If you are ready to pursue a career as a mental health counselor, you can start your journey by studying for your master’s degree online. Better still, you can do so without taking the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)!
Without the barrier of the GRE and with the enhanced flexibility that online learning provides, the programs listed below enable you to get the proper education for mental health counseling and do so on your terms.
As you will see in our list of mental health counseling programs without GRE, you will study with experienced professors, take part in robust online learning, and have the opportunity to get real-world experience in internship experiences in or near your hometown. It’s the ideal way to finish your degree!
Online Master’s in Counseling at the University of Wyoming
This Master of Science program from the University of Wyoming is CACREP-accredited and prepares you for mental health counseling in one of two roles: school counseling or mental health counseling. Both concentrations require 61 credits for graduation, which takes three years to complete. This includes studies in:
- Social and Cultural Diversity
- Group Work and Counseling
- Lifestyle and Career Development
- Helping Relationships
- Professional Orientation and Ethical Practice
Likewise, both tracks follow a cohort model, so you will progress through your studies with the same classmates for the duration of the program. You will work together in online environments to help one another build skills. And since this is a hybrid program with intensive weekend experiences, you will also get to work face-to-face with your classmates.
This program requires extensive field training as part of the graduation requirements. The University of Wyoming works closely with you to find internship placements in or near your hometown.
Note that this program only admits students every three years. You need a 3.0 GPA, official transcripts, and letters of recommendation to apply to this program. You must also attend an in-person interview day. No GRE is required.
Online Master’s in Counseling at Northwestern University
Northwestern’s CACREP-accredited Master of Arts in Counseling program offers a curriculum that educates you in both evidence-based practice and counseling theory in preparation for work as a clinical mental health counselor. This is done through rigorous coursework that includes live online courses and asynchronous activities.
Likewise, Northwestern’s program requires that you complete clinical field placements to put your classroom learning to work in a real-world environment. These placements include a 200-hour practicum followed by a 600-hour internship. You will complete 24 graduate-level courses as well.
If you have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, you can apply to the Standard counseling program at Northwestern. If not, you can apply to the Bridge to Counseling program, which covers essential prerequisites for students without clinical experience.
To apply to this program, you must provide transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume or CV, and a statement of purpose. There is also an online group interview. No GRE is required.
Online Master’s in Counseling at the University of Louisiana-Monroe
The online Master of Science in Counseling from the University of Louisiana-Monroe (ULM) is CACREP-accredited and requires that you complete 60 credits to graduate. The program is 100 percent online with no residency requirement. Your classes take place in Moodle, and Zoom is used to create an interactive, live classroom environment.
ULM’s program offers four different concentrations:
- Clinical Mental Health Counseling
- School Counseling
- Addictions Counseling
- A combined option that blends two of these three areas
Completion of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling track qualifies you to pursue licensure as a licensed professional counselor (LPC). This includes coursework in psychopathology, psychological assessment, and treatment of mental disorders.
Unlike many graduate counseling programs, this one offers 30 elective courses from which to choose. Having this many electives available means you can tailor your studies to your specific area of interest.
If you want to apply to ULM’s program, you must submit a resume or CV, a letter of interest, and letters of recommendation. A 30-minute Zoom interview is also required. No GRE is required if you have at least a 2.75 undergraduate GPA or a 3.5 GPA in a previous graduate program.
Online Master’s in Counseling at North Carolina State University
Unlike the other programs on this list, North Carolina State University’s Master’s in counseling culminates in an M.Ed. This Master of Education offers the same core curriculum as other CACREP-accredited MA and MS programs. However, you will also explore methods of promoting wellness for clients and working with professionals in various fields to achieve that end.
Additionally, this program follows the School-College-Community Collaboration Model, which strives to build strong connections between professionals and enhance the safety net for people with mental illnesses. This program also emphasizes the importance of social justice, diversity, and multiculturalism.
This is a part-time cohort program that takes three years to complete. You will take core courses in group counseling, substance abuse counseling, and crisis counseling. You will also take classes in multicultural counseling, theories of counseling, and techniques in counseling. Practicum and internship experiences are required as well.
You can begin the application process by submitting an online application, your resume, and a non-refundable application fee. Likewise, you must submit official transcripts, a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. This program does not require GRE scores.
What is the Difference Between a MA and a MS in Counseling?
The primary difference between a Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS) degree is that the former focuses more on a liberal arts education while the latter focuses more on a science-based education.
Typically, a Master of Arts program focuses more on the theoretical underpinnings of counseling while a Master of Science program focuses more on technical expertise in the field.
So what does this mean for your studies?
If you want to be a counselor – someone that works with clients in a mental health setting – a Master of Arts might be better suited to your goals because of the tendency to focus more on theory. However, if you want to conduct research in psychology and counseling, an MS program might be a better fit due to its focus on technical understanding. The key word here is “might.”
That’s because MA and MS programs in counseling sometimes have little to no differences. All master’s programs in counseling are required to have more or less the same core courses. This leaves very few free spots in a program’s graduation requirements for courses that differentiate between an MA or MS track.
Every program is slightly different, though, so it’s advisable to inquire with programs you are interested in to learn about any differences between their MA and MS programs.
Is a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Worth It?
Working in the mental health field is tough work. It can be full of long, stress-filled days with emergencies in which your clients are in dire mental health situations. You will see and hear things that are incredibly painful and traumatic, you will be frustrated with the lack of progress that some clients make, and you might not make that much money.
But, as difficult as working as a mental health counselor can be, there are few jobs that enable you to have as much of a positive impact on someone else’s life. For all the pain and trauma your clients experience, you will have the skills to help them work through that and come out of their experience a stronger, happier, and better person.
Likewise, for all the times you feel frustrated with a lack of progress, there will be as many – if not more – moments when your clients turn the corner and begin to show signs of becoming more mentally healthy. You will experience happiness, joy, and pride alongside your clients as they take control of their lives.
As a result, you can experience very high job satisfaction. Working in a career that provides you with a sense of purpose and pride is hugely important for enjoying what you do. Counseling can do just that!
Are Online Counseling Degrees Respected?
There are several reasons why online counseling degrees are as respected as counseling degrees earned on campus.
First, most colleges and universities don’t distinguish between degrees earned on campus and online. There’s no difference between these degrees and no reason to respect an online degree any less.
Second, accredited colleges and universities have to adhere to strict academic standards for their on-campus and online programs. A school that’s regionally accredited has to adhere to the strictest standards. When looking for an online counseling program, one from a regionally accredited school will give your online degree that much more respect.
And third, online counseling programs are accredited just like on-campus programs. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is one of the primary accrediting agencies for counseling programs. If an online counseling program has CACREP accreditation, the degree you earn will most certainly be respected.