Top 25 Most Affordable Accredited Master’s in School Counseling Online

Best Counseling Degrees - Top Online Programs-01

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By BCD Staff

April 2018

Professionals who want to work as school guidance counselors should pursue an online master's in school counseling. Many of these programs are flexible, offering multiple enrollment periods and short class sessions that ensure students can continue to work their jobs as they pursue their master's degree. Many programs allow students to complete this degree even without a teaching license, though each school's requirements should be examined carefully to determine whether prospective students are eligible.

Coursework in online counseling master's programs teaches students to lead group counseling sessions, how to provide career advice to graduating students, and how to integrate family into counseling for struggling children. All programs train students to work in any capacity in a K-12 school, though some offer specializations for elementary and middle school counselors. If you complete a counseling master's, expect to gain experience through an internship or practicum, as all programs on this list require them.

#25 Regent University

Virginia Beach, VA

Master of Arts in School Counseling Online


Regent University's online school counseling program teaches students about the principles and practices of counseling in schools, using a Christian emphasis to blend Biblical values with theories and applications of youth counseling. Though all courses are online, students must complete two one-week residencies on Regent's Virginia Beach campus. The program does offer an accelerated pace for motivated students seeking their master's degree in counseling. Upon graduating, students will be prepared to work in public and private schools.

#24 Angelo State University

San Angelo, TX

Online Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling


The online school counseling program at Angelo State University prepares students to work in public schools and higher education institutions as academic, career, and personal criss counselors. All courses are offered totally online, and are taught in eight-week segments, so students can graduate in two years or less. Students can also take the Texas Examinations of Educator Standards to obtain the state's Professional Certificate for School Counselors. Because the school offers eight-week academic sessions, students can take classes five times each academic year.

#23 University of the

Hobbs, NM

Online Master of Science in Education – School Counseling


The University of the Southwest's online school counseling program requires students to require 42 credits in order to graduate, and coursework prepares students to counsel in elementary, middle school, and high school settings. The curriculum focuses on theory and research, requiring students to complete 12 hours of credit in educational research and counseling theories, along with classes about crisis and trauma intervention and career development and life planning. Students are also required to complete practicums and an internship.

#22 Prescott College

Prescott, AZ

Online Master of Education in School Guidance Counseling


The online school counseling program at Prescott College in Arizona is a limited-residency hybrid program that pairs online coursework with mentored, in-person study experiences. The on-campus residencies only consist of six days per year. Students complete 36 credit hours to graduate from the program, including classes about vocational counseling, a supervised practicum, and research practices for guidance counselors. The program offers three enrollment dates per year, so students can enroll in courses at their convenience.

#21 Missouri Baptist University

Saint Louis, MO

Master of Arts in School Counseling Online


Missouri Baptist University's online school counseling program can be completed in 36 months. Students take 51 credit hours online. All of the classes in Missouri Baptist University's program are taught by faculty members with a Christian background, which means all coursework infuses Christian values alongside explorations of theories and practical, real-world applications of school counseling. The curriculum includes classes about career counseling, internships in elementary and secondary school counseling, and group counseling theories and practices.

#20 Concordia University-Wisconsin

Mequon, WI

Online Master of Science in Education – School and Professional Counseling


The online school counseling program at Concordia University Wisconsin offers students the opportunity to study the principles, theories, and practical applications of school counseling. Students without a teaching license are eligible to enroll, but must take additional courses to complete their degree. Concordia offers classes with a Christian focus to them, which prepares students especially well to work as a counselor in private and parochial schools. Students must complete 600 hours of supervised practicum experience, divided evenly across an elementary school, a middle school, and a high school.

#19 Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA

Master of Education in School Counseling Online


The online school counseling program at Liberty University, which prepares students to work in public or private schools as school counselors, allows students to transfer up to 50% of their required credits from another institution when they enroll. Students must complete 48 credit hours, and the school anticipates students can complete their degree in two years. The school requires a six-credit hour internship but does not require a prior teaching license to enroll or graduate.

#18 Lehigh University

Bethlehem, PA

Online Master of Education in International School Counseling


Lehigh University's online school counseling program is unique because it targets students who want to work as school counselors in international schools. The curriculum zeroes in on concepts of counseling, especially with regard to families in international settings. The coursework is delivered in a hybrid format, with courses online in fall and spring semesters, while in the summers students participate in on-campus experiences designed to boost their academic and professional skills on the Lehigh campus and in Greece.

#17 Gwynedd Mercy

Gwynedd Valley, PA

Online Master of Science in Education in School Counseling


The online school counseling program at Gwynedd Mercy University. The program is 60 credits, divided into 30 hours of core coursework and 30 specifically in school counseling certification. GMercyU also requires students to complete 100 hours of practicum experience and 600 hours of supervised internships across three internship sites. The school also offers a certificate for students who have already graduated with a general counseling master's that would like to expand their expertise into the field of school counseling specifically.

#16 Creighton University

Omaha, NE

Online Master of Science in School Counseling & Preventive Mental Health


The online school counseling program at Creighton University prepares students to work as school counselors in K-12 schools. This school's fully online master's degree requires students to complete 36 credits and can be finished in two years. Part of Creighton's counseling curriculum is a 600-hour internship, which helps students meet the Nebraska state requirements for certification in school counseling. Creighton's program offers courses in elementary, secondary, and general K-12 counseling, so students can customize their education based on their career and professional goals.

#15 Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR

Master of Counseling in School Counseling Online


Oregon State University's Ecampus offers a Master of Counseling degree. This online school counseling program requires students to complete 75 credit hours of coursework. It is delivered in a hybrid format, so students must attend 50 percent of their classes via on-campus meetings during two weekends per term in Salem, Oregon. Students can expect to graduate in three years, including completing practicum and internship courses. The curriculum is delivered in 12-member cohorts, which start classes in the summer term.

#14 The University of Tennessee-Martin

Martin, TN

Online Master of Science in Education – School Counseling


The University of Tennessee Martin offers an online school counseling program which requires students to complete 48 credit hours in order to graduate. Students are allowed to complete elective courses, including classes in alcohol and substance abuse counseling, educational statistics, and human sexuality. Enrolled students without prior teaching experience are required to participate in one semester of orientation in a K-12 school in order to prepare them for work in a school system.

#13 University of Louisiana at Monroe

Monroe, LA

Master of Science in Counseling Online


The University of Louisiana at Monroe offers an online school counseling program which prepares students to work as counselors in K-12 schools. ULM's program requires its students to take 60 credits in order to graduate, including 12 hours of courses specifically in each student's concentration. The program boasts a 100% job placement rate for students graduating in the last six years. The school's calendar offers five course sessions during the academic year so students can enroll flexibly around their work and family obligations.

#12 Salem College

Winston-Salem, NC

Online Master of Education in School Counseling


The online school counseling program at Salem College is a program that pushes research to the forefront of education. All courses are completed online, with two weekend seminars on the Salem College campus. Classes are completed in 36 months using a cohort model, where students move through courses as a unit. New cohorts can enroll in spring or fall semesters. For some admissions cycles, Salem only accepts applications from North Carolina residents, and graduates who pass the PRAXIS II exam are eligible for North Carolina school counselor licensure.

#11 Capella University

Minneapolis, MS

Master of Science in School Counseling Online


Capella University offers an online master of science in school counseling degree. Coursework includes lectures specifically focused on violence in classrooms, including crisis prevention, crisis de-escalation, and counseling after traumatic violence has occurred. Capella uses a tuition model that charges based not per term but per credit hour, to ensure that students can take classes that work with their schedule without paying unnecessarily high tuition. All core faculty in this program hold doctorates.

#10 University of Southern Mississippi

Hattiesburg, MS

Master of Education in School Counseling Online


The online school counseling program offered by the University of Southern Mississippi is a 48 credit hour program. The coursework is completed online, though the program does require a summer residency at the school's Hattiesburg campus. The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning in Mississippi created a program that offers scholarships to licensed classroom teachers in Mississippi to pursue advanced degrees in education, including the USM school counseling program.

#9 University of Nebraska at Kearney

Kearney, NE

Master of Science in Education in School Counseling Online


The University of Nebraska Kearney offers a blended online school counseling program where students complete 75% of their coursework online and 25% through an on-campus residency in the summer. Students choose whether to specialize in prekindergarten through sixth grade counseling or seventh through twelfth grade counseling over 43 credit hours. Students without a bachelor's in education can complete 12 additional credit hours of online coursework prior before enrolling in UNK's program.

#8 Walden University

Minneapolis, MN

Online Master of Science in School Counseling


The Virtual School at Walden University allows students in the online school counseling program to gain practical experience through unique virtual simulations. The school also offers an accelerated track that allows students to complete the program's 37-credit curriculum more quickly. The program is state-approved in Minnesota and Ohio, so graduates are prepared for state licensure exams in both of those states, among others. Coursework teaches students to offer career advisement and culturally diverse counseling to children.

#7 University of West Alabama

Livingston, AL

Online Master of Education in School Counseling


The online school counseling program at the University of West Alabama is a 48-credit program that can be completed in one year. Coursework prepares students to stage crisis interventions and lead discussions and counseling sessions about diversity. Each course can be completed in eight weeks. Though students can enroll in the program from any state, curriculum requirements for UWA's online school counseling master's may not fulfill requirement for certification or licensure in other states.

#6 Southern Arkansas University

Magnolia, AR

Online Master of Education in School Counseling


Southern Arkansas University's M.Ed in school counseling is a fully online 48-credit program. The curriculum builds on the American School Counselor Association's National Model and National Standards by blending theoretical and practical approaches to counseling. The degree prepares students to apply for K-12 licensure in Arkansas as well as other states. Students who already hold a valid Arkansas teaching license can work toward an add-on counseling license. Students without a teaching license can apply for an initial counselor license.

#5 University of

Columbia, MO

Online Master of Education in Mental Health Practices in Schools


The 34-credit hour online school counseling program at the University of Missouri is designed to build classroom management skills and teach students to affect positive change in the psychologies of young children. Students are expected to take two classes per semester — summers included — to finish in two years. Coursework zeroes in on important contemporary issues, including diversity in the student body and implementing counseling strategies with families. Mizzou offers in-state tuition to all distance learners, regardless of home state.

#4 Fort Hays State University

Hays, KS

Online Master of Science in Counseling – School Counseling


The online school counseling program at Fort Hays State University requires 48 credits to complete. Graduates are prepared to apply for an Initial School Specialist License in Kansas as long as they maintain at least a 3.25 GPA. The program emphasizes research in its coursework, requiring a three-hour class about research methods in which students complete a research paper. The school also uses a comprehensive exam format to ensure that its students are well-trained. Coursework combines theory and practical application of concepts in counseling with classes about theories of counseling and ethical counseling issues, among others.

#3 Chadron State College

Chadron, NE

Master of Education in School Counseling Online


Chadron State College offers one of the top online school counseling programs in the U.S. Graduates are prepared to apply for Nebraska state certification as a school counselor or Licensed Mental Health Practitioner. The program also offers optional coursework to prepare students for state certification as a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor. Requirements for field experience vary depending on which concentration students choose in their coursework, but because requirements are often extensive, CSC does not recommend working full time while pursuing their online master's in counseling.

#2 Southeastern Oklahoma State

Durant, OK

Online Master of Education in School Counseling


The online school counseling program at Southeastern Oklahoma State University offers six start dates throughout the academic year, allowing prospective students to work on their degree at their convenience. The program's coursework can be completed in as few as twelve months (42 credits), though students are required to complete two clinical experiences after finishing their classes, one of which must include 100 hours of work and at least 40 hours of client contact. Courses include social diversity in counseling, career counseling, and a group counseling lab class.

#1 North Carolina Central University

Durham, NC

Master of Arts in School Counseling


North Carolina Central University offers one of the best online school counseling programs in the country. This program, which trains students to work as K-12 counselors, is 60 credit hours. Over the course of the degree, students fulfill all training requirements for state licensure as dictated by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Coursework prepares students to work with all children, including those with special needs, offering classes about counseling children and adolescents, effectively using group therapy, a supervised practicum, and an internship.

Methodology: A list of schools offering select counseling programs as Distance Education was gathered using College Navigator. From this list, each school's regional accreditation was gathered and only schools that were regionally accredited remained. We evaluated each program's website to confirm they were offered online and gathered tuition information. Programs were ranked by tuition.

Read more: 30 Best Master's Degrees in Student Affairs and College Counseling

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