In this article, we profile the 20 most affordable online master’s in school counseling degree programs of 2019.

The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook reports that employment of school counselors is projected to grow 13 percent through the year 2026. Increasing school enrollments are anticipated to have the most impact on employment growth. Online master’s in school counseling programs allow individuals to return to college for an advanced degree without having to give up daytime obligations.

Most Affordable Online Master’s in School Counseling Degree Programs Methodology

We looked at 68 accredited colleges and universities listed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator that offered at least one master’s in school counseling online degree program. We narrowed our pool of schools by applying the following criteria: national, regional, and/or program rankings with a major publication like U.S. News and World Report and graduate tuition/fees under $22,500. We then listed the schools in order of raw affordability and selected the 20 cheapest programs.

Below is our list of the top 20 most affordable master’s in school counseling online programs.

#20 – Seton Hall University

Online Master’s in School Counseling

South Orange, New Jersey

Website

Seton Hall University - 20 Most Affordable Master's in School Counseling Online

The online master’s in school counseling program at Seton Hall requires GRE scores and a strong undergraduate GPA.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $22,468

Seton Hall University’s College of Education and Human Services offers a master’s in school counseling online for individuals seeking counseling positions within the K-12 system including both public and private institutions. The program is approved by the New Jersey Department of Education and is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Application components include official transcripts, three recommendations, resume, personal statement, and GRE scores. A 3.0 UGPA is preferred, but special circumstances may allow for applications to be admitted with a lower grade point average. U.S. News and World Report ranks Seton Hall #119 in national universities.

#19 – University of Massachusetts

Online Master’s in School Counseling

Boston, Massachusetts

Website

University of Massachusetts - 20 Most Affordable Master’s in School Counseling Online 2018

The master’s in school counseling online program at UMASS offers full-time enrollment.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,730

The College of Advancing and Professional Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston offers an online master’s in school counseling consisting of 60 credit hours that meet the licensure requirements for the state of Massachusetts. All online students matriculate in the summer and must attend full-time, as the program is cohort-based. Full-time enrollment requires a course load of 9 credits per term. All coursework is completed online aside from a two-week summer residency requirement at UMass Dartmouth. The residency typically occurs the last part of June and runs into the first week of July. UMass Boston is ranked #191 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#18 – Oregon State University

Online Master’s in School Counseling

Corvallis, Oregon

Website

Oregon State University - 20 Most Affordable Master’s in School Counseling Online 2018

OSU’s master’s school counseling online is a hybrid program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,061

Oregon State University offers one of the top online school counseling programs for individuals seeing a hybrid degree consisting of both online and in-person instruction. The hybrid program is a 50/50 split between distance learning classes and traditional courses held two weekends per month in Salem, Oregon. Under the auspices of the OSU College of Education, the program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. The 75-credit (5 credits per class) program includes courses such as addictive behavioral counseling, cross-cultural counseling, group counseling procedures, and special education issues. OSU is ranked #140 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#17 – Regent University

Online Master’s in School Counseling

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Website

Regent University - 20 Most Affordable Master’s in School Counseling Online 2018

Regent University’s master’s in school counseling online program requires GRE scores.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,326

Regent University provides a master’s in school counseling online for individuals seeking a graduate level education with the goal of becoming a K-12 counselor within a wide range of settings. Application components include a bachelor degree from a regionally accredited institution, 3.0 undergraduate grade point average, and test scores (GRE or MAT). Average GRE scores for admitted applicants include 152 verbal and 141 quantitative. Test scores can be waived if applicant has a doctoral degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.5 minimum GPA. Applicants must also participate in an in-person or online interview as part of the review process. U.S. News and World Report ranks Regent #201 in national universities.

#16 – Campbellsville University

Online Master’s in School Guidance Counseling

Campbellsville, Kentucky

Website

Campbellsville University - 20 Most Affordable Master’s in School Counseling Online 2018

100% online – the master’s in school counseling online degree at Campbellsville University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,204

Campbellsville University offers an M.Ed. in school counseling online for individuals seeking a career in K-12 school counseling. The degree consists of 48 credits divided into 8-week courses. The degree can be completed in approximately 18 months. In addition to course curriculum, students will participate in three internships consisting of 300 hours where they are able to apply lessons and skills learned in class to real world scenarios. The program is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Required courses include college career and readiness for all learners, development guidance for middle and high school counselors, foundations of leadership and ethics in school counseling, and students victimized by crisis and abuse. Campbellsville is ranked #107 in regional universities South by U.S. News and World Report.

#15 – Indiana Wesleyan University

Online Master’s in School Counseling

Marion, Indiana

Website

Indiana Wesleyan University - 20 Most Affordable Master’s in School Counseling Online 2018

Indiana Wesleyan University’s online master’s in school counseling is accredited and ranked.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,392

Indiana Wesleyan University offers an online master’s in school counseling for individuals seeking to procure jobs as school counselors within the K-12 system. Graduates go on to careers within a variety of educational contexts including K-12 public and private institutions and community colleges. The 48-credit degree is unique in the counseling space due to its curricular integration of Christian counseling principles as they relate to the growth, development, and counseling needs of students. The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs and the Council of the Accreditation of Educational Preparations. U.S. News and World Report ranks Indiana Wesleyan #32 in regional universities Midwest.

#14 – The University of Tennessee

Online Master’s in Counseling

Martin, Tennessee

Website

The University of Tennessee - 20 Most Affordable Master’s in School Counseling Online 2018

University of Tennessee requires GRE scores for admission to the online master’s in counseling program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,986

The University of Tennessee at Martin’s master’s in school counseling online prepares students to become licensed mental health counselors or school counselors upon graduation. Admission requirements include three letters of recommendation from educational professionals, two-page personal statement, resume, documentation for those applying for school counselor concentration, background check, and GRE scores (285 combined for conditional acceptance, 300 combined for unconditional acceptance). Courses within the school counseling curriculum include counseling children and adolescents with psychological dysfunction, growth and development across the lifespan, organization and administration of school counseling, and theory and techniques of counseling. U.S. News and World Report ranks UT Martin #42 in regional universities South.

#13 – University of Missouri

Online Master’s in Educational, School and Counseling Psychology

Columbia, Missouri

Website

University of Missouri - 20 Most Affordable Master’s in School Counseling Online 2018

A top program – University of Missouri’s master’s in school counseling online degree.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,828

The University of Missouri offers one of the top online school counseling programs delivered completely via distance learning. The program is well suited for current or aspiring mental health practitioners seeking a counseling career within a variety of contexts including K-12 education, community-based health organizations, private practice, and more. Coursework occurs in a semester-based model with students typically taking one to two courses per term. Classes may include communication and collaboration with children and families, developmental aspects of human learning, diversity issues in school mental health, and preventions and interventions in school mental health. UM is ranked #129 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#12 – Missouri Baptist University

Online Master’s in School Counseling

Saint Louis, Missouri

Website

Missouri Baptist University - 20 Most Affordable Master’s in School Counseling Online 2018

Perfect for working teachers – Missouri Baptist’s master’s in school counseling online degree program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,405

Missouri Baptist University offers an M.Ed. in school counseling online for individuals seeking to earn their credentials as a school counselor in a K-12 public setting. The program is flexible for working adults who desire to maintain their current responsibilities as they pursue a graduate degree. The program can be completed in three years. Courses include advanced human development, child and adolescent counseling, foundations in school counseling, research and program evaluation in counseling settings, and school counseling program implementation and leadership. U.S. News and World Report ranks Missouri Baptist University #128 in regional universities Midwest and is also recognized in the cohort for best education schools.

#11 – University of North Dakota

Online Master’s in Counseling

Grand Forks, North Dakota

Website

University of North Dakota - 20 Most Affordable Master’s in School Counseling Online 2018

2.5 year program – University of North Dakota’s master’s in school counseling online degree.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,189

The University of North Dakota provides an online master’s in school counseling for individuals seeking counseling careers within K-12 school systems. The 48-credit program is completed via distance learning and can be finished in 2.5 years. Classes are held synchronously (live) in the evenings. Students get hands-on experience including two 4-day visits to campus and a semester-long practicum and internship in a school within the student’s local community. The program and institution are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation and approved by the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices for School Counselor Competencies. UND is ranked #205 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#10 – University of Louisiana

Online Master’s in Counseling

Monroe, Louisiana

Website

University of Louisiana - 20 Most Affordable Master’s in School Counseling Online 2018

Accredited and ranked – University of Louisiana’s master’s in school counseling online degree program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,984

The University of Louisiana Monroe offers an M.Ed. in school counseling online for prospective students seeking graduate level education from an accredited postsecondary institution. Students can choose from a variety of career tracks including clinical mental health counseling and school counseling. Graduates may qualify for positions including mental health counselor, school counselor, career counselor, vocational counselor, addiction specialist, group facilitator, and more. The program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs through 2020. Admission to the program is done on a holistic basis as well as a working formula using a matrix of minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and minimum combined GRE score of 290. Students with an existing master’s or doctoral degree are exempt from GRE requirements. ULM is ranked #230 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#9 – Liberty University

Online Master’s in School Counseling

Lynchburg, Virginia

Website

Liberty University - 20 Most Affordable Master’s in School Counseling Online 2018

Liberty University’s master’s in school counseling online degree program is fully online.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,723

Liberty University’s online school counseling programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs to confer a graduate level degree that trains and prepares students for careers as counselors in the K-12 system. The 48-credit program is typically completed in two years. The program is grounded in best practices and infuses Christian principles as related to the counseling of children within public and private institutions. In addition to online courses, students have the opportunity to complete a six-credit internship where they apply knowledge and skills they learn in the classroom to real world experiences. Courses include career development and counseling and educational assessment and intervention. Liberty is ranked #230 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#8 – Lamar University

Online Master’s in Counseling and Development

Beaumont, Texas

Website

Lamar University - 20 Most Affordable Master’s in School Counseling Online 2018

The master’s in school counseling online program at Lamar University infuses Christian principles.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,112

Lamar University offers an M.Ed. in school counseling online consisting of 60 credits that can be completed in as little as 30 months. In addition to online coursework, the program includes a one-week residency at Lamar University, a 15-week practicum, and a 15-week internship in the student’s community. Courses include child and adolescent counseling, foundations of professional counseling, group counseling theories and techniques, and individual counseling theories and techniques. The Lamar program’s pedagogical philosophy is to combine theory and praxis through teaching and training that results in knowledgeable and proficient practitioners. Lamar University is ranked #230 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#7 – Salem College

Online Master’s in School Counseling

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Website

Salem College - 20 Most Affordable Master’s in School Counseling Online 2018

Salem College’s master’s in school counseling online is a 60-credit program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,050

Salem College’s online master’s in school counseling prepares graduates for counseling careers within K-12 institutions. The program conflates theory and skill-based pedagogy giving graduates the knowledge to effectively perform job functions vital to the health and wellness of the students they serve. In addition to curriculum delivered online, the program allows students to spend time in the field engaging with students, teachers, and administrators. The cohort-based model allows students to matriculate in the fall or spring semesters. The entire program can be completed in 36 months. U.S. News and World Report ranks Salem College #131 in national liberal arts universities.

#6 – University of West Alabama

Online Master’s in School Counseling

Livingston, Alabama

Website

University of West Alabama - 20 Most Affordable Master’s in School Counseling Online 2018

University of West Alabama’s master’s in school counseling online program is fully accredited and ranked.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,868

The University of West Alabama provides current or aspiring educators with an M.Ed. in school counseling online. The degree is well suited for working professionals not able to forego their current obligations to pursue graduate education. The program is 48 credits and can be completed in just one year. Courses taken may include advanced educational psychology, counseling children and adolescents, diagnostic techniques for school counselors, introduction to school counseling, and techniques of educational research. The program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. University of West Alabama is ranked #107 in regional universities South by U.S. News and World Report.

#5 – Angelo State University

Online Master’s in Professional School Counseling

San Angelo, Texas

Website

Angelo State University - 20 Most Affordable Master’s in School Counseling Online 2018

Angelo State University’s 100% online master’s in school counseling program is highly affordable.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,507

Angelo State University offers one of the top online school counseling programs in the country for working professionals seeking the convenience of online graduate education at an affordable price point. The 48-credit program is designed for individuals seeking careers as school counselors in Texas. All 8-week courses are delivered 100% online. Courses include career and occupational counseling, comprehensive school counseling programs, human growth and development, role of the school counselor, and social and cultural influences. Admission requires a 2.75 undergraduate GPA. GRE scores are not required to apply. Angelo State University is ranked #96 in regional universities West by U.S. News and World Report.

#4 – Southern Arkansas University

Online Master’s in School Counseling

Magnolia, Alabama

Website

Southern Arkansas University - 20 Most Affordable Master’s in School Counseling Online 2018

The master’s in school counseling online program at Southern Arkansas University consists of 48 credits.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,038

Southern Arkansas University is offering a master’s in school counseling online that can be completed in 2.5 – 3 years based on two courses per semester including summer. Arkansas residents can choose to pursue an add-on license if they currently hold a valid Arkansas teaching license. The 48-credit program includes courses such as basic counseling skills, career counseling theory and practice, counseling in a diverse society, development and administration of school counseling programs, and human development for helping professionals. Graduates from the Southern Arkansas University program are well grounded in current theory and practice upon graduation, making them attractive candidates for sought after positions. SAU is ranked #107 in regional universities South by U.S. News and World Report.

#3 – University of the Cumberlands

Online Master’s in Education

Williamsburg, Kentucky

Website

University of the Cumberlands - 20 Most Affordable Master’s in School Counseling Online 2018

University of the Cumberlands has a master’s in school counseling online fitting for working students.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,970

The University of the Cumberlands offers an online master’s in school counseling for individuals seeking counseling careers in a variety of K-12 contexts. The school counseling track is a specific concentration within the education degree pathway and includes a rigorous 45 credits in coursework. Classes include advanced human behavior development and learning, counseling aspects of grief and loss, issues and trends in special education, and social and cultural foundations (theory and practice of multicultural counseling). Admission includes 2.75 GPA, three letters of recommendation, and an entrance exam for those without a valid teaching license. Those without a valid teaching license are required to submit GRE/MAT scores. UC is ranked #230 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#2 – Chadron State College

Online Master’s in Education – School Counseling

Chadron, Nebraska

Website

Chadron State College - 20 Most Affordable Master’s in School Counseling Online 2018

Chadron State’s master’s in school counseling online program is one of the most affordable on our list.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,647

Chadron State College offers one of the most affordable online school counseling programs for individuals seeking a distance learning option for their graduate education. Nearly the entire program is delivered via distance learning, although students are required to be on campus and in a local school. The program includes three different pathways depending on the student’s experience and educational licensure (with or without). Admission includes complete application, bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum of 2.75 GPA, and official transcripts from all schools. All students will also engage in an interview. Select students will be invited to an orientation after their respective interview.

#1 – Fort Hays State University

Online Master’s in Counseling – School Counseling

Hays, Kansas

Website

Fort Hays State University - 20 Most Affordable Master’s in School Counseling Online 2018

Fort Hays State University offers the most affordable master’s in school counseling online degree on our list.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $4,162

Fort Hays State University offers a master’s in school counseling online that helps students prepare for state licensure as a certified school counselor. The rigorous program includes coursework, a practicum, and an internship. The 48-credit program is typically completed in three years and must be completed in six years. Admission requirements include test scores (MAT/GRE), 3.0 GPA in last 60 hours of undergraduate education, two letters of support, personal statement, and official transcripts. Students must also pass a background check. Courses may include appraisal in counseling, counseling skills development, foundations of counseling, and management of counseling programs. U.S. News and World Report ranks Fort Hays #128 in regional universities Midwest.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with a master’s in school counseling online degree?

School counselors help in the development of student success in school. They help students with academics and social skills, evaluating abilities and interests through aptitude assessments and customized, individual planning. Specific duties of school counselors vary with the ages of students and level of academic settings.

Below are various levels of school settings and the specific duties of school counselors that accompany:

Elementary school counselors: Elementary school counselors help students in kindergarten through fifth grade develop specific skills, such as decision making, good study habits, and social and academic successes. School counselors often meet with parents, teachers, students, and staff to ensure a child is succeeding.

Middle school counselors: School counselors in middle schools work with staff, teachers, students, and parents to achieve academic and behavioral success. They help students faced with challenges in academics, social settings, and home. The role of a middle school counselor is to provide encouragement and support.

High school counselors: High school counselors offer help and advice to high school students in making academic, career, and college plans. Counselors assist with student decisions on which classes to take and exams needed for college admission. It is not uncommon for high school counselors to help students overcome personal barriers and issues that interfere with graduation.

What is the career outlook for individuals with a master’s in school counseling online degree?

Employment and job growth for school counselors is projected to increase 13 percent, according the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics – Occupational Outlook Handbook. As student enrollments rise in elementary, middle, and high schools, the demand for school counselors is expected to grow. Schools will also require more counselors to respond to the academic, developmental, and social needs of their student population.

The average growth rate for all occupations is seven percent. With an anticipated growth rate of 13 percent through year 2026, jobs for school counselors will be plentiful. Also, for individuals looking for career counseling jobs in community colleges and four-year institutions, the employment growth is also projected to increase by 13 percent over the next eight years. An increasing number of career centers opening on campus will spike the demand for these highly specialized counselors. Also, school and career counselors will be in demand due to the need to replace workers who are retiring or leaving the occupation for advancement.

To help set yourself apart from the employment pool of qualified candidates, a graduate degree and/or experience working as a school counselor will prove to be beneficial.

How much will I make with a master’s in school counseling online degree?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median annual salary for school and career counselors as of May 2017 is $55,410. The lowest ten percent of school counselors earned $32,660 per year and the highest ten percent earned $91,960 per year. PayScale, an American website that provides researched information about salary and compensation, reports the average salary for school counselors to be $48,928 and the range to be $35,634 to $71,195.

The average pay for school counselors varies by location and experience. An entry-level (0 to 5 years experience) school counselor can expect to earn an average total compensation of $43,000, according to the most recent report by PayScale. Mid-career school counselors (5 to 10 years) can expect to earn $49,000 on average and experienced school counselors (10 to 20 years) can expect to earn an average of $57,000. Late-career experience, which includes school counselors with more than 20 years of experience can expect to earn $63,000.

School counselor compensation varies by location. This means that a school counselor working in Chicago, Illinois might earn a higher wage than a school counselor with the same level of education and experience living in Philadelphia. School counselors earn a national average of $48,770, according to PayScale’s Pay Difference by Location reporting. Larger city markets seem to pay more than rural areas or mid-sized towns. Los Angeles and Houston offer the highest compensation for school counselors.

What are the admission requirements for master’s in school counseling online degree programs?

The American School Counselor Association reports that the state requirements for public school systems vary by state, though an advanced degree and courses are a must. To be admitted to a master’s in school counseling online degree program, students should hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. The school should be accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting body.

Additional requirements for admission typically include a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale and official transcripts from all college coursework. Two letters of recommendation are the standard, though some programs require three letters of reference. These letters may be completed by professionals who can attest to your academic aptitude for a graduate degree in school counseling.

GRE or GMAT scores may be required, though many of the online school counseling programs on our list do not require test scores. In the event a program requires GRE scores, the test must have been taken within the last five years.

Other requirements may include a curriculum vitae (CV), a three to six page essay or statement of goals, a complete application, and generally an application fee. The application fee varies among schools and programs, and may range from $50 to $175.

How long does it take to complete a master’s in school counseling online degree?

The majority of school counselors hold master’s degrees. State licensure requires that school counselors hold a graduate degree in school counseling, or closely related degree. Depending on individual pace, a master’s in school counseling online degree can be earned in 16-24 months on average.

After being admitted to a school counseling program, students must decide which pathway to take. Many programs on our list offer part-time and full-time options. The road to a master’s in school counseling online degree varies with your chosen completion pathway. If you have a job and/or obligations that may interfere with the pace of your studies, choosing a part-time school counseling program may be beneficial. Part-time options are less rigorous than full-time programs and offer more flexibility. Students typically work at their own pace but are required to complete all degree requirements within an allotted amount of time. The standard limit to meet all program requirements is five years.

Students who choose to work at an accelerated pace may choose a full-time enrollment option. Full-time enrollment means more classes are taken at one time and the road to graduation is quicker. The average completion time for a master’s in school counseling online degree for full-time students is 18 months.

GSH Staff
November 2018

This concludes our list of the 20 most affordable online master’s in school counseling degree programs for 2019.