Written By - Erika Lasrado

Edited By Darryl S.

Review & Contribution By Dr. Florence Beck

An online Master’s in School counseling blends theoretical knowledge with practical skills, empowering students to navigate the complex landscape of academic, social, and emotional well-being within educational settings. The flexibility of online learning caters to aspiring school counselors, allowing them to balance academic pursuits with personal and professional commitments. In this virtual environment, students engage with expert faculty, collaborate with diverse peers, and gain hands-on experience through practicum and internship opportunities. This page explores the finest online Master’s in School Counseling programs, examining potential career outcomes, salary considerations, and the unique aspects of online education in this field.

School Counseling Course

Table Of Contents

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 GetEducated.com 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 Master’s in School Counseling Programs

Discovering the Best Online Master’s in School Counseling Programs is vital for diverse learning. OMC’s dedicated teams have meticulously searched through options, evaluating faculty expertise, curriculum strength, overall program quality, and program length. The selected programs stand out for their commitment to excellence, ensuring students receive the best online education and guidance from the best faculty in the field. Here are the rankings:

<a href="https://www.onlinemasterscolleges.com/online-masters-in-school-counseling/">Master's in School Counseling</a>

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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 Master’s in School Counseling Programs

Enrolling in online Master’s in School Counseling programs can be challenging due to rising fees. Recognizing this, the teams at OMC diligently researched and compiled a list of the most affordable options. These programs aim to make quality education accessible, ensuring that aspiring school counselors can pursue their academic and professional goals without the burden of exorbitant fees. Here are the affordable online school counseling programs:

<a href="https://www.onlinemasterscolleges.com/online-masters-in-school-counseling/">Master's in School Counseling</a>

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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 Online Master’s in School Counseling Programs

Master’s in School Counseling programs typically include coursework in counseling theories, human development, assessment, crisis intervention, group counseling, career development, multicultural counseling, and ethical considerations. Students also engage in practicum and internship experiences, gaining hands-on skills in school settings. The aim is to equip graduates with the knowledge and practical competencies needed to effectively support students’ academic, social, and emotional development within an educational context.

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Master’s in School Counseling Programs

Each program’s curriculum offering a Master’s 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 students gain from each:

Human Development

This program explores psychological and emotional growth across the lifespan. This course equips counselors with a deep understanding of developmental milestones, informing their approach to supporting student’s academic and personal journeys within the school environment.

Counseling Theories

This program explores various psychological frameworks guiding therapeutic practices. This course equips students with a comprehensive understanding of counseling models, enabling them to apply diverse approaches in supporting students’ academic, social, and emotional well-being within an educational context.

Substance Use Disorders and Process Addictions

This course offers clinical mental health counseling students an overview of substance use disorders and process addictions, exploring contributing factors like neurobiological, genetic, psychological, socio-cultural, environmental, spiritual, and contextual elements. Emphasizing a bio-psychosocial model, it focuses on co-morbid disorders, differential diagnostics, evaluation methods, and barriers to effective treatment.

Practicum in School Counseling

This program provides students with hands-on experience in a school setting. This course allows them to apply theoretical knowledge, engage in supervised counseling activities, and develop essential skills, preparing them for the practical aspects of the counseling profession within educational environments.

Crisis and Trauma Assessment and Treatment

This course establishes a strong foundation for clinical mental health counseling students, focusing on the theory and treatment of psychiatric crises and emergencies. It explores trauma fundamentals and their impact on crisis intervention. The curriculum explores the distinctions between emergencies and crises, covering emergency assessments, lethality assessment techniques, risk factors, cultural considerations, and mental illness presence. Differential assessments across professional mental health responses, including Psychological First Aid, suicide prevention, stabilization, and immediate psychiatric crisis response, are thoroughly examined.

Upon graduation, students can expect to gain the following skills and learning outcomes:

  •  A Comprehensive understanding of counseling theories and techniques.
  •  Proficiency in conducting individual and group counseling sessions.
  •  Skillful development and implementation of school counseling programs.
  •  Effective communication with students, parents, and educators.
  •  Assessment and interpretation of academic and personal data.
  •  Competency in crisis intervention and conflict resolution.
  •  Application of ethical and legal principles in counseling practice.
  •  Collaboration with diverse populations and stakeholders.
  •  Use of technology for counseling and program management.

Online Master’s in School Counseling Degree Types

Three online degrees, the Master of Arts (MA) in School Counseling and the Master of Science (MS) in School Counseling, along with the Master of Education (MEd) in School Counseling, prepare graduates for careers in school counseling. All three degrees blend theoretical studies with practical classroom experience, and the choice depends on the student’s career goals and whether they plan to pursue 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.

M Ed in School Counseling

The M Ed in School Counseling degree emphasizes combining theoretical knowledge and practical skills to support students in educational settings effectively. MEd in School Counseling programs typically cover topics such as counseling techniques, career development, and strategies for fostering academic and emotional well-being in students.

Specializations for Master’s in School Counseling Students

Specializations in a Master’s in School Counseling program allow students to tailor their education, focusing on specific areas such as career counseling or mental health. These specialized tracks enhance expertise and marketability, preparing students to address diverse challenges in educational settings. The flexibility to choose a concentration aligns the program with individual career goals, fostering a more comprehensive and personalized learning experience. Here are some specializations students of master’s in school counseling can consider:

Area of FocusDescriptionCareers This Concentration Prepares For
Substance AbuseThis specialization focuses on equipping counselors with the expertise to address and reduce substance abuse issues among students. It includes prevention, intervention, and support strategies, ensuring a comprehensive approach to fostering a healthy, drug-free educational environment.• Addiction Counselors
• Recovery Coaches
• Substance Abuse Prevention Specialists
• Rehabilitation Counselors
Conflict Resolution and MediationThis specialization equips students with skills to identify, address, and resolve conflicts in educational settings. This specialization emphasizes techniques for fostering positive communication, negotiation, and mediating disputes, promoting a harmonious and conducive learning environment.• Mediators
• Arbitrators
• Dispute Resolution Specialists
Trauma-Informed CounselingThis specialization focuses on cultivating awareness and sensitivity to trauma’s impact on students. This specialization equips counselors with strategies to provide support, foster resilience, and promote a safe and nurturing educational environment for traumatized individuals.• Trauma Therapists
• Crisis Intervention Counselors
• Mental Health Counselors
Career DevelopmentThis specialization emphasizes guiding students through comprehensive career exploration and planning. Counselors with this specialization assist students in identifying their interests, strengths, and goals, fostering informed decision-making and preparing them for successful transitions into the workforce or higher education.• Career Counselors
• Human Resources Specialists
• Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors
Child and Adolescent CounselingThis specialization focuses on tailored approaches to address the unique needs of younger students. This specialization equips counselors with age-appropriate therapeutic techniques, developmental understanding, and interventions to support the emotional and academic growth of children and adolescents within an educational setting.• School Counselor
• Child Psychologist
• Play Therapist
• Youth Counselor

Graduation Timeline for Master’s in School Counseling

Students seeking entry into the counseling field in K-12 classrooms set their own pace for completing their Master’s 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 tuition and fees. The number of required credits varies by program. They range from 40 to 60 hours, making the programs one to three years in length. Accelerated programs offer the Master’s in School Counseling online, decreasing the time it takes to earn the credential.

Accelerated Online Master’s in School Counseling Programs

Accelerated Master’s 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 standard 1 to 3-year programs but take half the time, reducing the overall tuition cost while preparing graduates for certifications and licensing. Because online courses are rigorous, students should be committed to courses and study hours. Here are two universities that offer accelerated master’s in school counseling:

New York University1

Southeastern Oklahoma University2

Online Master’s in School Counseling Programs Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for online Master’s 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:

  •  Application form
  •  Application fee (varies by institution)
  •  Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  •  Official transcripts from all previous academic institutions
  •   2 to 3 Letters of recommendation 
  •  Résumé or curriculum vitae outlining relevant experience
  •  Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement
  •  Minimum GPA requirement (varies by program)
  •  GRE scores (may be required by some programs)
  •  Relevant work or volunteer experience in counseling or related fields

Online Master’s in School Counseling No GRE Programs

The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a standardized test commonly required for admission to graduate programs. Some institutions may offer GRE waivers under specific circumstances. Waivers are often granted to applicants with extensive professional experience, advanced degrees, or exceptional academic achievements. Each institution establishes its own criteria for GRE waivers, and prospective students should check with the specific program to understand the waiver eligibility criteria and application process. Here are a few Universities that offer master’s in school counseling without a GRE:

St. Bonaventure University3

Utah Valley University4

Free Online School Counseling Courses

While not accredited, free online courses provide students with valuable learning opportunities. They offer access to diverse subjects, allowing self-directed learners to acquire knowledge and skills. Students benefit by expanding their understanding, gaining practical insights, and enhancing personal or professional development. Here are a few examples of free online courses that Master’s in School Counseling students can explore:

CourseTraining for School Counselors5
Provided byAlison
DescriptionThe field of school counseling is on the rise, addressing the needs of many children and adolescents requiring support during times of mental or physical distress. This course explores the challenges and counseling approaches in such situations. It also instructs on utilizing technology to advise students and families and manage children’s psychological and behavioral issues.
CourseSchool Failure: Causes, Consequences and Solutions6
Provided byAlison
DescriptionThis educational course offers a valuable chance to explore the phenomenon of school failure. Participants will discover the prevalent causes and outcomes of student failure, along with strategies for teacher intervention.
CourseSupporting Successful Learning in Primary School7
Provided byClass Central
DescriptionDesigned for teaching assistants and early years/primary school support staff, this course also benefits returning and newly qualified teachers. It serves as a refresher for current educators. Parents can also find it valuable in supporting their children’s learning. The course centers on primary school teaching and learning.

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

As online Master’s in School Counseling fees keep rising yearly, prospective students can explore various avenues to afford their education. Researching scholarships, grants, and fellowships specific to counseling programs is crucial. Additionally, considering part-time work or employer tuition assistance, if available, can help alleviate financial burdens. Loan options and flexible payment plans further enable individuals to pursue their online master’s in school counseling without undue financial strain. Here are a few ways students can fund their Master’s in School Counseling programs:


Scholarships provide financial assistance to students pursuing higher education by covering tuition, fees, or other educational expenses. They are awarded based on various criteria, including academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, leadership, and sometimes financial need. Institutions, private organizations, or government entities can offer scholarships, making education more accessible for deserving individuals.


Grants are financial awards provided to individuals for specific projects, programs, or educational pursuits. Unlike loans, grants do not require repayment and are often awarded based on criteria such as financial need, academic achievement, or research goals.

Student Loans

Student loans are financial instruments that enable individuals to fund their education and cover associated expenses. These loans, typically offered by government entities or private lenders, must be repaid with interest. Students often use loans to bridge the gap between available financial aid and the total cost of education. Loan terms and interest rates vary, influencing the overall financial commitment of borrowers.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate Assistantships are positions offered to graduate students that involve a combination of academic and professional responsibilities. Students receive financial support in exchange for their work, often through a stipend or tuition reduction. These positions provide valuable experience in teaching, research, or administrative roles, contributing to both academic and career development during graduate studies.


FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a form in the United States that students complete to apply for federal financial assistance for higher education. It determines eligibility for grants, work-study programs, and federal student loans. FAFSA considers factors such as family income, assets, and household size to assess financial need and allocate aid.

Read more about financial aid in the Best Financial Aid Guide.

Scholarships for Master’s in School Counseling Students

With the rising cost of master’s in school counseling programs, prospective students should diligently research scholarships to ease financial burdens. Scholarships offer invaluable support, covering tuition and related expenses. Numerous private and public organizations provide funding opportunities based on merit, need, or specific demographics. Investigating these options can make pursuing advanced degrees more accessible for aspiring school counselors, fostering educational and career growth. Here are some scholarships as examples:

American Counseling Association Future School Counselors8

The essay competition by the American Counseling Association acknowledges graduate counseling students demonstrating exceptional insight into the school counseling profession. It highlights a deep understanding of the work undertaken by professional school counselors, particularly those engaging with elementary, middle school, or high school students.
Award/Amount: $2,000
Deadline: January, annually

The American Psychological Association Graduate Student Scholarships9

American Psychological Federation (APF) welcomes applicants from diverse backgrounds, emphasizing inclusivity in age, race, religion, nationality, ability, sexual orientation, gender, and geography. Eligible students enrolled in interim master’s or doctoral programs, regardless of their current graduate study stage, can apply. The applicant must be enrolled in the graduate program when grants are awarded, with the provision that a terminal master’s program student intends to enroll in a Ph.D. program. The APA offers more than 20 annual scholarships to support graduate student research.
Award/Amount: $2,000-$5,000.
Deadline: January, annually

Careers and Salary Outlook for School Counseling Master’s Graduates

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

Median Annual SalaryJob Growth (2022-2032)Job Description
School and Career Counselors10$60,1405% (faster than average)School and career counselors follow students from K to 12. They test to determine learning issues and assist 12th graders in deciding on careers and college.
Marriage and Family Therapists11 $56,57015%(much faster than average)Marriage and family therapists work with individuals or family units to identify and treat emotional problems.
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors 12$49,71018% (much faster than average)Substance abuse, behavioral disorders, and mental health counselors offer diagnosis and treatment for drug addiction, alcoholism, or behavioral problems.
Genetic Counselors13   $89,99016% (much faster than average)Genetic counselors evaluate inherited congenital disabilities or disorders to predict a course of action for physicians, children, and their parents.

Certifications and Licensing for School Counseling Master’s Graduates

Certifications in fields such as education, technology, or healthcare validate a student’s expertise, enhancing employability and career prospects. These credentials demonstrate mastery of specific skills and adherence to industry standards, giving employers confidence in an individual’s capabilities. Certification programs often involve rigorous training and assessments, ensuring students acquire valuable knowledge and competencies essential for success in their chosen field.

What advantages are there to hold licenses and certifications as a school counselor? The primary advantage is that graduates can work in schools nationwide. With certifications, it is easier to get hired. They also show potential employers that they 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 Association14 lists 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)15
    The NBCC School Counselors Certification requires applicants to hold a master’s in education or a degree as an educational specialist. Graduates must have at least 100 hours of postgraduate counseling experience under direct supervision.
  • National Association of School Psychologists16
    To qualify for NASP certification, applicants must complete 60 graduate credit hours, a 1,200-hour internship, and relevant experience in field or laboratory settings.
  • Praxis Exam17
    Applicants must have passed The Praxis School Psychologist exam to practice school psychology in most states. The exam tests for professional competency for psychologists beginning a career in schools, K-12.

Additional Resources for School Counseling Professionals

Students pursuing a Master’s in School Counseling and professionals in the field benefit from resources beyond university offerings. The provided resources offer in-depth insights into field issues, continuing education programs, professional conferences, publications, and research findings. For those beginning career preparation or practicing in American schools, these resources aid in staying informed about legislation, advocacy, and required certifications. Non-profit organizations are also potential sources for scholarships, fellowships, and research grants. Counseling associations present excellent opportunities for networking 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 with access to student engagement, positive student climate, leadership development, and professional training.

FAQs About Online Master’s in School Counseling Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a master’s in School Counseling?

A Master’s in School Counseling is a graduate-level program that trains individuals to support students’ academic, social, and emotional well-being in educational settings. It covers counseling techniques, crisis intervention, and collaboration with parents and educators to foster a positive learning environment and address students’ unique needs.

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

The duration of an online master’s in school counseling varies but typically takes 2 to 3 years for full-time students. Part-time options may extend the timeline. Program length is influenced by factors like credit requirements, fieldwork hours, and individual pacing, with some offering accelerated formats for quicker completion.

Can I transfer credits from another program into the master’s in school counseling?

Can I collaborate with fellow students and faculty in an online master’s in school counseling program?

Can I do a master’s in the school counseling program without a bachelor’s?

Are online master’s in school counseling programs more affordable than on-campus ones?

Is a master’s in school counseling program worth it?

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