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5 Hallmarks of an Master’s of Counseling Degree

How to Know if a Master’s of Counseling Degree is Excellent

  • 5 Hallmarks of an Master’s of Counseling DegreeFlexibility
  • Internship Assistance
  • A Course in Research Methods
  • Accreditation
  • High Job Placement Rate

It’s easy for schools to claim that they offer high-quality Master’s of counseling degree programs. It’s harder for applicants to evaluate those claims. Before paying an admission fee, filling out an application and writing an essay, future counselors should examine a school’s website and speak with admissions staff. A strong program offers career and internship assistance, exposure to psychology research and flexible classes. Here are five things to look for in a master’s degree in counseling program.

Related resource: 30 Most Affordable Christian Master’s in Counseling Online


In the old days, graduate psychology programs expected students to dedicate their lives to the field. Graduate students worked long hours running experiments and teaching undergraduate psychology classes. Holding a job outside of the university or taking classes part-time was unthinkable. Today, graduate programs understand the busy lives of students. A good master’s of counseling program will offer evening classes, part-time schedules, and online coursework. Some even have sabbatical programs so students can take a semester off when life gets in the way of studying.

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Internship Assistance

A key element of any great master’s degree in counseling is a strong internship. After all, students can’t provide quality services to future clients without hands-on, supervised practice. Many universities use graduate student interns to staff mental health clinics for undergraduate students. Online psychology schools will also help students find the best internship possible through local partnerships or online counseling services.

A Course in Research Methods

Psychology departments split their courses into two tracks: One track for future researchers and a different track for future counselors. However, a strong counseling department will foster collaboration between the two tracks. Before graduating, counseling students should understand how to read the methodology and analysis sections of peer-reviewed research studies and how to apply new research to clinical practice. Some schools even require all graduate students to conduct a small research project to build a deep appreciation for the science of psychology.


Accredited counseling schools are recognized worldwide. To gain accreditation, schools must pass a rigorous inspection and prove that they provide quality education to students. Counseling programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Before choosing a master’s degree in counseling program, applicants should search the CACREP site to determine if the program is accredited.

High Job Placement Rate

A good master’s of counseling program provides career services to help graduates find jobs. These services include mock interviews, resume help and connections with local and national employers. The best counseling schools publish their job placement rates online for prospective applicants to see. Some schools even post employers where their graduates work. This allows applicants to see if schools funnel graduates into research, government or private practice jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), mental health counselors will see a 22 percent increase in employment between 2018 and 2028. This indicates a strong demand for counseling services as health insurance companies increasingly cover mental health care costs. Given the high demand for graduate-level counselors, quality schools can easily find jobs for all of their graduates.

Each counseling specialty is different, but they have one thing in common. Whether applicants want to work in marriage and family therapy, drug and alcohol counseling or higher education student services, a good master’s of counseling degree program will provide these five things.