By: Kirsten Hughes
We have put together a list of the top 10 low-cost online master’s degrees in student affairs and college counseling. These low-cost online degrees offer students flexibility in the pursuit of their degree from top programs across the country. Students interested in the online degrees listed here will be able to maintain their current work and family commitments by accessing coursework online. The programs listed here are available fully online with minimal or no residency requirements.
A degree in college counseling and student affairs prepares graduates to take on leadership roles in higher education. There are numerous areas within colleges and universities that graduates with this degree have pursued careers in such as residence life, academic advising, disability services, career counseling, and administration to name a few.
If you are interested in working with and supporting college students in areas outside of the classroom, we are confident you will find your online degree in student affairs and college counseling here.
Online Master of Education in College Counseling and Student Development
A Master of Education in College Counseling and Student Development is available at North Carolina State University. This low-cost online master’s degree is available in a part-time format allowing online students to complete the program in three years. Additionally, students will have the support of going through the program with their cohort. This is a Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredited program. The College Counseling and Student Development Program at North Carolina State University emphasizes a commitment to multicultural diversity and strives to recruit students from culturally-diverse backgrounds.
Courses include: career counseling and development; cross-cultural counseling; theories and techniques of counseling; group counseling; multicultural lifespan development in educational context; clinical assessment; special problems- substance abuse counseling; techniques of counseling; practicum in counseling; introduction to college counseling and student development; and internship in college student development.
- Cost: $992 / Credit Hour
Online Master of Arts in Career Counseling
North Carolina Central University offers a Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredited program. This low-cost online 48 credit career counseling program began in the spring of 2015. Students in this online program will have the opportunity to complete three on-campus residencies (five days each) where they will build on online courses and connect with peers and faculty. Students can complete this program in two years.
Courses include: ethical, professional orientation to counseling; theories and techniques; vocational theory/career development; psycho-social development; cultural diversity and gender issues; group counseling; statistics; pre-practicum; assessment; consultation; and advanced career counseling.
- Credits Required: 48
- Cost: $860 / Credit Hour
Bowling Green, KY
Online Masters of Arts in Education in Adult Education, Higher Education Concentration
Western Kentucky University offers a low-cost online Master of Arts in Education in Adult Education with a Higher Education Concentration. Programming is flexible with students being able to take courses both online and in an on demand format. The Higher Education Concentration is designed for students with experience working in higher education. In an effort to offer an affordable education, online students pay in-state tuition rather than out-of-state tuition.
Courses include: introduction to adult education; methods for teaching adults; adult learning and development; program planning for adults; seminar in community college teaching; issues in higher education; higher education in america; post secondary change and culture; leadership in community and technical colleges; principles of instructional design; training materials; and distance delivery systems.
- Credits Required: 30
- Cost: $679 / Credit Hour
San Angelo, TX
Online Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling
A low-cost online Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling is available at Angelo State University. This 36 credit degree is designed for students who hope to pursue careers as counselors in public schools, colleges, and universities. The program can be completed within two years with all courses available fully online and offered in eight week sessions. Angelo State University is experienced in providing online education to graduate students with 68% of graduate students taking courses online.
Courses include: social and cultural influences; tests and measurements; lifespan development; applied research; legal and ethical principles; curriculum and methodology trends; individual counseling; group counseling; theories of counseling; career and occupational counseling; dysfunctional behavior; and leadership.
- Credits Required: 36
- Cost: $618.20 / Credit Hour
Online Master of Science in College Student Personnel
Arkansas Tech University offers a 36 credit Master of Science in College Student Personnel that can be completed in two years. This low-cost online masters degree offers rolling admissions. Students are accepted into and can begin the program throughout the year at a time that works best for the student. Students will be trained in meeting the needs of diverse student populations in college and university settings. Graduates will be prepared, through academic work and practical experience, to pursue careers in higher education in the field of student affairs.
Elective courses include: academic advising; community colleges; grant writing; ethical leadership; advising student groups; academic advising; career advising; and diversity and inclusion in student affairs.
- Credits Required: 36
- Cost: $558 / Credit Hour
Online Master of Science in Academic Advising
Kansas State University offers a low-cost online Academic Advising Master’s Degree. This 30 credit degree can be completed in less than two years. Students who wish to only take one class per semester can complete the program in three-and-a-half years. Flexible programming is available with students being able to complete the online courses in any order they choose. For students who are interested additional coursework is available in: administration of academic advising; and intercollegiate athletics and the college student athlete. Students at Kansas State University will have the opportunity to complete a final project highlighting their professional competence.
Courses include: research methods in education; learning principles; foundations of academic advising; interpersonal relations for academic advising; student development theory; multicultural aspects of academic advising; college student athletes; trends in career development; and college students with special needs.
- Credits Required: 30
- Cost: $552 / Credit Hour
Terre Haute, IN
Online Master of Science in Student Affairs and Higher Education
Indiana State University offers a low-cost online Master of Science in Student Affairs and Higher Education. This 39 credit online program can be completed in three years with the exception of three courses (or those similar in content) that must be completed on campus in a traditional classroom. These three courses can be completed an accredited university, allowing students to choose a convenient location. Students can then transfer those courses to Indiana State University. Students in this program will have the opportunity to complete an optional masters thesis. Additionally, students will receive hands on practical experience by working in a faculty approved position within the field of student affairs and higher education while in the program.
Course content covers areas including: supporting student in residence halls; student development; management; admissions; financial aid; student activities; student health promotion; career development; non-traditional student populations; counseling; guidance; and higher education.
- Credits Required: 39
- Cost: $499 / Credit Hour
Online Master of Arts in Student Affairs in Higher Education
A low-cost online Master of Arts in Student Affairs in Higher Education in available at Northwestern State University of Louisiana. Students can complete this flexible 36 credit online program in two years of full time study or complete it at a slower pace with part-time study if that is what is best for their personal needs. Students in the program are encouraged to select electives in areas that meet their personal and professional interests. Northwestern State University makes every effort to provide a low-cost online education to all students by waiving out-of-state fees for all online students, allowing all online students to have access to an affordable education no matter where they live.
Courses include: introduction to student affairs in higher education; history of higher education; organization and administration of student affairs in higher education; educational research; action research; the american college student; legal and ethical issues; multicultural and diverse populations; and current issues.
- Credits Required: 36
- Cost: $475 / Credit Hour
Online Master of Education in Student Affairs and College Counseling
Southern Arkansas University offers a low-cost online Master of Education in Student Affairs and College Counseling. This 51 credit program in the Department of Counseling and Professional Studies aims to prepare graduates to work within the field of student affairs in college counseling in a broad range of professional settings. Students will be trained to do everything from provide emergency services on college campuses during times of crisis and disaster to ensuring that college and university services are meeting the diverse needs of all students.
Courses include: introduction to the counseling profession; ethical, legal, and professional issues in counseling; counseling theories; basic counseling skills; group counseling; human development for helping professionals; career counseling-theory and practice; counseling in a diverse society; assessment procedure; practicum in counseling; introduction to student affairs in higher education; student affairs theory and practice; counseling in higher education; organization and administration of student affairs; and internship in student affairs in higher education.
- Credits Required: 51-60
- Cost: $414 / Credit Hour
Online Master of Science in College Student Personnel Services
The College of Education and Behavioral Science at Arkansas State University offers a low-cost online Master of Science in College Student Personnel Services. Faculty in the College Student Personnel Services Program bring a depth of academic and professional experience within the field of student affairs and college counseling and are able to offer strong mentoring relationships to graduate students. This flexible online program will be a good fit for students who hope to maintain their current professional and family commitments while working towards a graduate degree. This 36 credit program requires the completion of a practicum experience that can be completed on campus at Arkansas State University or at colleges and universities around the country, students can select a practicum site in the location and department of interest that best meets their personal needs and professional goals.
Courses include: the community college; student personnel services in higher education; college student development; organization and administration of college student personnel services; legal aspects of higher education; multicultural dynamics in higher education; development and advancement in higher education; and assessment, accreditation, accountability in higher education; introduction to statistics and research; philosophies of education; and practicum in college student personnel services.
- Credits Required: 36
- Cost: $257 / Credit Hour
Methodology: This list was created using data from the National Center for Education Statistics. We looked for programs offering master’s degrees in College Counseling & Personnel Services. We retained schools that offered this degree in a distance education format. Additionally, we evaluated schools based on regional accreditation and only accepted regionally accredited schools. We evaluated each program’s website and tuition (per credit hour). Schools were ranked based on low cost.
About the author: Kirsten Hughes is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, with her Masters in Education from the University of Oregon. Kirsten has provided direct services to youth and families, in a variety of roles and a range of settings, for the last 15 years. Kirsten particularly enjoys supporting young people as they navigate the challenges that come with transitioning from high school to college and beyond. Kirsten lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family.