30 Best Master’s Degrees in Student Affairs and College Counseling

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This list of the best master’s degrees in student affairs and college counseling offers the top 30 campus-based programs in the country for this degree. Students can be assured that these are the best programs in the field of student affairs and college counseling based on our methodology, including the fact that all programs listed here are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The CACREP accredits master’s programs across the country in several areas of counseling including student affairs and college counseling. CACREP accreditation shows that the program has met critical educational components deemed important by the profession.

This master’s degree is for individuals who are interested in pursuing careers as counselors, administrators, and/or numerous other positions in higher education at the community college, college, and university level. Graduates with this degree will have a strong understanding of the issues and needs specific to college students as well as the counseling skills necessary to help college students succeed. Graduates will be well prepared to work in a variety of college and university departments (where counseling skills are useful) serving students including: admissions; academic advising; counseling; career counseling; career services; financial aid; health services; recreation; disability services; residence halls; student athlete services; and multicultural centers.

The programs listed here generally take anywhere from two to three years to complete and require anywhere from 36 to 72 credits, depending on the components of the program.  Master of arts, master of science, and master of education degrees are all available and the concentration name may vary slightly, with a title similar to student affairs and college counseling such as college student personnel services. There are no specific licensure requirements for student personnel professionals, however, many of the programs listed here prepare graduates to be able to pursue licensure as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC). Licensure requirements vary by state and students are encouraged to consult their home state licensing board to discuss state specific requirements for licensure. Two of the programs listed here offer distance education through online programming in addition to their face-to-face in classroom degree.

Methodology

For specific information about the ranking methodology used, refer to the methodology section at the end of the article.

We are confident you will find the best student affairs and college counseling degree here.

See also our online master’s degrees in student affairs and college counseling.


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Ranking the Top Master’s Degrees in Student Affairs and College Counseling

  1. Minnesota State University Mankato
    Location

    Mankato, MN

    Minnesota State University Mankato offers a Master of Science in College Student Affairs through the Department of Counseling and Student Personnel. The department also offers school counseling and mental health counseling degrees. Graduates of this program will have a strong understanding of the developmental issues that college students face and how to best meet the needs of this specific population. The College Student Affairs program will prepare graduates to pursue careers for a number of professional positions on college campuses in areas such as admissions, counseling, student activities and career development.

    Courses include: group counseling; introduction to college student affairs; administration in college student affairs; counseling procedures and skills; crisis intervention strategies; counseling in a multicultural society; family life cycle; career development; american college student; management and assessment of campus environments; counseling theories; and practicum in college student affairs.

    • Ave. Graduate Tuition: $ 6,849.00
    • Credits Required: 50
    • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

  2. Hampton University
    Location

    Hampton, VA

    The Department of Counseling at Hampton University offers a Master of Arts in Counseling with a concentration in Student Affairs, College Student Development. The curriculum is experiential in focus and aims to support students in their individual and spiritual growth. This degree will prepare graduates for careers in two-year post-secondary settings as well as four-year colleges and universities. The program has been awarded grant funding and is currently able to offer a $10,000 stipend to students who work with children and adolescents during their clinical experience.

    Courses include: assessment and appraisal in counseling; lifespan development; theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy; group process in counseling; career development; treating the substance abuser; identity, ethics and legal aspects of counseling; community mental health and welfare services; counseling with diverse populations; diagnosis and treatment; college student development internship; and crisis intervention and counseling.

    • Ave. Graduate Tuition: $ 10,263.00
    • Credits Required: 55
    • Regional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

  3. South Dakota State University
    Location

    Brookings, SD

    A Master of Science in Counseling and Human Resource Development with a specialization in College Counseling is available from South Dakota State University. This is a 48 credit hour program that prepares graduates for careers in higher education settings with the focus being on understanding the dynamics that influence a student's life. While there are not any certification or licensure requirements for student personnel professionals, students who complete the program along with their written and oral exams will be endorsed as student affairs professionals. Additionally, students in the program will be able to work towards National Certified Counselor certification by taking the national exam before or following graduation.

    Courses include: introduction to professional issues and ethics; research and evaluation in counseling and human development; developmental issues in counseling; theories of counseling; multicultural counseling and human relations; appraisal of the individual; career counseling and planning; group counseling; student personnel services; and administration and leadership in human affairs.

    • Ave. Graduate Tuition: $ 11,142.00
    • Credits Required: 48
    • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

  4. St. Cloud State University
    Location

    Saint Cloud, MN

    St. Cloud State University offers a Master of Science in College Counseling and Student Development. This program allows for students to choose from two courses of study with a thesis option (54 credits) and a comprehensive exam option (48 credits) available. The program emphasizes experiential learning, a focus on diverse populations, and strong relationships between students and faculty which are fostered through small classes. The program follows a cohort model with options for students to be enrolled part or full time. A unique feature of the program is the opportunity for study abroad experiences in South Africa and Malaysia. Additionally, some graduate assistantships are available offering up to a $10,000 stipend annually along with tuition reimbursement for up to eight credits each semester.

    Courses include: professional orientation and ethics; counseling theories; counseling procedures; multicultural counseling; group process and dynamics; issues in student development; supervised counseling practicum; internship in student affairs; and practice in small group process.

    • Ave. Graduate Tuition: $ 11,201.00
    • Credits Required: 48-54
    • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

  5. Slippery Rock University
    Location

    Slippery Rock, PA

    A Master of Arts in Student Affairs in Higher Education with College Counseling is available for 60 credits from Slippery Rock University. This licensure track program will prepare graduates for careers as mental health counselors at colleges and universities. Additionally graduates will be well prepared for professional careers as career counselors, disabilities counselors, or academic advisors on college and university campuses. This three year program will prepare graduates to pursue the National Certified Counselor credential (NCC) as well as licensure as professional counselors (LPC). Licensure requirements vary by state and students should consult the board of the state they plan to practice in for licensure requirements.

    Courses include: introduction to student affairs; social and cultural diversity; lifespan development; helping relationships; ethical and legal issues in student affairs; organizational behavior and leadership in higher education; career development and counseling; group counseling; counseling theory; models of adaptive behavior; assessment in counseling; counseling the adult; college counseling practicum; and college counseling internship.

    • Ave. Graduate Tuition: $ 12,258.00
    • Credits Required: 60
    • Regional Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

  6. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Edinboro, PA

    Edinboro University of Pennsylvania offers a Master of Arts in Counseling with a specialization in College Counseling to prepare graduates for careers in collegiate and academic settings. This 60-63 credit program works to prepare graduates for national certification and licensure examinations in an effort to support college campuses in having fully credentialed college counselors available to students. This college counseling program can be completed fully online.

    Courses include: group processes; appraisal techniques in the helping professions; human development across the lifespan; career development and life planning; counseling and consultation theories; supervised counseling practice; multicultural counseling; ethical and professional issues in counseling; study of the individual in higher education; law in post-secondary higher education; student affairs practice and administration; clinical diagnosis and intervention; and counseling the college student.

    • Ave. Graduate Tuition: $ 12,690.00
    • Credits Required: 60-63
    • Regional Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

  7. Shippensburg University
    Location

    Shippensburg, PA

    The Counseling Program at Shippensburg University is well established as evidenced by the recent celebration of their 50th anniversary. Students in the Master of Science in Counseling program have the option to choose from Clinical Mental Health Counseling, College Counseling, and College Student Personnel for an area of emphasis.

    Courses include: introduction to helping services; career development; research and statistics; practicum in counseling; assessment techniques in counseling; group counseling leadership skills; multicultural counseling; the college student and the college environment; student personnel work in higher education; and clinical field experience.

    • Ave. Graduate Tuition: $ 12,690.00
    • Credits Required: 48-60
    • Regional Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

  8. West Chester University
    Location

    West Chester, PA

    Students can earn a Master of Science in Higher Education Counseling/Student Affairs from West Chester University. This 48 credit hour program includes 700 hours of field work allowing students to practice the skills they have learned in the classroom in counseling and higher education/student affairs. This Master of Science degree meets the core educational requirements for licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in all 50 states. Additionally, students who pass the national exam will be eligible to become National Certified Counselors. Each student in the program will have a full time faculty advisor for support in reaching educational and career goals.

    Courses include: professional orientation to counseling; assessment methods in counseling; group dynamics; fundamentals of the helping relationship; counseling theory and techniques; social and cultural diversity issues in counseling; human development through the lifespan; career development theories and practices; introduction to student affairs; theories of american college student development; leadership and management in student affairs; and counseling internship in higher education/ student affairs.

    • Ave. Graduate Tuition: $ 12,690.00
    • Credits Required: 48
    • Regional Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

  9. Youngstown State University
    Location

    Youngstown, OH

    Youngstown State University offers a Master of Education in Student Affairs and College Counseling. This degree can be completed in 2 years of full time study. Students can choose from two tracks, non-counseling licensure track (51 credits) and counseling licensure track (66 credits). Graduates who complete the licensure track will be prepared to work in colleges and universities with students in clinical settings such as mental health and treatment centers, as well as in private practice. Some funding is available for students through graduate assistantships.

    National awards: 2015 Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES) Outstanding Counselor Education Program Award and the 2014 North Central Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (NCACES) Innovative Counselor Education Program Award.

    • Ave. Graduate Tuition: $ 12,780.00
    • Credits Required: 51-66
    • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

  10. Minnesota State University Moorhead
    Location

    Moorhead, MN

    Minnesota State University Moorhead offers a Master of Science degree in Counseling and Student Affairs. The program offers three areas of emphases: Student Affairs and College Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and School Counseling. The program offers a generalist orientation with the opportunity for students to identify and select a course of study that best matches their individual professional goals. Students can elect to complete the program full time (2 years) or part time (up to 5 years). Additionally, the program aims to be flexible for students by offering courses in the evening and through a hybrid format, in order to allow students to maintain work schedules. Graduates will be eligible to apply for state licensing and national certification in professional counseling.

    Courses include: counseling research, statistical methods, and program evaluation; foundations of counseling; theories of individual and family counseling; counseling assessment and appraisal; career development; human growth and development for counselors; social and cultural foundations of counseling; counseling skills; group counseling; ethical and legal issues in counseling; and trauma informed and crisis management.

    • Ave. Graduate Tuition: $ 12,960.00
    • Credits Required: 60
    • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Methodology

To develop the ranking of The Best Master’s Degrees in Student Affairs and College Counseling, we used information gathered from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) to evaluate colleges and universities offering programming in College Counseling, Student Affairs, and Student Affairs and College Counseling. Next we used information gathered from the Institute of Education Sciences’ College Navigator to compile the average graduate tuition for each master’s in student affairs and college counseling degree program and sorted the schools by cost to present the top 30 schools in our ranking.

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