Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Counseling and Psychology – BA & BS Programs

How humans think, feel, and act is deeply impacted by our mental health. Our emotional, psychological, and social sense of well-being is influenced by several factors, including brain physiology, genetics, empowering or traumatic experiences, family history, sexuality, and more.

When we are experiencing states of mental wellness, we have the capacity to be fully powerful in our lives, cope with stress or hardship, provide support to others, contribute meaningfully to our families and communities, and we may even experience lower rates of risk for disease, illness, and injury.

As humans are not different entities when they enter the workplace, mental health is also a concern for businesses and organizations. According to Forbes (2019), serious mental health issues may cost the United States up to $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year due to issues like turnover, absenteeism, and low levels of productivity. Those at the beginning of their academic journey who are interested in fostering mental wellness for individuals and organizations can begin by pursuing a bachelor of psychology or counseling online.

When looking to earn a bachelor of psychology or bachelor of counseling, there is a wide range of concentrations available which enable a student to cultivate specialized knowledge and skills in the realm of understanding the inner workings of the human mind. Because the offerings at the bachelor’s level are so broad, so too are the eventual careers available to graduates.

Professionals with a bachelor’s degree in counseling or psychology are prepared to work in roles in education, clinical settings, human resources, customer service, corrections, community service, social services, and business operations. While a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for some occupations, those interested in working as licensed professional counselors will need to complete their bachelor’s program in a way that prepares them to participate in a master’s level program or higher.

Regardless of educational attainment, the outlook for jobs in the community and social services is bright. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, 2020), all occupations in community and social services are predicted to grow by 11 percent between 2018 and 2028. With an addition of 306,200 jobs in that time period, this growth rate is more than double the projected growth rate for all occupations across the U.S. (5 percent). In addition, the average median wage for social service occupations was $46,090 in May 2019—also higher than the average median wage for all occupations.

Prospective students who are currently working or who can’t physically move to attend university have plenty of opportunities to pursue online counseling degrees. Online bachelor of counseling degrees deliver course content through online modules, allowing a student to complete their degree program from anywhere. While most programs don’t require any on-campus attendance, those that do often only require short-term immersions, residences, or orientations. While online education is often more convenient than on-campus learning, it is best suited to students who can be self-directed, self-motivated, and want to expand their capacity for effective time-management.

Keep reading to for a comprehensive breakdown of what types of bachelor of counseling degrees are available, how to gain admission to one, and what jobs you may be able to pursue following graduation.

Types of Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Counseling & Psychology

The first consideration when looking for a degree program in counseling is to consider whether to pursue a bachelor of science (BS) or a bachelor of art (BA). There are ways in which BAs and BSs are similar, and ways that they differ.

In terms of similarities, both the BA and BS require a student to complete a series of general education requirements that create a broad and well-rounded academic foundation. Students in either a BS or BA program will also have to complete a series of coursework that introduces them to fundamentals of their discipline.

The way that the programs differ is in regard to the focus of coursework. A BA program will introduce counseling from a humanities and liberal arts perspective, preparing students for a wide range of human-focused positions. The BS program will emphasize science, math, and statistics, preparing students for positions that are more technical, analytical, or scientific.

The following list describes possible types of counseling programs available at the bachelor’s level.

  • Behavioral Health Counseling – Students learn to foster wellness for clients through behavioral modification strategies.
  • Human Services Counseling – Prepares students to work in person-centric services that meet human needs and improve the quality of life.
  • Psychology – Covering a broad spectrum of topics (child and adolescent development, health, sports, school, learning, etc.), psychology programs introduce students to higher workings of the human mind and human behavior.
  • Addictions Counseling – Students are introduced to the psychology of addiction and methodologies for helping people to cope with and/or overcome struggles with substance use.
  • Clinical Counseling – Students are prepared to pursue an eventual career that centers around individual, couples, or family counseling work.
  • Counseling Research – Students are prepared to understand counseling from an academic perspective, with the possibility to engage in research at higher levels of degree attainment.
  • Rehabilitation Counseling – Prepares students to work with people living with disabilities.
  • Educational Counseling – Programs in educational counseling prepare students to pursue careers in school or career counseling at the elementary, secondary, or post-secondary levels.
  • Corrections Counseling – Programs in corrections counseling prepares students to work with incarcerated, paroled, or probated populations.

Online Counseling & Psychology Degree Program Accreditation

Accreditation is the process by which universities volunteer to prove the quality and relevance of their education by submitting to an evaluation by a third-party accrediting organization. In addition to accreditation being a symbol of quality, graduating from an accredited bachelor’s program is required to move into education at the master’s or doctoral level. Those who will become job-seekers after graduation may also benefit from accreditation in the job search.

Accreditation happens at the regional, national, and programmatic levels. Accreditation is also necessary to qualify a student for financial aid and make completed coursework eligible for transfer to another institution.

For bachelor’s level counseling and psychology programs, students should look for regional or national accreditation from entities recognized by the Department of Education’s (DOE) Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Programmatic accreditation is available for counseling and psychology programs, but this accreditation is often only done at the graduate level.

For more information on the difference, Drexel University offers an in-depth analysis of how to understand the distinction between the two.

Typical Admissions Requirements for Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Counseling & Psychology

Each university has a unique educational access philosophy, and therefore each university has a unique set of admissions requirements for prospective students. While the following list outlines common requirements for admissions into a bachelor’s of counseling or psychology program, it is important that students applying to programs become familiar with individual requirements through the university’s admissions webpage or by speaking with an admissions officer.

Here are typical admissions requirements for bachelor’s of counseling or psychology programs:

  • Official high school transcripts demonstrating GPA and completion of a satisfactory number of years of disciplinary coursework (four years of English, three years of math, two years of history, etc.)
  • Official transcripts demonstrating the completion of any post-secondary coursework
  • A statement of purpose or admissions essay
  • Letter of recommendation(s)
  • SAT/ACT scores
  • An interview (optional)
  • Application fee

Supervised Clinical Hour Requirements – Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Counseling & Psychology

Most bachelor’s degree programs in counseling do not require supervised clinical hours. Because most state licensure and many professional certifications in counseling require a master’s degree or higher, bachelor’s programs do not need to have clinical supervision hours to be considered high-quality or to earn accreditation.

That said, some programs at the bachelor’s level are clinician preparation programs and do offer optional or required internships. In an online bachelor of counseling program with internship offerings or requirements, the experiences are coordinated close to the student’s home, approved through a program director at the university, and have a certain number of hours that the student is required to complete. As an example, the BA in psychology programs at the American Women’s College at Bay Path University have both optional and mandatory internships that require students to complete 240 supervised hours for a six-credit internship and 120 hours for a three-credit internship.

Featured Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Counseling & Psychology

Drexel University

Drexel University offers a 180-credit online bachelor of science in behavioral health counseling designed to prepare students to eventually become direct service providers in the realm of psychiatric health and substance use disorders.

With its clinical focus, the program trains students to understand evidence-based practices for individual and group counseling, person-centered assessment, rehabilitation, the treatment of substance use disorders, and other essential clinical skills. Coursework in the program includes life span human development, ethics and professional responsibility, genetics and mental health, and recovery and relapse prevention.

SAT/ACT scores are required to apply to this program, and students must be within two years of their high school graduation or have 24 college credits to transfer with a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Drexel also offers this program on-campus.

  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition: $513 per credit

The American Women’s College at Bay Path University

The American Women’s College at Bay Path University offers several 120-credit online bachelor’s of art (BA) in psychology degrees designed to expose students to the latest theories and research regarding the human mind and human behaviors. In addition to a general BA in psychology, prospective students can choose to earn a BA in child psychology, forensic psychology, counseling foundations, foundations in alcohol and drug abuse counseling, and human services and rehabilitation.

Coursework across the majors includes communicating for leadership, psychosocial aspects of disability and aging, behavioral research methods, and interviewing and counseling skills. Two programs have required internships: alcohol and drug abuse counseling and human services and rehabilitation. The counseling foundations major has an optional internship.

No SAT/ACT scores are required to apply, students must only demonstrate a 2.0 GPA or higher, and students will be expected to complete an in-person or over-the-phone interview.

  • Location: Springfield, Massachusetts
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Tuition: $400 per credit

East Central University

East Central University offers a 124-credit bachelor of arts in human services and counseling that prepares students for entry-level roles in family support, social services, care facilities, corrections, addictions, and more. Students enrolled in the program can choose between four concentrations in aging, counseling, rehabilitation, and services to the deaf.

Coursework in the program includes human behavior and social environment, interviewing techniques, the fundamentals of counseling, and case management practice. To apply to ECU, SAT/ACT scores are required and students must have a 2.25 GPA or higher. Transfer students with less than 24 credits must also submit high school transcripts and SAT/ACT scores.

  • Location: Ada, Oklahoma
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $541.19 per credit hour (non-resident)

The University of West Alabama

The University of West Alabama offers a 123-credit bachelor of art (BA) and bachelor of science (BS) in psychology that emphasizes research, experimental methodology, and statistical training. Students enrolled in this program will experience small class sizes, personalized attention, and coursework delivered by professors with advanced knowledge in topics like human development, cognition, prejudice, neuroscience, environmental psychology, and more.

Coursework in the program includes the fundamentals of psychological research, experimental psychology, learning and motivation, and statistics for the social sciences. SAT/ACT scores are not required to apply to this program, and transfer students can apply up to 60 credits from completed community college work and 90 credits from completed coursework at a four-year institution.

  • Location: Livingston, Alabama
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)
  • Tuition: $325 per credit hour (non-resident)

Saint Joseph’s University

Saint Joseph’s University, a Jesuit, Catholic institution, offers two 120-credit and 100 percent online programs for those interested in entering the field of counseling: a bachelor of liberal studies (BLS) in general studies with a concentration in autism studies, and a bachelor of liberal studies in psychological studies.

The BLS in autism behavioral studies prepares students for the unique support needs of individuals with autism and their families. Students enrolled in the autism behavioral studies program can choose between a clinical track and a research and advocacy track. Students choosing the clinical track have the option to prepare to sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) exam. Students enrolled in this course of study also have the option to complete internships in interdisciplinary health studies and/or in autism studies.

The online BLS in psychological studies is an adult education program designed to emphasize how psychological principles apply to personal and professional life. Coursework in the two programs includes multicultural psychology, personality psychology, the biological bases of behavior, and the psychology of emotion. Saint Joseph’s University does not require SAT/ACT scores but will accept them if an applicant feels it strengthens their application.

  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition: $584 per credit hour (non-resident)

Regent University

Offering education from a Christian perspective, Regent University offers three 120-credit online bachelor’s of science (BS) programs suited to those interested in serving people through knowledge of the inner workings of the human mind.

The BS in professional studies in psychology exposes learners to the applications of psychology, therapy techniques, and clinical theory to business and organizations. The BS in psychology encourages students to understand how the human mind can function in wholeness—and how to apply that learning logically and responsibly. The BS in psychology with an emphasis in clinical and counseling psychology teaches students case management techniques, referral methods, and crisis intervention skills.

Coursework across the programs includes theories of personality, multicultural psychology, abnormal psychology, and case management, treatment planning, and crisis intervention. SAT/ACT scores are not required to apply to regent university.

  • Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)
  • Tuition: $395 per credit hour (full-time), $450 per credit hour (part-time)

Clarks Summit University

Offering perspectives on counseling from a biblical foundation, Clarks Summit University offers three 121-credit online bachelor of counseling programs: addictions counseling, counseling, and counseling ministries.

The addictions counseling and counseling programs prepare students for clinical work, and the counseling ministries program prepares students for graduate study. Coursework in the programs includes abnormal psychology, historical and contemporary issues in counseling, crisis counseling, marriage and family dynamics, and ethics and professionalism. SAT/ACT scores are not required to apply to CSU.

  • Location: South Abington Township, Pennsylvania
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition: $405 per credit

Bachelor’s Degree in Counseling Jobs

Upon graduation from a bachelor in counseling program, the jobs available are quite broad. Most clinical counseling positions require state licensure, and state licensure often requires a minimum of a master’s degree in one of the counseling disciplines (counseling, social work, psychology, marriage and family therapy, etc.).

As a result, those seeking work directly after earning a bachelor of counseling or psychology are likely to find themselves in positions assisting clinicians or in administrative positions supporting clinicians. There are some positions that allow for direct service following graduation.

Social and Community Service Manager

A social and community service manager is responsible for the coordination and supervision of services and programs provided by community organizations. Social and community services managers have the responsibility of cultivating efficacy in programming by hiring, managing, and ensuring service providers remain up-to-date in training. Social and community service managers also have the responsibility of ensuring service and programmatic efficacy through statistical analysis, reporting, and self-study.

This type of position does not require education beyond the master’s level but may require those with an earned bachelor’s to also have some work experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020), this occupation is predicted to grow by 13 percent between 2018 and 2028, much faster than the 5 percent growth predicted for all occupations during this time period. The average salary for this occupation in May 2019 was $67,150 per year.

Bereavement Coordinator

Bereavement coordinators guide terminally ill patients and their loved ones through the process of death and dying. This can manifest in the professional providing direct counseling services, and may also require the bereavement coordinator to assist with bureaucratic matters like paperwork, recordkeeping, and post-death protocols. In addition, bereavement counselors may need to provide the dying and their family referrals to outside services and keep abreast of best practices for providing services of this nature.

Bereavement coordinators may work in community agencies, hospice or home settings, or as a part of a private healthcare practice. According to PayScale.com (2020), a website relying on self-reporting of salaries, the average salary for a bereavement coordinator was $47,345.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

Counselors in this realm of service assist those suffering from disorders related to addiction, behavioral struggles, or issues with mental health to improve personal relationships and even overcome their life’s struggles.

Through evaluation, education, and referral to outside services, counselors treating disorders in these realms help clients to recover through treatment plans that stress behavioral modification. Counselors providing these services may work in outpatient facilities, private practice, hospitals, or residential facilities. While many states require licensure and a master’s degree to provide services such as these, certain facilities or disorders may utilize professionals with a bachelor’s degree in counseling, psychology, or other social service professions.

According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, the demand for counselors providing these services is set to rise by 22 percent nationally between 2018 and 2028, more than four times faster than the predicted average national occupational growth of 5 percent. The average salary for these types of counselors was $46,240 per year in May 2019.

Becca Brewer

Becca Brewer

Writer

Becca Brewer is the creator of the Limitless Storytelling Project, which offers free workshops and free storytelling help to anyone interested in building a better future on a thriving earth. Learn how she can help you transform your inner story from powerless to fully powerful at Limitless.Eco/Becca. In her life before Limitless, Becca earned a master of education in human sexuality, where she connected with other graduate students earning dual degrees in social work, counseling, and sex therapy.