Most Affordable Online Master's in School Counseling Programs

Updated June 22, 2023

A master's in school counseling paves the way to a rewarding career helping students. Earning your school counselor degree online can be an affordable option. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Our rankings use our methodology to compile a list of the most affordable online master's in school counseling programs. Counseling programs prepare professionals for fulfilling careers advising students who need help with academic and social challenges. Distance learning offers the same quality education as on-campus programs, but saves time and commuting costs.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), school counseling professionals earn a median annual salary of $57,040. Job prospects look promising for school counselors, particularly in California, New York, and Texas. The BLS projects that jobs for school counselors will grow 8% between 2019-2029.

Online school counseling programs may include self-paced asynchronous or scheduled synchronous classes, along with an in-person supervised internship at a local K-12 school. Students can graduate with their online master's in school counseling in 2-3 years.

A typical school counselor degree curriculum includes coursework in research methods and data analysis, school counseling ethics, and student affairs. Programs may culminate with a seminar and/or thesis project. This list provides more information about affordable programs in school counseling, including typical application requirements.

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Applying to an Affordable Online Master's in School Counseling Program

Common admission requirements for online school guidance counselor programs include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university, transcripts, a resume or CV, and 2-3 letters of recommendation from professors or work supervisors. Applicants must also submit a personal statement that discusses their academic and professional goals, relevant prior experience, and reasons for choosing to pursue a master's in school counseling.

Some programs may require GRE scores. Programs usually don't require specific undergraduate majors, but prefer applicants with counseling degrees and prior coursework in biology, psychology, and statistics.

Most schools list minimum GPAs of 2.7-3.0, but competitive candidates possess higher undergraduate GPAs. Some school counseling programs look for applicants with teaching experience and/or credentials and may also require a background check.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to become a school counselor?

School counselors spend about four years earning their bachelor's degree, 2-3 years obtaining their master's degree, and 1-2 years logging teaching or classroom experience, either pre- or post-master's. States have varying licensure requirements, but all require school counselors to hold a license. Completing the entire process can take 8-9 years.

What is accreditation and why is it important?

Students should ensure that their online master's in school counseling program holds accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). CACREP accreditation ensures that the program's curriculum and internship components comply with state licensing standards. Employers tend to prefer applicants who graduate from CACREP-approved programs.

Is an online master’s in school counseling a good degree?

Most state boards require licensure applicants to hold master's degrees in school counseling. Earning the degree allows graduates to pursue licensing and work in K-12 schools. Students interested in helping children and teens succeed in school should find obtaining their online master's in school counseling to be worthwhile.

What can I do with a master’s in school counseling?

School counselor degree-holders find positions helping students in elementary, middle, and high schools. Depending on the age group, typical duties include guidance on behavioral issues, academic struggles, bullying, and selecting careers and colleges. Counselors also advise teachers, school staff, and families on helping students succeed.

Most Affordable Online Master’s in School Counseling Programs

View ranking methodology here.
  1. Morehead State University

    Morehead, KY



    MSU, based in Morehead, Kentucky, offers an online master's in school counseling that prepares graduates for Kentucky provisional certification in preK-12 counseling. Enrollees can complete the degree in two years, including a practicum.

    Students must pass a comprehensive written final exam to graduate. Course delivery follows an asynchronous format where distance learners can access lecture and course materials on their own schedules. Online resources include library and bookstore access, tutoring, and academic advising.

    Each applicant must possess a baccalaureate GPA of 2.75 or a master's GPA of 3.0, along with a GRE verbal and quantitative score of 286 and a minimum 143 verbal score or an MAT raw score of 33.

    Courses Include

    • Advanced Human growth and development
    • Measurement principles and techniques
    • Practices and techniques in counseling
    • Psycho-social and multicultural counseling
    • Research methods in education

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $570 per credit
    • Credits Required: 36
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  2. Harding University

    Searcy, AR

    Students can earn a master's degree in professional school counseling at Searcy, Arkansas' Harding University, which equips graduates with strategies and competencies needed to help K-12 students in Arkansas schools.

    Prospective students need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school, along with transcripts demonstrating either a master's degree, a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or higher, or a 2.75 GPA for the last 60 undergraduate hours for admission. An applicant must also possess a current teaching license or test scores, e.g., 380 on the MAT, 900 combined quantitative and verbal on the GRE, along with submitting reference letters and a resume. Each candidate also completes a personal interview and writing prompt.

    Courses Include

    • Career counseling
    • Crisis, abuse, and trauma counseling
    • Data-informed evaluation for school improvement
    • Legal and ethical issues in counseling
    • Practical use of the DSM

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $575 per credit
    • Credits Required: 48
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
  3. New York University

    New York, NY

    NYU, located in New York City, includes a master's in school counseling among its online programs. Each enrollee can complete their degree in as little as 18 months, which includes labs, a 100-hour practicum, and a 600-hour internship. Graduates can qualify for nationwide certification but should check their state's requirements.

    The curriculum emphasizes equity and social justice through interactive weekly online sessions, and students can opt to specialize in bilingual school counseling. NYU's admission requirements include a statement of purpose, a resume, transcripts, and two letters of recommendation. The admissions process does not require GRE scores.

    Courses Include

    • Assessment of children and adolescents
    • Development of immigrant-origin youth
    • Drug and alcohol education/school violence prevention/child abuse recognition
    • Language development
    • Sexual decision-making and risk-taking in adolescence

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $1,867 per credit
    • Credits Required: 48
    • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education; Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council
  4. Angelo State University

    San Angelo, TX



    The master of science in professional school counseling at ASU, based in San Angelo, Texas, prepares graduates for careers as Texas K-12 counselors. Asynchronous online course delivery allows students to access class materials on their own schedules. Distance learners interact with classmates and instructors through email, chat rooms, and discussion boards. Internships and practicums must be completed in person.

    Admission requires transcripts demonstrating a bachelor's degree with a 2.75 GPA. An applicant planning to obtain Texas counselor certification must possess two years of teaching experience at an accredited public school prior to taking the examination. ASU boasts that 88% of its students receive financial aid in some form.

    Courses Include

    • Dysfunctional behavior
    • Professional writing for educators
    • Roles of the school counselor
    • Social and cultural influences
    • Tests and measurements

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $779 per credit in-state; $1,188 out-of-state
    • Credits Required: 48
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation
  5. University of the Southwest

    Hobbs, NM

    Hobbs, New Mexico's USW counts a master of science in education, school counseling among its many online programs. Distance learners participate in practicums and internships in person but can complete asynchronous courses on their own schedules.

    Graduates emerge ready to foster interactions and break down barriers among K-12 students and their school environments, assisting in achieving their academic and career goals. The curriculum prepares students for the New Mexico school counseling licensure exam.

    A prospective master's in school counseling student must hold a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 from a regionally accredited institution. Admission requirements include a 500-word personal essay and a professional resume. USW reports that over 80% of students receive some kind of financial aid.

    Courses Include

    • Career development
    • Child and adolescent counseling
    • Counseling ethics
    • Counseling theories and techniques
    • Group and family counseling

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $625 per credit
    • Credits Required: 42
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  6. University of North Dakota

    Grand Forks, ND



    Located in Grand Forks, UND offers a master's-level K-12 school counselor degree online. The program trains graduates to advise on academic and career issues, along with helping students with social and emotional challenges. Enrollees can complete coursework entirely online, with required in-person attendance for practicums in students' home communities.

    Admission requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school, undergraduate coursework in abnormal psychology and developmental psychology, and a 2.75 GPA (or 3.0 for the last two years of undergraduate work). Each applicant must submit a personal statement, responses to questions, three recommendation letters, and a resume. Candidates may participate in online interviews.

    Courses Include

    • Assessment in counseling
    • Group theory and process
    • Lifespan development in counseling
    • School counseling and program management
    • Trauma and crisis counseling

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $800 per credit
    • Credits Required: 60-65
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation
  7. Wake Forest University

    Winston-Salem, NC

    Students at Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, can earn an online master's in school counseling degree to work with K-12 students. Wake Forest reports a 95% pass rate on the National Counselor Examination. The curriculum includes online instruction and in-person clinical experience.

    Each student completes a pre-internship practicum in a school or community setting, followed by a 600-hour internship in a local school. Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited school with a 2.5 GPA, a GRE writing score of at least 300, a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, and a virtual interview.

    Courses Include

    • Addiction counseling
    • Appraisal procedures for counselors
    • Consultation and program development in counseling
    • Counseling children
    • Group procedures in counseling

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $1,510 per credit
    • Credits Required: 60
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
  8. Arkansas Tech University

    Russellville, AR



    The affordable school counseling and leadership master's program at ATU blends cohort-based online learning with monthly in-person meetings at its Russellville campus and internships at local schools. Internships include 600 hours of direct services and completion of action plans, case studies, and group counseling sessions with K-12 students. ATU boasts a 100% pass rate for its students on the school counselor PRAXIS exam.

    Admission requires a teaching license or a bachelor's degree in psychology, rehabilitation science, or sociology from an accredited institution. Applicants without teaching licenses provide test scores from the PRAXIS 1, CORE, or ACT with writing. Candidates with a master's degree can also submit GRE scores.

    Courses Include

    • Action research and data analysis for higher-performing schools
    • Assessment and Appraisal
    • Principles of curriculum development
    • School organization and leadership for the counselor
    • Teaming, collaboration, and advocacy

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $292 per credit in-state; $584 out-of-state
    • Credits Required: 45
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation
  9. North Carolina State University at Raleigh

    Raleigh, NC



    The NC State online master's in school counseling adopts a school-college-community collaboration model of student preparation. Distance learners study part-time for three years within cohorts. Enrollees can complete their courses online, but during their final year, they must take some weekend classes on the university's Raleigh campus.

    A 100-hour practicum and 600 internship hours require in-person participation in a local school. Graduates qualify to take North Carolina school counseling licensure exams. Online learners must reside in North Carolina. Admission requirements include GRE or MAT scores, a resume, three recommendations, official transcripts.

    Courses Include

    • Group counseling
    • Multicultural counseling
    • Orientation to professional counseling, identity, and ethics
    • Special problems in guidance
    • Theories and tech of counseling

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $462 per credit
    • Credits Required: 60
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs; Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation
  10. Sul Ross State University

    Alpine, TX



    Based in Alpine, Texas, Sul Ross includes a child, adolescent, and school counselor track among its affordable master of education in counseling options. Each enrollee completes synchronous online courses, along with a 100-hour practicum at Rio Grande College clinic and 600 internship hours at an accredited school.

    All counseling graduate students must take a research methodology course and pass a comprehensive oral exam. Graduates qualify to take the National Counselor Examination.

    Admission materials include official transcripts demonstrating a baccalaureate degree, GRE scores, and a life statement, along with the completion of an interpersonal communication inventory, the interpersonal reactivity index, and informed consent forms. Applicants also interview with faculty.

    Courses Include

    • Bilingual and bicultural counseling
    • Counseling at-risk youth
    • Mindfulness-based approaches
    • Personality and counseling theories
    • Principles of advanced human growth and development

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $225 per credit in-state; $634 out-of-state
    • Credits Required: 60
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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