Best Online Master's in School Counseling 2022

Updated November 14, 2022

Online school counseling programs cover many topics, including counseling theories. Explore getting an online masters in school counseling.

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School counselors shape the academic, social, and emotional futures of youth. Earning an online master's in school counseling gives working professionals the flexibility to earn an advanced degree that qualifies for state licensure or certification.

Unlike guidance counselors who focus on vocational help, school counselors offer academic and behavioral development to students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Use this guide to find the best online master's in school counseling programs, explore common curriculums, and find average salaries.

Frequently Asked Questions About School Counseling

How long does it take to become a school counselor?

If you go to graduate school full time, you can become a school counselor in two years. Part-time students can graduate from accredited school counseling programs in three years.

Are school counselors in demand?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts school counseling occupations to increase faster than the average rate for all other jobs. According to the BLS, school counselor positions will grow by 10% from 2021-2031. During that decade, the job market should see 32,000 openings for school counselors.

What skills does a school counselor need to have?

School counselors need specific personal traits and practical skills, such as classroom management and cross-cultural communication. They also need the ability to listen to others and relay information to students, parents, and teachers. While school counselors need empathy, they must maintain professionalism to build relationships and assess and treat students.

How much do school counselors make?

According to the BLS, school counselors make a median annual salary of $60,510. Salaries increase as school counselors gain seniority, with the top 10% making more than $98,190. Pay also varies by setting, with school counselors making the most in elementary and secondary schools. Elementary school counselors earn a median salary of $63,460 a year.

What is the best online program for a master's in school counseling?

The best master's in school counseling programs match your interests, budget, and schedule. For instance, not every online master's in school counseling degree offers asynchronous courses, and students may need to meet at set times for lectures or discussions. Additionally, each online master's in school counseling degree features a different curriculum and practicum requirements.

Is a master's in school counseling worth it?

Earning a master's in school counseling degree requires a time commitment and financial investment. Working as a school counselor can be demanding and physically and emotionally straining. That said, students should make sure the profession suits their interests and career goals.

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 over $90,000 annually.

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.

Best Online Master's in School Counseling

#1 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling 2022

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Liberty University boasts a competitive online master's in school counseling. The program appeals to students seeking a flexible education in school counseling. The institution boasts both in-person study on its Lynchburg, Virginia, campus and 67 online master's programs in numerous fields.

The institution prioritizes online education, reaching 85,586 students across the globe. Degree candidates can connect with faculty members and collaborate on research. They can also pursue experiential learning opportunities, like internships, in preparation for the school counseling field. The online learning community benefits from a 17-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio.

It's important for graduate students to factor in potential educational costs, such as the average cost per course credit, which the college reports is $750. Most students can apply for financial aid like scholarships and fellowships. To learn more about these and other funding opportunities, students should speak with the financial aid office.

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,417
Out-of-state
$15,417
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
51%
Students Enrolled
85,586
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling 2022

University of the Cumberlands

  • Williamsburg, KY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University of the Cumberlands offers a master of arts in education that provides flexibility for enrollees. The college provides in-person master's programs through its main campus in Williamsburg, Kentucky, while maintaining 25 online master's programs,  reaching 15,449 online students worldwide. Enrollees join a robust online community of peers and faculty. Degree-seekers can receive institutional support throughout their studies.

Degree candidates gain access to a virtual classroom environment, where they learn, collaborate, and explore experiential learning opportunities. Students in complete foundational and advanced coursework, with the option to customize their classes and choose electives relevant to the education field. Learners can choose electives and modify coursework to suit their professional and professional goals.

The institution has a variety of internal and external funding opportunities available to defray the costs of education. Students at the accredited institution can also apply for federal financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,875
Out-of-state
$9,875
Retention Rate
69%
Admission Rate
80%
Students Enrolled
16,966
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
91% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#3 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling 2022

University of the Southwest

  • Hobbs, NM
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Looking for a flexible, accessible degree in educational counseling? University of the Southwest's master's in school counseling is a wise choice. The program is one of 19 online master's programs offered at the college.

The private school offers a strong online community for busy students, nontraditional learners, and working professionals. Online degree-seekers can access mentorship opportunities with their faculty advisor and other faculty members. They can also explore internships and experiential learning opportunities. The program boasts a 17-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio.

Prospective applicants should be aware of the costs of education, including the average cost per course credit, $663. Though graduate education can be costly, students can pursue internal and external funding opportunities to defray these costs. Interested applicants should speak with the financial aid office for further information.

Average Tuition
In-state
$16,000
Out-of-state
$16,000
Retention Rate
63%
Admission Rate
45%
Students Enrolled
875
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling 2022

Prescott College

  • Prescott, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Looking to earn a degree without sacrificing your schedule? Consider a flexible online degree from Prescott College. Students looking to advance in the educational counseling field will benefit from the college's master's in school counseling.

The Prescott, Arizona, school offers online study for 23 master's programs, connecting 649 students throughout the world. Enrollees benefit from a top-tier online learning community, connecting with colleagues and faculty. Degree-seekers can explore competitive funding opportunities and collaborate with their faculty advisor and other faculty members. Students can produce original research and apply for internships in educational counseling-relevant areas. Degree candidates complete general education and advanced coursework, equipping them with the knowledge needed to succeed in the field. Students hoping to modify their course schedule can discuss class options and electives with their academic advisors.

Prospective enrollees need a bachelor's degree before they can pursue study. Interested applicants can consult with the financial aid office to explore scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities.

Average Tuition
In-state
$30,888
Out-of-state
$30,888
Retention Rate
61%
Admission Rate
97%
Students Enrolled
993
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
65% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling 2022

New York University

  • New York, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Want to further your education without interrupting your career? Consider an online master's in school counseling at New York University. While supporting in-person study on its main campus in New York, the private institution offers 28 online master's programs to 5,468 remote students from all walks of life. Of these programs, the master's in school counseling provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed the field.

Enrollees pursue collaboration with peers and faculty members via an online classroom environment. The curriculum consists of general education and advanced coursework. Students hoping to modify their course schedule can discuss class options with their faculty and academic advisors.

Eligible learners can apply for internal and external funding opportunities to defray the costs of education. The college's accreditation status allows students access to federal financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$50,684
Out-of-state
$50,684
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
16%
Students Enrolled
52,885
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#6 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling 2022

University of Southern California

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University of Southern California offers an affordable online master of education in school counseling, which attracts working professionals and busy students alike. Based in Los Angeles, the school educates students across 199 master's programs, including 55 online programs. The program's flexibility is unparalleled.

Students complete rigorous coursework, including foundational and advanced classes. Learners can modify their program by working with faculty and academic advising.

Prospective students should consider that of all applicants, 11% of applicants are admitted each year. Online students join a robust online community of learners, benefiting from institutional access to career services, academic advising, and other offices. At the institution, enrollees pay an average of $1,948 per credit. The institution connects degree-seekers with a variety of internal and external funding opportunities, such as scholarships and fellowships.

Average Tuition
In-state
$57,256
Out-of-state
$57,256
Retention Rate
96%
Admission Rate
11%
Students Enrolled
48,321
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#7 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling 2022

Lamar University

  • Beaumont, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Learners looking to pursue studies in educational counseling without sacrificing their schedule should consider Lamar University's online master of education in school counseling. The institution provides 13 online master's programs.

Enrollees are connected with a strong online community of 11,310 students across many locations, backgrounds, and employment statuses. Degree candidates also connect with premier educators, with the option for research collaboration and internships, among other experiential learning opportunities. The online learning community benefits from an 18-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio.

Typically, online students pay $337 per course credit. Learners can pursue internal and external funding opportunities to offset the costs of education. The financial aid office can connect eligible enrollees with funding opportunities. The institution notes that of all students, 82% benefit from some form of financial aid, with the average cost of tuition after aid being $12,716.

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,032
Out-of-state
$16,160
Retention Rate
66%
Admission Rate
84%
Students Enrolled
15,460
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
73% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#8 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling 2022

Concordia University-Irvine

  • Irvine, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

California-based Concordia University-Irvine is a private institution offering a variety of master’s programs. Learners can choose from 15 master's programs, including 11 online options. The online master's in school counseling is one of the college's most prestigious online programs, attracting students from all walks of life.

Through rigorous study, degree candidates gain the skills and tools needed to succeed in careers in educational counseling. The curriculum consists of foundational coursework and advanced classes. These courses can be customized in consultation with faculty advisors and academic advisement.

Alongside their studies, enrollees can explore experiential learning opportunities such as internships. The college offers both internal and external funding opportunities, such as federal financial aid, scholarships, and fellowships, to defray the costs of education. Students can learn more about these opportunities by meeting with the school's financial aid office.

Average Tuition
In-state
$35,990
Out-of-state
$35,990
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
71%
Students Enrolled
3,911
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
63% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#9 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling 2022

Ottawa University-Surprise

  • Surprise, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Headquartered in Surprise, Arizona, Ottawa University-Surprise boasts three master's programs, all of which run online. The college's online master's in school counseling provides flexibility for learners from all walks of life.

Enrollees gain a topnotch education in educational counseling, preparing them well for the demands of the field. Degree-seekers complete general education and advanced classes. If desired, students can work with faculty advisors to modify their course load to suit their career trajectory.

Students can also pursue internships and experiential learning opportunities to prepare them for the field. Graduate school can be expensive, but there are plenty of funding opportunities available to degree-seekers. The financial aid office can help learners in relieving the costs of education.

Average Tuition
In-state
$27,350
Out-of-state
$27,350
Retention Rate
36%
Admission Rate
43%
Students Enrolled
806
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#10 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling 2022

Concordia University-Wisconsin

  • Mequon, WI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Concordia University-Wisconsin's online master's in school counseling provides premier education to students without disrupting their schedule. The college provides in-person master's programs through its main campus in Mequon, while maintaining 25 online master's programs, reaching 2,242 online students worldwide. Enrollees gain the skills needed to advance their career in educational counseling, while granting access to the institution’s supportive online community.

The curriculum consists of general education and advanced coursework. Students can select electives and modify coursework to suit their professional and professional goals.

Eligible learners can apply for internal and external funding opportunities to defray the costs of education. The college's accreditation status allows students access to federal financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$30,060
Out-of-state
$30,060
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
64%
Students Enrolled
5,777
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

How Much Does a School Counseling Degree Cost?

What students pay for a school counseling degree depends on if they attend a private or public college. State residency also influences tuition costs.

Online master's in school counseling degrees may waive out-of-state fees and charge non-residents in-state tuition, but otherwise students pay more when they can't prove their residency.

School counseling and guidance services undergraduate in-state students pay an average of $7,070 at public colleges, and out-of-state students pay $32,660 at private schools, according to the 2020 data from Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Systems (IPEDS).

A master's degree can cost $30,000-$120,000, depending on the college. The average master's degree costs $66,340, while the average doctoral program is $114,300.

Financial aid can help offset the cost of college. Students can take out private or federal loans, but they require repayment. Scholarships and grants do not need to be repaid.

Courses in School Counseling

An online master's in school counseling program teaches graduate students how to collaborate in elementary, middle, and high schools with administrators, parents, students, and teachers. Graduates also work in correctional facilities and hospitals —or wherever children and young adults need counseling services.

Online master's in school counseling students supplement theoretical coursework by completing internships and practicums —often in high-risk communities where they need to identify children and teens at risk of behavioral health issues or academic failure.

1 Counseling Skills

A course in counseling skills focuses on building the vital communication skills needed to work 1:1 and in groups with students. Degree-seekers learn interviewing and counseling approaches, often through laboratory scenarios.

They develop the knowledge to identify healthy and unhealthy social and emotional development, as well as learn techniques to build rapport with students. This course may also emphasize the common ethical issues that emerge in a counseling session.

2 Counseling and Culturally Diverse

School counselors need cross-cultural training to create responsive counseling that meets the diverse needs of people and families.

Counselors serve students across different religions, races, ethnicities, socioeconomic upbringings, and sexual orientations.

Creating fair opportunities for students starts by understanding the cultural factors that influence people. This creates a cultural context and allows school counselors to provide more effective counseling that addresses each person's unique needs.

School counselors need the knowledge from this course to serve as social advocates who create culturally responsive interventions that can lead to positive learning outcomes for students.

3 Lifespan and Development

A course on lifespan and development covers the human development theories from birth to old age, using various counseling theories and research.

Students study the developmental milestones for each stage in life and the changes that occur with age. They learn about emotional and learning challenges faced by children and adolescents, and how to best help them.

The curriculum teaches aspiring school counselors how to support and empower students from kindergarten to 12th grade, focusing on counseling approaches for people across the lifespan.

4 Multicultural Counseling

Through a multicultural perspective, future school counselors gain an awareness of culture and context and issues in diversity. Lessons also cover social justice and advocacy in school counseling.

Students enrolled in this course study intervention models, cross-cultural counseling, and effective techniques to increase parental involvement.

Coursework lets students learn to work in diverse populations at government agencies and schools. Developing multicultural competence comes from self-awareness, research and practical experience, which helps school counselors to develop more effective programs and advocacy work.

5 Professional Issues and Ethics

This course surveys the ethical, legal, and professional issues that emerge in school counseling. For instance, aspiring school counselors learn about contacting authorities, maintaining confidentiality, keeping boundaries, and honoring cultural differences.

A student's achievement depends on a school counselor's ability to provide professional and ethical assessments and consultation.

How to Become a School Counselor

  • Complete a bachelor's degree in counseling or education
  • Finish an in-person or online master's in school counseling program
  • Complete practicum and/or internship requirements
  • Obtain certification, if mandated by the state or employer
  • Pass the state exam, if required by your state to get licensed or certified
  • Find a job
  • Complete any required continue education courses to maintain certification or licensure

Licensure for School Counseling

  1. A bachelor's degree or master's degree in school counseling or a related-field
  2. Submit a formal recommendation
  3. Complete required coursework
  4. May need to complete post-bachelor's degree study requirements, ranging from 30-60 graduate credits
  5. Hold national certification, if required
  6. Complete practicum and internships hours
  7. Pass national exam, if needed
  8. Complete fingerprinting and background check
  9. Submit application fee
  10. File processing fee

How Much Do School Counseling Majors Make?

Deviations in school counseling salaries are the result of differences in work experience, responsibilities, education, and work settings. Salaries for school counselors may start at below $37,550 a year, but they can reach a median salary around $98,190 for the top 10% of earners.

School Counseling Salaries
Career Average Annual Salary
Educational and guidance counselors $52,420
Career Counselors and Advisors $47,110
High School Teachers $51,510
Elementary School Teachers $48,360
Psychologists $83,640
Middle School Teachers $50,060

Source: Payscale

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