School counselors impact the lives of students, educators, and parents. Counselors have empathy and the skills to intervene when students suffer. More School counselors are needed. The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends a ratio of one counselor for every 250 students. But currently, the ratio is one counselor per 464 students.  Earning an online Master’s in School Counseling can speed you toward America’s K-12 classrooms. currently lists more than 1,200 jobs for school counselors, and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an 8% rise in school counselor jobs, 2018-2028. 

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Best Online Masters in School Counseling Programs

There are many online Masters in School Counseling programs available. Our methodology for determining the top school counseling graduate programs included factors such as affordability, length of time, accreditations, graduate success rates, and faculty expertise. Here are the rankings:

<a href="">Master's in School Counseling</a>

Code copied successfully!

College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
North Carolina State University, Raleigh
2101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695
NYU Steinhardt
70 Washington Sq South, New York, New York 10012
Wake Forest University
1834 Wake Forest Road, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27106
University of Southern California
University Park, Los Angeles, California 90089
Vanderbilt University
2101 West End Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee 37240
Oregon State University
1500 SW Jefferson Avenue, Corvallis, Oregon 97331
University of St Thomas
3800 Montrose Blvd, Houston, Texas 77006
Concordia University, Irvine
1530 Concordia West, Irvine, California 92612
Concordia University, Wisconsin
12800 N Lake Shore Dr, Mequon, Wisconsin 53097
University of Massachusetts Global
16355 Laguna Canyon Road, Irvine, California 92618
Gwynedd Mercy University
1325 Sumneytown Pike, Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania 19437
Liberty University
1971 University Blvd, Lynchburg, Virginia 24515
North American University
11929 West Airport Blvd., Stafford, Texas 77477
University of the Cumberlands
6191 College Station Drive, Williamsburg, Kentucky 40769
Lakeland University
W3718 South Drive, Plymouth, Wisconsin 53073
Our Lady of The Lake University
411 SW 24th St., San Antonio, Texas 78207
Lamar University
4400 MLK Blvd, Beaumont, Texas 77705
Adams State University
208 Edgemont Blvd, Alamosa, Colorado 81101
University of The Southwest
6610 North Lovington Hwy, Hobbs, New Mexico 88240

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Most Affordable Online Masters in School Counseling Programs

Any top-rated online master in School Counseling must also be affordable. To rate the most-affordable online school counseling degrees, we examined tuition and fee schedules,the availability of student financial aid, and enrollment policies for out-of-state or international students. Here are our choices for affordable online school counseling programs:

<a href="">Master's in School Counseling</a>

Code copied successfully!

College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
Albany State University
504 College Drive, Albany, Georgia 31705
Fort Hays State University
600 Park St, Hays, Kansas 67601
Angelo State University
2601 W. Avenue N, San Angelo, Texas 76909
Chadron State College
1000 Main St, Chadron, Nebraska 69337
Adams State University
208 Edgemont Blvd, Alamosa, Colorado 81101
West Texas A & M University
2501 4th Ave, Canyon, Texas 79016
Arkansas State University
2105 E. Aggie Road, Jonesboro, Arkansas 72401
University of Central Arkansas
201 Donaghey Ave, Conway, Arkansas 72035
Southern Arkansas University
100 E. University, Magnolia, Arkansas 71753
University of the Cumberlands
6191 College Station Drive, Williamsburg, Kentucky 40769
The University of Texas
3900 University Blvd, Tyler, Texas 75799
Lamar University
4400 MLK Blvd, Beaumont, Texas 77705
University of Louisiana-Monroe
700 University Avenue, Monroe, Louisiana 71209
University of West Alabama
Station One, Livingston, Alabama 35470
Salem College
601 S Church St, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27101
Liberty University
1971 University Blvd, Lynchburg, Virginia 24515
University of Missouri
105 Jesse Hall, Columbia, Missouri 65211
University of North Dakota
264 Centennial Drive, Stop 8193, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58202
Campbellsville University
1 University Dr, Campbellsville, Kentucky 42718
Touro University Nevada
874 American Pacific Drive, Henderson, Nevada 89014

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Masters in School Counseling Programs

Prospective students of online Masters in School Counseling programs should evaluate their career goals while searching for programs. Degrees can vary based on their professional focus, curriculum, and graduation requirements. It’s time to do some homework and examine everything from course descriptions to details on internships. But first, which degree is right for you?

Online Masters in School Counseling Degree Types

Two online degrees prepare graduates for school counseling careers:  the MA in School Counseling and the MS in School Counseling. Both types of degrees require a combination of theoretical studies and practical classroom experience. The choice depends on the student’s career aspirations and whether they plan on earning a doctoral degree.

MA in School Counseling

The MA in School Counseling degree may be best for students who have completed a bachelor of arts degree in the humanities. The MA focuses less on scientific study and concentrates on direct classroom experiences than its MS counterpart. It is considered a terminal degree, so it is not the most appropriate choice for students planning to earn a doctorate.

MS in School Counseling

The MS in School Counseling degree is best suited for students who have completed a BS degree, preferably in science, psychology, or a related field. The master of science focuses on contemporary research, program analysis, counseling methodologies, and interventions. The degree also prepares graduates to move ahead into doctoral studies.

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Masters in School Counseling Programs

Each program’s curriculum offering a Masters in School Counseling is designed to provide graduates with personal and career skills germane to educational settings. Key counseling skills include empathy, problem-solving, research aptitude, communication (parents, teachers, students), and multicultural understanding. Here are examples of courses and the knowledge you’ll gain from each:

Research Methods and Program EvaluationStudents learn statistical analysis, including current research methods, qualitative, quantitative, and outcome-based practices.
Developmental DisabilitiesThis is an advanced study of neurological, environmental, and cultural factors affecting developmental disabilities. Learn how to take measurements and create assessments.
School Counseling Program Organization and AdministrationAn overview of program organization and administration meets the American School Counseling Association (ASCA). They are designed for counseling professionals employed in a K-12 setting.
Childhood and Adolescent TraumaThe course provides diagnostic and treatment methodologies for a K-12 population. Traumas include neglect, domestic violence, substance, and sexual abuse.
School Counseling PracticumStudents undertake a 100-hour supervised practicum in an elementary, middle, or high school setting. Contact prospective universities to see how this requirement is handled under the Covid-19 virus.

Accreditation for Online Masters in School Counseling Programs

Accredited school counseling programs are respected throughout the nation’s schools and school districts. Accredited programs must continuously meet educational requirements for the profession. Each university and every department offering an online Masters in School Counseling participates in a voluntary assessment by national and regional councils and associations. There are disadvantages of attending a program with no accreditation: employers have no verification that you have the skills for the position, you won’t be eligible for financial aid, and you won’t qualify to attend a doctoral degree program.  Learn more about accreditation.

Online Masters in School Counseling Programs Admission Requirements

Students seeking entry into the counseling field at K-12 classrooms set their own pace for completing their Masters in School Counseling online. The major variables for completing the degree include the student’s availability (full- or part-time),  the number of total credits needed for graduation, and the student’s financial ability to pay for the tuition and fees. The number of required credits vary by program. They range from 40-60 hours, making the programs one to three years in length. Accelerated programs offer the Masters in School Counseling online, decreasing the total time it takes to earn the credential.

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Masters in Organizational Leadership Programs

Admission requirements for online Masters in School Counseling programs are established by each university and the department that hosts the degree. Each school requires applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree. The following list contains a breakdown of the more-common requirements :

Online applicationUniversities offering an online Masters in School Counseling provide digital registration at the university website. Complete the application by the due date along with the supporting documentation, including:
TranscriptsThe university and graduate school require transcripts verifying all work done at the undergraduate level or from schools offering post-baccalaureate courses. 
CV or Professional ResumeA professional resume is essential in the application process. It confirms the applicant’s paid work experience or volunteerism in the related counseling or education field.
 Letters of RecommendationThe admissions department and program division evaluate two to three letters of recommendation from former professors or employers. They should address your academic aptitude, professional skills, and counseling/teaching experience
Official Test ScoresIn and of itself, an applicant’s official test score is not insufficient to secure admission to an online Masters in School Counseling program. While the university may require GRE scores, they also grant waivers to applicants with strong academic potential.
Statement of PurposeA personal statement identifies your career aspirations, educational goals, and why the particular program appeals to you.
International StudentsApplicants identifying English as a second language must submit official scores from the TOEFL or PTE Academic Exam or provide English fluency documentation.

Online Masters in School Counseling No GRE Programs

Every university and counseling/psychology department establishes application requirements for the  Masters in School Counseling program. Providing GRE test scores as part of your application is time-consuming, and you pay for the test. Some universities do not call for GRE scores, and those that do may grant GRE waivers based on the applicant’s employment and academic performance. For more information about the exam, visit our GRE Overview Page. A sampling of programs offering an online Masters in School Counseling no GRE required are listed below:

One Year Online Masters in School Counseling Programs

Accelerated, 1-year Masters in School Counseling programs are designed for students who can keep up the academic pace for completing classwork and required internships on schedule. Degree requirements cover the same course materials as the common 1-3 year programs but take half the time, reducing the overall tuition cost while preparing graduates for certifications and licensing. Because the online courses are rigorous, students must be committed to courses and study hours.

How to Pay for Online Master’s in School Counseling Programs

Tuition for an Online Masters in School Counseling can vary by the number of years it takes to complete the degree. There is help available through loans, which must be repaid, and scholarships and grants do not. While plenty of financial aid is available, students must budget carefully and use it prudently to avoid loan debt. Microsoft Money reported in late 2020 that the average student loan debt for MA and MS students was $66,000. We’ve outlined the major graduate financial aid programs for you. Be sure to visit our Best Financial Guide for detailed information.

To begin the application process for the financial aid listed below, complete the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The US Department of Education lists the following assistance:


Scholarships are awarded based on your academic achievement or financial need. See the section on scholarships below:


Grants are made by universities, counseling/psychological organizations, and state departments of education. The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant is open to students pursuing courses toward a career in teaching. These grants range up to $4,000 a year and do not need to be paid back.

Student Loans

Student loans must be repaid and maybe a source of student debt. Loans are federal and private.  Federal loans include the Federal Direct Unsubsidized LoanFederal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan. Students may also take loans from private lenders, but interest rates will be higher.

Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program

Grad students can hold part-time jobs in a related field to earn money for tuition.

Read more about financial did on the Best Financial Aid Guide.

Scholarships for Masters in School Counseling Students

Scholarships are a boon for those who qualify for them. In addition to financing your Online Masters in School Counseling, scholarships do not need to be repaid to the professional association, private donor, or university that grants them. They are awarded to students on various factors, including degree concentration, financial need, and academic achievement. Here are a few examples of application requirements and amounts granted:

American Counseling Association Future School Counselors

Who can apply?

Awards are made for graduate counseling students based on a personal essay. Applicants must be student members of the American Counseling Association.

Amount: $2,000


The American Psychological Association Graduate Student Scholarships

The APA offers more than 20 annual scholarships to support graduate student research.

Who can apply:

Graduate students seeking financial assistance to research a master’s thesis

. Amount: $2,000-$5,000.

Melanie Merola O’Donnell Memorial Scholarship

Who can apply?

One scholarship per year is awarded to a student pursuing a graduate degree in a mental health field. 

Amount : $2,500

ARES PRISM Project Management Scholarship

Who can apply?

Graduate students engaged in a research project related to stigma in mental illness.

Amount : $1,000

FAQs about School Counseling Masters Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

There are many questions asked by people considering a degree and career in school counseling. Here are some of the most common ones, along with answers:

What is a Masters’s in School Counseling?

An online Master’s in School Counseling prepares graduates to meet state educational requirements to take certification exams. The programs take 2-3 years to complete.

What degree do I need to be a School Counselor?

School counselors are required to complete a master’s degree to practice in the field.

 Is School Counseling a good career?

Do you need a license or certification to work in School Counseling?

What can you do with a School Counseling degree?

Careers and Salary Outlook for School Counseling Masters Graduates

Graduates enjoy a wide choice of jobs with a Master’s in School Counseling. In addition to classroom roles, related jobs are requiring a master’s degree to consider. Here are projected job growth percentages and current salaries for the professions:

Median annual salaryJob growth (2018-2028)Job Description
School and Career Counselors  $57,0408%School and career counselors follow students from K to 12. They test to determine learning issues and assist 12th graders in making decisions on careers and college.
Marriage and Family Therapists  $49,61022%Marriage and family therapists work with individuals or family units to identify and treat emotional problems.
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors  $46,24025%Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors offer diagnosis and treatment for drug addiction, alcoholism, or behavioral problems.
Genetic Counselors    $81,88021%Genetic counselors evaluate inherited congenital disabilities or disorders to predict a course of action for physicians, children, and their parents.

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Certifications and Licensing for School Counseling Masters Graduates

Every state requires practicing school counselors to hold licenses and/or certifications. Today graduates can apply for their school counselor certification online. To work in the schools, you may be required to hold teaching licenses before seeking counselor certifications. Certifications may be renewed at regular intervals based on classroom experience and continuing education. Be sure to contact your state or local boards of education to stay current on required certifications and licenses.

  • What advantages are there to hold licenses and certifications as a school counselor? The primary advantage is that you’ll be able to work in schools across the nation. Without them, you won’t get hired. They also show potential employers that you received an accredited education and are prepared for the workplace.
  • How do I receive licensure and certification? Independent associations award certifications and school counselor licenses voluntarily. Applicants must hold a graduate degree and pass an exam. The American Counseling Association maintains a listing of all states’ school counselor certification requirements and licensure agencies.
  • What are some examples of certifications and licenses I should consider?
    The National Board for Certified Counselors, Inc. and Affiliates (NBCC). The NBCC School Counselors Certification requires applicants to hold a master’s in education or degree as an educational specialist. Graduates must have a minimum of 100 hours of postgraduate counseling experience under direct supervision.
  • National Association of School Psychologists. To qualify for NASP certification, applicants are required to complete 60 graduate credit hours, a 1,200-hour internship, and relevant experience in field or laboratory settings.
  • Praxis Exam. To practice in school psychology in most states, applicants must have passed The Praxis School Psychologist exam. The exam tests for professional competency for psychologists beginning a career in schools, K-12.

Additional Resources for School Counseling Professionals

Students of the Masters in School Counseling degree and working professionals benefit from resources beyond those available at their university. The following resources provide in-depth detail of issues within the field, continuing education programs, professional conferences, publications, and research findings. Whether you’re just beginning career preparation or practicing in America’s schools, these resources assist in staying atop legislation and advocacy, and all about required certifications. These non-profit organizations can also be a source of scholarships, fellowships, and research grants.The counseling associations offer an exceptional opportunity to network for jobs and career growth.

  • The American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA).  The AMHCA provides support to its membership of clinical mental health counselors. The organization conducts research, monitors ethics, and reviews methodologies for continuing education.
  • The American School Counselor Association.  Practicing school counselors, higher education faculty, and school counseling students make up the membership of the ASCA. Benefits include coaching and webinars, networking opportunities, and a directory of research grants.
  • The Association of Child and Adolescent Counseling (ACAC). The ACAC was created to support counselors who work with adolescents and children.  Resources include advocacy position papers, organizational documents, and publications on parity, spanking, and LGBT issues in Counseling.
  • The National Education Association (NEA). The NEA supports three million educators and members who have access to student engagement, positive student climate, leadership development, and professional training.
Find Your Master’s Program

Start Your Next Step Today

Let’s help you find the right online master’s degree. You can browse through thousands of schools and their online programs. Start exploring the top 20 best online master’s programs now.