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SNHU graduate, Fatima Salem-Pease, speaking to patient. With the text Fatima Salem-Pease

Master's in Counseling Online Mental Health Degree

Earn an MA in Counseling Online

  • CACREP accredited
  • $627/credit (60 credits total)
  • Prepare to be a licensed counselor
  • Experienced and diverse faculty
  • 24/7 online accessibility
  • Innovative combination of online and face-to-face work

Online Master’s in Counseling Program Overview

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), over 47 million American adults battle mental illness problems annually.1 Embrace an active role in improving mental health by earning your online Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Southern New Hampshire University.

As you gain the skills to become a clinical mental health counselor, your clients will find comfort in the compassion and applicable knowledge you provide. Seize the opportunity to learn to effectively work with clients experiencing a range of behavioral and emotional issues, from child development problems and trauma to addiction and major mental illness.

Included in our 60-credit online master's in counseling program are two required face-to-face residencies to help strengthen your workforce abilities. [Note: because of Covid-19 precautions, counseling residencies will be held virtually until early 2022.]

SNHU's MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) through 2028.

Learn how to:

  • Develop a professional counseling identity
  • Cultivate socially, culturally and spiritually appropriate skills and practices
  • Promote optimum wellness for diverse clients across the lifespan
  • Develop strategies for supporting and advocating for clients
  • Develop professional skills for client consultation, treatment, intervention and prevention
  • Effectively form and facilitate group counseling and group work
  • Assess the needs of counseling clients validly and reliably
  • Advance the counseling profession and incorporate evidence-based, data-driven approaches into current practice
  • Apply strategies, techniques and theories to the assessment and treatment planning of mental health issues

Learn Online – and in Person

As a mostly online program, SNHU gives you the opportunity to enjoy the convenience of online courses, but also the residency experiences that can help you connect with your clients.

SNHU Counseling Program Mission

We transform our students’ lives, and through them, the lives of the clients and communities they serve. To achieve this, we deliver innovative, experiential counselor education, create an inclusive environment and nurture authentic relationships. As a result, we empower new generations of counselors who are well-poised to take the next step in their professional journeys, well-prepared to have a positive impact on the lives of others, and grounded in ethical practice that promotes unconditional positive regard and cultural humility toward themselves and their clients.

Read our MA Counseling Annual Data Report and our 2020 Program Outcomes Report.

Career Outlook

Dr. Eric Jett with the text Dr. Eric Jett

"Counseling is always changing, it's always growing and it's about connecting with the person in front of you," said Dr. Eric Jett, clinical faculty member at SNHU.

And with 1 in 5 U.S. adults suffering from mental illness – and more people working to reduce the stigma that's often attached to it – there's plenty of room and need for more counselors to join the field.1

That's why the online master's degree in clinical mental health counseling at SNHU is intended to set you up for success. Our goal is to position you for the workforce, post-graduate fieldwork and licensure by helping you establish the educational foundation necessary to prepare for the required professional counseling exams and licensing process.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, career opportunities for mental health, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors are expected to increase 25% through 2029, much faster than the average of all jobs.2 Potential career paths include:

  • Licensed professional counselor
  • Licensed professional clinical counselor
  • Licensed clinical mental health counselor

The Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling offered by Southern New Hampshire University is designed to prepare students to meet the educational requirements for licensure in most states.

SNHU's MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree does not currently meet the requirements for licensure in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Wisconsin. We are not enrolling students from these states at this time.

It is a student's responsibility to understand the specific requirements of the state in which they intend to apply for licensure and to be aware of any changes to those requirements. If they move to another state, the requirements for licensure will likely be different from the state where they currently reside, and they are responsible for determining the licensure requirements in the state to which they relocate. Learn more about SNHU's counseling programs and state-by-state counseling licensure requirements.

In addition to the 60 required academic credits, students must attend two 5-day residencies, either in New Hampshire or in additional locations that may be named later. They must also complete at least a 100-hour practicum and two 300-hour internships during the program (some states require additional hours for licensure). In those states where additional practicum and/or internship hours or coursework is required, SNHU will work with students to obtain the additional hours and will make electives available to fulfill additional course requirements wherever possible.

SNHU does not guarantee that the completion of this program will result in state licensure or certification: In addition to successfully completing the educational requirements, students will need to meet other state licensure requirements. Students are responsible for understanding if a background check is required to apply for licensure and for determining if their own circumstances pose any barriers to licensure.

Start Your Journey Toward an Online Mental Health Counseling Degree

Courses & Curriculum

With our 60-credit master's in mental health counseling, you'll immerse yourself in development theory and treatment plans through the guidance of our experienced counseling faculty – licensed counselors with national reputations. Coursework dives into understanding disorders, group dynamics, career assessments, addiction counseling and diverse populations.

The program emulates the profession, as you'll learn by observing, listening and talking. To prepare you for the face-to-face environment that the field requires, this program features video components, 2 on-site residencies, a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship. (Some states may require additional fieldwork hours.)

This online master's in mental health counseling is ideal for busy adults who want to begin a transformational career path – because 90% of the coursework can be done online.

Dr. Kristi Cannon with the text Dr. Kristi Cannon"We're really mindful of the fact that our students are often coming to us because they need some flexibility," said Dr. Kristi Cannon, associate program director of clinical counseling at SNHU. "The online component really addresses that. Then, at the same time, the residency components allow us the chance to have students interact with us in a more meaningful way one-on-one. They get the benefit of engaging with each other and building some bonds that I think are probably one of the best benefits of residency as a whole."

The program's residencies allow you to take what you've learned online and apply knowledge and strategies in role-play simulations.

Dr. Karena Heyward with the text Dr Karena Heyward"Residency 1 is really focused on micro-skills and it comes earlier in the program," said Dr. Karena Heyward, clinical faculty member at SNHU. Students are "just trying on these skills for the first time, and they're really just sitting with another person as a counselor for the first time."

The second residency builds off the first experience, as well as the courses students take in between. It's also well timed, as it's right before students begin their fieldwork.

"We revisit the topics again, only in a little bit of a different setting, because we begin to look at group counseling," said Dr. Eric Jett, clinical faculty member at SNHU.

Students in the counseling program notice the differences in the two residencies, both because of the types of counseling and because of how far in the program they've come and how much they've advanced in their counseling skills.

Larson Viljanen with the text Larson Viljanen"Leading a group in therapy is a bit different than individual or one-on-one," said student Larson Viljanen. "Seeing how that's done, in-person – and also doing that myself, and seeing my peers do it – was great just for gaining confidence and learning great ways to manage a group of people."

Between the online courses and in-person residencies, students are excited to work with counselor educators who have firsthand experience working with clients.

Tanheya Small with the text Tanheya Small"The faculty have been amazing," said student Tanheya Small. "They put themselves in their coursework."

Heyward attributes SNHU's passionate instructors to the variety of people who make up the counseling faculty.

"We have diversity in terms of who we are as faculty, but also our experiences as counselors and our research interests," she said. "We have some of the top counselor educators in the United States working right here in our clinical mental health counseling program."

Jett agreed that the people students interact with at SNHU are ready to use their expertise to help you succeed.

"One of the greatest things that this program offers – and the university offers – is support, not only in the program, but outside of the program," he said. "The university does an amazing job of making sure students feel like they're part of the university, regardless of where they are in the United States or beyond. It is about being here, even when they're at home."

Tuition & Fees

Tuition rates for SNHU's online degree programs are among the lowest in the nation. We offer a 25% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.

Online Graduate Programs Per Course Per Credit Hour
Degree/Certificates $1,881 $627.00
Degree/Certificates
(U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty)*
$1,410 $470.00

*Note: students receiving this rate are not eligible for additional discounts.

Additional Costs:
Application Fee ($40), Graduation Fee ($150), Books (course by course), Residency Course Fee (currently $1,400: covers lodging, most meals & other expenses), Travel for Residencies (varies).

Frequently Asked Questions

University Accreditation

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.

The MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program (PCMH) is now offered by Northern Vermont University.

References