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

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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.


Top 10 Low-Cost Online Master’s Degrees in Student Affairs and College Counseling

Rank School Location
1 Arkansas State University Jonesboro, AR
2 Southern Arkansas University Magnolia, AR
3 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches, LA
4 Indiana State University Terre Haute, IN
5 Kansas State University Manhattan, KS
6 Arkansas Tech University Russellville, AR
7 Angelo State University San Angelo, TX
8 Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY
9 North Carolina Central University Durham, NC
10 North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC
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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. Arkansas State University
    Location

    Jonesboro, AR

    The College of Education and Behavioral Science at Arkansas State University offers a low-cost online Master of Science in College Student Personnel Services. Faculty in the College Student Personnel Services Program bring a depth of academic and professional experience within the field of student affairs and college counseling and are able to offer strong mentoring relationships to graduate students. This flexible online program will be a good fit for students who hope to maintain their current professional and family commitments while working towards a graduate degree. This 36 credit program requires the completion of a practicum experience that can be completed on campus at Arkansas State University or at colleges and universities around the country, students can select a practicum site in the location and department of interest that best meets their personal needs and professional goals.

    Courses include: the community college; student personnel services in higher education; college student development; organization and administration of college student personnel services; legal aspects of higher education; multicultural dynamics in higher education; development and advancement in higher education; and assessment, accreditation, accountability in higher education; introduction to statistics and research; philosophies of education; and practicum in college student personnel services.

    • Credits Required: 36
    • Cost: $257 / Credit Hour

  2. Southern Arkansas University
    Location

    Magnolia, AR

    Southern Arkansas University offers a low-cost online Master of Education in Student Affairs and College Counseling. This 51 credit program in the Department of Counseling and Professional Studies aims to prepare graduates to work within the field of student affairs in college counseling in a broad range of professional settings. Students will be trained to do everything from provide emergency services on college campuses during times of crisis and disaster to ensuring that college and university services are meeting the diverse needs of all students.

    Courses include: introduction to the counseling profession; ethical, legal, and professional issues in counseling; counseling theories; basic counseling skills; group counseling; human development for helping professionals; career counseling-theory and practice; counseling in a diverse society; assessment procedure; practicum in counseling; introduction to student affairs in higher education; student affairs theory and practice; counseling in higher education; organization and administration of student affairs; and internship in student affairs in higher education.

    • Credits Required: 51-60
    • Cost: $414 / Credit Hour

  3. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
    Location

    Natchitoches, LA

    A low-cost online Master of Arts in Student Affairs in Higher Education in available at Northwestern State University of Louisiana. Students can complete this flexible 36 credit online program in two years of full time study or complete it at a slower pace with part-time study if that is what is best for their personal needs. Students in the program are encouraged to select electives in areas that meet their personal and professional interests. Northwestern State University makes every effort to provide a low-cost online education to all students by waiving out-of-state fees for all online students, allowing all online students to have access to an affordable education no matter where they live.

    Courses include: introduction to student affairs in higher education; history of higher education; organization and administration of student affairs in higher education; educational research; action research; the american college student; legal and ethical issues; multicultural and diverse populations; and current issues.

    • Credits Required: 36
    • Cost: $475 / Credit Hour

  4. Indiana State University
    Location

    Terre Haute, IN

    Indiana State University offers a low-cost online Master of Science in Student Affairs and Higher Education. This 39 credit online program can be completed in three years with the exception of three courses (or those similar in content) that must be completed on campus in a traditional classroom. These three courses can be completed an accredited university, allowing students to choose a convenient location. Students can then transfer those courses to Indiana State University. Students in this program will have the opportunity to complete an optional masters thesis. Additionally, students will receive hands on practical experience by working in a faculty approved position within the field of student affairs and higher education while in the program.

    Course content covers areas including: supporting student in residence halls; student development; management; admissions; financial aid; student activities; student health promotion; career development; non-traditional student populations; counseling; guidance; and higher education.

    • Credits Required: 39
    • Cost: $499 / Credit Hour

  5. Kansas State University
    Location

    Manhattan, KS

    Kansas State University offers a low-cost online Academic Advising Master's Degree. This 30 credit degree can be completed in less than two years. Students who wish to only take one class per semester can complete the program in three-and-a-half years. Flexible programming is available with students being able to complete the online courses in any order they choose. For students who are interested additional coursework is available in: administration of academic advising; and intercollegiate athletics and the college student athlete. Students at Kansas State University will have the opportunity to complete a final project highlighting their professional competence.

    Courses include: research methods in education; learning principles; foundations of academic advising; interpersonal relations for academic advising; student development theory; multicultural aspects of academic advising; college student athletes; trends in career development; and college students with special needs.

    • Credits Required: 30
    • Cost: $552 / Credit Hour

  6. Arkansas Tech University
    Location

    Russellville, AR

    Arkansas Tech University offers a 36 credit Master of Science in College Student Personnel that can be completed in two years. This low-cost online masters degree offers rolling admissions. Students are accepted into and can begin the program throughout the year at a time that works best for the student. Students will be trained in meeting the needs of diverse student populations in college and university settings. Graduates will be prepared, through academic work and practical experience, to pursue careers in higher education in the field of student affairs.

    Elective courses include: academic advising; community colleges; grant writing; ethical leadership; advising student groups; academic advising; career advising; and diversity and inclusion in student affairs.

    • Credits Required: 36
    • Cost: $558 / Credit Hour

  7. Angelo State University
    Location

    San Angelo, TX

    A low-cost online Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling is available at Angelo State University. This 36 credit degree is designed for students who hope to pursue careers as counselors in public schools, colleges, and universities. The program can be completed within two years with all courses available fully online and offered in eight week sessions. Angelo State University is experienced in providing online education to graduate students with 68% of graduate students taking courses online.

    Courses include: social and cultural influences; tests and measurements; lifespan development; applied research; legal and ethical principles; curriculum and methodology trends; individual counseling; group counseling; theories of counseling; career and occupational counseling; dysfunctional behavior; and leadership.

    • Credits Required: 36
    • Cost: $618.20 / Credit Hour

  8. Western Kentucky University
    Location

    Bowling Green, KY

    Western Kentucky University offers a low-cost online Master of Arts in Education in Adult Education with a Higher Education Concentration. Programming is flexible with students being able to take courses both online and in an on demand format. The Higher Education Concentration is designed for students with experience working in higher education. In an effort to offer an affordable education, online students pay in-state tuition rather than out-of-state tuition.

    Courses include: introduction to adult education; methods for teaching adults; adult learning and development; program planning for adults; seminar in community college teaching; issues in higher education; higher education in america; post secondary change and culture; leadership in community and technical colleges; principles of instructional design; training materials; and distance delivery systems.

    • Credits Required: 30
    • Cost: $679 / Credit Hour

  9. North Carolina Central University
    Location

    Durham, NC

    North Carolina Central University offers a Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredited program. This low-cost online 48 credit career counseling program began in the spring of 2015. Students in this online program will have the opportunity to complete three on-campus residencies (five days each) where they will build on online courses and connect with peers and faculty. Students can complete this program in two years.

    Courses include: ethical, professional orientation to counseling; theories and techniques; vocational theory/career development; psycho-social development; cultural diversity and gender issues; group counseling; statistics; pre-practicum; assessment; consultation; and advanced career counseling.

    • Credits Required: 48
    • Cost: $860 / Credit Hour

  10. North Carolina State University
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    A Master of Education in College Counseling and Student Development is available at North Carolina State University. This low-cost online master's degree is available in a part-time format allowing online students to complete the program in three years. Additionally, students will have the support of going through the program with their cohort. This is a Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredited program. The College Counseling and Student Development Program at North Carolina State University emphasizes a commitment to multicultural diversity and strives to recruit students from culturally-diverse backgrounds.

    Courses include: career counseling and development; cross-cultural counseling; theories and techniques of counseling; group counseling; multicultural lifespan development in educational context; clinical assessment; special problems- substance abuse counseling; techniques of counseling; practicum in counseling; introduction to college counseling and student development; and internship in college student development.

    • Cost: $992 / Credit Hour

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

  • 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.


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