Accelerated Counseling Degrees Online [2023 Guide]

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Discover the power of accelerated counseling degrees online. Unlock your potential to make a positive impact on people's lives with flexible learning options.

You’re likely looking for accelerated counseling degrees online because you value the work of the profession, but did you know that the term counseling means the giving and receiving of advice and guidance? An accelerated online counseling degree can help put you on the giving end of advice and guidance.

That is a powerful role that can enable you to help a lot of people!

Accelerated Counseling Degree

The counseling role may take you in many different directions: school, addiction, substance abuse, family and marriage, mental health, and career counseling.

Where there are problems or issues to talk through, there are often jobs for counselors.

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The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be a 23% job growth for counselors through the next 10 years. That is faster than the average of all occupations.

Do you feel drawn toward a field that has you interacting with people every day? Are you the person who others come to for advice? Maybe you’re a good listener. Perhaps when people talk to you, they walk away feeling like they have a better understanding of how to address the problems they are facing.

If you want to do more with these innate skills, you can think about an accelerated online degree in counseling.

Types of Accelerated Counseling Degree Programs

Accelerated Counseling Degree Programs

Counseling degree programs have many focuses. Some of the most popular are:

  • Bachelor’s in Counseling—Addiction, Chemical Dependency, and Substance Abuse
  • Bachelor’s in Counseling—Christian Counseling
  • Bachelor’s in Counseling—Marriage and Family Counseling
  • Bachelor’s in Counseling—Mental Health Counseling
  • Bachelor’s in Counseling—School Counseling

No matter who you are passionate about helping, there is likely a counseling focus you can take. If you want to specialize even further, you might want to think about a doctorate degree in counseling!

Accelerated Counseling Degree Overview

Accelerated Counseling Degree online

A counseling degree is a rather new and quite rare degree, especially a bachelor’s degree in counseling. Most counselors start their education with a bachelor’s degree in psychology or social work. Alternatively, an online doctoral degree in psychology (PsyD program) might be a good fit.

If you are looking to become a licensed counselor, most states will require you to have a master’s degree.

Although there are jobs you may be able to get with just a bachelor’s degree in counseling, you might soon want to pursue your master’s in counseling online or on-campus in order to become licensed. Chances are high that you’ll make more money with a master’s degree as well.

A counseling degree program can help prepare you for whichever path you choose with possible classes like:

  • Co-occurring Disorders and HIV/AIDS
  • Domestic Violence, Child, Elder Abuse
  • Family Dynamics and Communication
  • Foundations of Addiction and Substance Use Disorders
  • Group Interventions and Community Resources
  • Multicultural Counseling in a Diverse Society
  • Professional, Legal, and Ethical Issues in Substance Use Disorder Counselors
  • Psychopath and Advanced Treatment
  • Trauma and Recovery in Mental Health

A degree in counseling can help you develop the skills to effectively offer advice and guidance that can steer your clients into making better choices.

Careers with an Accelerated Counseling Degree

Careers with an Accelerated Counseling Degree

Earning a bachelor’s degree is the first step when pursuing a career in counseling, but it is up to you how long you want to stay on that first step. With just a bachelor’s degree, you could pursue a career as an:

  • Addictions counselor
  • Case manager
  • Crisis intervention specialist
  • Group home facilitator
  • Life coach
  • Rehabilitation specialist

What can you do with a masters in counseling? Getting a master’s degree in counseling allows you to pursue licensure and the next level of counseling careers.

With your master’s degree in counseling, you could pursue a career as a:

  • Clinical counseling supervisor
  • Eating disorder therapist
  • Group therapist
  • Marriage and family therapist
  • Mental health counselor
  • School and career counselor

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that “employment growth is expected as people continue to seek addiction and mental health counseling.” More and more people are realizing the need for counseling as they encounter disruptions and trauma in their lives.

These are some possible careers for those with a counseling degree:

Careers Annual Median Salary
Social and Community Service Managers $69,600
School and Career Counselors $58,120
Probation Officers $55,690
Substance Abuse Counselors, Hospitals $50,460
Private Mental Health Counselors $47,580
Social Service Specialists $46,770
Behavioral Disorder Counselors, Outpatient Care Centers $45,960
Addiction Counselors, Residential Facilities $40,560
Rehabilitation Counselors $37,530

Some of these careers are only available to those with a master’s degree in counseling.

The Benefits of Online Accelerated Counseling Degree Programs

Many students opt to take online accelerated degree programs due to the flexibility and convenience they provide. There can be great benefits to taking online accelerated programs, such as: 

Multiple Start Dates

You may start right now. Getting your counseling degree is much more flexible than it previously was. September start dates are a thing of the past for many programs. Many online universities throughout North America offer start dates every month.

Finish Faster

Online Accelerated Counseling Degree

To get an accelerated counseling degree, you still need to earn credits for all the same required classes. Traditional classes are 16 weeks long.

Alternatively, accelerated classes are only 6-8 weeks long.

You can still learn all the same material you need to know and complete insightful assignments but potentially be done twice as fast, and most schools list online classes the same way as on-campus classes on transcripts.

Study Anywhere, Anytime

When you take classes online, you don’t have to move to or live near campus. Many programs won’t even require you to go to class at a certain time. You can study when and where it’s convenient for you!

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3 Ways to Accelerate Your Counseling Degree Even More

counseling degree student studying on her laptop comfortably

These 3 ideas can be valuable assets to add to your degree plan because they can potentially save you a lot of time and money.

1. Test Out of College Classes (Save Up to 1 Year)

You don’t always have to go to class to get credit. You may have the option to register to take almost all of your core classes and electives as credit for exams.

You can register with the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and pay $89 for a 3-credit, 100-question, multiple-choice exam. As long as you get 50% right, you’ll get the credit. You might earn 3 credits in less than 2 hours.

Most universities allow students to earn up to 30 credits by exam. That’s 10 classes that you may be able to knock off of your degree by just taking exams. Even if the course is something you are not familiar with, you may be able to purchase a study guide and learn the material faster than you would in class.

2. Get College Credit for Your Life and Work Experience (Save another Semester!)

Counseling Degree colleges

Not only can you earn credit without attending class, but you might also be able to earn credit for your life and work experiences. This is called Credit for Prior Learning, and each university has a specific outline of how it works. Typically, you can earn credit for:

  • On the job training
  • A course you have taken through work
  • Military experience
  • Volunteer and overseas work

Taking advantage of your life experience could potentially earn you up to 15 credits from your university. That’s 5 classes you wouldn’t have to pay for or attend.

3. Stay Continuously Enrolled with the Max Course Load

Most people take 12-15 credits per semester, but you can actually take 18 credit hours each semester. Also, there are 3 semesters if you count summer. With 3 rounds of 18 credits, you can earn up to 54 credits in a year instead of 30.

Is it hard work? Yes. Does it also allow you to potentially earn your degree twice as fast? Also yes.

Bonus: Transferring Your Existing College Credits

Counseling Degree college

You may also be able to use college classes you’ve taken previously to meet your counseling degree requirements.

Many schools will give credit for previous classes as long as:

  • You earned at least a C
  • Your college was accredited

Even if the class does not fit into your counseling degree, you may still be able to use the credit to fill an elective spot.

Lower Tuition Costs

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Currently, Americans owe about $1.6 trillion in student loans, according to Forbes. That is a painful number! Large amounts of debt can be a horrible way to start a new career.

Moving forward financially often requires a degree, but it doesn’t have to cost as much as you might think.

Taking 30 credits by Credit by Exam will cost you $890, plus any smaller fees your local testing center may charge as well. The 15 credits earned through Credit for Prior Learning can cost you $1,000-$2,000 for the portfolio assessment, which is likely a lot less than the cost of tuition for those credits.

Your out-of-pocket savings don’t have to stop there. You can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what you qualify to receive in grants and loans.

You can also research scholarship opportunities from your university and private organizations.

If you’re working, you can talk to your employer about tuition assistance as well.

Counseling Degree Accreditation

logos of Counseling Degree Accreditors

Counseling is a regulated profession. That means if you want to get a job, become licensed, or go on to a master’s degree program, you have to make sure that your bachelor’s degree is from an accredited college. Accreditation is a process that schools go through to receive official recognition of their credibility.

For you, accreditation means you aren’t wasting your time or money on a fake degree.

Some agencies and accreditors to look for when earning a counseling degree include:

Your school should also be regionally accredited, so it is important to do a little background check on your school before you start to ensure you’ll be getting a high-quality education.

Earning Your Counseling Degree Online

female counselor giving advice to a patient during counseling session in her office

Earning an accelerated counseling degree online can start you down the path to helping people in a professional capacity in hospitals, schools, prisons, homeless shelters, or government agencies.

The job market for counselors is projected to be booming in the next 10 years.

To get started, you can decide which counseling concentration is right for you and apply to 3-5 schools that offer that program. Then, if you test out of as many classes, get as much credit for prior learning, and take as many accelerated classes as you can, you might have your degree in as little as 18-24 months!

Ready to start your journey?
Joy Cromwelle
Joy Cromwelle
Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy at Liberty University and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management from Amberton University, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration from Columbia College. With over 20 years of experience navigating online degrees and courses, Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.