Best Online Master’s School Counseling 2020

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School counselors play vital roles in our nation’s public and private school systems and an online master’s in school counseling can give you all the tools you need to be a part of a field that can not only change but save lives every day. Not only do these caring professionals help students navigate the challenges of elementary, middle, and high school, but they also help prepare them for college and life success. Due to the recent and unfortunate rise in school violence and suicide amongst school-aged children, the services of school counselors are more important than ever before. In this ranking, we explore the top 25 online master’s in school counseling programs.

Interested in learning more about online learning in general? Visit our ranking of the top online schools.

Ranking the Best Master’s in School Counseling Online Programs

To compile this ranking of the best school counseling master’s online programs, our editors began with an initial pool of 42 schools. To ensure that our ranking highlighted only the most affordable options, we filtered out programs with tuitions above $30,ooo a year. Further narrowing of the pool required visiting each program’s website and taking into account national rankings by U.S. News & World Report, particularly the publication’s ranking of online graduate education programs. In applying the rating and ranking methodology above, some schools were awarded the same number of points. To break these ties, we considered the program’s cost, assigning the higher ranking to the more economical online school counseling master’s program.

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Featured Online Schools

Best Online Master’s School Counseling Programs in 2020

#1 – North American University

North American University offers an online master of education in school counseling that prepares students for careers as K-12 school counselors or further graduate study. NAU offers courses 100% online to accommodate working professionals.

NAU’s master’s in counseling requires 48 credits. Core courses include human growth and development, curriculum and instructional design, counseling children and adolescents, and multicultural counseling. The curriculum includes both a thesis and a non-thesis option. Students who choose the thesis option must complete six thesis credits, receive faculty approval, and perform a successful defense.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Admission does not require GRE scores.

North American University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

Average Net Price: $5,777

#2 – University of the Cumberlands

The University of the Cumberlands offers an online master of arts in education with a concentration in school counseling to students interested in advancing their careers in education. This degree does not lead to licensure.

Cumberlands’ master’s in counseling requires 45 credits. Core courses include advanced human behavior development and learning, social and cultural foundations, counseling theories and techniques, and counseling individuals with diverse needs. The curriculum also requires a practicum and an internship and culminates in a comprehensive exam.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA and a valid teaching license. Applicants without a teaching license must submit GRE or MAT scores. Transfer students may bring up to nine credits with them when they enroll.

The University of the Cumberlands is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Average Net Price: $5,970

#3 – University of the Southwest

The University of the Southwest offers an online master of science in education in school counseling that prepares graduates for licensure as K-12 school counselors in New Mexico. Students residing in other states should verify whether this program meets licensure requirements in their home state.

USW’s master’s in counseling psychology requires 42 credits. Core courses include counseling techniques, counseling theories, child and adolescent counseling, and psycho-educational assessment. The curriculum also requires a practicum and internship that learners must complete in a public or private K-12 school. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA to graduate.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective students must also submit a 500-word personal essay and a resume.

University of the Southwest is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Average Net Price: $14,376

#4 – Brandman University

Brandman University offers one of the nation’s strongest counseling master’s programs to learners interested in careers as K-12 school counselors in California. Brandman offers the program exclusively to California residents and delivers the program in a hybrid format, combining on-campus and online requirements.

Brandman’s MA in counseling requires 45-48 credits. Coursework includes advanced counseling and intervention, cultural and community issues in counseling and school psychology, children and youth in developmental context, and collaboration for inclusive schooling.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective students with a GPA between 2.5-2.99 must also submit satisfactory GRE, CSET, or MAT scores. Applicants must also submit an essay, a resume, and two letters of recommendation.

Brandman University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Average Net Price: $19,450

#5 – Lamar University

Lamar University offers an online master of education in counseling and development that prepares school counselors to meet the needs of diverse K-12 students. LU’s program also meets Texas requirements for school counseling licensure and licensed professional counselor certification. Students residing outside of Texas should verify whether this program meets licensure requirements in their state.

LU’s master’s in counseling requires 60 credits and takes 30 months to complete. Core courses include human growth and development, child and adolescent counseling, multicultural counseling, and substance abuse counseling. The curriculum also incorporates a practicum and an internship in Texas schools.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a GPA of 2.5, a valid teaching license, and two years of teaching experience.

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

Average Net Price: $9,969

#6 – Gwynedd Mercy University

Gwynedd Mercy University offers an online master’s in school counseling that prepares students for careers as K-12 school counselors. Program graduates are eligible to apply for licensure as K-12 counselors in Pennsylvania.

GMercyU’s master’s in counseling requires 60 credits. Core courses include disabilities in the school counseling setting, intervention techniques in school counseling, and organization of school counseling. Students must also complete a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA and prerequisite coursework in psychology and research methods. Students with a GPA lower than 3.0 may still gain admission by submitting satisfactory GRE scores. Students may transfer up to six credits of graduate coursework into the program from another institution.

Gwynedd Mercy University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Average Net Price: $11,286

#7 – Regent University

Regent University offers an online master of arts in school counseling that prepares students to work as counselors at private or public K-12 schools. This program meets Virginia requirements for state licensure, but students residing outside of Virginia should verify whether this program meets requirements in their home state.

Regent’s master’s in counseling requires 60 credits and takes three years to complete. Courses include counseling children and adolescents, principles of school counseling, and program development and evaluation. The program uses a hybrid delivery method, providing asynchronous online coursework alongside several two-week, on-campus residencies.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit competitive GRE or MAT scores. Prospective students who have already earned a doctorate degree with a 3.5 GPA do not need to submit test scores.

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

Average Net Price: $16,179

#8 – Concordia University Irvine

Concordia University Irvine offers an online master of arts in education in school counseling for practicing teachers pursuing careers as school counselors in K-12 settings. This cohort-based program meets the requirements for the pupil personnel services credential in California. Courses are available online or in a blended format. CUI delivers online courses both synchronously and asynchronously.

CUI’s master’s in counseling psychology requires 48 credits and takes 33 months to complete. Courses include educational assessment, theories of counseling, counseling exceptional children, and psychopathology. The curriculum also requires a practicum, fieldwork, and a collaborative capstone project. Students must accumulate 600 hours of supervised field experience.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 2.7 GPA and a valid teaching license. CUI awards a 10% tuition discount to applicants who work in Lutheran schools.

Concordia University Irvine is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Average Net Price: $7,774

#9 – University of West Alabama

The University of West Alabama offers an online master of education in school counseling that prepares graduates to provide guidance to youth in private or public schools. This program meets state requirements for Class A licensure in Alabama.

UWA’s master’s in counseling requires 48 credits and requires 1-2 years to complete. Courses include life-span development and learning, techniques of counseling, strategies for crisis intervention, and counseling multicultural populations. Each course lasts eight weeks. To complete the program, students must maintain a 3.25 GPA and earn a satisfactory score on the Praxis II exam.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, a teaching license, and two years of satisfactory educational experience. Transfer students may bring up to nine approved credits with them.

The University of West Alabama is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Average Net Price: $10,017

#10 – Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Southeastern Oklahoma State University offers an online master of education in school counseling for students pursuing careers as guidance counselors or career advisors in educational settings. SOSU’s program delivers all coursework online, asynchronously, and in an accelerated format.

SOSU’s M.Ed. in school counseling requires 42 credits and takes 12 months to complete. Core courses include human growth and development in counseling, theories of counseling, group counseling, and research in counseling. Students are also required to complete a practicum consisting of 100 hours of supervised counseling.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 2.75 GPA and a valid teaching license. Students who do not meet the minimum GPA requirements may submit additional materials for consideration. SOSU does not require the GRE.

Southeastern Oklahoma State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Average Net Price: $5,513

#11 – New York University

NYU offers an online master of arts in counseling and guidance designed for aspiring school counselors who want to work with diverse students. The program offers two concentrations: school counseling and bilingual school counseling. Graduates can pursue licensure in their home states.

NYU’s master’s in counseling psychology requires 48 credits and takes 18 months. Courses include cross-cultural counseling, research and evaluation methods in behavioral science, human growth and development, and assessment of children and adolescents. The curriculum requires a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship at NYU-approved public or private schools. Students must also pass the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam in their last semester.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university. The program seeks applicants committed to promoting equity and social justice. NYU does not require GRE scores for admission.

NYU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Average Net Price: $7,794

#12 – University of Southern California

The University of Southern California offers an online master of education in school counseling for students pursuing licensure and employment as K-12 school counselors in California. Licensure requirements differ from state to state, so students living outside of California should verify requirements in the state they intend to practice.

USC’s master’s in counseling requires 49 credits and takes 2-3 years to complete. The program is organized into three areas of focus: college and career readiness, restorative justice, and trauma-informed practice. Courses include legal and ethical issues in counseling, learning and individual differences, human development theory, and research methods and data analysis for counselors. Students must also complete a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

USC is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Average Net Price: $45,426

#13 – Angelo State University

Angelo State University offers an online master of science in professional school counseling for students interested in becoming Texas school counselors. Graduates can sit for the school counselor licensure examination in Texas.

One of the region’s strongest counseling psychology master’s programs, ASU’s degree requires 48 credits. Courses include social and cultural influences, legal and ethical principles, theories of counseling, dysfunctional behavior, and leadership. Students also complete an internship, a practicum, and a comprehensive program review. ASU delivers all program coursework asynchronously, and each course lasts eight weeks.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA. ASU does not require GRE scores. To qualify for licensure in Texas, candidates must have two years of teaching experience at an accredited public school prior to taking the Texas Examination of Educator Standards.

Angelo State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Average Net Price: $45,561

#14 – East Carolina University

East Carolina University offers an online master of science in counselor education with three concentrations: clinical mental health counseling, school counseling, and student affairs and college counseling.

In each case, ECU’s master’s in counseling requires 60 credits. Core courses include analysis of the individual, counseling theory and techniques, social and cultural issues in counseling, and developmental counseling and learning. Students choose a concentration after completing core coursework. Learners must also complete an internship and supervised practicum.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Prospective students must also submit GRE or MAT scores.

East Carolina University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Average Net Price: $7,699

#15 – Liberty University

Liberty University offers an online master of education in school counseling that prepares students to become school counselors in public and private schools. The program uses a hybrid delivery method, blending asynchronous online coursework with several on-campus intensives.

Liberty’s master’s in counseling requires 48 credits and takes 2.5 years. Coursework includes foundations of education, educational assessment and intervention, principles of school counseling, and school counseling program development and evaluation. Students also complete a two-semester internship and a practicum. Professors teach all coursework through a biblical lens, and the curriculum includes religious competencies for school counseling.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Incoming students may transfer in up to 24 credits from another graduate program.

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

Average Net Price: $11,324

#16 – Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University offers an online master of science in counseling with a pathway to licensure in school counseling from the Kansas Department of Education.

FHSU’s master’s in counseling psychology requires 48 credits and takes three years to finish. Courses include counseling skills development, lifespan human development, psychopathology and diagnosis, and professional counseling in elementary schools. The curriculum also requires a practicum in elementary or secondary school counseling, an internship, and a comprehensive exam. To qualify for the Kansas Initial School Specialist license, students must maintain a GPA of 3.25.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA from an accredited institution. Kansas residents receive a significant tuition discount.

Fort Hays State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Average Net Price: $8,333

#17 – University of Massachusetts Boston

University of Massachusetts Boston offers an online master of education in counseling that prepares individuals for state licensure and careers as school counselors. The program is available online but starts with a two-week in-person residency. Students also have the option of completing an adjustment counseling concentration, which requires two extra courses and additional internship hours. This program meets requirements for state licensure in Massachusetts.

UMass Boston’s master’s in counseling requires 60 credits and requires two years to complete. Courses include counseling theory and practice, group counseling for children and adolescents, career development facilitation and training, and psychopathology and diagnosis.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and competitive GRE scores. UMass Boston waives the GRE requirement for applicants with master’s degrees. Prospective students with low GRE scores may submit an optional writing sample.

University of Massachusetts Boston is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Average Net Price: $6,894

#18 – Campbellsville University

Campbellsville University offers an online master of arts in education in school guidance counseling that provides a Christian curriculum for aspiring preK-12 school counselors. This program leads to state licensure in Kentucky.

CU’s master’s in counseling requires 48 credits and takes 18 months to finish. Courses include counseling theory and practice, human development, college and career readiness for all learners, and students victimized by crisis and abuse. The curriculum incorporates three internships, each requiring at least 100 hours of supervised school counselor fieldwork. The program delivers online coursework asynchronously, and each course lasts eight weeks.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, a teaching license, and competitive GRE scores. CU waives the GRE requirement for prospective students with a minimum 3.5 GPA. Incoming students may transfer in up to 12 credits from another counseling program.

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

Average Net Price: $26,404

#19 – University of St. Thomas

The University of St. Thomas offers an online master of education in counselor education. UST offers the degree in entirely online and hybrid formats.

UST’s master’s in counseling requires 48 credits and takes two years to finish. Coursework includes counseling methodology, multicultural populations, lifestyles and career development, and appraisal techniques. The curriculum culminates in a practicum capstone that requires 160 hours of counseling, observation, and supervision. Students seeking licensure must also pass the Texas Examination of Educator Standards.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students with a GPA between 2.75-2.99 can still gain admission by submitting GRE or MAT scores. Students seeking licensure need a valid teaching license and two years of teaching experience, although this is not required prior to program acceptance.

University of St. Thomas is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Average Net Price: $10,380

#20 – Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University offers an online master of education with a specialization in school counseling that prepares students to become effective counselors in K-12 schools. This program is available online but requires three terms of field experiences in students’ local communities and two on-campus immersions. Graduates can earn school counseling licensure in Tennessee.

Vanderbilt’s master’s in counseling requires 48 credits and takes three years to finish. Coursework includes research in counseling, theories of counseling, counseling diverse populations, and appraisal and assessment. The curriculum incorporates fieldwork experiences at an elementary, middle school, and high school.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA and satisfactory MAT or GRE scores.

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

Average Net Price: $21,454

#21 – University of Southern Mississippi

The University of Southern Mississippi offers an online master of education in school counseling designed for aspiring K-12 counselors. USM delivers the program entirely online except for summer residencies. The program admits a cohort of 10-15 students each year and meets licensure requirements in Mississippi.

USN’s master’s in school counseling requires 48 credits and takes eight semesters to complete. Coursework includes career development and information services, counseling theory and practice, group processes, and families in crisis. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and pass the Praxis II: Professional School Counselor exam to complete the program.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Teachers must submit Praxis II or GRE scores. Non-teacher applicants must submit GRE scores or Praxis CORE scores.

The University of Southern Mississippi is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Average Net Price: $47,686

#22 – Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University offers an online master of science in education in school counseling that prepares students for Arkansas licensure.

A-State’s master’s in counseling requires 48 credits and takes 16-18 months to complete. Coursework includes social and cultural foundations of counseling, career development and services, theories and techniques in counseling, and psychological testing. Each course lasts seven weeks. The curriculum also incorporates two internships and a practicum, each lasting 15 weeks. The program delivers all coursework asynchronously.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students who do not meet these requirements may still qualify for conditional admission. The program does not require teaching licensure for admission.

Arkansas State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Average Net Price: $9,514

#23 – Seton Hall University

Seton Hall University offers a master of arts and educational specialist degree in professional counseling. The program uses a cohort model, providing distance learners with peer support.

Seton Hall’s master’s in counseling requires 60 credits and takes 10 semesters to finish. Coursework includes counseling theory, abnormal psychology, multicultural counseling and psychology, appraisal and assessment, and counselor ethics in practice. The program offers all coursework online except for two, four-day residencies on campus in South Orange, New Jersey. The curriculum also incorporates three internships and a practicum.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor’s degree and satisfactory GRE or MAT scores. Seton Hall waives the GRE/MAT requirement for applicants with a 3.0 GPA. This program does not require prerequisite courses or previous counseling experience.

Seton Hall University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Average Net Price: $18,706

#24 – University of Nebraska at Kearney

The University of Nebraska at Kearney offers an online master of science in education in school counseling that leads to elementary preK-6 or secondary 7-12 licensure. This program accommodates working professionals through a combination of evening and online courses, summer residencies, and fieldwork experiences.

UNK’s master’s in counseling requires 43 credits and takes 2.5 years to complete. Coursework includes theories of counseling, career counseling, child and adolescent development and interventions, and multicultural counseling. The curriculum also requires two internships and a practicum. Nebraska residents receive a significant tuition discount.

University of Nebraska at Kearney is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Average Net Price: $7,209

#25 – Southern Arkansas University

Southern Arkansas University offers an online master of education in school counseling that fulfills licensure requirements for advanced and initial K-12 school counseling in Arkansas. Students living outside of Arkansas should verify whether this program meets their home state’s licensure requirements.

SAU’s master’s in counseling psychology requires 48 credits and takes 2.5-3 years to finish. Coursework includes counseling theories, human development for helping professionals, counseling in a diverse society, and assessment procedures. Students must also complete internships in a local school.

Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA to graduate. The initial K-12 school counseling license is available to students who complete this program and do not have a standard teaching license. The advanced license is available to students who complete this program and also have a teaching license.

SAU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Average Net Price: $23,422

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