Best Online Master’s in School Counseling Degrees

Best Online Master’s in School Counseling Degrees

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Online master's in school counseling programs train students to work as counselors or advisors in educational settings. Many master's in school counseling programs offer specializations. Options include mental health counseling and career advising.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as psychology. Enrollees complete coursework in human development, counseling theories, and child counseling.

This page highlights the best online master's in school counseling programs. Read on to learn about costs and common courses.

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Frequently Asked Questions About School Counseling

Q. How long does it take to get a school counseling degree?

Most master's programs take 2-3 years to complete. Learners may need more or less time depending on their prior coursework and enrollment status.

Q. What else can I do with a school counseling degree?

Graduates with a master's in school counseling can pursue diverse careers. They may work in rehabilitation counseling, substance misuse counseling, or guidance counseling. Some graduates work as academic advisors.

Q. What type of master's do you need to be a school counselor?

Most school counselors need a master's degree in a field such as psychology or counseling. Some employers prefer candidates with degrees in school or career counseling.

Featured Online Masters Educational Counseling Programs

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

Why Get a Degree in School Counseling?

Professionals who earn school counseling degrees can pursue careers as certified school or career counselors. Graduates can use their skills in rehabilitation settings or private practices.

Pursuing a master's in school counseling online gives enrollees flexibility. They do not need to commute to campus and can often complete coursework when convenient. Online learners can also attend the most affordable program without relocating.

How Much Does a School Counseling Degree Cost?

School counseling degree costs vary by institution. The average cost of a master's degree is $66,340, according to EducationData.org. Students who attend public, in-state schools pay the most affordable tuition usually. Some schools charge all enrollees the same tuition, regardless of residency.

Learners can pursue school counseling degrees on campus, online, and in hybrid formats. Some programs require students to shadow counselors in school settings. Online enrollees should budget for travel and lodging expenses for in-person requirements.

Additional Online Student Fees

Online learners need reliable technology and internet access. They may need to buy new computers or software. Enrollees should also budget for books and course materials. Some schools charge student fees or graduation fees.

Students pursuing school counseling degrees should also factor in certification costs. Registration and exam fees can cost hundreds of dollars.

How Much Do School Counseling Majors Make?

School counselor salary levels vary by employer and geographic location. Many school counseling graduates work as school and career counselors. These professionals make median annual salaries of $58,120, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Graduates may also work as rehabilitation counselors, mental health counselors, or family and marriage therapists. These professionals earn more than the median annual salary of $41,950 for all occupations.

Earning a master's degree can prepare students for high-paying jobs, such as clinical psychologists or school psychologists. These professionals earn median annual salaries of $82,180.

Courses in a Master's in School Counseling Program

School counseling programs teach students the foundations of counseling. Learners develop the skills needed to counsel students within school systems. Master's programs require 45-60 credits.

Many schools offer specialized courses. For example, enrollees may focus on counseling from a social justice perspective. Most programs require students to complete supervised internships or practicums.

See below for some common courses for online master's in school counseling programs. Keep in mind that course offerings and descriptions vary by school.

  • Advanced Human Growth and Development

    Learners explore the emotional, physical, and cognitive development of humans throughout their lifespan. Enrollees pursuing a master's degree in school counseling can apply this knowledge in their careers working with students.
  • Counseling Children and Adolescents

    This course covers the theory and techniques behind counseling younger ages. Students explore how children and teens develop emotionally, mentally, and socially. They also explore addictive disorders and ways to handle emotional and physical trauma in young people.
  • Trauma and Crisis Counseling

    Learners study techniques to assess and treat trauma and crises. Coursework covers theory based on biological and cultural perspectives. Enrollees gain the skills they need to intervene in the lives of children who may face trauma.

How to Become a School Counselor

School counselors need a master's degree in a field such as counseling or psychology. Some schools offer degrees in school counseling. Others offer counseling degrees with a concentration in educational settings. Degree-seekers typically complete supervised internships to gain real-world experience.

School counselors help students develop social and academic skills. They help students find their interests and choose career paths. School counselors also look for students with unmet needs who have social or academic challenges. They may mentor these students individually or in small groups.

Most states require school counselors to obtain certification.

Licensure for School Counseling

State boards of education set licensure requirements for school counselors. Most states require applicants to hold advanced degrees and complete practicums or internships. The length of these experiences varies by state. Some states require semester-long practicums. Others require several hundred hours of experience.

The American School Counselor Association lists each state's requirements. Some states also require applicants to pass an exam, such as the Praxis 5421, which requires an additional fee.

School counselors can pursue continued learning by getting a master's degree in psychology or school psychology. Some professional organizations also offer specialized certifications. Counselors can seek national certification through the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Best Online Master's in School Counseling Degrees

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  1. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    Tuition

    $565

    Overview

    Founded in 1971 by Jerry Falwell, Liberty University is the largest Evangelical Christian university in the world. Although its on-campus enrollment is just around 13,800 students, Liberty University has over 100,000 students enrolled in its online program. Though Liberty University educates people from all walks of life, Liberty tends to take a religiously conservative approach to their curriculum.

    Features

    Liberty University ranks number one on our list of Best Online Master’s degrees in School Counseling for a number of reasons: its affordability, its respectable early career payscale, its financial aid package, and its competitive acceptance rates. The 48-credit-hour online School Counseling program itself also has a number of stand-out features:

    • An online format with a few “intensive” courses on Liberty’s 7,000-acre campus
    • A flexible transfer policy (50% of program hours)
    • A 6-credit-hour internship at the end of the program

    Notables

    Liberty University’s online degree program stands out for its interactive format and its small class sizes (classes are capped at 25 students) so you can be guaranteed one-on-one attention. The Young America’s Foundation recently ranked Liberty University in the top ten most conservative colleges in the United States. Liberty also holds the 37th ranking in US News & World Report’s Best Colleges for Veterans.

  2. University of The Southwest
    Location

    Hobbs, NM

    Tuition

    $599

    Overview

    Located in Hobbs, New Mexico, the University of the Southwest originally existed as a two-year junior college with Baptist roots. However, in 1961, it was renamed and relocated as a private university and now holds non-denominational affinity. This small school is home to just 1000 students, and offers both baccalaureate degrees (in Business, Education, and Arts & Sciences) and master’s degrees (through its MBA and Masters of Science in Education program).

    Features

    The fully online Master of Science in Education for School Counseling at the University of the Southwest prepares students to become licensed in primary, elementary, middle, and high schools. The 42-credit-hour program splits its curriculum into three categories:

    • Core Curriculum (e.g., Educational Research, Counseling Theories)
    • Major Requirements (e.g., Group Counseling, Crisis and Trauma Intervention)
    • Elective Requirements (e.g., Psychopathology for School Counselors, Human Sexuality)

    Notables

    University of the Southwest is home to twelve vibrant student organizations, including academic, cultural, and religious groups. Students enrolled in any of the online programs at USW stay connected to the school through technology support and helpful online tutoring resources. USW takes special interest in meeting the needs of US military, veterans, and families through its online services.

  3. Lakeland University
    Location

    Plymouth, WI

    Tuition

    $585

    Overview

    A small school located in Plymouth, Wisconsin, Lakeland University was founded by German immigrants in 1862 who were fleeing religious persecution. Now affiliated with the United Church of Christ, Lakeland offers 30 majors to its 850 traditional students and over 2600 evening, weekend, and online students.

    Features

    The online Master of Arts in Counseling at Lakeland allows students to focus in one of three areas: community counseling, higher education counseling, or school counseling. The 60-credit-hour school counseling program is completed in 14-week semesters. Through their coursework, practicums, and internships, students gain valuable experience in the following:

    • Individual student planning
    • Responsive services
    • Classroom interventions
    • Collaboration with parents and teachers

    Notables

    Though its roots are in the midwest, Lakeland University spreads its education to many corners of the world, with students from 24 different countries, a two-year international campus in Tokyo, and an online program that connects people from all over. The online format uses BlendEd, which allows students to choose to attend classes in person (at one of the 7 online centers around Wisconsin) or fully online.

  4. University of Massachusetts
    Location

    Amherst, MA

    Tuition

    $520

    Overview

    The University of Massachusetts is a public university that enrolls 73,000 students across its five campuses—Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell, and UMass Medical School. UMassOnline is known for the same rigorous standards as its on-campus counterpart. In fact, any diploma you receive from UMassOnline will show up as the same diploma as students who attend class in person. You’ll be taking the same courses taught by the same academically-acclaimed faculty—the only difference is that you’ll be learning from the comfort of your own home!

    Features

    Other than two weeks of required on-campus study at the beginning of your program, students enrolled in the Master of Education in School Counseling can complete their degree fully online. The 60-credit-hour program prepares students to be certified PreK-12 school counselors in the state of Massachusetts. The online program at UMass is beneficial for students who need the following:

    • Flexibility: The schedule of this online program lets you hold down a full-time job as you complete your masters. Do it on your own time!
    • Written Communication: Most of the information you learn is through written correspondence (emails or discussion boards), which lets you take time to form your ideas.
    • Time to Think: The flexibility of spacing out classes lets you soak in all the material thoroughly.
    • New Ideas: You’ll be using technology that isn’t always typical in a standard classroom like discussion boards and podcasts.

    Notables

    UMass enjoys a number of notable rankings and awards. Other than being the largest and one of the oldest universities in Massachusetts, UMass ranks as the number one public university in New England by the Times Higher Education. Its faculty are renowned in their field; in 2015, eight faculty members were named to the list of the World’s Most Scientific Minds.

  5. Adams State University
    Location

    Alamosa, CO

    Tuition

    $430

    Overview

    Based in the heart of the San Luis Valley in Alamosa, Colorado, Adams State University is a small liberal arts school that was founded in 1921. Enrolling almost 4,000 students, the Adams State Grizzlies offer graduate degrees in art, history, business, and counselor education, among others. Most of its masters and doctoral programs are offered online.

    Features

    The 60-credit-hour online Master of Arts in Counseling gives students the choice of two tracks: Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling. All students begin by taking core counseling classes such as Introduction to Research, Assessment in Counseling, and Ethics and Professional Issues. Beyond that, some of the classes included in the School Counseling track include:

    • Professional School Counseling
    • Counseling Modalities in the School Setting
    • Group Counseling
    • Internship (two 3-hour courses)

    Notables

    Online Plus, the online educational platform used by Adams State University, is designed to meet the needs of students who require flexibility to their education. Students are required to attend two one-week intensive residencies (usually held during the summer) in Alamosa throughout their 7-semester program.

  6. Our Lady of The Lake University
    Location

    San Antonio, TX

    Tuition

    $889

    Overview

    Founded in 1895 by the Sisters of Divine Providence—a Catholic institute based in Lorraine, France—Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) is a private university based in San Antonio, Texas. Originally started as a two-year college for women, the university expanded its curriculum in 1919 to admit women and men.

    Features

    As part of the online Master of Education in School Counseling at OLLU, students use classwork and practicums to analyze student behaviors and issues, implement career choices and planning in the high school setting, and learn the in’s and out’s of the profession. Some of the courses you can expect to take as a student in this program are:

    • Ethical Issues in Schools
    • Child and Juvenile Psychological Development
    • Disability Issues
    • Educational Theories

    Notables

    For as long as OLLU has offered the degree, 100 percent of graduates of the School Counseling program have passed the TExES (Texas Examinations for Educator Standards). Out of its almost 3,000 students, 76 percent are Hispanic or Latino and a core part of its mission and identity is Mexican American studies.

  7. Missouri Baptist University
    Location

    St. Louis, MO

    Tuition

    $588

    Overview

    Missouri Baptist University is located on a beautiful, 80-acre campus in Creve Coeur, Missouri. Founded in 1957 as an evangelical Christian institution, MBU has since grown into a strong liberal arts university that offers almost 580 degrees to 4,800 students.

    Features

    Taking a specifically religious approach to school counseling, the Master of Arts in Counseling at Missouri Baptist University hirers exclusively Christian faculty. The program prepares graduate students for the following:

    • An estimated program length of 24-36 months
    • A career in school counseling, church staff membership, or church mentorship
    • The chance to pursue a doctoral program in mental health counseling or school counseling

    Notables

    If you choose Missouri Baptist University, you’re assured a tight-knit community; the average student to faculty ratio—for both on-campus students and online students—is 14:1. Even more, MBU gives out generous financial aid; on average, its student body only pays half of the full tuition.

  8. Lamar University
    Location

    Beaumont, TX

    Tuition

    $275

    Overview

    Located in Beaumont, Texas and a member of the Texas State University System, Lamar University is a research institution that got its start in 1923. Though it’s most commonly praised for its strong engineering program, Lamar University offers 50 different reputable and affordable master’s programs (in addition to over 100 bachelor and doctoral degree programs).

    Features

    Their online Masters of Education in School Counseling program will train you in the full range of counseling requirements. Through classes like Multicultural Counseling, Crisis Prevention & Intervention, and Human Growth & Development, you’ll gain the tools to counsel students at any level. In addition, Lamar offers the following perks to their program:

    • Two 5-day residency seminars at the Beaumont campus
    • The chance to complete your degree in less than two years (22 months)
    • Two field-based internships in counseling in an agency or school setting

    Notables

    Lamar University is a small but mighty school; it consistently ranks high among schools in Texas and throughout the country. It recently received a coveted “A” rating from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni among colleges who offer both a well-rounded and a competitive education. The school is known primarily for its engineering program, which consistently ranks among the top 10 in the state.

  9. Capella University
    Location

    Minneapolis, MN

    Tuition

    $487

    Overview

    Almost fully based online, Capella University is a for-profit university with a headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Started in 1993, Capella has since grown to enroll close to 36,000 students through over 1600 online courses. Students from all over the United States and all over the world (over 60 countries!) are enrolled in their programs—which range from certificates to bachelor to master’s to doctoral.

    Features

    The online Master of Science in School Counseling program at Capella emphasizes the importance of incorporating online coursework, residencies, and field experiences into the overall education, which is one of the reasons this program sticks out. Other reason include:

    • Hands-on clinical experiences to make sure you’re ready for licensure
    • Accreditations by both CACREP and NCATE, which builds on the American School Counselor Association national model
    • Well-educated and highly-experienced faculty members

    Notables

    Capella University offers an enormous range of programs, and is often recognized for its accessibility and affordability. Recently, the National Security Agency awarded Capella with a National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education designation.

  10. Creighton University
    Location

    Omaha, NE

    Tuition

    $525

    Overview

    The largest private religious university in Nebraska, Creighton University is located just outside of Omaha on an urban, 140-acre campus. Founded in 1878, Creighton has a long history of strong academics and teaching true to its Jesuit Roman Catholic faith.

    Features

    At Creighton University, you would earn a Master of Science in School Counseling and Preventative Mental Health. This 36-credit-hour program offers three different tracks:

    • Elementary School Guidance Counselors Track
    • Secondary School Guidance Counselors Track
    • PK-12 School Counseling Track

    All students must complete 24 hours of required courses before choosing their concentrations. Some of these core classes include Data-Driven Perspectives in School Counseling, Social Justice and Diversity in School Counseling, and Career Perspectives for Children and Adolescents.

    Notables

    As part of the school’s mission, students at Creighton are devoted to community service and local engagement. The Center for Service and Justice organizes weekly service projects, trips, and educational outreach on local social justice issues. This kind of passion and intentionality will certainly come through in your online education, too, if you choose Creighton University.

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