Student affairs and counseling graduate programs train students for careers in secondary and higher education. College counselors help high school learners select colleges and prepare them for entrance exams. Student affairs counselors work with college students in campus settings, such as new student orientation, career placement, crisis centers, housing, and advising.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 8% increase in school and career counseling positions from 2019-29 and reports a median annual salary of $57,040.
Distance learners entering student affairs and college counseling master’s programs can expect to take foundational classes in counseling theory and methods, along with courses focusing on diverse populations and cross-cultural counseling. Each enrollee completes 100-600 hours of supervised internships or practicums at a local school or college. Most programs take 2-3 years to finish.
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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.
A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Counselor Education and Supervision is available online from Capella University. This CACREP accredited doctoral program allows students to transfer in up to 60 credits towards the 144 credit degree. Capella University offers students three four-day residencies to build upon what is learned in the online courses and fieldwork. The university offers students the opportunity to complete internship requirements through working with students in the master's programs. Graduates will be prepared to pursue careers in a variety of careers in a broad range of settings.
Courses include: advanced research in human development; advanced counseling theories; advanced clinical practice; statistical analysis for counselor education research; counselor education teaching and practice; counselor supervision; leadership and advocacy in counseling; foundations of advanced social science research and design; advanced study in counselor education research methods; counselor education and supervision practicum; counselor education and supervision internship; and dissertation courseroom.
- Ave. Graduate Tuition: $ 14,175.00
- Application Deadline: NA
- Credits Required: 84
The College of Education at Oregon State University offers a CACREP accredited Ph.D. in Counseling. This doctoral degree is available online with the hybrid format. Applicants should have a master's degree in counseling as well as the ability to travel to Wilsonville, Oregon (easily accessible from Portland International Airport for out of state students) for face-to-face courses (twice each quarter Friday-Saturday). Students in this program will work independently while also being engaged in a supportive and collaborative cohort with peers as they pursue their doctoral degree.
Courses include: dissertation; advanced supervision; doctoral practicum; doctoral internship; advanced counseling practice; qualitative research; quantitative research and statistics; publication methods in counselor education; advanced assessment; advanced career and consult; advanced group; advanced diversity and social justice; counselor education; and supervision.
- Ave. Graduate Tuition: $ 20,952.00
- Application Deadline: January 29th
- Credits Required: 94
Virginia Beach, VA
Regent University offers an online CACREP accredited Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Counselor Education and Supervision. Applicants are expected to have a master's degree in counseling (or equivalent field) and should be licensed or working towards licensure. This program is unique in that it provides students the opportunity to incorporate Christian biblical foundations with counseling theory and practice. This 66 credit online program enhances student experience with three one-week residencies.
Courses include: quantitative research methodology; qualitative research methodology; advanced counseling and career theories; multicultural issues in counseling; dissertation proposal; statistics; advanced assessment; instruction in counselor education; advanced marriage and family counseling and consultation; supervision and consultation; capstone-counseling and Christian thought; doctoral internship; and dissertation.
- Ave. Graduate Tuition: $ 16,700.00
- Application Deadline: December 15th
- Credits Required: 66
University of the Cumberlands
The University of the Cumberlands offers both a Ph.D. (66 credits) and an Ed.D. (60 credits) with a specialization in Counselor Education and Supervision. This CACREP accredited program prepares graduates to pursue careers in: higher education; administration in behavioral health settings; and in clinical practice (private practice and other settings). The Department of Education at the University of the Cumberlands collaborates with faculty from Educational Leadership as well as the School of Counseling to provide a comprehensive education. This program is offered online with the synchronous format allowing students to be a part of a live classroom experience with peers and faculty from the comfort of your own home. Minimal face-to-face residencies are required.
Courses include: learning in adulthood; the politics of educational decision making; program planning and assessment; leadership and advocacy in professional counseling; multicultural issues in counseling and education; the change process; online teaching and learning; grant writing and proposal development; dissertation; and ethical and legal issues in counselor education and supervision.
- Ave. Graduate Tuition: $ 5,670.00
- Application Deadline: NA
- Credits Required: 60-66
Walden University offers an online CACREP accredited Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision. Graduates of the program will be skilled in teaching, supervision, and counseling. Students in this online program have the opportunity to participate in three face-to-face residencies to enhance their academic and professional skills. Residencies range from 4-8 days and are offered in convenient locations across the country throughout the year in order to be as accessible as possible to all students. Graduates of the program will have experience in and be skilled in teaching, supervision, and counseling.
Areas of specialization include: the general program; advanced research methods; consultation; counseling and social change; forensic mental health counseling; leadership and program evaluation; and trauma and crisis.
- Ave. Graduate Tuition: $ 11,895.00
- Application Deadline: NA
- Credits Required: 93
Applying to an Online Master’s Degree in Student Affairs and College Counseling Program
Master’s in student affairs and college counseling programs typically require a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA. Most institutions request transcripts, 2-3 letters of recommendation, a personal essay, and a resume. Some student affairs graduate programs require GRE or MAT scores, interviews, criminal background checks, and writing samples.
While many programs accept students with a bachelor’s degree in any field, some require a degree in behavioral science or psychology. Undergraduate coursework, such as introductory counseling, abnormal psychology, counseling and mental health, and educational statistics may be required or recommended. Similarly, admission may not require counseling or teaching experience, but institutions often recommend it.
Licensing requirements vary among states. Most programs prepare graduates for professional counselor licensure and national certification.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is licensing required to be a college counselor?
College counselors need licensure and certification. State boards often require a master’s degree from a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), along with two years of supervised clinical experience and a passing score on an examination.
What does it mean for a program to be accredited?
CACREP accredits the top student affairs master’s programs to ensure each school’s curriculum complies with state licensing requirements, national certification criteria, and high academic standards. Colleges and universities also hold regional or national accreditation. Regionally accredited schools undergo a more rigorous review that signifies academic quality.
Is there a demand for college counseling?
Graduates of a master’s in college counseling program can anticipate an 8% projected increase in employment over the next eight years. The BLS forecasts a rise in college counselor hiring in response to a demand for career counseling and an increase in campus career centers. The industries with the highest employment levels include secondary schools, colleges, and universities.
What types of skills are important for student affairs and college counselors?
The BLS lists suggests student affairs and college counselors possess and develop several important skills and qualities. These professionals must hold analytical skills to interpret students’ abilities, assessments, and interests, along with compassion for students facing stressful or difficult situations. Counselors must develop their interpersonal skills to work with diverse students. Regarding communication, they should maintain strong listening skills to grasp students’ problems and issues.