The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 19 percent increase in educational counseling employment by 2020. For those looking to either begin or advance their careers in elementary or secondary school counseling, the fifteen programs below are some of the most affordable that are also offered online. Two things to note: first, the tuition rates listed below are for the entire program, start to finish. And second, many of the programs offer licensure for the state in which the institution is located. So, though the degree can be attained online, it is still important to find one that will offer licensure in the state in which you wish to work. Our data comes from the university and colleges’ websites as well as nationally recognized U.S. News and World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.
Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University is a private, independent, non-profit university located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. U.S. News & World Report has ranked them among the nation’s Best National Universities and as one that is of Best Value. Graduates from Wake Forest University’s renowned online Master of Arts in School Counseling program are eligible for state licensure, and for two decades it has been accredited by CACREP, meaning the campus can administer the National Counselor Exam. With a 100 percent pass rate from graduates and higher grade averages than the national average, Wake Forest provides one of the best and most equipping programs in educational counseling.
Seton Hall University
Seton Hall University is a private Roman Catholic institution that was founded in 1856. Their online Master of Arts in School Counseling is offered through Seton’s College of Education and Human Services, which is accredited by the NCATE (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education). The curriculum at Seton is a mix of foundational education, counseling, and clinical courses and a school counseling internship at the end of the program. Seton students learn an array of theories, concepts, and skills, including how to advocate for the needs of students, how to work alongside teachers and parents, how to provide crisis intervention, and more. An important thing to note is that graduates attain licensure for the state of New Jersey and may be able to find credentialization in other states, but it’d be pertinent to research which states first.
University of Massachusetts
The University of Massachusetts (UMass) is a five-campus public university system that was ranked 57th in the world in 2015 for its innovative achievements, according to Reuters. Their online Master of Education in School Counseling program meets the academic requirements certification in the state of Massachusetts. Though most of the program is online, two weeks of on-campus study are required for the completion of two clinical courses. This usually takes place in July. UMass is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
Walden University, accredited by the NCATE, is a private institution that’s part of a global network of eighty universities. The Master of Science in School Counseling program consists of online coursework, two residencies at the Minneapolis campus, and field experience. Walden stands out from some of the other programs on this list in that they offer an accelerated track, which contains the same curriculum but at a faster pace. For students who are not working and can devote their schedule full time to school, this track may be most suitable. Finally, students at Walden can take either the general program or specialize in one of four areas of concentration: addiction counseling, career counseling, crisis and trauma, and military families and culture.
Concordia University Wisconsin
Concordia University Wisconsin is a private liberal arts college and an affiliate of the ten-member Concordia University System that is managed by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. They offer an online Master of Science in Education–Counseling degree that puts graduates on the track to licensure in Wisconsin. Those looking to practice outside of Wisconsin should make sure the program at Concordia is in accordance with their own state’s standards. Online class sizes are small and students choose their own practicum sites based on their interest, area of specialization, and location. Concordia’s curriculum covers psychoanalytic, behavioral, cognitive, humanistic, sociological, and biological aspects of counseling.
Liberty University is a private, Christian college with a broad e-campus platform. Their Master of Education–School Counselor program is accredited by the NCATE and is a state-approved program for advance licensure. Liberty stands apart from the others in that they have reciprocity with other states. So, students can attain licensure through Liberty’s online program and (mostly) practice outside of Virginia, where the university is based. Students should still check in with their state’s requirements. Like other programs on this list, Liberty requires residencies, but unlike the others, they require four on-campus intensives. Finally, Liberty University emphasizes an ethical approach in preparing students to work in Christian, public, or private schools.
University of Texas at Tyler
The University of Texas at Tyler (UT Tyler) offers an online Master of Arts in School Counseling degree. While many of the programs on this list require at least forty credit hours to graduate, and some even sixty, UT Tyler requires only thirty-six credit hours to complete the degree. Meaning, students can graduate in as little as eighteen months. UT Tyler also boasts a 100 percent pass rate on the TExES (Texas Examinations of Educator Standards) professional school counselors’ certification examination for those looking to practice in Texas. Students at UT Tyler also have the opportunity to become a member of the American School Counselor Association, through which they can network with professional counselors and stay apprised of developments in their respective fields.
University of the Southwest
University of the Southwest is a private school located in Hobbs, New Mexico. They offer a Master of Education in School Counseling that can be completed fully online and prepares students for licensure. However, out of state residents should contact their state’s department of education to ensure this program meets their state’s licensing and certification regulations. With a curriculum that includes classes on ethics, theory and technique, career development, adolescent counseling, and more, students leave the University of the Southwest prepared to counsel at the primary, elementary, middle, and high school levels.
Gwynedd Mercy University
Located near downtown Philadelphia, Gwynedd Mercy University is a Catholic University that has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of “America’s Best Colleges.” They offer an online Master of Science in School Counseling that aligns with the American School Counselors Association (ASCA) National Model. The curriculum is broken into three segments—core educational knowledge, core counseling knowledge, and school counseling practicum—and includes classes that cover both the theoretical and practical aspects of educational counseling: human development, individual and group counseling, effective communication, intervention, research, advocacy, leadership, and more.
Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University (TAMU) is a research university located in College Station, Texas. Through their College of Education and Human Development, they offer a fully online Master of Education degree with a concentration in School Counseling. Only thirty-six credit hours and no residency requirements, this program can be completed in two years. At TAMU students are prepared to work as personal, academic, or career counselors or as consultants to teachers.
University of West Alabama
The University of West Alabama (UWA), located in Livingston, Alabama, offers a Master of Science in Adult Continuing Education degree with an option of specializing in Guidance and Counseling. For those planning to teach or counsel outside of the state of Alabama, they should check with their states’ requirements to see if UWA meets their standards. The curriculum is broken into two sections—professional courses and concentration courses—and requires forty-eight credit hours for completion.
University of Central Arkansas
The Master’s of Science in Professional School Counseling program at University of Central Arkansas is forty-eight credit hours, which includes both practicum and internship field experiences. The curriculum is in alignment with the American School Counselor Association, National Model, and the Arkansas Department of Higher Education Standards. Though offered online, there are some required visits to the Conway, Arkansas campus. Finally, the University of Central Arkansas stands apart from other programs in that it offers two tracks. The Initial Licensure Track is for those who don’t have a teaching license and the Add-On Licensure Track is for those who do and are looking for further licensure in school counseling.
Regent University is a private Christian research university located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Their Master of Arts in School Counseling combines traditional techniques and theory with a Christian approach to counseling. Accredited by the Council for Accredition of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), at Regent students learn how to diagnosis and treat, become leaders of ethical clinical practices, promote self-awareness and understanding among clients, and how to cultivate personal development. All courses are heavily guided by biblical principles and values.
Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University’s Master of Science in Counseling program offers a School Counseling track. Though most of the degree can be completed online, Fort Hays does require residency for three, four-day, on-campus courses: Counseling Skills Development, Group Counseling: Theories and Procedures, and Professional and Ethical Issues in Counseling. Marked by flexibility, convenience, and quality, Fort Hays has designed a program with working professionals in mind.
Lamar University is a public research university located in Beaumont, Texas. Their forty-eight credit hour Master’s in Education degree includes a concentration in School Counseling. Specifically for certified teachers who are interested in becoming part of the larger educational support services, this program prepares students to become school counselors as determined by the Texas State Board for Educator Certification standards. Though the coursework can be completed online, Lamar requires students to attend one residency during their studies.