Top 10 Most Affordable Master's Degrees in Counseling in the Midwest

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Updated June 24, 2024

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Explore our ranking of the most affordable master's degrees in counseling in the Midwest.

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Are you ready to discover your college program?

Whether you have a counseling-related bachelor's degree or want to transition into the field, an affordable master's in counseling from a Midwestern program can launch your career as an in-demand professional.

According to KFF data, as of April 2024, the Midwest has a shortage of more than 1,800 mental healthcare practitioners. In Nebraska, for example, over 48% of the need for mental healthcare remains unmet.

Learn here about affordable master's in counseling programs in the Midwest.

Popular Online Counseling Master's Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

The Most Affordable Master's Degrees in Counseling in the Midwest

#1 Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s Degrees in Counseling in the Midwest

University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Madison, WI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $670

Out-of-State | $1,195 for Minnesota residents; $1,503 for other nonresidents

Credits to Graduate: 60

UW-Madison's master of science in counseling program focuses on service delivery, immersing students in a skills-oriented curriculum that includes extensive practicum and internship components. Potential placement settings include UW's training clinic, along with various campus- and community-based therapy centers.

The program directly prepares students for practitioner careers and satisfies the academic requirements for counseling licensure in Wisconsin. Exit survey data among program graduates reveals high levels of student satisfaction, especially regarding peer collegiality and university support for student success.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,722
Out-of-state
$37,904
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$10,728
Out-of-state
$24,054
Retention Rate
94%
Acceptance Rate
49%
Students Enrolled
49,886
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
27% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s Degrees in Counseling in the Midwest

Indiana University-Bloomington

  • Bloomington, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $469
Out-of-State | $1,576

Credits to Graduate: 60

IU-Bloomington's graduate mental health counseling and counselor education program leads to a master of science in education designation. This reflects the program's focus on human growth and development paradigms.

Required coursework balances counseling theory with its practical applications in both laboratory and clinical settings. It also includes educational inquiry, human development, and biological basis of behavior components. These features make the program suitable for students seeking to place counseling in the wider contexts of educational and developmental psychology.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,012
Out-of-state
$37,685
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$10,033
Out-of-state
$31,932
Retention Rate
90%
Acceptance Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
47,005
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s Degrees in Counseling in the Midwest

Wayne State University

  • Detroit, MI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $763
Out-of-State | $1,652

Credits to Graduate: 60

Wayne State's master of arts in counseling combines strong coverage of counseling theory with its practical applications. Students can choose from six concentrations, including art therapy, clinical mental health counseling, clinical rehabilitation, school counseling, and concentrations combining school counseling with clinical rehabilitation or clinical mental health counseling.

Alumni pass their licensure or certification exams with rates from 85%-95%. In 2023, graduates of the rehabilitation, school, and clinical mental health concentrations posted 90% job placement rates.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$13,532
Out-of-state
$31,060
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$16,920
Out-of-state
$36,650
Retention Rate
81%
Acceptance Rate
63%
Students Enrolled
24,919
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
79% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s Degrees in Counseling in the Midwest

University of Central Missouri

  • Warrensburg, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $367
Out-of-State | $733

Credits to Graduate: 60

UCM's master of science in counseling builds on undergraduate education by developing advanced, targeted skills in individual, couple, family, and group counseling. Notably, UCM also offers an education specialist (Ed.S.) counseling program for practitioners working or planning to work in scholastic settings.

The primary master of science program emphasizes clinical counseling skills, professional ethics, and career development against a strong cultural diversity and social justice backdrop. In addition to CACREP accreditation, the program is recognized by the Association for Play Therapy, and graduates have a 99% employment rate.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$8,040
Out-of-state
$16,080
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,136
Out-of-state
$16,272
Retention Rate
71%
Acceptance Rate
71%
Students Enrolled
11,637
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
51% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s Degrees in Counseling in the Midwest

Franciscan University of Steubenville

  • Steubenville, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $720
Out-of-State | $720

Credits to Graduate: 60

Franciscan's master of arts in clinical mental health counseling grounds evidence-based counseling theories and techniques in a Christian worldview. The school's alignment with the Catholic Church appeals to future practitioners interested in the therapeutic power of faith.

Using a hands-on approach, Franciscan's program includes extensive internship and practicum components that help students build and apply their developing skills in field settings. In the past three years, program graduates sitting for the standardized National Counselor Examination have posted 100% pass rates. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$29,720
Out-of-state
$29,720
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$12,600
Out-of-state
$12,600
Retention Rate
82%
Acceptance Rate
68%
Students Enrolled
3,415
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
54% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#6 Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s Degrees in Counseling in the Midwest

Webster University

  • Saint Louis, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $752
Out-of-State | $752

Credits to Graduate: 60

Webster's master of arts in counseling offers flexible learning structures that include full-time or part-time enrollment and face-to-face, fully online, and hybrid delivery formats. Students develop deep knowledge of counseling theory and techniques, supplemented by targeted coursework in human development, trauma analysis, substance abuse interventions, and family counseling.

Students can choose from concentrations in community counseling and clinical mental health counseling. Both options emphasize cultural inclusivity and critical standards of professional excellence. The community counseling emphasis is only available at Webster's campus in Geneva, Switzerland.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$28,500
Out-of-state
$28,500
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$13,500
Out-of-state
$13,500
Retention Rate
79%
Acceptance Rate
56%
Students Enrolled
3,024
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
61% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#7 Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s Degrees in Counseling in the Midwest

Missouri Baptist University

  • Saint Louis, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $724
Out-of-State | $724

Credits to Graduate: 60

MBU's master of arts in clinical mental health counseling offers an intensive academic experience that emphasizes practical, applied clinical skills. In keeping with MBU's Christian worldview, the program also explores the intersection of clinical practice and religious faith.

Students have the option of exclusively pursuing face-to-face learning in St. Louis, attending synchronous virtual courses through teleconferencing, or both. MBU's degree plan embraces year-round engagement in 16-week fall and spring semesters and eight-week summer courses, accelerating student progress toward graduation.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$29,076
Out-of-state
$29,076
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$10,670
Out-of-state
$11,102
Retention Rate
67%
Acceptance Rate
71%
Students Enrolled
5,231
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
33% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#8 Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s Degrees in Counseling in the Midwest

University of St Thomas

  • Saint Paul, MN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $842
Out-of-State | $842

Credits to Graduate: 63-66

St. Thomas's master of arts in counseling psychology combines a 48-credit core with two specialization options: co-occurring disorders (15 credits) or family psychology (18 credits). Both options offer scheduling flexibility and direct-entry paths to St. Thomas's doctor of psychology (Psy.D.) program.

Students supplement their learning with field placements, with more than 90 setting options, including university-based counseling facilities, hospitals, correctional institutions, and community clinics. St. Thomas provides all students with extensive, personalized support in landing a placement.

Though it does not currently hold specialized accreditation, the St. Thomas program fulfills the degree requirements for counseling licensure in Minnesota.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$47,274
Out-of-state
$47,274
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$23,503
Out-of-state
$23,503
Retention Rate
85%
Acceptance Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
9,336
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
44% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#9 Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s Degrees in Counseling in the Midwest

University of Kansas

  • Lawrence, KS
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $465
Out-of-State | $1,076

Credits to Graduate: 60

KU's master of science in counseling psychology offers direct paths to licensed practitioner careers and further studies at the doctoral level. The program maintains a core focus on mental health counseling and provides robust coverage of counseling theory, emerging research, and clinical techniques.

The core program covers 60 credits, with additional modules available to students seeking licensure in Kansas. Learners can also choose from comprehensive examination or thesis options, the latter of which offers students the opportunity to author an original long-form work of scholarship.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,092
Out-of-state
$26,960
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,989
Out-of-state
$23,951
Retention Rate
85%
Acceptance Rate
88%
Students Enrolled
26,708
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
53% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#10 Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s Degrees in Counseling in the Midwest

University of Iowa

  • Iowa City, IA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

Cost per Academic Year:
In-State | $12,991
Out-of-State | $31,938

Credits to Graduate: 60

UI's master of arts program in clinical mental health counseling prepares students for careers in community mental health agencies, integrated care delivery programs, private practice, and other settings. Valuable practicum and internship components feature a rich diversity of placement settings, affording learners extensive opportunities to apply their developing clinical and vocational skills.

Program graduates meet the degree requirements for professional certification by the National Board for Certified Counselors. UI also offers a master of arts program in school counseling to practitioners who wish to work with K-12 students.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$8,356
Out-of-state
$30,319
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$10,432
Out-of-state
$29,379
Retention Rate
88%
Acceptance Rate
86%
Students Enrolled
29,909
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

At BestCounselingDegrees.net, we use data from reputable sources like the U.S. Department of Education to help you find the best school for your needs. The most important metric in our rankings -- affordability -- accounts for 60% of our formula. We also consider academic quality, program offerings, online enrollment, and graduation rates.

To learn more, consult our ranking methodology.

Explore Top Counseling Programs in the Midwest by State

How Much Can You Make as a Counselor in the Midwest?

The average annual salaries for counselors in the Midwest range from $37,000-$64,000. Educational, guidance, and career counselors earn $48,640 in South Dakota, the lowest-paying state, and $64,150 in Nebraska, the highest-paying state.

North Dakota pays rehabilitation counselors the most at $56,780, and Oklahoma ranks lowest at $27,160. Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors make $45,510 in Indiana, the state paying the lowest salary, while in top-paying North Dakota, they earn $61,240.

The table below shows the 2023 median annual salaries listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for different types of counselors in the Midwestern states.

Counselor Salaries by State
State Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors Rehabilitation Counselors Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
Illinois $59,970 $45,810 $57,500
Indiana $50,670 $43,980 $45,510
Iowa $53,470 $36,670 $59,000
Kansas $51,220 $39,030 $50,990
Michigan $58,670 $39,590 $56,160
Minnesota $60,660 $45,880 $51,130
Missouri $49,460 $43,140 $48,130
Nebraska $64,150 $46,740 $58,320
North Dakota $59,470 $56,780 $61,240
Ohio $63,000 $44,700 $50,580
Oklahoma $49,520 $27,160 $57,190
South Dakota $48,640 $44,140 $48,520
Wisconsin $60,460 $37,340 $58,740
Source: BLS, May 2023

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Master's in Mental Health Programs

How do you become a counselor in the Midwest?

Licensed professional counselors need a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as psychology or social work, a master's degree in counseling from an accredited program, national certification as a professional counselor, and state licensure.

It takes about seven years to become a licensed professional counselor, including earning a four-year bachelor's and three-year master's degree. These timelines can vary if you have college transfer credits, enroll in an accelerated or self-paced online counseling master's program, or study part-time. You should also allow time to study for and pass the national certification exam for licensure.

Look for master's in counseling programs with Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs (CACREP) accreditation. CACREP regularly reviews counseling master's curricula to ensure academic quality and adherence to national standards. State licensing boards require degrees from CACREP-accredited programs.

Even if you attend a school with one of the cheapest master's in counseling programs, you can still qualify for financial aid. Types of aid include federal loans, grants, work-study, and loan forgiveness plans. Also, check for scholarships offered by the school or department, private donors, and state and local sources.

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