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Major Overview: Counseling

Majors Overview March 24, 2015

Get information about bachelor’s degree programs in counseling and their coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Counseling Majors

Many schools offer counseling degrees, including specialties in a number of areas of expertise. Students enrolled in counseling degree programs are taught techniques for assisting individuals to tackle various issues, such as physical disability, mental illness, abuse, addiction, and tragedy.

Those interested in biblical counseling programs and general counseling studies usually pursue a bachelor’s degree program in counseling. Once they complete coursework that covers topic areas such as relationship therapy, crisis counseling, and substance abuse, students may seek occupations as mental health counselors and social workers. Aspiring licensed counseling practitioners would need to hold at least a master’s degree.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Programs in Counseling

In addition to a high school diploma and submission of standard college application materials, schools don’t demand any other prerequisites to be fulfilled by applicants to a bachelor’s degree program for counseling.

Coursework covers topic areas such as psychology, therapeutic methods, theories and practices in counseling, and group and family counseling. Courses within degree concentrations may include addiction counseling, criminal justice, and children and teen studies.

A master’s degree in counseling is usually compulsory for those who seek licensure and certification, although requirements may vary by discipline and state. Selection of addiction counseling as a concentration may ensure eligibility for certification as an Addiction and Prevention Services counselor.


Schools often couple a bachelor’s degree program in counseling with another major in social sciences, such as communications, sociology, psychology, or theology, to augment the counseling degree. The degree program comprises counseling courses and general education classes in equal measure. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Delinquency of juveniles
•Ethical standards
•Sociology theories
•Substance abuse
•Family dynamics in counseling
•Group therapy practices
•Atypical psychology
•One-on-one counseling methods

Career Choices

While most employers for careers in counseling seek master’s degree holders, bachelor’s degree holders can aspire for positions such as:

•Parole counselor
•School counselor
•Social worker

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Programs in Biblical Counseling

A bachelor’s degree in biblical counseling is often referred to as a bachelor’s degree in Christian counseling. Within the degree program, Christian and secular theories are incorporated into counseling methodology.

Core coursework is a combination of biblical studies of the Old and New Testaments with techniques, theories, and practices of counseling. Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a high school diploma. Those who wish to pursue graduate degrees in counseling may complete biblical counseling degree programs as a form of foundational education.


Coursework combines biblical, core, and general education classes. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Treating addiction
•Theology in relation to counseling
•Christian ethics
•Treating depression
•Relationship therapy
•Sexual disorders
•Crisis counseling
•Therapy for abuse and violence

Job and Wage Outlook

A job growth of 29% has been predicted for mental health counselors over the 2012 – 2022 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). The potential growth is attributed to the expectation that more people will seek counseling. In May 2012, mental health counselors brought in an average annual wage of $41,500. During the same period, vocational, school, guidance, and educational counselors earned an average annual wage of $53,610; family and marriage counselors banked a median wage of $41,500.

Continuing Education Choices

Counseling graduates can choose from a multitude of certificate programs, mainly specialty programs related to career counseling or substance abuse counseling. A bachelor’s degree may be a requirement for admittance to some certificate programs.

Those who graduate from a bachelor’s degree program in counseling may also seek continuing education by earning a master’s degree in counseling. Students may take two to five years to complete master’s degree programs that typically comprise monitored fieldwork, which is mandatory for state certification and licensure. Concentrations within the graduate degree program may include career counseling, relationship therapy, elderly counseling, and rehabilitation of substance abusers.

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