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

Best Counseling Degrees - Top Online Master's Programs

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By: BCD Staff
June 2017

Earning your masters in student affairs online allows you to enter a career in higher education that helps learners successfully complete their college and university studies with the support they require. Whether you opt to pursue a career in college admissions, financial aid, residence life, or counseling services, completing your online masters in higher education and student affairs equips you with the academic and emotional intelligence these positions require. As the world of higher education expands to include on-campus and online enrollment, more students means an increased need for professionals who can help ensure the smooth execution of important administrative functions. You strengthen these competencies in a master's in counseling program. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also offers good news about occupations in school and career counseling, anticipating a 13% growth by 2026. This surge significantly outpaces the expected average growth for all occupations by that year (7%).


Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, NC

Wake Forest University offers an online Master of Arts in Human Services. This degree is designed to provide counseling skills for working with diverse populations and administration skills for running non-profits and human services. Graduates will leave the program with a diverse set of skills ready to take on leadership positions in their chosen career. Students will complete a combination of foundation and core courses for 39 credits designed specifically for their specialty in Human Services.

Careers: graduates with the Master of Arts in Human Services from Wake Forest University have gone on to pursue a careers in a variety of settings including but not limited to: social services director; volunteer coordinator; non-profit administrator; behavioral health case manager; and program manager.

  • Graduate Tuition: $1,380 / Credit Hour
  • Credits Required: 39

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Angelo State University

San Angelo, TX

Among the nation's leading online masters in higher education and student affairs ranks the M.Ed. in guidance and counseling at Angelo State University. It prepares those who want to enter careers in college and university counseling, public school counseling, and related professions. Requiring at least 36 semester credits for graduation, this program includes coursework in research, professional writing, and social and cultural influences. Students can complete all studies fully online in eight-week classes, which means they can earn their degree in less than two years. Enrolling in and finishing all required classes prepares them to sit for the Professional Certificate for School Counselors exam.

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Kansas State University

Manhattan, KS

The Department of Special Education, Counseling and Student Affairs at Kansas State University offers an online Master of Science in Academic Advising. This graduate degree is designed to prepare graduates to provide academic and career advising to college students. The program emphasizes a commitment to theory and research in advising. To fulfill the graduate program requirements students will complete coursework and a final project. Graduates will be prepared to work with diverse populations in community college and four year college and university settings.

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.

  • Graduate Tuition: $551.60 / Credit Hour
  • Credits Required: 30

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Arkansas Tech University

Russellville, AR

Arkansas Tech University offers a Master of Science in College Student Personnel Services that is available fully online. The program provides training and education to students through coursework, field experiences, and mentorship. Admission is available throughout the year in the fall, spring, and summer allowing students to begin the program on the schedule that best meets their personal needs. For students who are interested, in advising certificate is available for an additional 15 credits with courses that include: counseling theories and helping skills; advising student groups; academic advising; and career advising.

Courses include: student development theory; college students and subcultures; legal issues for professionals in college student personnel; counseling theories and helping skills; assessment and evaluation in higher education; administration in college student personnel; ethical leadership in higher education; advising student groups; academic advising; and career counseling; diversity and inclusion in student affairs.

  • Graduate Tuition: $548 / Credit Hour
  • Credits Required: 36

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Indiana State University

Terre Haute, IN

The Master of Science in Student Affairs and Higher Education is available online at Indiana State University. Students in the online program can complete the 39 credits in three years of study. Students will be required to complete three courses at a traditional university in the classroom, students will collaborate with their advisor to have the credits transferred to Indiana State University. Graduates will have a solid foundation for understanding how to work with students in two and four year colleges in areas including: student health; student recreation; career development and much more.

Courses include: legal aspects of educational administration; introduction to student affairs and higher education; student development- theory, assessment, and application; collegiate environments- theory, assessment, and application; the multicultural campus; leadership and administration in student affairs and higher education; group dynamics and leadership; techniques of interpersonal interaction; and practicum in student affairs and higher education.

  • Graduate Tuition: $499 / Credit Hour
  • Credits Required: 39

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Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Natchitoches, LA

Northwestern State University of Louisiana offers an online Master of Arts in Student Affairs in Higher Education. Students can complete this graduate degree offered through the College of Education and Human Development for only 36 credits. The program strives to be flexible to meet the needs of all students with the option to complete the program on a part-time or full-time basis and to choose electives that support the student's professional goals. Another perk of the program is that out-of-state fees are deferred for online students! Graduates will be prepared to pursue careers at community colleges, technical schools, and four year colleges and universities.

Program electives include: career and lifestyle planning; counseling theories; foundations of adult education; program development; theory and implementation of staff development; fundamentals of instructional development; sport marketing and promotion; sociology of sports; human resource management; the study of individuals with disabilities; and vocational and transitional services.

  • Graduate Tuition: $475 / Credit Hour
  • Credits Required: 36

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Southern Arkansas University

Magnolia, AR

The College of Education at Southern Arkansas University – Main Campus offers a master's in college counseling and student affairs widely considered among the top in the country. A 51-credit program that students can complete in three years if they enroll in two classes each semester and summer courses, this degree prepares them for administrative roles in student services departments within higher education institutions. These can include positions in financial aid and student housing. Learners can choose to enroll fully online or wed face-to-face instruction with web-based classes. Their studies permit an opportunity to explore counseling theories, understand the complexities of career counseling, and examine topics in counseling in a diverse society. Admission to this masters in student affairs online program requires submitting GRE, GMAT, or Miller Analogies Test scores.

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Arkansas State University

Jonesboro, AR

Offering one the most respected online masters in college counseling, Arkansas State University – Main Campus meets the demands of working learners thanks to the flexibility it ensures. The university's College of Education & Behavioral Science offers a master's in college student personnel services that equips learners for an array of positions in student services in colleges and universities. These may include roles in admissions, recreation, advisement, and financial aid. Classes include studies in higher education finance, college student development, and legal aspect of higher education. Acceptance to this program requires first completing a bachelor's degree with at least a 2.75 cumulative GPA.

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North Carolina Central University

Durham, NC

An online CACREP accredited Master of Arts in Career Counseling is available at North Carolina Central University. Students can complete the 48 credit program fully online with no residency requirements. For students who are interested in pursuing additional degrees, an opportunity to take additional coursework (on-campus) could lead to a dual degree in clinical mental health counseling or school counseling. A certification in substance abuse counseling is also available. In addition to online courses, students in the program will gain valuable clinical skills at a field placement in their local community through a practicum/ internship experience, during which they will be supported by their clinical supervisor.

Courses include: ethical, professional orientation to counseling; theories and techniques; vocational theory/career development; psychosocial development; cultural diversity and gender issues; group counseling; statistics; assessment; consultation; advanced career counseling; practicum; internship; and educational research.

  • Graduate Tuition: $889.56 / Credit Hour
  • Credits Required: 48

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North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Raleigh, NC

The College of Education at North Carolina State University at Raleigh offers an online Master of Education in College Counseling and Student Development. The online Master of Education in College Counseling and Student Development is offered to students as a three-year part-time cohort program. This CACREP accredited program emphasizes a commitment to multicultural diversity and strives to attract culturally diverse students to enhance the program and the profession of counseling overall. Graduates of the program will be prepared to work with and advocate for diverse populations in a variety of settings and contribute to the field through clinical work and research.

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; and research applied in curriculum and instruction.

  • Graduate Tuition: $416 / Credit Hour
  • Credits Required: 36

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This list was created using data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs. We looked for programs offering master's degrees in College Student Counseling and 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 that were accredited by CACREP were grouped then ranked by tuition, the remaining schools were then grouped and ranked by tuition.

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