Most Affordable Online Master’s in Educational Counseling Degrees
| Staff Writers
Are you ready to find your fit?
An educational counselor works alongside teachers and school administrators to provide students from K-12 with counseling needs. These needs may be educational such as early career planning or advice on what classes to take but can also be emotional such as when a student has experienced trauma. Because teachers must primarily deal with teaching and do not have the capacity to sit with each student individually, counselors are just as important to helping students along their educational path.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for school and career counselors is projected to experience a 13 percent growth from 2016 to 2026. This percentage growth is faster than the national average due to increased school enrollments around the country. School counselors may work in public, private, urban, or rural environments.
What type of master’s in educational counseling should you get?
An online program versus a traditionalon-campus one is preferable for those who are already working. Especially because most of these programs require some teaching experience, many applicants may prefer to continue their jobs while enrolled in school. Online programs are flexible, affordable, and can often be completed in as little as two years.
The most common degree for a Master’s in Educational Counseling is a Master’s in Education. Master of Arts degrees are the second most common. An Master’s is considered more of a practitioner’s degree for those who immediately want to gain licensure to work as a counselor. On the other hand, an MA may be more suitable for those who wish to do research.
Accredited Online College Programs
Explore our featured online programs and find the right match for you today.
How much money do people make with a master’s in educational counseling?
According to PayScale, the median salary for a school counselor with a master’s degree is $46,969. With added benefits, the average salary comes out to be $50,000. While a starting salary may be as low as $33,000, experienced counselors can earn almost six figures. Whether you work in private or public education, which school district you’re in, and years of experience all affect salary.
Added benefits for counselors can include retirement plans, paid vacation and sick days, transportation reimbursements, etc. New counselors should look into the long-term benefits and not just the starting salary when they first join a new school. Popular cities for school counseling include Philadelphia, New York, and Columbus.
What can you do with a master’s in educational counseling?
A master’s in educational counseling prepares graduates to take the appropriate state and national licensure tests to practice as a counselor in a particular area. These professionals are trained in counseling theory, child and adolescent psychology, career counseling, and personal evaluation. Upon completion of the degree, graduates will be able to perform counseling duties in K-12 settings.
Typical tasks of an educational counselor include: creating counseling programs, using assessment tools to evaluate individuals, meeting with students, and providing crisis intervention. Because most schools tend to only have a few counselors for a large population of students, counselors will be responsible for a large group of people.
What are the requirements for a master’s in educational counseling?
In order to apply for the program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school with a competitive GPA. GRE test scores, letters of recommendation, and supplemental essays are also required. In addition, documentation of teaching experience is also required for most programs.
Because a master’s in educational counseling will often have an internship or practicum component in actual schools, a background check may be required before admission into the program. Interested applicants should pay attention to important deadlines and get all the necessary documents to ensure a smooth application.
What are the best online master’s in educational counseling?
College Choice has compiled a list of the 30 most affordable online master’s in educational counseling. These schools were chosen and ranked based on institutional excellence and student success. Institutional excellence was decided based on a variety data points such as graduation rate, entering students’ test scores, and student-to-faculty ratio. Student success was based on tuition costs, financial aid, and average student indebtedness after graduating.
Our data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics’ IPEDS database, PayScale, individual college websites, and the U.S. News & World Report.
OverviewSoutheastern Oklahoma State University was originally founded with the goal of training the next generation of teachers for the state’s public schools. Beginning in the late 30s, the school began to expand and offer other degrees. Located in the southern city of Durant, SOSU’s main campus is only 15 miles from the Oklahoma-Texas border. With a population of only 15,000, this small agricultural city is rapidly becoming more diverse. SOSU currently has eight different campuses as well as online degrees.Program FeaturesIn SOSU’s online M.Ed. in School Counseling degree, students will be exposed to different disciplines such as diversity, child development, and psychopathology.
Completion Time: as little as 12 months
2 Practicum/Clinical experiences
Start Dates: May, July, August, and October
NotablesThis online program has the same rate for in-state and out-of-state residents. The pay-as-you-go system provides a convenient and affordable method for students.
OverviewThe University of Louisiana at Monroe is a public university that was established in 1931 as a junior college. The school became a four-year college in 1953 and later achieved university status in 1969. ULM is dedicated to providing higher education to a diverse set of students, including distance learners. ULM online courses are student-focused and affordable. In addition to financial aid options, students pay a flat tuition rate.Program FeaturesULM’s MS in Counseling with a concentration in School Counseling prepares graduates to work either in elementary or secondary education.
Completion Time: 2 years
Accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
Licensure requirements met for the state of Louisiana
NotablesThis program is only 60 credit-hours, or 20 courses. Students have the option of being full-time or part-time.
OverviewThe University of Tennessee – Martin is located in Northwest Tennessee, about 125 miles northeast of Memphis. Currently about 6,800 students are enrolled, with the school’s graduation rate being among the highest in the state. Over 100 degrees are offered at UT Martin, both at the undergraduate and graduate level. UT Martin online provides distance learning opportunities, particularly for non-traditional students. An education at UT Martin is affordable, with about 90 percent of its students receiving some form of financial aid.Program FeaturesA Master’s in Counseling with a concentration in School Counseling from UT Martin’s online program is a nationally recognized degree that creates professional educators.
Semester-long orientation experience in a preK-12 setting for state licensure
Ideal for those with experience in education
Sample Courses: Group Dynamics, Individual Appraisal, Theory and Techniques of Counseling
NotablesIn 2018 the SR Education Group ranked this program among the Most Affordable Online Colleges list.
OverviewNorth Carolina Central University is the first public liberal arts institution for African-Americans in the nation. NCCU is recognized as an historically black college with over 75 percent of its students identifying as African-American. The university is also ranked by the Washington Monthly as one of the top 40 schools in the nation for contributions to the public good for its progressive initiatives. In addition to its strong commitment to diversity and community outreach, NCCU is a top 50 school for its value by Top Education Degrees.Program FeaturesAn online MA in School Counseling degree at NCCU is ideal for those who wish to be licensed within the state of North Carolina to practice as professional school counselors.
Endorsed member of the International Registry of Counselor Education Programs
Networking opportunities with future employers
NotablesThe SR Education group ranked NCCU’s online degrees among the Best Online Colleges for Value in 2018.
OverviewRanked among The Princeton Review’s “Best Colleges” list, Angelo State University is a vibrant campus that is part of the Texas Tech University System. Currently over 100 majors are offered throughout its six colleges. ASU is a Hispanic-serving institution as well as military friendly. Located in the city of San Angelo, students have the opportunity to experience the city’s small-town charm. ASU is also an affordable institution, with its scholarship program awarding more than $87 million to students since 1981.Program FeaturesASU’s online M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling program is designed for those who wish to work in K-12 or college-level settings.
Among the Top 15 Master’s in Counseling Degree Programs by the Best Master’s in Psychology
Sample Courses: Individual Counseling, Tests and Measurements, Social and Cultural Influences
NotablesUpon completion of this degree, students will be able to take the Texas Examination of Educator Standards to receive the Professional Certificate for School Counselors.
OverviewWith over 100 years of history, Southern Arkansas University – Main Campus is an active public university with the #1 highest return on investment among all schools within the state. SAU offers more than 80 degree programs, including those that are fully or partially online. Students at SAU can feel at home in the campus’s home-like feeling and welcoming spirit. SAU is also the #6 most affordable university in the US.Program FeaturesDuring SAU’s online M.Ed. in School Counseling program, students will be trained to address the development needs of children and adolescents.
Fulfills licensure requirements for K-12 counseling in Arkansas
Completion Time: 2.5-3 years
Hybrid classes available
NotablesFor those who do not already have licensure, graduates can apply for the standard teaching license. An add-on licensure is available for those who already hold an Arkansas teaching license.
OverviewLamar University was founded in 1923 and was named. after the “Father of Education” in Texas, the state’s second president. Today the university is among the fastest growing schools in the state. Over 14,000 students are currently enrolled among its 100 undergraduate and graduate programs. Lamar’s online education programs are ranked among the top ten according to the U.S. News & World Report.Program FeaturesLamar’s online M.Ed. in School Counseling degree pushes students to develop strong relational and community outreach skills.
Completion Time: as little as 22 months
$275 per credit-hour
Residency and practicum/internship component
NotablesThis program offers three start dates: July, August, and October.
OverviewThe University of Southern Mississippi was originally opened in 1910 as a teachers training school. Throughout the early 20th century, the school rapidly developed and began to add other colleges and disciplines. As a prominent research institution, USM works closely with the community to seek out innovation and positive change. In 2014-2015, the university had an estimated impact of $135 million from its research activities. USM is also a highly diverse campus, with its student body being represented from all states, 72 countries, and every county in the state.Program FeaturesUSM’s online M.Ed. in School Counseling is great for those who have experience teaching, as well as those who are new to the field.
Summer residency in Hattiesburg, MS
Ability to join the Child and family Studies Student Organization
NotablesThe Board of Trustees offers the Graduate Teacher and Counseling and School Administration Loan/Scholarship Program. Students can apply between January and March of each year.
OverviewThe University of Massachusetts Boston is the city’s premier urban research institution. Located on the waterfront, the campus is close to several historic sites such as the John F. Kennedy Library. UMass Boston offers a big campus with a small-campus feel. Students are able to participate in meaningful on-campus organizations, research, and internships. In 2017, the U.S. News & World Report ranked their graduate education programs among the top 100 in the country.Program FeaturesUMass Boston’s online M.Ed. in School Counseling degree that is offered through the Department of Counseling and School Psychology is a state licensure program.
Summer semester start date
Minimum 9 credit-hours per semester
NotablesStudents will take two clinical courses on the UMass Dartmouth campus. Housing is provided at a reasonable rate.
OverviewLocated in East Texas, the University of Texas at Tyler sits atop a beautiful 259-acre campus. UT Tyler is known for its professional development focus within its programs, with outstanding pass rates on several state licensure exams. The university is also flexible and affordable, offering several online programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Those at the graduate level are eligible for certain financial aid and scholarship programs.Program FeaturesCompletely offered online, UT Tyler’s MA in School Counseling degree provides students with the fundamentals of counseling and teaching in a diverse community.
100 percent pass rate
Complete Time: 18 months
200-hour internship program
NotablesFull-time K-12 teachers are eligible for receiving $200 the first semester through the Teachers in Excellence scholarship.
OverviewThe University of Central Arkansas is one of the oldest universities in the state. UCA has also been historically the primary school for teachers. Established in 1907, the university is known for its continued excellence and community engagement. Located in the city of Conway, a study showed that UCA contributes an estimated amount of $96.6 million in income to the area’s economy annually. Today the university has over 11,000 students enrolled.Program FeaturesUCA’s online MS in School Counseling program is approved by the Arkansas Department of Education for future K-12 counselors.
Tracks: Add-on (licensure holders) or Initial License Track
Practicum and internship experience
Sample Courses: Counseling Theory in K-20 Education, Career Guidance for School Counselors
NotablesMost classes are synchronous (set class times) with some asynchronous and face-to-face sessions.
OverviewWhat began as a land-grant institution in agricultural engineering became a prominent research institution within the state. North Carolina State University is an all-encompassing school with over 34,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Its high endowment, excellent student organizations, and economic impact are just a few of the points that makes NC State strong. In 2018, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ranked them #9 in Best Value for In-State Students Among Public Colleges.Program FeaturesThe online M.Ed. program for School Counseling at NC State follows the school-college-community collaboration model to develop strong counselors.
Four start dates
Focus on clinical theory
Sample Courses: Group Counseling, Theories and Tech of Counseling, Special Problems in Guidance
NotablesThis program was founded in 1946 and has a long history of success within the region. Over the years, the degree has become more multiculturally diverse.
OverviewThe University of West Alabama is a public institution located in the city of Livingston. Established in 1835, the school went through several changes in order to accommodate to the needs of the increasing diverse population. Currently the university offers more than 50 online degrees for its over 2,000 enrolled students. A UWA Online degree is flexible, affordable, and provides real-world experiences.Program FeaturesStudents enrolled in UWA’s online M.Ed. in School Counseling will learn assessment, evaluation, and advocacy within the field of counseling.
Completion Time: 1 year
Alabama teaching certification upon graduation
NotablesIn this degree, students take 9 credit-hours of professional courses and 39 credit-hours of certification courses.
OverviewAdams State University is a public liberal arts university in Colorado. Sitting atop a beautiful 90-acre campus, Adams State has been transformed with nearly $65 million worth of improvements. As a small school with only 3,700 students enrolled, students come first here whether they are enrolled in a traditional on-campus degree or online. Adams State is also a known for serving historically under-served populations, including low-income students, first generation, and underrepresented minorities.Program FeaturesAdams State’s MA in Counseling with an emphasis in School Counseling instills graduates with the necessary skills to become a counselor for a diverse student population.
Week-long intensive sessions with peers and professors
Meets state licensure requirements
NotablesUpon completion of the degree, students will have met one of three of the requirements to become a Special Services Provider: School Counselor (0-21) in Colorado.
OverviewEdinboro University was established in 1857 as a private training school for Pennsylvania’s teachers. Over time, the school added other disciplines and developed a more liberal arts curriculum. Today Edinboro offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees with more than 65,000 alumni located in all 50 states and 85 countries. The university also awards more than $3.2 million in scholarships and awards.Program FeaturesEdinboro’s online MA in Counseling degree with a concentration in School Counseling is a nationally recognized program known for its excellence and affordability.
Financial aid and graduate assistantships available
Employer tuition reimbursement programs
Sample Courses: Individual Development: Childhood through Adolescence, Human Development Across the Lifespan
NotablesEducational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors are expected to experience a job growth of 12 percent.
OverviewThe University of North Dakota is the state’s oldest and largest university. Founded in 1883, UND has a history of creating graduates who are leaders. Currently over 15,000 students are enrolled, with graduates having a 96 percent employment or continuing education rate. Although UND is a large institution, it offers a small school feeling with its average class size of only 25. The U.S. News & World Report has ranked UND one of the Top 25 Most Innovative Colleges in 2018.Program FeaturesUND’s online MA in Counseling with a K-12 School Counseling emphasis is for those who wish to make a difference in students’ lives.
Completion Time: 2.5 years
Semester-long practicum and internship
Live online classes in the evening
NotablesBest Counseling Schools has ranked this the #3 best online counseling program.
OverviewEstablished in 1976, Texas A&M University was the state’s first public institution of higher education. Its main campus, College Station, is located within a two-hour drive of the Houston-Dallas-Austin triangle. With over 62,500 students enrolled in its undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees, Texas A&M is full of traditions and engaging on-campus activities. The Master’s in School Counseling program is offered through their Department of Educational Psychology.Program FeaturesAn M.Ed. in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in School Counseling through Texas A&M online program mixes psychological theory with practice.
No GRE required
Sample Courses: Techniques of Research, Consultation in Special Education, Educational Psychology
NotablesThis program prepares students for certification as a school counselor in the state of Texas.
OverviewMercy College was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1950. It is a private college that has historically been affiliated with the Roman Catholic church and Jesuit tradition of education. Mercy’s goal is to provide students with a transformative educational experience, being able to accommodate both traditional and non-traditional students. Beginning in the 1990s, the college began to offer online degrees. Currently there are more than 40 undergraduate and graduate online degrees offered.Program FeaturesAn MS in Counseling with a specialization in School Counseling will prepare those to work as a counselor in urban and suburban schools.
Two supervised internships
Sample Courses: Diagnostic Tools: Measurement, College Planning and Preparation Counseling, Counseling and Ethics
NotablesThose who complete school internships will be able to receive a New York State certification that allows them to work in schools.
OverviewThe University of Missouri, commonly referred to as Mizzou, is the state’s largest and most comprehensive university with over 300 degree programs. Founded in 1839 in Columbia, Mizzou was the first public university west of the Mississippi River. MU is known for its extensive research and active student population in the community. Beginning in 2016-2017, Mizzou began to offer online and hybrid courses. About 45 percent of students take at least one online course.Program FeaturesMU’s online M.Ed. in Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Mental Health Practices in Schools degree with create counselors who can advocate for children’s needs.
Completion Time: 2 years
One or two classes per semester
Sample Courses: Communication and Collaboration with Children and Families, Bully and Youth Violence: Prevention and Reduction
NotablesOnline students qualify for MU’s in-state tuition rate regardless of their residency.
OverviewCapella University is an online institution of higher education with its main headquarters located in Minneapolis, MN. All programs at Capella are competency-based, meaning every course and project is meant to advance students in their future career. The university also offers multiple learning formats to accommodate to all students’ learning needs. Currently over 38,000 online students are enrolled and over 78,000 degrees have been awarded since its founding 20 years ago.Program FeaturesFor those who wish to be in a career to help young people realize their dreams, an online MS in School Counseling at Capella may be the right degree.
Hybrid courses online and in-person
2 residencies, an internship, and 1 practicum
State licensure preparation
NotablesStudents can meet with a guidance counselor to set up a schedule that is most flexible and affordable.
OverviewSalem College is a liberal arts school for women that was founded in 1772, four years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. It is one of the oldest all-women’s institutions of higher education in the nation. In the beginning Salem was led by the unmarried women of the Moravian community known as the Single Sisters. Salem has always been welcome to students of different backgrounds, and continues to be a place that is dedicated to diversity and inclusion.Program FeaturesSalem’s online M.Ed. in School Counseling is a research-driven program for future licensed counselors.
Completion Time: 36 months
Sample Courses: 21st Century Career and Educational Counseling Development, Ethics & Legalities in Education for School Counseling
NotablesThose who complete this degree and earn the minimum score on the PRAXIS II Specialty Area Test in Professional School Counseling will be licensed within the state of North Carolina.
OverviewRegent University is a private Christian school with the purpose of creating new leaders by equipping them with a strong faith background. The name “regent” comes from the meaning of someone who represents a king in his absence. Students are encouraged to pursue excellence in whatever they do, whether it be through the various internship programs offered or through their career-focused academic programs. In 2017, Regent’s online programs were ranked among the best according to Guide to Online Schools.Program FeaturesRegent’s MA in School Counseling degree infuses Christian principles and counseling theory to prepare students to be effective leaders in education.
Sample Courses: Research & Statistics, Psychopathology & Diagnosis, Concepts of Family Systems
NotablesThis program has an 80 percent job placement rate and a 91 percent licensure pass rate.
OverviewThe University of the Southwest is a private Christian university that was founded in 1962. The school’s founder, B. Clarence Evans, dreamed. of having a “college for Christian Education.” Today USW is located in Hobbs, NM, and serves the southeastern New Mexico and West Texas region with its liberal arts education. USW is an affordable and flexible school, offering an online college. Over 80 percent of the student population receive some form of financial aid.Program FeaturesAn online M.Ed. in School Counseling from USW can advance one’s career as a counselor at the elementary, middle, or high school level.
Corporate sponsorship and other financial aid available
Practicum and internship program
NotablesUSW’s online programs are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
OverviewOur Lady of the Lake University was founded in 1895 with the mission of providing education to those with limited access. OLLU is a Catholic liberal arts institution that offers both traditional on-campus and online degrees. As a fairly small school, only 2,700 students are enrolled in OLLU’s student-centered programs. In addition to being prepared for the next step in their careers, students are also spiritually equipped with the university’s strong Christian-centered teachings.Program FeaturesOLLU’s online M.Ed. in School Counseling trains future educators to deal with various issues counseling at the primary and secondary levels.
100 percent pass rate for the Texas Examinations for Educator Standards
Sample Courses: Professional Orientation, Diagnosis in Counseling, Addictions Issues in Counseling
NotablesStudents will be ready for the Licensed Professional Counselor and National Certified Counselor Examination.
OverviewMissouri Baptist University was established 50 years ago as a Christian-based university of higher education. At MBU, students are given a Christian, liberal arts education in order to prepare to serve in a culturally diverse society. As a school committed to diversity, all curricula are aimed. to respect students of different ethnic origins, socioeconomic status, and other characteristics. Currently over 5,600 students are enrolled at MBU.Program FeaturesMBU’s online MA in School Counseling degree program is ideal for the busy professional.
Completion Time: 3 years
Prepares those for advancement to a doctoral program
Sample Courses: Advanced Human Development, Group Counseling, Child and Adolescent Counseling
NotablesThis is the second year in a row that this program has been ranked among the best in the nation for its kind by College Choice.
OverviewIndiana Wesleyan University is the largest private college in the state of Indiana. IWU is a private Christian university of the Wesleyan Church that was originally founded in 1920 as Marion College. Currently the school offers more than 100 degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level, both on-campus and online. IWU is known for its adult education programs and its flexibility. An online degree at IWU is also affordable, with over $146 million worth of aid distributed in 2013-2014.Program FeaturesIWU’s online MA in School Counseling degree is a Christ-centered program that trains future servant-leaders in the education system.
100-hour practicum and 300-hour internship
Sample Courses: Appraisal of Individuals and Families, Theory and Techniques in the Helping Relationship
NotablesIWU offers specific servant leadership scholarships, as well as graduate assistantships. Interested students should check out the various options to receive aid.
OverviewThe University of St. Thomas is a Catholic university located in Houston, TX. With more than 70 years of history, UST offers a liberal arts education for people of all faiths, including ones that do not consider themselves spiritual or religious. Over 3,000 students are enrolled in UST’s undergraduate and graduate programs. Out of those students, 68 percent are ethnically diverse. In 2018 the U.S. News & World Report ranked UST among the best regional universities in the West.Program FeaturesAn online M.Ed. degree at St. Thomas in Counselor Education with a specialization in School Counseling provides the fundamentals in counseling theory.
Hybrid courses available
Designed for experienced teachers
NotablesThe average class size for all graduate programs is only 14 students per instructor.
OverviewIn 1873, Cornelius Vanderbilt gave $1 million which allowed the creation of what came to be Vanderbilt University. Located in Nashville, TN, Vanderbilt is an internationally recognized university with strong partnerships in the community and around the world. As of 2018, it is the #14 best university in the world according to the U.S. News & World Report. Its online Master’s in Educational Counseling is offered through the Peabody College, a top ranked school of education.Program FeaturesAn online M.Ed. in Human Development Counseling with a specialization in School Counseling at Vanderbilt gives students hands-on experiences in the field.
Completion Time: 2-3 Years
Three terms of field experiences
Live weekly classes
NotablesAlthough the program is completely online, students come to campus only twice to complete immersion sessions with other students and professors.
OverviewWake Forest University is a private university that was originally founded during the Baptist State Convention of 1833. A WFU education follows a liberal arts curriculum, giving students strong interdisciplinary knowledge. Students on campus are politically engaged, innovative, and constantly thinking of new solutions for different problems. Currently over 3,000 students are enrolled in its graduate and professional school programs. WFU is the #27 best university in the nation.Program FeaturesWFU’s online Master’s in School Counseling is for those who want to blend their love for children with clinical skills to make a difference.
24/7 technical support
Internship with industry partners
Sample Courses: Life Span Development: Implications for Counseling, Cultures and Counseling
NotablesThis program has a 98 percent pass rate on the National Counselor Examination.
OverviewLeTourneau University is a private, interdenominational Christian university with more than 85 undergraduate and graduate degrees. Its 2,700 enrolled student population represents nearly all 50 states and 30 countries. Its main campus is located in Longview, TX. Students are also enrolled in LETU’s online programs which are taught by leading professionals. Their online degrees have repeatedly been ranked among the top by the U.S News & World Report.Program FeaturesLETU’s online MA in Counseling with a specialization in School Counseling is a faith-based program to prepare students for licensure.
Three-day on-campus intensive
Sample Courses: Psychopharmacology, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Trauma and Theodicy
NotablesStudents will be able to take the test to become a Licensed Professional Counselor. All coursework meets the requirements of this exam.
Online College Resources
Helping you prepare and gain the most out of your educational experience.