Top 25 Small Colleges for a Counseling Degree 2018

Badge - Best Counseling Degrees - Top Small CollegesBy Kirsten Hughes

Attending a small college to get a counseling degree has many advantages. In a small school setting, you will naturally get to know your peers and develop strong connections with faculty. A one-on-one connection with a faculty member in your chosen field of study will allow for a mentoring relationship to support you in getting the most out of your education, exploring specific interest areas, work related referrals, and references for graduate school. Most of the schools on this list have student-to-faculty ratios of one faculty member for every twenty students or better.

These counseling programs allow graduates to go directly into the workforce in the human service field, and they provide a springboard for graduate study. Graduates can build careers in a number of areas including in social service agencies, addiction counseling, government organizations, and human resources. Students interested in working as professional counselors with individuals, couples, and/or families will need to complete a masters degree and the licensure process. Despite their relatively small size, many of these institutions also offer master’s degree programs in counseling and related fields. For more information on potential career paths, see Psychology and Counseling Careers and Professional Organizations.

Here are some highlights among schools in this ranking.

  • Lowest Net Price: Johnson University ($13,417)
  • Highest freshman retention rate: William Jessup University (82%)
  • Highest graduation rate: Emmaus Bible College (78%)

We have sorted this particular list by overall undergraduate graduation rate, a reflection of the priority we’re placing on an institution’s ability to see its students to the workforce or grad school in a timely fashion. That said, we encourage you to examine the richness and variety of the many excellent offerings represented here throughout the list. If you are interested, you can read more about the data and methodology used to develop this ranking.

#25 Prescott College


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Bachelor of Arts in Human Development

Prescott, AZ

Prescott College offers limited-residency options of study to accommodate a range of students with the goal of completing a B.A. without disrupting their career or family by relocating. The numerous human development degree specializations include counseling psychology, equine-assisted mental health, and therapeutic use of adventure education. Because of the variety of specializations available this undergraduate degree can lead to numerous professional opportunities. U.S. News & World Report ranked Prescott #75 in Regional Universities (West). Prescott was also named to Princeton Review Best 379 Colleges for 2014. It also offers a limited-residency Master of Science in Counseling degree program.

  • Undergraduate Population: 545
  • Graduation Rate: 38%
  • Retention Rate: 73%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $24,030

Degree Specializations Available

Counseling Psychology, Ecopsychology, Equine-Assisted Mental Health, Holistic Health, Human Services, Psychology, Therapeutic Use of Adventure Education, Women’s Studies

#24 Alaska Pacific University


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Bachelor of Arts in Counseling Psychology

Anchorage, AK

Alaska Pacific University is a liberal arts school offering a Bachelor of Arts in Counseling Psychology. This major offers unique courses from wilderness therapy to positive psychology. This program encourages students to develop diverse portfolios of counseling skills. Students participate in an internships their junior year in one of the many mental health and counseling agencies the school has partnered with in Anchorage. Alaska Pacific University is ranked among US News & World Report top 100 Regional Universities (West).

  • Undergraduate Population: 387
  • Graduation Rate: 39%
  • Retention Rate: 67%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $32,131

Sampling of Courses Available

Ecopsychology, Psychology of Women for Mystery Lovers, Therapeutic Mindfulness, Psychotherapeutic Uses of the Wilderness, Creativity, Madness and Self Expression

#23 Kentucky Christian University


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Bachelor of Science in Counseling Psychology

Grayson, KY

Kentucky Christian University aims to educate students to become Christian professionals in their fields of study. The Bachelor of Science in Counseling Psychology integrates biblical/theological knowledge with the practices of counseling. Students have the unique opportunity to attend and present papers at both secular and Christian Psychology conferences. This program prepares students for the workforce and graduate school. KCU is ranked a top regional college (south) by US News & World Report.

  • Undergraduate Population: 559
  • Graduation Rate: 39%
  • Retention Rate: 53%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $19,450

Graduates Have Gone on to these Grad Schools

Fuller Theological Seminary, Abilene Christian University, University of Rhode Island, University of Tennessee

#22 Coker College


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Bachelor of Psychology – Counseling Concentration

Hartsville, SC

A liberal arts school, Coker College offers a psychology degree with a counseling concentration. The school emphasizes discussion-based, interactive learning to promote the development of communication skills and critical thinking. The counseling concentration is designed for students interested in working with individuals, couples, and families and supporting them in dealing with challenging life events. This program is for both students seeking employment in direct services as well as for students working towards pursuing a graduate degree. The student faculty ratio is 12:1, with an average class size of 12. Coker College has been ranked among US News & World Report’s Best Colleges, and it has been listed among The Princeton Review’s Best Southeastern Colleges.

  • Undergraduate Population: 1,144
  • Graduation Rate: 43%
  • Retention Rate: 59%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $16,994

Graduates Have Gone on to these Grad Schools

The Medical University of South Carolina, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Francis Marion University, The University of South Carolina, Marymount University, Clemson University, Armstrong State University, University of Southern Illinois

#21 Kansas Wesleyan University


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Bachelor of Arts in Psychological Services

Salina, KS

Kansas Wesleyan University is a liberal arts institution that was founded in 1886. The school is founded on the Methodist tradition but welcomes students of all faiths. The Bachelor of Arts in Psychological Services is a clinical major focused on preparing graduates to pursue work or graduate school in the field of human services. This program supports students in developing counseling skills and expertise in an area of speciality. Speciality tracks include but are not limited to; addiction counseling, health and wellness, and educational counseling. The student teacher ratio is 9:1. U.S. News & World Report listed it among the top 100 Regional Colleges (Midwest).

  • Undergraduate Population: 684
  • Graduation Rate: 43%
  • Retention Rate: 62%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $21,197

Available Tracks

Addiction Counseling, Domestic Issues, Offender Management, Health and Wellness, Human Resources, Educational Counseling

#20 North Central University


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Bachelor of Arts in Alcohol and Drug Counseling

Bachelor of Science in Alcohol and Drug Counseling

Minneapolis, MN

North Central University (NCU) is a Christ-centered, Bible-based, Pentecostal institution. The School of Social and Behavioral Sciences offers a major in Alcohol and Drug Counseling. All majors at NCU are ministry focused. This program is set up to support students in becoming prepared to work in both Christian and secular settings. Graduates with this major can work towards becoming a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) a credential that has the potential to expand employment opportunities in drug and alcohol treatment settings. North Central has an overall grade of B- on

  • Undergraduate Population: 1,301
  • Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Retention Rate: 73%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $19,169

Sampling of Courses Available in the Major

Introduction to Chemical Dependency Counseling, Pharmacology for Addictions Counselors, Multicultural Counseling, Psychopathology, Alcohol & Drug Counseling Internship

#19 Arizona Christian University


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Bachelor of Behavioral Health

Phoenix, AZ

The Behavioral Health major supports students in gaining an understanding about the mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of individuals and families. The program facilitates learning through a variety of coursework and internships. Scientific reasoning, social and ethical responsibility, professional development, and biblical integration are some of the areas of emphasis in this program. Graduates of this program will be prepared for entry level professions in the mental health field and will be prepared to pursue graduate studies which can lead to licensure in counseling. Arizona Christian University was named to the Top 50 Christian Colleges 2014 by Christian Universities Online.

  • Undergraduate Population: 635
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Retention Rate: 68%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $22,670

Degree Concentrations

Behavioral Health/Counseling Emphasis, Behavioral Health with Psychology Emphasis, Behavioral Health / Family Studies Minor

#18 Toccoa Falls College


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Bachelor of Counseling Psychology

Toccoa Falls, GA

Toccoa Falls College (TFC) is a Christ-centered institution. The Counseling Psychology major at TFC prepares students for the ministry of counseling in the community and the church. Counseling skills are integrated with the principles of Scripture to support students in learning how to use their faith in the work setting. The student faculty ratio is 15:1. Faculty focus on the spiritual and academic development of students. US News & World Report named TFC among the best colleges for veterans.

  • Undergraduate Population: 870
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Retention Rate: 75%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $16,922

Sample of Courses in the Major

Christ-centered Counseling, Premarital & Marital Counseling, Group Counseling, Personality Theories, Abnormal Psychology, Tests & Measurements

#17 Viterbo University


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Bachelor in Psychology – Substance Abuse Counseling

La Crosse, WI

The psychology program at Viterbo University covers a range of areas from clinical and counseling psychology to human cognition. The opportunity to participate in internships at local agencies and on projects with faculty mentors enhances the learning experience. Students have the option to complete coursework to become a licensed substance abuse counselor. Viterbo is a Catholic, Franciscan university in the liberal arts tradition. The average class size is 16. Reviews on for Viterbo average 3.4/5.

  • Undergraduate Population: 2,079
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $17,929

#16 Point University


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Bachelor of Arts in Counseling and Human Services

Bachelor of Science in Counseling and Human Services

West Point, GA

Point University provides a Christian education. The counseling and human services program integrates the research and theories of the counseling field with a Christian worldview. Students in this program have the opportunity to participate in an internship that matches their specific interests in the field of counseling and human services. Because a graduate degree is required to become a professional counselor one of the primary goals of this program is to prepare students for graduate school. Point University is listed among US News & World Report’s top 100 regional colleges (south).

  • Undergraduate Population: 1,439
  • Graduation Rate: 48%
  • Retention Rate: 48%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $17,078

Minors available to students pursuing other majors

Counseling, Developmental Psychology, Human Services Skills

#15 Baptist Bible College & Seminary of Pennsylvania


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Bachelor of Science in Counseling

Clarks Summit, PA

Baptist Bible College provides a Christian education in counseling with the purpose of preparing men and women for Christian ministry careers. The Counseling Ministries program promotes a strong foundation in biblical knowledge preparing students to counsel in a professional or church setting. The program also aims to provide a strong foundation for graduate school and licensure. 91% of undergraduates live on campus. The school is accredited by The Association of Biblical Higher Education. Baptist Bible College also offers a Master of Science Degree in Counseling.

  • Undergraduate Population: 624
  • Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Retention Rate: 75%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $18,292

Careers Listed for Graduates

Therapeutic Staff Support (TSS) Worker, Lay Ministry Counselor, Associate Pastor, Counseling Ministry Director, Social Worker or Counselor in a Ministry Organization

#14 Alvernia University


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Bachelor of Behavioral Health

Reading, PA

Alvernia University is rooted in the Catholic and Liberal Arts traditions placing an emphasis on the value of diversity. The Behavioral Health major offers three areas of concentration. The three areas of concentration are Addictions Studies, Mental Health, and Child Welfare. This major is designed for individuals seeking expertise and employment in social service agencies supporting these areas of behavioral health. The program prepares students to enter professions providing prevention, intervention, and treatment in addiction, mental health, and child welfare. The student-to-faculty ratio is 12:1, with most classes having 20 or fewer students. Alvernia also offers a Master’s in Community Counseling.

  • Undergraduate Population: 2,371
  • Graduation Rate: 51%
  • Retention Rate: 71%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $26,264

Sampling of Courses Available

Substance Abuse and Society, Foundation of Addiction Studies, Origins of Mental Illness, Neuropharmacology, Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy, Crisis Intervention

#13 Grace University


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Bachelor of Science in Psychology

Omaha, NE

Grace University educates students in the Christian worldview integrating general education with the teachings of the Bible. Grace University offers numerous psychology programs including a concentration in Drug and Alcohol Counseling, and more listed below. The program content is presented from a Biblical perspective. Students can use this degree to enter the workforce in drug and alcohol counseling, Christian ministry and a variety of other areas involving working with people, many students go on to apply to graduate school. Grace also offers a Master of Arts in Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and a Masters of Arts in Counseling, School Counseling.

  • Undergraduate Population: 410
  • Graduation Rate: 52%
  • Retention Rate: 72%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $15,142

Available programs relating to psychology

Business and Human Resources, Christian Ministry, Community Development and Social Work, Criminal Justice, Drug & Alcohol Counseling, General Psychology, Intercultural Ministry

#12 Wheelock College


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Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Human Development

Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Human Development

Boston, MA

Wheelock College, a private college, was established in 1888. The psychology and human development major offer three areas of focus to meet the individual interests of each student. The areas of focus are Counseling Psychology, Developmental Psychology, and Children, Families and Culture. Field study is required, independent study is available, and research with faculty is encouraged. This program is recommended for students interested in pursuing graduate studies in this field.

  • Undergraduate Population: 880
  • Graduation Rate: 54%
  • Retention Rate: 66%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $29,617

Faculty Members

Detris Adelabu, Janine Bempechat, Akeia Benard, Tina Durand, Martha Eshoo, Petra Hesse, Maya Honda, Grace Kim, Peggy Li, Kathryn Portnow, William Sharp, Edwin Shriber, Eric Silverman, Francis (Lee) Stevens, Eleonora Villegas-Reimers

#11 University of Maine at Farmington


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Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Services

Farmington, ME

The University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) was established in 1864 as Maine’s first public institution of higher education. Enrollment is around 1,900 full time students. UFM offers a Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Services. In this program students gain practical skills by completing internships at three different field sites. In completing a variety of internships students gain a better understanding of the population they would like to specialize in working with. Rehabilitation counselors typically work with diverse populations in a range of settings. Additionally the school has partnered with the University of Southern Maine to offer an affordable advanced degree in counseling for students that wish to streamline their bachelors and masters degrees.

  • Undergraduate Population: 1,901
  • Graduation Rate: 55%
  • Retention Rate: 71%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $13,649

Sampling of Courses Available

Introduction to Rehabilitation Counseling and Service, Principles of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Multicultural Counseling

#10 Maryville College


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Bachelor of Psychology- Counseling Track

Maryville, TN

Maryville College is the 12th oldest college in the South and is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. The Major in Psychology-Counseling Track focuses on providing a foundation in the science of human behavior. Students in this program become prepared for graduate work in clinical psychology, counseling, marriage and family therapy and related fields. Graduates of this program can also choose to work in entry level positions providing direct services to clients in social service settings.

  • Undergraduate Population: 1,168
  • Graduation Rate: 56%
  • Retention Rate: 72%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $15,605

Sampling of Courses Available

Cognitive Psychology, Human Thought and Learning, Sensation and Perception, Child Development, Psychology of Adolescence, Language Development, Cross-Cultural Psychology, Abnormal Psychology

#9 William Jessup University


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Bachelor of Arts in Psychology – Counseling Concentration

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology – Community Mental Health Concentration

Rocklin, CA

William Jessup University aims to prepare Christians for leadership and services in church and society. Students can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with numerous choices for concentrations including a Counseling concentration and a Community Mental Health concentration. Students study through the Christian worldview in Christ-centered and faith-based courses and become prepared for vocational careers in social services and ministry and working towards a graduate degree.

  • Undergraduate Population: 1,047
  • Graduation Rate: 56%
  • Retention Rate: 82%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $19,019

Career & Internship Opportunities

Clinical Counseling, Education/Career Counseling, State/County Agency Work, Social Work, Corrections/Probation Work, Rehabilitation Counseling, Mediation/Court Advocacy, Non-Profit Leadership, Business

#8 Delaware Valley College


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Bachelor of Arts in Counseling Psychology

Doylestown, PA

The School of Business and Humanities at Delaware Valley College offers a Bachelor of Arts in Counseling Psychology. This program allows students to choose specialized coursework that meets their interests. Practical experience is gained through the Experience 360 program. The goal of this program is to integrate classroom knowledge with real world experience. Delaware Valley College, founded in 1896, places an emphasis on supporting students in “building their careers from day one”. The ratio of students to faculty is 15:1.

  • Undergraduate Population: 1,807
  • Graduation Rate: 57%
  • Retention Rate: 67%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $26,589

Sampling of Courses Available

History & Systems of Psychology, Methods of Psychological Research with Laboratory, Lifespan Development, Educational Psychology, Social Psychology and Human Interaction, Childhood Psychopathology

#7 Johnson University


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Bachelor of Arts in Human Services

Bachelor of Science in Human Services

Knoxville, TN

Johnson University, a Christian University, offers a Human Services Major emphasizing the integration of a Christian worldview. Both the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degree coursework integrate a Bible & Theology Core and Arts & Sciences Core, with concentrations available in Community & Family or in Counseling. The Community & Family concentration prepares graduates to provide direct services to individuals and families in social service or ministry settings. The Counseling concentration prepares students to work in the human services field and/ or pursue graduate studies in mental health.

  • Undergraduate Population: 830
  • Graduation Rate: 57%
  • Retention Rate: 80%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $13,417

Sampling of Courses Available

Human Development, Human Sexuality, Interviewing & Counseling Skills, Social Science Research & Writing, Abnormal Psychology, Human Services, Faith, & Ethics

#6 Emmanuel College


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Bachelor of Psychology: Counseling and Health Psychology

Boston, MA

Emmanuel College offers a psychology major in counseling and health psychology. This specialization focuses on educating students in the areas of assessment, diagnosis and treatment of child and adult psychopathology. Students are exposed to different schools of therapy as well as basic counseling skills. This program prepares graduates to work in the human services sector in a number of areas from mental health technician to case manager. Students are also prepared to pursue graduate degrees to work towards establishing careers as therapists.

  • Undergraduate Population: 2,176
  • Graduation Rate: 58%
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $30,899

Potential Career Paths Listed

Clinical Psychologist, Adult and Child Therapist, Marriage and Family Therapist, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Social Worker, Occupational Therapist, Speech Pathologist

#5 Morningside College


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Bachelor of Psychology

Sioux City, IA

Morningside College offers four specific areas of focus for psychology majors. One of the areas of focus is counseling psychology. This area of focus is designed for students with an interest in counseling, clinical or school psychology. This program will prepare graduates for pursuing graduate degrees to work towards professional licensure in the field of counseling. Morningside College is a private, four-year institution affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Morningside College has a 13:1 student faculty ratio. Reportedly, over the last three years, graduates of Morningside College have a job and graduate school placement rate of 99%.

  • Undergraduate Population: 1,305
  • Graduation Rate: 58%
  • Retention Rate: 73%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $18,985

Sampling of Courses

Abnormal Psychology, Experimental Social Psychology and Lab, Brain and Behavior Lab, History of Systems and Psychology

#4 Mid-Atlantic Christian University


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Bachelor of Arts Counseling and Psychology

Bachelor of Science Counseling and Psychology

Elizabeth City, NC

Mid-Atlantic Christian University focuses on training students to integrate counseling and the Christian worldview. This program prepares for ministry related applications such as pastoral counseling or marriage and family ministry or to go onto graduate school to work towards becoming a professional counselor. This is a four year program offered as a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science including a Biblical Studies major and a Counseling and Psychology major.

  • Undergraduate Population: 162
  • Graduation Rate: 59%
  • Retention Rate: 54%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $17,142

Sampling of Courses Available

Human Sexuality, Developmental Psychology, Crisis Counseling, Adult Lifespan and Diversity

#3 Doane College-Crete


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Bachelor of Psychology – Mental Health

Crete, NE

Doane College offers students that visit during their senior year of high school a $1,000 grant renewable for four years while attending Doane. The psychology major offers two emphasis, general psychology and mental health. This degree prepares students for a career in a variety of human service settings. Students have the opportunity to participate in semester long internships to gain credit hours and valuable interest specific experience. Doane is a US News & World Report top-200 national liberal arts college. They also offer a Master of Arts in Counseling and a Master of Arts in Counseling with School Counseling Emphasis.

  • Undergraduate Population: 1,113
  • Graduation Rate: 61%
  • Retention Rate: 78%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $21,638

Sampling of Organizations Where Students Have Completed Internships

Applied Behavioral Analysis Program (Autism), Catholic Social Services, Blue River Family Resource Center, Cedars Youth Services, CenterPointe, Inc., Community Alternatives, Crete Public Schools, Developmental Services of Nebraska, Kenexa, Lincoln Public Schools, MADD Nebraska, Nebraska State Patrol, Nebraska Health and Human Services, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital

#2 Grace College and Theological Seminary


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Bachelor of Arts in Counseling

Bachelor of Science in Counseling

Winona Lake, IN

Students can earn a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Counseling from Grace College. This program is designed to teach counseling through a biblical worldview. This major is designed to prepare students to pursue graduate degrees in counseling or clinical psychology. Grace College and Theological Seminary is an evangelical Christian school. The student teacher ratio is 24-1. A unique feature of Grace College is that they may offer continued undergraduate education cost free to qualified graduates unable to secure employment or acceptance to graduate school.

  • Undergraduate Population: 1,615
  • Graduation Rate: 61%
  • Retention Rate: 77%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $16,594

Sampling of Courses

Research Methods in Social Sciences, Biblical Psychology, Introduction to Psychology, Theories of Personality, Introduction to Counseling

#1 Emmaus Bible College


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Bachelor of Science in Bible/Theology & Counseling Psychology

Bachelor of Science Counseling Psychology

Minor in Biblical Counseling

Dubuque, IA

Emmaus Bible College offers a four year program focused on Bible/ theology, general education, and counseling psychology. This program emphasizes a number of areas including but not limited to Christian integration, theoretical knowledge, development of counseling skills within a biblical framework, and appreciation for diversity in counseling. This program is designed to prepare graduates for counseling ministry and/ or vocation. The minor in Biblical Counseling aims to provide students with a basic understanding of counseling in the biblical framework in preparation for graduate school in counseling or psychology.

  • Undergraduate Population: 187
  • Graduation Rate: 78%
  • Retention Rate: 50%
  • Net Price (2012-2013): $17,218

Sampling of Courses

Marital and Family Therapy, Methods and Techniques of Counseling, Group Dynamics of Counseling, Crisis Intervention Counseling, Ethics and Issues of Counseling

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About the Author

Kirsten Hughes is a Family Therapist, with her Master’s in Education from the University of Oregon, and has been working with youth and their families for over ten years. She relishes the opportunity to work with and support young people as they navigate change and make important life decisions in the transition from high school to college and beyond. Living in Eugene, Oregon, with her husband and two young sons, Kirsten enjoys spending time exploring the beautiful outdoors of the Pacific Northwest.

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