Top 5 Online Master’s Degree Programs in Counseling


Distance education, or online education has recently emerged in a fast-paced society as long as many people do not have enough time to attend regular campus-based institutions but are willing to get a new profession or obtain a Master’s degree in their qualification. Despite using non-traditional methods of presentation, such as class learning, online studying maintains the same objectives and standards of education. By using state-of-the-art technologies in an increasingly interactive learning environment, online programs are built on both fundamental and practical curricula.

Online degrees in counseling have taken a big share in online education. Universities offer programs in mental health counseling, addiction and substance counseling, marriage and family therapy, depression, rehabilitation counseling, career counseling and many more. In this article we will focus on some of the best US universities, offering Master Degrees in School Counseling. If you have a Bachelor’s degree in teaching and intend to put your efforts to helping students focus on successful academic, social, personal and career development, you might find this useful.

Capella Univesity, Minneapolis, MN

Capella Univesity specializes in online education and has a variety of degrees for everybody. Their Harold Abel School of Social and Behavioral Science offers a Master of Science in School Counseling degree. Capella University’s online Master’s in School Counseling program prepares you to advocate for the personal, educational, and social needs of students. The general job opportunities upon completion of the course are elementary school counselor, guidance counselor or high school counselor.

This state-approved, CACREP-accredited program follows the guidelines of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Model and requires a student to complete online coursework, field training, and residencies. Field training comprises 100 required practicum hours and 600 hours internship in teaching, supervision and research. The master’s program requires the completion of 2 residential colloquia that allows you to interact with fellow students and faculty in person, to gather important information to pass the program, and to learn and practice basic skills in your specialization area. The online course itself requires passing 72 credits and takes approximately two and a half years.

Basic pricing for the Master’s degree is $38,054, but additional costs include airfares, lodging during residencies, meals, and miscellaneous personal expenses. An applicant might save some money transferring up to 12 credits into his specialization from Bachelor’s degree.

Virtually anyone can apply for the degree, however, a successful applicant must provide Bachelor’s degree obtained at an institution accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting agency or any other internationally recognized institution, official bachelor transcripts with a grade point average higher than 2.7 on a 4.0 scale, 2 recommendation letters signed by professionals who can assess your ability to succeed in counseling, a 3-6 page essay, CV, and a $50 application fee.

University of Texas, Tyler, TX

The Master’s degree in School Counseling course at University of Texas at Tyler offers a sound foundation to prepare competent, creative, diverse school counselors capable of assuming an active role in school counseling, leadership, promoting academic success and equal opportunities for learning. The graduates have fundamental knowledge of counseling programs in schools, and are proficient in methods of development, planning, implementation, evaluation and monitoring. There is always demand in specialists graduating from the university.

The course only takes 36 credit hours comparing to 42-48 in most of the other institutions. An applicant can choose between 100% online and hybrid education with several residencies. However, The University of Texas only offers to enroll to the School Counseling program in summer, which potentially might warn off the applicants with non-flexible schedules. The price of the 36-credit program is $24,494.

Admission terms are common with three recommendation letters, statement of purpose and satisfactory GRE and GPA score among major required documents.

The program’s course was designed to comply with the Texas School Counselor

standards and the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) ethical guidelines. Besides, the TExES professional school counselors certification examination recognizes 100% of Master’s Degrees in School Counseling, obtained at The University of Texas at Tyler, which puts it on the list of the best programs of the kind in Texas and the USA.

Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ

Distance education at Seton Hall University’s College of Education and Human Services, based in New Jersey, is arguably one of the most serious and extensive on the market. The Master’s degree in School Counseling will require two to two and a half years of study with the price for the 48-credit course starting from $35,500. The price covers tuition, accommodation and meals during two campus-based residencies. Admission application fee, transportation to and from residencies, literature, computer services and internet access are not included.

In return the University prepares competent specialists, capable of counseling work in ethnically and socially diverse educational establishments. In the fast-changing global society these specialists will consult the students and maximize their potential.

The students will go through foundation, counseling, clinical courses before completing the school counseling internship. Here are some of the skills the graduates will master during the course:

  • Promote the academic, personal and career success of the students.
  • Enhance a positive environment for studying through consultations with parents, teachers and other school staff.
  • Provide counseling, and identify the services that would help students achieve maximum development.
  • Help students and their families ease through educational problems
  • Prevent students and their families from possible educational crisis, and plan strategies to help them make it through the difficulties.

The College of Education and Human Services has the NCATE accreditation and New Jersey Department of Education has approved the program.

Lamar University, Beaumont, TX

If you are willing to complete your Master’s degree in School Counseling but are not ready to pay over thirty thousand dollars for online education, another Texas-based institution, Lamar University, is here for you. It is considered to be one of the most affordable on the market with the basic price for 36 hours of coursework starting from just $9000 and the program length as short as 18 months. Students will take advantage of the program’s format that allows them to complete it much faster than the traditional campus-based degrees.

Upon completing the Master’s Degree in School Counseling, the specialists will be capable of providing comprehensive services in school counseling. To apply for the course one should possess a bachelor’s degree, be a certified teacher, willing to continue his or her career in education, proving professional consultation for students. The program corresponds to the standards of the state of Texas.

However, the University has some restrictions for applicants. They must be US citizens or possess permanent US residency, and come from certain states, in which the University can operate. Also, the applicants are required to have at least a 2.5 GPA in the Bachelor’s degree and will be asked to pass the GRE should they have less than 3.0 GPA.

Liberty University Online, Lynchburg, VA

Liberty University based in Lynchburg, VA, pioneered distance education from 1985 and has been a leader in the industry. The institution offers all classes from a Christian perspective by enthusiastic professors taking teaching as a service, more than just work.

Among dozens of online degrees the university enrolls applicants for the Master of Education in School Counseling course which covers the following disciplines:

  • counseling skills
  • psychology skills
  • ethnicity counseling
  • family counseling
  • career guidance and more

Upon completing the degree a graduate will be able to work in public, private and Christian schools as a counselor.

The program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and is approved by the state as a program for advanced licensure or endorsements.

The applicants are admitted for the online course on common terms, however, there is a requirement to have a minimum of 3.0 GPA on their Bachelor’s degree. To finish the course one will have to complete 48 credit hours and four on-campus intensives, which makes studying at Liberty University quite complicated for non-Virginia residents and international students.

The tuition fees for the course are $24,960. Additional costs such as transportation to and from four residencies, personal expenses are not included. However, a student can transfer up to twelve credits from his Bachelor’s degree.

All of the above-mentioned universities can offer loans.


Learn more about how to become a counselor.

Dmitri Breakston