The CACREP-Accredited Online Master of Arts in Counseling ProgramThe CACREP-Accredited Online Master of Arts in Counseling ProgramThe CACREP-Accredited Online Master of Arts in Counseling Program

From The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityFrom The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityFrom The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Become a self-reflective clinical mental health counselor with our CACREP-accredited curriculum. We offer several options to fit your background and lifestyle, including accelerated, traditional, and part-time tracks and a Bridge to Counseling Program for students new to the field.

When you pursue your online counseling graduate degree through our CACREP-accredited program, you learn the same curriculum taught on campus at Northwestern University. The online curriculum uses a learning-by-doing model to prepare you for real-world practice as a self-reflective counselor. In addition to completing classes and coursework online, you will participate in highly collaborative in-person experiences that challenge you to reflect on your identity and how it affects your approach to counseling.

We want all aspiring counselors to achieve their goals, and the master’s in counseling online curriculum accommodates students of all levels of experience in the field. Depending on your academic and professional background, you will complete either our Standard Program or our Bridge to Counseling Program, which offers prerequisite coursework in clinical interviewing and practice.

Learn more about our comprehensive curriculum.

Ready to start earning your master’s in counseling online? We encourage you to apply whether you have a background in psychology or are new to the field. You need a bachelor’s degree to apply, but GRE scores are not required.

The online master’s in counseling offers four start dates annually in January, April, June, and September for both the Standard and Bridge to Counseling Programs. Our admissions committee reviews applications on a rolling basis so you receive your admissions decision as soon as possible.

Get familiar with the admissions process.

Children and adolescents who experience mental health problems need capable, caring counselors to provide treatment tailored to their developmental needs. If you want to make a difference for youth in your community, you can pursue the Child and Adolescent emphasis while earning your online counseling graduate degree from Northwestern.

The emphasis teaches you how to provide effective treatment for youth while still fully preparing you to work with adult clients. During your second year in the online counseling master’s program, you will take two emphasis courses that provide an in-depth look at child and adolescent development and treatment approaches for common mental health concerns in today’s youth. Both emphasis courses are included in the total number of credits required to graduate from the master’s in counseling online program.

Get more information about the emphasis.

A Collaborative Online and In-Person Experience

Counseling@Northwestern is a highly collaborative program. You will connect with your peers, professors, and other counseling professionals during online classes, in-person immersions, and clinical training experiences near your community.

Reflect on your strengths and experiences as you study key concepts alongside other students with diverse perspectives.

Provide direct counseling services to clients in need using knowledge gained during online classes and in-person immersions.

Celebrate your development by attending Counseling@Northwestern’s traditional Purple Shirt event and graduation ceremony.

Discover Student Perspectives

“This program taught me the foundation and ethics needed in a good counselor. I feel fully prepared to enter the field after completing the program: I know I have received one of the best educations from one of the top programs in the world.”—Stefan Young, ’21

Join Our Next Cohort of Aspiring Counselors

Pursue your degree at the pace that works best for you: traditional, part time, or accelerated.

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Clinical Field Placement

In-person clinical experience is a cornerstone of the preparation we provide students in the master’s in counseling online program. While enrolled, you will complete both a Practicum and an Internship totaling 800 hours of real-world, in-person skill development.

When it is time to start your field education, our field placement team will help you identify Northwestern-approved sites where you can work with clients in need. You will complete your clinical placements during six consecutive terms to gradually build your skills as you earn your online counseling graduate degree. Each placement is supervised by a licensed counselor who provides ongoing feedback. Your professors and classmates will also provide valuable insight as you reflect on your clinical experiences during weekly classes.

Read more about clinical training.

Immersion Experiences

While enrolled in the master’s in counseling online program, you will visit Chicago for two immersion experiences that provide in-depth training while enabling you to bond in person with your peers and professors.

During the first immersion, you will explore group dynamics, taking turns leading groups and being led by your classmates. Your leadership style will begin to take shape as you learn how to effectively facilitate group counseling sessions. Shortly before you earn your online counseling graduate degree, you will complete a capstone immersion that takes the place of comprehensive exams. As you present the competencies you have learned while enrolled, you will make the transition from student to aspiring practitioner who is prepared to pursue licensure and employment in the field.

*Please note: Our in-person learning and clinical field experiences are central to our highly collaborative program. Due to Covid-19, we are evaluating in-person experiences on an ongoing basis and communicating directly with affected faculty and current students.

Find out more about the immersions.

Meet Our Faculty

As you pursue your online counseling graduate degree, you will learn directly from Northwestern University faculty who are practicing counselors dedicated to your development as a clinician. Our faculty will enrich your learning with their diverse perspectives and interests, which include sport psychology, neurocounseling, substance abuse, and practice with members of the LGBT community and other specific populations. As your professors weave their real-world experiences into the curriculum, you will become even better prepared to address mental health problems in diverse clients in your community.

Throughout your time in the online master’s in counseling program, our faculty will connect with you during and outside of class, and both online and in person, to build relationships that will last well into your career.

Meet the professors who will support your development as a counselor.

Mental Health Counselor Careers

The online Master of Arts in Counseling Program from The Family Institute at Northwestern University will prepare you to become an effective mental health counselor who works with clients from a variety of backgrounds. Some counselors work with clients affected by addiction disorders; family, marriage, and couple issues; or behavioral issues in children and adolescents.

Becoming a mental health practitioner allows you to make a difference in the lives of your clients. Mental health counselor jobs may be available in a variety of settings, including:

Community mental health centers
Inpatient/outpatient clinics and hospitals
Research institutions
University student services
Career services
Private practice

The field of counseling is growing1Learn more about the counseling job outlook and explore some potential mental health counselor career opportunities.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

Counseling@Northwestern uses an innovative, online learning platform to deliver the same rigorous curriculum as the nationally renowned on-campus program. Earn your Master of Arts in Counseling from The Family Institute at Northwestern University while making a difference in your own community.

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1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors, (accessed November 30, 2018)