Educational Requirements To Become A Counselor

This article aims at giving your idea about the degree levels, license, experience and much more required to become a qualified counselor.

Updated by TCM Staff on 12th June 2020

If you are planning to become a counselor, you have various areas of work opportunities such as health, marriage, school and other. Earning the degree from an accredited college and meeting the qualifications boosts your employability where as a candidate without a degree limits himself to becoming a counselor. Hence education and licensing play a vital role in a counselor’s career. 

Counselor is expertised in comforting, talking, advising and understanding the mentally disturbing issues concerning the patients. They help their patients overcome their traumas and through a positive approach and maintain mental stability. 

If you are willing to become a counselor, there are a number of steps you should follow and distinctive requirements which we will discuss in this article. 

Education Requirements for a Counselor

The minimum qualification required to land on this job is to earn a master’s degree in a relevant field. Prospective students also choose the doctoral degree to advance their career which acts as an  alternative career concentration to become a psychologist. We will further discuss the degree level and the requirements. 

Bachelor’s degree: 

To begin with, plan your career and the path you want to pursue in the initial stages as most undergrad degrees provide brief knowledge for this profession. Also select psychology as a major and complete the coursework in the 4 years duration such as interpersonal communications, human behavior and the environment, survey of social problems, prevention and crisis intervention, human services and social policy, case management in human services, human services delivery, statistics and introduction to psychology. 

You could choose to earn a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University Global with major as Human Services.

Master’s degree: 

Make sure you complete the master’s  degree program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs to meet the quality of education required to become successful. The coursework includes Introduction to Addictions and Substance Use Disorders, Professional Counseling Orientation and Ethics, Counseling Theories, Group Counseling Theory and Practice, Social and Cultural Diversity Issues in Counseling, Human Sexuality, Aging and Long-Term Care and other. 

With a bachelor’s degree in hand, you could choose these master’s program 

  • Master of Science in Counseling Studies

  • Master of Science in Professional Counseling

  • Master of Arts in Counseling

  • Master of Arts in Community Counseling

  • Master of Arts in Rehabilitation Counseling

  • Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology: Art Therapy

  • Master of Science in Career Counseling

  • Master of Science in Marriage and Family Counseling

Doctoral degree:

Even though a doctoral degree isn't mainstream to become a counsellor, earning a PhD gives your advancement and deepens your academia in specific fields. Following are the PhD programs you could choose

  • PhD in Counseling philosophy

  • EdD (Doctor of Education) in Counseling Psychology

  • PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy: General Family Therapy

To frame your career path better, you must have an understanding of the time it takes to become a counselor and plan accordingly. 


After completing your education, you must work towards gaining 1-2 years of experience in a clinical setting under a licensed professional to give you the eligibility to earn a license. Also an internship program of a few months can give you enough exposure to the industry and the broader understanding of the techniques used to treat patients in a short span of time. 

Licensing Exam

Competing tout education and gaining experience gives you the eligibility to become licensed. According to the state regulations, you are required to clear the licensure exam held by the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Exam (NCMHCE).

Online Programs

Online degrees to become a counselor are an easy and time saving option which has a similar curriculum compared to the traditional degree. This also offers a flexible schedule and is offered at an affordable cost. The top online universities are striving to offer programs and few are,


Becoming a counselor is a challenging and a rewarding career to invest time and money by educating yourself. If you love treating people, help them with their mental issues concerning them , this profession will surely open the gate for your success. 

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