Popular Accredited Online Mental Health Counseling Programs in North Carolina [2024]

Online mental health counseling programs in North Carolina offer flexibility and accessibility, making it easier for you to pursue your educational goals while managing other life responsibilities.

With a focus on providing quality education that meets the rigorous standards of the counseling profession, these programs are designed to equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in the field.

This article explores some of the popular online mental health counseling programs available in North Carolina, highlighting their unique features and how they cater to the evolving needs of aspiring mental health professionals.

Best Accredited Online Mental Health Counseling Graduate Programs in North Carolina

Online Mental Health Counseling Programs in North Carolina

Listed below are some of the popular schools offering online mental health counseling programs in North Carolina:

  • North Carolina State University
  • North Carolina Central University
  • Catawba College
  • Wake Forest University
  • University of Mount Olive
  • Methodist University
  • Capella University
  • Walden University

North Carolina State University

Online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

NC State University offers a 60-credit online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. This distance education master’s degree is designed for professionals aiming to work in clinical mental health roles and promotes client wellness in behavioral health fields.

You need to complete a minimum of 60 credits to be eligible for the National Counselor Examination (NCE). This program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

The online program spans three years and is part-time. It follows a cohort model starting in Summer II (June). Typically, you will take two online classes each fall and spring, with additional coursework during summer. In the final year, some on-campus weekend classes are required.

Key features of the program:

  • Complete the program part-time in 3 years.
  • The cohort begins in Summer Session II.
  • Take one course each summer session and two each fall and spring.
  • Undertake a 600-hour internship in the third year, split between fall and spring.

The M.Ed. program emphasizes developmental theory and the design of preventive interventions, foundational clinical counseling theory, and practice. Multicultural diversity issues are integral to the coursework and the faculty-student community.

Core courses of the program include:

  • Introduction to Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Career Counseling and Development
  • Theories of Counseling
  • Gender Issues in Counseling
  • Substance Abuse Counseling
  • Multicultural Life Span Human Development
  • Strategies for Clinical Assessment in Counseling
  • Crisis Counseling

You will benefit from strong relationships with professionals at the University Counseling Center and gain experience through internships in various community settings, tailored to your study area.

The program seeks to attract culturally diverse students. Recently, the proportion of culturally diverse students has increased significantly.

Completing this master’s degree is the first step towards licensure as a mental health counselor in North Carolina. You can take licensing exams in your final semester. Graduates of this program typically pursue careers in therapy, counseling, family therapy, substance abuse counseling, and other professional roles.

Learning objectives of the program include:

  • Understand and practice ethical professional counseling.
  • Acknowledge and apply cultural diversity in counseling.
  • Apply knowledge of human growth and development in counseling.
  • Integrate career development concepts into professional counseling.
  • Utilize counseling theories and techniques effectively.
  • Demonstrate group counseling knowledge and skills.
  • Apply appropriate clinical assessment and evaluation practices.
  • Critically evaluate and utilize research and program evaluation.

Application requirements:

  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary education.
  • Official statement of English Proficiency (TOEFL) for international students.
  • Ability to complete field experiences in North Carolina.

Admission considerations will also include:

  • Academic achievement, particularly in your junior and senior undergraduate years, and any graduate coursework.
  • Performance ratings and recommendations from professional or supervisory personnel, assessing personal qualities essential for professional competence.
  • Demonstrated leadership activities and/or significant work experience.
  • An interview process, which candidates are selected for, barring significant geographical distances.
  • Additional materials to supplement your application, such as research papers or videos of your “helping” activities.

All applications and supporting documents must be received by either the Graduate School Priority Deadlines or the Program Deadlines. International students should also be aware of their specific earlier deadlines.

North Carolina Central University

Online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

In the online Clinical Mental Health Program at North Carolina Central University, you will complete 60 hours of coursework. This program is designed to prepare you for roles in non-profit, private, and other mental health settings. It specifically gears you towards becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor in North Carolina.

You will receive comprehensive curricular and supervised experiences for initial licensure with the NC Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and for qualification as a National Certified Counselor by the National Board of Certified Counselors.

If you wish to become a Clinical Addictions Specialist (LCAS), you will need to take three additional courses, as the program is recognized as a Criteria C school for this licensure. The program is fully accredited by the CACREP and is a member of the International Registry of Counselor Education Programs (IRCEP).

Key courses in the program include:

  • Ethical & Professional Orientation to Counseling: You will learn about ethical and professional issues in counseling, explore your identity as a counselor, and understand the characteristics of an effective counselor.
  • Theories and Techniques of Counseling: This course focuses on major counseling and psychotherapy approaches, linking them to personality theories and treatment procedures for client problems.
  • Crisis, Trauma, and Grief Counseling: Essential for students in this program, you will learn about advocacy, consultation, and intervention strategies for clients dealing with life changes, trauma, and grief.
  • Psychosocial Development and Behavioral Dynamics: You will focus on developmental processes and behavioral dynamics across the lifespan.
  • Multicultural and Gender Issues in Counseling: This course covers multicultural counseling and gender issues, enhancing your awareness and skills in diverse cultural contexts.
  • Principles and Procedures of Group Counseling: You will study group dynamics and therapeutic forces in counseling groups, and learn to lead a group.
  • Introduction to Family Counseling: The course includes an in-depth study of family therapy history, theory, and practice.
  • Introduction to Addiction Counseling: You will gain an overview of substance abuse counseling and psychopharmacology.

You will participate in a clinical instructional environment under faculty supervision, gaining experience in individual and group counseling. The practicum is a 100-hour field experience in an agency, college, or school. The internship is a 600-hour field placement, where you will apply your skills in interviewing, career assessment, and counseling techniques.

Admission requirements for the program include:

  • Minimum GPA of 2.7.
  • A Bachelor’s Degree.
  • GRE scores.
  • Two recommendations.
  • An application essay.
  • Official transcripts from all schools attended.
  • A $50 non-refundable fee.

Catawba College

Online Master of Health Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

In pursuing a career in mental health counseling, you will be dedicating yourself to bringing hope and healing to those in need. This role involves evaluating, treating, and following up with patients facing various mental health challenges.

At Catawba College, the online Master of Health Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program offers an extensive curriculum. This program is designed to equip you for the NCE. You will earn a degree that qualifies you for this exam, while also gaining the clinical hours and practical skills necessary for addressing contemporary mental health challenges.

In this program, you will develop clinical skills and competencies through broad counselor education approaches and personalized experiential learning, including an internship component.

The program comprises a 60-credit hour degree. This includes 45 hours of didactic coursework and 15 hours of hands-on experience, where you will provide clinical services to clients under direct supervision. Core courses of the program include:

  • Introduction to Counseling
  • Counseling Theories
  • Principles of Addiction
  • Counseling Skills & Techniques
  • Ethical, Legal, and Professional Issues in Counseling
  • Multicultural Diversity in Counseling
  • Diagnosis & Treatment of Mental Health Disorders
  • Assessment & Evaluation in Counseling
  • Human Growth & Development
  • Career Development

The design of the Master of Health Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree at Catawba College is in line with the college’s mission to blend liberal studies knowledge and competencies with career preparation. The program starts in the fall, and each class has a maximum of 18 students.

The objectives of this program are:

  • To offer a curriculum that equips you with the necessary skills and techniques for clinical mental health counseling.
  • To foster a rich research environment that encourages the application of evidence-based practices.
  • To enable you with critical thinking and decision-making skills essential for addressing clinical needs.
  • To prepare you for engaging effectively with a diverse, multicultural, and global society.

Aligned with CACREP standards, you will achieve specific learning outcomes:

  • You will be immersed in opportunities that reflect Catawba’s core values: scholarship, character, culture, and service.
  • You will learn essential knowledge and skills for client assessment, diagnosis, case conceptualization, and treatment planning across diverse populations.
  • You will develop a wide range of therapeutic skills and techniques for use with diverse clients.
  • You will learn ethical practices in counseling.

The program not only prepares you for the national qualifying exam with targeted coursework but also provides personalized advising and feedback to optimize your exam performance.

After completing this program, you will be prepared for both the qualifying exam and the clinical settings. Through innovative teaching, comprehensive assessments, tailored advising, and hands-on learning, you will be well-prepared for a career in clinical mental health counseling.

To apply for this program, you need:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
  • A completed application to Catawba College’s graduate program.
  • Official academic transcripts from every college or university you have attended.
  • A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale from an accredited institution.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • A personal essay of at least 500 words. This essay should explain your desire to pursue a graduate degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. You should discuss your interest in the field of counseling, your reasons for choosing Catawba College, and how you envision serving diverse communities.

Wake Forest University

Online Master’s in Mental Health Counseling

As you embark on your journey with Wake Forest’s online master’s in mental health counseling, you are stepping towards fulfilling your dream of positively impacting others. This program offers you the opportunity to pursue counseling licensure and is supported by a dedicated faculty team focused on educating future counselors.

Whether you seek a new career direction or wish to enhance your current one, Wake Forest’s online master’s program in mental health counseling is designed to help you achieve your aspirations. Upon graduation, you will be qualified to sit for the National Counselor Examination.

In this online program, you will learn to work closely with individuals facing various life and mental health challenges. These range from drug and substance abuse to family and marriage issues. You will develop the ability to build therapeutic relationships and acquire specialized clinical skills.

The mental health counseling degree program at Wake Forest is known globally for preparing leaders passionate about driving significant change. You will be guided every step of the way towards becoming a mental health professional, equipped with compassion and empathy, ready to assist others in living more fulfilling lives.

This 100% online, CACREP-accredited program is tailored for working professionals. It offers round-the-clock technical support and tutoring services. The program requires 60 hours to complete. This includes 15 core courses, three clinical courses, and three specialty area courses.

The master’s program offers clinical instruction through practicum and internship experiences. It covers advanced therapeutic techniques across eight areas:

  • Human growth and development
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Helping relationships
  • Group work
  • Career and lifestyle development
  • Appraisal
  • Research and program evaluation
  • Professional orientation

This program can be completed in three years. Cohorts start in fall, spring, and summer. As an online student, you will take courses continuously throughout the year, completing your degree sequentially with your cohort.

This program is part-time and may include both asynchronous and synchronous elements, with live scheduled class times each week. Assignments and assessments have specific deadlines.

You will be required to attend two 3-day residencies at the Reynolda Campus in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. These residencies run from Friday evening to Sunday noon, where you will be evaluated for competency and readiness.

These residencies also provide opportunities for planning and assessing field experiences, networking, and meeting faculty and peers. These residencies fulfill the group experience requirement set by the CACREP.

As part of the program, you will complete a Practicum, encompassing 200 hours of field experience in a community, mental health, or school setting, and two school clinical mental health counseling internships totaling 600 hours.

The program focuses on empowering and enriching graduates whose career goals involve helping others. Wake Forest graduates have a history of working in diverse settings such as community agencies, mental health facilities, and schools.

The faculty at Wake Forest are more than just educators; they are renowned thought leaders in the field. Many are authors of standard academic texts used in master’s in mental health counseling programs nationwide, demonstrating their passion and dedication to the field.

To be eligible for the master’s in mental health counseling program at Wake Forest University, you need to meet the following graduate admissions qualifications:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • A cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0.
  • A personal statement.
  • A resume.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • An application fee of $80.
  • A virtual interview with an enrollment advisor.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Mental Health Counselor in North Carolina?

Overall, the journey to becoming a licensed clinical mental health counselor (LCMHC) in North Carolina can take approximately 4 to 6 years, depending on the duration of the educational program, the schedule of supervised experience, and the timing of the licensure examination and application process.

Requirements for becoming a licensed clinical mental health counselor in North Carolina include:

  1. Educational Requirements: Initially, you need to complete a master’s degree in mental health counseling or a related field, which generally takes about 2-3 years. The program should include a minimum of 60 semester hours of education, along with coursework in core mental health counseling areas and at least 300 hours of supervised counseling experience during practicum and internship.
  2. Supervised Experience: After earning your degree, you must accrue at least 3,000 hours of supervised professional counseling experience, with a minimum of 2,000 hours in direct client contact. This process requires at least 24 months (2 years) to complete. You are also required to receive a minimum of 100 hours of supervision, including 75 hours of individual supervision.
  3. Examination: You need to pass a recognized counseling examination, such as the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE).
  4. Application Process and Licensure: Once you have fulfilled the educational and experience requirements and passed the necessary examination, you can apply for your license. This process includes submitting an application package to the North Carolina Board of Licensed Clinical Metal Health Counselors, which is then reviewed before a license is issued.

How Much Does a Licensed Mental Health Counselor Make in North Carolina?

As of January 2024, the average annual salary for a licensed mental health counselor in North Carolina is $97,000 per year or $46.63 per hour. Entry level positions start at $65,000 per year.

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