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2023 Most Affordable Online Master's Degrees in School Counseling

By the OnlineU team | Updated 12/2/2022
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An online master's degree in school counseling prepares students to work in a counselor's role at K-12 schools. Because this role involves mentoring and guiding young students through their most formative years, students are required to earn a master's degree to become professional school counselors. Coursework covers behavioral development, conflict resolution, professional ethics, and psychopathology. 

In many cases, students choose between two tracks based on whether they are pursuing state licensure or not. Plenty of affordable online colleges offer a direct pathway to earn a counseling license, while others provide alternative options for those who intend to enter the workforce directly after their master's. Others may want to go on to complete their doctoral degree in counseling.

View our methodology for details about rankings or learn more about us. You can also check out our overall list of the most affordable online degrees for more inspiration.

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All tuition numbers were manually collected and verified
Rank School Locations Annual Tuition
# 1 #1 Fort Hays State University Hays (KS) $4,478
# 2 #2 University of Central Arkansas Conway (AR) $5,850
# 3 #3 Arkansas State University Jonesboro (AR) $5,958
# 4 #4 Adams State University Alamosa (CO) $6,525
# 5 #5 Chadron State College Chadron (NE) $6,840
# 6 #6 Southern Arkansas University Magnolia (AR) $7,395
# 7 #7 Touro University Nevada Henderson (NV) $7,470
# 8 #8 Lamar University Beaumont (TX) $7,788
# 9 #9 Delta State University Cleveland (MS) $8,360
# 10 #10 Salem College Winston Salem (NC) $8,700
#1
#1
Annual Tuition: $4,478
Annual Tuition: $4,478
Annual Tuition: $4,478

Fort Hays State University (FHSU) is a public institution offering a Master of Science in Counseling - School Counseling requiring 48 credit hours. Typically, students complete this online degree in three years on a full-time study schedule. FHSU has an acceptance rate of 91%, with 57% of students graduating.

Online students at FHSU utilize the Blackboard learning management system (LMS) for their remote learning needs. Virtual courses may come in an asynchronous or synchronous format. The curriculum for this program focuses on developing the academic and social skills students need to succeed in a professional counseling environment. Among the required coursework, such as Management of Counseling Programs, Lifestyle and Career Development, and Lifespan Human Development, students must also finish an internship and practicum to build real-world experience. These experiences contribute to their license requirements upon graduation. Alumni can become eligible for roles as school counselors, careers counselors, and social and community service managers.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 96%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 4,411
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,453
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
#2
#2
Annual Tuition: $5,850
Annual Tuition: $5,850
Annual Tuition: $5,850

University of Central Arkansas (UCA) is a public university with a Master of Science in School Counseling requiring between 45 and 48 credit hours. Most students complete this program in one to three years, depending on how much time per semester they can dedicate to studying. Students choose from two tracks: (1) Initial Licensure Track and (2)Add-On Licensure Track. The Initial Licensure Track is designed for students who do not have a teacher's license, while the Add-On Licensure Track is meant for those who already possess a license. The acceptance rate at UCA is 94%, with 44% of students graduating.

Blackboard is the primary LMS software for online students, allowing them to complete their work through asynchronous sessions that are 100% online. Each curriculum track helps prepare students for professional work in a K-12 school as a counselor, with core classes such as Foundations of School Counseling, Individual and Group Counseling Skills, and Career Guidance. Additionally, a practicum and internship are required for both tracks. After graduation, students may pursue school counseling roles.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 98%
  • Average SATs: 960 -1160
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 348
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 850
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
#3
#3

Arkansas State University

Jonesboro (AR)
Annual Tuition: $5,958
Annual Tuition: $5,958
Annual Tuition: $5,958

Arkansas State University (A-State) is a public institution offering two remote master's degrees in school counseling: Master of Science in Education in School Counseling - Crisis and Trauma and Master of Science in Education in School Counseling – Special Populations. Each online program requires 48 credit hours, which students may complete in as little as two years on a full-time schedule. As a whole, 67% of students are admitted to A-State, whereas 51% earn their diplomas.

Students at A-State use Canvas, a popular LMS, to complete their degrees online via asynchronous coursework. The curriculum differs slightly between each program, with the Crisis and Trauma degree focusing on how trauma affects students' education. In contrast, the Special Populations degree focuses on supporting students with disabilities. Core classes for both programs include Group Counseling, Theories of Professional School Counseling, and Counseling Children and Adolescents. A-State also offers a Master of Science in College Student Personnel Services for those who want to counsel college students about their careers and education. Graduates of these programs may apply for specific school counseling roles related to their areas of expertise.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 97%
  • Average SATs: 1013 -1220
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,064
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 3,414
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
#4
#4

Adams State University

Alamosa (CO)
Annual Tuition: $6,525
Annual Tuition: $6,525
Annual Tuition: $6,525

Adams State University is a public institution with a Master of Arts in Counseling - School Counseling requiring 60 credit hours. Students may complete this program in around two years if studying on a full-time schedule. Importantly, online students must attend campus for one week during two consecutive summers. Since Adams accepts 100% of applicants who want to attend the school, there's a slightly lower graduation rate of 38%.

At Adams, students use Blackboard for all remote coursework, which is delivered in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. The curriculum for this program teaches students to create their own school counseling program through practical and theoretical studies. In addition to a practicum and professional internship, several required courses include Life Span Development, Group Counseling, and Career Development. Students who earn their degrees may pursue school counseling roles in K-12 institutions.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 98%
  • Average SATs: 890 -1090
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 367
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,057
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
#5
#5

Chadron State College

Chadron (NE)
Annual Tuition: $6,840
Annual Tuition: $6,840
Annual Tuition: $6,840

Chadron State College (CSC) is a public college offering a Master of Arts in Education - School Counseling. This online degree program requires 39 credit hours and may take students between one and two years to complete on a full-time study schedule. All students who apply are accepted into CSC, with 43% who graduate.

Sakai is the online LMS used by CSC students, with courses delivered asynchronously. This allows students to study on their own time. The curriculum prepares students for professional work as school counselors through two options: Option 1 is for students who already possess a valid Nebraska teaching certificate, and Option 2 is for those who still need to meet their licensure requirements. Example core classes include Fundamentals of Assessment, Multicultural Counseling, and Counseling Theories. Field experience is also necessary for each program by way of an internship and practicum. Graduates are prepared for K-12 counseling roles.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 96%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 601
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 466
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
#6
#6
Annual Tuition: $7,395
Annual Tuition: $7,395
Annual Tuition: $7,395

Southern Arkansas University (SAU) is a public university with a Master of Education in College Counseling and Student Affairs that requires 51 credit hours. By taking two classes per semester, students may complete this program in three years. Overall, 69% of students are accepted to SAU, while 40% graduate with degrees.

Blackboard is the LMS used by remote students at SAU, who can complete the majority of the coursework online. The curriculum prepares students for professional counseling through skills in communication, personal and professional responsibility, and critical thinking. Along with required courses — such as Career Counseling: Theory and Practice, Counseling Theories, and Research and Program Evaluation — students must also complete a supervised practicum and an internship. Alums may pursue administrative, leadership, and counseling roles in K-12 schools.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Average SATs: 966 -1168
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 371
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 634
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
#7
#7

Touro University Nevada

Henderson (NV)
Annual Tuition: $7,470
Annual Tuition: $7,470
Annual Tuition: $7,470

Touro University Nevada (TUN) is a private university with a Master of Education - School Counseling requiring 36 credit hours. While studying full time, students may complete their degree in around two years. TUN has a graduation rate of 88%.

Touro students use Canvas for their online courses, which are taken in a cohort-based format and mostly online. The program is suitable for students with prior work or life commitments. The curriculum is designed for certified teachers and non-certified students looking to advance their careers in school counseling. Some required courses include Legal Issues in School Counseling, Child and Family Counseling, and Individual Counseling in a School Setting. An in-person internship is also required. Graduates may explore various counseling careers in an educational environment.

  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 66
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 290
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE
#8
#8

Lamar University

Beaumont (TX)
Annual Tuition: $7,788
Annual Tuition: $7,788
Annual Tuition: $7,788

Lamar University (LU) is a public institution with an online Master of Education in Counseling and Development - Professional School Counseling. This degree requires the completion of 60 credit hours, which most students finish in as little as 30 months on a full-time schedule. The acceptance rate at LU is 83%, while 37% of enrolled students graduate.

Students at LU use Blackboard LMS, allowing them to complete their degrees 100% online and on a flexible study schedule. The curriculum teaches students to use ethical, developmental, and gender-appropriate strategies to learn how they can best counsel young students. Core classes include Human Growth and Development, Counseling Skills, and Multicultural Counseling. A practicum and internship are also required, both of which require in-person fieldwork. Graduates become eligible for a professional career in school counseling.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 82%
  • Average SATs: 960 -1140
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 2,222
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 6,150
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
#9
#9

Delta State University

Cleveland (MS)
Annual Tuition: $8,360
Annual Tuition: $8,360
Annual Tuition: $8,360

Delta State University (DSU) is a public university with an online Master of Education in Counseling - School Counseling. Students must take 60 credit hours to graduate, which most complete in around two years while studying full time. DSU's acceptance rate is 100%, with 41% of students graduating.

DSU students use Canvas' LMS to complete their degree fully online, though faculty deliver courses in a synchronous format rather than at students' own pace. The curriculum covers practical and theoretical studies to develop professional skills. Career Development and Placement, Group Counseling, and Counseling Theory are among the required courses. A counseling pre-practicum and school counseling internship are also required. Graduates may apply for school counseling roles.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
  • Average SATs: 980 -1250
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 163
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 483
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
#10
#10

Salem College

Winston Salem (NC)
Annual Tuition: $8,700
Annual Tuition: $8,700
Annual Tuition: $8,700

Salem College is a private college with a Master of Education in School Counseling requiring 48 credit hours. Typically, full-time students complete this online graduate program in 36 months. While 85% of students are accepted in Salem, 58% graduate with degrees.

Salem students use Moodle as their web-based course management system, where all coursework is completed online through a cohort model. This program's curriculum focuses on skill development and ensuring students have a firm understanding of various aspects of counseling, such as advocacy, assessment, ethics, and evaluation. Required coursework includes 21st Century Career and Educational Counseling Development, Managing the Comprehensive School Counseling Program, and Introduction to School Counseling Profession. While students can take these courses virtually, they must finish the internship experience and two-weekend seminars on campus. Graduates may pursue careers as school counseling in K-12 institutions.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 98%
  • Average SATs: 910 -1140
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 0
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 66
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

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