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: marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, 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 26 not-for-profit four-year colleges and universities that offer a program in marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, school counseling, substance abuse counseling, and/or vocational rehabilitation counseling in Illinois.1,2
- Of the counseling schools in Illinois, 0 offer an associate’s degree, 1 offers a bachelor’s degree, 3 schools offer a certificate, and 21 offer a master’s or advanced degree.1
- 8 schools offer a degree in marriage and family therapy.1,2
- 23 schools offer a degree in mental health counseling.1,2
- 5 schools offer a degree in vocational rehabilitation counseling. 1,2
- 19 schools offer a degree in school counseling.1,2
- 4 schools offer a degree in substance abuse counseling.1,2
- 6 counseling schools ranked in Kiplinger’s Best College Values 2019.3
- No schools ranked in US News Best Student Counseling Programs 2019.4
- 5 schools ranked in US News Best Rehabilitation Counseling Programs 2019.5
- Across 21 schools, 42 counseling programs are accredited by CACREP.2
Comparison of Illinois Counseling Schools and Programs
Below you will find a table that allows you to compare the public and not-for-profit four-year colleges and universities in Illinois that offer counseling programs in the following five main areas: mental health counseling (MH), marriage and family therapy (MFT), vocational rehabilitation counseling (VR), school counseling (SC), and substance abuse counseling (SA). The table indicates the schools that offer programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP); CACREP-accredited programs are denoted with an asterisk (*). Keep in mind that some schools offer a joint program in clinical mental health counseling and clinical rehabilitation counseling, so check with the school for more information on the programs offered. The table also enables you to compare each school by program type offered, graduation rate, and net price per year. You can learn more about the steps to counseling licensure in Illinois on our license requirements page.
|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*||—||19%||$11,099|
|Eastern Illinois University||Yes||Yes*||—||—||Yes*||—||58%||$13,168|
|Governors State University||Yes||Yes*||Yes*||—||Yes*||Yes||N.Av.||$15,304|
|Illinois Institute of Technology||Yes||Yes*||—||Yes*||Yes||—||72%||$25,814|
|Lincoln Christian University||Yes||Yes*||Yes||—||—||—||71%||$18,653|
|Loyola University Chicago||—||—||—||—||Yes||—||74%||$35,033|
|Moody Bible Institute||—||Yes||—||—||—||—||58%||$19,232|
|National Louis University||Yes||Yes*||—||—||Yes*||—||22%||$14,285|
|Northeastern Illinois University||Yes||Yes*||Yes*||Yes||Yes*||—||21%||$18,976|
|Northern Illinois University||Yes||Yes*||—||Yes*||Yes*||—||46%||$22,686|
|Saint Xavier University||—||—||—||—||Yes||—||57%||$15,131|
|Southern Illinois University-Carbondale||—||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||—||41%||$16,105|
|Trinity International University||Yes||Yes*||—||—||—||—||46%||$19,318|
|University of Illinois at Springfield||Yes||Yes*||Yes*||—||Yes*||Yes||51%||$10,733|
|University of St. Francis||—||—||—||—||—||Yes||62%||$19,418|
|Western Illinois University||Yes||Yes*||—||—||Yes*||—||46%||$15,808|
Top-Ranked Schools with Counseling Programs in Illinois
Kiplinger’s Best College Values 2019
- Northwestern University (#44)
- Wheaton College (#45)
- Loyola University Chicago (#276)
- Bradley University (#278)
- DePaul University (#388)
- Illinois Institute of Technology (#399)
US News Best Rehabilitation Counseling Programs 2019
- Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (#12 tie)
- Illinois Institute of Technology (#15 tie)
- Northern Illinois University (#32 tie)
- Northeastern Illinois University (#67 tie)
- Adler University (#80 tie)
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; Marriage and Family Therapy; and School Counseling that can be completed at the University Park campus or through a hybrid format that combines evening and online classes. The MA degree focuses on urban counseling settings and is comprised 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 Certificates in Clinical Mental Health Counseling or School Counseling. For those interested in substance abuse counseling, the Master of Health Sciences (MHS) in Addiction 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 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); Family Counseling (60 credits); School Counseling (60 credits); and Rehabilitation Counseling (48 credits); certificates in Addiction Counseling and Couple and Family Counseling; and a non-degree endorsement for School Counseling. The MA programs are designed for working professionals with evening classes offered on-campus or through hybrid or online methods. 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.
Numerous CACREP-accredited degrees in counseling are offered at Southern Illinois University (SIU) in Carbondale. The Master of Science (MS) in Education has specializations in Clinical Mental Health Counseling; Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling; and School Counseling, and all concentrations meet state coursework requirements for their designated areas of licensure. During the 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. SIU-Carbondale also offers a CACREP-accredited MS in Rehabilitation Counseling that prepares students for counseling careers working with individuals with disabilities. As part of the Rehabilitation Counseling program, students can complete courses in addiction studies that meet 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 with new applicants admitted during spring and summer term cohorts. 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 five-day residencies at the Chicago campus during the first and second years of the program and complete an on-site practicum and internship. The program can be completed through traditional methods at the Chicago campus. Adler University also offers a three-year Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Counseling Education and Supervision for applicants with a master’s degree in counseling that can be completed through online or hybrid methods. Students interested in on-campus programs in Chicago can complete an MA and a PhD in Couple and Family Therapy; an MA in Rehabilitation Counseling; or a Certificate in Couple and Family Therapy or Substance Abuse Counseling.
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 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 may be required to 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 and a practicum and two internships, which can be completed in the student’s local area.
The Family Institute at Northwestern University offers a hybrid Master of Arts (MA) in Counseling that blends online learning with two immersive experiences. The program accepts applicants with diverse academic and work backgrounds. Applicants with a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related area, or those 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 Bridge to Counseling program, which requires an additional introductory quarter. Students in both programs complete 800 hours of supervised clinical experience and meet the educational requirements to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Illinois. On-campus versions of these programs are also available as well as a Master of Science (MS) in Marriage and Family Therapy that meets coursework requirements to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in the state.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology has an online 60-credit Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling 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, along with a hybrid MA in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy and a PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision.
1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), Accredited Programs: https://www.cacrep.org/directory/
3. Kiplinger’s Best College Values, 2019: https://www.kiplinger.com/fronts/special-report/college-rankings/index.html
4. US News & World Report Best Student Counseling Programs, 2019: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-education-schools/student-counseling-rankings
5. US News & World Report Best Rehabilitation Counseling Programs, 2019: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-health-schools/rehabilitation-counseling-rankings