Whether you’ve been working in a counseling career for some time or are new to the field, advancing your education may be an excellent way for counseling professionals to stay relevant in today’s constantly changing workforce. If you are passionate about helping others, a career in counseling may be rewarding—but determining the best way to grow your skill set can be challenging.
Some students who want to quickly learn new skills may choose to enroll in accelerated online master’s programs. This modality offers a full degree program like a traditional Master of Arts in Counseling program, but an accelerated online program is completed in a compressed time frame. This approach may be ideal for students who are eager to advance or start a career in counseling more quickly than it would take to complete a traditional master’s program.
Accelerated counseling degrees are fast-paced, concentrated curriculums designed to meet the needs of aspiring counselors. While this path can lead to graduation more quickly, coursework requirements remain just as rigorous as those for traditional programs. To help prepare students for real-world practice, accelerated counseling programs require clinical field placements—such as a practicum and/or internship—in addition to classwork.
Deciding which counseling program is right for you takes some research. If you’re considering an accelerated counseling degree, be aware this type of fast-paced program tends to be very time-consuming and challenging. Before you make any decisions, it may be beneficial to take a closer look at accelerated master’s in counseling programs and what they have to offer.
What Is an Accelerated Counseling Degree?
Accelerated online master’s degrees enable students to complete their master’s degree in significantly less time than a traditional program. For example, an accelerated counseling degree may allow you to earn your master’s degree in 18 months, whereas a traditional program could take two years or more. The precise program length for accelerated counseling programs varies depending on the school, so be sure to thoroughly review program details before enrolling.
The rigorous curriculum and hands-on clinical training of an accelerated counseling program provide students with the knowledge and skills to become a counselor at a faster pace than a traditional master’s in counseling program. Even if you lack academic or professional counseling experience, there may still be accelerated programs available to you. Some schools offer bridge programs for students who do not have experience in the counseling field.
As you search for the right program, you may want to look at the curriculum, concentration (if any), admission requirements and whether the program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP). This type of accreditation ensures that the program meets professional standards.
Why Pursue an Accelerated Counseling Degree?
If you are ready to become a counselor and start making a difference for those in your community, earning an accelerated counseling degree may be a good option for you. However, this is a rigorous program that should not be taken lightly. If you plan to work during your studies, it is generally recommended that you enroll in a traditional or part-time master’s in counseling program instead of an accelerated program.
For students who are prepared to take on the commitment of an accelerated degree program, there are several benefits. First and foremost, you have the opportunity to earn your master’s degree much faster than in a traditional program. If you complete an accelerated counseling degree online, you’ll also have the flexibility to complete your coursework from the comfort of home.
In addition to connecting with and learning from peers and professors, you can benefit from the complete immersion that accelerated programs offer through their clinical work placement options. This exposure to clinical work ensures that students, including first-time counseling students or those changing careers, can apply the skills and concepts needed for a career in counseling.
Accelerated Counseling Degree Online With Northwestern University
Interested in helping others as a counselor, but don’t want to take the time to complete a traditional master’s degree program? Northwestern’s CACREP-accredited accelerated master’s in counseling option may be a good fit for you.
This accelerated counseling degree online program allows students to complete a Master of Arts in Counseling in as few as 18 months. The accelerated program follows the same curriculum as the traditional and part-time tracks, but at a faster pace.
Northwestern University also offers an accelerated Bridge to Counseling program for students who do not have academic or professional counseling experience. The program features an introductory three-course quarter focused on the fundamental concepts, theories, and practical aspects of counseling.