Best Online Master’s in School Counseling 2021

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Masters in school counseling

School counselors help students develop emotional, academic, and social skills. They assess students’ abilities, solve classroom behavior issues, and help parents and teachers apply appropriate mediation methods. School counselors work in schools, community mental health offices, and private practices as licensed professional counselors. They can even pursue entrepreneurial work. 

School counseling master’s programs teach counseling techniques, counseling theories, and psycho-educational assessment. Students must earn a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent from an accredited institution prior to entering a counseling master’s degree program. Earning a master’s degree usually takes two or three years. Students must complete a specified number of supervised practicum hours to graduate.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that school counselor jobs will increase by 8% from 2019-2029, faster than the average projected growth rate for all occupations. School counselors earn a median salary of $57,040 per year.

Best Online Master’s in School Counseling 2021



  1. University of Louisiana at Monroe
    Location

    Monroe, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Monroe, ULM offers an online master of counseling with a concentration in school counseling. Students take courses 100% online with no residency requirements. Graduates may also qualify to sit for school counselor and LPC licensure.

    The 60-credit curriculum includes foundation courses such as introduction to professional counseling, counseling theories, lifespan development, and diagnostics in counseling. School-specific courses include principles of administration of school counseling programs, as well as a two-part internship within an approved K-12 setting near the student to receive hands-on training and mentorship. Students may also focus electives on a further concentration, such as a pediatric focus.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.75 to qualify for admission. Students must also submit GRE scores. ULM is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

  2. Morehead State University
    Location

    Morehead, KY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A public university located in Morehead, Kentucky, MSU offers an online master of arts in counseling with a concentration in school counseling. Students earn provisional counseling certification for preK-12.

    The 36-credit curriculum includes counseling core such as psycho-social and multicultural factors in counseling, philosophy and practice of school counseling, legal and ethical issues in counseling, and counseling theories. Three professional education courses prepare students for scholarly work: research methods in education, advanced human growth and development, and measurement principles and techniques. Students must also complete a practicum for hands-on skills and mentoring in the field.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 to qualify for admission. Students must also possess a minimum GRE score of 286, with a minimum verbal score of 143. Students may also submit MAT scores (minimum raw score of 33).

    MSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  3. Southeastern Oklahoma State University
    Location

    Durant, OK

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Durant, SOSU offers an online master of education in school counseling. Students can complete the 42-credit program in as few as 12 months, not including practicum experiences, in their local area.

    Students complete 15 courses and a practicum, which requires a minimum of 100 hours of counseling-related services. The core curriculum includes school counseling orientation and ethical practice, human growth and development counseling, and social and cultural issues in counseling. The counseling practicum allows students to develop hands-on experience in a real school setting.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 or a GPA of 3.0 on the last 60 credits of coursework. The school does not require GRE scores to apply for the program.

    SOSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

  4. Arkansas State University
    Location

    Jonesboro, AR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Jonesboro, A-State offers an online master of science in education with a concentration in school counseling. Students complete 16 courses for a total of 48 credits.

    Students begin the curriculum with a core series in counseling. Notable courses include foundational knowledge of professional school counseling and professional practice, theories of professional school counseling, data-informed professional school counseling, and social and cultural foundations of counseling.

    School counseling students also take a three-part concentration series: introduction to crisis and trauma in children and adolescents, school-based crisis counseling, and multicultural issues in crisis and trauma. A counseling practicum at an approved location near the student provides hands-on training and mentoring.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 to qualify for admission. The school does not require a teaching certificate, current licensure, or GRE scores. A-State is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

  5. Regent University
    Location

    Virginia Beach, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A private school located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Regent offers an online master of arts in school counseling. Students complete 60 credits mostly online, with two week-long residencies required.

    Students begin core courses outlining the theory and practice of counseling. These courses include theories of counseling, orientation to the counseling profession, assessment techniques in counseling, and counseling and Christian thought. Students must also take three program-specific courses: counseling children and adolescents, principles of school counseling, and program development and evaluation for school counselors. A two-part internship allows learners to gain hands-on experience in the field and receive mentoring from experts.

    Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 to qualify for admission. Students must also submit GRE or MAT scores.

    Regent is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.


School Counseling Master's FAQ


  • What can you do with a master's in school counseling?

    A master’s degree in school counseling prepares learners for jobs such as school counselor, academic advisor, educational consultant, and college and career counselor. Graduates can also work as mental health professionals.


  • Do you need a master's in school counseling to practice?

    In most cases, employers require a master’s degree to practice as a school counselor.


  • What is the difference between a school counselor and a school psychologist?

    School counselors help the entire school population. School psychologists usually work one-on-one with students, especially those with mental health challenges.


  • What credentials do you need to become a school counselor?

    In general, graduates must pass their state’s required school counselor board exams, meet minimum requirements, and apply for a school counselor’s license. Some states require prospective school counselor applicants to hold previous counseling or teaching experience.


Why Pursue a Master’s Degree in School Counseling?



An online master’s in school counseling offers degree-holders several personal and professional benefits.

Multiple Career Paths

Those who earn a master’s in school counseling can apply their skills to a large job market. Degree-holders can work in schools or in the public sector.

Career Development

Many schools provide career development resources to help students prepare for the workforce, offering those with an online master’s in school counseling ample professional opportunities.

Offer Intrinsic Rewards

One of the most rewarding parts of the job, school counselors help students with their academic, emotional, or social growth. They often find job satisfaction as mediators between students and teachers and may work to improve teacher and student relationships. School counselors may also enjoy helping students at a crucial juncture in their development.

Fulfills Licensing Requirements

Certain states allow a provisional license before earning an official degree, but in general, students must complete a master’s program in school counseling to get a permanent license.

Great Segue Into a Doctoral Program

Students interested in earning a Ph.D. in school counseling benefit from a jump-start in their state licensure requirements with an online master’s degree in school counseling.

What Are the Requirements for a School Counseling Degree?

Admission requirements for a master’s degree in school counseling vary by program. Students may need to submit transcripts from an accredited college or university; GRE, CSET, or MAT test scores; recommendation letters; an essay; and/or resume. Other requirements may include a minimum 3.0 GPA and an undergraduate major in psychology, sociology, or counseling.

Graduation requirements vary by institution, but most students must complete 42-60 credit hours. Online school counseling programs may require either a thesis or a non-thesis option. Students who choose the thesis option must complete a successful defense and follow faculty guidelines.

A school counseling degree may also include a practicum, an internship, and a final comprehensive exam.

Accreditation and Online Colleges

Courses in an Online School Counseling Program



Typical online master’s in school counseling program coursework varies by school. Most institutions teach human growth and development, counseling children and adolescents, law and ethics for school counselors, and special education and learning disabilities. Many include hands-on learning components.

School counseling programs develop research and analytical skills and teach students how to work with children within age-based developmental parameters. Coursework may also include specialized training such as multicultural training or child abuse identification.

Not all colleges and universities teach the courses listed below. These courses serve as a sample curriculum.

Introduction to School Counseling

This course lays the foundation for an online master’s in school counseling program. In this course, students learn school counseling practices and counseling theory for children and adolescents. The course also hones in on solution-focused counseling development and covers several cognitive-behavioral approaches.

Counseling Children and Adolescents

Counseling children and adolescents teaches enrollees techniques for counseling K-12 students. The course also covers K-12 students’ developmental needs and techniques for counseling specific emotional issues. Course curriculum prepares students for both a career in school counseling and also advanced theories of school counseling, a common course in doctorate-level school counseling programs.

Theories and Techniques of Counseling

This course examines contemporary counseling theories within the context of individuals, family systems, and multicultural dynamics. Course topics help school counselors develop professional and ethical standards. Curricula can also prepare learners for a doctoral program and future roles as advanced school counseling practitioners.

School Counseling Certification Requirements



School counseling certification requirements vary by state. However, successful licensure typically requires students to complete school counseling coursework from an accredited institution, a practicum or internship, and state or national comprehensive exams. 

For example, Colorado requires degree-holders to hold a master’s degree or higher in professional counseling from a Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs-accredited program. Alternatively, Colorado degree-holders must have earned a degree from an equivalent program at a regionally accredited college or university. The latter route requires 48 semester hours, core coursework completion, and a practicum and/or internship.

Those who seek certification in Colorado must also undergo two years or 2,000 hours of practice in applied psychotherapy, with 100 of those hours under board-approved supervision. Colorado online master’s degree graduates must also take the National Counselor Examination and the Colorado Mental Health Jurisprudence Examination.

Continuing education requirements also differ from state to state. School counselors should stay up to date on state requirements, as these requirements often change.

Scholarships for School Counseling Majors

Students who pursue online master’s in school counseling degrees can apply for many scholarships, grants, and fellowships to help pay for their education.

NASP-ERT Minority Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: Minority students pursuing careers in school psychology can apply for this scholarship from the National Association of School Psychologists. Students enrolled in specialist-level (or equivalent) school psychology training programs may apply. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and must be NASP members.
Amount: $5,000

NAJA Graduate Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: The National Association of Junior Auxiliaries awards this scholarship to students pursuing graduate studies in fields that focus on the special needs of children and youth, including counseling. Applicants must work or plan to work directly with children and must reside in a state with a NAJA chapter.
Amount: Varies


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