Accredited Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees in Tennessee [2024 Guide]

Whether your goal is to become a school counselor, mental health counselor, or family therapist, online master’s counseling programs provide a comprehensive education that equips you with the necessary skills and knowledge. These programs provide a convenient and accessible way to pursue your master’s degree from the comfort of your own home.

Tennessee’s online master’s counseling programs are designed to accommodate diverse learning styles and schedules, allowing you to balance your studies with other commitments. Through interactive online classes and expert guidance, you will be prepared to embark on a fulfilling career in counseling, positively impacting individuals and communities throughout Tennessee and beyond.

Best Accredited Online Master's in Counseling Degrees in Tennessee

Online Master’s in Counseling in Tennessee

Listed below are some of the popular schools offering online master’s in counseling in Tennessee:

  • University of Tennessee – Martin
  • Carson-Newman University
  • Johnson University
  • Pepperdine University
  • Capella University
  • Southern New Hampshire University
  • Grand Canyon University

University of Tennessee – Martin

At the University of Tennessee – Martin, you can pursue the 60-credit Master of Science in Education, focusing on counseling. This program offers two distinct paths:

  • School Counseling: By choosing this specialization, you will be trained to support teachers, other school staff, and parents. Your main responsibility will involve addressing the needs of students, covering their academic challenges, helping them plan for careers, and assisting with their personal growth. After completing this program, you will be equipped to serve in schools from Pre-Kindergarten up to the 12th grade. Furthermore, this specialization qualifies you for a school counseling license in Tennessee through the Department of Education.
  • Clinical Mental Health Counseling: This route prepares you to handle a broad range of wellness, prevention, and mental health issues within a clinical setting.

This graduate program is designed specifically to ensure you meet the educational standards to seek a license in Tennessee. You could become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or a Licensed Professional Counselor-Mental Health Service Provider (LPC/MHSP).

If you are from outside Tennessee, this program might also help you get licensed in your home state. The program’s faculty can guide you about this process and check if you are eligible for a license before you even join.

Coursework for this program is offered 100% online. Some of the core courses that you will take include:

  • Research in Counseling
  • Theories and Techniques of Counseling
  • Career Development and Counseling
  • Group Dynamics
  • Principles of Crisis Intervention
  • Mental Health and Psychopathology
  • Individual Appraisal

The teaching approach at UTM centers on producing counselors who champion human growth. They believe a counselor should have the skills to enhance learning using various resources, both human and technological. This means they are committed to helping all types of learners and making the best use of technology to improve the way students learn.

As part of the program’s requirements, you must attend a three-day residency either in January or June. This is a crucial step before progressing in your studies. This residency will take place on the Martin campus and you will attend after completing at least 15 credit hours.

Furthermore, you will need to undergo a semester-long supervised practicum experience. You can only undertake this practicum with the approval of either the School Counseling Practicum and Internship Coordinator or the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Practicum and Internship Coordinator. If you are focusing on School Counseling, you will be admitted to the practicum if you submit satisfactory scores from the required Praxis II exam to the Education Preparation Program office.

Towards the end of your studies, you will take a comprehensive written exam. This will assess your skills and knowledge in your chosen specialization. A minimum score of 70% is required for successful completion.

If you are considering applying, ensure you have a minimum GPA of 2.5. The application process involves:

  • An online application with the necessary documents.
  • Three recommendation letters from people like your past teachers, principals, or employers, highlighting your potential in counseling.
  • A two-page essay detailing your relevant skills and experiences.
  • Your resume, emphasizing any counseling roles you have had.
  • If you are aiming for the School Counseling path, provide evidence of your teaching experience. If you do not have any teaching experience, then you must submit a signed Acknowledgement of Teaching Experience.
  • A completed Criminal Background Check form.
  • Official transcripts from institutions where you earned a degree. Send these to UT Martin Graduate Studies.
  • A $40 application fee.

Once all your materials are in, the Admission Committee will review your application. They will then schedule a virtual interview with you. After this, they will decide on your admission and notify you.

To reduce your financial burden, you have the chance to get a graduate assistantship if you qualify. If you are granted an assistantship, not only will you receive a fixed stipend, but your tuition fees, specifically the Maintenance Fee, will be waived.

Futhremore, you can also apply for loans to help pay for your studies. These loans are the unsubsidized Federal Stafford loans and the Federal GradPLUS loans. To be eligible, you need to be enrolled in at least half of the full-time course load and working towards getting a degree.

Carson-Newman University

Master of Science (MS) in Counseling

At Carson-Newman, you have the opportunity to enroll in the 60-credit Master of Science in Counseling program. This program combines top-notch academic studies with real-life experiences in both clinical and school environments. Furthermore, their affiliations at the local, state, and national levels provide you with professional growth, networking opportunities, and insights into actual counseling situations.

This program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and meet educational requirements for licensure as a professional counselor in Tennessee and many other states. The program can be completed online, in-person or a hybrid format.

Your unique life experiences and perspectives are valued in this program. Such diversity enriches the overall learning experience. Within this collaborative learning setting, you will have the opportunity to build lasting relationships with faculty, seasoned counseling professionals, and peers.

The program offers three specialization choices:

  • Clinical Mental Health Counseling: This prepares you for counseling individuals, groups, and families. Upon graduating, you can explore numerous job roles in the mental health sector. Furthermore, you can work towards becoming a licensed professional counselor (LPC) or a marriage and family therapist (LMFT). Remember, getting licensed as an LPC or LMFT involves fulfilling specific requirements set by the state.
  • Professional School Counseling: Choosing this specialization will equip you to become a counselor for students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. By completing a total of 54 semester hours, along with meeting other criteria like passing the Praxis II exam, you will satisfy the requirements for a Tennessee licensure.
  • Dual Degree in Clinical Mental Health and Professional School Counseling: This special program lets you fulfill the criteria for both specializations mentioned above. You will receive both degrees once you finish the EdS degree focus. However, it’s necessary to complete courses for both degrees at Carson-Newman. You can choose the order in which you tackle the specializations.

Regardless of your specialization, you must pass a comprehensive examination to earn this master’s degree. Typically, depending on how many courses you take each term, it takes seven to nine semesters to finish this program.

Some of the core courses that you will take include:

  • Theories and Techniques of Counseling
  • Group Counseling Processes
  • Holistic Counseling in a Diverse World
  • Life-Span Development for Counselors
  • Career Counseling and Development
  • Crisis Counseling and Trauma Interventions
  • Professional Orientation and Ethics in Counseling
  • Counseling and Development of Children and Adolescents

Practical experience is crucial. You will need to complete supervised practicums, which are 100-hour sessions spanning at least 10 weeks. Of those hours, 40 should be direct service with clients to hone your counseling skills. Your faculty will help decide where you will do your practicum, and it’s essential to have a qualified supervisor at your chosen site.

Additionally, there’s a supervised internship. This involves 600 hours, which you can split over two semesters (300 hours each) or complete in one. Of these hours, 240 should be direct interactions with clients or students.

Earning a Master of Counseling degree from Carson-Newman will pave the way for numerous counseling careers, such as:

  • Individual, group, marriage and family counselor
  • Licensed professional counselor
  • Human services educator
  • Student affairs administrator
  • Licensed mental health counselor
  • School counselor
  • Residential treatment counselor
  • Career counselor

Once you complete your studies, you will be skilled in these areas:

  • Understanding Your Role & Ethics: You will know what being a counselor means, see yourself as one, and be ready to work within the profession’s ethical rules.
  • Learning About Counseling Theories: You will deeply understand the main ideas behind counseling, both for individuals and groups, and know how to use them when you counsel someone.
  • Building Helping Relationships: You will know how to help people in one-on-one sessions, encouraging their growth, and checking how they are doing in reaching their goals.
  • Handling Crises: You will know how big incidents, like disasters or personal traumas, can affect people and how you, as a mental health professional, can help them through these tough times.
  • Understanding Different People: You will recognize how society and culture shape how people act and think, and understand how these differences might change the way you counsel them.
  • Group Counseling Knowledge: You will understand the ins and outs of counseling a group, from its purpose to the different ways you can approach it.
  • Knowing How People Grow: You will understand the stages of human growth and how this knowledge fits into counseling.
  • Guiding Career Choices: You will know how career choices and other related life events can impact someone’s mental health and way of life and how to talk about this in counseling.
  • Helping Young People: You will be well-versed in the methods and ideas that work best when counseling children and teenagers, and be ready to use them.

If you are looking to apply, here’s what you need:

  • You should have a bachelor’s degree from a university that’s regionally accredited.
  • Your undergraduate GPA should be at least 3.0.
  • An official transcript from all institutions where undergraduate and graduate study were
  • Your professional resume.
  • A written statement explaining your purpose for joining the program.
  • Two recommendations.
  • Background record check.

You will also be asked to appear for an interview to assess your  motivation for professional development, communication skills, self-awareness, confidence and potential for working with diverse populations.

If you are enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours, you might be eligible for federal financial aid. If you qualify, you can borrow up to $20,500 annually, which should cover the program’s cost. Futhremore, the university also offers a limited number of competitive scholarships and graduate assistantships.

Johnson University

Master of Arts (MA)  in Counseling

When you enroll in Johnson University’s M.A. in Counseling program, you will experience a unique combination of classroom learning and hands-on clinical experience in a holistic environment. The program maintains small class sizes with a student-faculty ratio of less than 12:1, ensuring more direct interaction between you and the faculty.

You have the option to specialize in either Clinical Mental Health Counseling or School Counseling, and if you wish, you can pursue both concentrations. Both concentrations are accredited by the CACREP.

Instead of 100% online, Johnson University offers the M.A. in Counseling program in a hybrid format based on its Tennessee campus. This format incorporates a variety of teaching methods, including in-class discussions, experiential activities, and online learning. You have the flexibility to complete the program in a span of 2.5 to 5 years, and typically, courses require you to be on campus for a Class Residency on two weekends per term per course.

The program also provides flexibility in practicum and internship courses, allowing you to choose between on-campus and off-campus site placements.

If you choose to complete requirements for both concentrations, you will need to complete all coursework in both areas, resulting in a degree of 78 credit hours. This path enables you to pursue licensure as both a Professional School Counselor and a Licensed Professional Counselor with a Mental Health Service Provider designation.

Clinical Mental Health Concentration:

  • This concentration focuses on providing you with a professional education and experience in mental health counseling.
  • Graduates are eligible to pursue professional licensure in most states, and in Tennessee, they can pursue licensure as Licensed Professional Counselors with the Mental Health Service Provider designation.
  • The program consists of 63 credit hours, and upon graduation, you will have completed 1,000 hours of clinical contact.
  • Key courses include Contemporary Trends in Marriage & Family Therapy/CMHC, Couples & Marital Therapy, Adult Assessment, Diagnosis, & Treatment, Clinical Practicum, and Clinical Internship.

School Counseling Concentration:

  • This concentration offers professional education and experience in school counseling.
  • Graduates of the program are eligible for licensure in Tennessee as Licensed Professional School Counselors.
  • The program consists of 60 credit hours, and upon graduation, you will have completed over 600 hours of practicum and internship experience in both primary and secondary schools.
  • Key courses include Foundations in School Counseling, Contemporary Trends in School Counseling, School Counseling Practicum, and School Counseling Internship.

If you are interested in this program, you must complete/provide the following:

  • An online graduate application and application fee.
  • Three references.
  • Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions you have attended.
  • A recent government-issued photo ID (e.g., driver’s license, passport, etc.) scanned and emailed to the Admissions department.
  • A two- to three-page essay describing your personal and professional background, and how your professional goals and interests align with the goals and purpose of Johnson University and the chosen graduate program.
  • A counseling prerequisite: A minimum of 15 hours of undergraduate or graduate credit hours in counseling or a related field from a regionally accredited institution.
  • A writing sample, 5-10 pages in length, from your previous college work.
  • An interview with the School of Social & Behavioral Science graduate faculty.
  • If your undergraduate GPA is below 3.0, you may be required to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or Miller Analogies Test (MAT).

What Can an LPC Do in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, an LPC is authorized to perform various mental health services and therapies to help individuals, couples, and families with their emotional and psychological well-being. Here’s a summary of what an LPC can do in Tennessee:

  • Individual Counseling: In Tennessee, LPCs are authorized to provide one-on-one counseling sessions to clients dealing with various mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and substance abuse. They use evidence-based therapeutic techniques to help clients improve their mental health.
  • Group Therapy: LPCs in Tennessee can also lead group therapy sessions, where they facilitate discussions and activities among a small group of individuals who share similar concerns or challenges. Group therapy can be effective for addressing issues like addiction, grief, and interpersonal relationships.
  • Family Counseling: LPCs in Tennessee can offer family therapy to help families improve communication, resolve conflicts, and build healthier relationships. They work with families to address issues like divorce, parenting, and behavioral problems in children and adolescents.
  • Marriage and Couples Counseling: In Tennessee, LPCs are qualified to provide marriage and couples counseling to address marital conflicts, communication issues, and other relationship challenges. They help couples develop stronger connections and coping strategies.
  • Treatment Planning: LPCs in Tennessee  can develop treatment plans tailored to each client’s unique needs. They can set specific goals and objectives for therapy and use evidence-based interventions to achieve those goals.
  • Crisis Intervention: LPCs in Tennessee can provide crisis intervention and support to clients experiencing acute mental health crises, such as suicidal thoughts or severe emotional distress. They help clients stabilize and connect them to appropriate resources.
  • Consultation and Collaboration: LPCs in Tennessee often collaborate with other mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers, to ensure comprehensive care for clients. They may consult on complex cases or refer clients for medication management when necessary.
  • Advocacy: LPCs in Tennessee can advocate for their clients’ rights and needs, both within the mental health system and in other areas of life, such as schools, workplaces, and legal settings.

Can You Be a Counselor in TN Without a License?

In Tennessee, you cannot practice as a licensed counselor without obtaining the necessary licensure. The title “licensed professional counselor” or “LPC” is a protected title in Tennessee, and using this title without the appropriate licensure is against the law.

How Much Does a Licensed Counselor Make in Tennessee?

As of March 2024, the average annual salary for a licensed counselor working in Tennessee is $66,995. More experienced and top earning licensed counselors working in Tennessee make over $110,000 per year.

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