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 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.
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.
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.