The important field of mental health requires well-trained counselors. They work to meet the growing mental health needs of the community. Mental health counselors offer essential guidance to:
- other groups seeking help with mental health issues
Counselors help people dealing with mental health and well-being issues. Online mental health certificate programs provide training in this important and growing field.
Our list includes both online and on-campus programs. There is a mixture of types of certificates. It includes post-master’s degree certificate programs. These can help counselors meet requirements for becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Students should contact their state’s licensing agency for information on requirements. One certificate program listed is for a mental health technician certificate. Students should check state requirements to see what the scope of practice is for mental health tech in their state.
Methodology for the Top 20 Most Affordable Online Mental Health Certificates
This ranking is from an initial pool of 29 programs. They are ranked according to in-state tuition costs from the College Navigator website. Profile information for these online mental health certificate programs is from school websites. Students should contact their school of interest. They can provide the current and up-to-date program and tuition information. The tuition and fee costs listed are from NCES College Navigator and reflect basic degree program costs.Students seeking licensure would contact their state licensing agency. They can tell you the specific education and clinical hours requirements in their state.
NOTE: This ranking/article was originally published in March 2021 and was last updated in August 2022 The 2022 updates may affect the ranking order, but the list has not been re-ordered.
20. Adler Graduate School
Tuition and Fees: $17,840
The Adler Graduate School offers a Post Master’s Certificate in two specialty tracks:
- Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Marriage
- Couples and Family Counseling
They need 21-27 credits to complete, depending on:
- clinical background
- original degree
This program offers master’s-prepared applicants specialized academic courses and field experience. All courses may be taken online, on-campus, or hybrid. Applicants are required to have a master’s degree in counseling or a related field. They must be eligible to pursue licensure in the state where they work.
19. Regent University
Virginia Beach, VA
Tuition and Fees: $17,190
Applicants to the program must hold a master’s or doctoral in a mental health field. They must be eligible for licensure in the state where they work. This affordable graduate certificate has a Christian worldview. It promises to equip candidates with specialized training and provide state credentialing requirements. This affordable Mental Health Counseling certificate is available online or on-campus. Graduates are trained in the use of assessment instruments in:
- interventions in a wide range of situations
- diagnosis and treatment of abnormal behavior
18. Montclair State University
Tuition and Fees: $12,600 (in-state) $18,432 (out of state)
Montclair State University offers an affordable Advanced Counseling Certificate program. It’s for those seeking to become Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC). The program supplements a Master’s degree in counseling. Its credits add to the 60 credit hours required by the New Jersey Board of Marriage and Family Therapists. Students can complete the 600-hour community agency/mental health internship. This affordable program is on-campus only. It is located in the New York Metropolitan area.
17. University of Buffalo
Tuition and Fees: $14,388 (in-state) $26,178 (out of state)
UB’s online graduate certificate can provide the knowledge and skills to advance your career goals. Applicants must have a master’s degree in counseling. The online mental health certificate is available on-campus or online. Graduates are eligible to take the NYS licensing exam in mental health counseling. This full-time program can be completed in 1 year. Students who need to complete the 600 hours of clinical experience must complete it during the program. This online mental health counseling certificate program focuses on:
- personal and professional growth
- multicultural awareness
- working with diverse clients in a variety of mental health settings
16. Colorado State University
Colorado Springs, CO
Tuition and Fees: $13,313 (in-state) $29,043 (out of state)
CSU’s online certificate prepares graduates to work in challenging behavioral health situations. The program can help students to:
- increase clinical skills
- create effective plans for treatment
- use trauma-informed care to provide safety for clients and providers
- gain knowledge needed to sit for state clinical exams
It includes psychopharmacology courses for professionals working with clients on prescribed medication. Courses completed may count toward electives to complete CSU’s Master of Social Work (MSW).
15. Grand Canyon University
GCU’s program is for working professionals with a master’s degree or PhD in counseling or a related field. This online program is designed to equip professionals to specialize in this subfield. GCU’s online platform helps students immerse themselves in their courses anywhere and at any time. This makes it a good fit for working professionals. with responsibilities that would make the completion of an on-campus program impossible. With a total of 15 credit hours, each course is eight weeks long. Graduates of this program can expect to have the diagnostic and treatment skills to engage with clients across the lifespan.
14. West Chester University of Pennsylvania
West Chester, PA
Tuition and Fees: $11,898 (in-state) $16,794 (out of state)
GCU’s program is for working professionals with a master’s degree or PhD in counseling or a related field. This rigorous online program is designed to equip professionals to specialize in this subfield. GCU’s online platform helps students immerse themselves in their courses anywhere and at any time. This makes it a good fit for working professionals. with responsibilities that would make the completion of an on-campus program impossible. With a total of 15 credit hours, each course is eight weeks long. Graduates of this program can expect to have the diagnostic and treatment skills to engage with clients across the lifespan.
13. Wilmington University
New Castle, DE
Tuition and Fees: $9,060
Wilmington University’s affordable Post-Master’s Certificate program in Mental Health Counseling is an on-campus program for professional counselors wishing to develop a specialty in mental health. Applicants are required to have a master’s degree in counseling or a closely related area of study. Program applicants may have the option for up to six credits of previous graduate coursework to be applied to this program. As the field of counseling becomes more specialized and competitive, this affordable Mental Health Counseling certificate program will help students be prepared to be competent with advanced training. Graduates of this robust program can expect to have the skills to provide counseling in the specialty field of mental health.
12. University of Tennessee
Tuition and Fees: $10,474 (in-state) $18,538 (out of state)
This 12-credit certificate is an on-campus program. It is for the post-master’s counselor seeking licensure as a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in Tennessee. This program aligns with the state of Tennessee’s LPC requirements. Completion of this certificate does not guarantee eligibility for licensure. An advisor assists in building a program of study. Courses are selected with an advisor to build a program of study. It builds on past coursework and meets the requirements to pursue the LPC credential. Applicants apply to the Graduate School and the Certificate Program. They are required to have completed a master’s degree in counseling or related field.
11. University of Wisconsin
Tuition and Fees: $9,307 (in-state) $19,190 (out of state)
This affordable clinical mental health counseling certificate program from the University of Wisconsin is designed for students who have a master’s degree in Counseling with an emphasis in something other than clinical mental health counseling. A total of 9-18 credit hours is required to complete this on-campus program, depending on past coursework or emphasis desired. Students complete a one- or two-semester internship, depending on past clinical hours completed. Accepted applicants may begin this clinical mental health counseling certificate program in summer or fall. Graduates of this certificate program will have the knowledge and skills to make a difference and function effectively in a variety of settings.
10. University of Alabama
Tuition and Fees: $8,100 (in-state) $19,188 (out of state)
UAB has a 15-credit post-master’s certificate in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. It prepares graduates to provide high-level mental health services in the workplace. The programis open to current UAB counseling graduate students. It is also for practicing counselors with a master’s degree in counseling who wish to advance their career options. Courses include:
Introduction to Integrated Care Counseling
Foundations of Substance Abuse
As well as courses in
- suicide prevention
- diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders
Graduates of this program will have learned the skills needed to improve lives.
9. University of South Alabama
Tuition and Fees: $10,226 (in-state) $18452 (out of state)
University of South Alabama offers an on-campus, 15-credit program. Students can choose courses geared to their specific interest. Courses provide post-master’s-level training in their area of professional counseling emphasis. Working with their advisor, students develop an individualized plan to meet their career goals. They are evaluated on:
- academic progress
- clinical competence
- interpersonal functioning
- professional ethical standards
Graduates complete the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE).
8. Southern Connecticut State University
New Haven, CT
Tuition and Fees: $13,321 (in-state) $26,537 (out of state)
SCSU offers a specialization certificate for students with a master’s degree in School Counseling. This program is conducted on-campus. It satisfies requirements for licensure from the Connecticut State Department of Public Health. Students enrolled in the certificate program complete 20 credits. It includes 12 credits of coursework and 8 credits of clinical fieldwork. Graduates complete a 600-hour clinical supervised internship in a mental health counseling setting. It gives students hands-on application to solidify their knowledge in a practical way.
7. Indiana State University
Terre Haute, IN
Tuition and Fees:
Tuition and Fees: $8,056 (in-state) $25,562 (out of state)
This affordable Mental Health Counselor Endorsement Non-Degree Certificate program from ISU is an on-campus selective program. Applicants must be graduates of a 48-credit M.S. or M.A. program in a related subject, such as counseling. Applicants must present documentation of pre-degree and post-degree clinical experience, as well as references from post-degree clinical supervisors. Students work with the program director to develop a program of study that will meet the standards and course requirements for this endorsement certificate. Courses in the 500 level are also open to undergraduates as a 400 level course, and courses taken as 400 level may not be repeated as 500 level.
6. Post University
Post University’s online program may be the ticket to expand counseling practice. It is an online program. Students can continue in their current position while pursuing this online certificate. Courses in this concentration include assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of psychiatric disorders. Students also gain knowledge in the primary models, theories, and counseling techniques. Counseling professionals with advanced education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling can expect to further their career in this important field. Graduates of this program can expect to be ready to take the next steps to get their professional counseling license. Post University helps students in researching their state’s requirements for licensure.
5. Lamar University
Tuition and Fees: $8,411 (in-state) $15,258 (out of state)
Lamar University’s online program is for those who have completed a master’s degree in:
- related subjects
They will also prepare for the Texas State Licenses Professional Counseling certification examination. This online certificate program is an 18-credit hour program.
Students study advanced counseling topics that include:
- treatments and etiology
- current research to apply in clinical practice
4. University of South Dakota
Tuition and Fees: $7,118 (in-state) $12,768 (out of state)
USD’s online certificate is for post-grad students seeking the state licensure examination. It covers advanced topics in:
- crisis intervention
- clinical supervision
The program takes about a year to complete .It is offered in spring, summer or fall. This certificate from USD offers all four courses online. This allows practicing professionals the flexibility to continue their studies.
3. Utah State University
Tuition and Fees: 7,366 (in-state) $23,225 (out of state)
Utah State University’s offers an online post-master’s Certificate in Rehabilitation Counseling. It is for those with graduate training in one of the following academic areas:
- Behavioral Health
- Behavioral Science
- Disability Studies
- Human Relations
- Human Services
- Marriage and Family Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Rehabilitation Administration/Services
- Social Work
- Special Education
- Vocational Assessment/Evaluation
Applicants to the program should have 3 years of related professional experience. They also need 2 years of rehabilitation counseling experience under supervision. This 22 credit program has up of 8 courses (22 credits) in courses such as:
- Theories and Techniques in Counseling
- Psychosocial Aspects of Disabilities
- Case Management
The program has spring, summer and fall start dates. students interested in this certification program online have flexibility in their education schedule.
2. University of Nevada
Las Vegas, NV
Tuition and Fees: $6,607 (in-state) $22,698 (out of state)
UNLV’s program is for those with a master’s in counseling seeking to broaden their licensure options. It is for those needing more education to meet Nevada’s Licensed Professional Counselor requirements. This online mental health certification promotes excellence in counselor education and research. It prepares students to serve as professional mental health counselors. They are ready to become leaders that serve in a wide variety of communities and workplaces.
1. Kennesaw State University
Tuition and Fees: $7,223 (in-state) $21,174 (out of state)
KSU’s affordable online certificate may be the ticket to entering the field of mental health. This Mental Health Technician program can provide a solid mental health background. Graduates will have the background to work with people with mental health issues. This program comprises six key topics including:
- Abnormal Psychology
- Mental Health Technician
- Direct Support Professional
- Better Interpersonal Communication
- Personal Excellence
- Introduction to Addiction & Recovery
Students will learn various therapies and treatments. They will also examine:
- disorders beginning in childhood
- mood disorders
- eating and anxiety disorders
Students will learn methods to provide clients assistance in:
- living skills
- health hygiene and maintenance
- adhering to a medication regime
- behavioral development
What is a mental health counselor?
A mental health counselor has special training in counselling and psychology. They hels guide patients to improve mental health and well being. Mental health counselors are trained to provide treatment and advise people who suffer from:
- drug addiction
- other mental or behavioral problems
What does a mental health counselor do?
They are trained to provide professional guidance in dealing with issues that affect mental health. Mental health counselors discuss emotions, issues such as:
- anger management
Clients learn to gain insight, define goals and action plans to improve their mental health.
How do I become qualified as a mental health counselor?
Those wishing to become a qualified mental health counselor must have a master’s degree in psychology or counseling. They also need a certain amount of clinical hours experience. Each state has their own clinical hours requirements and education requirements. After completing their education and clinical hours, there is a licensing exam for their state. Be sure to check with your state’s licensing agency for specifics on your state’s requirements.
Once I complete my state’s requirements, what kind of job title will I have?
After completing the rigorous requirements, you will earn the legal right to be called a:
- Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
- Licensed Mental Health Counselor
- Licensed Professional Counselor
Mental health counselors may work in a wide variety of settings, such as:
- health centers
How can a mental health counselor really help someone?
Counselors often provide a safe place for clients to talk about problems. They offer support and advice. It may help them:
- understand their feelings
- identify issues affecting their mental health
- identify ways to overcome those issues
- learn coping skills
- set personal growth goals
- learn more about mental health conditions
Do mental health counselors see clients with severe symptoms and problems all day?
People sometimes seek counseling because of the benefit of talking about their concerns and problems. Not everyone who seeks mental health counseling is seeking help for severe symptoms.
Do people with specific issues need to seek out a clinician with special training?
All professional counselors receive training to recognize anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Some clinicians go on to get training in specialized areas such as mental health, trauma, sexual assault and abuse. Counselors with specialized training can help clients overcome obstacles or events that have affected their mental health negatively.
Can mental health counselors refer clients for other needed health services?
Many times mental health counselors can help their clients by referring them for other services such as physician, dietitian, or special support.
What kind of work environment do mental health counselors work in?
Mental health counselors find employment in a wide variety of settings, including mental health centers, community health centers, prisons, and private practice. Most mental health counselors work full-time.
What is the job outlook for mental health counselors?
The job outlook for mental health counselors is expected to grow 25% between 2019-2029, which is much faster than average for all occupations. This growth is anticipated as people continue to seek counseling services for addiction and mental health issues.
Why is this rate of job growth so high?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is expected to rise as many states seek treatment and counseling services for drug offenders in place of jail time. Recently the criminal justice system has recognized that substance abusers are less likely to be repeat offenders if they get the needed addiction treatment. Some research also suggests that treatment is more cost-effective than jail time.
By Carol Dolan BS RN BSN CDCES
Carol graduated with her BS in Nutrition from Montclair State University and her BSN in Nursing from Rowan University. She is a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES) currently working with adults and children living with diabetes in both outpatient and inpatient settings.
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