Introduction to counseling, introduction to psychology, human development
Psychology, counseling, social work
Classroom assistant, school administrative assistant, office assistant
Classroom assistants: $24,900 per year
School administrative/office assistants: $36,500 per year
Classroom assistants: 6% job growth between 2014-2024
School administrative/office assistants: 3% job growth
Are you passionate about helping young people cultivate the social and emotional skills needed to be successful? Do you want to truly make a difference in students’ lives? If so, a school counseling degree will set you on the path towards a rewarding career in the field.
The school counseling industry is expected to grow 8% from 2014 to 2024. As enrollment rates rise for elementary, middle, and high schools, demand for school counselors will grow — making an online school counseling degree an especially wise investment in upcoming years.
If you’ve been told that you are a good listener and you like building meaningful relationships, an online school counseling degree program could be a good fit for you. As a professional in this field, you should also be able to empathize with young people from diverse backgrounds and show flexibility, humility, a good sense of humor, and evaluation skills.
School counselors often have demanding yet incredibly fulfilling jobs. If you think you have what it takes to excel as a school counselor, read on. Our guide contains information about different counseling jobs and the types of online school counseling degrees you’ll need to succeed in the field.
Meet our expert
“This is a job that is often misunderstood, and you may find yourself educating not just the kids, but the community, too.”
Jump to a Section
Online School Counseling Degree Overview
|Degree||Avg Degree Cost||Avg Loan Default Rate||Time Commitment||Early Career Pay||Mid-Career Pay||Unemployment Rate|
Most jobs in the school counseling field require a school counseling degree at the master’s level. On top of earning a school counseling degree online, practicing school counselors usually need a credential issued at the state level. It usually takes about two years and costs $16,771 to earn a masters in school counseling online, with early career salaries in the field averaging $40,724. There are some school systems and positions in the field that may only require a school counseling degree at the bachelor’s level.
Online School Counseling Degrees
Introduction to counseling I, introduction to counseling II, ethical and professional issues in counseling
Counseling, psychology, education, social work
Teacher, school office manager, case manager, social worker
Teachers (kindergarten and elementary): $54,550 per year
Teachers (high school): $57,200 per year
Office managers: $86,110 per year
Case managers: $63,530 per year
Social workers: $45,900 per year
Teachers (kindergarten and elementary): 6% job growth between 2014-2024
Teachers (high school): 6% job growth
Office managers: 8% job growth
Case managers: 10% job growth
Social workers: 12% job growth
Counseling theories, group counseling, school counseling program development & evaluation, advanced developmental psychology, legal and ethical principles of counseling
School counseling, guidance counseling, community counseling
Elementary school counselor, middle school counselor, high school counselor, guidance counselor
Elementary, middle school, high school, & guidance counselors: $53,660
Elementary, middle school, high school, & guidance counselors: 8% job growth between 2014-24
School Counseling Master’s Degree Rankings
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
|1||New York University||New York||$$$$$||70 Washington Sq South|
New York, NY 10012-1091
For over 185 years, New York University (NYU) has been one of the most prestigious schools in the nation. NYU's online master's degree in school counseling prepares graduates for careers as school counselors in pre-kindergarten to grade 12 settings. The 48-credit degree takes 18 to 33 months to complete and combines interactive online coursework with experiential learning. Most online classes are asynchronous and allow for live, face-to-face meetings with peers and professors when needed; however, some courses may require weekly scheduled meetings. There is a three-to-four day on-campus requirement during summer term.
The program’s extensive experiential learning section features classes hosted within NYU's counseling lab, a 100-hour first year practicum, and a 600-hour internship. NYU’s master’s degree in school counseling offers a concentration in bilingual school counseling for those who wish to work with linguistically diverse children, and electives in sexual decision-making and drug- and alcohol-related programs.
|2||University of Missouri - Columbia||Columbia||$$$$$||105 Jesse Hall|
Columbia, MO 65211
Founded in 1839, the University of Missouri is a leader in higher education -- on-campus and online. Mizzou Online runs programs for 17 University of Missouri colleges, including the Columbia campus. Housed in the School of Education, the online master's degree in school counseling provides students with a master's degree in education in educational, school, and counseling psychology.
Students select one of the following emphases: the 33 credit focus on educational psychology, student learning, and well-being; the 34 credit focus on mental health practices in schools; or the 30 credit program on positive coaching, ideal for graduates interested in coaching in school systems. Each of these programs require a final capstone paper to graduate. Most online students study part-time while working, and complete the program in approximately two years. Mizzou Online also has graduate-level certificates available in positive psychology and multicultural education. All online students pay in-state tuition costs.
|3||Wake Forest University||Winston Salem||$$$$$||1834 Wake Forest Road|
Winston Salem, NC 27106
First established in 1934, Wake Forest University (WF) draws students from across the country for its top-ranked education. The online master's degree in school counseling is one of the few fully online curriculums offered at WF. Since 1996, the program has administered the National Counselor Exam, allowing graduates of the master of arts in school counseling to work as school counselors from elementary to high school. The 60 credit curriculum requires 18 credits within the school counseling focus. Most students are able to complete the program in less than three years. All courses are run asynchronously, though many feature opportunities for live chats and discussions. WFU also offers concentrations in clinical mental health counseling and human services.
|4||Lehigh University||Bethlehem||$$$$$||27 Memorial Drive West|
Bethlehem, PA 18015
Lehigh University, situated on a 2,358-acre wooded campus in Pennsylvania’s picturesque Lehigh Valley, offers robust options for online learning. The master's degree in school counseling online prepares students to help and counsel children in the public and private school system by earning a master's of education in international counseling (M.Ed.). This hybrid program offers fall and spring semesters completely online, while summer semesters require campus visits. The structure of online courses varies, with some fully asynchronous, some synchronous, and others a blend of the two. This 60 credit M.Ed. in international counseling ends with a full-time internship that requires a minimum of 300 hours per semester in a counseling setting. Transfer credits are accepted on a case-by-case basis up to a maximum of six.
|5||Liberty University||Lynchburg||$$$$$||1971 University Blvd|
Lynchburg, VA 24515
Since 1985, Liberty University has been a pioneer in the field of online and distance education. The master's degree in school counseling is a 48 credit curriculum offered mostly online, with students required to take four courses on campus during their program. The degree culminates with a six-credit internship to enhance practical skills. Students who carry a 3.0 grade point average throughout the program are eligible to take the National Counselor Exam during their last semester. Liberty’s program is approved by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and graduates are prepared to work as K-12 counselors throughout Virginia and many other states. Up to 18 credits may be transferred from an approved master's degree program.
|6||University of West Alabama||Livingston||$$$$$||Station One|
Livingston, AL 35470
With more than 180 years of history, the University of West Alabama (UWA) has a tradition of providing opportunities to nontraditional students. Today, UWA offers an extensive list of online programs, including a master's degree in school counseling. The master of education with a school counseling certification is 48 credits, with 39 credits required in the counseling certification. Unique courses, such as multicultural populations, and an intensive 600-hour internship, allows UWA to give its students a well-rounded education. UWA has six terms each year, running for eight weeks in the fall and spring sessions, and six weeks in the summer. Students to take 18-30 credits per year and complete the degree in less than 18 months. While up to nine credits are eligible to transfer, all applicants are required to have at least two years of satisfactory educational experience.
|7||Seton Hall University||South Orange||$$$$$||400 S Orange Ave|
South Orange, NJ 07079-2697
Founded in 1856, Seton Hall University is one of the top-ranked institutions in the U.S. With 10,000 online students each year, Seton Hall offers a comprehensive list of online degrees including an online master's degree in school counseling. The 48 credit master of arts in school counseling prepares students to counsel children and teens in various settings. In addition to traditional counseling courses, the program features a disaster response course, a nine-credit counseling internship, and a pathway into the education specialist (Ed.S.) degree in professional counseling. Most online counseling courses are taught asynchronously, though some classes require scheduled lessons. A four-day on-campus requirement begins each year. Full-time students can complete the degree in as little as two years. While the program is specifically designed to meet the NJ Department of Education requirements, it is suggested applicants check to see if it qualifies in their home state.
|8||University of Massachusetts - Boston||Boston||$$$$$||100 Morrissey Boulevard|
Boston, MA 02125-3393
The University of Massachusetts (UMass) offers a number of programs available to both distant and international students. The master's degree in school counseling online allows students from all over the world to pursue their careers in school mental health. The 60 credit master of education degree in school counseling has an on-campus requirement of nine credits per semester, and meets the licensure requirements for the state of Massachusetts. There are also two week-long clinical courses that must be taken at the UMass Dartmouth campus, which allow students to form a relationship with their instructors and fellow students. While most of the online courses are run asynchronously, some do require a weekly scheduled one-hour meeting. The online school counseling program is only available full-time, and UMass is not currently accepting online students from Alabama, Arkansas, Maryland, or Minnesota.
|9||University of North Dakota||Grand Forks||$$$$$||264 Centennial Drive, Stop 8193|
Grand Forks, ND 58202-8193
As North Dakota's oldest and largest university, the University of North Dakota (UND) calls Grand Forks, ND its home. The online master's degree in school counseling is a 50 credit, 36 month MA in counseling with an emphasis in school counseling. Evening classes benefit working students, while live interactive discussions in a virtual classroom encourage student collaboration. Two four-day sessions on UND’s campus are required each summer. The curriculum emphasizes theoretical elements of the field with courses such as social justice and diversity; while a practicum and the two-semester internship provide a practical accent. All online students are eligible for reduced in-state tuition and can transfer up to 12 credits. While the master of arts in counseling is eligible for the North Dakota Department of Education licensure, it may also be eligible in other states.
|10||Gallaudet University||Washington||$$$$$||800 Florida Ave, NE|
Washington, DC 20002-3695
For over 150 years, Gallaudet University has been dedicated to students with hearing impairments, and offers more than 50 degree programs, including the master's degree in school counseling. Current teachers or childcare professionals can earn a master's degree in less than three years, and the hybrid nature of the curriculum means students take online courses during the fall and spring semesters, and visit the beautiful Washington, DC campus during the summer. All applicants must have a 3.0 GPA and at least nine credits in undergraduate psychology courses. Preference is given to those who have completed an educational program serving deaf and hearing impaired populations. In addition to traditional courses, practicum and an internship, Gallaudet University offers coursework in counseling students with special needs and psychopharmacology. Gallaudet is part of the Online Learning Consortium, which provides access to a wealth of resources and support for online students.
|11||Creighton University||Omaha||$$$$$||2500 California Plaza|
Omaha, NE 68178
Founded in 1878, Creighton University serves more than 8,000 students across its nine schools, colleges, and online programs. Their online programs offer students the same experience as the on-campus counterparts, with the added benefit of flexible schedules. Most online courses in Creighton’s online master's degree in school counseling are taught asynchronously. However, some classes do require real-time meetings with instructors and peers. Creighton’s online master of science in school counseling and preventive mental health offers concentrations in elementary, secondary, and pre-kindergarten to grade 12 guidance counseling. Online courses run for eight weeks and requires 36 credits, allowing students to complete the degree in two years, including a nine-month internship. The program is designed for students with teaching certificates, though Nebraska residents require social or behavioral sciences courses. Financial aid and special scholarship consideration is given to educators on behalf of the Catholic school board. Additionally, all online students are enrolled in a program-specific Distance Student Orientation to ensure success.
|12||Missouri Baptist University||Saint Louis||$$$$$||One College Park Dr|
Saint Louis, MO 63141-8698
For more than 50 years, Missouri Baptist University (MBU) has provided Christian-based degree programs. Today the school offers 11 graduate degrees online, including the online master's degree in school counseling. The master of arts in counseling (MAC) degree is offered asynchronously, giving working students the flexibility to complete their courses at anytime. Designed for prospective elementary and secondary school guidance counselors, the master of arts in counseling degree requires students complete 48-54 credits over approximately two years. In addition to the traditional counseling courses, students take courses on children, adolescents, and families. Blending theory and practice, students work with different testing and evaluation methods. Classes typically begin every eight weeks, and students may begin the program at any time.
|13||Oregon State University||Corvallis||$$$$$||1500 S.W. Jefferson|
Corvallis, OR 97331
Founded in 1868, Oregon State University (OSU) has grown into an international research institution respected around the world. OSU’s Ecampus offers over 50 online degrees, including several hybrid programs which blend the online experience with on-site coursework at their Salem, OR campus. The master's degree in school counseling online is a 75 credit hybrid program completed half online and half on campus. The Master of Counseling (M.Coun.) program requires students be on campus two weekends in each of the four terms, while the online component is asynchronous in the first year and run in real-time during the second and third years. This school counseling curriculum is designed for graduates to boost success rates in higher education among underrepresented populations. Other classes in special education and the legal and ethical issues in counseling round out the degree. Since the M.Coun. is designed to meet Oregon state licensure requirements, out-of-state applicants should check with their state's licensing board.
|14||Angelo State University||San Angelo||$$$$$||2601 W. Avenue N|
San Angelo, TX 76909
As a member of the Texas Tech University System, Angelo State University (ASU) offers more than 25 master's degrees, with several available 100% online. The master's degree in school counseling is a 36 credit hour master of education (M.Ed.) in guidance and counseling program. Students complete the degree in less than two years, and are prepared to work in any school setting. Courses are offered during eight-week terms and most are asynchronous, although some real-time meetings may be required. Students have the option of an additional School Counselor Certification, which requires a course in the role of the school counselor and a practicum in school counseling. Graduates are eligible to take the Texas Examination of Educator Standards (TExES), though ASU encourages students contact their own state licensing body to learn how the degree fits with their requirements.
|15||Mercy College||Dobbs Ferry||$$$$$||555 Broadway|
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
With a main campus in Dobbs Ferry, NY, and satellites in Manhattan, Yorktown Heights the Bronx, and online, Mercy College has a large footprint. The online master's degree in school counseling allows students from anywhere to complete their degree 100% online. The 48 credit master of science degree in counseling prepares students to work as counselors at various school levels. Mercy College also offers a bilingual school counselor track for those interested in linguistically diverse schools. Prior to the program’s culminating 12 credit internship, students complete child abuse workshops and courses in violence prevention. Some states have 60 credit requirements for their counseling licenses, therefore out-of-state applicants should check with their state's licensing body for specific requirements. While the type of online study varies in the curriculum, most courses are taught asynchronously to allow for schedule flexibility. Student transcripts are reviewed individually, but usually a maximum of six transfer credits are permitted.
|16||Concordia University - Wisconsin||Mequon||$$$$$||12800 N Lake Shore Dr|
Mequon, WI 53097-2402
The Concordia University System consists of 10 colleges operated within the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) tradition, and learning centers throughout Wisconsin, Missouri, and Michigan, and online. The master's degree in school counseling online at prepares graduates to work in a number of school counseling settings. The master of science in education has a school counseling option and a professional counseling option available. The school counseling option focuses on areas such as test design and analysis, mental health counseling, and learning to work with at-risk children. Concordia matches potential online students with a personal online student success advisor who guides them through the entire application process, from transfer credits to financial aid.
|17||Salem College||Winston-Salem||$$$$$||601 S Church St|
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Salem College, based in Winston-Salem, NC, began in 1772 and is one of oldest educational institutions for women in the nation. Salem offers an affordable and rigorous online master's degree in school counseling. The master of education in school counseling (M.Ed. -- SC) program provides students with culturally and socially relevant counseling practices, alongside traditional and contemporary assessment and evaluation techniques. All courses are accessible online at any time, except for two weekend-long seminars hosted on the Salem College campus. Salem’s master’s degree in school counseling begins each year in the fall. Students usually complete the 48 credits, including the 600-hour internship, in approximately 36 months. While this program meets the requirements for school counseling licensure in North Carolina, students should check the requirements of their home state.
|18||University of Central Arkansas||Conway||$$$$$||201 Donaghey Ave|
Conway, AR 72035-0001
Established in 1907, the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) is a leader in 21st-century education. The master's degree in school counseling is a 48 credit master of science (MS) in professional school counseling. The degree provides two tracks for students -- an initial licensure track for those who don't yet have a teaching license, and an add-on track for those who do. Both tracks are taught primarily through scheduled and real-time virtual classes, with occasional asynchronous courses. Two weekend on-campus requirements are required at UCA's main campus in Conway, AR. UCA's program also offers courses in working with mildly disabled students, and for working within multicultural and diverse settings. Though the program meets the requirements for Arkansas licensure, the curriculum is modeled on the American School Counselor Association.
|19||Edinboro University of Pennsylvania||Edinboro||$$$$$||219 Meadville Street|
Edinboro, PA 16444-0001
Established in 1857 as a private teachers school, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania has become the largest university in Northwestern Pennsylvania and one of the most prestigious universities in the country. With robust online options, students from all over the world can complete their degrees at Edinboro. The 30 credit master of education in educational psychology program focuses on elements of education and psychology and boasts approval by the National Association of School Psychologists. Graduates are prepared to work with students with exceptionalities, and students with mild to moderate disabilities, among others. While the degree can be completed part-time over two years, it requires graduates have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 within the program's courses and achieve a 70% on the comprehensive exam. For all online programs at Edinboro, online orientations, academic support, and 24/7 technical support are readily available.
|20||University of the Southwest||Hobbs||$$$$$||6610 North Lovington Hwy|
Hobbs, NM 88240
For over 60 years, the University of the Southwest (USW) has been molding leaders in and around the state of New Mexico. Every one of USW's graduate degree programs are available online, including the master's degree in school counseling. The 42 credit master of science in education with a school counseling concentration prepares the next generation of counselors in primary, secondary, and high school settings. The program offers course options in play therapy and sexuality, as well as traditional intervention and counseling courses. All online courses are run asynchronously, allowing students the flexibility to study when it suits them. Online courses begin every eight weeks and students may start at any time. Since the majority of graduate students at USW study online, the institutional support includes online tutoring, financial aid, and technical support.
|21||Fort Hays State University||Hays||$$$$$||600 Park St|
Hays, KS 67601-4099
For more than 20 years, Fort Hays State University (FHSU) has brought its degree programs to the world via its virtual college. Today FSHU offers more than 40 online degrees, including the master of science in school psychology and the specialist in education with a major in school psychology. This dual program allows students to earn a master of science (M.S.) and a specialist in education (Ed.S.) in two years. All courses are offered through the FHSU's virtual college, though there is a required five-day workshop hosted on the main campus in Kansas each year. Students are not required to take both programs. To enter the 30 credit master of science in school psychology, applicants must have at least 12 credits in undergraduate-level psychology courses. While completing the master of science in school psychology enables students to continue with the 36 credit specialist in education degree, students from other institutions with a master's degree in school psychology are also eligible. A 600 hour internship is required for students who wish to complete both degrees.
|22||Our Lady of the Lake University||San Antonio||$$$$$||411 SW 24th St|
San Antonio, TX 78207-4689
Since it was established in 1895, Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) has provided education to students with limited access to higher learning. OLLU offers six online degrees, including a master's degree in school counseling. The 48 credit online master of education in school counseling prepares graduates for primary and secondary school environments. In two years of study, students take a variety of courses in counseling, assessment, treatment, and the personal and professional development of children and teens. All online courses at OLLU are asynchronous, giving working students the flexibility to complete coursework on their own schedule. Students enroll in two online classes per semester, and graduates are prepared for three licensure exams, the Texas Examinations for Educator Standards, the National Certified Counselor Examination, and the Licensed Professional Counselor Examination. While the master of education degree is commonly accepted in other states, OLLU suggests applicants check their individual state requirements.
|23||Hampton University||Hampton||$$$$$||E Queen Street|
Hampton, VA 23668-0099
With more than 140 years of rich tradition and history, Hampton University values a diverse and inclusive educational environment. The university’s online component, Hampton U Online, offers degree programs to students all over the world. The online educational specialist degree in counseling is designed for graduates of a master of arts degree in counseling. This 30 credit program can be completed in 16 weeks and prepares school counselors to advance in their careers. The program provides courses in advanced counseling, abnormal behavior, and leadership training. Designed as the ideal complement to an online master's degree in school counseling, Hampton U's online educational specialist degree in counseling has start dates each spring and fall semester. Asynchronous coursework provides flexibility for students. And the university provides online support and access to students, such as personalized career services assistance, academic support, and financial aid.
|24||Lamar University||Beaumont||$$$$$||4400 MLK Blvd|
Beaumont, TX 77705
As one of the fastest growing colleges in Texas, Lamar University boasts some of the nation's best online programs. Lamar University's online programs, such as the master's degree in school counseling online, provides students with multiple start date options and combines the flexible online experience with face-to-face instruction. In the master of education in school counseling online, students can complete the degree in 22 months, which includes a 15-week practicum. The 48 credit master's degree has five and 11-week long courses, and a five-day on-campus requirement each year (two in total). These residency requirements make up the program's 45 contact hours the university provides for student supervision and evaluation. Contact hours are split between live on-campus meetings and live online web-conferencing. The master's degree in school counseling program also utilizes powerful online portfolio software.
|25||Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion||Marion||$$$$$||4201 S Washington St|
Marion, IN 46953-4974
Since 1985, Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) has prioritized educating adults and working professionals. As a part of this mission, IWU offers several online degrees, such as the online master's degree in school counseling. The 48 credit master of arts with a major in school counseling is one of six specializations offered within the master of arts at IWU. The school counseling degree integrates Christian principles throughout the curriculum. While the degree can be completed in two years online, it features two weekend-long on campus requirements (hosted at the end of October and beginning of May). Applicants require at least six undergraduate credits in psychology -- including three from abnormal psychology -- and six credits in bible studies. Students without credits in bible studies may be admitted on a conditional basis. Applicants are eligible for up to nine transfer credits and have access to specific counseling program scholarships. Students near IWU's campus benefit from two counseling centers for graduate work experience.
Research methods, program evaluation, assessment in counseling and education
DBA and PhD
School counseling researcher, professor of school counseling, counselor educator
Professor/counselor educator (postsecondary): $72,470 per year
Professor/counselor educator (postsecondary): 13% job growth between 2014-24
Online School Counseling Find Accredited Degrees
Find Schools for School Counseling
Explore accredited online colleges with our comprehensive database of online programs. Sort the results based on criteria like degree level and location.Start Your Search
Online School Counseling Choose Your Career
Average School Counseling Salaries
|Growth Rate 2014-2024||Number of Jobs: 2014||Degree||Certifications|
|19%||168,200||Masters||State Specific Licensing Requirements|
Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help people with relationship problems and mental and emotional disorders. They help clients identify problematic behaviors and figure out strategies to manage or overcome them. Some job duties in this field include diagnosing, treating, and managing mental health and emotional disorders, helping clients develop skills and plans for the future, and referring clients to other resources. If you are a good listener, enjoy helping people, and have a calm, authoritative demeanor, you might consider an online school counseling degree.
|Growth Rate 2014-2024||Number of Jobs: 2014||Degree||Certifications|
|22%||94,900||Bachelor's||State Specific Licensing Requirements|
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors help people recover from problems like alcoholism, drug addiction, and other behavioral disorders. A person in this position is responsible for evaluating behavior, developing treatment plans, helping clients develop skills for recovery, and connecting clients and their families with other resources. Character traits useful for a career as a substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor include good communication skills, empathy, evaluation skills, and the desire to help others.
|Growth Rate 2014-2024||Number of Jobs: 2014||Degree||Certifications|
|8%||273,400||Masters||State Specific Licensing Requirements|
School counselors help students cultivate the social and emotional skills needed to succeed. Career counselors help students figure out careers for which they are most suited. School and career counselors also help people evaluate their abilities and interests, identify behavioral issues, develop skills needed for academic and career achievement, work with teachers, parents and other family members, and identify and report cases of abuse. If you have skills in evaluation, relationship-building, listening, and empathy, an online school counseling degree is the first step to getting started in this career.
Online School Counseling Degree in Action
Lisa Lawmaster Hess School Counseling
Lisa Lawmaster is a retired school counselor who spent 27 years as an elementary school counselor before retiring four years ago. She is currently working as an adjunct professor of psychology.