Online Master’s Programs in School Counseling

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Updated on: 09/19/2018

Students seeking a master’s in school counseling are no doubt drawn to the field for altruistic purposes, but a bonus is that the field is expected to grow at a higher than average rate between 2016 and 2026. A quality online master’s program will give you the tools to help students face the variety of unique challenges that crop up in today’s world and to become fully developed human beings. Find out what you’ll learn in a school counseling master’s program, the top programs and ways to pay for your education.

Best Online Master's in School Counseling 2018-2019

Get Seal Methodology


Best Online Master's in School Counseling 2018-2019

Deciding which college to go to is no easy task, so ACO evaluated more than 3,500 colleges to give you the information you need to make the search more manageable. Our 2018 college rankings are based on statistical data from trusted sources, eligibility criteria and various ranking factors

Data Sources: Eligibility Criteria:
  • Each college must be accredited
  • Each college must be a not-for-profit institution
  • Each college must be located in a state (US territories and Washington DC were excluded)
  • Each college must have at least one online program 1
  • Each college must have a maximum four-year tuition of $25,000 or a maximum two-year tuition of $5,000
Ranking Factors:
  • Affordability
  • Quality
  • Flexibility
  • Program

Several individual data points were objectively evaluated to calculate a score for each ranking factor listed above. For affordability, the most impactful data points were tuition2 and grants; for quality, graduation and acceptance rates; for flexibility, part-time enrollment options; and for program, degrees granted in that specific program area. Each score was then weighted, with affordability being the most highly weighted factor for all ACO rankings.

1 Best Vocational Programs included data for both online and campus programs.

2 Both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our rankings tool currently only displays in-state rates.

  • A dash in our Rankings Tool indicates IPEDS data was not available.
  • Tuition displayed in in-state and per year unless stated otherwise.
2-Year Schools

We’ve created the following list of the best online master's in school counseling programs by compiling data gathered from the US Department of Education, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and information provided by the included colleges and universities. All of these schools are accredited, which helps guarantee a higher degree of quality and trustworthiness for these programs.

Rank School Name Location Tuition Financial Aid Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate # of Online Programs Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Liberty University Lynchburg, Virginia $8,051 88% 24% 55% 2 Yes Yes Yes

Distance learners at Liberty University can earn a Master of Education in School Counseling entirely online. Accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), students in this program prepare for careers in K-12 as school counselors in Christian, public and private schools. The curriculum focuses on psychology skills, ethics, instructional techniques, family counseling and career guidance. Liberty students learn how to provide emotionally safe environments for students based on students' holistic needs. As a Christian school, online learners can expect their professors to employ a Biblical perspective when teaching course content. Students complete a total of 48 credit hours to be eligible for graduation. Liberty students take 15 credits of advanced education courses such as Understanding Educational Research and Assessment and Foundations of Exceptionality. Additionally, online learners explore a 24-credit school counseling concentration including classes like Professional, Ethical and Legal Issues in Counseling; Structured Groups; Counseling Theories and Techniques and School Counseling Program Development and Evaluation. This master's degree includes 3 mandatory counseling practicums or "intensives" that require students to be on-campus in Lynchburg, Virginia, for weeklong or weekend-long sessions. Incoming students may be eligible to transfer up to 50% of the required credits for this degree. While most Liberty students complete this degree in under 2 years, all students must complete degree requirements, including a 6-credit internship, in under 7 years. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher and must submit their official transcripts. No GRE score is required for admission.

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2 Missouri Baptist University Saint Louis, Missouri $9,405 98% 51% 44% 1 Yes Yes Yes

Students may earn an online Master of Arts in School Counseling at Missouri Baptist University. This degree prepares students to meet the Missouri certification requirements for elementary and secondary school guidance counselors. With a valid certification, graduates of the program can work as guidance counselors in K-12 environments. Students who enroll in this degree take courses through an online learning platform called Canvas and have access to a variety of online learning resources. Online learning tutorials, academic support staff and a help desk are all available to students throughout the program. For an optimal online learning experience, students are encouraged to have a desktop or laptop that is 5 years old or newer, a minimum internet speed of 512 kbps and the latest version of Chrome, Internet Explorer or Firefox. This 51-credit-hour degree is taught from a Christian perspective and requires students to take core courses such as Ethical, Legal and Professional Issues in Counseling, Multicultural Counseling and Child and Adolescent Counseling. Students who are interested in this program are encouraged to apply by submitting their official undergraduate transcripts and by working with an enrollment counselor who can guide them through the application process. To graduate with a Master of Arts in School Counseling from Missouri Baptist University, students must earn a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. In addition, they are only permitted to earn one "C" in their coursework while completing this degree. Although most students graduate in 3 years, this program is flexible and designed to fit with the schedules of working professionals.

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3 North Carolina State University at Raleigh Raleigh, North Carolina $8,088 48% 48% 78% 2 No Yes Yes

A hybrid Master of Education in College Counseling and Student Development is offered at North Carolina State University. This program prepares students who desire to work as counselors or advisers in counseling centers, diversity offices, advising offices and other student service agencies in college and university environments. Prospective students can apply by submitting their official undergraduate transcripts, GRE or MAT scores and 3 letters of recommendation. The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs and includes core courses such as Career Counseling and Development, Introduction to College Counseling and Student Development, and Theories and Tech in Counseling. This is a 3-year, part-time cohort degree that requires students to take courses in the fall, winter, spring and summer semesters. During their final year, students must attend campus to complete some courses. Online courses consist of video lectures and promote interaction with the instruction and all classmates. They are easily accessed from WolfWare, a proprietary North Carolina State University website. In the event students experience technical difficulties while taking an online course, they can contact the help desk via email or phone and receive prompt assistance. Students are also paired with a program coordinator and adviser who can answer any questions and ensure they are on track to graduate. Upon completion of this degree, many students apply for licensure in the state of North Carolina. Those who don't live in North Carolina are encouraged to speak to a program adviser regarding licensure in their particular state.

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4 Southern Arkansas University Main Campus Magnolia, Arkansas $5,312 80% 69% 38% 2 No Yes Yes

Southern Arkansas University offers a Master of Education in School Counseling that can be completed through an online or hybrid format. It was created for students who hope to pursue careers as school counselors and to fulfill the K-12 school counseling requirements in Arkansas and the majority of other states. Admission requirements for this degree include a minimum GPA of 3.0 and GRE or MAT scores. This 48-credit-hour program allows students to select the add-on licensure or initial licensure route. The K-12 add-on license is for students who hold a valid Arkansas teaching license and would like to earn this credential. Those in the add-on licensure program must complete a 600-hour internship, 300 hours in an elementary school setting and 300 hours in a high school environment. The K-12 initial license is for students who do not have a teaching license but satisfy the requirements of the program. Regardless of whether students pursue the add-on licensure or initial licensure, they will take a variety of core courses, such as Foundations of School Counseling, Counseling in a Diverse Society, and Ethical, Legal and Professional Issues in Counseling. Students must also complete a practicum and internship in an elementary and high school setting. To graduate, students are required to earn a minimum GPA of 3.0. After graduation, students have the training they need to address the developmental needs of children and teens. They'll also be able to implement the Comprehensive Developmental Guidance Programs that are consistent with the American School Counselor Association's National Model and National Standards.

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5 North Carolina Central University Durham, North Carolina $4,647 82% 67% 49% 2 Yes Yes Yes

At North Carolina Central University, students may enroll in an online Master of Arts in School Counseling that is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs and endorsed by the International Registry of Counselor Education Programs. This program prepares students for licensure in North Carolina and work as professional school counselors. Students who would like to pursue this degree are required to hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.75 as well as submit their GRE scores, an application essay and 2 letters of recommendation. In addition, they must undergo an interview with the admission committee. During the interview, the committee will determine whether they show signs of maturity, flexibility and an ability to handle feedback appropriately. Students who are currently enrolled in a master's program but would like to transfer into the Master of Arts in School Counseling program at North Carolina Central University may be able to transfer 12 credit hours. In order for credit hours to be transferred, they must be approved by the program advisers and be less than 2 years old. All courses in this program are taught through Blackboard, a platform that can give students the opportunity to access assignments, take exams and participate in discussions. To graduate, students must complete 51 credit hours and 700 hours of field experience. After graduation, students will have the knowledge and skills necessary to assist K-12 students with their academic, career and personal development.

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6 Angelo State University San Angelo, Texas $3,783 63% 74% 34% 2 No Yes Yes

Angelo State University gives students the chance to earn an online Master of Education in Counseling and Guidance. This program is intended for students who are interested in pursuing careers as counselors in public schools, colleges, universities and other academic environments. All courses are 8 weeks long, giving students the opportunity to complete the program in less than 2 years if they wish. Although the GRE is not required for admission, students who are interested in this program must submit their official college or university transcripts and hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.75. Those who hope to become certified in Texas must have 2 years of teaching experience in a public school setting. Carr graduate scholarships are available to students and are based on students' undergraduate GPAs. All students are considered for these scholarships once they are admitted into the Master of Education in Counseling and Guidance program. Students who enroll in this degree are encouraged to work with an academic adviser to determine their plan of study. They must complete 36 credit hours, including courses such as Social and Cultural Influences, Professional Writing for Educators and Career and Occupational Counseling. Once they have finished all their coursework, students must apply for and complete a Comprehensive Program Review. Upon completion of the master's degree, many students sit for the Texas Examination of Educator Standards (TExES) for the Professional Certificate for School Counselors.

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7 Fort Hays State University Hays, Kansas $3,398 73% 91% 44% 1 No Yes Yes

At Fort Hays State University, students may complete a Master of Science in Counseling online. Students who are interested in earning this degree must submit GRE or MAT test scores, proof of a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their last 60 hours of undergraduate credit, 2 letters of reference, a professional goals statement and official transcripts of all of their college coursework. Those who enroll in this program will learn how to assist students in developing the academic and social skills necessary to succeed in today's ever-evolving world. This program can be completed in 3 years and consists of 48 credit hours as well as a practicum and internship. Students will work with a faculty adviser to plan a program of study that is right for their particular needs. Although most courses are offered in the spring and fall, there are some courses that are only offered once a year. A few examples of the core courses in this program include Foundations of Counseling, Lifestyle and Career Development, and Management of Counseling Programs. In order to graduate with a Master of Science in Counseling, students must pass the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination. This exam covers 8 core areas, including human growth and development, social and cultural foundations, helping relationships, group work, career and lifestyle development, appraisal, research and program evaluation, and professional orientation and ethics. To pass the exam, students must achieve a score greater than 1 standard deviation below the national average. After graduating with a Master of Science in Counseling, most students obtain a school counselor license in Kansas.

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8 Chadron State College Chadron, Nebraska $3,600 66% - 39% 1 No Yes Yes

Students can earn a Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in school counseling at Chadron State College. This degree is offered in a hybrid format and designed for students who hope to work as school counselors at public and private elementary, middle or high school environments. Those who are interested in enrolling in this program must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.75 and submit their official undergraduate transcripts. In addition, they are required to complete an interview process and attend the counseling program orientation. This degree offers three paths for students who seek to work as school counselors in Nebraska. Path 1 is for students who hold a valid teaching certificate and involves the completion of 39 credit hours and the passage of the Praxis Professional School Counselor Subject Assessment. Path 2 is for students who do not have a bachelor's degree in education or a valid teaching license but wish to become school counselors. These students are required to complete 39 credit hours and 12 hours of counseling alternative option coursework as well as meet the Nebraska State Human Relations and Nebraska State Special Education Training requirements. They must also pass the Praxis Professional School Counselor Subject Assessment. Path 3 is for students without a 4-year degree in education or a valid teaching license who hope to work as clinical mental health counselors. These students must complete 60 credit hours, an internship in a school setting, 12 hours of counseling alternative option coursework and the Nebraska State Human Relations and Nebraska State Special Education Training requirements. Passage of the Praxis Professional School Counselor (5421) Subject Assessment is also mandatory. Students can work with an academic advisor to determine which path is right for them.

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9 University of Tennessee at Martin Martin, Tennessee $8,502 58% 67% 50% 1 Yes Yes Yes

At the University of Tennessee, students have the opportunity to earn a Master of Science in Education. Students can concentrate in school counseling or clinical mental health or pursue a school counseling endorsement. Those who complete any of these programs can obtain licensure as a clinical mental health counselor or school counselor. To gain acceptance into the program, applicants are required to submit GRE scores, a 2-page essay that explains relevant school counseling experience, a resume and 3 letters of recommendation from teachers, principals, professors, supervisors and/or employers as well as pass a background check. Students who are interested in the school counseling concentration are also required to submit documentation of teaching experience. The school counseling and clinical mental health concentrations involve core courses such as Theory and Techniques of Counseling, Principles of Crisis Intervention and Practicum in Counseling. They also include an internship that gives students the opportunity to gain supervised experience in their profession of choice. To meet the internship requirement, students must complete 300 hours and submit a final log of those hours that is signed by their internship supervisor. Of these hours, 120 must involve direct client contact. Direct client contact includes activities such as individual counseling, group counseling or intake assessments. Indirect client contact refers to keeping records, meetings or other administrative tasks. In addition to completing a practicum and internship, all counseling students must attend a 4-day residency program, which is offered in January and June. This residency program allows students to participate in individual and group meetings while learning about specific counseling topics and role-playing techniques. It's intended to give students the chance to meet face-to-face and expand their counseling knowledge.

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10 University of West Alabama Livingston, Alabama $6,390 57% 53% 36% 1 Yes Yes Yes

University of West Alabama offers a Master of Arts in Teaching that is certified by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Current teachers who would like to further their education, enhance their teaching skills and advance their careers are encouraged to consider the certification option where they earn an Alabama master's level teaching certificate. Teachers who are not in Alabama are encouraged to check the teacher requirements in their state to determine whether this program will approve them for certification. Those who hope to change the subject they currently teach or change their career to education can opt for the non-certification route. The non-certification curriculum consists of 33 credit hours, while the certification curriculum involves 37 credit hours. Both curriculums include a variety of core courses, such as Techniques of Educational Research and Advanced Educational Psychology. Students in the certification and non-certification program must complete 3 courses from a field of concentration, such as biology, history, English language arts, mathematics, physical education, science and social science. Once enrolled, they will gain access to a personal success coach who will be there to answer any questions and ensure they are on the right track to graduate. University of West Alabama offers 5 terms per year that are each 8 weeks long so that students can complete 30 credits in 1 year if they choose to take a full load. While students are encouraged to take courses at a pace that works for them, most earn a Master of Arts in Teaching in about 1 year. Transfer students may transfer up to 9 semester hours of graduate credit from an accredited institution.

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11 Edinboro University of Pennsylvania Edinboro, Pennsylvania $8,694 74% 95% 52% 1 Yes No Yes

Edinboro University's online Master of Arts in Counseling offers concentrations in art therapy, clinical mental health, college counseling, clinical rehabilitation and clinical mental health counseling, and school counseling. The art therapy concentration was the first online art therapy program in the country and was designed for students who want to pursue the Art Therapy Credential (ATR) and Pennsylvania Counselor Licensure (LPC). Students who enroll in the clinical mental health program will learn how to enhance the mental health of families, couples and groups and become effective clinical practitioners. The college counseling program prepares graduates to provide quality counseling services in various collegiate environments. Those who enroll in the clinical rehabilitation and clinical mental health counseling program develop skills to help individuals with a variety of disabilities improve their quality of life. The school counseling program teaches students how to become educational leaders and assist the social, academic and career development of school-aged students. To apply for the Master of Arts in Counseling, students are required to submit their official undergraduate transcripts, 3 letters of recommendation and a 500-word writing sample that explains why they want to become a counselor or their opinion of the most important characteristics of a counselor. Those who hope to enroll in the art therapy concentration are also required to submit a link to their online portfolio and complete certain psychology and studio arts credits. All concentrations except for art therapy include core courses such as Human Development Across the Lifespan, Career Development and Life Planning, and Organization and Development of Programs in the Helping Professions.

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12 Kansas State University Manhattan, Kansas $9,670 71% 94% 61% 1 No Yes Yes

Kansas State University offers a Master of Science in School Counseling. This program is accredited by the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs and involves a combination of online and on-campus courses. It can be completed in 24 months and prepares future school counselors to support students academically, socially and emotionally. Its curriculum allows students to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to cope with the milestones that K-12 students often experience. Students who enroll in this 48-credit program will be required to complete 27 credit hours of core courses, 9 credit hours of research and appraisal courses and 12 credit hours of clinical courses. A few examples of the core courses include Issues and Best Practices in Elementary School Counseling, Counseling Program Management and Development Across the Lifespan for School Counselors. The clinical courses involve a clinical internship, in which students must complete 600 hours of individual counseling, classroom lessons and group work. Applicants seeking admission into the Master of Science in School Counseling program must submit their official undergraduate transcripts and hold a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0. Those who have an undergraduate GPA between 2.65 and 2.99 may be considered if they submit their GRE or MAT test results. All applicants are required to submit 3 letters of recommendation and a statement of goals, which should outline their professional goals and how being accepted to the program can support them. After graduating with a Master of Science in School Counseling, many students apply for the Kansas State Department of Education school counselor license.

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13 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, New York $15,156 83% 78% 32% 1 Yes Yes Yes

Founded in 1950, Mercy College is a private nonprofit institution and serves approximately 11,300 students. The Master of Science in Counseling program with a concentration in School Counseling requires 48-credit hours for graduation and is designed for full- and part-time online students. Those who complete the program are qualified for internships that lead to counseling licensure in New York. Students in the counseling program may also choose a specialization in Mental Health Counseling or Bilingual School Counseling. All Mercy College students must demonstrate mastery of core counseling competencies, following the guidelines of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational programs: Human Growth and Development, Social and Cultural Foundations, Theories of Counseling, Lifestyle and Career Development, Appraisal, Research and Program Evaluation and Professional Orientation and Ethics. At the core of your counseling degree are foundational and exploratory courses such as Counseling and Ethics, Human Development, Career Development and Counseling and Research Methodology. Full-time students may register for up to 12 credits a semester. Tuition in this master's program is $872 per credit. Students may be able to save money by transferring credit from previously earned graduate courses, pending approval of the program director. Applicants must submit 2 letters of recommendation, a 2-3 page essay outlining motivations for pursuing the degree and profession and a resume. Official undergraduate transcripts reflecting a 3.0 GPA or higher are also required. Distance learners can also receive help with their resume, interview skills and job or internship search through the Career Services Office.

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14 Oregon State University Corvallis, Oregon $12,150 67% 77% 67% 1 No Yes Yes

Oregon State University is an international public institution that was established in 1868, and currently has about 30,000 students enrolled. Online students can take advantage of the school's hybrid Master of Counseling in School Counseling degree. This program offers a curriculum that is evenly split between online and in-person classes. In-person class meetings are held two weekends each term in Salem, Oregon. Each student must complete an online practicum and internship courses, with specific meeting times for "live" online instruction, during their second and third years. With this degree, you prepare for careers in group counseling, education system consulting and leadership roles in education. You will also be ready to deliver comprehensive school counseling to all types of students. As a hybrid learner, you will take courses such as Theory and Techniques of Counseling; Research Methods in Education; Crisis, Grief and Loss; Cross-Cultural Counseling and Special Education Issues to earn a total of 75 credits for graduation. Incoming graduate students may be eligible to transfer up to 9 credits toward their master's degree. Courses at Oregon State cost $538 per credit and begin during the summer term. Applications are due by March 1 to be eligible for the summer term. Prospective students must already hold a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Hybrid learners have access to Oregon State's Graduate Writing Center, Graduate Student Success Center and supplement learning seminars.

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15 University of the Southwest Hobbs, New Mexico $14,376 99% 66% 16% 1 Yes No Yes

Online students at the University of the Southwest can pursue a Master of Science in Education with a variety of specializations. You may choose from concentrations in Education Specialist, Educational Administration, Educational Diagnostics, Exercise Science, Special Education, School Counseling or Mental Health Counseling. Those pursuing the specialization in Mental Health Counseling take all of the courses necessary to earn licensure in New Mexico and many other states. Online students prepare to be professional counselors through courses and training in human growth and development and psychopathology. USW's program offers a variety of electives to supplement the core curriculum, such as Play Therapy, Program Development and Management, Clinical Supervision, Addictions Counseling and Psychopharmacology. USW offers 2 types of Mental Health Counseling programs, depending on whether or not a student needs 48 or 60 credit hours to be eligible for licensure in their home state. Both Mental Health Counseling tracks require a practicum and internship with supervised work in professional settings with licensed therapists and clients. Admission to this graduate program is open to qualified applicants who possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Applicants for the master's in Mental Health Counseling should have a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit a 500-word personal essay, 3 letters of recommendation and a signed policy statement. Incoming students may transfer up to 12 credits of graduate coursework. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis with courses beginning every 8 weeks. Upon graduation, you will obtain a temporary counseling license for New Mexico. Then graduates sit for the National Counselor Examination to become fully-licensed and prepare for work in other states as necessary.

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16 University of Massachusetts-Boston Boston, Massachusetts $16,863 66% 69% 47% 1 Yes Yes Yes

At the University of Massachusetts-Boston, you can earn your Master of Education in School Counseling mostly online or on campus. Online students must attend a 2-week program during their first summer semester. It takes place at the UMass Dartmouth campus where students complete 2 clinical courses. All other courses are completed online except for a practicum and internship. While enrolled, online students are highly encouraged to follow the curriculum order as closely as possible to ensure they meet all the prerequisite requirements for courses. The sequence also prepares students for field-based experiences required at the end of the second fall and spring semesters. In this major, you will take a disparate set of counseling and education courses including Counseling Theory and Practice, Child and Adolescent Counseling, Orientation to Professional School Counseling and Collaborative Consultation in Schools. Courses are 12 weeks in duration and meet once per week. Your practicum and internship requirements may be completed out of state at a convenient location, provided you have approval from your supervisor. UMass uses a cohort learning model that requires all online students to enroll as full-time students, taking 9 credits per semester. Part-time options are only available for on-campus students. All students majoring in school counseling begin their coursework during the summer semester and should be marked as such on your application. Applicants should have a minimum 3.0 GPA and at least one year of teaching experience. There is limited space in this competitive program and students should apply as early as possible before the Jan. 2 deadline. A UMass distance learner, you will have access to academic advising and support as well as career services and internship assistance.

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What Can I Learn in an Online Master's in School Counseling Program?

Coursework in master’s in school counseling programs will prepare students to sit for licensing exams, as well as meet individual state requirements (which can vary). Master’s programs also prepare individuals for the transition from student to working professional through internships, assistantships and other practical applications of classroom material in a clinical setting, under direct supervision.

Typical coursework will focus on fostering diversity, easing students through rough transitions and helping individuals flourish academically. Students who earn their master’s in school counseling degree will emerge with the following skills:

  • Understanding in how to develop and run counseling programs designed for students
  • Thorough knowledge of child development and how it relates to counseling services
  • Knowledge of the legal and ethical requirements of a school counselor role
  • In-depth data surrounding the socio-economic issues related to counseling

What common courses are offered in a master’s in school counseling program?

While specific coursework will vary by institution, there are many common courses across all school counseling master’s programs. Expect to see some of the following coursework in an online master’s in school counseling program:

Introduction to School Counseling

This course is to be the foundation of a student’s education and the development of a future career as a school counselor. Students learn everything from program management to the responsibilities and professional guidelines that provide structure to this field. Students should walk away from this course understanding the factors affecting modern education and students in K-12 schools and the role of school counselors as an integral part of providing a quality education to students of all backgrounds.

Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling

Consisting mainly of lecture and discussion, students taking this course prepare to become school counselors by understanding the complex framework of legal and ethical issues that structure this profession. Students should emerge from this course with the foundation to begin creating an individual professional identity, and the ethical and legal responsibility they hold to their clients.

Advanced Child Development and Play Therapy

Students will explore child development and how it relates to the ability to grow and learn in an educational setting. Curriculum will provide the theories and historical context of play therapy and will explore the practical applications of these principles.

Career Counseling in School Settings

Exploring topics as they relate to aiding students in career, education and life planning, students will get a sense of the common resources and theories behind career exploration. Students will be exposed to current theory behind developing curriculum and get a sense of the issues that affect students of different backgrounds as they move forward toward college and a professional life.

Child Maltreatment

This course is a detailed look at the scientific theories, research and the legal and social consequences of child maltreatment, including abuse and neglect. Students will learn the legal and ethical issues behind reporting child abuse, intervention and advocating for patients as it relates to maltreatment. It is primarily a lecture and discussion course.

Organization of School Counseling

An overview of the ASCA National Model (Foundation, Delivery, Management and Accountability), students will familiarize themselves with the role of the school counselor as a part of the educational system, and the role of school counselor as an advocate for social justice. Utilizing data-based evidence to guide decisions in planning, evaluating and implementing an effective and well-rounded school counseling program, students will learn how to improve schools to respond to current education reform issues.

Social Justice, Multicultural and Diversity Issues in Counseling

Course objectives focus on helping students develop a theoretical and skill-based foundation for being an effective advocate, cultivating cultural competency and the techniques for working with individuals, families and communities of diverse backgrounds. Coursework was developed to increase student awareness of one’s own perceptions and biases and their ability to effectively render aid to all clients in need, with a focus on ELL communities.

What exams or projects should I expect?

For a master’s in school counseling, students should expect a capstone or thesis project that should reflect the concentration or research that the student is involved in. Upon graduation, students will have to pass a licensing exam and licensing requirements vary by state. Licensing requirements, the amount of exams and type of exams also vary from state to state. A master’s program of this type typically involves field work in the form of practicums and residencies, with requirements ranging between 200-700 hours (depending on the state), as well as supervised internships.

What specializations are available in a master’s in school counseling program?

The following examples are areas of specialization and are available to students in a master’s of school counseling program:

Addiction Counseling

Substance abuse is one of the fastest growing problems facing youth today. Addiction counseling paired with school counseling gives professionals the skills to assist students faced with addiction issues, such as living with an addicted family member or having substance abuse issues themselves.

Career Counseling

Whether helping students get the most out of their high school years, assisting individuals in searching for or applying to college, or helping students discover their professional selves, career counseling is a natural pairing with a school counseling degree.

Crisis and Trauma Counseling

Students looking to specialize in crisis and trauma counseling will be prepared for assisting students, mostly individuals but in some cases entire student bodies, to cope with and recover from traumatic events.

Military Families and Culture

Military families have many specific needs and face challenges unique to military culture. Specializing in this area will help school counselors gain insight into the dynamics of military families, both active and veteran, and to better relate to the emotional needs of students with a military background.

What Can I do with a Master’s in School Counseling Degree?

A master’s in school counseling degree can be used in several different ways when paired with specializations that enable graduates to serve greater numbers of students.

School Counselor

School counselors play a lot of roles in student success in schools, whether they are helping students cope with issues affecting their academic life or are helping an individual plan for future academics or career, school counselors play a pivotal role in guiding children forward and helping them to develop into well-rounded adults.

Mental Health Counselor

A certified mental health counselor diagnoses and treats mental health issues. In a school setting, a mental health counselor may work with students with mental health issues or with students who face the challenges of living with a parent or guardian with mental health issues.

School Psychologist

Recognizing the need in modern times to facilitate the mental well-being of students at every age, school psychologists are members of the faculty who specialize in helping determine a particular student’s needs, often working one-on-one with students utilizing talk or play therapy.

For recent graduates entering the counseling field, it can be a daunting task to determine the best way to start out. Professional organizations offer tools for beginners, networking opportunities, access to the latest developments, career advice and much more.

American School Counselors Association (ASCA)

The ASCA is dedicated to bringing working professionals together to create a collaborative effort to provide students with the very best of support. Membership with the ASCA provides access to the latest publications, guidance on creating and achieving career goals, and a community for professional networking. They publish a journal and a newsletter, offer discounted rates on professional publications as well as insurance opportunities and other free resources to members.

International School Counselors Association (ISCA)

Through the ISCA, professionals from around the world can collaborate through their online forum in order to bring the very best theory and practice to schools and children. Member services include professional networking, monthly newsletter and access to free resources.

American Counseling Association (ACA)

The ACA brings counselors of different disciplines together with the goal of continuing education, to foster professional development by focusing on culturally-inclusive practices and an ethical treatment of clients. Membership services include free online education, access to publications, a professional network of peers and much more.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC)

Founded in 1937, NACAC provides educational standards for college admission counseling, as well as a network of professionals united in the goal to educate and continue to maintain the highest ethical standards for the profession. Membership includes e-learning, advocacy groups, publications and a network of over 16,000 professionals.

How Much Can I Make with a Career in School Counseling?

Here are a few examples of the possible careers a graduate with a master’s in school counseling may be prepared for and their median salaries. As noted above, additional licensure or certification may be required to be eligible for these positions.

Career Entry-Level Salary (0-5 Years) Mid-Career (5-10 Years) Late Career (10-20+ Years) Job Growth 2016-2026
Mental Health Counselor Less than $30,000 $43,300 More than $56,000 +23%
Career Counselor Less than $43,000 $55,410 More than $60,000 +13%
School Counselor Less than $36,000 $55,410 More than $71,000 +13%
Occupational Therapist Less than $55,000 $83,200 More than $120,000 +13%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected job growth for various disciplines relating to the field of school counseling is higher than the national average for other occupations. The industry as a whole is expected to grow 13 percent each year between 2016 and 2026. A contributing factor to this increase is that student enrollment is expected to continue growing over the years and with it the need for school counselors and other faculty. Most school counselor positions require a master’s degree before starting in that position, and some positions also require an additional doctorate degree to advance.

Online Master’s in School Counseling Program Accreditation

Students looking to enroll in an online master’s in school counseling program should look for programs certified by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Additional accrediting bodies may vary by individual state. Graduation from an accredited program is one of the prerequisites when applying for professional licenses. Students should be sure that accreditation comes from an organization recognized by the Department of Education.

How to Pay for a Master’s in School Counseling Degree

One of the most stressful areas individuals struggle with when deciding to continue their education is how to foot the bill. Below are a few options available to master’s in school counseling students:

  • Federal and State Student Aid

    Students may be eligible for subsidized and unsubsidized student loans and other federal grants through FAFSA, based on need. Some states may offer need-based grants based on additional criteria, such as area of study and employment at a non-profit post-graduation. Graduates who choose to work for a non-profit may be eligible for student debt forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

  • Scholarships

    Potential students should also research merit-based scholarships through specific institutions at which they intend to study. Additionally, some students may find scholarships for pursuing graduate level studies through private organizations who advocate for diversity in education. Students who are female or who have a military background may find scholarships through organizations dedicated to promoting professionals from those groups. Prospective students should start their scholarship search at the American School Counselor Association.

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