With a Bachelor’s degree in either counseling or psychology, students will be ready to obtain their Master’s in Counseling. Many counseling employers, such as schools and clinics, require their employees to hold a Master’s degree in counseling, but there are still career options available to students who only hold a Bachelor’s in counseling or psychology. This career path is an excellent choice for individuals who wish to positively impact the lives of others. Because this career path is a noble cause and due to the fact that many employers in this field will want you to obtain your Master’s, we feel that students should obtain the best possible education when they enroll in a Bachelor’s in Counseling program.
We have picked the Top Ten Best Online Programs for a Bachelor’s Degree in either Counseling or Psychology with a Counseling focus in an effort to provide you with programs that will grant you a solid foundation in counseling through rigorous coursework, but with the added flexibility and customization that comes from obtaining your degree online.
We have used the following criteria to rank these programs:
50% How Well These Programs Will Prepare You to Seek a Master’s in Counseling
25% How Flexible the Program is
25% How Innovative the Program is
We believe with this ranking methodology we will help you to choose a program that will give you the best possible chance to have a successful career in counseling and counseling services.
1. University of Massachusetts at Lowell
The University of Massachusetts System–comprised of UMass Amherst (the flagship campus), UMass Boston, UMass Dartmouth, UMass Lowell, UMass Medical School, and UMass Online–is the five-campus public university system of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The system includes four universities, a medical school, and a satellite campus located in Springfield, Massachusetts. The system is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The UMass system was ranked 57th in the World in 2015 for its Innovative Achievements according to Reuters and was ranked 91-100 in the world by reputation in 2015 by Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The UMass System is overseen by a University President and a board of trustees who elect and hire the University President.
The online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree program offered through the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s UMass Online school is a completely online, asynchronous, and accredited program. This psychology program is taught by UMass Lowell’s highly qualified and experienced faculty and is a high-quality and well-rounded program, with numerous counseling-related electives available to students to choose from. Students enrolled in this program will gain access to the UMass collection of psychology theories, resources and research. Enrolled students will also gain access to the vast network of professional and working UMass alumni, helping to forge a professional network. The Bachelor of Arts in Psychology offered online at UMass Lowell will more than prepare graduating students to either start their careers or to continue their education with a Master’s in Counseling degree program. UMass can be a great choice for students who wish to obtain their Master’s in Counseling from the same school as their Bachelor’s in Psychology, as the University of Massachusetts System offers a Masters of Science in Mental Health Counseling through UMass Boston’s online program.
Areas of Focus: Social Psychology; and Community Psychology
2. Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University–formally and informally known as SNHU–is a private, nonprofit, coeducational and nonsectarian university situated between the cities of Manchester and Hooksett, New Hampshire. The university is accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and also has specialized accreditation for various schools under the university and for various programs offered through these schools. The university was founded in 1932 as the New Hampshire School of Accounting and Secretarial Science. In 1961, it was incorporated and renamed New Hampshire College of Accounting and Commerce. The state of New Hampshire granted the college its charter in 1963, which gave the school degree-granting authority. The school has been known by its present-day name since 2001. The school absorbed some of the programs of Franconia College, which closed in 1978 and some of the programs of Notre Dame College when that school closed in 2002.
The online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology offered by SNHU is fully online and asynchronous, allowing for a great amount of flexibility. This program has six specializations available for students to choose from, or they can choose to stick with the core psychology program. These specializations are: Addictions; Applied Psychology; Child and Adolescent Development; Forensic Psychology; Mental Health; and Social Psychology. These formats also have numerous electives for students to take, some of which are counseling-specific. All high-achieving students are invited to join Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology, and students enrolled in Southern New Hampshire University’s psychology program will be invited to join the school’s online SNHU Psychology Club, allowing them to tap into the school’s nationwide network of alumni for internship and career opportunities. Students graduating from this program will be prepared to continue their education by enrolling into a Master’s of Counseling degree program.
Areas of Focus: Addictions; Applied Psychology; and General Psychology
3. Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University–commonly referred to as GCU–is a for-profit Christian research university located in Phoenix, Arizona. The school also has a campus in Albuquerque and has various satellite campuses across Arizona. The school was founded in 1949 as a non-profit liberal arts college, and the university was purchased by Grand Canyon Education, Inc. in February of 2004 changing the school’s status from a non-profit school to a for-profit school. Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the university offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs in the fields of education, liberal arts, business, science, engineering, math, Christian theology and health care across its eight colleges. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifies GCU as a research university with moderate research activity. The university is also the first–and only for-profit–to participate in NCAA Division 1 athletics and the university has various athletic teams such as Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse and Rugby.
The online Bachelor’s programs offered at Grand Canyon University that will support students in starting a career in counseling are numerous and various specializations available to students. The Bachelor of Science in Counseling has an emphasis on Addiction, Chemical Dependency and Substance Abuse. The Bachelor of Science in Psychology is a general psychology degree program with numerous counseling-related electives to choose from. The Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science is available with the following specializations: Childhood and Adolescence Disorders, Family Dynamics, and Trauma. All of these degree programs are available completely online and are in an asynchronous format. These programs are also fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. These programs are taught by Grand Canyon University with a faith-inspired approach emphasising the spiritual side of psychology as much as the analytical side, and will prepare students both mind and soul to make positive changes in the world and in their communities.
Areas of Focus: Christian-Based Counseling; Addiction, Chemical Dependency, and Substance Abuse; Family Dynamics; and Trauma
4. Florida Institute of Technology; Bachelor of Science in Psychology
The Florida Institute of Technology–commonly referred to as Florida Tech or FIT–is a private doctoral and research university located in Melbourne, Florida. Florida Tech has six academic divisions including science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and aviation. The university was founded in the year 1958 as Brevard Engineering College by Dr. Jerome P. Keuper and has been known by its present name since 1966. The Florida Institute of Technology has 132 different active student organizations on campus. The university-sponsored student organizations, such as Student Government Association, Campus Activities Board, and Homecoming Committee operate primarily with university funding, while some organizations are run by membership dues, such as the many fraternities and sororities on campus, as well as certain professional organizations such as the American Society of Civil Engineers. Florida Tech also offers specialized graduate degree programs through satellite locations in Huntsville, Alabama, Fort Eustis, Virginia, Fort Lee, Virginia, Alexandria, Virginia, Quantico, Virginia, Dover, New Jersey, Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst, Lexington Park, Maryland, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Kennedy Space Center, Rockledge, Florida and Orlando, Florida.
The online Bachelors of Science in Psychology offered by the Florida Institute of Technology’s School of Psychology and Liberal Arts is completely online and asynchronous and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. This degree in Psychology can be specialized with the following areas of specialty: Animal Behavior, Applied Behavior Analysis, Child Advocacy, Clinical Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Neuropsychology, Social Cultural Psychology and Sports Psychology. The psychology program offered at FIT also allows students to choose from many different minors, a great amount of flexibility and a high-quality education, providing students with a solid understanding of the core areas of psychology. Students enrolled in this program will have access to FIT’s psychology resources and research and to the school’s vast network of working alumni from which they can forge new professional networks.
Areas of Focus: Industrial Organizational Psychology; Workplace Counseling; Child Advocacy; and General Psychology
5. Baker College
Baker College is a private not-for-profit college in Flint, Michigan. Originally founded in 1911 with just one location, Baker College now has thirteen locations throughout the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Baker College is a career college, featuring more than 150 career programs spread across its thirteen locations. The school offers certificates, associate, bachelor, master, and doctoral degree programs in various fields such as business, healthcare, human services, education, and technology. The school maintains a right-to-try admissions policy (which means students are automatically accepted), and couples that policy with an extensive financial aid office to allow for a very broad base of both traditional and nontraditional students. Baker is part of the Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars & Admissions Officers (MACRAO) Transfer Agreement which allows students to quickly and easily transfer up to 30 semester credit hours to meet many (in some cases all) of the general education requirements at the many participating Michigan four-year colleges and universities.
The online Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree offered at Baker College is fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, a Department of Education recognized accreditor, and is offered in a fully asynchronous format. This asynchronous format means students will be able to take their classes wherever and whenever they choose, which affords a great amount of flexibility. Students enrolled in this program, just like all of the other programs Baker College provides online, will begin their online experience with a three-week online class designed to orient them to the Baker Online classroom, and to review the expectations and requirements of Baker Online students. This online Psychology program has many electives available for students. Electives pertaining to both traditional psychology and to counseling-specific areas are available, and are designed to give students a solid foundation on which to build a successful career in counseling.
Areas of Focus: Children and Family Counseling; Drug and Alcohol Addiction Counseling
6. University of the Southwest
The University of the Southwest is a private interdenominational four-year university located in Hobbs, New Mexico. The university was originally known as Hobbs Baptist College and was chartered as a two-year junior college in 1956, and the school’s name was changed to New Mexico Baptist College when the school became a four-year college in 1958. In 1962, to reflect the fact that the surrounding community had embraced the small college as its own, New Mexico Baptist College changed its name to College of the Southwest and transformed into an independent, non-denominational, four-year liberal arts college to better serve the Southeastern New Mexico and West Texas region, an approximately 21,000 square-mile area of service. In 2008, the Board of Trustees voted to change the name of College of the Southwest again, this time to University of the Southwest to better communicate the type of academic community into which the institution was evolving.
The online Bachelor of Science in Psychology offered at the University of the Southwest is a completely online and asynchronous program that is fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, both of which are recognized accreditors by the United States Department of Education. The University of the Southwest’s Department of Psychology is committed to providing students with a high-quality and well-rounded general psychology education by ensuring that they fully understand the fundamental principles of psychology both conceptually and in-practice. This online program will equip enrolled students with everything they need to become skilled professionals and will allow them to enroll into a Master’s of Counseling program for further career advancement in this field. With many counseling-related electives available to students, this program is an excellent way to get a jumpstart on a counseling career by fast-tracking your education so by the time you’re ready to enroll into a Master’s of Counseling program, you will already have an understanding of some of the coursework.
Areas of Focus: Interviewing and Counseling; Group Dynamics; and General Psychology
7. Liberty University
Liberty University is a private, non-profit Christian university located in Lynchburg, Virginia, and it is classified as a doctoral research university. Founded in 1971 when Pastor Jerry Falwell Sr. challenged his congregation at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia to establish a Christian college whose students would “go out in all walks of life to impact this world for God.” The college achieved full accreditation in 1980, and by 1985 the school was recognized as a fully accredited university, and had pioneered a distance learning program, launching what is now known as Liberty University Online. Liberty University is also the largest private, not-for-profit university in the nation, the largest university in Virginia, and is the largest Christian-affiliated university in the entire world. Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Specialist, and Doctoral degrees to students. The school has 357 buildings and structures and 215 classrooms and offers over 547 unique programs of study, some of which are available both residentially and online.
The online Bachelor of Science in Psychology offered at Liberty University will allow students to obtain a foundation-providing degree for future enrollment into a Master’s of Counseling program. Students enrolled in this program can choose between obtaining the standard non-concentration Psychology degree or they can choose to obtain a Psychology degree with a specialization. The specializations available are: Addictions and Recovery, Christian Counseling, Criminal Psychology, Crisis Counseling, Developmental Psychology, Life Coaching and Military Resilience. This completely online, asynchronous program is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. Students that graduate from Liberty University will be well-equipped to provide Christ-centric service to various individuals dealing with numerous issues through the use of gospel-inspired counseling techniques.
Areas of Focus: Christian-based Counseling; Addictions and Recovery; Life Coaching; Military Resilience; and Crisis Counseling
8. Crown College
Crown College is a private Christian college located in St. Bonifacius, which is an exurb of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area in Minnesota. It is affiliated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The school is also a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). Crown College has had a legacy, since the year 1916, of preparing students to serve their communities and to create a positive impact on the world. The core tenets of the Christian faith are interwoven into the very fabric of student life at the school, from classes to activities and social events. The school atmosphere is full of prayer, service, student ministries and supportive faith-inspired friendships that build up the student body of believers at Crown and prepare students for a lifelong journey of walking with Christ and a lifelong journey in a Christ-centric career.
The Crown College offers two different online Bachelor’s degree programs that will give students the skills and knowledge needed to enroll into a Master’s degree program for counseling. These online programs are a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Counseling and a Bachelors of Science in Drug and Alcohol Counseling. These programs offered at Crown College are fully online, asynchronous programs that are both accredited by The Higher Learning Commission–a fully-recognized accreditor that demands schools to meet and maintain their high-quality and rigorous standards–which is backed by the Department of Education. The online Psychology and Counseling Bachelor’s program and the online Drug and Alcohol Counseling Bachelor’s program are both Christ-centric and will give enrolled students not only the solid foundation they will need for a Master’s of Counseling program but also the solid foundation needed to counsel individuals and families with a gospel-backed spiritually-lifting approach to mental health.
Areas of Focus: Christian-based Counseling; Drug and Alcohol Counseling
9. Brandman University
Brandman University is a private, not-for-profit institution that provides educational opportunities for working adults. There are over 25 campuses throughout California and Washington and a virtual campus online. The university offers more than 50 degree, certificate, credential, and professional programs in the fields of business, arts and sciences, and health and education available through the university’s five schools. Brandman University offers a curriculum model known as iDEAL (Instructional Design for Engaged Adult Learning). According to a study conducted by the Lumina Foundation, iDEAL includes both the flexibility and learning methodology preferred by adult students by melding traditional classroom instruction and lectures with a selection of relevant internet-based learning activities. Through the use of iDEAL, Brandman University has seen great success when it comes to providing working adults with a postsecondary education.
The online Bachelors of Arts in Psychology program offered at Brandman University’s School of Arts and Sciences is an online and asynchronous program that is fully accredited by the regional accreditor Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), an accreditor that is recognized by the United States Department of Education. This psychology program offered by Brandman University is available with the following specializations: Child Psychology, Community Psychology, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and Preclinical Psychology. Students graduating from this online Bachelor’s program will have the skills and knowledge required to either start a career or to further their education. Some careers available to students at the time of graduation are: Case Manager, Psychiatric Technician, Career Counselor and Rehabilitation Specialist. However, many students choose to further their education by obtaining a Master’s degree in Counseling, further opening up career options. Out of the program specializations, Community Psychology is the only one with coursework dealing with counseling, so it might be a better choice for students who are wishing to later obtain a Master’s in Counseling degree.
Areas of Focus: Community Psychology (including an introduction to counseling); and General Psychology