The Top 10 Online Master’s Degrees in Student Affairs and College Counseling

Best Counseling Degrees - Top Online Master's Programs 2016
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By Kirsten Hughes
May 2016

This list of the top 10 online master’s degrees in student affairs and college counseling will help you find the best online degree to meet your professional goals in the field of college counseling and personnel services.

Graduates will be prepared to pursue careers at community colleges, four year colleges, and universities as professionals and leaders in the field of student affairs and college student counseling. Graduates will be well prepared to work in a variety of college and university departments serving students including: academic advising, counseling, career counseling, career services, financial aid, admissions, recreation, disability services, residence halls, multicultural centers, and many more.

Students interested in advancing their careers while maintaining their current work and family commitments, are sure to find an online program to meet their needs on this list of the best online master’s degrees in student affairs and college counseling.

For more information about how this ranking was calculated, see the methodology section at the end of the article.

#10 North Carolina Central University

Durham, NC

Master of Arts in Career Counseling Education

A Master of Arts in Career Counseling Education is available from North Carolina Central University. The Counselor Education program offers this online degree and requires the completion of 48 credits. This program was accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) in August 2014 and started in the spring of 2015. This new program offers students the opportunity to gain critical counseling skills through three five-day on campus residencies. Students will have opportunities during these residencies to develop relationships with a diverse group peers and faculty and continue these relationships through the online programing.

Unique feature: This program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). CACREP accreditation shows that the program has met critical educational components deemed important by the profession.

  • Cost: $820.93/credit hour
  • Credits Required: 48
  • Regional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

#9 Western Kentucky University

Bowling Green, KY

Master of Arts in Education in Adult Education

Western Kentucky University offers a Master of Arts in Education in Adult Education. This online degree offers the opportunity to choose from three areas of concentration: a general concentration, a community and technical college concentration, and a training and development concentration. The program emphasizes the practice and application of theory.

Elective courses available include: social and cultural diversity in counseling, developmental career counseling, human and family development in counseling, american college student, student development in higher education, counseling concepts and applications for student affairs professionals, family life studies, parenting issues, drug abuse counseling, parameters of law in student affairs and higher education, and psychology of learning.

  • Cost: $652/credit hour
  • Credits Required: 30-39
  • Regional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

#8 Southwestern Assemblies of God University

Waxahachie, TX

Master of Science in Human Services Counseling

Southwestern Assemblies of God University offers an online Master of Science in Human Services Counseling. This degree is designed for ministry professionals as well as individuals from other fields who wish to gain a graduate level of understanding of counseling and counseling skills in order to enhance the services they are able to provide in secular and non-secular settings. This 30 credit hour program is designed for students who do not plan to pursue professional licensure as a counselor.

Courses include: ethical and legal issues, counseling in a pluralistic society, methods and techniques in counseling, marriage and family counseling, integration issues in behavioral sciences, theories of counseling and psychotherapy, personal lifestyle and career development, crisis intervention, human growth and lifespan development, and practicum in human services counseling.

  • Cost: $575/credit hour
  • Credits Required: 30
  • Regional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

#7 Angelo State University

San Angelo, TX

Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling

Angelo State University offers a Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling. This 36 credit hour program is designed for students who are interested in pursuing careers as public school counselors, college and university counselors as well as other areas in the field of counseling. Specific application for certification requirements include holding a teacher’s certificate as well as two years of teaching experience. Requirements are based on those in Texas and requirements may vary by state. Consult the program’s website as well as the licensing board of the state you plan to practice in for more information.

Courses include: social and cultural influences, tests and measurements, lifespan development, applied research, legal and ethical principals, individual counseling, group counseling, theories of counseling, and career and occupational counseling.

  • Cost: $535/credit hour
  • Credits Required: 36
  • Regional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

#6 Kansas State University

Manhattan, KS

Master of Science in Academic Advising

The Special Education, Counseling, and Student Affairs Program at Kansas State University offers an online Master of Science in Academic Advising. This degree is designed for individuals who hope to pursue careers in academic and career counseling and planning. This 30 credit program will provide graduates with the skills they need to be leading professionals in advising college students. The program prepares graduates to be culturally competent and to be prepared to work with special populations of students such as student athletes.

Courses include: research methods in education, foundations of academic advising, interpersonal relations for academic advising, multicultural aspects of academic advising, college student athletes, trends in career development, college students with special needs, administration of academic advising, and current issues in intercollegiate athletics.

  • Cost: $529.50/credit hour
  • Credits Required: 30
  • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

#5 Indiana State University

Terre Haute, IN

Master of Science in Student Affairs and Higher Education

Indiana State University offers an online Master of Science in Student Affairs and Higher Education. This 39 credit hour program is available both on campus and online, the distance education program can be completed in three years of study. The program emphasizes preparing graduates to work in a number of areas including student development, student health promotion, and career development. Additionally the program aims to prepare graduates for continued studies in counseling, guidance, and higher education.

Courses include: legal aspects of educational administration, introduction to student affairs and higher education, student development, theory, assessment, and application, the multicultural campus, leadership and administration in student affairs and higher education, group dynamics and leadership, and techniques of interpersonal interaction. Note: The program requires that three of the courses for online students be taken in the classroom of an accredited university and the credits can then be transferred to Indiana State University.

  • Cost: $485 /credit hour
  • Credits Required: 39
  • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

#4 Arkansas Tech University

Russellville, AR

Master of Science in College Student Personnel

An online College Student Personnel Master of Science Degree is available from Arkansas Tech University. This 36 credit hour program is available fully online and/or on campus and the curriculum for both the online and face-to-face instruction is the same. Graduates of the College Student Personnel program will be prepared to pursue careers in higher education settings. This program offers rolling admissions and enrolls students throughout the year.

Courses include: introduction to college student personnel work, student development theory, legal issues for professionals in college student personnel, counseling theories and helping skills, administration in college student personnel, advising student groups, academic advising, and career counseling.

  • Cost: $430/credit hour
  • Credits Required: 36
  • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

#3 Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Natchitoches, LA

Master of Arts in Student Affairs in Higher Education

Northwestern State University of Louisiana has been educating administrators and professionals in higher education for the last 50 years. The Department of Teaching Leadership and Counseling now offers an online Master of Arts degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education. Students can enroll in the online program on a part time or full time basis depending on their individual needs and interests. Full time students can complete the program in two years. This 36 credit hour online degree will prepare graduates for careers in community colleges, technical colleges, and public and private four year colleges and universities. A bonus of this program is that students who are not residents of Louisiana are eligible to have out-of-state fees waived for online programs.

Courses include: introduction to student affairs in higher education, organization and administration of student affairs in higher education, the american college student, legal and ethical issues, and multicultural and diverse populations. Electives are available in counseling, adult education, health and human performance, and special education.

  • Cost: $425/credit hour
  • Credits Required: 36
  • Regional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

#2 Southern Arkansas University Main Campus

Magnolia, AR

Master of Education in Student Affairs and College Counseling

The department of Counseling and Professional Studies at Southern Arkansas University offers an online Master of Education in Student Affairs and College Counseling. This 51 credit hour graduate program is available online as well as through hybrid and on-campus programing. Graduates of this program will be prepared to pursue careers as professional counselors and administrators in student services departments at colleges and universities.

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 procedures for counselors, introduction to student affairs in higher education, student affairs theory and practice, practicum in counseling, and internship in college counseling and student affairs.

  • Cost: $415/credit hour
  • Credits Required: 51
  • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

#1 Arkansas State University

Jonesboro, AR

Master of Science in College Student Personnel Services

The College of Education and Behavioral Science at Arkansas State University offers an online Master of Science degree in College Student Personnel Services. This 36 credit hour program aims to be flexible in their online education to meet the needs of working professionals. Graduates of this program will be prepared to provide leadership in a variety of positions in the field of student services. Arkansas State University offers one of the oldest online degree programs in Arkansas. The online degrees are the same as the degrees that on-campus students earn.

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, assessment, accreditation, and accountability in higher education, and practicum in college student personnel services.

  • Cost: $254/credit hour
  • Credits Required: 36
  • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Methodology: To develop the ranking of The Top 10 Online Master’s Degrees in Student Affairs and College Counseling, we used information gathered from the Institute of Education Sciences’ College Navigator to evaluate colleges and universities offering programing in College Student Counseling and Personnel Services and Student Counseling and Personnel Services, Other. Next, we checked the schools for regional accreditation with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and only regionally accredited programs were retained. Finally, we sorted the schools by (cost per credit hour) as listed on each program’s web site and we present the top 10 schools at which to get an online master’s degree in student affairs and college counseing in our ranking.

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