Best Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Best Masters in CounselingPeople throughout the world face mental health challenges at some point in their life. Unfortunately, the United States continues to face an ongoing shortage of mental health professionals. This is particularly an issue in rural regions, where the population remains severely underserved by counselors.

By pursuing a master’s degree in counseling, you can potentially make a major difference for those you serve. This step, along with state-specific requirements such as tests and logged hours, prepare you to achieve that goal. While most offer master’s in counseling degrees on-campus, some schools do offer programs partially or entirely online.

Program Ranking

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University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign

College Choice Score: 100

Tuition Per Credit: $794.11

Program Website

The University of Illinois system’s flagship campus, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Illinois) offers all the resources necessary to produce highly skilled professionals in the field. Upon completion of the school’s master of counseling, future professionals can become a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) and thereafter enter the field with the necessary certification to council in the state of Illinois, one of the most highly populated states in the country. Learners typically complete the program in four semesters. UI maintains regional accreditation from HLC.


University of Wisconsin—Madison

College Choice Score: 99.59

Tuition Per Credit: $1202.95

Program Website

Stationed between two placid lakes, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s (UW) famously scenic campus draws students from across the country. UW’s master of science in counseling, a terminal degree for the field, requires students to complete 60 credits. The degree satisfies the 2018 changes in state of Wisconsin licensure requirements. According to the school, learners can expect to complete the program over the course of two academic years and two summers.


University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill

College Choice Score: 97.7

Tuition Per Credit: $739.52

Program Website

The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s School of Education offers an online master’s in counseling (M.Ed, school counseling) that learners generally complete in 14 months. The program is cohort-based and may be pursued without completion of the GRE (to be exempt, applicants must hold either a 3.5 GPA or already have a master’s degree). Due to the program’s short length, the program intensive and highly concentrated, and the program includes extensive fieldwork. UNC-Chapel Hill is the flagship institution of the University of North Carolina system. UNC-Chapel Hill maintains regional accreditation from SACS.


Columbia University

College Choice Score: 93.09

Tuition Per Credit: $1454

Program Website

At its campus in New York, New York, world-renowned institution Columbia University offers learners a masters of counseling (M.Ed.) program that features two seperate tracks: a concentration in mental health counseling and another in school counseling. Both prepare learners for futures in the field by providing all preparation necessary for certification. CU’s program places a particular emphasis on racial-cultural focuses and social justice, highlighting the necessity of ethics and consideration of systemic problems. Columbia University is regionally accredited by MSCHE.


University of Kansas

College Choice Score: 89.25

Tuition Per Credit: $674.5

Program Website

Conducted on-campus in Lawrence, University of Kansas offers its master’s in counseling in two tracks: a terminal MS track and a Ph.D. aspirant track. The school designs the terminal track for the needs of learners who intend to enter the field upon completion (and certification), whereas the the Ph.D. aspirant track offers students the ability to continue into the Ph.D. level. Learners generally complete the degree in about two years. The University of Kansas holds regional accreditation from the HLC.


University of Iowa

College Choice Score: 89.18

Tuition Per Credit: $2227

Program Website

The state’s flagship institution, the University of Iowa offers students a master’s in school counseling at its Iowa City campus. UI designed its counseling program to meet all state requirements for the degree and provide learners with the foundation necessary to move forward in the field in the state of Iowa. However, learners accepted into the program by UI without teaching licensure will need to complete additional coursework before graduation. The University of Iowa holds regional accreditation from the HLC.


Temple University

College Choice Score: 85.13

Tuition Per Credit: $1011

Program Website

Temple University offers students an on-campus masters of education in counseling psychology at its campus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Temple restricts its classes to small sizes (for example, the school limits its clinical courses to 15 students) and the program ends with a year-long practicum and internship. The school makes the program available in two concentrations: agency counseling and school counseling. The first concentration provides training and background for a variety of clinical environments, whereas the second track allows students to focus on school counseling. Temple maintains regional accreditation from the MSCHE.


New York University

College Choice Score: 79.81

Tuition Per Credit: $1596

Program Website

Based in New York City, New York University Steinhardt (NYU Steinhardt) offers learners an online master’s in mental health counseling and wellness. The NYU Steinhardt’s program does not require learners to complete the GRE before applying. Over the course of the program, students complete over 600 internship hours, 100 hours of practicum, a counseling lab, and 60 graduate-level credits. Learners may begin the program at three points throughout the year, and may complete the program in as little as 21 months. NYU Steinhardt is regionally accredited by the MSCHE.


University of Missouri—Columbia

College Choice Score: 79.5

Tuition Per Credit: $482.75

Program Website

Based in Columbia and the state’s flagship campus, the University of Missouri (Mizzou) offers learners an usually large amount of master’s degree in counseling options from which to choose. For example, at Mizzou, students can pursue specialized tracks in counseling psychology, career counseling, school counseling, and sports psychology. Additionally, the school offers a graduate minor in multicultural psychology. According to the school, its counseling psychology program was one of the first to be accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). Mizzou maintains regional accreditation from the HLC.


Virginia Commonwealth University

College Choice Score: 76.05

Tuition Per Credit: $676.50

Program Website

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), based in Richmond, offers students a master’s degree in counseling. The school does not offer a terminal degree and designs the program to lead to a Ph.D. degree in general psychology. VCU’s program focus is interdisciplinary and presents students with a variety of theoretical models while providing generalist training appropriate for the field. In turn, the program emphasizes diversity as a central component. VCU’s program has held accreditation from the APA since 1984, and VCU maintains regional accreditation from SACS.