Top 25 Most Affordable, Accredited Graduate Degrees in Psychology and Counseling in the South

Best Counseling DegreesBy Kirsten Hughes

Ranking Methodology:

This list of the most affordable graduate programs in the South offering a masters and/or a doctorate degree in psychology and/or counseling was created considering the following points.

  • All graduate schools in the South (from the following states: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware) were taken into consideration.
  • Next, programs had to meet rigorous criteria to become accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), or the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). Note: Evaluating the accreditation status of any graduate program under consideration is important. In general, accredited programs develop their curriculum and practicum experience with state licensing boards. Programs that do this ensure that their graduates will be able to successfully navigate the state licensing process without needing to take additional coursework following graduation.
  • The following accredited degrees are available at the colleges and universities that made the top 25 list:
    • Clinical and Mental Health Counseling (M.A. and M.S.) -accredited by the CACREP
    • School Counseling (M.A. and M.S.) -accredited by the CACREP
    • Marriage and Family Therapy (M.A., M.S., M.Ed., and Ph.D.) -accredited by the COAMFTE
    • Counseling Psychology (Ph.D.) -accredited by the APA
    • School Psychology (Ph.D) -accredited by the APA
    • Clinical Psychology (Ph.D and Psy.D.) -accredited by the APA
  • Over 275 schools in the South met the above listed criteria. Of all four regions in the country evaluated, the South had the highest number of schools with these accredited programs. Tuition per credit ranged from $0 per credit to over $2,500 per credit. The South has the only school in the country that met the above listed criteria, that was found to be cost free. The cost per credit for out of state tuition was ranked from high to low and the top 25 schools are listed here. Check out the list below to find the school that is the best fit for you.

#25 University of North Texas: Denton, TX

College of Education and Department of Psychology

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Degrees:

  • Master of Education and Master of Science in School Counseling
  • Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
  • Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology

The College of Education offers three CACREP accredited Master’s degree programs in Counseling; a Master of Education in School Counseling (48 credits), a Master of Science in School Counseling (60 credits), and a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (60 credits). The University of North Texas faculty research interests include suicide prevention, mental health services for low-income clients and play therapy in schools. The Department of Psychology offers Ph.D. degrees in Clinical Psychology and Counseling Psychology. Both accredited graduate Degrees in Psychology and Counseling are accredited by the APA. The goals of the Ph.D. programs are to prepare graduates for a career in research and teaching in colleges and universities or as a career as a scientist-practitioner.

Application Deadline: Fall: March 5th, Spring: October 15th, Summer (Ph.D.) November 30th

Tuition: $664 / Credit Hour

#24 Hodges University: Naples, FL

Nichols School of Professional Studies

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Degrees:

  • Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Students can receive a Master of Science degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Hodges University CACREP accredited 60 credit hour program. Graduates will be prepared to work as professional counselors in the mental health and substance abuse fields. Most of the Master’s in Counseling required classes are only available on campus but some may be available online. Clinicians can work in numerous settings including public or private organizations after earning their accredited Graduate Degree in Counseling.

Application Deadline: N/A

Tuition: $660 / Credit Hour

#23 Fort Valley State University: Fort Valley, GA

College of Graduate Studies and Extended Education

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Degrees:

  • Master of Science in Education in School Counseling

Fort Valley State University educates students to become school counselors working in primary, elementary, middle, and high school settings. Most students complete the 48 credit hours for the M.S.Ed. in 2-3 years. This School Counseling program is accredited by the CACREP. Students are admitted once a year in May.

Application Deadline: December 1st.

Tuition: $652 / Credit Hour

#22 Texas State University: San Marcos, TX

College of Education

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Degrees:

  • Master of Arts in School Counseling

Students can get their Master of Arts in Professional Counseling with a specialization in School Counseling accredited by the CACREP. This is a 55 credit hour program accredited by the CACREP. Students can choose to focus in either elementary or secondary school counseling. Students are responsible for securing their own internships and paid internships are permitted.

Application Deadline: Spring: October 1st, Fall and Summer: February 15th

Tuition: $651 / Credit Hour

#21 Nova Southeastern University: Fort Lauderdale-Davie, FL

School of Humanities and Social Sciences

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Degrees:

  • Master of Science in Marriage & Family Therapy

Nova Southeastern University offers a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy accredited by the COAMFTE for 60 credits. This program aims to prepare students for working with diverse populations as individuals, couples, and groups. Graduates will be prepared to work in a variety of settings from private practice to health care organizations. Students can enroll in the summer or fall. Classes typically meet 3-6 pm and 6-9 pm. Full time students can complete the program in two years.

Application Deadline: Spring: October 1st, Fall and Summer: February 15th

Tuition: $650 / Credit Hour

#20 University of Houston Victoria: Victoria, TX

School of Education and Human Development

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Degrees:

  • Master of Education in School Counseling

The School of Education and Human Development at the University of Houston Victoria offers a Master of Education in School Counseling. This program is accredited by the CACREP and requires the completion of 48 credit hours. Fall and Spring admission is available for this program and there are no specific application deadlines however, applicants are encouraged to submit credentials as early as possible to ensure time for processing before registration.

Application Deadline: No deadlines

Tuition: $648 / Credit Hour

#19 Texas Tech University: Lubbock, TX

College of Education, Department of Community, Family, and Addiction Services and Department of Psychological Sciences

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Degrees:

  • Master of Education in School Counseling
  • Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Ph.D. in Marriage & Family Therapy
  • Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
  • Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology

Texas Tech University offers CACREP, COAMFTE, and APA accredited programs. The Master of Education in School Counseling (48 credits), Clinical Mental Health Counseling (60 credits) or a dual major in both School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health (75 credits) is available. An accredited Ph.D. in Marriage in Family Therapy is the only MFT Ph.D. program to make this list. And Ph.D. programs accredited by the APA in Clinical Psychology and Counseling Psychology are also available. Texas Tech University offers more of the accredited graduate degree programs being evaluated here than any of the other top 25 schools on this list.

Application Deadline: February 1st for M.Ed, January 1st for MFT Ph.D., December 1st Psychology Ph.D.

Tuition: $625 / Credit Hour

#18 Eastern Mennonite University: Harrisonburg, VA

School of Graduate and Professional Studies

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Degrees:

  • Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Eastern Mennonite University is a Christian University offering a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. This is a CACREP accredited 60 credit program. EMU aims to accommodate students who are busy with work and family but offering a two day back to back course schedule (Tuesday/ Wednesday or Wednesday/ Thursday) during the academic year. Two degree tracks are available; Clinical Mental Health Counseling or a dual seminary and counseling degree.

Application Deadline: March 1st

Tuition: $615 / Credit Hour

#17 Texas Woman’s University: Denton, TX

Counseling and Development and Department of Psychology and Philosophy

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Degrees:

  • Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Master of Science in School Counseling
  • Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology
  • Ph.D. in School Psychology

Texas Woman’s University Counseling and Development Program offers CACREP accredited Master of Science degrees in Clinical Mental Health and School Counseling for 60 credits each. The Department of Psychology and Philosophy offers APA accredited Ph.D. programs in School Psychology and Counseling Psychology. Small class sizes and evening and weekend classes are available to support working students.

Application Deadline: M.D: Fall: April 15th, Spring: September 15th, Summer: January 15th. December 15th for Counseling Psychology. February 1st for School Psychology

Tuition: $595 / Credit Hour

#16 Rollins College: Winter Park, FL

Graduate Studies in Counseling Program

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Degrees:

  • Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

The CACREP accredited Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling requires the completion of 60 credits. Classes are offered in the late afternoon and early evening, class sizes are generally 12-15 students. The program can be completed full or part time in three, four, or five years.

Application Deadline: March 15th

Tuition: $575 / Credit Hour

#15 Pfeiffer University: Charlotte and Raleigh/Durham, NC

Graduate Programs

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Degrees:

  • Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Pfeiffer University’s Marriage and Family Therapy program is accredited by the COAMFTE. A Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy is offered at both the Charlotte and Raleigh/ Durham campus. Full-time or part-time students should expect to complete the program in 3-4 years respectively with a minimum of 66 credits.

Application Deadline: Charlotte Campus Summer or Fall: February 1st, Fall: April 1st, Raleigh/Durham Campus Summer of Fall: March 1st, Fall: May 1st

Tuition: $575 / Credit Hour

#14 Loyola University Maryland: Baltimore, MD

School of Education

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Degrees:

  • Master of Arts & Master in Education in School Counseling

Students at Loyola University Maryland can choose between an M.A. and an M.Ed. in this CACREP accredited School Counseling Program. The M.A. requires a thesis and the M.Ed. requires an additional six credits of electives. A limited number of merit-based fellowships are available to applicants that submit a complete admission application by July 15th. All students that submit completed School Counseling applications are automatically considered for these awards.

Application Deadline: Fall Semester: July 15th, Spring Semester: November 15th, Summer Semester: April 1st

Tuition: $555 / Credit Hour

#13 University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center: Dallas, TX

Department of Psychiatry/Division of Psychology

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Degrees:

  • Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology

It takes an average of 4.5 years to complete the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. This APA accredited program is located in a medical university center and is able to provide a wide variety of both clinical and research experiences to diverse psychiatric and medical populations.

Application Deadline: December 1st

Tuition: $547 / Credit Hour

#12 Mercer University: Macon, GA and Atlanta, GA

School of Medicine

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Degrees:

  • Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy

The Master of Family Therapy program is located on the Macon and Atlanta campuses. The programs at both campuses are fully accredited by the COAMFTE. A mission of the Mercer University School of Medicine Master of Family Therapy program is to support MFT and medical students in becoming competent professionals with the ability to work collaboratively with individuals, couples, families, and communities (including rural and underserved communities). 48 credit hours are needed to complete this full or part time program.

Application Deadline: June 1st

Tuition: $546 / Credit Hour

#11 Mississippi College: Clinton, MS

Psychology and Counseling

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Degrees:

  • Masters of Education in School Counseling
  • Masters of Science in Mental Health Counseling

Mississippi College, a Christian University, offers a CACREP accredited Master of Education in School Counseling and a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling. School Counseling students receive training in working with students, parents, teachers and administrators in the school setting while working towards completing the programs 48 credits. Mental Health Counseling students learn theories and skills for working with children and adults in the 60 credit program.

Application Deadline: N/A

Tuition: $523 / Credit Hour

#10 Arkansas State University: Jonesboro, AR

Graduate School

Arkansas-State-University-Masters-of-Science-in-Education-in-School-Counseling

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Degrees:

  • Masters of Science in Education in School Counseling

Arkansas State University offers a Master of Science in Education degree in School Counseling accredited by the CACREP for 48 credit hours. Classes are offered in the evenings during the fall and spring semesters and in the day in summer sessions. Tuition fellowships (reducing tuition to the in-state rate of an Arkansas resident) are available to residents of any U.S. state or territory. Graduate students are eligible for tuition fellowships if they held a 3.0 or higher as an undergraduate.

Application Deadline: April 1st

Tuition: $488 / Credit Hour

#9 Lynchburg College: Lynchburg, VA

Graduate School

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Degrees:

  • Masters of Education in School Counseling
  • Masters of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Lynchburg College offers a Master of Education in School Counseling (48 credits) and a Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (60 credits). The School Counseling Program prepares graduates to become K-12 school counselors. The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program students will gain knowledge and experience in individual, family and group counseling to serve them in working in a variety of professional settings.

Application Deadline: Summer Term: May 1st, Fall term: July 31st, Spring term: November 30th

Tuition: $460 / Credit Hour

#8 Reformed Theological Seminary: Jackson, MS

Marriage and Family Therapy and Counseling

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Degrees:

  • Masters in Marriage and Family Counseling

Reformed Theological Seminary teaches from a biblical foundation. Each Marriage and Family Therapy course is taught from a biblical perspective in connection with current theory. Clinical experience focuses on family systems theory as well as the clients relationship with God. Students can only be enrolled in this, 69 credit hour, COAMFTE accredited program full time.

Application Deadline: February 1st

Tuition: $450 / Credit Hour

#7 Gardner-Webb University: Boiling Springs, NC

School of Psychology and Counseling

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Degrees:

  • Masters of Arts in School Counseling
  • Masters of Arts & Masters in Education in Mental Health Counseling

Gardner-Webb University’s School of Psychology and Counseling is dedicated to promoting Christian values in learning with a strong focus placed on the value of interpersonal relationships in promoting positive change in mental health. The Master of Arts in School Counseling requires the completion of 48 credit hours. The Master of Arts and Education Specialist degree (M.A. / Ed.S.) requires the completion of 60 credit hours. A dual degree with the School of Divinity is also available but students must also apply to the School of Divinity for this additional credential.

Application Deadline: February 1st

Tuition: $406 / Credit Hour

#6 Converse College: Spartanburg, SC

Humanities, Arts and Professional Studies

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Degrees:

  • Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy

Students can attend this COAMFTE accredited Marriage and Family Therapy Program full or part time within the range of 2-5 years. In addition to the 60 credit hours required for graduation students will complete their clinical practicum experience at WestGate Training and Consultation Network, a COAMFTE accredited teaching clinic that partners with Converse College.

Application Deadline: March 1st

Tuition: $390 / Credit Hour

#5 Louisville Seminary: Louisville, KY

Marriage and Family Therapy

Louisville-Seminary-Masters-of-Arts-in-Marriage-and-Family-Therapy

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Degrees:

  • Masters of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Louisville Seminary’s COAMFTE accredited Marriage and Family Therapy Program trains students with theological and spiritual commitments to become marriage and family therapists. Most graduates become licensed marriage and family therapists and work in private practice, agencies or churches. There are dual degree options with this program to gain the qualifications to also become an ordained minister. 70 credit hours are required for this Master of Arts degree.

Application Deadline: February 1st

Tuition: $342 / Credit Hour

#4 Delta State University: Cleveland, MS

Counselor Education and Psychology

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Degrees:

  • Masters of Education in School Counseling
  • Masters of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Delta State University offers the CACREP accredited Master of Education in School Counseling and Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. These degrees each require 60 credit hours and prepare students to become professional counselors in schools, community agencies, or private practice settings.

Application Deadline: N/A

Tuition: $334 / Credit Hour

#3 Southern University and A&M College: Baton Rouge, LA

Department of Behavioral Studies

Southern-University-and-A-M-College-Masters-of-Arts-in-Mental-Health-Counseling

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Degrees:

  • Masters of Arts in Mental Health Counseling

The College of Education’s Department of Behavioral Studies mental health counseling program is accredited by the CACREP. The University also offers a school counseling program that is in the process of becoming accredited by the CACREP. This Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling consists of 60 credit hours. A primary focus of the program is training clinicians to support clients in increasing skills and environmental supports to strengthen the client’s mental health.

Application Deadline: January 15th

Tuition: $270 / Credit Hour

#2 Virginia Consortium Program: Hampton Roads, VA

Clinical Psychology

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Degrees:

  • Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology

The Virginia Consortium Program is accredited by the APA to grant the Ph.D. in clinical psychology. This unified program is offered jointly by three institutions; Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University and Eastern Virginia Medical School. Depending on the strength of the applicant pool about 30 applicants are invited to interview and from that a class of six is chosen for this five year program.

Application Deadline: December 1st

Tuition: $222 / Credit Hour

#1 Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences: Bethesda, MD

Medical and Clinical Psychology Department

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Degrees:

  • Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology

The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences is the Nation’s federal health sciences university and is committed to excellence in military medicine and public health. The Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology offers a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology accredited by the APA. This program offers two tracks. Track 1 (Military) is open to active duty military and civilians entering military service focusing on clinical and operational military settings. Track 2 (Medical) is open to civilian students focusing on a combination of medical and clinical psychology. Students in the Psychology Graduate Education programs, a mix of civilians and uniformed officers, pay no tuition or fees. Civilian students may receive stipends, and uniformed graduate students continue to receive their active duty pay and benefits while attending USU.

Application Deadline: December 1st

Tuition: $0 / Credit Hour

For more information about determining the final cost of earning your graduate degree in counseling or psychology, see:  6 Tips for Evaluating the Overall Cost of Your Graduate Degree.

For other articles in this series see Top 25 Most Affordable, Accredited, Graduate Degree Programs in Psychology and Counseling in the West., Top 25 Most Affordable, Accredited, Graduate Degree Programs in Psychology and Counseling in the Midwest., Top 25 Most Affordable, Accredited, Graduate Degree Programs in Psychology and Counseling in the Northeast.

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