Top 25 Most Affordable, Accredited Graduate Degree Programs in Psychology and Counseling in the West

Best Counseling DegreesBy Kirsten Hughes

Ranking Methodology:

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

  • All graduate schools in the West (from the following states: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii) 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), and the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). Note: Evaluating the accreditation status of any graduation 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.
  • Over 50 schools in the west met the above listed criteria. Tuition per credit ranged from under $300 per credit to over $2,000 per credit. 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.

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

#25 Gonzaga University: Spokane, Washington

School of Education, Department of Counselor Education

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Degrees:

  • Master of Arts in School Counseling
  • Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Gonzaga University offers the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling which requires the completion of 60 credits. The Master of Arts in School Counseling requires the completion of 53 credits. Both programs are accredited by the CACREP. A private school, Gonzaga University describes itself as a humanistic, Catholic and Jesuit institution of education.

Application Deadline: February 1st

Tuition: $870 / Credit Hour

#24 Montana State University: Bozeman, Montana

College of Education, Health and Human Development

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Degrees:

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

Montana State University offers the Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling which requires the completion of 60 credits. The Master of Education in School Counseling requires the completion of 49 credits. Both programs are accredited by the CACREP.

Application Deadline: February 15th

Tuition: $866.55 / Credit Hour

#23 University of Utah: Salt Lake City, Utah

College of Education, Department of Educational Psychology

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Degrees:

  • Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology
  • Ph.D. in School Psychology

The University of Utah has APA accredited Ph.D. programs in Counseling Psychology and School Psychology. Reportedly students who wish to secure funding to support their education are able to do so through 20 hour per week graduate assistantships that include $6,000 per semester as well as a tuition benefit covering 1/2 of student tuition and fees. The University of Utah could be significantly more affordable if students were to secure such funding.

Application Deadline: April 1st

Tuition: $857.60 / Credit Hour

#22 Lewis and Clark College: Portland, Oregon

Graduate School of Education and Counseling, Counseling Psychology Department

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Degrees:

  • Master of Arts in Marriage, Couple and Family Therapy

Lewis and Clark offers a Master of Arts in Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy (MCFT) with the option to include a special concentration in addictions treatment, international family therapy, sex therapy or ecopsychology. There is also a Master of Science option for students that have demonstrated an interest and potential in research. Accredited by the COAMFTE the M.A. is 60 credits and the M.S. is 64 credits.

Application Deadline: January 1st

Tuition: $828 / Credit Hour

#21 George Fox University: Newberg, Oregon

Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

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Degrees:

  • Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology

George Fox is a Christian University. In the PsyD Clinical Psychology program emphasis is placed on training in the relationship between mental health and Christian faith. George Fox University’s PsyD program is accredited by the APA.

Application Deadline: January 15th

Tuition: $815 / Credit Hour

#20 Brigham Young University: Provo, Utah

School of Family Life and Graduate Studies, Psychology

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Degrees:

  • Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology
  • Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology

The COAMFTE has accredited the Master of Science and Ph.D. programs in Marriage and Family Therapy at BYU. The M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy requires 61 credits. Financial assistance is offered to those in the Master’s program through reduction of tuition by 25-50% as well as a research assistantship of 10 hours a week equaling about $7,500 a year. A Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy is also offered by BYU. Students in this program will complete the Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy before beginning their doctoral courses (an additional 69 credits). BYU also offers a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology for 106 and 111 credits plus dissertation and internships. BYU offers a lower tuition of $371 per credit for LDS students.

Application Deadline: Varies by degree

Tuition: $742 / Credit Hour

#19 Oregon State University: Bend, Oregon

College of Education

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Degrees:

  • Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Master of Science in School Counseling

Offered at Oregon State University’s Cascades campus in Bend is a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a Master of Science in School Counseling. Both programs are accredited by the CACREP. Depending on the degree and the track completed 75-96 credit hours will be required.

Application Deadline: February 1st

Tuition: $739 / Credit Hour

#18 University of California Riverside: Riverside, California

Graduate School of Education

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Degrees:

  • Ph.D. in School Psychology

The Graduate School of Education at the University of California Riverside offers an APA accredited Ph.D. program in School Psychology that also leads to a state of California Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) credential. This full-time program is typically completed in five years, four years on campus and a fifth year internship.

Application Deadline: January 1st

Tuition: $731 / Credit Hour

#17 Sonoma State University: Sonoma, California

Counseling Department

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Degrees:

  • Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Master of Arts in School Counseling

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling programs offered by Sonoma State University are nationally accredited by the CACREP. Both programs require completion of 60 credit hours.

Application Deadline: January 31st

Tuition: $697.50 / Credit Hour

#16 San Francisco State University: San Francisco, California

College of Health and Social Sciences, Department of Counseling

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Degrees:

  • Master of Science in Counseling: School Counseling

The Department of Counseling at San Francisco State University is one of the largest in the nation with over 30 full and part-time instructors. The School Counseling Program is fully accredited by CACREP, certifying that it meets national standards. The student to faculty ratio is 13:1. The program consists of 60 credit hours.

Application Deadline: January 15th

Tuition: $697.50 / Credit Hour

#15 California State University Los Angeles: Los Angeles, California

Charter College of Education, Division of Special Education and Counseling

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Degrees:

  • Master of Science in Counseling: School Counseling Leadership

California State University Los Angeles has a M.S. in Counseling with an emphasis in School Counseling Leadership accredited by the CACREP, 92 credit hours are required to complete the program. Students interested in attending a University with diversity may be interested in the University demographics (Latino 50%, Asian American 23%, White 15%, African American 9%, American Indian .5%). Additionally, California State University Northridge and California State University Sacramento also have Master of Science in School Counseling degrees accredited by the CACREP for the same tuition per credit.

Application Deadline: January 15th

Tuition: $697.50 / Credit Hour

#14 San Diego State University: San Diego, California

College of Education, Department of Counseling and School Psychology

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Degrees:

  • Master of Science in Counseling with a Concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy

Accredited by the COAMFTE, this Masters of Science in Counseling with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy starts in the summer, most programs start in the fall. Another unique feature of this program is that the first five weeks of the program are completed online, the remainder of the summer is spent in intensive all day face-to-face classes with the cohort preparing for the academic year and internships beginning in fall term.

Application Deadline: December 1st

Tuition: $697.00 / Credit Hour

#13 Hope International University: Fullerton, California

College of Psychology and Counseling

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Degrees:

  • Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

The Master of Art in Marriage and Family Therapy is one of Hope International University’s fastest growing graduate programs. The University is grounded in Christian principals and accredited by the COAMFTE. Sixty credit hours are required to complete program. This marriage and family therapy degree program also appears on our list of the Top 30 Most Accessible COAMFTE-Accredited Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s Degrees 2014.

Application Deadline: Rolling

Tuition: $670.00 / Credit Hour

#12 Antioch University Seattle: Seattle, Washington

School of Applied Psychology, Counseling and Family Therapy & Couple and Family Therapy Program

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Degrees:

  • Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Students working towards the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy at Antioch University in Seattle have the opportunity to choose to specialize in Art Therapy or Drama Therapy, a total of 75 credit hours are required for graduation. This is the only program listed here that states that all clinical masters students are required to complete 20 hours of personal counseling/therapy with a licensed mental health professional prior to internship approval. Another unique feature of Antioch University is that it has the latest application deadline for fall term of the schools listed here.

Application Deadline: April 5th

Tuition: $662.00 / Credit Hour

#11 University of Oregon: Eugene, Oregon

College of Education: Couples and Family Therapy Program, Counseling Psychology and Human Services and Department of Special Education and Clinical Sciences

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Degrees:

  • Master of Education in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology
  • Ph.D. in School Psychology

The University of Oregon offers three accredited programs meeting our criteria. The faculty of the Couples and Therapy Program, accredited by the COAMFTE, cover a broad range of research and clinical interests. Students will complete 90 credit hours for graduation. The admissions process for the Counseling Psychology program, accredited by the APA, is competitive with over 160 applicants competing for 6-8 openings each year. Students will complete 175 credit hours for graduation. A Ph.D is also offered in School Psychology and the program is accredited by the APA. The Ph.D. in School Psychology requires the completion of 165 credit hours.

Application Deadline: Varies by degree

Tuition: $632.00 / Credit Hour

#10 University of Wyoming: Laramie, Wyoming

College of Education, Department of Professional Studies

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Degrees:

  • Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling
  • Master of Science in School Counseling

The Master of Science in Counseling program at the University of Wyoming allows students to choose a concentration in Mental Health Counseling or School Counseling, both accredited by the CACREP. Graduates are prepared for counseling professions in settings such as private practice, residential treatment centers, hospitals and schools. A total of 60 credit hours are required for each program in order to graduate.

Application Deadline: January 8th

Tuition: $629.00 / Credit Hour

#9 Western Washington University: Bellingham, Washington

College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Psychology

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Degrees:

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

The Mental Health Counseling Program and the School Counseling Program at Western Washington University, both accredited by the CACREP, only accept six students per year in an effort to maintain small student/ faculty ratios and class sizes. While the number of students accepted annually is small, the programs encourage applicants not to be discouraged by this and to focus on submitting an application highlighting individual strengths and interests that will be considered in addition to the traditional grades and test scores. The Master of Science requires 91 credits (for non-thesis track) or 97 credit hours (thesis track). The Master of Education requires 83 credit hours for graduation.

Application Deadline: February 1st

Tuition: $625.50 / Credit Hour

#8 Fuller Theological Seminary: Pasadena, California

Graduate School of Psychology, Department of Clinical Psychology

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Degrees:

  • Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
  • Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology

Fuller’s Graduate School of Psychology was the first Clinical program outside a University to receive APA certification. The first professional school of its type in the nation, Fuller states that it is the oldest seminary-based clinical psychology program. The program is normally accomplished in 5 (PsyD, 258 credits) or 6 (PhD, 296 credits) years. The Master of Arts in Psychology and the Master of Arts in Christian Leadership are completed along the way to the PsyD and PhD.

Application Deadline: December 15th

Tuition: $625.00 / Credit Hour

#7 Seattle Pacific University: Seattle, Washington

School of Psychology, Family, and Community

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Degrees:

  • Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology

Seattle Pacific University is a Christian University. SPU’s Marriage and Family Therapy program, accredited by the COAMFTE, incorporates theological and relational values in a Christian Context. Faculty and staff hold a Christian faith commitment however, students are not required to share any religious perspective. Dual-degree sequences in Christian Studies are also available to students who wish to integrate Christian faith and professional mental health therapy. Masters students need a total of 48 credit hours to complete the program in two years (full-time) or three years (part-time). SPU’s Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology program, accredited by the APA, emphasizes scientific research and clinical practice in the context of a Christian University. A Masters degree (M.S. in Psychological Science) is earned en route to the doctorate. Completion of the Ph.D. requires 126 credit hours.

Application Deadline: Varies by degree

Tuition: $595.00 / Credit Hour

#6 University of Denver: Denver, Colorado

Morgridge College of Education

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Degrees:

  • Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology

The Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology at the University of Denver is accredited by the APA. This program has opportunities for both clinical and research experience and a variety of quality internship opportunities in the Denver Metro area.

Application Deadline: December 15th

Tuition: $571.00 / Credit Hour

#5 Portland State University: Portland, Oregon

Graduate School of Education, Department of Education

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Degrees:

  • Master of Science in School Counseling
  • Master of Arts in School Counseling

Portland State University offers a Master of Arts or Science in School Counseling accredited by the CACREP. Two tracks of study are available. Track I is for students who have two or more years of documented experience as a licensed teacher in Oregon. Track II allows students who do not yet have this experience to complete 200 clock hours of teaching to meet licensing criteria. Depending on the track, 74-80 credit hours are required to complete to program.

Application Deadline: February 1st

Tuition: $539.00 / Credit Hour

#4 Boise State University: Boise, Idaho

College of Education, Counselor of Education Department

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Degrees:

  • Master of Arts in Counseling: School Counseling

Boise State University offers a Master of Arts in Counseling with an emphasis in School Counseling accredited by the CACREP. This program is competitive with 70 -100 applications being considered for the 20 spots available in each year’s cohort. In 2011 the NBCC delivered the School Counseling Program the Professional Identity Award. This program requires the completion of 60 credit hours.

Application Deadline: February 1st

Tuition: $531.00 / Credit Hour

#3 Northwest Nazarene University: Nampa, Idaho

Graduate Department Counselor Education

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Degrees:

  • Master of Science in Counseling: School Counseling
  • Master of Science in Counseling: Clinical Counseling

In Idaho, school counselors do not need to be certified teachers. As a result the Master of Science in Counseling, School Counseling program is made up of students from a diverse background of undergraduate majors. A focus of the program is to prepare students to serve schools in rural communities. The M.S. Counseling programs (both Clinical Counseling and School Counseling) have two application deadlines, not common among other schools, one for fall start (February 15th) and one for spring start (September 15th). Both programs, accredited by the CACREP, require 60 credit hours for graduation.

Application Deadline: Varies by degree

Tuition: $435.00 / Credit Hour

#2 Northern Arizona University: Flagstaff, Arizona

College of Education, Department of Educational Psychology

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Degrees:

  • Master of Arts in Counseling
  • Master of Education in Counseling: School Counseling

Northern Arizona University offers a Master of Arts in Counseling, requiring 60 credits, and a Master of Education in School Counseling, requiring 48 credits. Both degrees are accredited by the CACREP.

Application Deadline: February 15th

Tuition: $410.00 / Credit Hour

#1 New Mexico State University: Las Cruces, New Mexico

College of Education, Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology

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Degrees:

  • Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology

New Mexico State University offers a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, accredited by the APA, and is the most affordable graduate program in the West. The Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology has been recognized by the APA and New Mexico State University for contributions to diversity teaching, research and service. The reason that this school is the most affordable on this list is that all Ph.D. students are guaranteed a (out-of-state) tuition waiver and therefore only have to pay instate tuition rates of 279.50 per credit hour. Out of state tuition is 816.50 per credit hour. This exception bumps the Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology to the #1 most affordable program.

Application Deadline: December 15th

Tuition: $279.50 / Credit Hour

 

For more information about calculating the total cost of earning a counseling or psychology graduate degree, see our 6 Tips for Evaluating the Overall Cost of Your Graduate Degree.

For more graduate programs by region, see: Top 25 Most Affordable, Accredited, Graduate Degree Programs in Psychology and Counseling in the Midwest 2014Top 25 Most Affordable, Accredited Graduate Degrees in Psychology and Counseling in the South 2014 and Top 25 Most Affordable, Accredited Graduate Degrees in Psychology and Counseling in the Northeast 2014.

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