Top Accredited Online Master’s in School Counseling Degrees Ranked by Affordability

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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.

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.

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.

  1. Southern Arkansas University-Main Campus
    Location

    Magnolia, AR

    Tuition

    $13203

    Located in Magnolia, SAU's main campus offers a master of education in school counseling. The program equips students with licensure for K-12 school counseling in Arkansas and most states. Out-of-state students should verify licensing requirements for their state.

    Students learn to tackle the developmental needs of adolescents and children through a balance of theoretical emphasis and practical application. Students graduate after completing the required 48 credit hours, maintaining a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. The program takes 2.5-3 years to complete and offers hybrid and online learning.

    For students who already hold teaching licensure, the K-12 add-on licensure is available with a 300-hour internship at an elementary and secondary building, totaling 600 hours.

    Applicants must email a letter of application to the director of the school counseling program. The letter should include personal and academic background, reasons for choosing counseling, any relevant experience, and reasons for choosing SAU.

    Courses Include

    Foundations of School Counseling | Introduction to the Counseling Profession | Ethical, Legal and Professional Issues in Counseling | Human Development for Helping Professionals | Career Counseling: Theory and Practice | Counseling Children and Adolescents

    Unique Features

    Cost: $293/credit (in state); $459/credit (out of state)
    Credits Required: 48 credits
    Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educational Providers, Higher Learning Commission

  2. Southeastern Oklahoma State University
    Location

    Durant, OK

    Tuition

    $8490

    With its main campus centrally located between Dallas, Texas and Oklahoma City, SOSU offers a master of education in school counseling to students with current teaching certificates. Students obtain their degrees at their own pace, entirely online.

    The program analyzes child development and assessment, diversity, and psychopathology. SOSU prepares students for careers as school, guidance, academic, or college counselors, career service directors, or academic advisors.

    Candidates should hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university demonstrating a minimum 2.0 GPA. They should also have a current teaching certificate and submit an application with the $55 application fee, academic records, and a recent English proficiency test.

    SOSU's school counseling program is accredited by The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and the Commission of the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability (OEQA).

    Courses Include

    Human Growth and Development in Counseling | Career Counseling and Development | Social and Cultural Diversity Issues in Counseling | Psychopathology and Treatment Planning in Counseling | Counseling Children and Adolescents

    Unique Features

    Cost: $11,130
    Credits Required: 42 credits
    Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, Commission of the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability

  3. North Carolina State University at Raleigh
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $14771

    A leading public research university, NC State offers a master's degree in school counseling. Since its development in 1946, the counselor education program at NC State emphasizes competence in theory and practice, preparing students for work as professional school counselors. Students graduate with the skills necessary to promote the academic, social, and personal development of students in grades K-12.

    Students can complete courses in person or online, and they can finish the program in as little as two years. The online option requires year-round, part-time learning that takes three years to complete. The final semester requires some on-campus learning. Students gain hands-on experience in a K-12 setting by completing a 100-hour practicum and 600 internship hours.

    Students receive iPad minis for use during the program to offer one-on-one learning. Upon graduation, students meet the requirements for North Carolina school counseling licensure and the LPCA.

    To apply, students must submit the online application, a departmental application form, a resume, an application fee, GRE and MAT scores, three recommendation letters, and official postsecondary education transcripts. Students applying to the online option must be residents of North Carolina.

    Courses Include

    Orientation to Professional Counseling, Identity, and Ethics | Career Counseling and Development | Multicultural Counseling | Theories and Tech of Counseling | Strategies for Clinical Assessment in Counseling

    Unique Features

    Cost: $533/credit (in state); $1,532/credit (out of state)
    Credits Required: 34 credits
    Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

  4. SUNY Oneonta
    Location

    Oneonta, NY

    Tuition

    $15012

    A mid size, public, four-year college in central New York, Oneonta offers small class sizes with student-faculty interaction. Oneonta offers students an MS in education in school counseling K-12, conferring certification recognized by the New York State Education Department.

    For students looking to advance their education beyond a master's degree, the university offers a certificate of advanced study. Students learn to become school leaders and advocates for educational equality.

    Students must fulfill 48 credits and all degree requirements within six years, while maintaining a GPA of 3.0 or above. Students must complete a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship. A minimum score of 70% in all subsections of the required comprehensive exam is required to graduate.

    To apply, students must submit an online application, official transcripts from an earned bachelor's degree, two letters of recommendation, and an essay mentioning areas of academic interest and career goals. Students who meet these requirements interview with counselor education faculty.

    Courses Include

    Career Development | Human Development Across the Lifespan | Counseling Theories | Counseling Techniques | Counseling Practicum

    Unique Features

    Cost: $11,310/program (in state); $13,572/program (out of state)
    Credits Required: 48 credits
    Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education, National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education

  5. The University of Louisiana at Monroe
    Location

    Monroe, LA

    Tuition

    $9455

    Located in Monroe, the largest city in Northeast Louisiana, ULM offers small class sizes with a student-to-teacher ratio of 19-to-1. The master of science in school counseling degree prepares students for careers as K-12 school counselors, school counselor certification, and LPC licensure. Students train with supervised experiences to prepare to become collaborators, advocates, and leaders, working with students in multicultural and diverse communities.

    Students in the counseling program at ULM study the most current, research-supported theoretical orientations, school models, and treatment approaches. Students become trained research consumers, developing skills to critique research studies and utilize evidence-based research treatments.

    Focus areas include pediatric and marriage and family. Students can choose a combined track, choosing two tracks from the following options: school, addiction, and mental health counseling.

    To apply, students must submit a graduate school application, all graduate and undergraduate transcripts, and GRE scores. A cumulative 2.75 GPA is required to apply. Counseling program applicants must also submit a resume, a letter of interest, and three letters of recommendation. Chosen applicants interview with the counseling faculty.

    Courses Include

    Counseling Theories | Methods of Counseling | Law and Ethics in Counseling | Lifespan Development | Multicultural Counseling

    Unique Features

    Cost: $9,309/year
    Credits Required: 60 credits
    Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges


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.


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