Best CACREP-Accredited Online Master’s in School Counseling Programs 2021

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Online master’s in school counseling programs prepare graduates to help K-12 students overcome academic and social challenges. School counseling degrees typically require 2-3 years of study, including a field experience. Online course delivery may be asynchronous, allowing learners to study at their convenience; synchronous, on a set schedule; or a combination of the two. Field experiences must be completed in-person.

Master’s in school counseling curricula cover topics like abnormal psychology, group counseling, school counseling program management, multicultural counseling, and professional practice. Programs may culminate in a capstone project and a presentation, or a thesis.

Applicants should ensure that their prospective program holds accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). CACREP-accredited programs meet rigorous academic standards, and some state licensing boards require CACREP-approved degrees. Check out our guide to CACREP-accredited programs to learn about our ranking methodology and find the best school for you.

Methodology

View ranking methodology here.

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

Top CACREP-Accredited Online Master’s in School Counseling Programs

Rank School Location
1 North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC
2 University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, LA
3 Southern Arkansas University Magnolia, AR
4 North Carolina Central University Durham, NC
5 The University of Nebraska at Kearney Kearney, NE
6 Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, NC
7 St. Bonaventure University Saint Bonaventure, NY
8 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR
9 University of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks, AK
10 Regent University Virginia Beach, VA
  1. North Carolina State University
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Raleigh, NC State University's online master of education in counseling education prepares students for careers as professional school counselors. Upon graduating, learners possess the skills and knowledge necessary for promoting the academic, personal, professional, and social development of students in grades K-12. Graduates also meet North Carolina's professional licensure course requirements.

    The program's curriculum emphasizes multicultural diversity and the significance of these perspectives in counseling theory, practice, and research. Admission requirements include submitting three letters of recommendation from those who know the applicant's aptitude for graduate study and academic record.

    Students earn their master's degree online by completing a three-year study plan that requires them to attend courses year-round, including during the summer. They must also attend some on-campus weekend classes during their final year. During their final semester, students can take licensing exams in their field.

    Courses Include

    Career Counseling and Development
    Multicultural Counseling
    Theories and Tech of Counseling
    Group Counseling
    Strategies for Clinical Assessment in Counseling
    Techniques in Counseling

    Unique Features

    Cost: $446 per credit (residents); $1,295 per credit (non-residents)
    Credits Required: 60 credits
    Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

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  2. University of Louisiana at Monroe
    Location

    Monroe, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    University of Louisiana at Monroe offers an online master of science in counseling degree with a school counseling track. The program prepares students for careers in school, higher education, vocation counseling, and more.

    Graduates may qualify for LCP licensure and their school counselor certification. Admissions requirements include submitting a current resume, a letter of interest, and three letters of recommendation. After receiving and evaluating all of the student's materials, the counseling faculty may choose to conduct a video interview.

    Online classes take place year-round in eight-week sessions, allowing students to complete courses at an accelerated rate. Students must also meet clinical experience requirements via a practicum and an internship. The practicum involves at least 100 hours of field experience, while the internship requires a minimum of 600 hours spread over two semesters.

    Courses Include

    Counseling Theories
    Law and Ethics in Counseling
    Clinical Assessment and Psychometrics
    Diagnostics in Counseling
    Principles of Administration of School Counseling Programs

    Unique Features

    Cost: $500 per credit
    Credits Required: 60 credits
    Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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  3. Southern Arkansas University
    Location

    Magnolia, AR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Magnolia, Southern Arkansas University offers a hybrid version of its master of education in school counseling degree. Students typically complete the program in three years when following a year-round, two classes per semester schedule. Students prepare for careers as professional school counselors while fulfilling Arkansas's K-12 school counseling licensure requirements.

    Program graduates develop a firm understanding of a child and adolescent's developmental needs. They participate in programs that connect to national standards and the American School Counselor Association's National Model.

    If students hold a valid teaching license, there's an option to earn the K-12 add-on license. Teachers can obtain this advanced credential following two 300-hour internships, one at an elementary and the other at a secondary building. The program's admission process involves submitting a letter of application to the University's Director of Counselor Education.

    Courses Include

    Foundations of School Counseling
    Ethical, Legal and Professional Issues in Counseling
    Human Development for Helping Professionals
    Counseling in a Diverse Society
    Development and Administration of School Counseling Programs

    Unique Features

    Cost: $284 (residents); $446 (non-residents) per credit
    Credits Required: 60 credits
    Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

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  4. North Carolina Central University
    Location

    Durham, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The online master of arts in school counseling available at North Carolina Central University prepares students for K-12 licensure practice as a school counselor. Students complete all experiences that the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) requires of professional school counselors. NCCU's master's in school counseling receives full accreditation by the CACREP and an endorsement by the IRCEP (International Registry of Counselor Education Programs).

    Admission requirements include a 2.7 minimum GPA, GRE scores, and two letters of recommendation. Every student enrolled in this graduate degree program works with a trained academic advisor who assists in degree planning, course registration, and university resources. Students participating in online programs receive access to future networking opportunities with North Carolina employers and beyond.

    Courses Include

    Ethical, Professional Orientation to Counseling
    Psychosocial Development
    Multicultural & Gender Issues
    Group Counseling
    Advanced School Counseling

    Unique Features

    Cost: $273.63 (residents); $921.33 (non-residents) per credit
    Credits Required: 51 credits
    Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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  5. The University of Nebraska at Kearney
    Location

    Kearney, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The master of education in school counseling at the University of Nebraska at Kearney prepares students for working directly with students who need academic guidance or other preventative or responsive services. Graduates may specialize in either elementary or secondary school counseling.

    Admission requirements include submitting an online application, official transcripts, and a resume. Students must also write an essay about their motivation for becoming a school counselor and submit three professional references. After their application passes through the Department of Counseling and School Psychology, students must participate in a CSP Department admission interview and intake process.

    While most students enter the UNK school counseling program with an undergraduate degree in education, those with a bachelor's degree in a non-education field may now pursue the school counseling degree. To do so, these students must complete an additional 12 credits of field-based teacher education training with the master's degree in school counseling program.

    Courses Include

    Theories in Counseling
    Career Counseling
    Child & Adolescent Development & Interventions
    Multicultural Counseling
    School Counseling Organization and Practice
    Ethical, Legal, and Professional Practice in School

    Unique Features

    Cost: $315 (resident); $444 (non-resident) per credit
    Credit Requirements: 43 credits
    Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, Higher Learning Commission

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  6. Wake Forest University
    Location

    Winston-Salem, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Wake Forest University offers an online master of arts in counseling with a school counseling track that prepares graduates for serving students' and their family's unique needs. Students learn from highly-regarded counseling thought-leaders while simultaneously having access to 24/7 technical support and tutoring services.

    WFU counseling program graduates boast a 95% pass rate when they take the National Counselor Examination and can find and secure internships with the university's network of industry partners.

    Applicants must provide proof of receiving a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, GRE test scores, a personal statement, and three recommendation letters. After the application goes through the review process, students participate in a virtual interview with an enrollment advisor.

    Courses Include

    Life Span Development
    Theories and Models of Counseling
    Appraisal Procedures for Counselors
    Issues in School Counseling
    School Guidance and Counseling

    Unique Features

    Cost: $1,510 per credit
    Credit Requirements: 60 credits
    Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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  7. St. Bonaventure University
    Location

    Saint Bonaventure, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    St. Bonaventure University offers an online master of science in education in school counseling to students who are passionate about guiding children through various academic, developmental, and social milestones. After participating in engaging coursework and in-field practice, graduates learn how to support primary, middle, and high school students.

    Students take foundational courses asynchronously and must also complete residency and practicum requirements to receive their degree. SBU counseling graduates find work in colleges, junior colleges, nonprofits, public and private schools, specialized education facilities, and universities. The school boasts a 98% pass rate on the licensed professional counselor exam.

    Applicants must possess a minimum 2.75 GPA from undergraduate coursework and submit transcripts, a writing sample, and two letters of recommendation. The program does not require test scores.

    Courses Include

    Abnormal Psychology
    Group Counseling
    Multicultural Counseling
    Management of School Counseling Programs
    Interventions for School and CMH Counseling

    Unique Features

    Cost: $799 per credit
    Credit Requirements: 60 credits
    Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, Middle States Commission on Higher Education

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  8. Oregon State University
    Location

    Corvallis, OR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Oregon State University's master of counseling program has an option for school counseling intended specifically for Oregon and Washington residents. The curriculum takes place in a hybrid format, with courses occurring both in-person and online.

    Face-to-face classes occur during two weekends every term in Wilsonville, Oregon. The internship and practicum course requirements during years two and three take place synchronously, which means students must participate in online courses in real-time during specific dates and times. OSU operates on a quarter-term schedule, with each term lasting 11 weeks.

    With just 18 spots in each cohort, applicants compete rigorously for admission. Students must submit letters of recommendation and a resume with their application. Evaluation criteria during admissions include the student's academic background, emotional and personal suitability, paid and volunteer experience in helping professions, and educational and professional goals. OSU recommends that applicants with an undergraduate GPA of less than 3.0 also submit GRE scores.

    Courses Include

    Leadership of School Counseling Programs
    Legal, Ethical, and Professional Issues in Counseling
    Research Methods in Education
    Social and Cultural Perspectives
    Special Education Issues

    Unique Features

    Cost: $590 per credit
    Credit Requirements: 75 quarter-credits
    Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

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  9. University of Alaska Fairbanks
    Location

    Fairbanks, AK

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The research-intensive master of education in school counseling program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks prepares students for the fast-growing field of school counseling. Along with the master's degree, students also receive certification as a school counselor upon graduation.

    Students may choose a concentration in school counseling, K-12 school counseling, or a dual concentration with clinical mental health. While students may reside anywhere, UAF specializes in meeting the unique needs of Alaska's rural communities and cultural groups.

    Admission requirements include completing a bachelor's degree, preferably in the human services field. Students must submit a statement indicating their academic goals, education, experience, motivations, personal characteristics, and intentions for earning this degree. Candidates must also submit at least three letters of recommendation and participate in an interview process.

    Courses Include

    Research in Counseling and Educational Settings
    Counseling Theories and Applications
    Developmental Interventions
    Child and Adolescent Development
    Professional Ethics
    Multicultural Counseling

    Unique Features

    Cost: $513 (resident); $1,079 (non-resident) per credit
    Credit Requirements: 48-60 credits, depending on the concentration
    Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

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  10. Regent University
    Location

    Virginia Beach, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Regent University offers a master of arts in school counseling degree both on-campus and online with residency requirements. Regent students gain real-world and solutions-focused training, all presented from a Christian worldview, to help families, students, and teachers navigate issues. Career opportunities include positions as a K-12 school counselor in private schools, public schools, or charter schools.

    Prior to graduation, students must participate in two separate week-long residencies. They must also complete a two-semester internship.

    Prerequisites for this degree program include holding a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university or college with a minimum GPA of 3.0 for all undergraduate coursework. Applicants must submit an academic background questionnaire licensure survey, as well as resumes, references, and an interview.

    Courses Include

    Counseling Children & Adolescents
    Principles of School Counseling
    Program Development & Evaluation for School Counselors
    Internship in School Counseling

    Unique Features

    Cost: $710 per credit
    Credit Requirements: 60 credits
    Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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Applying to a CACREP-Accredited Online Master’s in School Counseling Program

Educational prerequisites for online school counseling programs usually consist of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Although schools may prefer a degree in counseling or related fields like psychology, many accept candidates with sufficient prior coursework in psychology, statistics, and biology. Similarly, a program may not define a minimum GPA, but the most competitive applicants maintain a 3.5 GPA.

Programs may also request transcripts, GRE scores, a personal statement, a resume, and letters of recommendation.

Most states require school counselors to be licensed, and some also mandate teaching credentials and/or 1-2 years of school counseling or classroom experience. School counselors obtain licensure by passing a state examination or a standardized exam like Praxis.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much do school counselors make?

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, school and career counselors earn an annual median salary of $57,040. Elementary and secondary school counselors make $67,670 a year. School counselors earn the highest salaries in California, New Jersey, Maryland, New York, and Washington, D.C.

  • What is accreditation and why is it important?

    Many states and employers require or prefer school counselors with a master’s degree from a CACREP-accredited program or one approved by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Accreditation ensures that programs implement uniform standards and uphold rigorous academic criteria. It also facilitates interstate licensing reciprocity.

  • Is a school counselor a good job?

    School counseling appeals to those who want to help young people succeed academically, socially, and developmentally. The pay may not support a lavish lifestyle, but provides a comfortable living. School counselors may even enjoy summers off. Opportunities should increase in the profession, with an 8% projected job growth rate from 2019-29.

  • What can I do with a master's in counseling?

    In addition to school counseling, a master’s in counseling leads to positions as career counselors, marriage and family counselors, mental health counselors, and substance abuse counselors. Other potential occupations include therapist and social worker. Counselors, therapists, and social workers find jobs in healthcare facilities, private practice, and government agencies.

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