In this article, we list the 25 most affordable online master’s in counseling degrees for 2017.

There are several benefits to earning a master’s in counseling — from higher earning potential to licensing eligibility. But for many, returning to school to earn a master’s degree can be challenging due to the balance of education, work, and life obligations. Now, online programs are available from some of the nation’s most affordable institutions.

Ranking Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs

We looked at 51 accredited colleges and universities listed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator that offered online master’s in counseling or closely related degree programs. We selected schools with graduate tuition and fees under $30,000 and either CACREP accreditation (Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs) or schools that offered programs with curriculum aligned with CACREP. In some cases, the schools on our list have also received rankings or recognition from major publications like U.S. News and World Report.

Below are the resulting selections for the top 25 most affordable online master’s in counseling degrees listed in order of affordability.

#25 – Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Online Master’s in Mental Health Counseling

Chicago, Illinois

Website

The Chicago School - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

The Chicago School offers an online master’s in mental health counseling. Great for working students!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $26,179

Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers an online master’s in counseling degree program that emphasizes clinical mental health counseling. This part-time, online program takes three years to complete and exposes students to the curriculum needed to work as mental health professionals. While the program is considered to be fully online, two mandatory, four-day residencies at the Chicago campus are required. Students must also complete a practicum, which requires 100 hours of experience practicing foundational and advanced counseling skills. Admission is open to anyone who has earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and who meets the entrance requirements. The online program does not meet state requirements for licensing, but meets most of the requirements of a pre-licensure program.

#24 – Antioch University

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Keene, New Hampshire

Website

Antioch University - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Internship required for Antioch’s online master’s in counseling degree program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $22,650

Antioch University offers affordable online master’s in counseling options for those interested in earning an online counseling degree that does not lead to licensure. The program takes approximately three years to complete, which includes a series of online courses, two week-long in-person intensive residential colloquia, and a three-semester internship. Online courses include assessment principles and methods, group approaches to mental health counseling, professional orientation and ethics, and research and evaluation in counseling and therapy. Admission to the program requires an earned bachelor’s from an accredited college or university, a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.7, three letters of recommendation, and the completion of an admissions interview with a faculty member. Antioch is an accredited institution that is also recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a best regional university in the Midwest.

#23 – Union Institute and University

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Cincinnati, Ohio

Website

Union Institute and University - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Full-time and part-time options for the online master’s in counseling from Union Institute.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,812

Union Institute and University features a hybrid master’s in counseling online degree program that is designed to prepare students for certification or licensure as a professional counselor or clinical mental health counselor. The program consists of 60 credit hours with full-time and part-time options. While classes are delivered entirely online, face-to-face residencies are required twice each calendar year at the Cincinnati academic center. Courses are taught by university professors with vast experience in the field of mental health counseling. These courses include counseling theory and practice, helping relationships, and professional orientation and ethics. Union Institution is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top national university.

#22 – Gallaudet University

Online Master’s in School Counseling

Washington, District of Columbia

Website

Gallaudet University - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Gallaudet University offers a CACREP-accredited online master’s in school counseling.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,626

For those looking for a specific master’s in counseling online degree program that emphasizes school counseling, Gallaudet University offers such a program. This hybrid online program is designed to complete in just three years and typically requires the completion of a series of online courses and classes on campus during summer months. The program is geared toward professionals working in education who have the summers off to attend on-campus classes. The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Evidence of an earned bachelor’s from an accredited institution, along with an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better is required for admission.

#21 – Bradley University

Online Master’s in Counseling

Peoria, Illinois

Website

Bradley University - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Bradley University’s online master’s in counseling prepares students to pursue licensure.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,560

Some of the most affordable online counseling programs on our list are offered by Bradley University. The program does not lead to licensure but prepares students to take the National Counselor Examination. All classes are delivered online for convenience and to allow students the option of continuing to work while attending school. The only on-campus requirements include the completion of practicums, which may be done locally. The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. Bradley is a regionally ranked institution by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school as the 6th best regional university in the Midwest and the 36th best value school.

#20 – Capella University

Online Master’s in Mental Health Counseling

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Website

Capella University - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Capella University’s online master’s in counseling is CACREP-accredited.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,003

Capella University’s online counseling programs include several different master’s programs like mental health counseling or school counseling. The mental health counseling degree is designed to equip students with the skills needed to work as leaders in the mental health field. All programs are accredited with the CACREP accreditation body, which assures students that Capella meets or exceeds quality standards for faculty, curriculum, and fiscal stability. Two residencies and fieldwork are required, and the school offers support for those interested in pursuing licensure. Capella is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a best national university and is also accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#19 – Lock Haven University

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Lock Haven, Pennsylvania

Website

Lock Haven University - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Lock Haven University’s online master’s in counseling requires a 600-hour internship.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,900

Lock Haven University offers an accredited online master’s in counseling degree program that is designed to align with the requirements needed for licensure as a professional counselor in the state of Pennsylvania. Admission requires an undergraduate degree in psychology or related discipline from an accredited institution, a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, and work or life experience in an area relevant to clinical mental health counseling. The program runs year-round, with classes delivered online during the fall, spring, and summer. Part-time or full-time completion options are available, and students are allowed to work at their own pace without interrupting their life obligations or current career. A 100-hour practicum and 600-hour internship requirement must be met to graduate. Lock Haven is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 137th best regional university in the North and the 47th top public school.

#18 – Oregon State University

Online Master of Counseling

Corvallis, Oregon

Website

Oregon State University - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Oregon State University’s online master’s in counseling is considered to be a hybrid program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,801

Oregon State University offers affordable online counseling programs that include the Master of Counseling in School Counseling. This 75-credit counseling degree offers an option in school counseling and is considered a hybrid program. Approximately half of the program is offered online and half is delivered through classroom meetings held on weekends two times each semester. While the program is in compliance with the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission for participation in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, the courses are not formally approved for state licensure outside the state of Oregon. Admission requirements include a four-year bachelor’s degree or professional degree with a cumulative B average. A strong undergraduate GPA is also required.

#17 – Walden University

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Website

Walden University - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Walden University’s online master’s in counseling has six specializations!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,555

Walden University’s online master’s in counseling degree program includes the CACREP-accredited master’s in clinical mental health counseling that is designed to prepare individuals wanting to seek licensure. Six areas of specialization are offered so that students may tailor their degrees toward career goals and interests. These specializations include addiction counseling, career counseling, forensic counseling, and trauma and crisis counseling. Walden seeks applicants with an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, a complete resume documenting work experience, and official transcripts. Walden is recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top national university.

#16 – Colorado Christian University

Online Master’s in Counseling

Lakewood, Colorado

Website

Colorado Christian University - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Colorado Christian University offers an online master’s in counseling that is CACREP-accredited and prepares you for the National Counselor Exam.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,407

Colorado Christian University’s master’s in counseling online degree program is nationally accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). This 60 credit-hour program offers coursework that can be completed in 2 ½ years of intensive study and prepares graduates to take the National Counselor Exam. Admission to the program requires a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 2.5 and official transcripts. A criminal background check is also required prior to acceptance to the program. Colorado Christian University is recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the school is a top regional university in the West, according to the most recent edition of Best Colleges.

#15 – Regent University

Online Master’s in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Website

Regent University - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Regent’s online counseling degree focuses on marriage, couple, and family counseling.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,226

One of the most affordable online counseling degree programs on our list is the marriage and family counseling degree from Regent University. This program is delivered entirely online or on-campus and requires the completion of a residency module. Classes are delivered online and taught by the same professors who instruct on campus. These classes include counseling skills and techniques, human growth and development, research and statistics, and theories of counseling. Regent University is a nationally ranked institution by U.S. News and World Report, and several of its online master’s programs have also received top rankings.

#14 – Hodges University

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Naples, Florida

Website

Hodges University - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Hodges University offers an online master’s in clinical counseling that is highly affordable.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,380

One of the most affordable online counseling degree programs on our list is the clinical mental health counseling program from Hodges University. This program is CACREP-accredited and available online. Curriculum is designed to equip students in their pursuit of Florida state licensing as a mental health counselor. Students attending part-time typically complete the degree in just ten terms over the course of three years. Online courses include counseling theories and practice, group theories and practice, research and program evaluation, and social and cultural foundations of counseling practice. Hodges is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top regional university in the South.

#13 – Messiah College

Online Master’s in Counseling

Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Website

Messiah College - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Messiah College’s online master’s in counseling has certificate options.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,280

Messiah College offers online counseling programs with certificate options. The online master’s in counseling is CACREP-accredited with three areas of specialization, including clinical mental health counseling, marriage and couple counseling, and school counseling. Courses are taught by qualified faculty and include counseling theories, lifespan development, professional issues and ethics for counselors, and substance abuse and addiction in families. Graduate certificates require an additional 12 credits minimum. Messiah College is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 4th best regional college in the North and is ranked the 3rd best value school. Messiah is one of our top picks for most affordable online master’s in counseling degrees.

#12 – Indiana Wesleyan University

Online Master’s in Counseling

Marion, Indiana

Website

Indiana Wesleyan - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Indiana Wesleyan University offers a part-time and full-time online master’s in counseling degree program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,937

Indiana Wesleyan University offers a master’s in counseling online with specializations available on a part-time or full-time basis. Six separate counseling specializations are offered: clinical addictions counseling, clinical mental health counseling, community counseling, marriage and family counseling and therapy, school counseling, and student development administration. The program is CACREP-accredited. Admission requires an earned bachelor’s degree at an accredited institution with courses in psychology, an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better, competitive GRE scores received within the last five years, and three recommendations. Indiana Wesleyan is ranked #27 among the best regional universities in the Midwest.

#11 – North Carolina State University

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Raleigh, North Carolina

Website

NC State University - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

NC State University requires GRE or MAT scores for the online master’s in counseling degree program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,572

North Carolina State University offers an online counseling degree for students who want the convenience of an online master’s in counseling program. Admission requires GRE or MAT scores, three letters of recommendation, and official transcripts. The program is offered both on campus and online, and the online program may be taken on a part-time basis. The online degree takes approximately three years to complete when studying part time. Courses include cross-cultural counseling, group counseling, special problems – substance abuse counseling, techniques of counseling, and theories and techniques of counseling. NC State is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top national university and best value school.

#10 – Bellevue University

Online Master’s in Clinical Counseling

Bellevue, Nebraska

Website

Bellevue University - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Bellevue University’s online master’s in counseling emphasizes clinical counseling.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,335

Bellevue University offers online counseling programs, which include the online master’s in clinical counseling. This 60-credit graduate degree includes 100 hours of practicum and 600 hours of clinical internship. Classes are delivered online and include helping relationships and orientation to the counseling profession, introduction to counseling theories, statistics and quantitative research methods, and theories of psychopathology. Admission to the program requires a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and a GPA of 2.5 or better. Bellevue is recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top regional university in the Midwest.

#9 – Malone University

Online Master’s in Counseling and Human Development

Canton, Ohio

Website

Malone University - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Malone University’s online master’s in counseling is CACREP-accredited.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,260

Malone University’s online counseling degree programs include the online master’s in counseling and human development. This online and accredited program is designed to fit conveniently into busy personal and professional schedules. Classes are delivered online and taught by Malone professors who assist with practicums and internships. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Malone is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top regional university in the Midwest and the 12th best value school. All of the counseling programs at Malone are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP).

#8 – Lindsey Wilson College

Online Master’s in Counseling and Human Development

Columbia, Kentucky

Website

Lindsey Wilson College - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Lindsey Wilson College has one of the most affordable online master’s in counseling programs on our list.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,647

Lindsey Wilson College offers a master’s in counseling online program that is CACREP-accredited and one of the most affordable programs on our list. The program features eight-week courses and flexible asynchronous learning. Some of the courses offered include counseling theories and techniques, individual and group assessment, lifecycle development in individuals and families, personal growth and development group, professional issues and ethics, and research methods. Practicum requirements include 150 hours, and internship requirements include 300 hours. Several certification options are also available. Lindsey Wilson College is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top regional university in the South.

#7 – University of Louisiana

Online Master’s in Counseling

Monroe, Louisiana

Website

University of Louisiana - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

University of Louisiana’s online master’s in counseling requires solid GRE scores for admission.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,662

The online counseling degree programs from University of Louisiana include the online master’s in counseling. This graduate program is CACREP-accredited and offers two degree concentrations – clinical mental health counseling and school counseling. Courses are delivered in an online format and are taught by the same professors who instruct graduate classes on campus. Program admission requires a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better over the last sixty semester hours of coursework. A minimum combined score on the GRE of 900 is also required. The university is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top national institution

#6 – Liberty University

Online Master’s in Professional Counseling

Lynchburg, Virginia

Website

Liberty University - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Liberty University’s online master’s in counseling prepares students for licensure.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,430

The online master’s in counseling program from Liberty University is considered a fully online degree with required intensives. The program is designed to prepare students for licensure as a professional counselor (LPC) by covering curriculum that focuses on clinical diagnosis, group counseling, multicultural counseling, and psychopathology and counseling. A three credit hour practicum and internship are required for completion of the degree requirements. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with at least a minimum 3.0 GPA, official transcripts, and GRE scores if the undergraduate GPA is less than 3.25. Liberty University is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a best national university.

#5 – Lamar University

Online Master’s in School Counseling

Beaumont, Texas

Website

Lamar University - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Lamar University’s online master’s in counseling is for those interested in becoming school counselors.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,006

For individuals interested in online counseling programs that focus on school counseling, Lamar University offers a master’s in school counseling. A total of 48 credits are required with online coursework that may be completed in just 22 months. While the program is online, two five-day face-to-face residency seminars, a practicum, and internship are required. Some of the featured online courses include counseling skills, group counseling theories and techniques, introduction to school counseling, and research and program counseling. Admission requires a teaching certificate, minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75, and a complete application. Lamar is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a best national university.

#4 – Grace College and Theological Seminary

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Winona Lake, Indiana

Website

Grace College - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Grace College offers affordable options for online master’s in counseling degree programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,872

One of the most affordable online counseling degree programs on our list is the online master’s in clinical mental health counseling from Grace College. This fully accredited program consists of 60 credit hours and an annual seven- to ten-day residency requirement. Courses are delivered online and include counseling skills, foundations of clinical mental health counseling, marriage and family counseling, research and program evaluation, and theological foundations in counseling. Admission to the program requires a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution, a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, and a background check. Grace College is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 74th best regional university in the Midwest.

#3 – North Carolina Central University

Online Master’s in School Counseling

Durham, North Carolina

Website

North Carolina Central University - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

NCCU offers a master’s in school counseling online that is highly affordable.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,124

North Carolina Central University’s master’s in counseling online is a school counseling program designed to prepare students for K-12 licensure in North Carolina to practice as professional school counselors. The program is fully accredited by the CACREP and is 100 percent online. Courses are taught by the very same professors who instruct counseling classes on campus. Admission requirements include an earned bachelor’s degree, GRE scores, minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.7, and two letters of recommendation. NCCU is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 72nd best regional university in the South and the 24th top public school.

#2 – Adams State University

Online Master’s in Counseling

Alamosa, Colorado

Website

Adams State University - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

Adams State University offers an online master’s in counseling that is CACREP-accredited.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,898

One of the most affordable online counseling degree programs on our list is the master’s in counseling from Adams State University. The program offers two degree emphases so that students may tailor their degree toward specific counseling specializations. These include clinical mental health counseling and school counseling. While classes are administered entirely online, there are two one-week summer residency intensives on campus. The program is CACREP-accredited and designed to equip students with the knowledge needed to pursue doctoral degrees. Adams State University is ranked as a top regional university in the West by major publications like U.S. News and World Report.

#1 – University of the Cumberlands

Online Master’s in Counseling

Williamsburg, Kentucky

Website

University of the Cumberlands - Online Master’s in Counseling Degrees

The online master’s in counseling from University of the Cumberlands is our #1 most affordable program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,970

The master’s in counseling online degree program from University of the Cumberlands is the most affordable online counseling program on our list. Designed for recent baccalaureate graduates, the program is CACREP-accredited and offers two specialty tracks: addiction counselor certification or clinical mental health counselor. Flexible online classes provide convenience for working students and those busy balancing school with life obligations. The university offers rolling admissions and accepts applications for the program throughout the year. University of the Cumberlands has received recognition and rankings from major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top national university. Also, several online graduate programs have also earned recognition.

By GSH Staff
July 2017

This concludes our list of the 25 most affordable online master’s in counseling degrees for 2017.