One of the advantages of earning your master's degree today is the range of options available. Whether you're just finishing your undergraduate degree and looking for a full-time graduate program, or you're an adult learner with a career and family, there are programs available to fit your needs. But having a lot of options can sometimes be a challenge in itself. Choosing a program that fits your learning style, as well as your schedule, can play an important role in your ultimate success and overall satisfaction with your graduate experience. Below we take a closer look at on-campus vs. online degrees in counseling and offer tips to help you choose the best program for your needs. Why Earn Your Master's Degree in Counseling? If you're serious about a long-term career in addiction counseling, earning a master's degree is something to strongly consider. A master's in addiction counseling degree will provide the in-depth clinical knowledge you'll need to help patients with co-occurring mental health disorders, and is required for dual-licensure as a mental health counselor. Completing a master's program will also open the door to broader professional opportunities in the field, help prepare you for state licensure or certification in drug and alcohol counseling, and boost your earning potential. Learn more about why to earn your master's degree in addiction counseling. Choosing a Master's Degree in Counseling Program Once you decide to pursue a master's degree, the next step is choosing the best program for your needs. You may prefer to take classes in person at an accredited graduate school. If you need to balance career and family obligations as you work toward your degree, consider traditional, on-campus programs, such as the Master's in Addiction Counseling: Advanced Practice program at Hazelden Betty Ford, that offer plenty of flexibility for working students, with weekend and evening classes and part-time options. You can also earn your master's in addiction counseling online. Online degrees in counseling offer the greatest flexibility in that you can complete your coursework from locations across the United States. Programs such as the online Master's of Arts in Addiction Counseling: Integrated Recovery for Co-Occurring Disorders at Hazelden Betty Ford also give you the opportunity to work on your own schedule while meeting weekly deadlines. Ultimately, choosing an on-site or online counselor degree program is a matter of personal preference. One is not better than the other, it's just a different kind of learning experience. The important thing is to honestly assess your needs, how you're motivated to learn and what you want to get out of the experience. Benefits of an on-site degree in addiction counseling Clinical observation during your first semester when you choose the Master's in Addiction Counseling: Advanced Practice program at Hazelden Betty Ford More opportunities to interact informally with faculty and students Structured/traditional classroom learning environment Ability to take part in on-campus activities and events Online Degrees in Counseling: What You Need to Know Distance-learning programs have come a long way in recent years. The days of sending written tests and research papers by mail to anonymous faculty are over. Today's online degree programs make use of state-of-the-art technologies to deliver a highly interactive and engaging remote learning experience. It's one of the reasons why studying online has become so popular over the last decade. Not only are online programs embraced by employers, but they also help you develop technical skills you'll need for providing virtual care. Hazelden Betty Ford's online master's degree, for example, allows you to learn and grow your skills in a virtual setting that will benefit you as the field continues to increase accessibility by offering virtual as well as in-person counseling options. In an academic sense, the online experience will be similar to what you would find in the classroom. You'll have many of the same assignments and be held to the same standards as on-campus students. The main difference is that lectures, coursework and interactions with faculty and cohort members are all virtual (keep in mind that online counselor degrees will typically also include on-site clinical practicums and residencies you'll need to complete at an approved location). Some online counselor degrees are synchronous, meaning that lessons take place at a set time, and students attend and participate together. Asynchronous online counseling programs, by contrast, allow you to log in and view lectures and coursework at your convenience, as long as you meet the deadlines for your assignments. Graduate of the online master's in counseling program at Hazelden Betty Ford finds his calling. Determining Which Type of Program Fits Your Needs Are you a self-starter who enjoys working on your own? Or do you excel in a live, in-person learning environment and prefer more personal interaction with faculty and peers? These are some of the questions to ask yourself as you compare on-campus and online master's in counseling programs. It's important to assess your strengths and needs honestly, so you can make the best decision. Here are some quick tips to use as a guideline. An online master's degree in counseling might be the way to go if: You have a full-time job and need flexible study options You need to balance education with family obligations You cannot relocate and put your life on pause You're a self-starter and highly motivated to complete assignments on your own You might be better suited to earning your degree on campus if: You want to work alongside experienced clinicians in your first semester and have guaranteed placement in your second semester (in the Master's in Addiction Counseling: Advanced Practice program at Hazelden Betty Ford) You work better in a more structured learning environment You are an international student Comparison of the On-Campus and Online Counseling Degrees at Hazelden Betty Ford Hazelden Betty Ford offers two graduate counseling programs. One is offered via evening and weekend courses in St. Paul and Center City, Minnesota. The other is delivered online with two residency experiences. Both programs are 60 credit-hours and include coursework in mental health and co-occurring disorders. They are also both designed to meet the academic requirements to pursue licensure in Minnesota for: Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) The on-campus counseling program can be completed in just 20 months and includes 880 clinical hours. The online counselor degree is a 24-month program. Find more information about the counseling master's degrees at Hazelden Betty Ford and how the programs compare. Take the Next Step: Earn Your Master's Degree in Addiction Counseling at Hazelden Betty Ford Whether you pursue your degree online or on campus, the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies offers convenient, accredited master's program options designed to fit your life. As the nation's leading nonprofit addiction treatment center, we offer students the coveted opportunity to work with some of the best addiction counselors in the field, and engage in a rigorous curriculum that blends evidence-based coursework and clinical practicums. When you graduate, you'll have the advanced skills and training to effectively address the complexities of addiction and pursue leadership positions in your field of choice. Learn more about the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies. View the Master's in Addiction Counseling: Advanced Practice (on-campus program). View the Master of Arts in Addiction Counseling: Integrated Recovery for Co-Occurring Disorders (online program). Find more information about addiction counseling degrees and careers Are you transitioning into addiction counseling from another career? Not only is counseling one of the most rewarding professions you can choose, it's also one of the fastest growing. We have tips to help you on your way. Getting Started on Your Career in Addiction Counseling: Tips for Career Changers. One of the benefits of earning your master's degree in counseling is the array of different job opportunities you can pursue. Explore various career pathways and what you need to prepare. Career Paths for Drug and Alcohol Counselors. Wondering if you have what it takes to be an effective addiction counselor? Addiction counseling requires a strong sense of empathy, emotional resilience and cultural sensitivity. Here are Five Traits of Effective Substance Abuse Counselors.