Best Online Master’s in School Counseling Degree Programs

With an online master’s in school counseling, graduates can pursue careers in the primary, secondary and post-secondary public and private school settings as school counselors or guidance counselors. These professionals have the opportunity to shape young lives and impact future careers by applying counseling techniques and career guidance to assess, intervene and guide students on the best path for their future.

The career path for school counselors is widening. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports school counseling jobs are on the rise; openings in the field are expected to grow slightly faster than average through 2022, at a rate of 12%. A master’s in school counseling online will greatly increase your chances of landing one of these new positions. As students seeking this degree are typically working professionals, the flexibility of an online education can be a necessity. Completing coursework digitally provides an option that works within time and budget constraints, typically offering more affordable and accelerated courses. Students can continue working or launch a new career in a fairly short amount of time.

To help you take the next step toward attaining this valuable degree, we offer the following top online master’s in school counseling programs.

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost Address & Contact Info School Links Acclaim for Online Programs School Description
1

University of Missouri

Columbia
  • in-state tuition: $9,415
  • out-of-state tuition: $23,764
105 Jesse Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
(573) 882-2121

Online students at U of M Columbia can attain a master's of education in educational, school and counseling psychology with an emphasis in mental health practices in schools (M Ed, EdSp). This 34-hour program (31 for Educational Specialist) is the first online program of its kind in the country. Its focus is the prevention of mental health problems for children and adolescents. Coursework is completed through the Blackboard learning management system. Classes are semester format, with assignments due at specific times throughout the term.

Curriculum coverage includes disruptive behaviors, parent communication, diversity issues, crisis management and resiliency. The degree is appropriate for those working with children and adolescents in school settings, such as:

  • Teachers
  • Counselors
  • Nurses
  • Resource Officers
  • Administrators
  • Substance Abuse Coordinators

Topics encompass delinquency, eating disorders, depression, stress and abuse. A capstone integrative paper completes the requirements. The program does not grant school counselor certification or counseling licensure.

2

Lehigh University

Bethlehem
  • in-state tuition: $9,415
  • out-of-state tuition: $23,764
27 Memorial Drive West
Bethlehem, PA 18015
(610) 758-3000

An online master’s degree of education in international counseling from Lehigh University prepares students for a career as a counselor in elementary, middle and secondary schools, as well as community mental health agencies and hospitals. The curriculum targets three areas of international issues: school, community and family. Students will learn to provide culturally appropriate interventions and approaches that encompass diversity and international communities.

Admission to the online master degree in school counseling program requires a minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate work, two letters of recommendation and an essay. Completion involves 30 hours of 400-level courses, plus six credit hours of master’s internship. Most students complete the program in two calendar years, accomplished through a blend of online coursework on the Moodle platform and face-to-face summer sessions.

3

Wake Forest University

Winston Salem
  • annually: $44,742
1834 Wake Forest Road
Winston Salem, NC 27106
(336) 758-5000

Wake Forest University offers an online Master of Arts in School Counseling consisting of 60 total credit hours: 42 credits in foundational courses and 18 credits hours in school counseling-specific courses. Graduates of this program are eligible to take the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification. On-campus administration of this exam is available, and 100% of graduating students who have taken the exam have passed.

Completion of this degree prepares students for careers as a school counselor, substance abuse counselor, career counselor or crisis counselor. Coursework is designed to be completed in three years. Classes are accessed through the Sakai learning management system.

4

Seton Hall University

South Orange
  • annually: $35,820
400 S Orange Ave
South Orange, NJ 07079-2697
(973) 761-9000

The Seton Hall M.A. in School Counseling program is accredited by the New Jersey Department of education. It prepares students to work as school counselors in K-12 school districts. The program is 48 credit hours, including nine credits of field experience. Coursework covers counseling core studies, assessments, research and psychological and sociological foundations. The supervised field experience is made up of one practicum and two internships.

Core theoretical and clinical curriculum emphasizes the development of skills to provide counseling services, empower students and families, provide crisis intervention, consult with other school staff and advocate for students. All online coursework is completed through the Blackboard platform.

5

University of Massachusetts - Boston

Boston
  • in-state tuition: $11,966
  • out-of-state tuition: $27,430
100 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02125-3393
(617) 287-5000

The online master degree in school counseling at U of M Boston is a primarily online degree which prepares students for careers as school guidance counselors. Coursework covers core topics in psychology, cultural diversity, vocational assessment and development and counseling theory and practice. The program is 60 credits, including field experiences. Practicum and internships may be completed in schools local to each student. Supervision for these experiences is accomplished through weekly online chats.

All students start in the summer semester and are required to attend a two-week summer study in person at the UMass Dartmouth campus for completion of two courses. Housing is available for online students. All online work is accessed through the Blackboard platform; enrollees must attend full-time (9 credits per semester).

6

Gallaudet University

Washington
  • annually: $13,800
800 Florida Ave, NE
Washington, DC 20002-3695
(202) 651-5000

The Summers and Online School Counseling program at Gallaudet University prepares graduates to become school counselors with a focus on deaf, hard of hearing and hearing impaired students in K-12 educational settings. Admission requirements include a minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate work, letters of recommendation, four essays, two years of work experience and nine hours of psychology credits. Preference is given to prospective students with experience serving deaf and hard of hearing people.

The online hybrid program typically requires three years to complete. Students usually attend classes on campus for three summers and complete online coursework for six semesters. Online classes are accessed through the Blackboard learning management system. Studies culminate in a 12-credit internship which requires students to work five days per week in an educational setting serving deaf and hard of hearing students. During their last semester, students are eligible to take the National Counselor Exam.

7

Oregon State University

Corvallis
  • in-state tuition: $8,322
  • out-of-state tuition: $23,514
1500 S.W. Jefferson
Corvallis, OR 97331
(541) 737-0123

Upon completion of this 75-credit program, students will have earned a Master of Counseling from Oregon State University. Courses are offered in hybrid format, with 50 percent online and 50 percent on-campus. Classroom meetings are held two weekends each term in Salem, Oregon. Other coursework is completed online via the Canvas platform. Online practicum and internships courses are completed synchronously, requiring online attendance at specific times.

Students with this degree are prepared for careers in school counseling. The program emphasizes skills in group therapy, leadership, research and advocacy, with the goals of delivering school counseling services to students and increasing college attendance. Coursework encompasses developmental perspectives, cultural perspectives, special education issues, research methods, group and family counseling, crisis and grief and career development. This is an accredited program, recognized by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The program is not formally approved for professional licensure outside of Oregon.

8

Concordia University - Wisconsin

Mequon
  • annually: $25,160
12800 N Lake Shore Dr
Mequon, WI 53097-2402
(262) 243-5700

The Master of Science in Education – Counseling prepares online students for a career as a K-12 school counselor in the public or parochial school setting. Coursework emphasizes personality development, test design and analysis, counseling program creation and implementation, one-to-one counseling and group counseling.

The program requires completion of 36 credits in counseling foundations. Coursework includes tests and measurements, theories of personality, human development, counseling theories and individual and group counseling. Classes are accessed through the Blackboard online learning platform. Students also complete six credit hours of practicum, involving 600 hours of supervised field experience, and submit a completed professional portfolio to finish the program.

9

University of North Dakota

Grand Forks
  • in-state tuition: $7,508
  • out-of-state tuition: $17,794
264 Centennial Drive, Stop 8193
Grand Forks, ND 58202-8193
(800) 225-5863

This Master of Arts in Counseling with an emphasis in School Counseling prepares online students for a career as a school counselor in the K-12 setting. The program is 50 credits, requiring two years to complete. Classes are synchronous, held in the evenings with live interaction through the Blackboard platform. Students must also attend two mandatory four-day campus visits each summer (four total.) Upon completion of coursework, students are eligible for North Dakota department of education licensure. The program may also be compatible with requirements in other states.

The program emphasizes diversity, working with underserved populations and promoting social justice. Coursework follows the American School Counselor Association’s National Model. Skills developed include educational and career planning, assessments and evaluations, special needs and life skills. To graduate, students must complete a two-semester supervised counseling experience as well as an independent research project.

10

University of West Alabama

Livingston
  • in-state tuition: $7,660
  • out-of-state tuition: $14,170
Station One
Livingston, AL 35470
(205) 652-3400

The University of West Alabama offers two options for its Master of Education in School Counseling. Students may follow the track for certification or non-certification:

  • Certification requires a total of 48 credit hours, including nine hours of professional courses and 39 hours in the area of certification. These 39 hours cover coursework such as counseling techniques, crisis intervention and multicultural populations, as well as nine credit hours of field experience in practicum and internships.
  • Non-certification requires a total of 39 credit hours, nine in professional courses and 30 in content area courses. Content area covers topics such as counseling techniques, diagnostics, group counseling and includes six credit hours of field experience in internships.

All online coursework is completed through the Blackboard learning management system.

For admittance to the certification program, students must hold a valid baccalaureate level certification in a teaching field or master’s level professional educator certificate in another field. The non-certification program’s admission requirements include attainment of a bachelor’s or master’s level degree in a teaching field or instructional support.

11

Missouri Baptist University

Saint Louis
  • annually: $21,790
One College Park Dr
Saint Louis, MO 63141-8698
(877) 434-1115

Missouri Baptist offers three options for students seeking an online master's degree in school counseling:

  • Elementary Counseling, K-8 – This option is for certified teachers. Program completion requires 48-58 credit hours, 33 in core coursework, 9 in school counseling, and 6-7 in elementary counseling.
  • Secondary Counseling, 7-12 – This track is also for certified teachers. Program completion requires 48-57 credit hours, 33 in core coursework, 9 in school counseling, and 6 in secondary counseling.
  • Elementary and Secondary Counseling, K-12 – This option is for certified teachers as well as those without teacher certification. Completion of the program requires 51-61 credit hours, 33 in core coursework, 9 in school counseling, and 9-10 in K-12 counseling.

All tracks meet Missouri Certification requirements for an elementary and secondary school guidance counselor position. Coursework encompasses counseling techniques, human development, group counseling, multicultural studies and professional portfolio development.

Online classes are offered year-round in an 8-week, asynchronous format. Coursework is accessed through the Canvas learning management system. Students can complete the program in two years.

12

University of the Cumberlands

Williamsburg
  • annually: $20,000
6191 College Station Drive
Williamsburg, KY 40769
(606) 549-2200

The University of the Cumberlands Master of Arts in Education offers a School Counseling Concentration attainable through online studies. The online master degree in school counseling program prepares graduates to become a school guidance counselor. Program completion requires 45 credit hours. Coursework covers subjects such as diverse needs; group and individual counseling; grief and loss; ethics; research methods; and assessments. Students must also complete a counseling practicum or internship. Total hours of required field experience is dependent upon prior experience and teacher certification.

Students complete online coursework via the Blackboard learning management system.
Admission to the program requires a bachelor’s degree and a minimum 2.75 GPA, as well as three written essays.

13

Regent University

Virginia Beach
  • annually: $15,838
1000 Regent University Dr
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
(757) 352-4127

An M.A. in School Counseling from Regent University prepares graduates for a career as a counselor in the K-12 school system. The program emphasizes counseling techniques with a biblical foundation. Completion of the degree requires 60 credit hours: 39 in core coursework and 21 in school counseling major courses. Core classes cover research, theories of counseling, family systems, group counseling, assessment and multicultural counseling. Two 3-credit internships are included as part of the coursework.

Courses are offered online through the Blackboard platform. Online students must also fulfill three residency requirements, which consist of three week-long on-campus sessions during which students begin a course that will be completed throughout the rest of the semester. The entire program can be completed in two years and may be started in fall or spring.

14

Our Lady of the Lake University

San Antonio
  • annually: $23,922
411 SW 24th St
San Antonio, TX 78207-4689
(210) 434-6711

This Master of Education in School Counseling is a 48-credit program students can complete in two years. Upon graduation, students are prepared to take the Texas Examinations for Educator Standards School Counseling Exam (TExES), as well as the Licensed Professional Counselor Examination and the National Certified Counselor Examination. Graduates are qualified for school counseling at the primary and secondary levels. Admission to the program requires a bachelor’s degree and a minimum 2.75 GPA.

Coursework for the online master's degree in school counseling covers topics such as counseling theories and services, assessments, ethics, multicultural issues and psychological development. Skills emphasized include career development planning, psychological guidance, problem assessment and ethical conduct. Coursework includes two practicum field experiences with a total of 500 required hours. Online courses are completed via MyOLLU Campus Connection.

15

Angelo State University

San Angelo
  • in-state tuition: $6,559
  • out-of-state tuition: $15,055
2601 W. Avenue N
San Angelo, TX 76909
(325) 942-2555

Those interested in pursuing careers in public school counseling or college counseling can complete Angelo State University’s online M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling. Program requirements include 36 total credit hours. All courses are offered online through the Blackboard platform. Classes are delivered in an 8-week format, allowing students to complete the program in less than two years. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree and a minimum GPA of 2.75.

Student coursework will cover the breadth of counseling topics, including cultural issues, testing, development, research, ethics and individual and group counseling. Students also select six credit hours of electives. Graduates are prepared to take the Texas Examination of Educator Standards (TExES).

16

University of Central Arkansas

Conway
  • in-state tuition: $7,595
  • out-of-state tuition: $13,340
201 Donaghey Ave
Conway, AR 72035-0001
(501) 450-5000

The University of Central Arkansas Master's of Science in Professional School Counseling offers two available tracks of study:

  • Initial Licensure Track – This option prepares students without an Arkansas teaching license for a career in school counseling.
  • Add-on Licensure Track – This is the option for students who possess an Arkansas teaching license and would like to obtain additional licensure in school counseling.

The master's in school counseling online program requires completion of 48 credit hours, including practicum and internship experiences. Coursework includes interventions, careers, assessments, multicultural studies and individual and group counseling. The curriculum aligns with the American School Counselor Association National Model.

Online coursework is delivered in a synchronous format, requiring students to be online at a specified day and time. Classes are accessed through the Blackboard platform. Occasional in-person sessions at the main campus in Conway, Arkansas are also required.

17

Fort Hays State University

Hays
  • in-state tuition: $4,358
  • out-of-state tuition: $12,821
600 Park St
Hays, KS 67601-4099
(785) 628-4000

Fort Hays State University offers a 45-credit Master of Science in Counseling program. The core curriculum includes educational research, lifespan human development, foundations of counseling, group counseling and social and cultural foundations. Students must also complete a practicum and an internship in elementary or secondary education school counseling. These field experiences encompass nine of the required credit hours.

The program is online with the exception of three, 4-day, on-campus courses. The remainder of online coursework is completed through the Blackboard learning management system. Faculty and students also use Google apps, blogs, YouTube, Facebook and other technologies to enhance the distance learning experience.

18

The University of Tennessee - Martin

Martin
  • in-state tuition: $7,507
  • out-of-state tuition: $21,451
544 University Street
Martin, TN 38238-0002
(731) 881-7000

The University of Tennessee, Martin offers the opportunity to pursue an M.S. in Counseling with a school counseling concentration. The program requires 48 credit hours for completion, including a practicum and internship completed over 10-week terms with a minimum of 100 clock hours. Curriculum focuses on several core areas of study:

  • Professional Orientation and Ethical Practice
  • Social and Cultural Diversity
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Career Development
  • Helping Relationships
  • Group Work
  • Assessment
  • Research and Program Evaluation

Admission requirements include a minimum GPA of 2.7 and minimum GRE scores: combined verbal and quantitative of 300 and writing 3.5. The application process also involves submission of an essay, letters of recommendation, documentation of teaching experience and a background check. Online courses are completed using the Blackboard learning management system.

19

University of the Southwest

Hobbs
  • annually: $14,280
6610 North Lovington Hwy
Hobbs, NM 88240
(575) 392-6561

This fully online Master of Science in Education prepares students for a career in primary, elementary, middle or high school counseling. The program comprises 42 credits, including a practicum and internship. The practicum requires 60 clock hours of field experience, and the internship is 16 weeks long, requiring 300 hours of supervised field experience. Classes are completed online via the Blackboard platform.

Core coursework emphasizes counseling theories and techniques; career development; counseling ethics; and group, family and child/adolescent counseling. Graduates are prepared for licensure as a school counselor in New Mexico. Out-of-state residents should check with their state’s department of education to determine if the program meets their licensing requirements.

20

Southwestern Assemblies of God University

Waxahachie
  • annually: $17,830
1200 Sycamore
Waxahachie, TX 75165
(888) 937-7248

SAGU emphasizes the integration of biblical values in all academic disciplines. Through their Master of Education in School Counseling program, students can prepare for a career in counseling at the primary or secondary school level. The online master's degree in school counseling program consists of 36 credit hours, made up of five components:

  • Research Component
  • Professional Component
  • Core Component
  • Resource Area Component
  • Practicum Component

The practicum accounts for six of the master's in school counseling online program credit hours and requires 160 clock hours of field experience. Topics covered by courses include learning strategies, classroom management, crisis intervention, play therapy and career development. All online coursework is accessed through the Blackboard learning management system.

Career Outlook

A master’s degree is essential for the successful pursuit of a career in school counseling. Jobs at all levels of school counseling, primary, secondary and postsecondary, require a graduate education.

With an online master’s in school counseling degree in hand, graduates can pursue the growing opportunities in this field. The following are potential job titles and their median salary incomes:

  • School Counselor: $46,392
  • Guidance Counselor, Secondary School: $51,033
  • Guidance Counselor, Elementary School: $42,205
  • High School Counselor: $49,791

Keys To Online Success

Field Experience – Be prepared to complete at least one practicum and internship as part of the master’s in school counseling program. While all other coursework may be completed online, these supervised experiences will be in-person requirements.

State Licensure Requirements – Counseling certifications vary from state to state. Required exams to complete licensure are often state-specific. Be sure to verify that the licensure and/or certification from any online program you are considering meets the requirements of your state. It is possible that coursework may be valid, but a different state exam must be passed after graduation to qualify for licensure in that state.

Next Steps

Licensing – Students graduating from a school counseling master’s program are typically prepared to take a state or national counseling licensure exam. Common exams are the Licensed Professional Counselor Examination and the National Certified Counselor Examination. Passing these solidifies qualifications and increases job opportunities. More information about certifications, licensures and exams can be obtained from the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Teaching – It is important to note this career path typically requires teaching experience. School counselors are usually expected to have completed a bachelor’s degree in education and have at least two years of experience in the classroom.

Important Field Knowledge

Diverse Experience – A job as a school counselor looks quite different based on school setting. Duties will vary based on the age of student population. Counselors at the elementary level are typically more highly involved with family matters, special needs of children and individualized education plans. They may assist in assessments and interventions.

At the secondary level, the focus is often on class choices, placements and college and career guidance. Counselors working with middle and high school students are also more likely to be involved in crisis intervention and student substance abuse issues.

Professional Development – While those pursuing a career in school counseling rarely need a degree beyond the master’s, it is important to continue educational pursuits. Continued renewal of licensure is typically required. Additionally, conferences, in-services and online certifications offer modes of keeping skills and knowledge fresh. As new methods in education, new technological advances and new cultural studies emerge, school counselors should stay current with these developments.

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