Study Master’s in Counseling in Virginia
Virginia is a vibrant and diverse state, and as one of the original Thirteen Colonies, it has a rich history that dates back hundreds of years. In many ways, Virginia is part of the fabric of early education in this country, too. In fact, Virginia is home to one of the oldest colleges in the nation – William and Mary – which was founded in 1693.
Today’s educational landscape looks much different in Virginia than it did hundreds of years ago. There are dozens of colleges and universities throughout the state, most, if not all, of which offer robust online learning opportunities. And while online learning used to be relegated to single courses or undergraduate studies, online graduate degrees have become extremely popular.
Popular Virginia counseling master’s programs outlined in this guide are all available in online or hybrid formats. By and large, you will complete most or all of your coursework online, then get much-needed field experience during practicum and internship placements. Most of these programs allow you to choose where you get your field experience, which gives you the utmost flexibility in completing your program.
Online Master’s in Counseling in Virginia
Listed below are some of the popular schools offering online master’s in counseling in Virginia:
- Virginia Commonwealth University
- Capella University
- Regent University
- William and Mary
- Hampton University
- Liberty University
- Southern New Hampshire University
- Grand Canyon University
Virginia Commonwealth University
Online Master of Science in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling
The online MS in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling programs at Virginia Commonwealth University gives you the flexibility of choosing between a specialization in Rehabilitation Counseling or Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Both specializations require 60 credits to graduate, and both specializations also prepare you for licensure or certification as a professional counselor. Potential credentials you might pursue include Certified Rehabilitation Counselor or National Certified Counselor.
The coursework you take will depend on your chosen specialty. However, both specializations include general studies in counseling, such as the following:
- Professional ethics
- Counseling theory
- Individual and group counseling techniques
- Diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders
- Multicultural counseling
Furthermore, you will learn how to assess clients for psychological disorders, provide case management services, and gain crucial social science research skills, too.
This program also includes supervised practicum and internship experiences. These field-based experiences allow you to utilize what you have learned in class by applying your skills in a real-world setting. For both the practicum and internship components, you will have a supervisor who is an experienced, licensed counselor to help guide your development. You’ll also participate in weekly group supervision with classmates and faculty.
You can apply to the VCU graduate school online. You must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution to qualify for admission to this program. You must also include the following:
- Official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended
- A curriculum vitae or resume
- Three letters of reference
- A personal statement (including three supplemental responses to prompts provided in the application to the VCU graduate school)
Online Master of Arts in School Counseling
The online MA in School Counseling from Regent University is a three-year, 60-credit program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The program uses a solution-focused model to help you build relevant skills that enable you to provide students with various social, emotional, and academic challenges. This program prepares you for school counselor licensure in Virginia.
Moreover, your skills will be valuable for assisting teachers, administrators, parents, and other stakeholders as they assist in the growth and development of children. You will gain these skills by taking a broad spectrum of counseling courses, including the following:
- Principles of School Counseling
- Theories of Counseling
- Counseling Children and Adolescents
- Program Development and Evaluation for School Counselors
- Psychopathology and Diagnosis
During your second year in the program, you will also take courses in assessment techniques, career counseling, and college planning.
Two week-long on-campus residencies are required – one during each of the program’s first year. These residencies are intended to introduce you to the real-world practice of school counseling. The program’s third year adds an internship component that places you in a school setting where you will work with students under the supervision of an experienced school counselor. The internship occurs in two three-credit experiences.
The minimum qualification for admission to this graduate program is an undergraduate degree from a regionally-accredited college or university with a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher. Additionally, you must submit the following:
- Unofficial transcripts from every college or university you have attended
- A resume
- A copy of a government-issued ID
- A completed academic background questionnaire
A pre-admissions interview is also required.
William and Mary
Online Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at
William and Mary isn’t just one of the oldest colleges in the United States; its online M.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is one of the top-ranked online counseling graduate degrees in the country. Over the course of three years of full-time study, you will complete a 60-credit curriculum that’s accredited by CACREP. As such, graduating from this program prepares you for licensure or certification in your state as a professional counselor.
Of the 60 credits needed for graduation, 51 credits encompass studies in critical counseling topics, such as:
- Professional, ethical, and legal issues in counseling
- Human growth and development
- Marriage and family counseling
- Relational counseling and sex therapy
Other areas of inquiry include multicultural counseling, contemporary issues in counseling, and substance abuse and addictions, to name a few.
The final nine credits of the program encompass a 100-hour, three-credit practicum experience. You will complete this requirement at an approved site over the course of two mini semesters. The practicum requires approximately 8-10 hours of attendance each week.
There is also an internship requirement for this program. The internship spans four mini semesters and six credits. During the internship, you will complete at least 600 hours of supervised work, which translates to about 18 hours of work experience each week. To assist your growth and development as a professional, you must also participate in synchronous online courses related to your practicum and internship experiences.
There is another level of experiential learning required by William and Mary – two three-day residencies on campus in Williamsburg, Virginia. These residencies are helpful for advancing your skills as a professional counselor because you will work face-to-face with classmates and professors on counseling theory, techniques, assessments, and the like.
You can apply to this program online. To do so, you must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university. Required supporting documentation includes the following:
- Official transcripts from every college and university you have attended
- A personal essay
- Three letters of recommendation
The program’s faculty might request additional materials on a case-by-case basis.
Online Master of Arts in Counseling
Hampton University’s online MA in Counseling is a general, foundational degree that provides an introduction to the field of professional counseling. It is not a licensure program, though it does prepare you to pursue a career as a Qualified Mental Health Provider in Virginia.
At 31 credits, this is the shortest program on this list. Full-time studies allow you to complete the requirements for graduation in as little as three semesters. Some of the courses you will take include the following:
- Lifespan Development
- Career Development
- Identity, Ethics, and Legal Aspects of Counseling
- Community Mental Health and Welfare Services
- Counseling with Diverse Populations
Other topics of study include group counseling, substance abuse treatment, and research.
Since this is not a full licensure track program, there are no requirements for field experiences like a practicum or internship. However, to graduate, you must pass a comprehensive examination that tests you on crucial counseling topics and techniques.
This program is open to you if you have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. To apply, you must fill out an application for admission and submit the following documentation:
- Official transcripts from every college or university you have attended
- A personal statement
- A writing sample
- A copy of a state or federal ID
- GRE scores
Online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
This MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Liberty University is a 60-credit online program with intensive learning experiences that give you the real-world experience you need to be a competent professional counselor upon graduation. This is an accelerated program that can be completed in as little as 2.5 years.
Furthermore, this program is CACREP accredited and prepares you to pursue licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). The specific licensure requirements for this credential vary from one state to the next. However, the education and training you receive in this program should satisfy the requirements for an LPC in any state.
Some of the classes you will take include the following:
- Counseling Techniques and the Helping Relationship
- Assessment Techniques in Counseling
- Theories of Family Systems
- Crisis Counseling
- Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
You will also take courses in substance abuse counseling, psychopathology, and career development. This wide range of courses prepares you to pursue many different counseling jobs in varied settings.
Beyond the coursework, you must take part in several real-world learning activities. This includes the following:
- Two three-credit intensive courses on campus
- One three-credit, 100-hour practicum experience (during which you must accumulate at least 40 direct contact hours with clients)
- A six-credit internship that takes place over the final two semesters of the program
An undergraduate degree is required to apply. Likewise, you must submit the following:
- Official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended
- A personal statement
- A completed agreement to the mission statement and diversity statement for the program
- Contact information for two references
- Proof of English proficiency (if English is not your native language)
Counseling Work Opportunities in Virginia
Armed with a graduate degree in counseling, you can go to work in Virginia in many different settings. On the one hand, you might decide to go into private practice and work as an LPC. This is an advantageous career path for many reasons, not the least of which is that it allows you to specialize in an area of interest.
For example, some LPCs work exclusively with children under the age of five, while others work exclusively with couples and families. You might start a private practice that focuses on treating personality disorders, addictions, or psychoses. You might even specialize in a type of counseling, like trauma-informed therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or Gestalt therapy.
Another work opportunity you might pursue is working for a local or state agency. For example, if your graduate degree is in school counseling, you might work for the Virginia Department of Education as a consultant. Your expertise in child development, education, and mental health can be of vital importance as the state’s education leadership develops new programs and curriculum standards.
Of course, there are opportunities to work in a community mental health setting, too. A good example of this is working for a non-profit agency where you provide various counseling services to clients of all backgrounds. This type of work is difficult but can also be invigorating because it allows you to exercise your skills to help people with vastly different needs.
For example, many community mental health centers provide services for children, adults, victims of abuse, and addiction counseling, to name a few. You might work with juveniles in the criminal justice system, older adults struggling with end-of-life issues, and couples who are experiencing marriage problems. Despite these varied needs, your graduate education in counseling will prepare you to assist clients with competent services.
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