Best Accelerated Counseling Degree Programs
For students looking for an accelerated counseling degree online, speed is not the only factor. That’s why Bachelor’s Degree Center ranks accelerated programs not just by their time to completion, but by practical factors like tuition rate, reputation, and graduate salaries. All featured programs are accredited and respected.
1. Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyons University’s BS in Counseling with an emphasis in addiction, chemical dependency, and substance abuse tops the list of the best accelerated counseling degree programs. This program gives students the skills and knowledge they need to serve communities, families, and individuals with compassion and competence. Students learn what causes substance abuse and addiction and how chemical dependency affects people of all ages. They learn to use a Christian worldview when dealing with people who are struggling with addiction and substance abuse.
Grand Canyon University is the leading private Christian university in Arizona. The school has been leading students to successful careers for more than 65 years. GCU is committed to the Christian worldview. It is part of the school’s identity. The school seeks to produce leaders who will serve their communities and their world. Students are transformed into responsible leaders, effective communicators, critical thinkers, and global citizens through a rigorous, values-based curriculum.
What We Like: This program is available online or on campus.
Degree: BS in Counseling with an Emphasis in Addiction, Chemical Dependency, and Substance Abuse
2. Eastern Kentucky University
Students looking for an accelerated counseling degree online should consider Eastern Kentucky University’s online bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in psychiatric rehabilitation. This substance abuse counseling degree helps prepare students for the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP) exam. Students who complete the program will be ready to pursue a master’s or Ph.D. in psychology after graduation. This program has 8-week terms and there are six start dates each year. Active duty members of the military receive a reduced tuition rate.
Students attending EKU Online take the same courses as on-campus students from the same instructors. There are over 40 online programs to choose from. All of them offer flat rate tuition, eight-week terms, and online resources for students. EKU is regionally accredited, and all students pay the same tuition whether they live in Kentucky or not.
What We Like: Students can transfer up to 90 credits.
Degree: Substance Abuse Counseling
3. Liberty University
Next on the list of accelerated counseling degree programs is the BS in Psychology with a concentration in Christian counseling or crisis counseling from Liberty University. The program is 100% online and has 8-week courses. Students can transfer up to 75% of the total degree (90 credits). In addition to the two counseling concentrations, students can choose a general track, criminal psychology, developmental psychology, military resilience, life coaching, or addictions and recovery. This program prepares students for a master’s program in psychology, which is necessary in order to practice.
Liberty University is a Christian liberal arts university with more than 100,000 students. There are over 700 programs from certificate to doctoral level, more than 450 of which are available online. Liberty prepares students to be able to do their future jobs well. Hands-on training is part of what makes this possible. Students gain communication, data analysis, research, and critical thinking skills.
What We Like: This program takes about 3.5 years to complete.
Degree: Psychology BS – Christian Counseling or Crisis Counseling
4. William Jessup University
If you want to earn an accelerated counseling degree online, the BA in Psychology from William Jessup University is a good choice. The program gives students a deep understanding of human behavior. It covers both biological and counseling approaches to psychology. The program has outstanding faculty members with experience in many psychological fields, including biopsychology and addiction. Students who complete the program will be qualified for positions in business, criminal justice, social work, and mental health.
William Jessup University started out as San Jose Bible College. The school offers a faith-based curriculum and individualized support for its students. The programs are designed to fit into busy students’ schedules. WJU seeks to develop the whole person by exposing students to a foundation of courses in science, social science, and the humanities.
What We Like: This program takes three to four years to complete, and students can transfer up to 90 credits.
Degree: BA in Psychology – Counseling
5. Colorado Christian University
Students searching for accelerated counseling degree programs should consider the BA in Applied Psychology with a concentration in clinical counseling from Colorado Christian University. This program includes behavioral patterns, social interactions, and human development as well as 12 credit hours of classes on clinical counseling. Those 12 credits can also be applied to the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling if the student decides to continue on to the master’s level at CCU. That leaves only 48 credit hours to get a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling.
Colorado Christian University is the leading Christian College in the Rocky Mountain region. The school delivers excellence in education to its adult students with over 80 degree options offered through CCU Online and the College of Adult and Graduate Studies. CCU emphasizes spirituality and Christian character as well as academic excellence.
What We Like: Students complete one course at a time in 5-week blocks.
Degree: BA in Applied Psychology – Clinical Counseling
6. Clarks Summit University
A list of the best accelerated counseling degree programs would be incomplete without the dual accelerated BS and MS in Counseling from Clarks Summit University. This fast-track programs allows students to get two counseling degrees in just five years. Students are prepared for careers as marriage and family therapists, school guidance counselors, psychotherapists, mental health counselors, career counselors, and more. The classes are small and faculty members really care about their students. Professors act as mentors to help prepare their students for their future careers.
At Clarks Summit University, every class integrates God’s word. The school’s undergraduate programs include a double major in biblical studies. The school offers flexible online degrees that allow students to take their careers to the next level while deepening their faith.
What We Like: Each course in the dual degree program is taught from a biblical worldview.
Degree: BS/MS in Counseling
7. Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University offers an accelerated counseling degree online. Its Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in mental health helps prepare students for a career of helping others. Students who complete the program often choose to pursue a graduate degree in counseling or clinical psychology. If graduate school isn’t in your plans, there are plenty of careers in public relations, marketing, human resources, and social services that would benefit from this degree. With 39 electives, students have a lot of leeway to customize the program to suit their interests.
Southern New Hampshire University is one of the fastest-growing universities in the US, with more than 135,000 online students. The school offers more than 200 programs in everything from social sciences and liberal arts to education and business. SNHU is continually reinventing its programs to keep pace with the latest professional requirements and technologies.
What We Like: Students can earn a Certificate of Data Literacy in Psychology as part of their degree program.
Degree: Mental Health Degree Online – BA in Psychology Concentration
8. Prescott College
Prescott College also offers an accelerated counseling degree online. Its Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Human Development is focused on helping students understand how human beings interact with the world and with each other. Students develop a respect for the human and non-human world, as well as developing emotional maturity and self-awareness. There are five areas of emphasis: counseling, ecopsychology, expressive art therapy, gender and sexuality studies, and critical psychology. Students can also work with faculty advisors to create their own areas of emphasis.
Prescott College is committed to teaching students of diverse backgrounds to live together and thrive in the world community. The school encourages students to seek a balance between service to others and self-fulfillment. Prescott believes in hands-on learning and strives to provide an interdisciplinary curriculum.
What We Like: Career pathways for this degree include psychiatric technician, market researcher, laboratory assistant, childcare worker, and case manager.
Degree: Psychology And Human Development (BA)
9. Lesley University
Lesley University is another school that offers an accelerated counseling degree online. Lesley’s BA in Psychology is for students who are intrigued by the human brain and the complexities of human behavior. These students want to understand what makes humans do the things they do. This program is not just for students who want to work in mental health. Many psychology graduates find work in the business world as well. Students in this program learn about mental processes and the science of behavior. They are prepared to start their career or enter into a graduate program after graduation.
Lesley University gives students the ethics, understanding, skill, and knowledge they need to be successful not only in work but in life. Lesley is a community where people help one another and a laboratory for exploring social justice issues.
What We Like: This program is offered online, so you can study whenever it is convenient for you.
Degree: BA in Counseling and Psychology
10. Capella University
Rounding out the list of accelerated counseling degree programs is the BS in Psychology, Pre-counseling from Capella University. This online program gives students the skills the need to be able to help others while preparing them for a graduate program in psychology or counseling. Students gain skills that are useful for a wide variety of professions. Transfer students can transfer up to 135 credits. The school offers Prior Learning Assessments to help students earn credit for what they already know, whether that knowledge is from work experience, professional training, or industry certifications.
What We Like: There are three master’s level courses in the program that can be applied toward the master’s degree in counseling from Capella.
Degree: BS in Psychology Pre-Counseling
What are the Advantages of an Accelerated Counseling Degree?
Various accelerated counseling degree programs will allow you to cut the amount of time that you spend in school. The benefits to this are significant. You can save time in order to get started in your career faster. Plus, by spending less time achieving an accelerated counseling degree online, you’ll also spend less money.
In an accelerated program, your coursework is fit into 6 or 8 week chunks, and you’ll usually study just one or two courses full-time. This faster pace prepares you for licensure and related educational programs (like an accelerated online master’s) in as little as a year. You’ll learn what counseling professionals need to know, like:
- counseling skills
- counseling theories
- multicultural counseling
- research methods
There are also specialization opportunities like school counseling programs, healthcare, career counseling, human services, and more. In a CACREP-accredited undergraduate degree program, you’ll learn specialized skills, like working with adolescents as a school counselor. Enrollment and financial aid in a part-time or full-time online program is easy.
If you’re going to sign up for an accelerated counseling degree online, you can specify the type of counselor you want to be. Should you complete your degree fast enough, you can consider moving into a master’s degree in order to increase your earning potential. Take the GRE to get into a master of science or master of arts in counseling program. The Bureau of Labor Statistic proves that finishing a master’s degree program, even online master’s degrees, increase your pay potential.
What if I Already Have a Bachelor’s and Want to Start Counseling?
If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you may decide that you want a career change. Should counseling be of interest to you, it can be worth exploring certificate programs in counseling. You’ll need to consider what type of counselor you wish to become as the requirements can vary.
If you already have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, you’ll simply need to update your skills so they focus more heavily in counseling. Counseling certificate programs provide a narrow focus to help you succeed within a particular industry. You’ll want to decide what type of counselor you want to be to ensure you gain the skills within the certificate programs for counseling so that you’re successful.
The amount of time you’ll spend in certificate programs in counseling will vary based on what courses you have taken to get your bachelor’s degree. In some instances, you might need to take a longer program so that you have the necessary expertise.
Additionally, once you have a bachelor’s degree and complete one of the certificate programs for counseling, you may also choose to get an advanced degree, such as a master’s or PhD. It will depend on how much time you want to spend on your education and how quickly you want to begin working as a counselor.
The important thing to remember about counseling certificate programs is that they can be customized to fit your needs. You can focus on such things as couple and family therapy, addictive behavior, mental-health services, and more. The certificate, combined with your bachelor’s degree, will prove that you have the expertise needed to snag an array of counseling jobs around the country.
How Do I Become a Counselor?
When you want to become a counselor, it’s important to look at the various steps that are involved. You’ll want to consider the type of counselor you wish to become. For example, how to become a substance abuse counselor will involve a different path than if you wish to learn how to become a mental health counselor.
The first step is to obtain your bachelor’s degree. If you have a bachelor’s degree, you can work to get a certificate to focus on counseling. Learning how to become a counselor without a degree involves learning about the various online and certificate programs that are available. When you want to know how long does it take to become a counselor, it can vary depending on the level of education you have and what type of counselor you wish to become.
Often, with how to become a licensed counselor, you need a master’s degree. Then, you may need to do an internship and obtain a certain number of hours to proceed to the next step. You may need to prove that you have a degree and the internship and practicum hours to the licensing board. You may also need to take a licensing exam.
How long does it take to become a counselor? In many instances, it will take between six and eight years. However, if you want to know how to become a substance abuse counselor or how to become a mental health counselor faster, you can explore accelerated programs where you can spend less time getting your degree. Additionally, you may be able to begin obtaining your internship hours while you’re still working on your degree. It can speed up the process so you can get started in your career faster.