Counseling Degree Programs in Wisconsin


Updated April 16, 2024

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This guide focuses on Wisconsin counseling degrees, exploring in-depth information about career and salary data across several disciplines in the field. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Milwaukee skyline in Wisconsin Credit: Jon Mattrisch / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The employment outlook for counselors in Wisconsin is promising, and the state hosts several top-ranked counseling degree programs. Our rankings of the best counseling degrees can help you decide which schools fit your career goals. Before you choose a school, find out what you need to know about Wisconsin's accredited programs, types of counselor licenses, and salary and career prospects.

Popular Online Counseling Master's Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

The Best Counseling Degree Programs in Wisconsin

Explore our ranking of the best online counseling degrees in Wisconsin. Graduates of these programs can pursue licensure or further education and training.

  • Marquette University

    Milwaukee, WI

    As the state’s largest private institution founded with the values of the Jesuit and Roman Catholic faiths, Marquette University is home to more than 11,600 students on its 98-acre urban campus within walking distance of downtown Milwaukee. Recently recognized as the 10th university bestowed the “Changemaker Campus” title by the Ashoka Institute, Marquette is currently ranked as the 75th best college, 49th top value school, 14th best up-and-coming university, and 7th top college for veterans nationwide by the U.S. News and World Report. Furthermore, the College of Education is named the 98th best graduate education school in the entire United States.

    Featuring a seamless blend of advanced coursework, field practicum, internships, and other training experiences, the M.A. in School Counseling program is designed to provide a comprehensive preparation for professional counseling practice within elementary and/or secondary school settings. In introducing students to the perspectives of school counselors, the program strongly focuses on the biological, psychological, social, and cultural factors that impact human lifespan development. Aligned with the principles outlined by the American School Counselor Association’s National Model for School Counseling Programs, the curriculum requires the completion of at least 48 credit hours and 500 clock hours of practice in an approved PK-12 school under supervision of a licensed school counselor.

    Dedicated to training graduate students as professional counselors in evidence-based practices, the M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program prepares graduates to lead individual, group, couple, or family counseling interventions to improve the mental and social well-being of clients struggling through life’s challenges. Depending on their targeted practice population, students have the freedom to choose a specialization for their degree path in Addiction Counseling or Child and Adolescent Counseling. Within the 60-credit program, students will need to complete at least 500 clock hours of direct practice in a practicum experience and an internship within approved clinical mental health settings in the greater Milwaukee area.


    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA)
  • University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh

    Oshkosh, WI

    Located on a 166-acre urban campus in the heart of Fox Valley to offer students big-city educational opportunities within three hours of Chicago with a small-town appeal, the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh is a comprehensive public four-year institution with more than 13,900 students. With nearly 85,000 graduates making an impact daily worldwide, UW Oshkosh is currently ranked as the 65th best college and 17th top public school in the country by the U.S. News and World Report. Since being founded in 1871 as a teacher-training school, the College of Education and Human Services is now at the forefront of preparing professional leaders in education, human services, and counseling.

    Leading to a Master of Science in Education (M.S.E.) degree, the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is fully aligned with accreditation standards and the forward direction of today’s counseling field to prepare graduate students for becoming professional counselors. In a new 60-credit curriculum that was implemented in Summer 2011, the program offers students in-depth understanding on diagnosis, treatment planning, psychopharmacology, crisis intervention, trauma, family systems, group dynamics, mental illness, and addiction. Within the program, students are required to complete at least 600 clock hours in a supervised internship with half of the time spent in individual counseling and the other in group counseling work for approximately 20 hours per week throughout the senior year.

    Founded with a student-centered experiential approach to training professional school counselors, the M.S.E. in School Counseling program has been designed to launch graduate students into leadership roles to help support and advocate for young people’s success in school and beyond. Based on the Wisconsin Comprehensive School Counseling model, the curriculum promotes team-building exercises, collaborative learning experiences, and essential professional school counselor attitudes. In the 48-credit program, students must complete a 100-hour practicum in the in-house counseling lab and two 300-hour internships in a local K-12 school. Aspiring school counselors are also encouraged to become involved in the on-campus professional organizations of Chi Sigma Iota and Wisconsin School Counseling Association.

    M.S.E. in Student Affairs and College Counseling

    Delivered by faculty with real-world experience and advanced degrees to prepare counselors for taking on the challenges facing today’s diverse student populations on college campuses, the M.S.E. in Student Affairs and College Counseling program is specifically geared towards individuals who are interested in assuming leadership positions in colleges, junior colleges, universities, vocational schools, and other higher learning institutions. The program is ideal for counselors seeking to work in college counseling centers as well as those seeking student affairs positions in admissions, residential life, student unions, financial aid, advising centers, or career services. Within the 48-credit accredited curriculum, students will need to complete a 100-hour practicum with college students and a two-semester internship at a university.


    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA)
  • University of Wisconsin - Stout

    Menomonie, WI

    As the winner of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for its polytechnic designation and academic innovation, the University of Wisconsin – Stout is a four-year public technical institution of over 9,200 students on a 131-acre rural campus in Menomonie. Renowned for being the only institution in the state system and one of only 175 schools nationwide to provide a laptop computer with tuition, UW Stout is currently ranked as the 57th best college and 15th top public school in the Midwest by the U.S. News and World Report. In the College of Education, Health, and Human Services (CEHHS), students can choose from over 20 academic programs in education, nutrition, physical education, counseling, psychology, or family studies.

    Achieving full accreditation by the CACREP for excellence in counseling education, the M.S. Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is designed to prepare competent counselors for ethical service in various mental health settings. In order to restore optimal mental health and promote human development, the program provides students with the training needed to assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent mental health disorders. Within the 60-credit program, students can select a concentration in Career Counseling, Child and Adolescent Counseling, Eating Disorders, Gerontological Counseling, or Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Counseling. To meet Wisconsin’s licensure requirements, students will also need to complete a 150-hour practicum experience and a 600-hour internship in an approved mental health facility.

    With the goal of preparing graduates for leadership in ensuring PK-12 students receive the services needed to reach their fullest potential in personal, social, academic, and career development, the M.S. Degree in School Counseling program is focused on the data-based methods needed to create optimal achievement for all students. In an effort to remove barriers to success for students in a proactive manner, the program provides counselors with the solid core of knowledge, skills, and practices needed to become part of the supportive team in elementary or secondary school environments. Offered in a combination of daytime, evening, summer, and online courses, the program requires the completion of least 50 credits and 600 hours of on-site internship experience.


    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA)
  • University of Wisconsin – Whitewater

    Whitewater, WI

    Headquartered on a 400-acre urban campus in the southeastern part of the state within just 50 miles west of the professional opportunities of Milwaukee, the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater is a comprehensive public four-year institution with a total headcount of more than 12,000 students. Along with being recognized as one of the nation’s top 10 disability-friendly public universities by New Mobility, UW Whitewater is ranked as the 42nd best college, 9th top public school, and 16th best university for veterans in the Midwest by the U.S. News and World Report. As one of the state’s leading producers of teachers each year, the School of Education and Professional Studies is committed to developing lifelong learners, creators of knowledge, and leaders of integrity.

    Available with concentrations in Alcohol and Other Drug Counseling, Career Counseling, Higher Education, Marriage/Partnership and Family Counseling, or Trauma Counseling, the M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is focused on providing the specific knowledge base needed for working as a professional counselor in mental health settings with specialty training options. To meet the educational requirements for becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Wisconsin and for the National Board of Counselor Certification, students will be required to complete at least 60 credits in graduate studies over a broad range of subjects. Graduates of the program often go on to find employment opportunities in community clinics, inpatient facilities, vocational counseling agencies, family service practices, correctional institutions, universities, businesses, and other mental health centers.

    Within the Department of Counselor Education at UW Whitewater, the M.S. in Higher Education program is available for aspiring counselors who are planning to seek employment in post-secondary institutions, including community colleges, technical schools, public or private colleges, and universities. In addition to the major counseling core, the emphasis provides the specialized coursework and practical experiences needed to explore college student developmental theories as a good foundation for success. After completing the 48-credit program, many graduates go on to become student affairs professionals to work in residence life, financial aid, career services, admissions, college counseling, academic advising, and other special on-campus student programs. Frequently, graduates have made career moves into high-level administration positions in student affairs, including director, assistant chancellor, and dean of students.

    Designed for qualified graduate students who have received the calling to become professional counselors with endorsement for the K-12 school counselor license, the M.S. in School Counseling program focuses on building the skills needed to implement comprehensive school counseling programs in elementary, middle, and high schools. Upon completion of the 48-credit program, students must successfully complete a year-long internship in a K-12 school setting, create an electronic portfolio, and receive a passing score on the PRAXIS exam required in Wisconsin. For graduate students who are not current teachers or do not have the two years of work experience in teaching, there are additional courses available to fill the gap in building the essential knowledge and skills needed to become a licensed school counselor too.


    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA)

Methodology: How We Rank Schools

At, we use data from reputable sources like the U.S. Department of Education to help you find the best school for your needs. The most important metric in our rankings -- affordability -- accounts for 60% of our formula. We also consider academic quality, program offerings, online enrollment, and graduation rates.

This ranking list has not been updated for 2024. Learn more about our ranking methodology.

Accredited Counseling Programs in Wisconsin

Accreditation for counseling programs means the degree meets rigorous standards of academic quality, as evaluated by an independent accrediting agency. Attending an accredited program ensures students meet state requirements for professional licensure and certification.

Wisconsin law requires professional counselors to hold a master's in counseling from a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). CACREP has accredited 13 counseling programs in Wisconsin at four institutions that offer six distinct counseling specialties.

How to Become a Counselor in Wisconsin

The Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling, and Social Work Examining Board authorizes licensure for professional counselors, clinical substance abuse counselors, substance abuse counselors, and substance abuse counselors in training.

Professional counseling licensure requires a CACREP-accredited master's degree with three credits of practicum or internship experience. In addition, you must complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience over a minimum of two years, including 1,000 hours of mental health services for clients.

After completing the supervised experience hours, you must take the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or the National Mental Health Counselors Exam (NMHCE) and receive a passing score as determined by the state board.

If you plan to become a rehabilitation counselor, you should take the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Exam (CRCC). Once you have passed the NCE, NMHCE, or CRCC, you may submit your complete professional counselor license application, including supporting documentation and the application fee.

Salary and Career Outlook for Counselors in Wisconsin

While the demand for mental health practitioners and average salary levels in Wisconsin vary across different specialties, future licensed professional counselors can expect higher-than-average job growth across most counseling specialties.

Average Salary for Counselors in Wisconsin

While counseling salaries may rank lower than salaries for other mental health practitioners, it is still possible to make a comfortable living. How much a counselor earns depends on several factors. Job location, type of employer, certifications, and years of experience all impact salary potential. Wisconsin's substance use, behavioral disorders, and mental health counselors are the highest-paid counselors in the state, earning an average annual salary of $66,230 in May 2023.

Average Annual Salary for Counselors in Wisconsin
Occupation Average Annual Salary
Educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors $61,610
Marriage and family therapists $44,220
Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors $66,230
Counselors, all other $55,710
Source: BLS, 2023

Occupation Outlook for Counselors in Wisconsin

Wisconsin faces several mental health challenges that will continue to drive demand for counselors between 2020 and 2030.

According to research presented by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a leading provider of health information, drug overdose death rates have increased in Wisconsin from 12.1% per 100,000 in 2011 to 31.65% per 100,000 in 2021. Among adults in Wisconsin experiencing symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder between April and May 2022, 34.9% reported needing counseling or therapy but not receiving it, compared to the U.S. average of 28.2%.

As a result of these trends, counselors who specialize in substance use, behavioral disorder, and mental health conditions will find their services especially in demand. Wisconsin can expect an 18.5% increase in employment of these practitioners between 2020 and 2030.

Career Outlook for Counselors in Wisconsin
Occupation Change in Employment 2020-2030
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors 18.5%
Marriage and Family Therapists 12.2%
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors 6.4%
Counselors, All Other -2%
Source: Projections Central

Frequently Asked Questions About Counseling Degree Programs in Wisconsin

How long does it take to become a counselor in Wisconsin?

It takes 8-9 years to become a counselor in Wisconsin. After earning a four-year bachelor's degree, you must complete a master's in counseling, which typically takes 2-3 years. The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services requires two additional years of supervised experience to independently practice as a licensed professional counselor.

How do I become a counselor in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin requires a CACREP-accredited master's in counseling, a completed application, a passing score on the NCE or NMHCE, and two years of supervised experience to qualify for counseling licensure. Consult the Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling, and Social Work Examining Board for current information on supervised experience and national examination requirements.

How often do counselors have to renew their licenses in Wisconsin?

You must apply for license renewal every two years and pay a $60 renewal fee. Wisconsin requires the completion of 30 hours of continuing education credits, including four credits in professional ethics, during each renewal period.

How much does it cost to apply for your counseling license in Wisconsin?

The professional counseling training license fee required for the Wisconsin supervised experience requirement is $60. After completing supervised experience hours and passing the approved national exam, you may apply for the initial professional counseling license by exam with a $60 fee.

Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by Best Counseling Degrees. Page last reviewed April 13, 2024.

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