Low-Cost Online Master's Degrees in Student Affairs and College Counseling

Updated June 22, 2023

Earning a student affairs degree online lets working professionals progress in a growing field. Explore this ranking to find the top low-cost academic counseling master's degrees and learn how to apply.

BestCounselingDegrees.net 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.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Best Counseling Degrees Badge

Earning a master's degree in student affairs online allows counselors to excel in their careers. Most of the 333,500 school and career counselors work in elementary, middle, and high schools. Graduates also find rewarding work at colleges as well as healthcare and social assistance agencies.

Annual wages for school and career counselors vary from $34,380-$96,090. Some of the highest paid counselors make a median annual salary of $64,060 working at elementary and secondary schools.

It takes 1-2 years to earn a student affairs degree online. On average, degree seekers must complete between 30-36 credits. Learners may take courses in organization and administration, student affairs, educational research, and career counseling theory and practice.

The remote learning format makes use of a mix of synchronous and asynchronous coursework that intends to work with a student's work and family life. Online learners also benefit from flexible clinical requirements and low-cost programs that charge between $257-$860 per credit hour.

Check out the list below for more information.

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.

Top Five Low-Cost Online Master's Degrees in Student Affairs and College Counseling

  1. Southern Arkansas University

    Magnolia, AR



    Southern Arkansas University owns the top spot on our list of low-cost master's degrees in student affairs and college counseling. Listed in the Counseling and Professional Studies department, this hybrid master of education in school counseling program readies students for careers in school counseling. Using theoretical principles and hands-on experience, this degree teaches graduate students to serve the developmental needs of children and adolescents.

    After completing 600 hours of internship work at an elementary and secondary school, working teachers with a valid teaching license can obtain a K-12 add-on license. Students can complete this low-cost, 48-credit counseling master's degree in as little as 2.5 years. Applicants must submit official transcripts, a completed application, and GMAT, GRE, or MAT scores.

    Courses Include

    Counseling in a diverse society
    Assessment procedures for counselors
    Counseling children and adolescents
    Ethical, legal, and professional issues in counseling
    Group counseling

    Unique Features

    Cost: $284/credit (in state); $446/credit (out of state)
    Credits Required: 48 credits
    Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    Visit Website

  2. Southeastern Oklahoma State University

    Durant, OK



    One of the best low-cost degrees in student affairs and college counseling comes from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Operating from the Education Department, this online M.Ed. in school counseling expands on students' teaching experience to help them become career advisors, guidance counselors, and other related positions.

    With as little as 12 months of coursework, students can finish this program and begin using their new competencies to advance their careers. The 42-credit curriculum focuses on child development and assessment, psychopathology, and diversity. Applicants must hold a teacher's certificate to participate in this program, along with a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school with a 2.0 GPA.

    Courses Include

    Research in counseling
    Psychopathology and treatment planning in counseling
    Human growth and development in counseling
    Developmental school counseling
    School counseling orientation and ethical practice

    Unique Features

    Cost: $11,130/program
    Credits Required: 42 credits
    Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    Visit Website

  3. North Carolina State University

    Raleigh, NC



    North Carolina State University offers one of the top low-cost school counseling degrees in its Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development department. This online master of education in counseling education uses a school-college-community collaboration model to provide students with career-advancing knowledge and training. Graduates can aid in the individual and social development of K-12 students.

    Graduates of this three-year, part-time cohort master's degree in school counseling may pursue professional licensure in North Carolina. With an emphasis on diversity, the curriculum covers every facet of counseling theory, research, and practice for diverse student populations. Applicants must submit official transcripts and GMAT/MAT scores.

    Courses Include

    Multicultural counseling
    Strategies for clinical assessment in counseling
    Career counseling and development
    Special problems in guidance
    Theories and tech of counseling

    Unique Features

    Cost: $505/credit (in state); $1,505/credit (out of state)
    Credits Required: 60 credits
    Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

    Visit Website

  4. University of Louisiana at Monroe

    Monroe, LA



    The University of Louisiana at Monroe offers one of the top low-cost master's in school counseling degrees. As part of the College of Health Sciences department, this online master of science in counseling under the school counseling track resembles the clinical mental health track while emphasizing the K-12 school environment. This program prepares students to become advocates and leaders in changing educational normalities.

    After completing the required coursework and practicum for this academic counseling master's program, graduates become eligible for school counselor certification and the licensed professional counseling designation. The curriculum prepares students to use research in various disciplines and evidence-based treatments to serve students' needs. To apply, program candidates must show proof of a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university with a 2.75 GPA. Applicants must also submit GRE scores.

    Courses Include

    Lifespan development
    Clinical assessment and psychometrics
    Principles of administration of school counseling programs
    Multicultural counseling
    Diagnostics in counseling

    Unique Features

    Cost: $9,000/year (online)
    Credits Required: 48 credits
    Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

    Visit Website

  5. Angelo State University

    San Angelo, TX



    Angelo State University's online master of science in professional school counseling gives students the advantage of pursuing a degree from a nationally ranked university. Offered 100% online, this school counseling program features award-winning faculty members who supply students with current knowledge in the high-demand school counseling field.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 8% increase in school counselor job opportunities from 2019-2029.

    Graduates of the program may qualify to take the Texas Examination of Educator Standards. With internship and practicum opportunities, students gain field experience, valuable for pursuing employment as Texas school counselors. Prospective students must supply college and university transcripts showing a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA.

    Courses Include

    Dysfunctional behavior
    Legal and ethical principles
    Human growth and development
    Role of the school counselor
    Career and occupational counseling

    Unique Features

    Cost: $16,664/year (in state); $24,026/year (out of state)
    Credits Required: 48 credits
    Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

    Visit Website

Applying to an Online Master's Degree in Student Affairs and College Counseling

Applying for a college counseling online program requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited college. Most programs require applicants to hold at least a 3.0 GPA in their final two years, or the last 30 credit hours, of undergraduate studies. Otherwise, when candidates do not meet admission requirements, schools may request GRE or MAT scores.

Applicants may also need to submit a sample of their academic writing. Other common admission requests include an essay that details a student's academic or career objectives, a resume, and three letters or recommendation.

After they gain classroom experience, teachers often progress to careers as school and college counselors. However, applicants do not always need teaching or counseling experience to earn a student affairs degree online.

Frequently Asked Questions About Low Cost Master's in Students Affairs and College Counseling

Which industries employ the most educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisers?

Graduates who hold academic counseling master's degrees mostly work at public and private schools. Some 146,430 school and career counselors work at elementary and secondary schools, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Another 70,480 counselors find employment at four-year universities and professional schools. A remaining 24,420 individuals work at junior colleges.

What is accreditation and why is it important?

Accrediting agencies provide checks and balances for master's in student affairs online programs. To uphold academic standards, accrediting agencies independently review all aspects of an academic counseling master's degree. Common accrediting bodies include the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs and the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council.

What is the job outlook for school and career counselors?

The job outlook for school and career counselors looks positive. BLS estimates that employers will add 26,800 school and career counselor positions from 2019 to 2029. According to BLS projections, jobs for school and career counselors will increase 8% through 2029, faster than the average growth rate.

Are college counselors required to be licensed?

Licensing and certificate requirements for college counselors depend on both the state and the specific role. In some states, college counselors can work without a license if they do not provide psychological services. Other employers only hire individuals who hold a graduate degree and clinical experience.

Related Rankings

Recommended Reading

Helping you prepare and gain the most out of your educational experience.

Are you ready to do impactful work in your community?

Choose what you’d like to specialize in, and discover which schools offer a counseling degree that can help you make a difference.