Empower Others to Create Positive Change by Earning a Licensure-Track Master’s in Counseling Online.
Liberty University’s Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree online is designed to equip you with the specialized training you need to gain state licensure and become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).*
An LPC is a licensed mental health professional who is trained to work with individuals, families, and groups in treating mental health and behavioral problems. By earning this online counseling degree, you can enhance your understanding of human psychology through field-tested techniques and learn best practices for promoting the mental health and holistic wellness of clients in diverse communities.
Our master’s in counseling degree online can help you become an ethical, well-trained mental health counselor with the knowledge, values, and skills you need to empower others to make positive changes in their lives. Completing Liberty University’s counseling degree online prepares you for counseling practice through rigorous academic courses, dynamic interaction with mentors and faculty, and a carefully structured practicum and internship process.
*Individual state licensure requirements may vary, please verify licensure requirements for the state in which you reside.
Why Choose Liberty’s Online Master’s in Mental Health Counseling?
Do you want to empower others to conquer their challenges and become healthy and productive? Liberty University’s online clinical mental health counseling degree can help prepare you for a rewarding career as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Learn evidence-based, field-tested skills from professors who not only have years of real-world counseling experience, but who are also committed to mentoring their students.
Counseling is a unique calling that requires a special kind of person. As a counselor, you’ll seek to help people overcome challenges that can seem insurmountable. At times, you will serve as a place of solace for your clients – a beacon of hope in a world that can seem ruthless, endless, and devoid of meaning.
The clients you serve may have just come stateside from a long tour in the Middle East, from an impoverished area, or from the highest echelons of society. Indeed, mental health challenges don’t discriminate – they affect people from all walks of life. Your clients may be broken, disheartened, depressed, or angry. They may also appear to be high-on-life – but on the inside, masquerading deep, shut-away feelings of insecurity, mental duress, and regret.
Fortunately for your future clients – and for you – people do not have to face their challenges alone. Just as your clients will depend on you, you can depend on Liberty University to help equip you with the skills, knowledge, experience, and credentials needed to offer hope to the hopeless and refuge to the restless.
At Liberty, our professors can be a tremendous asset to you. You’ll have the opportunity to meet with some of them personally during your visits to Liberty’s beautiful campus, located in Central Virginia, for 2 on-campus intensives. You’ll also observe professional counselors in their own practices during your counseling practicum and start honing your counseling skills throughout a 2-semester internship.
Once you complete your master’s degree in counseling online and pass your state licensure exam, you’ll be equipped to pursue a fulfilling professional counseling career. You may be able to pursue roles in many areas such as healthcare, community agencies, education, social services, or private practice. Liberty University’s online master’s in professional counseling degree provides you with a flexible, effective pathway to licensure – while preparing you for a rewarding career.
What Are the Benefits of Liberty University’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling Degree Online?
One benefit to Liberty’s online clinical mental health counseling degree is that it can help you prepare for in-demand careers. The U.S. Department of Labor projects a 23% growth for mental health counselors through 2030, which is faster than average for all occupations.* Insurance companies offer more coverage for mental health services than in the past. This change means that the federal government, community clinics, and local hospitals are expanding their mental health counseling staff to provide effective treatment for patients.
After completing Liberty University’s master’s in clinical mental health counseling degree online, you will have many opportunities to choose your preferred area of practice or specialize your field of expertise. This change can be completed later through state-specific alternate pathways.
Highlights that set Liberty’s clinical mental health counseling degree apart from others:
- Our award-winning online learning environment means you can complete your coursework on a schedule that fits your life.
- Our flexible, on-campus intensive options give you the opportunity to visit Liberty University’s beautiful campus in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia when it fits into your schedule. You also may be able to use financial aid to pay for a hotel room during your week-long intensive. For more information, contact academic advising at (800) 424-9595.
- The practicum and internship provide hands-on, marketable experience working directly with hurting people in your community.
- Our mental health counseling degree is taught by a cadre of expert professors with years of experience in the helping professions.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors, (Viewed online October 26, 2021). Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
Importance of CACREP Accreditation
Our online mental health counseling degree is also CACREP-accredited. You may be wondering what this means for your degree and why CACREP accreditation is important. Here are a few reasons why:
- The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is the nation’s foremost accrediting group for determining the quality and rigor of a graduate-level counseling program.
- In order to earn CACREP accreditation, a graduate program must be evaluated by CACREP and found to meet or exceed national academic standards set by the counseling profession. Liberty’s MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling online degree fits that bill.
- CACREP accreditation also ensures that a degree program can help prepare you for licensure. Though licensure requirements may vary by state, earning a CACREP-accredited MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling can help you pursue a career as a licensed mental health professional.
- Though it may be possible to pursue a career as a licensed mental health professional without a CACREP-accredited graduate degree, CACREP is largely accepted as the standard that employers in counseling professions require. Becoming a professional counselor is much simpler with a CACREP-approved degree under your belt.
If you’re looking for a CACREP-accredited mental health counseling degree online that allows you to prepare for a career as a licensed professional counselor and gain valuable skills from the comfort of home, look no further than Liberty’s master’s in clinical mental health counseling.
Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Degree Military Benefits
Liberty University is dedicated to providing world-class educational experiences to military students across the globe. Whether you are a current service member, discharged or retired from service, or the spouse of a service member or veteran, we are here to support you every step of the journey.
As a thank-you for your dedication and service to our country, Liberty is honored to serve and support you in your pursuit of online education by offering the following benefits:
- Tuition discounts –$275 per credit hour for graduate courses
- Additional discount for veterans who serve in a civilian capacity as a First Responder (less than $625 per course)
- 8-week courses, 8 different start dates each year, and no set login times (may exclude certain courses such as practicums, internships, or field experiences)
Admission Requirements for the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Degree Online
A regionally or nationally accredited bachelor’s degree with a 2.7 or above cumulative GPA is required for admission in good standing. Please visit our admission requirements page for more detailed admissions-related information.
All applicants must submit the following:
- Admission application
- Application fee*
- Contact information for 2 recommenders
- Personal statement
- Agreement to Mission Statement and Diversity Statement
- Official college transcripts
- Unofficial college transcripts may be accepted with a completed official transcript request form**
- Proof of English proficiency (for applicants whose native language is other than English)
*There is no upfront application fee; however, a deferred $50 application fee will be assessed during Financial Check-In. This fee is waived for qualifying service members, veterans, and military spouses – documentation verifying military status is required.
**An official transcript is needed within 60 days of acceptance or before non-attendance drops for the first set of matriculated classes, whichever comes first.
Highlights of Liberty University’s Online Counseling Degree
- We are recognized by multiple institutions for our academic quality, affordability, and accessibility. Our commitment to excellence also helped us rank among Niche.com’s top 3 online schools in America. Earning your online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree from a nonprofit university with this kind of recognition can help set you apart from others in your field.
- Your success is our success, which is why we are committed to providing quality academics at an affordable tuition rate. While other colleges are increasing their tuition, we have frozen tuition rates for our undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs for the past 7 years – and counting.
- Our MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Earning a degree with CACREP accreditation can help set you apart as a professional who is knowledgeable, prepared, and committed to excellence in counseling.
- Through 2 required on-campus intensive courses, you will meet and collaborate with peers and professors while completing your online degree and progressing towards your counseling license.
- Liberty University is regionally accredited by SACSCOC, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
- Be mentored during a hands-on counseling experience through the online counseling degree’s 2-semester internship, providing necessary state-reported hours for licensure and valuable field experience.
- Complete your coursework on a schedule that fits your life with Liberty’s world-class online learning environment.
Program Information for Our Online Degree in Counseling
- This program falls under the School of Behavioral Sciences.
- Download and review our master’s in clinical mental health counseling Degree Completion Plan.
- View our Graduate Behavioral Sciences Course Guides (login required).
- Two 3-credit hour intensives with flexible scheduling are required.
- One 3-credit hour practicum that requires 100 hours – 40 of which are direct contact hours.
- 6-credit hour internship taken in two 3-credit-hour courses over 2 semesters. For more information, please contact academic advising at (800) 424-9596.
- Review the background check and comprehensive exam information.
- The MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program may lead to licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in most states. See which states have unique board requirements.
- You can read more about the National Counselor Examination on our counselor education page.
What Will You Learn in Our Master’s in Counseling Online?
Our master’s in clinical mental health counseling degree online provides a foundational series of courses designed to cover the most essential studies in human behavior. These courses are designed to train you in ethical and legal issues in counseling, multicultural counseling, theories in counseling, and many other areas of study for evidence-based best practices. To meet private counseling practice requirements and become a licensed clinical counselor, your online counseling classes meet specific advanced counseling content areas. Our program is designed to help you receive the hands-on training you need.
Our online LPC degree focuses these critical knowledge areas into group counseling, psychopathology, and other important assessment and practical skill areas. With these skills, you can become equipped for another part of the degree program: your practicum and internship requirements.
The practicum and internship requirements embedded into our LPC online program allow you to gain valuable, real-world experience under the supervision of a professional counselor. At Liberty, we believe in the value of real-world experience because it allows you to see, experience, and learn things that may not be fully covered in a textbook or a lecture.
These courses are designed to give you the necessary skills and knowledge to be an effective mental health caregiver in your chosen field. By pursuing our clinical counseling degree online, you can earn a career-enhancing credential and confidently pursue careers in the helping professions.
Our master’s in clinical mental health counseling may be right for you if. . .
- You need flexibility. Liberty’s online mental health counseling degree is offered in mostly 8-week sections. You’ll be able to complete the vast majority of your degree from the comfort of home, and you’ll be able to complete your field experience requirements at a location near you.
- You want to gain experience. Our online mental health counseling degree features a practicum and an internship — allowing you to gain real-world experience, learn valuable skills, put what you learn into practice, and build professional connections.
- You want an online counseling degree that is CACREP-accredited. This means that you can have confidence that your online counseling degree from Liberty has met the highest academic standards. A counseling degree from Liberty can help you stand out to hiring managers, serve clients with excellence, or equip you with the confidence to start your own counseling practice.
- You want to study under industry experts. Our clinical counseling degree is taught by a group of expert professors with years of experience. Our instructors are passionate about the subjects they teach, but they’re even more passionate about helping you achieve your goals. By choosing Liberty for your MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, you choose professors who have a vested interest in your success.
- You want to become a Licensed Professional Counselor. Our clinical mental health counseling degree online is designed to help you become a licensed mental health professional.
- You want a Christ-centered education. Since 1971, Liberty’s mission has been to Train Champions for Christ. We don’t want to just train the next generation of clinical mental health counselors – we want to train principled, ethical professionals whose dedication to clients is preceded only by a love of Christ.
- COUC 502 – Human Growth and Development
- COUC 546 – Psychopathology
- COUC 604 – Crisis Counseling
- COUC 667 – Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
What Can You Do With a Master’s in Counseling Online?
Liberty’s online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling provides the training, knowledge, and experience you need to become a professional counselor. With a professional counseling licensure and an LPC degree that is accredited by CACREP, your training and expertise can be recognized as meeting a high standard of excellence. There are opportunities for counseling in many areas, including:
- Addictions and recovery counseling
- Community counseling
- Ministry-based counseling
- Private counseling practice
Our online counseling degree assists students in pursuing required state licensure areas of knowledge and practice. This allows students to pursue state-regulated counseling positions to work in private, public, and nonprofit roles where counseling and human services skill sets are required. After completing Liberty’s online degree in counseling and satisfying state licensure requirements, students may be able to start their own private practices in counseling.
As a licensed professional counselor (LPC), you may be qualified to work in the following types of treatment centers:
- Inpatient mental health treatment facility
- Mental health agency
- Private practice
With additional licensure requirements, graduates may also pursue roles as school counselors, addiction counselors, marriage and family therapists, and many other counseling roles. Please review your state’s licensure requirements for more information about counseling licensure requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions About Online Counseling Degrees
What is professional counseling?
Professional counselors or mental health counselors are licensed professionals who use expert knowledge in human psychology to help people heal from emotional trauma, overcome harmful behavior, and offer mental health guidance.
The act of counseling itself may be performed by non-licensed professionals who have experience in helping people overcome emotional and psychological struggles. However, licensed counselors have met specific, rigorous standards for training. LPCs have also undertaken a broad-based, in-depth study of psychological conditions and their treatment. This background better prepares counselors to handle a wider variety of issues, utilize one of several counseling techniques, and use the chosen technique to help clients get the help they need.
How can you earn a counseling degree online?
Many students looking for how to get a counseling degree are confused by online formats. While these programs are online, state-recognized counseling licensure requires hands-on experience showing many hours of counselor-patient experience. With Liberty’s online LPC program, the hands-on experience is handled through a practicum and internship in or near your local community.
How long does it take to earn an online counseling degree at the graduate level?
Most online LPC programs can take as long as 3 years to complete, but Liberty University’s online LPC program can help you complete your clinical counseling program in as little as 2.5 years. This time frame includes the internship and practicum requirements that will help you get the hands-on experience you need to pursue licensure.
An LPC degree is a “license for professional counseling” degree, or a degree designed to help graduates obtain a professional counseling license. Liberty’s Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is an LPC degree.
You may also be able to use your state’s approved pathways to transition from a general LPC to a specialized field. See your state’s board of counseling website for details.
How much do LPCs make?
There is not much data on how much the average mental health counselor makes per year because mental health counselors are typically grouped under the “Licensed Professional Counselor” umbrella — which also includes substance abuse counselors and behavioral disorder counselors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earned an average salary of $47,660 in 2020.* Demand for this career field is expected to grow 23% between 2020 and 2030, which is much faster than the average projected growth rates for all occupations.*
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors, (Viewed online October 26, 2021). Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
Can you get a counseling license without a master’s?
No. If you want to become a licensed professional counselor, earning a master’s degree is a must. That’s why Liberty offers an online masters in mental health counseling — so you can take the next step towards your career goals without relocating. By partnering with us, you can earn your mental health counselor degree and pursue your dream of becoming a licensed professional counselor.
Can I start my own practice with Liberty’s master’s in professional counseling?
If you’re interested in starting your own counseling practice, Liberty’s online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree online is an excellent choice. This degree program is CACREP-accredited and designed to help you become a Licensed Professional Counselor – allowing you to work in several settings.
Is getting an LPC worth it?
Becoming a licensed professional counselor (LPC) is a rewarding, in-demand career path that can empower you to guide struggling people through various difficulties. As an LPC, you’ll be able to diagnose and treat emotional disorders, and provide direct guidance to individuals and groups. You’ll also be able to work in a variety of settings such as mental health facilities, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, or your own private practice.
If you’re interested in becoming a counselor and in the process of exploring LPC online programs, Liberty’s online MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling can help you become a licensed professional counselor. While some masters in counseling online degrees may have not been created with licensure requirements in mind, our online mental health counseling degree was designed to satisfy licensure requirements.
Through completion of this degree’s rigorous curriculum and field experience requirements, you can graduate from our mental health degree online as an ethical, principled professional who can confidently pursue licensure.
Can I earn a master’s in clinical mental health counseling online?
Yes! At Liberty University, you can earn a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling 100% online while taking mostly 8-week courses, gaining valuable experience, enjoying networking opportunities with fellow aspiring counselors, and studying under expert professors with years of real-world experience.
You’re likely interested in earning your degree online because you have current responsibilities and commitments that prevent you from attending courses on a residential campus. We completely understand, and trust us – you’re not alone. At Liberty, we’ve been helping bridge the gap between academic aspirations and personal commitments since 1985 — when we introduced our first distance learning program.
We recognize that although you can’t commit to a residential program of study, you still expect the same benefits. You want a respected degree that will challenge you. You expect professors with years of real-world experience, and you may even expect a Christian curriculum. If this sounds like you, our Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling may be for you.
Will I be required to attend any courses on campus?
Our clinical mental health master’s in counseling online requires 2 residential courses. As a precautionary measure against COVID-19, these intensive courses may be offered online temporarily. The courses, COUC 505 and COUC 512, will still require online students to be present for class virtually between the hours of 8:00 and 5:00 pm EST for one week. For more information, please contact academic advising at (800) 424-9596.
How long does it take to become a clinical mental health counselor?
There is no blanket answer to this question because licensure and field experience vary by state. Though there may be exceptions depending on your state’s licensure requirements, clinical mental health counselors usually need to complete a CACREP-accredited degree program.
At Liberty, our CACREP-accredited Master’s in clinical mental health counseling can be completed in as little as 2.5 years. If your state has additional licensure requirements, you may spend a bit more time finalizing your counseling license by satisfying field placement requirements. For more information for licensure requirements in your state and whether or how Liberty’s online counseling degree aligns with your state’s requirements, please see our state licensure page.
How much does it cost to get your online master’s in counseling?
Though the cost of online counseling degree programs varies by school, Liberty’s online mental health counseling is competitively priced at $565 per credit hour for full-time students and $615 per credit hour for part-time students. For eligible members of the military, we offer a tuition discount of $275 per credit hour – whether you are full-time or part-time. For more information, see the military benefits tab.
What is the difference between a life coach and a counselor?
Though there are several differences between a life coach and a counselor, one of the largest differences is that counseling is more narrow in focus than life coaching. Counselors help their clients cope with issues such as addiction, eating disorders, and numerous other challenges.
On the other hand, life coaches do not seek to help clients overcome serious mental challenges. Life coaches focus more on motivating their clients to reach certain goals while counselors seek to guide clients through their current life circumstances.
What is the difference between a lay counselor and a licensed professional counselor?
While a licensed counselor must go through years of educational and professional training and testing to licensed, little to no training is required to become a lay counselor. Lay counselors are commonly non-degree-holding, non-credentialed, and non-licensed people who work in the helping professions.
Licensed counselors also tend to earn considerably larger salaries than lay counselors.
How do our counseling degree’s field experience requirements work?
Our master’s in clinical mental health counseling has 1 practicum and 1 internship. Both are semester-long courses.
The practicum requires 100 hours of field experience – 40 of those direct client hours, and 60 of those related activities such as reading literature, creating and examining case notes, and crafting treatment plans. The practicum, which also requires a few set login times, should be completed near the end of our mental health degree online – but before the internship. In order to register for the practicum, students must complete all required prerequisites and have at least a 3.0 GPA.
The internship requires 600 total hours of field experience. Because it may be difficult to complete all of these hours in 1 semester, students are required to complete the internship over the course of 2 semesters. One other difference between the practicum and the internship is that the internship requires group supervision while the practicum does not. However, we recommend group supervision as part of the practicum, if possible.
Do I need a bachelor’s degree in psychology or counseling to be admitted?
Admissions requirements vary by university, but at Liberty, you are not required to have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, counseling, or a related subject for admission to our online mental health counseling master’s degree. However, you must hold at least a bachelor’s degree with a 2.7 GPA or higher to be admitted in good standing. Our clinical mental health degree also requires 3 credit hours in statistics as a prerequisite to certain courses. This prerequisite must be on your official transcripts, or you must take undergraduate statistics at Liberty before you can enroll in specific graduate courses. For more information, please see our admissions requirements page.
What makes a good professional counselor?
If you’re thinking about becoming a counselor and you would like to learn which key skills you need to gain to become a good professional counselor, begin by examining yourself.
You can begin to understand others if you understand yourself better. How do you act in certain situations? When something goes wrong, how do you react; and why do you react in such a way? What things bother you, and why do they bother you? Is there a deeper reason behind your dislike of these things, and if so, what is that deeper reason?
As you examine yourself, you’ll have to be genuine with yourself. And that’s one of the first keys in being a good counselor: authenticity. You can’t fake an interest in helping your client – you must have true concern for the person you’re counseling. Your client needs to have no doubt that when they sit in the chair across from you, they’re getting the very best you have to offer.
You also have to be empathetic. As a counselor, you will speak with people from all walks of life. Quite a few of your clients will come from different backgrounds than you, have different stories than you, and have different regrets than you do. And that’s okay – but if you want to reach your client and provide sound advice that can help them overcome the issues they’re struggling with, you’ll have to empathize.
As a counselor, you’ll also have to be great at listening. Not the passive, unconscious head-nodding type of listening, but critical listening. In our online LPC program, you’ll learn effective strategies for listening to clients, but it’s a point that cannot be underemphasized.
You’ll need to be skilled in listening that considers the context of the words, the nuanced meanings of words, the way that your client says the words, and how long your client takes to come up with words. The way your clients communicate can be telling, and as a counselor, you’ll need to pay close attention to what the people you help say.
In addition, you’ll need to be understanding and accepting. As a counselor, you may find that the people who come to you often don’t know who else to go to. Perhaps they’re scared their past may spook people, induce judgment, or cause strife. As a counselor, you cannot let this happen – you must exhibit love and compassion for your clients and be steadfast in your efforts to serve them.
Is Liberty University a good counseling school?
Yes – we believe Liberty is an excellent counseling school. Our Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). A CACREP-accredited online counseling degree from Liberty can help set you apart as a professional whose expertise is preceded only by your compassion for the clients you serve.
Liberty is also regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Accrediting (SACSCOC). There are 2 types of institutional accreditation – national and regional. Regional accreditation is seen as the more prestigious of the two.
By partnering with Liberty for your online clinical counseling degree, you can earn a CACREP-accredited degree from a university with regional accreditation. At Liberty, we don’t just offer you an MA in counseling online that can help prepare you to serve others with excellence – we offer the peace of mind that comes with earning an accredited degree program from an accredited university.
Choose a school for your online LPC program that offers you the most possible benefit – professionally, academically, and personally. Choose Liberty University. We are a great school and we have the credentials to prove it.
What GPA do I need to graduate with honors or distinction?
At Liberty, outstanding graduate and doctoral students have the opportunity to graduate with distinction or high distinction. Each honor is an incredible achievement and requires a commitment to excellence in your academic endeavors.
To graduate with distinction and earn a silver medallion to wear at commencement, you’ll need to finish your master’s degree with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.9. To graduate with high distinction and earn a gold medallion, you will need to finish your degree with at least a 3.95 cumulative GPA. Cumulative GPA is calculated to the hundredths place, and it is not rounded.