Russell Sage College has received New York State Education Department approval to offer its master’s program in Mental Health Counseling and Community Psychology online beginning this fall. 

This gives future graduate students at Russell Sage the flexibility of choosing either the online or on-campus version of the program, which was formerly known as Counseling and Community Psychology. The online program is one of only four online mental health counseling master’s programs in New York state.

“This program will be a great, flexible option for those who are eager to begin their training as a mental health counselor but are unable to attend in-person classes,” said Alicia Harlow, associate professor of psychology and chair and graduate program director. “This program will address the shortage of mental health professionals that currently exists in so many places throughout the state of New York.”

The 60-credit program meets the educational requirements to pursue licensure as a Mental Health Counselor in New York. Courses for the online program will be delivered both live and asynchronously, with the clinical courses in a live format so students can practice and interact in real time. The required internship must be done in person but can be completed at a clinical placement near the student. The college’s internship coordinator will assist with the internship process.

Three new optional concentrations – Trauma and Acute Care, Couples and Family Counseling, or Substance Abuse and Addiction Counseling – have also been added to both the in-person and online versions of the program to meet industry needs. Students can use their elective credits to take courses in those areas, so they earn the concentration without adding additional time on to their studies.

The need for mental health counselors is expected to grow 18% over the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than the average among all fields. 

As public attitudes for seeking mental health support have changed, the demand for services has grown. In 2022, the American Psychological Association published a report saying that “six in 10 practitioners reported that they no longer have openings for new patients, nearly half (46%) said they have been unable to meet the demand for treatment, and nearly three-quarters (72%) have longer waitlists than before the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Indeed, a popular job-seekers website, published its list of “Best Jobs in 2024” based on salary, flexibility, job availability, and employment rate growth. Six of the 25 featured jobs on the list were in the mental health field, triple the number listed two years ago.

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