There is no more complex object known to modern science than the human brain. If that statement intrigues you, then seeking a counseling bachelor’s degree might be a great start on a career path that you will find provocative and rewarding. The fact is that mental health careers are always in high demand from entry-level orderlies to highly trained and knowledgeable doctors of psychology. By seeking a bachelor’s in counseling, you will begin your career in the psychological field at a point that is an excellent middle ground between the entry-level positions and the high-level positions of therapists and doctors. You will likely begin working with patients as soon as you graduate from the school of your choice, and start making an important difference in the lives of people who need it.
If you are the type of person who takes satisfaction from helping others, who has an aptitude for dealing with people on a deeply interpersonal level, and who finds the human mind and the human condition endlessly fascinating, then there is little doubt that earning a degree in counseling is right for you.
Methodology: Ranking the Best Counseling Degree Programs
For students who want to see a real career impact from their bachelor’s degree, Bachelor’s Degree Center editors feature accredited, trusted institutions. The best counseling degree programs in America are ranked by their tuition cost, student satisfaction, and potential salary, using data from Niche and IPEDS.
1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina offers a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) that requires majors to complete 45 semester units of curriculum pulled from an interdisciplinary approach to learning. The University of North Carolina’s Human Development and Family Studies baccalaureate degree is recognized among North Carolina’s best counseling degrees. Students graduate from UNC’s program ready to enter the workforce in careers in health services, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, or social work companies, to name a few.
The University of North Carolina (UNC-CH) is recognized as one of the first higher learning institutions in the country and a public ivy league school. The University of North Carolina is home to nearly 31,000 students who attend classes online and, on the school’s, iconic campus.
What We Like: The University of North Carolina is recognized as one of the nation’s colonial schools, founded prior to the American Revolution
Degree: Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS)
2. Oregon Institute of Technology
The Oregon Institute of Technology offers a BS in Applied Psychology that is ranked as one of Oregon’s best counseling degrees. This bachelor’s degree in counseling is available on either campus in Klamath or Portland or entirely online. This degree from OIT prepares students for careers in research, teaching, business, probation or parole services, counseling, or even graduate school, among others. Core classes include abnormal psychology, behavior modification, biopsychology, counseling techniques, and social psychology, to name a few.
Oregon Tech a public higher learning institution that was established in 1947. This polytechnic institution of higher education is home to a student body that exceeds 4,900 students.
What We Like: The Oregon Institute of Technology maintains two campuses and offers online degrees through its distance learning platform.
Degree: Applied Psychology BS
3. University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota offers a BS in Rehabilitation and Human Services that is among North Dakota’s best counseling degrees. This Bachelor of Science degree in counseling is available on the Grand Forks campus or online, with about four years typically needed to complete the degree. Students enrolled in UND’s baccalaureate degree in counseling requires the completion of 120 semester units to meet program requirements.
UND – the University of North Dakota (North Dakota) was founded before North Dakota became a state in 1883. The University of North Dakota’s campus in Grand Forks serves more than 13,200 students and covers more than 500 acres.
What We Like: The average class size at the University of North Dakota is 24 students and is recognized as a top military higher learning institution in the country.
Degree: Rehabilitation and Human Services B.S.
4. LeTourneau University
LeTourneau University’s School of Psychology and Counseling (LETU) offers one of the Lone Star State’s best counseling degrees with its Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Counseling Psychology. LeTourneau University’s undergraduate degree in counseling psychology requires degree candidates to complete 120 semester units to graduate. This bachelor’s degree in counseling is available on LeTourneau University’s Long View Texas campus. Counseling majors enrolled in LeTourneau University’s program must complete 45 hours from the counseling curriculum and then meet the baccalaureate degree requirements as well.
LeTourneau University (LETU) is a private institution of higher education that was established in 1946. As an interdenominational Christian university, Letourneau is also considered a polytechnic school that serves more than 2,800 students.
What We Like: LeTourneau University offers small class sizes for the more than 125 academic degree programs offered by the school.
Degree: BS in Counseling Psychology
5. Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University offers a variety of baccalaureate-level degrees in counseling and addiction that are recognized among the commonwealth of Kentucky’s best counseling degrees. Eastern Kentucky University’s BS in counseling includes online and on-campus concentrations in psychiatric rehab, general, workplace psychology, brain/cognitive sciences, substance abuse, developmental disability, and forensic psychology. Students graduate from Eastern Kentucky University’s undergraduate degree program to find rewarding careers as mental health counselors, case managers, or mental health associates, to name a few.
Eastern Kentucky University (Eastern Kentucky) is a public institution of higher learning that was founded in 1874. Eastern Kentucky University maintains several campuses through the state of Kentucky as well as robust distance learning options.
What We Like: the graduate degree programs offered by Eastern Kentucky University were approved in the mid-1930s.
Degree: many choices w/ focuses on counseling addiction
6. Alaska Pacific University
Alaska Pacific University offers one of Alaska’s best counseling degrees with its Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Counseling Psychology that prepares graduates for careers in chemical dependency mental health counseling, program supervision, behavioral health, or a more advanced degree in counseling. The undergraduate degree from Alaska Pacific University requires degree candidates to complete 32 semester units from the counseling curriculum. Students are offered three academic counseling concentrations in community psychology, mindfulness, or positive psychology. It is noted that coursework can be applied towards credit need to earn relevant professional certifications.
Alaska Pacific University (APU) is a private school that was founded in 1957 as a liberal arts & sciences higher learning institution that is dedicated to honoring the state’s indigenous heritage. The university’s campus in Anchorage serves more than 450 students.
What We Like: Alaska Pacific University offers exceptional high school students the option to attend their senior year at Alaska Pacific alternatively.
Degree: Counseling Psychology (B.A.)
7. Maryville College (TN)
Maryville College offers one of Tennessee’s best counseling degrees with its Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Psychology that includes an academic counseling track. Classes in Maryville College’s undergraduate degree in counseling include abnormal psychology, cognitive psychology, experimental psychology, fundamentals of biology, theories of personality, human lifespan development, the sociology of the family, and counseling, to name a few. In addition, degree candidates for the bachelor’s in counseling degree program will complete a senior study or an internship to meet program requirements. Students are prepared for work in substance abuse rehabilitation centers, mental health centers, or family service centers, among others.
Maryville College was established as a liberal arts higher learning institution in 1819 by the Presbyterian Church. The college’s suburban campus serves more than 1,100 students and covers more than 300 acres, and is located between Knoxville, Tennessee, and the national park known as the Great Smoky Mountains.
What We Like: Maryville College was initially founded as a theological seminary.
Degree: B.A. in Psychology Counseling Track
8. Washington Adventist University
Washington Adventist University offers a BS in Counseling Psychology is considered one of Maryland’s best counseling degrees. Washington Adventist University’s professional degree program in counseling psychology includes classes like theories of personality, dynamics of group counseling, social psychology, stress management, and psychological testing, plus a relevant counseling practicum experience, among others. Counseling majors must complete 36 credit units from the counseling psychology core curriculum.
Washington Adventist University (WAU) was established in 1904 as a seminary and private institution of higher learning. Washington Adventist University’s student enrollment exceeds 1,350 students annually. Washington Adventist University is organized into three college/schools – School of Health Professions, School of Arts & Social Sciences, and the Graduate and Professional Studies School.
What We Like: Washington Adventist University is authorized by federal rule to train veterans.
Degree: BS in Counseling Psychology
9. Oklahoma Baptist University
Oklahoma Baptist University offers one of Oklahoma’s best counseling degrees with its Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Psychology that includes an academic track in pre-counseling. Oklahoma Baptist University’s undergraduate counseling degree requires degree candidates to complete 128 credit units to meet program requirements. Counseling majors are required to complete 37 semester units in class that include psychotherapy, abnormal psychology, statistics for social scientists, research methods in psychology, and basic counseling skills, to name a few. Students graduate from Oklahoma Baptist University’s baccalaureate counseling degree and enter the workforce as family educators, consumer researchers, family therapists, or counselors, to name a few.
Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) is a Baptist institution of higher education that was established in 1910. The university’s campus in Shawnee serves nearly 2,000 students and covers more than 200 urban acres.
What We Like: Oklahoma Baptist University is located about one-half hour from Oklahoma City and a few hours from the Fort Worth & Dallas, Texas metro area.
Degree: BA in Psychology – Pre-Counseling
10. Liberty University
Liberty University offers a BS in Psychology with an academic emphasis in crisis counseling that ranked among Virginia’s best counseling degrees that is available entirely online. Liberty University’s undergraduate degree in crisis counseling typically takes 3.5 years to complete the required 120 semester units. Liberty University offers applicants a generous transfer credit policy that allows for up 90 eligible credits to be transferred upon approval. Students graduate from Liberty University’s baccalaureate counseling degree program to find rewarding work in community relations, crisis care, and administration or crisis counseling, among others.
Liberty University (Liberty) is a private evangelical higher learning institution that was established in 1971 by Jerry Falwell, Sr. Veterans and qualified military service members are offered tuition discounts from Liberty University.
What We Like: Liberty University requires no standardized testing when applying for enrollment in any of the university’s academic offerings.
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Psychology w/ concentrations in counseling
11. Morningside College (Iowa)
Morningside College offers one of Iowa’s best counseling degrees with its Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Counseling Psychology with an average student to faculty ratio of only 13 to 1. Students graduating from Morningside College’s undergraduate degree in counseling find rewarding careers as social workers, mental health counselors, grief counselors, substance abuse counselors, or family therapist, to name a few. Classes for Morningside College’s counseling major include general psychology, the psychology of testing, research methods in psychology, group counseling, and abnormal psychology, plus a counseling practicum, to name a few.
Morningside College (Morningside) is a private liberal arts institution of higher education that was founded in 1894. Morningside College’s urban campus covers more than 100 acres and serves more than 1,900 students.
What We Like: Morningside College maintains an ongoing religious affiliation with the United Methodist Church.
Degree: Counseling Psychology BA
12. Averett University
Averett University offers a bachelor’s degree in psychology that provides an academic emphasis in clinical and counseling that is ranked among Virginia’s best counseling degrees. Students enrolled in Averett University’s undergraduate counseling degrees complete coursework in statistics, health psychology, complementary healthcare, the psychology of learning, effective behavior, research design in psychology, and a relevant research practicum in counseling. In addition, degree candidates will submit a senior culminating integrative program to reflect their counseling learning experience at Averett University.
Averett University (Averett) is a private higher learning institution that was initially established as a woman’s school in 1859. Established as a Baptist College, this private university serves more than 2,000 students that hail from more than twelve countries and more than two dozen states.
What We Like: Averett University operates as a school that accepts applications all year on a rolling basis.
Degree: Clinical and Counseling Psychology Concentrations
13. Georgian Court University
Georgian Court University’s Department of Psychology & Counseling (GCU), in collaboration with the Rutgers School of Health Professions (SHP), offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Psychology that is ranked among the Garden State’s best counseling degrees. Georgian Court University boasts a faculty-to-student ratio of 1 to 13. Degree candidates enrolled in Georgian Court University’s undergraduate must complete 120 semester units, with 37 credits earned in classes in counseling. The counseling curriculum includes adult development, theories of personality, cognitive psychology, experimental psychology, and research methods for behavioral scientists, to name a few.
Georgian Court University (GCU) is a private higher learning institution that was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1908. As a Roman Catholic institution of higher education, Georgian Court University serves more than 1,400 coeducational students.
What We Like: When founded, Georgian Court University was an all-girls school.
Degree: B.S. in Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Psychology
14. Clarks Summit University
Clarks Summit University offers a BS in Counseling that is considered among Pennsylvania’s best counseling degrees that is an on-campus degree program. Degree candidates graduate from Clarks Summit University prepared for rewarding careers as social workers, guidance counselors, substance abuse specialists, school counselors, or therapeutic support workers, to name a few. Classes for this baccalaureate counseling degree include social psychology, ethics, and professionalism for counselors, personality theory, child & adolescent development, tests & measurements, women counseling women, physiological psychology, and theological distinctives, among others.
Clarks Summit University (Clarks Summit) was established as a private bible college in 1932. Established initially as a bible school, Clarks Summit University now serves more than 490 students each year.
What We Like: Clarks Summit University is recognized to be the second safest college across the United States.
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Counseling
15. Emmanuel College
Emmanuel College’s Psychology Department (EC) offers one of Massachusetts’s best counseling degrees with its BA degree in Psychology that has a concentration in Counseling & Health Psychology. Emmanuel College’s bachelor’s psychology degree program includes classes in child psychology, philosophy of mind and psychiatry, social psychology, adulthood and aging, theories of personality, race, gender and sexuality, and relationships, marriage and the family. Emmanuel College boasts a faculty-to-student ratio of only 13 to 1. Each student is required to complete a relevant internship in counseling prior to graduation.
Emmanuel College (EC) was established by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1919. Emmanuel College serves more than 2,100 students each semester from its 15+ acre urban Boston campus.
What We Like: Emmanuel College holds the distinction of being the first all-women’s higher learning institution in New England
Degree: B.A. in Psychology with Concentration in Counseling & Health Psychology
16. Life Pacific University
Life Pacific University offers one of California’s best counseling degrees with its Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Human Development & Psychology that offers four academic tracks – social psychology, forensic psychology, educational psychology, or counseling psychology. Students graduating from Life Pacific University’s undergraduate psychology degree in counseling enter the workforce as case managers, school counselors, social workers, substance abuse counselors, or family therapists, to name a few.
Life Pacific University (LPU) was established in 1923 and is endorsed by the Four Square Gospel International Church. More than 650 students attend classes offered by Life Pacific University. Life Pacific University is recognized as the most affordable Christian school that is accredited in the state of California. More than half of LPU’s students are from defined under-represented student populations – primarily Hispanic or Latino.
What We Like: Life Pacific University boasts an impressive faculty-to-student ratio of 1 to 16.
Degree: BA in Human Development & Psychology
17. Kentucky Christian University
Kentucky Christian University Social Work & Behavioral Health School offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Counseling Psychology that is considered among Kentucky’s best counseling degrees. Students enrolled in the undergraduate counseling degree offered by Kentucky Christian University must complete classes that total 120 semester units to graduate. In addition, this Bachelor of Science degree in counseling psychology degree requires candidates to finish a 400-hour internship in a relevant position within a human service organization.
Kentucky Christian University (Kentucky Christian) is a private higher learning institution that was established as a normal school in 1919. The school operates under the affiliation with the Christian Churches of Christ, with more than 650 students.
What We Like: Kentucky Christian University operates on a semester fee basis, during which a student can take as many credits as they feel they can handle for the same fee.
Degree: BS, Counseling Psychology
18. Delaware Valley University
Delaware Valley University offers a BA in Counseling Psychology that is considered ranked as one of the best counseling degrees in the marketplace. Classes in Delaware Valley University’s BA degree in counseling psychology include professional psychology, theories of personality, introduction to behavior modification, counseling techniques, and multicultural issues in psychology, to name a few. Many students enrolled in Delaware Valley University’s baccalaureate degree in counseling choose to earn their graduate degree before entering the workforce. Bachelor of Arts degree counseling grads can find rewarding careers as mental health technicians, school counselors, community resource directors, to name a few.
Delaware Valley University (Delaware Valley) is a private institution of higher education that was established as a farm school in 1896. Delaware Valley University began as an agricultural school to educate using the concept of science with practice.
What We Like: Delaware Valley University proudly boasts that its faculty to student ratio is an impressive 1 to 13.
Degree: Counseling Psychology (B.A.)
19. Mid-Atlantic Christian University
Mid-Atlantic Christian University offers two of North Carolina’s best counseling degrees with its Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree or its Bachelor of Science (BS) degree program in Psychology and Counseling that requires students to complete 120 semester units. The Bachelor of Arts degree in counseling from Mid-Atlantic Christian University has a language requirement, whereas the Bachelor of Science degree is more experiential in terms of counseling education. Core counseling curriculum includes human sexuality, developmental psychology, social psychology, experimental psychology, abnormal psychology counseling theories, and family counseling, plus an internship in counseling, among others.
Mid-Atlantic Christian University (MACU) was established by the Churches of Christ in 1948 as a bible college in Roanoke. The school’s campus in eastern North Carolina is home to more than 210 students.
What We Like: Mid-Atlantic Christian University’s campus sits alongside the Pasquotank River, only a few miles from downtown Elizabeth City.
Degree: Counseling and Psychology Major – BA or BS
20. Oak Hills Christian College
Oak Hills Christian College offers two of Minnesota’s best counseling degrees with its Bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology and its Bachelor of Science in Addictions Counseling that requires students to complete 120 semester units to meet program requirements. Students graduating from the applied psychology degree find rewarding work in schools, community outreach centers, or government agencies, among others. Students graduating from the Addictions Counseling degree program will have met the requirements to become a Minnesota licensed Drug & alcohol counselor.
Oak Hills Christian College (Oak Hills) is a Christian interdenominational higher learning institution that was established in 1927. First founded as a bible college, Oak Hills Christian College is affiliated with the Protestant Church.
What We Like: Oak Hills Christian College boasts an impressive faculty to student ratio of 1 to 11.
Degree: Bachelor’s in Applied Psychology and Addictions Counseling
21. Toccoa Falls College
Toccoa Falls College’s Counseling Psychology Department offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Counseling Psychology that is considered among Georgia’s best counseling degrees that is available online or on the school’s Toccoa Falls campus. Students graduate from Toccoa Falls College’s undergraduate degree in counseling psychology to find rewarding careers as mental health assistants, career counselors, victim’s advocates, professional counselors, family therapists, or child development specialists, to name a few.
Toccoa Falls College (Toccoa Falls) was established in 1907 as a Christian institution of higher education dedicated to liberal arts education. The college’s campus in Toccoa Falls that serves more than 1,500 students on its rural 1,000-acre location. Toccoa Falls College is a member school of the Christian & Missionary Alliance.
What We Like: Toccoa Falls College was initially established as Golden Valley Institute.
Degree: B.S. Counseling Psychology
22. Curry College
Curry College offers a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with an academic concentration in Substance Use Counseling that is considered as one of New England’s best counseling degrees. Students enrolled in Curry College’s undergraduate psychology in counseling of substance abuse satisfies a portion of the requirement for certification in Massachusetts Substance Abuse certification. Classes for this Curry College baccalaureate degree in substance abuse counseling includes counseling theory, theories of personality health psychology, drugs and behavior, foundations of community health, and abnormal psychology, plus an internship related to substance abuse counseling.
Curry College (Curry) is a private institution of higher education that was founded as a higher learning institution for expression & elocution in 1879. The student enrollment at Curry College exceeds 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students.
What We Like: Curry College, when first established, included famous alumni like Alexander Graham Bell and his father, among others.
Degree: Substance Use Counseling
23. Johnson & Wales – Denver
Johnson & Wales University offers a bachelor’s degree in Counseling Psychology that is recognized as one of the best counseling degrees available in the marketplace. Degree candidates enrolled in Johnson & Wales University’s enter the workforce as professional caseworkers, rehabilitation counselors, school counselors, mental health counselors, family therapists, or substance abuse or behavioral disorder therapists, to name a few. This baccalaureate degree is available on the Johnson & Wales University’s Denver campus.
Johnson & Wales University was established in 1913 by two women professional teachers who wanted to train other women in the field of business. The school’s campuses across four different states (RI, NC, FL, CO) serves nearly 13,000 students.
What We Like: Johnson & Wales University outgrew its original site as it was now training service members returning from World War I.
Degree: Counseling Psychology
24. Paine College
Paine College’s Psychology and Social Sciences Department (PC) offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Psychology with an academic emphasis in Counseling that is considered as one of Georgia’s best counseling degrees. Students graduating from Paine College’s counseling concentration in psychology are prepared for careers in counseling mental health academia, research, or clinical psychology, to name a few. The baccalaureate degree from Paine College offers two other academic concentrations as a general psychology track or an experimental psychology track.
Paine College (Paine) is a private HBCU (Historically Black College & University) higher learning institution that was established in 1882. Established by members of the Methodist Church, the school’s Augusta campus serves more than 400 students on its 50+ acre campus.
What We Like: Paine College is a higher learning institution acknowledged for its incredible contributions to the education of African Americans since the early 1880s.
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology – Counseling Emphasis
25. Lesley University
Lesley University offers a BS in Counseling that requires the completion of 121 semester units. Lesley University’s best counseling degrees include coursework in counseling children and young adults, contemporary issues in counseling, abnormal psychology, family interventions, applied group dynamics, and theories of personality, plus two counseling internships, to name a few. Lesley University offers a dual degree option for students to earn a BS plus a Master of Arts in Counseling, which allows for the completion of two degrees in less time and for less money.
Lesley University was established in 1909 as a private higher learning institution dedicated to training women teachers. Lesley University is organized into six colleges/schools that offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The first classes held at this teacher’s training school were in the founder’s home. Lesley University’s campus across the Charles River from downtown Boston serves more than 6,400 students.
What We Like: Lesley University was created when Lesley College combined with the Boston Art Institute in 2001.
Degree: BS in Counseling
How Do I Choose a School for a Counseling Degree?
Once you have decided to pursue your counseling degree, the next important step is to choose the best college for a counseling degree for your specific needs and situation. To determine what are the best schools for counseling degrees for you, it will be important to consider schools that are close to home or close to where you want to be, schools with financial aid programs that cater to students like you, and schools that offer the type of classroom and learning styles you prefer, and of course, you will need to choose a counseling degree program that you can afford.
Finding a counseling degree program in a school that suits you best among all these important points of consideration is no small task. It just might even be the most challenging part of your academic career. However, you will find that there are plenty of academic counseling resources available to help you narrow down your choices to the best colleges for counseling degrees.
Consulting an academic counselor to help you find the best degree program for you is a smart move and one that you should consider making sooner than later.
Is Accreditation Important for a Counseling Degree?
Many beginning counseling students want to know, is CACREP accreditation important? The short answer is, “Yes, it is.” A more nuanced answer will be contextual.
When it comes to landing a good job in the field of psychology, attending a school with accreditation that meets CACREP standards is not always necessary, but it will almost certainly help- especially as you progress further along in your career. Some schools are accredited according to CACREP standards, and some are accredited according to APA standards.
As you seek out the best school for you, the choice of CACREP vs APA will likely be a secondary consideration. However, keep in mind, if you know what city, state, and healthcare system you want to work within, you would do well to find out which type of accreditation standard is most readily accepted there. If you do not know where you hope to find employment after graduation, then the type of counseling program accreditation is not such a straightforward choice.
At this point in your journey, just know that accreditation is always preferable to a lack of it. But, if you are seeking to further your education and are already in the field of psychology, then it may not always be necessary. Whenever possible, find out what employers in the region you expect to work intend to demand from new hires.
What Kinds of Counseling Jobs are There?
There are dozens of different types of therapy careers and different types of counseling jobs for those looking to pursue a career in practical psychology. It would be impractical to list them all here, but some of the most common and popular counseling jobs include:
- Family counselor
- Drug and Alcohol abuse counselor
- Career counselor
- Grief counselor
- Child abuse counselor
- Marriage counselor
- Veteran’s counselor
Of course, this is just a small sampling of the many types of counseling jobs you could obtain with your counseling degree. You may have noticed that some of the counseling jobs we have listed can be non-licensed counseling jobs.
A given counseling position may be available with or without a degree depending on the hiring organization, local regulations, and other considerations. These can be excellent places to start a career in psychology, and can even be a great way to work part-time as you pursue further educational development in this field.
Some counseling jobs only require personal experience in the area of interest at hand, and a demonstrated ability to provide meaningful counsel to those so affected.
The best counseling job for you is well within your reach.