Best Online Master’s in School Counseling 2022

| Thomas Broderick, Holland Webb

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Best Online Master's in School Counseling

School counselors help K-12 students plan for the future and overcome problems. They also help students engage with learning. Aspiring school counselors can enroll in a master's in school counseling online. Most programs require a bachelor's degree and GRE scores. Some master's in education programs only accept licensed teachers.

Online school counseling programs cover many topics, including counseling theories. Learners also study advanced counseling processes. Students complete professional seminars and practica at different schools. States require these experiences for licensing purposes.

This page features the best master's in school counseling online programs. Read on for common courses and costs. View Our Rankings List Here

Why Get a School Counseling Degree?

School counselors can make a lasting impact on students' lives. These professionals can also advance within a school or district. The highest-earning school counselors make nearly six figures annually. The median annual salary for all occupations is $41,950, according to the BLS.

Online school counseling programs make earning a degree easier for many students. Asynchronous programs allow learners to complete coursework around work or family responsibilities. Online programs sometimes charge lower tuition than on-campus programs. Learners can attend the most affordable master's in school counseling online program without relocating.

How Much Does a School Counseling Degree Cost?

The cost of a school counseling degree varies by school and program. In-state, public schools charge the most affordable tuition. Online learners do not incur expenses for campus parking or housing.

Financial aid such as scholarships and grants can help learners pay for their degree. These awards do not require repayment.

Additional Online Student Fees

For online students, tuition comprises the highest portion of a degree's total cost. However, they should plan for added expenses, like a reliable computer and upgraded internet. Learners may also need to buy specialized software. Students in a hybrid program should plan for commuting costs.

Some schools charge distance learning or graduation fees. Aspiring school counselors should also set aside money for state licensure fees.

How Much Do School Counseling Majors Make?

School counselors earn a median annual salary of $58,120, according to the BLS. Pay varies by geographic location, employer, and experience. Counselors working in California, New Jersey, and Virginia earn the most. School counselors in these states earn $73,590-$81,350. Professionals employed by private or public K-12 schools make more than their peers working at junior colleges.

School counselors can increase their salary potential by exploring related careers. Examples include working as a high school teacher, social service manager, or psychologist. These positions require a master's degree or a doctorate. Some counselors do not want to return to school. They can boost their salary by working for promotions or changing employers.

Top Online Masters in School Counseling

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Courses in School Counseling

Master's in school counseling online courses prepare enrollees to create many positive learning outcomes. Degree-seekers learn how to recognize students in need and provide the best interventions. Learners also explore how to collaborate with teachers and administrators. Students supplement coursework with in-person practica and internships at K-12 schools. Some programs require a thesis.

See below for common courses in school counseling programs. Keep in mind that not every school offers these exact courses.

  • Counseling Skills

    Students gain a broad overview of counseling best practices and techniques. They learn how to connect with students, apply interventions, and recognize when learners no longer need counseling services. Aspiring school counselors may take this course alongside peers.
  • Counseling and Culturally Diverse

    School counselors must know how to work with students from different cultural backgrounds. This course focuses on how race, religion, sexual orientation, and other factors influence learners' development. Degree-seekers analyze the latest trends and issues, such as the rising number of refugees living in the United States.
  • Lifespan and Development

    School counselors must understand how children and adolescents develop physically and mentally. Coursework focuses on different development theories. Learners study family interaction and significant life transitions. Enrollees learn how to identify students not developing normally and apply ethical standards when doing their job.

How to Become a School Counselor

School counselors need a master's degree to practice in most states. Approved graduate programs meet one or more states' licensure requirements. Aspiring counselors can increase their job prospects by specializing in an in-demand subfield, such as career counseling. Some employers only hire applicants with prior teaching experience or national board certification.

Licensure for School Counseling

Licensure requirements vary by state. Most school counselors need a master's degree with coursework in human growth and development, program evaluation, and group counseling. Candidates must also complete a supervised practicum and internship lasting at least 500 contact hours.

Some states charge counselors applying for initial licensure a processing fee. Licensed counselors should expect to pay more fees when they renew or upgrade their license. School counselors may also need to pay for background checks. If they move, counselors may need to pay to transfer a license to a new state. Some states waive the latter fee for professionals relocating due to military service obligations.

Licensure renewal requirements include continuing education (CE) from an approved provider. School counselors should keep track of CE paperwork and submit it with a renewal form every 1-5 years, depending on their state.

Best Online Master's in School Counseling

#1 Online College in Virginia

Liberty University

School Information
Location Lynchburg, Virginia
Admission Rate 51%
Graduation Rate 47%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? N/A

Liberty's online master's in school counseling features specialized education for learners pursuing licensure as K-12 counselors. The 48-credit program takes about 2.5 years to finish. 

The curriculum focuses on assessment strategies, counseling techniques, and counseling theories that apply to real-life situations. Classes include multicultural counseling, theories of school counseling, and child and adolescent counseling in the schools. 

Students participate in one practicum and two internships, an elementary-level one and a secondary-level one.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a 2.7 GPA. Graduates with two or more years of teaching experience may qualify for Virginia licensure as a school counselor.

Available Scholarships: First Responder Discount

#2 Online College in Kentucky

University of the Cumberlands

School Information
Location Williamsburg, Kentucky
Admission Rate 80%
Graduation Rate 44%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 91% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? N/A

Located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, Cumberlands serves over 19,000 undergraduate and graduate students. 

The school offers an online school counseling degree as a concentration in the M.Ed program. The degree covers diverse needs, group counseling, grief and loss, and legal and ethical issues in school counseling. 

To graduate, students must earn 45 credits. Classes include introduction to addiction counseling, advanced clinical assessment, and lifestyle and career development. 

Enrollees complete either a practicum or an internship. With five additional courses, learners can earn an education specialist degree in school counseling. Applicants need a 3.0 minimum GPA.

Available Scholarships: Christian Leadership Scholarship

#3 Online College in New Mexico

University of the Southwest

School Information
Location Hobbs, New Mexico
Admission Rate 45%
Graduation Rate 32%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? N/A

A Christian university, USW features a 50-year heritage. The school teaches how to erase the environmental and institutional barriers that impede academic and social success.

Students in USW's online degree in school counseling prepare for elementary, middle, or high school counselor licensure in New Mexico. The 42-credit degree requires four core courses, two electives, and five classes in the major. Learners also complete six internship credits, a practicum, and a capstone. 

Applicants need a regionally accredited bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA. 

Available Scholarships: I CAN Scholarship

#4 Online College in Arizona

Prescott College

School Information
Location Prescott, Arizona
Admission Rate 97%
Graduation Rate 33%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 65% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

Founded in the 1960s, Prescott College began as an experiment to offer higher education with a dual emphasis on self-fulfillment and service.

Today, the institution offers an online master's in school counseling leading to an Arizona standard school counselor, preK-12 certificate. The 36-credit degree follows the American School Counselors Association program model requirements.

Courses include foundations of education, learning theories, curriculum design, and creating and managing learning communities. New students may transfer up to 15 credits into the program.

To apply, prospective learners should submit an application, essay, and official transcripts.

Available Scholarships: Achieve Educator Scholarship

#5 Online College in New York

New York University

School Information
Location New York, New York
Admission Rate 16%
Graduation Rate 85%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: Bilingual School Counseling

Accredited By: Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? N/A

NYU's online master's in school counseling emphasizes research and practice through the lens of equity and social justice. Learners in the 48-credit program complete a counseling lab, a 100-hour practicum, and a 600-hour internship. 

The program offers two concentrations: school counseling and bilingual school counseling. In the second concentration, students learn to address the common challenges of ESL students. 

Graduates may qualify for school counselor licensure in New York. NYU maintains a rolling application deadline and offers September, May, and January start dates.

Available Scholarships: New York State Tuition Assistance Program

#6 Online College in California

University of Southern California

School Information
Location Los Angeles, California
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 92%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

USC offers an online school counseling degree that prepares students to serve as counselors in K-12 settings. The program combines weekly online classes with self-paced coursework. The curriculum qualifies students for the California commission on teacher credentialing's pupil personnel services: school counseling credential.

Program content rests on three pillars: restorative justice, trauma informed practice, and college and career readiness. Besides classwork, USC students complete a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship. Learners can do their fieldwork in their state of residence.

For admission, USC requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA.

Available Scholarships: Zeta Phi Beta Foundation Scholarship Program

#7 Online College in Texas

Lamar University

School Information
Location Beaumont, Texas
Admission Rate 84%
Graduation Rate 34%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 73% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

Located in Beaumont, Texas, LU offers an online master's in counseling and development with a professional school counseling specialization. Students can complete the 60-credit degree in 30 months.

Classes include career development, substance abuse counseling, multicultural counseling, and research and program evaluation. Students also complete an internship and a practicum. All courses except the practicum and internship last five weeks. 

Applicants submit a copy of their state-issued teaching certificate and proof of a bachelor's with a 2.75 GPA. New students enroll for one of eight start dates during the year.

Available Scholarships: Dr. David L. Bost, Sr. Endowed Scholarship in Guidance and Counseling

#8 Online College in California

Concordia University-Irvine

School Information
Location Irvine, California
Admission Rate 71%
Graduation Rate 63%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 63% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? N/A

A California school following the Lutheran tradition, CUI offers a master's in school counseling. The cohort-based degree prepares students to serve as counselors in public or private K-12 schools.

The program requires 48 credits and takes 26-33 months to complete. Eight-week classes cover educational assessment, theories of school counseling, human communication, and leadership. Students complete a practicum, field experiences, and a capstone research project.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a 2.7 GPA and a valid teaching credential.

Available Scholarships: Betty W. Robbins Endowed Scholarship

#9 Online College in Arizona

Ottawa University-Surprise

School Information
Location Phoenix, Arizona
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? N/A

OUAZ's online degree in school counseling prepares students to meet Arizona's school counseling requirements for certification. Classes include group counseling and dynamics, social/cultural concerns in counseling, and school counseling in changing environments. Each course lasts eight weeks.

Besides classes, students complete two practicums in school counseling. The program ends with a master's research project. 

Applicants do not need a teaching certificate or teaching experience. However, they do need a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA and three recommendation letters.

Available Scholarships: Alumni Impact Scholarship

#10 Online College in Wisconsin

Concordia University-Wisconsin

School Information
Location Mequon, Wisconsin
Admission Rate 64%
Graduation Rate 64%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: Professional counseling, school counseling 

Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? N/A

A Lutheran-based institution in Mequon, CUW offers a master of science in education with school counseling licensure. Students may add on a certificate in substance abuse or Christian counseling. Graduates qualify for state licensure.

Classes include trauma counseling, career counseling foundations, tests and measurements, and scripture and the Christian counselor. Enrollees without a teaching license must also take a three-credit course in classroom management. Besides coursework, CUW students complete a six-credit practicum and a portfolio component. 

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA.

Available Scholarships: Strong Work Ethic Scholarship

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Frequently Asked Questions About School Counseling

How long does it take to become a school counselor?

Full-time students can finish a master's in school counseling online program in two years.

Are school counselors in demand?

Yes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for school and career counselors to grow 11% between 2020 and 2030.

What skills does a school counselor need to have?

Successful school counselors need strong analytical, interpersonal, and communication skills. They also need compassion for students and their families.

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