Students seeking an online Master's in Educational Counseling are often pre-service professionals interested in the diverse and challenging nature of the field. This profession regularly requires individuals have a graduate degree in school counseling, psychology, or social work. It is considered a field that requires both certification and licensure, making it a long road for many working adults who want to reach this goal.
Online graduate programs in educational counseling are a great alternative for working professionals who cannot attend a traditional program. With flexible term schedules, the possibility for accelerated degree programs, financial aid options, and even many schools now providing a flat tuition rate for all online degrees, it is now possible for students to choose how and when they earn their degree. The following ranks provide all of this information and more for students who may be considering furthering their education.
Research for this ranking would not have been possible without the National Center for Education Statistics. Utilizing the site's College Navigator database, an initial pool of 68 schools was considered. . Out of the original 68 schools, 10 were chosen based on their in-state graduate tuition rates.
Ranking Low-cost Online Educational Counseling Master's
10. Salem College
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Online Master of Education in School Counseling (MEd – SC)
Salem College confers a cohort-based online Master's in Educational Counseling for North Carolina students. The program, which focuses on research, does prepare students for the PRAXIS II Specialty Area Test in Professional School Counseling; this is the pathway forward for earning school counseling licensure in the state. While most courses are conferred online, students will be required to complete two-weekend residencies on campus. The program is structured so that students take these residencies during the fourth and fifth semester; students who follow the cohort program can expect to complete the degree in three years. A practicum of 100 hours and an internship of 600 hours are both required to complete the degree. Other requirements include 48 credit hours of coursework, a research seminar, and a comprehensive written exam. Sample courses include Culturally-Relevant Counseling: Exploring Educational Equity, Action Research and Writing for Publication for School Counseling, and Focus on Student Advocacy and the School Counselor.
9. The University of Louisiana at Monroe
Online Master of Science in Counseling, School Counseling Track
Professionals who are interested in earning a Master's in Educational Counseling online from an accredited program should look to the University of Louisiana at Monroe. This degree is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. The program was created for professionals who are interested in working with diverse student populations and who are passionate about working in a variety of professional settings. The program is delivered online with the exception of the internship experience; this must be undertaken in a student's community and under the supervision of a preceptor that is approved by the school. Students will find most courses are offered asynchronously with no set log-in times; however, some seminars must be taken synchronously, so students are advised to double check the delivery method of each course. Requirements for the degree include 60 semester hours of coursework, the successful completion of a 600-hour clinical internship, an optional thesis, and a written comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Methods, Advanced Techniques for School Counselors, and Introduction to Diverse Settings in Public Schools.
8. The University of West Alabama
Online Master of Education in School Counseling
The University of West Alabama confers an incredible accelerated online Master's in Educational counseling degree. This degree was tailor-made for Alabama educators seeking advanced certification within the state; the school cannot guarantee the program will meet the requirements for licensure in another state. This program has several start dates throughout the year and is estimated to take just one year to complete. The degree is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education as well as the Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation. All courses are available online through the asynchronous delivery method. Courses are offered every eight weeks, providing students with an accelerated format. Students will be required to complete 48 credit hours of coursework, a practicum, an internship, and a comprehensive written and oral exam. Sample courses include Counseling Multicultural Populations, Strategies for Crisis Intervention, and Counseling Children and Adolescents.
7. The University of Tennessee at Martin
Online Master's in Counseling, School Counseling Concentration
Students interested in earning licensure as a school counselor will do well at the University of Tennessee at Martin. This school confers an educational counseling master's online degree that can lead to licensure in the state, provided that students complete the PRAXIS Specialty Area Examination for teacher counselor licensure. This is a wholly online program that delivers courses asynchronously and within the traditional academic schedule. Students will be required to complete two internships, both equaling 300 direct contact hours; one internship takes place at an elementary school and one at a secondary school. Students will also need to complete 48 credit hours of coursework, a research paper, and a comprehensive written exam. Sample courses include Mental Health and Psychopathology, Principles of Crisis Intervention, and Theory and Techniques of Counseling.
6. Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas
Online Master's in Educational Psychology with an Emphasis in School Counseling
Texas A&M University confers an online Master's in Educational Counseling that is perfect for students who are interested in completing a graduate degree from a non-thesis program. The degree plan consists of all-online courses, which are delivered both asynchronously and synchronously, and it is possible to complete the degree in two years. This program can lead to licensure as a school counselor in the state; however, students must also have two years of experience as an educator within the state and complete both their practicums and field placements within the state. Students can expect to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, a practicum, an internship, and a comprehensive written exam. Sample courses include Foundations of School Counseling, Planning and Organizing Comprehensive Guidance Programs, and School Counseling Group Interventions.
5. Angelo State University
San Angelo, Texas
Online Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling
Angelo State University offers an educational counseling master's degree that is delivered 100 percent through the school's virtual portal. This program is offered in an eight-week format that enables students the chance to complete the degree in less than two years. Students will find that they may also be eligible to earn the school counselor licensure; however, they will be required to complete additional coursework and a practicum experience within the state in order to qualify for licensure. Students will find that this program focuses on research and theory rather than practical application, making it a good choice for professionals who have licensure in their home state and wish to expand their education. Students can expect to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, an optional practicum for licensure purposes, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Curriculum and Methodology Trends, Applied Research, and Career and Occupational Counseling.
4. Chadron State College
Online Master of Education, Concentration in School Counseling
Students at Chadron State College will have access to an online Master's in Educational Counseling that will prepare them for careers as school counselors in K-12 institutions. This is a hybrid program that does come with certain application requirements, such as possessing a bachelor's degree in education; for those interested in the school counseling program, they must be licensed in the state of Nebraska as educators and requires at least two years of work experience. Students will be able to access most of their courses online but some seminars and a practicum cannot be completed online. Practicums are generally undertaken in a student's own community that must be in the state. Degree requirements include 39 credit hours of coursework, a practicum, and internship, a research project, and a comprehensive written exam. Sample courses Counseling and Communication Skills, Career and Lifestyle Development, and Fundamentals of Assessment.
3. Emporia State University
Online Master of Education in School Counseling
Emporia State University confers an online Master's in Educational Counseling degree for students interested in switching careers and becoming school counselors. The program is available to all bachelor degree-holding students under the Parallel Pathways legislative act. However, only students within the state of Kansas will be eligible to become certified as school counselors. The program is conferred online and is delivered through the asynchronous and synchronous formats; some courses may require a residency on campus. A practicum and an internship are required for all students, but this can be completed in a student's area of residence. This degree was designed to be completed within seven years; however, most students complete all the requirements within three years of part-time study. Along with the practicum and internship experiences, students must also complete 48 credit hours of coursework, a research paper or a thesis, and a comprehensive written exam. Sample courses include Assessment in Schools, Career Counseling and Development, and Psychosocial Development and Disability.
2. North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina
Online Master of Education in School Counseling, Emphasis in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development
North Carolina State University offers an online master's in educational counseling that was built for educators and professionals already working in K-12 schools. This is a three-year cohort online program that is based on a year-round schedule and is part-time. Students take courses asynchronously and focus on two courses at a time. This program does not require an internship for completion, however, a practicum is mandatory. Students who successfully complete the program can sit for the School Counselor PRAXIS test in order to be licensed as school counselors in the state of North Carolina. Students will be expected to complete 42 credit hours of coursework and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Career Counseling and Development, Theories and Techniques of Counseling, and Multicultural Lifespan Development in Educational Context.
1. Southern Arkansas University
Online Master of Education in School Counseling
Southern Arkansas University has a cheap educational counseling master's degree that is available online. The program comes with the option for Arkansas students to earn licensure at both the initial and advanced levels of school counseling. It is a program that is balanced between theory and practical application, making it a great choice for students who are ready to move into school counseling. This degree can be completed in three years following a part-time program of study. Courses are delivered asynchronously and synchronously through the school's virtual portal. Students can expect to complete 48 credit hours of coursework, a practicum, two internships in a student's area of residence, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Human Development for Helping Professionals, Counseling in a Diverse Society, and Counseling Children and Adolescents.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Career Options for an Online Master's in Educational Counseling Degree?
An online Master's in Educational Counseling is a professional degree for those interested in working as school counselors. These professionals can work in public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities as administrators and counselors.
However, these are not the only possible options for those with a degree in this field. It's also possible to work in other educational programs, such as adult and professional development programs, vocational schools, and even for online programs. Students may also find work as college advisors or even freelance consultants, enabling them to work in varying capacities in the school counseling field.
Some educational counselors go on to open their own companies, serving as private career and school counselors. They tutor students on how to get into college, graduate school, or even become part of prestigious programs. They may also build a network of schools and professionals they know in order to facilitate a program their clients can follow in order to reach their educational or professional goals.
Other educational counseling professionals may find work as freelance education writers or authors. They may work as motivational speakers that cater to professional and corporate clients. The possibilities are endless for these professionals, they only need to choose a track that fits their needs.
How Much Can You Earn in This Field?
The current average salary for an educational counselor is $56,000. The salary range is $32,000 to $87,000; higher earners tend to work in metropolitan areas and in private schools and institutions while lower earners tend to work in underrepresented districts and in public schools. As a rule, educational counselors tend to earn around $10,000 more per year than their K-12 counterparts.
What are the Various Disciplines of Educational Counseling?
Educational counseling is a field that combines education with psychology, specifically counseling. While this may seem obvious, the spectrum of disciplines found in this field is diverse. The specific disciplines that individual professionals may use in their work can vary.
For example, a school counselor that works in a K-12 school may focus on the special needs education, foster care, social work, sociology, multicultural studies, and developmental psychology disciplines. Counselors who work in colleges will need the finance, adolescent and developmental psychology, continuing education, assessment, evaluation, and economy disciplines. The difference is marked by the fact that school counselors are working with populations of different demographics who have different needs based on their current path in education.
All professionals do need foundational knowledge in psychology, law, psychiatry, the court system, administration, leadership, and professional development. This is true of all educational counselors because many students work in tandem with professionals in these fields in order to provide the best possible solution for their clients.
What is the Difference Between a Practicum and an Internship?
The main difference between a practicum and an internship is the expected level of involvement on the part of the student.
Practicums are shadow experiences in which students observe and document how a professional in their fieldwork in a real-world environment. They may also participate in some tasks under the supervision of both professors and on-site staff. In some cases, students may have direct contact with clients, but under the close watch of employees.
Internships, on the other hand, are considered to be more hands-on, particularly in helping professions. Students are often paid and considered to be full-time employees who are still in training. Students will have more direct contact with clients; this is evidenced by the fact that educational counseling internships generally require 600 direct contact hours. They may also work independently of employees and on-site staff but will receive reviews and critiques on the jobs they have performed. Internships can also be placed on a CV as work experience.
Both a practicum and an internship are necessary for educational counseling programs because, when they are delivered in the proper order, they offer students a strong understanding of how the field works. In these programs, a practicum precedes an internship, enabling a student to first shadow a real-world professional prior to moving into an internship. By utilizing a closely-supervised experience prior to an internship, the school can ensure that students are ready and able to take on the duties and responsibilities of a real-world professional.
There are some programs that do not require a practicum and an internship; some may only require one, while others do not list it as a requirement. While it may be tempting to take on these programs, a professional must consider whether or not entering the workforce with no real-world experience is advisable. In educational counseling, the more experience a student has prior to entering the workforce, the better their chances are of finding employment after graduation.
Is Licensure Necessary to Become an Educational Counselor?
Licensure is necessary to become an educational counselor in the United States. States differ on the requirements and even the licensure exams that are necessary, but every state in the country does require at least an initial educator certification as well as a school counselor credential.
This is a requirement for professionals who wish to work in public or private schools from K-12 and through the college and university levels. In most cases, it is also a requirement for professionals who work as consultants to these institutions. In fact, most professionals who work in educational settings will be required to have at least initial certification.
Professionals who choose to work in educational counseling but would like to work as educational advisors or college advisors are not subject to licensure. There is a difference in the workload and responsibilities, but many students who work in this field may find that it is easier to work as an advisor at a school prior to finding a job as a school counselor.
Educational counseling is a complex field that has tremendous consequences for the students who partake of the services available to them. From public schools to universities, these professionals are often the front line of defense for a student's well-being, including issues related to education, mental health, or stress management. An online Master's in Educational Counseling will provide professionals with the necessary training necessary to become ethical leaders in this field; for this reason, every individual interested in educational counseling are encouraged to apply to one of the programs listed above.