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Best Counseling Psychology Degree Colleges in the U.S. 2017

Over the last decade, we’ve seen an increase in the awareness and importance of overall health and well-being. Tragedies at the international level have opened our eyes to the need for healthy ways to cope with grief and loss. High profile individuals who lost their battles with depression, like Robin Williams and Amy Winehouse have woken us up to this serious problem and started powerful conversations. An estimated 43.6 million Americans struggle with mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. What used to be seen as a shameful stigma for nearly 20% of the population is starting to be seen as a health issue that can and should be treated and prevented.

At the forefront of these conversations are professionals who make a huge impact on individual’s lives. Counselors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals enter into the challenging and rewarding work of helping people overcome their problems and realize their full potential.

The field of mental health is growing. Not only are we increasing awareness on the importance of mental health, but health insurance reforms are allowing access to preventative and therapeutic care to more and more Americans. The Department of Labor Statistics predicts that opportunities in this field will grow by 19 percent in the next decade, a much higher growth rate than other professions.

Our world needs people to help others through therapy and counseling. Whether you have been impacted by the help of a counselor or see the growing need for caring professionals to come alongside others, considering a profession as a counselor is an honorable way to make an impact in your community. If this is something you’re interested in, take a look at our comprehensive overview of this rewarding career.

The Best Counseling Psychology Colleges of 2019

Rank School Name Location Description
1 Northwestern University Evanston, IL

Location: Evanston, IL and online

Programs Offered: Master of Arts in Counseling

This top-ranked school offers a cutting-edge program for those who want to make an impact in the world of mental health. Set just outside of the culturally rich metropolis of Chicago, students at Northwestern have an opportunity to be immersed in the dynamic world of providing therapy to a diverse set of clients. For those needing more flexibility, Northwestern offers a high-quality online master's program as well. The program prides itself on being at the forefront of research and breakthrough therapy approaches. Students are taught to be reflective practitioners in a “learning-by-doing” model that immerses them in clinical work from the beginning. The fact that 100% of their counseling graduates passed the National Counselors Examination is a testament to their strong academic program.

2 Adler University Chicago, IL

Location: Vancouver, B.C., Chicago, IL

Programs Offered: Doctor of Couple and Family Therapy, M.A in Couple and Family Therapy, M.A in Counseling, various specializations

Gemeinschaftsgefühl. This German word describes the idea that wellbeing is found in community life and our connectedness to other human beings. Alfred Adler, a twentieth-century Austrian psychiatrist and the namesake of this distinguished university was a thought leader in focusing on community wellness. Adler University seeks to carry out the philosophy of Adler, addressing social injustice and relational tensions through a systems approach to therapy. They offer a doctorate program in Couple and Family Therapy, at either a four-year, full-time track or part-time options. Their master's program for counseling encompasses a variety of specialization options, ranging from forensic psychology to art therapy.

3 The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology Seattle, WA

Location: Seattle, WA

Programs Offered: Master’s of Counseling Psychology

The staff at The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology are passionate about preparing therapists to utilize a holistic approach to healing and a deep understanding of relationship dynamics. “We prepare therapists to enter the beauty and brokenness of their own stories in order to better meet others with courage, compassion, and awe.” This school is a very small community, with under 300 students, in the Belltown neighborhood of downtown Seattle. They have an intentional focus to engage with diversity and foster healthy dialog within their community. While they do not have a denominational or church affiliation, they approach counseling psychology with the Christian perspective to “serve God and neighbor through transforming relationships.”

4 California Institute of Integral Studies San Francisco, CA

Location: San Francisco, CA

Programs Offered: Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology

As the first transpersonally-oriented psychology graduate program in the world, the California Institute of Integral Studies believes that education is not just “neck up”. They incorporate Eastern philosophy and current research practices to provide a rigorous education for counseling psychology students. Their master's program for counseling psychology includes focuses on either Community mental health, Drama Therapy, Expressive Arts Therapy, Integral Counseling Psychology, or Somatic Psychology. Between their small class sizes, award-winning counseling centers, and holistic approach, it’s no wonder that they consistently have the highest pass rates of all graduate degree programs in California.

5 Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY

Location: New York City, NY

Programs Offered: Clinical Psychology MA, Ph.D., Counseling Psychology MA, Ed.M, Ph.D

Right in the heart of Manhattan, Columbia University has a platform to speak into the issues of diversity that are growing in our nation. In addition to raising awareness about the narratives of non-white Americans, they offer one of the only counseling degree programs with an emphasis on Latina/o Mental Health. Their program has a commitment to have experiential training and self-awareness as integral in their courses. The exposure to field-shaping research and a range of opportunities prepare students at Columbia University to be well equipped in a variety of careers.

6 Lindsey Wilson College Columbia, KY

Location: Twenty-six locations in five states (Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia), online

Programs Offered: Master of Education in Counseling and Human Development

With over 26 locations spread throughout the Appalachian region of our country, Lindsey Wilson College may be an ideal place for you to pursue a counseling degree. They offer a weekend-based format for face-to-face classes, as well as an exceptional online program for non-traditional students. Lindsey Wilson College is affiliated with the Kentucky Conference of the United Methodist Church and is passionate about assisting underserved regions through academic excellence and professional integrity. The master’s program, with a specialization in Mental Health Counseling, provides a broad-based generalist degree that will prepare students to serve in a variety of counseling psychology careers.

7 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Programs Offered: Master’s of Science in Education in Counseling and Mental Health Services, Master’s of Philosophy in Education

The University of Pennsylvania has a unique approach to pursuing a counseling degree. They have a hybrid program that can accommodate the needs of a variety of different pursuits. Their Counseling and Mental Health Services (CMHS) masters program is a one-year program. This is an ideal route for students who would like to pursue a doctorate degree in the field of psychology. This allows them to pursue a Ph.D. (at another university) more quickly. Students who choose to remain for year two enter into the Professional Counseling (PCL) program. These students receive two degrees within two years, both the M.S.Ed and the M.Phil.Ed. The program accommodates both full and part-time students. With prestigious faculty, immediate hands-on experience in the field, and a diverse setting in Philadelphia, this school has a lot to offer.

8 Naropa University Boulder, CO

Location: Boulder, CO

Programs Offered: Master’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling

As the country’s first contemplative university, Naropa is at the forefront of higher education that seeks to integrate Eastern wisdom and holistic practices and Western research and scholarship. Within the counseling program, students can pick one of six unique concentrations: Contemplative Psychotherapy and Buddhist Psychology, Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling, Somatic: Body Psychotherapy, Somatic: Dance/Movement Therapy, Transpersonal Art Therapy, or Transpersonal Wilderness Therapy. Classes are small and engaging, integrated with hands-on learning, leading research, and experiential best practices. Set in beautiful Boulder, Colorado, Naropa is an ideal place for those interested in a creative approach to counseling psychology.

9 Webster University Saint Louis, MO

Location: 17 locations in the United States, Geneva, Switzerland, online

Programs Offered: Master of Arts in Counseling

With campuses all around the country, and over 30 years of helping high-quality professionals become counselors, a graduate degree from Webster University holds a lot of worth. Rooted in a passion for being culturally inclusive and academically rigorous, this program supports counselors-in-training to best help their clients move forward in their journeys. Their home campus is in St. Louis, but they also offer counseling programs at 16 other campuses across the country, as well as online. If you’re looking for a more international experience, you can even study at their campus in Geneva, Switzerland! The master's program has several emphasis options, including Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Community Counseling, and Family Life Counseling.

10 Lamar University Beaumont, TX

Location: Beaumont, TX, online

Programs Offered: Master's Degree in Education with a concentration in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Lamar University’s counseling program is geared towards those who are interested in becoming clinical mental health counselors. There is an emphasis on being familiar with a wide range of effective therapeutic techniques and equipping practitioners to be able to attend to their client's goals. This program is offered in two formats. If you prefer face-to-face education, you can take classes at their campus in Beaumont, Texas. If an online education appeals to you, their award-winning online program will help you achieve your goals.

List of Counseling Psychology Schools in the U.S.

Degree Levels
  • Associate's
  • Bachelor's
  • Certificates
  • Doctoral
  • Master's
Program Length
  • Less than 2 years (below associate)
  • At least 2 but less than 4 years
  • Four or more years
Control Type
  • Private for-profit
  • Private not-for-profit
  • Public
School Logo School Name Average tuition Student Teacher Ratio Enrolled Students
Northwestern University Northwestern University Evanston, IL
10 : 1 21,655
Adler University Adler University Chicago, IL 18 : 1 988
The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology Seattle, WA 19 : 1 302
California Institute of Integral Studies California Institute of Integral Studies San Francisco, CA 19 : 1 1,488
Columbia University in the City of New York Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY
7 : 1 28,086
Lindsey Wilson College Lindsey Wilson College Columbia, KY
19 : 1 2,651
University of Pennsylvania University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
12 : 1 24,876
Naropa University Naropa University Boulder, CO
11 : 1 942
Webster University Webster University Saint Louis, MO
25 : 1 15,256
Lamar University Lamar University Beaumont, TX
29 : 1 14,965
Liberty University Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
39 : 1 80,494
University of Chicago University of Chicago Chicago, IL
7 : 1 15,391
Northeastern University Northeastern University Boston, MA
15 : 1 19,940
University of San Francisco University of San Francisco San Francisco, CA
15 : 1 10,797
Santa Clara University Santa Clara University Santa Clara, CA
14 : 1 8,680
Johns Hopkins University Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
6 : 1 22,686
New York University New York University New York, NY
8 : 1 50,027
Boston College Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA
15 : 1 14,354
Lehigh University Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA
13 : 1 7,054
Nova Southeastern University Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL
22 : 1 23,236
Boston University Boston University Boston, MA
11 : 1 32,158
Adams State University Adams State University Alamosa, CO
22 : 1 3,404
University Logo Mercer University Macon, GA
17 : 1 8,600
University of Miami University of Miami Coral Gables, FL
11 : 1 16,825
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota Saint Mary's University of Minnesota Winona, MN
29 : 1 5,931

Getting a Counseling Psychology Degree Online

The coursework and nature of the career you are pursuing may seem tricky to attempt through an online program. Dialoguing about psychological issues, interacting with peers and faculty as you engage with very personal matters, and hands-on practicums and internships seem like something that should occur face-to-face. However, there are a variety of high-quality online options if you are pursuing a master’s degree in counseling psychology. With advancing technology, there is still a lot of personal attention and interaction with classmates. Connecting with nearby counseling centers in your own community and engaging with an online cohort of other students allows for you to pursue accreditation in a way that works for your stage of life. In researching online programs, make sure that they are accredited and offer the classes and adequate preparation required for the state you hope to practice in. Four out of the top ten schools listed in this guide (Northwestern, Lindsey Wilson, Webster, and Lamar University) have excellent online programs available.

Counseling Psychology Degree Overview

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