These top accredited programs in an online master’s in school counseling can lead to a fulfilling counseling career. A school counselor can help students improve their academic and social abilities. School counselors can evaluate a student’s strengths and weaknesses, provide guidance on mitigating conflict, and help students reach their academic and career goals.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), student counselors received an average annual salary of $61,000 in 2019. The BLS also projects rapid growth in student counseling employment rates with an 8% change from 2019 to 2029.
Online master’s in school counseling degrees prepare learners for their careers by testing their skills in helping students manage emotions, plan for the future, and develop healthy habits. A master’s degree in school counseling takes an average of 2-3 years to complete.
If you are interested in a master’s in school counseling, then check out the list below for the most affordable online programs.
Top 10 Accredited Online Master’s in School Counseling Degrees Ranked by Affordability
||University of Louisiana at Monroe
||University of Montana
||University of Mississippi
||University of Alabama at Birmingham
||Old Dominion University
||Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
||Jacksonville State University
||Kansas State University
||Virginia Beach, VA
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.
University of Louisiana at Monroe
UL's school counseling program engenders a collaborative environment in which students can learn the skills, attitudes and knowledge necessary to become counseling practitioners. Graduates will find a variety of employment opportunities in K-12 schools and other public agencies as counselors, administrators or consultants. The curriculum entails 60 credit hours which include core classes in counseling theory and techniques, classes in the concentration area of school counseling, and supervised practicum and internship experiences.
- Ranking by U.S. News and World Report: 103
- Tuition: $5,046
The University of Montana realizes that school counselors play an important role in the education of youth. To facilitate interested degree candidates, UM offers a hybrid program of online and on-campus coursework for completion of its master's in school counseling. The degree encompasses 51 credits of study coordinated with CACREP standards, and 700 hours of school counseling experience under supervision, of which 600 hours must be within a qualified school setting. At the end of the program, graduates will be eligible for Montana state licensure.
- Ranking by U.S. News and World Report: 145
- Tuition: $5,513
University of Mississippi
Since 1848, Ole Miss has grown from a starting class of 80 students to a university of more than 21,500 degree seekers. The school counseling track for the M.Ed. covers 48 credit hours and focuses on development and application of basic counseling skills, demonstration of clinical competencies, and participation in supervised practicum and internship experiences. Upon program completion, graduates will have the minimum requirements necessary to hold a job as a licensed public school counselor.
- Ranking by U.S. News and World Report: 79
- Tuition: $6,660lip>
University of Alabama at Birmingham
The M.A. with a school counseling concentration embraces the holistic involvement of parents, teaching staff, administrators, and students to encourage positive educational experiences that enhance academic achievement and personal growth. From this perspective, school counselors act as academic mentors, program facilitators, and resource coordinators. Program candidates take 49 credit hours in foundational courses related to counseling, psychology, group dynamics, vocational and career planning, and educational issues for all public school settings. Twelve semester hours will be spent in two supervised practicums and an internship.
- Ranking by U.S. News and World Report: 123
- Tuition: $6,804
ODU is recognized for its rigorous academic programs, dynamic public research, and preparing students for leadership roles in their careers and communities. The diversified M.S.Ed in Counseling offers several specializations, including one in School Counseling and one in College Counseling. Students are required to complete 60 course credits, a practicum of 100 hours, an internship of 600 hours, and a comprehensive examination. Successfully completing the specialization in school counseling results in licensure by the Virginia State Department of Education as a counselor in the public school setting. Completion of the college counseling specialization enables graduates to work at institutions of higher learning or prepares them to continue with further professional studies in the field.
- Ranking by U.S. News and World Report: 42
- Tuition: $7,427
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Edinboro is a well-known regional university regarded for its dedication to educating students who will give back to their communities through their careers. The Master of Educational Psychology provides a pathway for graduates to become diverse practitioners in the field by combining theoretical and practical approaches to the integrated disciplines of psychology and education. The degree spans 30 credits of core and elective courses and requires satisfactory completion of a comprehensive examination.
- Ranking by U.S. News and World Report: 72
- Tuition: $7,956
Auburn's counselor education program strives to address the psychological, environmental and social barriers that affect educational achievement and personal growth. Combined with meaningful clinical experiences, this master's degree delivers the foundational counseling concepts required for graduates to work as professional counselors in public or private school settings. The program of study requires a minimum of 48 credit hours and the completion of a practicum and an internship in career-related settings.
- Ranking by U.S. News and World Report: 6
- Tuition: $8,262
Jacksonville State University
Jacksonville State has built a school counseling program designed to prepare graduates with the skills to develop counseling programs within schools, coordinate consultation and intervention efforts, and provide counseling services for children and adolescents in groups and individual sessions. The program's flexible format allows currently employed personnel to complete a professional degree. Alternatively, students may take an on-campus program for a Master of Science in School Counseling.
- Ranking by U.S. News and World Report: 96
- Tuition: $8,376
Kansas State, or K-State, has grown into one of the nation's most recognized institutions of higher learning. Its graduate programs are highly regarded and the M.S. with an emphasis in School Counseling provides students with a conceptual framework to develop the knowledge and 21st century skills required to mentor and guide students in educational settings. The program consists of 48 credit hours covering foundational counseling principles, research and assessment protocols, and clinical experiences.
- Ranking by U.S. News and World Report: 72
- Tuition: $8,402
Virginia Beach, VA
Regent University offers a spiritually-based Christian approach to the field of counseling. The degree readies graduates for licensure eligibility and employment in a number of settings, including public and private schools, mental health facilities, public agencies and private organizations. In addition to CACREP accreditation, Regent's also holds accreditation by the American Psychological Association and is a member of the Quality Matters Program, which oversees quality assurance for online education. Coursework requires 60 credit hours of classes and is completed in two years on average.
- Ranking by U.S. News and World Report: 36
- Tuition: $17,040
Applying to an Online Master’s in School Counseling Degree
To become a student or career counselor, professionals need a master’s degree for the advanced levels of knowledge and training needed to help students with difficult problems. An applicant wanting to apply to one of these online school counseling programs should typically expect to provide a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA, at least one letter of recommendation, and a personal statement.
The required bachelor’s degree for a school counseling career can be in a related field with similar coursework. An applicant should also prepare to submit a teaching certificate, GRE scores, writing samples, and a certain amount of classroom experience for admission. Additionally, prospective students may be asked to participate in an interview.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which industries employ the most school counselors?
Elementary and secondary schools employ the most student counselors, with the BLS reporting 146,430 counselors working in this sector as of May 2019. Colleges, universities, and professional schools follow elementary schools with 70,480 counselors employed.
What is accreditation and why is it important?
An accredited institution goes through a review process from an outside association that evaluates whether a program meets a set of qualifying standards. Some of the most prominent accrediting bodies in student counseling include the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs and the National Association of School Psychologists. Both review counseling program content, staff experience, and other professional standards.
How long does it take to complete a master's in school counseling?
Most master’s in school counseling online programs take 2-3 years for a full-time student to complete and 3-4 years for a part-time student. Some programs provide an accelerated course that can shorten the amount of time it takes. A master’s in school counseling generally offers different concentrations, such as professional practice, abnormal psychology, and group counseling.
Can you become a school counselor without a master's degree?
A school counselor needs to have at least a master’s degree to apply for a professional school position. An ideal path toward becoming a school counselor requires a bachelor’s degree in psychology followed by obtaining a master’s in professional counseling.