An online Master’s in Counseling program may sound like an oxymoron.

Counseling is all about face-to-face interaction; can an online degree provide that all-important interpersonal communication training?

Yes. Capella University’s counseling programs allow students to receive principles of theory, research, assessment, and content-specific knowledge through online study. Master’s candidates have access to internet discussions with faculty and peers, and several courses also use video-taped role plays of basic counseling skills for analysis.

Every student receives individual feedback from faculty members who share their real-world experiences, which are considerable. “The Capella faculty are all active counseling professionals who are committed to being counselor educators,” says faculty member Lisa McKenna, PhD. “The professional development of our students to the successful completion of their studies is a goal taken to heart by faculty, academic advisors, and staff.”

Capella’s Master’s in Counseling programs incorporate the key aspect of counseling: hands-on training. Each student takes part in two residencies, comprised of a 3-week online course followed by a 6-day face-to-face training session. During these residencies, students work with a cohort of their peers, and are observed and coached by faculty members while practicing their counseling skills in small groups.

Finally, students enter the fieldwork phase, where they work as counselors-in-training and then as interns in agencies, schools, and clinics in their communities. This training is done under the direct supervision of a licensed professional.

By the time a student has completed the masters counseling program requirements, they will have accrued 100 hours as a counselor-in-training and 600 hours as an intern. In essence, Capella provides the real-life, hands-on training required to develop a strong foundation as a counselor, but it also gives students the flexibility to complete core coursework at a distance.

A large part of Capella’s success is its faculty. Student Erin Rohrer says that Robert Eubanks, PhD, “really took time to get to know every single student in the group and work with them individually on their counseling skills. It was easy to tell that he genuinely cared about the people there and the counseling profession. He shared his life experiences and created an atmosphere where students could speak honestly about everything.”

Supervisors who work in the field with Capella students have great things to say as well. “Capella does an excellent job providing counseling graduate students training and educational opportunities,” says Dr. Amy Mooney, director of Ames Therapy and Consulting and a Capella site supervisor. “Even more important, they interview, educate, and keep in continual contact with their practicum/internship supervisors throughout the clinical training process. I have supervised both online students and students from brick and mortar institutions. Capella by far has been in more direct contact with me (supervisor) and the graduate student.”

What should students considering an online master’s in counseling program know ahead of time? “Research the different counseling professions to make sure your chosen path of study aligns with your ultimate career goals,” says McKenna. “Do you have enough time for your coursework? A good rule of thumb is 10 hours per course per week, as well as the time spent onsite during fieldwork.”

Once the student makes the commitment, Capella is committed to them.


Capella University offers certificates, master’s, and doctoral programs in counseling.