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.”
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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
Those passionate about education and working with children one on one should consider a career as a school counselor. School counselors help students identify and solve problems holding them back from academic success in the classroom and developing relationships with peers. Counselors do much more than solve problems. They work with classroom and special education teachers to develop and implement teaching best practices that benefit all students. At the high school level, counselors also help students research colleges and potential careers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the school and career counseling field should grow 13% between 2016 and 2026, much faster than the projected average for all careers. Although schools may need more counselors in the coming years, you should obtain every advantage before searching for a job. Whether or not you possess teaching experience, earning an online master’s in school counseling can benefit you in many ways.
First, a master’s degree shows your dedication to the field. Second, school districts typically provide higher starting salaries to counselors with advanced degrees. Your path toward a career in school counseling begins by selecting the right school for you. Start your search by reviewing the online master’s in school counseling programs in the following ranking.
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||University of the Southwest||Hobbs||$$$$$||6610 North Lovington Hwy|
Hobbs, NM 88240
USW boasts a robust master of science in education in school counseling program. The curriculum prepares students to work at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, helping children and young adults tackle problems and explore educational and career opportunities. This online master's in school counseling satisfies New Mexico's requirement for initial school counseling licensure.
The 42-credit curriculum includes core courses, major requirements, and electives. Unique coursework covers crisis and trauma intervention, program development in schools, and introduction to play therapy. Students remain in good academic standing by maintaining a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and a 500-word personal essay. Transfer students may apply up to six outside credits toward their USW graduate degrees. All online graduate students pay the same per-credit tuition rate. USW holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
|2||University of the Cumberlands||Williamsburg||$$$$$||6191 College Station Drive|
Williamsburg, KY 40769
The online master's in education program at University of the Cumberlands offers many in-demand concentrations, including school counseling. This non-licensure program allows practicing school counselors to learn the latest best practices without putting their careers on hold. Full-time students can earn their degrees in two years.
The 45-credit, synchronous curriculum features coursework in psychological assessments, introduction to addiction counseling, and counseling aspects of grief and loss. The program concludes with a practicum and internship. University of the Cumberlands helps students who do not work as school counselors find suitable practicum and internship sites in their home communities.
Application requirements include a minimum 2.75 GPA and three recommendation letters. Applicants who do not possess teaching licenses also submit GRE or MAT scores. All students pay the same low, per-credit tuition rate for this online master's in school counseling. University of the Cumberlands holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
|3||University of West Alabama||Livingston||$$$$$||Station One|
Livingston, AL 35470
The non-licensure M.Ed in school counseling at UWA prepares experienced teachers for carers as K-12 school counselors. Full-time students typically earn their degrees in 1-2 years. Many graduates start new careers as counselors, while some apply their new knowledge and skills in their classroom.
The 48-credit, synchronous curriculum features professional and certification courses. Unique coursework includes techniques of counseling, group counseling, and diagnostic techniques for school counselors. All students complete one practicum and one internship either at their job sites or at schools in their local communities.
Admission requirements include an active teaching license or certificate and two years' relevant experience. Transfer students may apply up to six outside credits toward their master's degrees. Although a public school, UWA charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all students. UWA holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The online master's in school counseling program boasts accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
|4||Wake Forest University||Winston Salem||$$$$$||1834 Wake Forest Road|
Winston Salem, NC 27106
The online master's in school counseling at Wake Forest prepares students for both new careers and the National Counseling Examination (NCE). The university boasts a 98% NCE pass rate. Most full-time students can earn their degrees in 2-3 years.
The 60-credit, synchronous curriculum features foundation and core courses that all students take no matter which counseling concentration they select. In these courses, students analyze basic counseling skills and techniques, family counseling, and career development and counseling. Students then move to the school counseling specialty track, which features coursework in addiction counseling and school guidance. Students complete a practicum and two internships at local schools.
Application requirements include a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA, GRE scores, and three recommendation letters. Wake Forest holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges. The online master's in school counseling possesses accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.
|5||New York University||New York||$$$$$||70 Washington Sq South|
New York, NY 10012-1091
Aspiring counselors should consider the excellent online master's in counseling and guidance program at NYU. This fully online program boasts two concentrations: school counseling and bilingual school counseling. The latter attracts students who plan to work in schools with large immigrant populations. Full-time students can earn their degrees in 24 months. Graduates who live in New York state or states with licensure reciprocity agreements qualify for school counselor licensure.
The 48-credit online master's in school counseling features a rigorous curriculum, a 100-our practicum experience, and a 600-hour internship experience. Courses incorporate set meeting times and emphasize group learning exercises. Students who live in and around New York City can complete the program in a hybrid format.
NYU boasts start dates in the spring, summer, and fall semesters. Applicants submit transcripts, a statement of purpose, and two recommendation letters. The university does not require standardized test scores. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate. NYU holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
|6||Liberty University||Lynchburg||$$$$$||1971 University Blvd|
Lynchburg, VA 24515
The hybrid master's in school counseling program at Liberty prepares aspiring school counselors for careers in public and private schools. The in-depth program qualifies students to earn a Virginia school counseling license, which transfers to states with licensure reciprocity. Full-time students can earn their degrees in 2.5 years.
The 48-credit, asynchronous curriculum features coursework in counseling theories and techniques, career development and counseling, and child and adolescent counseling. Students complete a practicum and two internships in their local communities. The program's hybrid component involves a one-week intensive on Liberty's Lynchburg, Virginia, campus.
Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. The program accepts up to 24 transfer credits, and active military personnel receive a tuition discount. Liberty holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The online master's in school counseling program boasts accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.
|7||Vanderbilt University||Nashville||$$$$$||2101 West End Avenue|
Nashville, TN 37240
Vanderbilt's Peabody College boasts some of the world's best undergraduate and graduate education programs. The online master of education with a school counseling specialization brings the college's latest research and excellent professors to students living all over the world. This hybrid program includes two on-campus intensives on Vanderbilt's Nashville, Tennessee, campus. Full-time students can graduate in 2-3 years.
The 48-credit online master's in school counseling builds students' knowledge and skills in career development, interpersonal relationships, and ethical practice, among other topics. All courses feature set meeting times and cap class sizes so that students can receive individualized attention from professors. Students complete three, one-semester internship experiences in the program's final half.
Prospective students submit undergraduate transcripts, GED scores, and 2-3 recommendation letters. Financial aid counselors consider all incoming students for merit-based scholarships and need-based grants. Vanderbilt holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
|8||Concordia University - Wisconsin||Mequon||$$$$$||12800 N Lake Shore Dr|
Mequon, WI 53097-2402
The master of science in education - school and professional counseling - school counseling licensure program at CUW prepares aspiring school counselors for their new careers. The broad curriculum focuses primarily on school counseling but prepares students for related careers as vocational or guidance counselors. Full-time students can earn their degrees in two years. Graduates qualify for a Wisconsin school counseling license.
The 99-credit curriculum blends school counseling best practices with Christian teachings. The program features coursework in consultations strategies, trauma counseling, and psychopharmacology. Graduation requirements include an academic portfolio, three practica experiences, and passing the PRAXIS II exam. All CUW professors possess advanced degrees.
Prospective students submit undergraduate transcripts and two recommendation letters. CUW considers transfer credit on a case-by-case basis. All students pay the same affordable, per-credit tuition rate and fees. Professionals switching careers may qualify for a scholarship. CUW holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
|9||Lehigh University||Bethlehem||$$$$$||27 Memorial Drive West|
Bethlehem, PA 18015
International prospective students should consider the master's in international school counseling plus PA state certification program at Lehigh. Students typically take 1-2 courses each semester, allowing them to work full time or raise families. Students can earn their degrees in 2-3 years. Recent online master's in school counseling program graduates work as teachers and college counselors, among other related professions.
The 48-credit hybrid program incorporates a synchronous curriculum with coursework in culture-centred career intervention, education and inclusion of individuals with special needs, and current issues in counseling and therapy. The program also requires two internships. These internships must take place at schools outside the United States.
Prospective students can apply for the fall semester. Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and two recommendation letters. All students pay the same tuition and fees. The university does not award scholarships or grants to international students at this time. Lehigh holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
|10||Emporia State University||Emporia||$$$$$||1 Kellogg Circle|
Emporia, KS 66801-5415
The master of science in school counseling at ESU qualifies students for a Kansas school counseling license, which may transfer to other states. This hybrid master's program requires students to take half of all courses on Emporia's Emporia or Overland Park, Kansas, campus. Typical full-time students graduate in 24 months.
The 15-course, synchronous curriculum features a school counseling internship and coursework in multicultural counseling and counseling theories. Students can either write a master's thesis or take a comprehensive exam. Students remain in good academic standing by maintaining a B average in all courses. New students can start their educations in the summer, fall, or spring semester.
ESU requires applicants to possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, interview with program faculty, and submit three recommendation letters. ESU holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. The online master's in school counseling program boasts accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.
|11||Mercy College||Dobbs Ferry||$$$$$||555 Broadway|
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
The MS in counseling program at Mercy boasts three specializations, including school counseling. This flexible, individually paced program caters to full- and part-time students. Graduates qualify for a New York state school counseling license, which transfers to states with reciprocity agreements. Full-time students typically graduate in 2-3 years.
This online master's in school counseling features a 48-credit curriculum with unique coursework in research methodology, human development, and a practicum in group work. School counseling students complete two semester-long internships and take a specialized course in college planning and preparation counseling.
Prospective students submit undergraduate transcripts, two recommendation letters, and a two- to three-page essay wherein applicants describe why they want to become school counselors. A private school, Mercy charges the same tuition rate to all students. Incoming students interested in university-funded financial aid submit the Mercy College Endowed Scholarship Application. Mercy holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
|12||University of Missouri - Columbia||Columbia||$$$$$||105 Jesse Hall|
Columbia, MO 65211
The unique mental health practices in schools: online master's degree at MU helps teachers hone their classroom management skills and learn new ways to connect to students. Counselors, mental health professionals, and school administrators also choose this non-licensure program. Full-time students take two courses each semester and can graduate in two years.
This 34-credit online master's in school counseling program features a 25-credit core curriculum and nine elective credits. In the core curriculum, students analyze developmental aspects of human learning, communication and collaboration with children and families, and interventions in school mental health. Graduation requirements include a master's thesis.
Prospective students must possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and can apply for the spring, summer, or fall semester. Other application materials include three recommendation letters and a personal statement. Out-of-state students pay the in-state tuition rate. MU holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
|13||Angelo State University||San Angelo||$$$$$||2601 W. Avenue N|
San Angelo, TX 76909
Aspiring counselors whose career plans do not require licensure or certification choose the guidance and counseling master's degree at ASU. Full-time students can complete this entirely online master's in school counseling in two years. Graduates go on to counseling positions at private primary and secondary schools, along with colleges.
The 36-credit, synchronous curriculum features coursework in individual counseling, career and occupational counseling, and dysfunctional behavior. All courses last eight weeks and do not use set meeting times. Students complete a comprehensive program review instead of a thesis or capstone project.
Prospective students can apply to one of five annual start dates. ASU requires a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA but not test scores or recommendation letters. Texas residents save approximately 60% on tuition compared to out-of-state online students. Students may qualify for one of seven departmental scholarships. ASU holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
|14||University of North Dakota||Grand Forks||$$$$$||264 Centennial Drive, Stop 8193|
Grand Forks, ND 58202-8193
UND boasts dozens of online degrees, including counseling: K-12 school with a counseling emphasis. Typical full-time students earn their degrees in 2.5 years and can earn a North Dakota licensed professional counselor certificate. This certificate transfers to most states.
The 60-credit, synchronous curriculum features coursework in group theory and process, educational collaboration, and methods of research. Students also complete a one-semester practicum and a two-semester internship in their home communities. Graduation requirements include a master's thesis. The program delivers two on-campus intensives, both of which last four days.
Prospective students can apply for the spring or fall semester. Application requirements include undergraduate coursework in specific courses and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Online students pay the in-state tuition rate. UND holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. The online master's in school counseling program boasts accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Preparation.
|15||University of Louisiana at Monroe||Monroe||$$$$$||700 University Avenue|
Monroe, LA 71209-0000
ULM's master of science in counseling with a concentration in school counseling program appeals to aspiring school counselors who plan to work in Louisiana or states with licensure reciprocity. Full-time students typically graduate in 2-3 years. Graduates go on to careers as school counselors, life coaches, and human resources specialists, among other professions.
The 60-credit curriculum includes 48 core credits and 12 concentration credits. Program requirements feature a 600-hour internship that students complete at one or more public schools in their local communities. Students can either write a master's thesis or complete an action research project.
Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and a 290 on the GRE. All online students pay the in-state tuition rate. ULM holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The online master's in school counseling boasts accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.
|16||Creighton University||Omaha||$$$$$||2500 California Plaza|
Omaha, NE 68178
Creighton's school counseling and preventative health medicine program lists three concentrations: elementary school counseling, secondary school counseling, and PK-12 guidance counseling. Full-time students can earn their degrees in two years and qualify for a Nebraska school counseling license.
The 36- to 39-credit synchronous curriculum features core coursework in theoretical perspectives in school counseling, social justice and diversity, and ethical guidelines for school counselors. Students also complete a 600-hour internship to meet Nebraska's requirements for licensure. Students without a teaching license or certificate take additional courses. New students begin their educations in the summer semester.
Prospective students should possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and submit three recommendation letters. Creighton asks some applicants to submit standardized test scores. All students pay the same tuition rate. Incoming students may qualify for a university-funded scholarship or grant. Creighton holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
|17||Fort Hays State University||Hays||$$$$$||600 Park St|
Hays, KS 67601-4099
Students choose FHSU's master of science in counseling - school counseling program for its fully online format and three graduation pathways. The latter makes FHSU the perfect choice for prospective students planning to switch careers or resume their educations. Each pathway fulfills Kansas' requirements for school counseling licensure.
The 48- to 54-credit curriculum boasts some of the most rigorous academic requirements of all programs on this ranking. Students must maintain a minimum 3.25 GPA. Students without a background in education or counseling take additional coursework to meet licensure requirements. All students complete semester-long internships at local schools. Graduation requirements include passing the PRAXIS II Exam.
Applicants to the traditional online master's in school counseling must possess a teaching license. FHSU also asks graduate applicants to submit two recommendation letters and standardized test scores. Although a public university, FHSU charges all online graduate students the same per-credit tuition rate. FHSU holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
|18||University of Massachusetts - Boston||Boston||$$$$$||100 Morrissey Boulevard|
Boston, MA 02125-3393
The school counseling, M.Ed. program at UMass Boston attracts prospective students who can study full time. Students graduate in only six semesters, and the program qualifies graduates for a Massachusetts school counseling license.
This 60-credit, synchronous online master's in school counseling program boasts a cohort learning model. In class, students analyze psychopathology and diagnosis, research and evaluation in psychology, and collaborative consultation in schools. The final two semesters include practicum experiences. The program features a two-week, on-campus clinical experience that students complete during the program's first semester.
Prospective students submit GRE scores, two recommendation letters, and a writing sample. Unlike other schools on this ranking, UMass Boston requires school counseling applicants to possess at least one year of relevant experience. The university extends the in-state tuition rate to all students, saving out-of-state students thousands of dollars. UMass Boston holds regional accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education.
|19||Seton Hall University||South Orange||$$$$$||400 S Orange Ave|
South Orange, NJ 07079-2697
Experienced school counselors turn to Seton Hall's master of arts - school counseling program to advance their careers and educations. Although this program aligns to New Jersey education standards, it does not convey licensure or certification. Full-time students typically earn their degrees in 24 months.
The 48-credit curriculum uses a cohort learning model wherein a small group of students enter the program at the same time and take courses together. Unique courses include multicultural counseling and psychology, counseling and community agencies, and abnormal psychology. The program concludes with one practicum and two internship experiences.
Application materials for this online master's in school counseling program include undergraduate transcripts, three recommendation letters, and GRE scores. Applicants with a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA do not submit test scores. All students pay a flat tuition rate each semester. Seton Hall holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commision on Higher Education.
|20||Southern Arkansas University||Magnolia||$$$$$||100 E. University|
Magnolia, AR 71753
New and experienced counselors from around the U.S. choose the master of education school counseling program at Arkansas. This dynamic program fulfills Arkansas' -- and many other states' -- requirements for initial school counseling licensure. Students who take two courses each semester can graduate in 2.5-3 years.
The 48-credit program includes both a 36-credit core curriculum and nine supervised experience credits that students complete either at their job sites or at schools in their local area. In class, students analyze group counseling, counseling theories, and development and administration of school counseling programs.
Prospective students can apply to one of four annual start dates, and students who live in and around Magnolia, Arkansas, can complete the program in a hybrid format. Required application materials include undergraduate transcripts and GRE, MAT, or GMAT scores. Arkansas residents save approximately 35% on tuition. SAU holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
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
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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.