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Best Counseling Bachelor’s Degrees Online: 2024

Best Counseling Bachelor’s Degrees Online: 2024

Which online counseling degree programs are worth a look? What courses will you take and what careers will be open to you? Get answers to those questions and more with this guide, which ranks standout online counseling bachelor’s degrees for 2024.

Nearly one in five Americans lives with a mental illness—and many more struggle when life presents big changes and challenges. Licensed counselors help people cope, solve, understand, and move beyond this pain and frustration if and when it arises.

In most states you need a master’s degree to work as a licensed counselor, but a bachelor’s degree is a great place to start. Many online bachelor’s degrees in counseling provide a strong academic foundation that can prepare you for an entry-level career in the field, or for graduate school if that’s your next step.

Because programs can vary, we’ve ranked the best online bachelor’s in counseling degrees for 2024. These degree programs put students first, offer strong academic content and instructors, and provide services to assist you before, during, and after you graduate. Keep reading to learn more about these top-rated programs and learn more about what to expect from earning your bachelor’s degree in counseling online.

Top Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Counseling for 2024

We have ranked the top schools below. Our Rankings Data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES.) Click the About the Ranking link below for more information about our methodology.


    Base Methodology for OnlineColleges.me’s 2024 Online College Rankings

    1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

    To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

    • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
    • At least one program in the subject area offered partially or fully online.
    1. Assign Weightings

    After creating the list of eligible schools, OnlineColleges.me data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

    Online Program Availability

    • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education. Because exact numbers change often and can be difficult to verify, we use a range-based scoring system: 0-5 online programs = 1 star; 6-10 = 2 stars; 11-15 = 3 stars; 16-20 = 4 stars; 21+ = 5 stars. In our design, laptop icons = stars.
    • For degree-specific pages, ex: Psychology degrees, we list the current number of online programs available at that school for that degree type, as self-reported by the schools.


    • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
    • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

    Support Services

    • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
    • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

    About Our Data

    OnlineColleges.me’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: January of 2024

  • Cincinnati, OH
    Public $$

    At the University of Cincinnati, students looking to begin a career helping individuals with substance abuse problems should consider the online Bachelor of Science in Substance Abuse Counseling program. For maximum convenience, all of the coursework can be completed 100% online, at either a full-time or part-time pace. Depending on how many transfer credits a student has, they can graduate in as little as two years. In addition to the online options for classroom learning, students must also complete two substance abuse internships. These offer hands-on training and experience under the supervision of a substance abuse counselor. After graduating, students will have completed the necessary academic requirements for licensure in the state of Ohio.

    Program Highlights:

    BS in Substance Abuse Counseling

    • Credits: 60-120
    • Length: Varies
    • Cost: $549.00/credit (in-state); $564.00/credit (out-of-state)
    • Mode: Partially online
    • Accreditation: HLC
  • New Orleans, LA
    Private not-for-profit $$$

    University of Holy Cross, founded in 1916, is known for their upkeep of modern educational trends, which includes online learning. As a result, they offer a variety of online degrees, including the ranked Bachelor of Science in Addiction Counseling and the Bachelor of Science in Social Counseling. Both of these consist of 51 general education courses and 69 counseling courses, as well as related electives. The majority of these classes are offered online, and although students may attend classes on their own schedule, they will still need to be self-disciplined in meeting required deadlines for assignments.

    Program Highlights:

    BS in Social Counseling

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: Varies
    • Cost: $540.00/credit
    • Mode: Partially online
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC

    BS in Addiction Counseling

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: Varies
    • Cost: $540.00/credit
    • Mode: Partially online
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • Vermillion, SD
    Public $$

    The Bachelor of Science in Addition Counseling and Prevention is the only program in South Dakota that’s accredited by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC). The curriculum will prepare students to become certified South Dakota Board of Addiction and Prevention Professionals. This preparation is top-notch, as for the past few years, graduates have enjoyed a 100% pass rate for the applicable national licensure exam. To accommodate the needs of busy schedules much of the coursework is offered online, although students will need to complete an in-person internship. For additional learning flexibility, students can further specialize by focusing on either the addiction counseling prevention or treatment majors. They have 9 credits worth of electives to customize their learning curriculum.

    Program Highlights:

    BS in Addition Counseling and Prevention

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: About four years
    • Cost: $7,773.00/year (in-state); $11,283.00/year (out-of-state)
    • Mode: Partially online
    • Accreditation: NASAC
  • Montgomery, AL
    Private not-for-profit $$$$$

    The online Bachelor of Science in Counseling Psychology degree program from Faulkner University is perfect for students who are interested in pursuing a career in counseling and who plan on continuing their education to earn a graduate degree in social work or a similar field. It is also ideal for individuals looking to pursue an entry-level position in a business or health services field. Of the 121 credits needed to graduate, 71 will relate to counseling psychology. This includes up to 30 electives, a capstone project, and an internship where students can obtain hands-on experience and apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to the real world. Despite this in-person learning requirement, the bulk of the coursework can be completed 100% online. This makes it possible to work while also learning a degree.

    Program Highlights:

    BS in Counseling Psychology

    • Credits: 121
    • Length: About four years
    • Cost: $755.00/credit
    • Mode: Partially online
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • Deerfield Beach, FL
    Private not-for-profit $$

    At South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary, students can choose from two 100% online Christian counseling programs. First, there is the Bachelor of Arts in Christian Counseling – Marriage and Family Counseling. In addition to preparing students to help families and couples with a wide range of issues, it will also help prepare students for a career in school counseling. Second, there’s the Bachelor of Arts in Christian Counseling – Clinical Counseling. This program focuses on training future Christian counselors and mental health professionals. No matter which degree a student chooses to pursue, they’ll have the flexibility offered from online learning that makes it possible to continue working while attending school.

    Program Highlights:

    BA in Christian Counseling – Marriage and Family Counseling

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: About four years
    • Cost: $295.00/credit
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: ABHE

    BA in Christian Counseling – Clinical Counseling

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: About four years
    • Cost: $295.00/credit
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: ABHE
  • Toccoa Falls, GA
    Private not-for-profit $$$$$

    Before becoming a licensed psychologist or counselor, a student will need to obtain foundational knowledge in the basic principles and concepts of psychology and counseling. That is where the Toccoa Falls College’s Bachelor of Science in Counseling Psychology program comes in. It requires completion of 126 credits, with 15 of those credits being open electives and 42 in the counseling psychology major. This opportunity to take a variety of electives allows students to also minor in a variety of other fields, such as bible and theology, business administration, criminal justice, and social work. While most of the classroom credits can be earned 100% online, students have several in-person curriculum requirements, such as counseling laboratories and practicums.

    Program Highlights:

    BS in Counseling Psychology

    • Credits: 126
    • Length: About four years
    • Cost: $350.00/credit
    • Mode: Partially online
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC

What You’ll Take Away from an Online Counseling Bachelor’s

For both online and on-campus learners, a bachelor’s in counseling introduces the foundational theories, practices, and ethics that guide counselors working in the field. However, the specifics of course content varies by school, so you’ll need to dig into each bachelor’s degree in counseling online program you consider to ensure that it matches your academic and career goals. In the section below, learn more about the outcomes you can expect from the best online bachelor’s in counseling programs. Later in the page, we’ll take a closer look at the course requirements you can expect after you enroll.

Foundational Counseling Concepts

Throughout your online bachelor’s in counseling degree, you’ll tackle courses including an introduction to counseling, crisis counseling, and various introductory psychology classes such as abnormal and social psychology. Plus, some counseling programs expose students to specialized areas such as relationship counseling, school counseling, substance abuse counseling, and family and human development.

Best Practices and Professional Ethics

Even though a bachelor’s in counseling may not lead to state licensure, you’ll still be exposed to the best practices and professional ethics that inform professional counseling practice. Understanding these essential elements gives you a head start if you pursue a master’s in counseling and professional licensure. In addition to current best practices, you’ll also understand how the counseling profession has evolved through history and how this history shaped current ethical standards.

Understanding of Diverse Populations

Expanding your cultural competence isn’t useful just for counseling; it also broadens your worldview, and that’s useful in any field. Additionally, the compassion that comes from understanding diverse populations is a must-have for counselors. Throughout your professional practice, you’ll encounter clients from many backgrounds, and a deeper cultural understanding equips you to offer quality support, even to those who, on the surface, couldn’t seem more different than you.

Effective Communication Skills

As you journey through an online bachelor’s in counseling program, you’ll hone your communication skills. You’ll learn how effective written and verbal communication is a vital element in competent and compassionate care. During your bachelor’s degree in counseling online program, you’ll use your communication skills to collaborate on group projects. You’ll also learn that listening is as important to your communication skills as anything you write or speak.

Online Bachelor’s Counseling Degree Coursework

Throughout an online bachelor’s in counseling degree, you’ll complete a mix of general education classes and major coursework. And while coursework varies from school to school, there’s crossover between programs. As you complete counseling coursework, you’ll explore foundational counseling theories, legal and ethical concerns, and the assessment and treatment of clients. In the section below, we spotlight a handful of courses to expect when completing your online bachelor’s degree in counseling. 

Introduction to Counseling

This course introduces the foundational elements of counseling. You’ll gain a broad view of the counseling field, exploring areas of specialization and the theories that inform the discipline. You’ll also learn about various careers in counseling, professional ethics, and the skills and responsibilities of counselors in professional practice.

Counseling Diverse Populations

This class challenges students in an online bachelor’s degree in counseling program to explore how personal biases and cultural context influence the practice of counseling. You’ll learn how privilege, power, and economics inform the history and development of counseling theories and practices. You’ll also delve into the relationship between professional practice and various populations and how to best serve each group competently and compassionately. 

Counseling Ethics and Professional Development

Covering essential principles such as confidentiality or informed consent, this class exposes you to the foundational ethics that inform the counseling profession. Explore the ethical standards that guide mental health careers and learn the ins and outs of licensure, continuing education, and career advancement.

Crisis Counseling

Crisis counseling is a common course throughout bachelor’s degree in counseling online programs. You’ll learn various assessment and interview skills necessary for working with clients in crisis situations, including depression, substance abuse, trauma, and suicide. You’ll also learn about coping skills when dealing with challenging topics.

Interviewing and Counseling

This course challenges you to develop the essential skills and competencies needed in a counseling relationship in various professional settings. Explore how to develop interviewing and counseling skills and how to apply them effectively. This course places special emphasis on interpersonal communication, how to implement strategies with diverse populations, and how cultural competence plays a critical role in counseling practice.

Abnormal Psychology

In this course you’ll explore abnormal behavior, its causes and impacts, and the varying treatments available. Learn how to diagnose various behavioral issues and how to treat them through therapeutic and pharmacological options. This course emphasizes terminology, concepts, and the historical shifts in the study and treatment of psychopathology. 

FAQs About Earning Your Counseling Bachelor’s Online

Before you submit any applications for online bachelor’s in counseling degree programs, you might have some questions or concerns. We tackle seven of the most pressing questions according to our readers, from career prospects and online delivery to accreditation and admissions.

  • Are online bachelor’s degrees in counseling offered 100% online?

    For undergrads pursuing a bachelor’s in counseling, 100% online programs are available, along with hybrid and on-campus programs. If you’re interested in an online program, be sure to explore what an institution means by “online.” Online programs can utilize an asynchronous, self-guided format or a synchronous delivery in which students participate in live virtual classes. In addition to virtual coursework, most online programs require an in-person internship or practicum experience. If you’re a working student, an online program can offer the flexibility you need to complete coursework while keeping up with personal and professional responsibilities.

  • What career paths are open to those with a bachelor’s degree in counseling?

    Even though licensed counselors traditionally hold a master’s degree and state certification, that doesn’t mean you won’t have access to various helping careers. Additionally, a bachelor’s in counseling offers you a broad set of skills that you can apply to numerous jobs. So, whether you want to work for nonprofits in serving your community or tackling administrative jobs for social service organizations, a bachelor’s in counseling opens career doors. Some popular career options include:

    • Behavioral disorder counselor
    • Mental health counselor
    • Social and community service manager
    • Career counselor
    • Substance abuse counselor
    • Probation officer
  • What type of accreditation should an online bachelor’s counseling degree program have?

    When searching for the bachelor’s in counseling program that’s best for you, be sure to seek out schools that hold institutional accreditation. A school’s accreditation indicates that it meets a set of rigorous standards, ensuring that you receive quality academics and student services. Additionally, students at unaccredited schools typically don’t have access to federal financial aid. Alongside institutional accreditation, standout counseling programs typically hold programmatic accreditation by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). However, CACREP currently only accredits counseling programs at the master’s and doctoral levels.

  • What should I expect from the admissions process?

    The admission process for a bachelor’s in counseling is similar to other undergraduate degrees. If you’re pursuing a counseling bachelor’s degree online, the admission requirements are most likely the same as for an on-campus program. Undergraduate programs require a high school diploma or a GED. Some common admission materials include an online application, official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and an admission essay. 

    Additionally, many programs look for applicants who have a high school GPA of at least 3.0. While standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT used to be a common requirement, many schools are moving away from standardized tests as a way to predict academic performance.

  • How much does an online bachelor’s degree in counseling cost?

    The cost of your online bachelor’s in counseling degree can vary dramatically between schools. The most expensive schools are typically private institutions, while the most inexpensive pathway is with public schools located in your state. You can mitigate the cost of your counseling program through scholarships, grants, and work-study programs. Online learners often save money on gas, travel, housing, and campus-based fees, too.

  • How long will it take me to complete a bachelor’s degree in counseling online?

    Like other bachelor’s degrees, a bachelor’s degree in counseling online requires that you complete about 120 credits and covers general education classes, major coursework, and electives. Whether online or on-campus, full-time students typically graduate in about four years. Some schools offer programs that combine undergraduate and graduate coursework, allowing you to complete a counseling master’s in just five years. If you have an associate degree or significant prior college-level coursework, an accelerated program will allow you to graduate in fewer than two years.

  • What specializations can I choose from for my bachelor’s degree in counseling?

    When tackling your online bachelor’s degree in counseling, many programs offer specialized areas of concentration to complement core counseling classes. These specialization areas allow you to hone a specific set of skills that mirror your academic and career goals. Academic concentrations also can prepare you for future graduate-level coursework. Popular counseling specializations include:

    • Christian counseling
    • Substance abuse counseling
    • Mental health counseling
    • Human services
    • Child and adolescent development
    • Gerontology

Is Getting Your Bachelor’s Degree in Counseling Worth It?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that community and social service occupations (which include counseling careers) to grow 10% over the next decade—considerably faster than the average for all jobs. Whether online or in-person, earning a bachelor’s degree in counseling online offers you an academic credential that opens countless career doors beyond just the counseling field. As you make your decision, take a look at popular career options for counseling grads, how much you can earn, and job growth data.

CareerMedian Annual Earnings
Job Growth
Substance Abuse, Behavioral
Disorder, and Mental Health
Social and Community Service

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics