For those interested in a helping profession, a degree in counseling or human services can lead to a rewarding and satisfying career as a counselor, therapist, social worker, or mediator in a variety of different settings. SuperScholar’s first ever Smart Choice ranking of the 25 top online schools for counseling and human services degree programs was designed to help you make a smart choice about where to invest in developing yourself to help others.
The Value of an Online Degree in Counseling or Human Services
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, counselors are currently in high demand, with employment opportunities for licensed professional counselors predicted to grow at a faster than average rate. Despite being one of the most popular degree majors, job openings in counseling and human services currently exceed the number of students graduating from counseling degree programs. The opportunities in a few specific counseling specialties like substance abuse and behavioral disorders are expected to grow at at an even higher than average rate. In most cases, a master’s degree in counseling is required to become a licensed professional counselor, though some positions may be open to those with a bachelor’s degree only. The best counseling degree programs will prepare students to sit for the necessary licensing exams and provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in the field.
Featured Online Human Services Degree Programs
- Rasmussen College – Associate’s in Human Services
- Ashford University – Bachelor’s in Health and Human Services
- Capella University – Master’s in Multidisciplinary Human Services
- Walden University – Ph.D. in Human Services (General)
Advantages of Pursuing a Counseling or Human Services Degree Online
Many people are unable to attend a traditional campus based degree program due to work and family obligations, or some other reasons. Online counseling and human services degree programs allow working adult students to complete their degree without sacrificing their other commitments. Online counseling degree students can complete their coursework and other assignments at the time and place most convenient to them. If an internship or practicum is required as part of the degree program, it can usually be completed near the student’s residence.
How We Selected the Smart Choice Schools for Online Counseling and Human Services Degrees
SuperScholar’s Smart Choice online counseling and human services degree rankings was developed based on several different factors. Only regionally accredited colleges and universities listed in the National Center for Education Statistics database were considered. Schools that passed this initial hurdle were then evaluated based on publicly available data related to market reputation, degree selection, academic quality, student satisfaction, and cost. The resulting list offers a great place to start your search for the online counseling or human services degree program that is right for you.
Walden University was founded in 1970 as an experiment, originally proposed in a paper by Harold Hodgkinson, to provide working adults an opportunity to complete their higher degrees while also working toward positive social change. Eventually moving from Florida to Minnesota, Walden was accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and grew into a unique and acclaimed online university.
Program Details: Walden University offers a number of accredited online degrees in counseling: a Master of Science in Career Counseling; a Master of Science in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling, with specializations in Forensic Counseling and Trauma and Crisis Counseling; and a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling, with specializations in Forensic Counseling and Trauma and Crisis Counseling.
Accreditation:Walden University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Grand Canyon University is a private Christian university located in Phoenix, AZ. Originally founded by Arizona Southern Baptists in 1949 as a school that would provide Baptist education to students in Arizona, financial difficulties led to its sale in 2004 to Significant Education, LLC, making it the first for-profit Christian university in the nation. Since its switch to for-profit education, Grand Canyon has expanded its reach and improved its reputation, leading to acclaim from Forbes magazine.
Program Details: Grand Canyon University offers several accredited online degrees in counseling: a Bachelor of Science in Counseling with emphasis on Addiction, Chemical Dependency, and Substance Abuse (68 credit hours beyond core curriculum); a Master of Science in Addiction Counseling (36 credit hours); and a Master of Science in Professional Counseling (60 credit hours).
Accreditation:Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Capella University is a private online university in Minneapolis, MN. Originally founded in 1991 to provide education for underserved adult learners, Capella became an online university in 1996 and now serves over 37,000 students at any give time. Capella has been ranked as a top online school, and one of the best colleges in the US for working adults.
Program Details: Capella University offers accredited online Master of Science degrees in Career Counseling, Addiction Counseling, Marriage and Family Counseling, Mental Health Counseling, School Counseling, and Counseling Psychology. All counseling degree programs can be completed entirely online.
Accreditation: Capella University is accredited by the The Higher Learning Commission North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Liberty University has grown tremendously in its short existence into the largest private university in the nation. Founded in 1971 by Rev. Jerry Falwell, Liberty ensures that it meets all standards accreditation entails, as a SACS-accredited institution, as well as continuing its commitment to conservative evangelical values. Liberty is located in Lynchburg, VA.
Program Details: Liberty University offers a number of accredited online degrees in the helping professions, including a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a concentration in Christian Counseling (a full 120 credit-hour program); a Master of Arts in Religion with a concentration in Pastoral Counseling (a 48 credit-hour program); a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling (with 48 or 60 credit hour programs); and a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy (a 60 credit-hour program).
Accreditation: Liberty University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS-COC).
#6. Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University is a private university. Founded as a Baptist school in 1934, WFU was originally located in Wake Forest, North Carolina, but growth prompted a move to Winston Salem, NC in 1956. US News ranks WFU as number 25 in the nation’s best universities, one of many national accolades.
Program Details: Wake Forest University offers an accredited online Master of Arts degree in Counseling. Students may choose from concentrations in Clinical Mental Health, School Counseling, and Human Services. Graduates are also qualified to sit for the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) to become a Nationally Certified Counselor.
Accreditation: Wake Forest University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The Wake Forest University Counseling program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
#7. Pacific Oaks College
Pacific Oaks College, located in Pasadena, CA, was founded over 60 years ago by a group of Quaker families committed to the values of inclusion, social justice, and the intrinsic worth of every human being. These values continue to shape the direction and approach of the college today, making it one of the most revered and distinctive institutions for training progressive leaders in education.
Program Details: Pacific Oaks College offers accredited online Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in Human Development. The bachelor’s completion program allows students to transfer as much as 60 credits toward the full 120 credit-hour BA program and can be completed in as little as two years. The master’s program is 31 credit hours and prepares students to work in a wide range of settings with children and adults; students may waive the bachelor’s requirement with at least 10 years of work experience.
Accreditation: Pacific Oaks College is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Founded in 1906 by the Churches of Christ, Abilene Christian University is a private university located in Abilene, Texas. Their mission, to educate Christian servants and leaders, is supported by its online program, and ABU has been commended by the magazine Campus Technology for its commitment to educational technology, including a program to distribute smart phones and iPods to all incoming freshmen.
Program Details: Abilene Christian University offers an accredited online Master of Arts degree in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation. This 36 credit-hour program prepares students to analyze and manage conflict in business, domestic, law enforcement, and other situations. Students will be required to attend a four-day professional development residency on campus.
Accreditation: Abilene Christian University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Founded in 1956, the University of the Southwest is a private, Christian university in Hobbs, New Mexico. Originally Baptist, the university is now inter-denominational, with an explicitly Christ-centered approach to higher education. Highly ranked as a regional university by US News and World Report, the University of the Southwest has a growing online distance learning program.
Program Details: University of the Southwest offers accredited online Master of Science degrees in Education Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling. These 48 credit-hour Mental Health program prepares students for careers in mental health counseling, while the 42 credit-hour School Counseling prepares students for counseling in educational settings, helping schools provide equal access and academic success for all students.
Accreditation: The University of the Southwest is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools of the Higher Learning Commission.
#10. Seton Hall University
Seton Hall University is a private Roman Catholic university located in South Orange, New Jersey. Founded in 1856 by the newly created Diocese of Newark, Seton Hall is the oldest Catholic university in the United States. Seton Hall has received many accolades over the years, particularly for its law and business schools.
Program Details: Seton Hall offers an accredited online Master of Arts in Counseling degree. This 60 credit-hour program can be combined with the Educational Specialist (Ed.S) Professional Counseling degree for a dual degree. Students will be prepared for a career in counseling, or for further education in a PhD program.
Accreditation: Seton Hall University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
#11. Regis University
Founded in 1877 by Jesuit missionaries in Denver, CO, Regis University was and remains a private, co-ed Jesuit university. Instruction is guided by Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises and the Jesuit principles of intellectual, spiritual, and social development and responsibility.
Program Details: Regis University offers an accredited online Master of Arts in Counseling. This 60 credit-hour program prepares students for careers in mental health and therapy in a number of settings, and provides internships for intensive real-world practice.
Accreditation:Regis University is accredited by North Central Association of The Higher Learning Commission. The counseling program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
#12. University at Buffalo
The excessively named University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, is a public research university with multiple campuses in Buffalo and Amhert, New York. The largest of the SUNY-system University Centers, UB was founded in 1846 by future president Millard Fillmore as a private university, joining the SUNY system in 1962. UB is ranked by US News and World Report as one of the best public universities in the United States.
Program Details: University at Buffalo offers an accredited online Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. This 48 credit-hour program prepares students for leadership positions in counseling, including correctional institutions, alcohol and drug abuse programs, private counseling practices, and other settings.
Accreditation: University of Buffalo is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The MS in Rehabilitation Counseling program is accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE).
#13. Campbellsville University
Campbellsville University is a private Christian university located in Campbellsville, Kentucky. Founded in 1906 by Baptists, Campbellsville University has been acclaimed a top baccalaureate college in the south by US News and World Report, as well as one of America’s best Christian colleges. Campbellsville University is still affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, but students need not be Baptist or Christian.
Program Details: Campbellsville University offers an accredited online Master of Science degree in Counseling. Students may choose one of three programs: the Generalist concentration is 36 credit hours and prepares students for general counseling duties; the Marriage and Family concentration is 42 credit hours and gives a more intensive specialization in relationship counseling; the most intensive Clinical concentration prepares students for practice and research with a 60 credit-hour program.
Accreditation: Campbellsville University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
#14. Post University
Post University is a private, for-profit university based in Waterbury, Connecticut, offering full-time and online degrees. Originally founded in 1890 as Post College, Post University is now owned by Generation Partners, a firm in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Program Details: Post University offers a number of accredited, online degrees in helping professions, including a Bachelor of Science in Human Services, which prepares students for careers in public, private, and nonprofit human services settings; and a Master of Science in Human Services with concentrations in Clinical Counseling and Alcohol and Drug Counseling.
Accreditation: Post University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
#15. UMass Online
One of the most respected public research universities in New England, The University of Massachusetts was, established in 1863 as a land-grant research university. Located in Amherst, MA, one of the best college towns in America, UMass is consistently ranked as one of the greatest in the nation, and its online program is a model to other schools.
Program Details: UMass Online offers a number of accredited online in counseling: a Master of Education in School Counseling; a Master of Science in Family Therapy; a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling; and a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling. All of these Master’s programs are 60 credit hours and require brief residency periods for clinical courses.
Accreditation: The University of Massachusetts is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
#16. LeTourneau University
LeTourneau University is a private, interdenominational Christian university. Founded in 1946 by R.G. LeTourneau, LU was originally intended to provide education for WWII veterans on the GI Bill. LeTourneau maintains a commitment to instilling in its students a Christ-like sense of mission in all their endeavours, and has been recognized as a top college by US News and World Report.
Program Details: LeTourneau University offers an accredited online Master of Arts degree in Counseling. This 60 credit-hour Christian counseling program prepares students to aid patients in living functional lives through counseling skills, scripture, and prayer.
Accreditation:LeTourneau is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
#17. Missouri Baptist University
Missouri Baptist University is a private evangelical christian university in Creve Coeur, Missouri, a suburb of St Louis. Founded in 1957 as an evangelical liberal arts school, MBU expanded to a university by 2002.
Program Details: Missouri Baptist University offers an accredited online Master of Arts in Counseling degree with a concentration in School Counseling. Students may choose from specializations in Elementary or Secondary Counseling (for certified teachers), or both (for certified or non-certified teachers).
Accreditation: Missouri Baptist University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
#18. Ottawa University
Ottawa University is a private, non-profit liberal arts university located in Ottawa, Kansas and affiliated with the American Baptist Church. Originally founded in 1865 to provide education for the dislocated Ottawa Indians, Ottawa University still offers tuition-free undergraduate education for members of the Ottawa Tribe. This small university also has adult education campuses in several locations in Kansas.
Program Details: Ottawa University offers an accredited online Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Services. This 128 credit-hour program prepares students for careers in the human services field, teaching skills in helping client cope with personal challenges such as poverty, abuse, and mental illness.
Accreditation:Ottawa University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, a Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
#19. Nova Southeastern University
Nova Southeastern University is a private research university in Davie, Florida. One of the largest non-profit independent universities in the US, Nova Southeastern was founded in 1964 on a decommissioned naval airstrip. Though highly selective, the student body of Nova Southeastern is large and NSU has several campuses. US News and World Report and The Princeton Review have both acclaimed NSU, particularly in its service to minority students.
Program Details: Nova Southeastern University offers an accredited online Master of Science degree in Counseling. This entirely online program is designed for working counseling practitioners who need further training without leaving their jobs. Specializations include mental health, substance abuse, and behavior analysis.
Accreditation:Nova Southeastern University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
#20. Upper Iowa University
Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a small, private university in rural northwest Iowa. Though it has a small residential student body, UIU offers large distance learning, online programs, independent studies, and branches in Asia. This arrangement allows UIU a very favorable student to instructor ratio, and 8-week terms allow students to double their coursework.
Program Details: Upper Iowa University offers an accredited online Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services. This interdisciplinary program prepares students for careers in counseling, social work, and other human services settings with courses in psychology, sociology, and social welfare.
Accreditation: Upper Iowa University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and is a member of the North Central Association.
#21. Bellevue University
Bellevue University is a private university located in Bellevue, Nebraska located near Offutt Air Force Base, Bellevue was founded in 1965 to provide an educational option for students, especially servicemen and women, who could not travel to the University of Omaha from the growing Bellevue. This commitment to convenient, high-quality education led Bellevue to establish a well-regarded online education program.
Program Details: Bellevue University offers an accredited online Master of Science degree in Clinical Counseling. This intensive 60 credit hour program includes 100 hours of practicum and 900 hours of clinical internship and is designed for students who are preparing for licensure to practice direct mental health services.
Accreditation:Bellevue University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
#25. San Diego Christian College
San Diego Christian College is a private evangelical Christian college in El Cajon, California, a suburb of San Diego. Founded in 1970 by pastor and author Tim LaHaye and the Scott Memorial Baptist Church of San Diego, SDCC is associated with the Southern Baptist Association.
Program Details: San Diego Christian College offers an accredited online Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Development. This full 124 credit-hour program prepares students for careers in social services, counseling, education, and other related fields with a Bible-centered curriculum emphasizing spiritual and social growth together.
Accreditation:San Diego Christian College is accredited by the Senior Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.