Counseling Degrees and Programs in Illinois
To begin a counseling career in Illinois, you will likely need a counseling degree in your preferred area of focus. Luckily, there are many colleges and universities in Illinois that offer programs in the five major counseling categories: mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, rehabilitation counseling, school counseling, and substance abuse counseling. One of the first steps in your counseling career will be to choose a school and a degree program. Most schools in Illinois offer counseling degrees at the master’s level because almost all types of counseling licensure require graduate-level education. Some undergraduate options in pre-counseling or addiction studies may also be available. If you are interested in online or hybrid study options for more flexibility, there are numerous counseling degree options based in Illinois to choose from.
- There are 38 not-for-profit colleges and universities that offer a program in mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, school counseling, substance abuse counseling, and/or vocational rehabilitation counseling in Illinois.1,2
- Of the counseling schools in Illinois, 7 schools offer an associate degree, 1 offers a bachelor’s degree, 11 schools offer a certificate, and 26 offer a master’s or advanced degree.1
- 25 schools offer a degree in mental health counseling.1,2
- 6 schools offer a degree in marriage and family therapy.1,2
- 5 schools offer a degree in vocational rehabilitation counseling. 1,2
- 18 schools offer a degree in school counseling.1,2
- 15 schools offer a degree in substance abuse counseling.1,2
- No schools ranked in US News & World Report’s Best Student Counseling Programs 2022.3
- 2 schools ranked in US News & World Report’s Best Online M.Ed. Programs for Student Counseling 2022.4
- No counseling programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).2
- Across 4 schools, 6 counseling programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).5
Comparison of Illinois Counseling Schools and Programs
Below you will find a table that allows you to compare the public and not-for-profit colleges and universities in Illinois that offer counseling programs in the following five main areas: mental health counseling (MH), marriage and family therapy (MF), vocational rehabilitation counseling (VR), school counseling (SC), and substance abuse counseling (SA). Use the table to compare each school by program type offered, Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accreditation status, graduation rate, and net price per year. You can learn more about the steps to counseling licensure in Illinois on our license requirements page.
|School Name||CACREP-Accred Program2||MH||MF||VR||SC||SA||Grad Rate1||Net Price1|
|Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Chicago||Yes||Yes||—||—||Yes||—||N.Av.||N.Av.|
|Chicago State University||Yes||Yes||—||—||Yes||—||21%||$4,846|
|City Colleges of Chicago-Kennedy-King College||—||—||—||—||—||Yes||29%||$5,313|
|City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College||—||—||—||—||—||Yes||29%||$3,439|
|College of DuPage||—||—||—||—||—||Yes||22%||$5,440|
|City College of Lake County||—||—||—||—||—||Yes||29%||$5,486|
|Eastern Illinois University||Yes||Yes||—||—||Yes||—||51%||$31,872|
|Elgin Community College||—||—||—||—||—||Yes||43%||$4,140|
|Governors State University||Yes||Yes||Yes||—||Yes||Yes||16%||$9,943|
|Illinois Central College||—||—||—||—||—||Yes||33%||$8,527|
|Illinois Institute of Technology||Yes||Yes||—||Yes||Yes||—||71%||$26,789|
|Lincoln Christian University||Yes||Yes||—||—||—||—||46%||$17,595|
|Loyola University Chicago||—||—||—||—||Yes||—||72%||$29,371|
|Moody Bible Institute||—||Yes||—||—||—||—||53%||$21,399|
|Moraine Valley Community College||—||—||—||—||—||Yes||34%||$1,831|
|National Louis University||Yes||Yes||—||—||Yes||—||34%||$14,665|
|Northeastern Illinois University||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||—||21%||$14,133|
|Northern Illinois University||Yes||Yes||—||Yes||Yes||—||51%||$13,265|
|Saint Xavier University||—||—||—||—||Yes||—||52%||$13,419|
|South Suburban College||—||—||—||—||—||Yes||16%||$5,021|
|Southern Illinois University-Carbondale||—||Yes||—||Yes||—||Yes||45%||$15,976|
|Trinity International University||Yes||Yes||—||—||—||—||45%||$20,328|
|University of Illinois at Springfield||Yes||Yes||Yes||—||Yes||Yes||53%||$11,965|
|University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign||—||Yes||—||—||—||—||85%||$14,272|
|University of St Francis||—||—||—||—||—||Yes||65%||$16,949|
|Waubonsee Community College||—||—||—||—||—||Yes||33%||$6,455|
|Western Illinois University||Yes||Yes||—||—||Yes||—||51%||$11,666|
Top-Ranked Schools with Counseling Programs in Illinois
US News & World Report’s Best Online M.Ed. Programs for Student Counseling 2022
- Concordia University Chicago (#189 tie)
- DePaul University (#189 tie)4
Schools in Illinois with Counseling Degrees
Traditional Undergraduate Programs
The University of St. Francis offers a 120-credit Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Substance Abuse Counseling for individuals interested in becoming a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) in Illinois. The curriculum meets the coursework requirements to take the Illinois CADC certification exam and includes 58 credits in substance abuse treatment, assessment, and prevention, two field experiences, and a capstone project. The degree can be completed in four years of full-time study or less for applicants with an associate’s degree in a related field. Graduates of the program are well-prepared to work in entry-level counseling positions in addiction and substance abuse treatment facilities, such as residential treatment centers and outpatient clinics, or pursue graduate-level study in counseling.
Traditional Graduate Programs
Governors State University (GSU) offers a CACREP-accredited Master of Arts (MA) in Counseling with specializations in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC); Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling (MCFC); and School Counseling (SC) that can be completed at the University Park campus or through a hybrid format that combines evening and online classes. The MA degree consists of 60 credits including 27 credits in the area of specialization and a 600-hour internship. Full-time students can complete the degree in three years. Individuals who already have a master’s degree in counseling may apply to the Post-Master’s Clinical Mental Health Counselor Certificate or the Post-Master’s School Counseling Certificate. For those interested in substance abuse counseling, the Master of Health Sciences (MHS) in Addictions Studies provides a thorough background in addiction and substance abuse assessment and treatment. GSU also has a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Counselor Education and Supervision (CES) that begins in the fall term. It is designed for applicants with a master’s degree in counseling, teaching advanced clinical, research, and leadership skills.
Northeastern Illinois University offers a range of counseling programs including CACREP-accredited Master of Arts (MA) degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (60 credits); Couple and Family Counseling (60 credits); School Counseling (60 credits); and Rehabilitation Counseling (60 credits); certificates in Addiction Counseling, Couple and Family Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling, and Trauma-Informed Counseling; as well as a non-Degree School Counselor Endorsement program for students with a graduate degree in counseling. The MA programs are designed for working professionals with evening and weekend classes offered on-campus. While all the degrees meet state requirements for licensure in their respective counseling fields, the degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Family Counseling, and Rehabilitation Counseling all meet state educational requirements for both the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) licenses in Illinois. The certificate programs are designed for applicants who already have a degree in counseling but who wish to acquire skills in an additional area of focus.
Southern Illinois University (SIU) in Carbondale offers a Master of Science (MS) in Counseling and Rehabilitation Education (CARE) with concentrations in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling. During the CARE program, students complete the counseling core coursework and then take electives in the area of specialization and a related practicum and internship. Students interested in research can also complete an optional thesis as part of the degree program. Graduates of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling concentration meet the educational requirements to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Illinois, while graduates of the Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling concentration can apply for the Clinical Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) credential. SIU-Carbondale also offers a Substance Use Disorders and Behavioral Addictions Certificate that meets the educational requirements to become a Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Counselor (CADC) in Illinois.
Online and Hybrid Programs
Adler University offers an online Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) that can be completed in three to four years. Students complete most coursework online but some courses have synchronous elements and require students to be available for scheduled online classes. They must also attend two four-day residencies at the Chicago campus during the first and second years of the program and complete an on-site practicum and internship. The entire program can also be completed through traditional methods at the Chicago campus. Students interested in on-campus programs in Chicago can complete an MA or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Couple and Family Therapy; an MA in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling; an MA in Counseling: Art Therapy; an MA in Forensic Mental Health Leadership; a PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision; or a Certificate in Sex Therapy.
At Bradley University, students can choose from two online CACREP-accredited degrees. The Master of Arts (MA) in Counseling with a specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is a 60-credit degree that focuses on the assessment and treatment of mental health disorders and contemporary neurocounseling techniques. The 60-credit MA in Professional School Counseling teaches students about age-appropriate counseling techniques that can be used in K-12 school settings with students and families. Applicants who are not certified teachers must complete additional coursework to meet degree and certification requirements. The degree curriculum includes a shared counseling core with additional courses in the area of specialization. Students in both programs complete two week-long residencies in Peoria, a practicum, two virtual residencies, and two internships, which can be completed in their local area.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology has an online 60-credit Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) that is accredited by CACREP and takes three years to complete on a part-time basis. The program is offered in a cohort style that enables students to progress through the courses and graduate with the same group of peers. During the program, students must attend two residencies at the Chicago campus. The program focuses on treatment, testing, and diagnosis skills for mental health disorders. Although the degree curriculum aligns with the educational requirements for counseling licensure in many states, applicants should confirm the requirements in their state. The school also offers this degree in an on-campus format at the Chicago campus, as well as a hybrid MA in Counseling Psychology with concentrations in Trauma and Crisis Intervention; Latino Mental Health; Treatment of Addiction Disorders, and an online PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision.
Northwestern University offers a CACREP-accredited Master of Arts (MA) in Counseling and a COAMFTE-accredited Master of Science (MS) in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) through the Family Institute. Both degree programs are offered in-person or fully online. The MA in Counseling program accepts applicants with diverse academic and work backgrounds. Applicants with a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related area or with volunteer, internship, or work experience in a psychology or counseling setting are eligible for the standard program, which can be completed in as little as six quarters. Applicants who do not meet these admission requirements can apply to the in-person Two-Plus Curriculum program or the online Bridge to Counseling program, which both require three additional introductory courses. The Bridge to Counseling Program offers an accelerated track, traditional track, or part-time track, allowing students to complete their degrees in as little as seven quarters. Students must complete a minimum of 600 hours of supervised clinical experience and will meet the educational requirements to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Illinois upon graduation. The online MS in Marriage and Family Therapy programs consists of 24 courses and students are required to attend one immersive experience, while the in-person version comprises 25 courses. Students in both programs are required to complete 500 hours of clinical fieldwork. Graduates of the program will meet the educational requirements to become Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs) in Illinois.
1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, Accredited Programs: https://www.cacrep.org/directory/
3. US News & World Report Best Student Counseling Programs 2022: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-education-schools/student-counseling-rankings
4. US News & World Report Best Online Master’s in Education Programs Offering Student Counseling and Personnel Services 2022: https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/education/student-counseling-rankings
5. Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, Directory of COAMFTE Accredited Programs: https://coamfte.org/COAMFTE/Directory_of_Accredited_Programs/MFT_Training_Programs.aspx