Earn an MA in Counseling Online
Request InfoApply Now
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. 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:
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.
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 who are 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 2019 Program Outcomes Report.
"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 22% through 2028, much faster than the average of all jobs.2 Potential career paths include:
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 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.
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
Take advantage of some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation, plus financial aid for those who qualify.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 100,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), which advocates for institutional improvement and public assurance of quality.
Recently, Southern New Hampshire University has been nationally recognized for leading the way toward more innovative, affordable and achievable education:
At Southern New Hampshire University, you'll have access to a powerful network of more than 200,000 students, alumni and staff that can help support you long after graduation. Our instructors offer relevant, real-world expertise to help you understand and navigate your industry. Plus, with our growing, nationwide alumni network, you'll have the potential to tap into a number of internship and career opportunities.
96.5% of students would recommend SNHU.3 Discover why SNHU may be right for you.
Part of our mission to expand access to quality higher education means removing the barriers that may stand between you and your degree. That’s why you can apply at any time and get a decision within days of submitting all required materials — with no GRE or GMAT required.
Requirements specific to this program include:
To apply, use the online application.
Simply contact an admission counselor, who can help you explore financial options, answer all your questions, and walk you through the application process, which includes:
Acceptance decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout the year for our 5 graduate terms. You can apply at any time and get a decision within days of submitting all required materials.
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 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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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, 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 in 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."
Total Credits: 60
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.
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).
Yes! Like so many other college subjects, most counseling courses can be completed online.
At Southern New Hampshire University, we offer a master's in counseling online. This program was launched in response to the growing need for mental health counselors: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 22% increase through 2028 in mental health, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors – much faster than the average for all occupations.2
You may wonder how an online master's in mental health counseling works – specifically the part where it's online. At SNHU, our program is technically a bit of a hybrid. While about 90% of your work is done online, the rest happens in 2 face-to-face residencies – weeklong, intensive experiences that allow you to be with the students and instructors you've been learning with, to practice the skills needed to be a counselor.
"We have 2 residencies for each of our students in their master's program," said Dr. Kristi Cannon, associate program director of clinical counseling at SNHU. "One is in their second term, starting them off early in the program, and then one is later before they move into field experience."
Courses like Human Development, Career Counseling and Diversity in Counseling give you a deep dive on theories that you can put into practice in your career. The residencies give you the hands-on opportunity to hone your counseling skills before you jump into the profession.
"It really is the best of both worlds," said Dr. Stacee Reicherzer, clinical faculty member at SNHU. "It offers, of course, the convenience of online education, but then we take it to the residency to be with people that they've been learning with and meet faculty for the first time."
CACREP – aka the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs – establishes the standards that it wants counseling programs to meet. By being awarded accreditation, that means a counseling program has fulfilled specific, rigorous requirements – and it makes for a less risky career choice for prospective students.
Southern New Hampshire University was first awarded CACREP accreditation for the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in 2020. We designed our online program from the ground up based on the curriculum standards put in place by CACREP.
All CACREP-accredited programs must ensure students master the 8 core curricular areas4:
It's also important to note that many states require completing a master's program that is CACREP accredited before you can apply for licensure. You'll need to check your state's licensing requirements to see how you can become a counselor where you live.
All of this means that when you choose a CACREP-accredited program, you can be sure that the program has been evaluated, that students will be taught what they need to know to be successful and that the program is stable – both professionally and financially.
Schools around the country offer master's in counseling programs. However, to help you narrow it down, the college you choose truly needs to be right for you and your goals.
Southern New Hampshire University is one such school that offers a master's in mental health counseling program.
Why might you consider choosing SNHU for your master's in counseling program?
Contact an admission counselor today to learn more about SNHU and how our online counseling program can work with your professional goals.
Costs vary per school. So can your financial aid award. Both are important to consider when choosing between master's in counseling programs.
Southern New Hampshire University is considered one of the most affordable schools in the country. For this 60-credit online program, it costs $627 a credit – or just $37,620 in total tuition costs for the full degree program.
Financial aid may also help reduce the cost of your online master's in mental health counseling. If you're eligible for aid, our Student Services team is on hand to talk you through your award and can help you make the best decisions on what aid to accept.
There are a few steps you need to take to become a licensed counselor.
First, you'll need your bachelor's and master's degrees. Earning your bachelor's in psychology or sociology degree, among similar majors, can be beneficial, but it's not necessary. SNHU's online master's in counseling program welcomes students from a wide range of academic backgrounds.
You'll then need to earn your master's in clinical mental health counseling. Most states require 60-credit hours of coursework – which Southern New Hampshire University also asks of its students. SNHU's curriculum has 18 courses typically required by states, then gives you the opportunity to tailor your other 2 courses based on any requirements in your state or your own interests.
Counseling programs typically require residencies, practicums and internships. During SNHU's online master's program, you'll take part in 2 face-to-face week-long residencies with your classmates. This gives you the hands-on training needed for your practicum and internship experiences.
You'll also need to understand your state's own requirements for licensure, because application processes vary. Your state may specifically require the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) or the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) – or even both.
In many states, before students sit for an exam and apply for their licenses, they must demonstrate hours of supervised post-graduate work. States typically require somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 documented hours for licensure. (To learn more about your state's requirements, visit the websites for the American Counseling Association or the National Board of Certified Counselors.)
At Southern New Hampshire University, a residency is an exciting, face-to-face experience that allows you to meet with, interact with and learn from the other students in your cohort, as well as from your instructors.
“I think … the residency component is a really important piece that allows us that face-to-face. There’s real value in being able to work one-on-one with our students in a direct format,” said Dr. Kristi Cannon, associate program director of clinical counseling at SNHU. “Certainly, as a faculty member, it’s valuable to me to get some eyes and ears directly on my students and be able to self-correct in the moment as they’re practicing their skills throughout the week.”
The mental health counseling program takes place chiefly online, with students often interacting with one another and with faculty members via video. The two residencies serve as a chance for students to further develop relationships with classmates, while faculty have the opportunity to more closely observe students and provide real-time feedback during roleplay and other simulated counseling activities. This is valuable to both students and faculty.
And at SNHU, you get this residency opportunity twice throughout your 60-credit program.
The residencies at SNHU are:
These residencies are each part of a full 10-week course, so students are working with the same instructors and classmates during the whole residency process. The online instruction before and after the residency is structured to prepare students to get the most out of the in-person experience.
Student Larson Vilajnen said that the face-to-face components of the program helped him demonstrate what he's learned. It's also given him the opportunity to receive immediate feedback that allows him to correct himself.
“Doing it in person is just a good way to getting really good feedback and really consolidating everything you’ve learned, in person, and just feeling more confident in it,” he said.
No. A master's degree is the minimum amount of education you can have to enter the counseling field. It is one of the necessary requirements to become a licensed mental health counselor.
That's why Southern New Hampshire University offers a master's in mental health counseling – so that you can be on your way to beginning a meaningful career. And with more than 47 million U.S. adults suffering from mental illness, it's a crucial time to be part of the counseling field.1
When you enroll in a master's in mental health counseling at SNHU, you'll be pleased to learn that the program is also CACREP accredited. Because many states require counselors to have earned a CACREP-accredited degree as part of their licensure process, your SNHU master's can put you one step closer to your counseling career.
Your SNHU master's can also prepare you to become a counselor because of the coursework that makes up the program. This 60-credit degree was designed to align with CACREP curriculum standards, so that your education can prepare you for the future. A few of the classes you'll take include:
Our master's degree meets the educational criteria for licensure in almost all states. It's important to do your research to determine if the program you choose can help you earn licensure where you live.
Also needed to be a counselor are practicum and internship hours, which SNHU includes as requirements in its program. These can also help set you up for success because of the hands-on experience they offer you.
Your state may also require you to take an exam. The combination of your master's coursework and experiential learning should position you for licensure.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, the salary for employees in mental health, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counseling roles was $46,240 in May 2019.2
The highest 10% earned more than $76,000.2
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.
1National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health by the Numbers, on the internet, at https://nami.org/mhstats (viewed July 31, 2020)
2Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, on the internet, at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-behavioral-disorder-and-mental-health-counselors.htm (viewed July 30, 2020). Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
3According to more than 9,200 SNHU online students in survey responses from the fall of 2019.
4Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, on the internet, at: