Top Online School Counseling Programs 2021

October 12, 2021 , Modified on May 26, 2022

Reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Top Online School Counseling Programs 2021 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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School counselors usually provide direct support to K-12 or college students. They help address issues such as peer pressure, depression, divorce, and bullying. School counselors sometimes collaborate with families, community agencies, and school administrators to create learning plans and schoolwide programs that foster student well-being and enhance learning.

A school counselor career typically requires at least a master's degree in a related field, plus professional licensure by a state board. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) cites a median annual salary of $58,120 for school and career counselors. The BLS projects jobs for these professionals to grow 8% between 2019-2029.

This guide ranks the best online counseling programs. It also covers other important information for prospective students, such as common courses and scholarship opportunities for school counseling students.

FAQs from Prospective Students in Counseling Programs

Q. Do school counselors get paid well?

According to the BLS, school counselors earn a median annual salary of $58,120. However, salaries vary by factors like location, employer, position, and experience.

Q. Is counseling a good career?

School counselors positively impact young people. They also enjoy above-average salaries and strong job growth projections.

Q. How many years does it take to become a school counselor?

School counselors need a bachelor's and a master's degree. This educational journey often takes around six years to complete. Acquiring requisite clinical experience and licensure may demand additional time.

Q. What kinds of jobs can I get with a degree in school counseling?

With requisite training and licensure, graduates with an online school counseling degree can work as substance abuse counselors, school psychologists, and school counselors. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Why Get a Degree in School Counseling?

Students earning a school counselor degree online gain advanced interpersonal skills and insights. Graduates can pursue jobs such as school or career counselor, community services manager, and school psychologist. These professions typically pay above-average salaries.

Online master's in school counseling programs often serve working professionals pursuing career transition or advancement. This cohort of accomplished professionals can provide valuable networking opportunities.

Earning a school counselor degree online often gives students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional responsibilities.

How Much Does a School Counseling Degree Cost?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, graduate tuition at public institutions cost an average of $12,171 in 2018-19, meaning a two-year master's degree may cost around $24,000. However, higher education prices vary by factors like school, enrollment status, and delivery format.

Pursuing a school counselor degree online often saves enrollees money. For example, online learners often avoid many of the expenses that on-campus students incur, such as commuting costs. Additionally, many schools offer tuition discounts to online students. Flexible, asynchronous attendance options also allow students to continue working while they earn their degree.

Break down your current financial situation, and receive a college tuition estimate you can afford to pay.

How Much Do School Counseling Majors Make?

The BLS reports that school and career counselors earn a median annual salary of $58,120. However, salaries vary by factors like location, experience, and role. PayScale salary data from March 2021 suggests that average annual salaries for school counselors fall into the $44,000-$66,000 range, depending on experience level.

Other common roles for graduates with a master's in school counseling include substance abuse counselor and education, guidance, and vocational counselor. According to the BLS, these jobs pay annual median salaries of $47,660 and $55,410, respectively. Some licensed professional counselors make more money by going into private practice or obtaining additional credentials.

With relevant training and licensure, online school counseling degree graduates may pursue careers as social workers or school psychologists. BLS data indicates that social workers earn a median salary of $51,760 per year, while psychologists make a median $82,180 annually.

Online school counseling graduates can also pursue roles as social and community service managers or educational administrators. These professionals earn median annual salaries of $69,600 and $98,490, respectively.

Courses in Counseling

Online master's in school counseling programs usually comprise around 30 credits. Most counseling programs feature core courses in research methods, psychology, ethics, and counseling theory and practice. Enrollees also complete supervised internships.

Some programs offer specializations in areas such as early childhood counseling or special needs counseling. Master's-level programs also typically require students to complete a thesis-based capstone project supervised by counseling faculty.

Courses vary by program, but the following courses often appear in online master's in school counseling programs.

Certifications and Licensure for School Counseling

To qualify for most school counseling jobs, candidates must obtain licensure from the state where they wish to practice. An online master's in school counseling helps graduates qualify for licensure. Some master's graduates seek additional credentials that align with specific career aspirations. See below for some common school counseling credentials.

The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) grants NCC certification to applicants with related graduate degrees or certificates and at least 3,000 postgraduate counseling experience hours. Doctoral degree-holders, state-licensed counselors, and accredited program graduates may not need as many experience hours. All NCC candidates must pass a professional certification examination. Only NCCs qualify for this specialized certification. The NBCC grants this certification to applicants who finish requisite graduate-level coursework, complete professional experience, pass a certification examination, and receive professional endorsement by a credentialed colleague. State board licensure requirements vary, but they often include a related master's degree, several thousand hours of professional experience, and passing scores on the LPC licensure examination. This versatile license qualifies counselors to work in various counseling fields and contexts.

Scholarships for School Counseling

Students pursuing an online school counseling degree can take advantage of scholarships to help lower the cost of their degree. Unlike loans, scholarships do not require repayment, making them ideal forms of financial aid. The following list outlines several scholarship opportunities for school counseling students.

Scholarship Amount Who Can Apply

Ruth G. and Joseph D. Matarazzo Scholarship

$3,000 Master's students planning to pursue doctoral study qualify for this scholarship. Candidates must receive nomination from a psychology department affiliated with the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology (COGDOP). Applicants must submit a project outline, resume, and recommendation letter.

Harry and Miriam Levinson Scholarship

$5,000 This scholarship goes to interim master's students who receive nomination from a COGDOP-affiliated psychology department. Application materials include a CV, recommendation letter, and project outline.

Texas School Counselor Association Molly Gerold Scholarships

$500 These graduate scholarships support school counseling students with outstanding academic records. Candidates must receive nominations by colleagues or professors. Applicants must submit a rationale statement, recommendation letter, and resume demonstrating significant school counseling experience.

Online School Counseling Programs 2021

Online School Counseling Programs

  1. Canisius College

    Buffalo, NY

    Those who graduate from the Canisius College school counseling master's degree program will be qualified to work with kids grades K-12 in groups or as individuals. They also will be prepared to work with entire classrooms, parents or other professionals. The program satisfies certification requirements not just for New York State, but for most other states across the country. Lab-based courses provide students with a hands-on learning experience, as does an included internship requirement. The program, which can be finished in as few as two years, prepares candidates to work with students from a variety of cultural backgrounds.

  2. Angelo State University

    San Angelo, TX

    The College of Graduate Studies and Research at Angelo State University offers a course aimed specifically at graduate students who already have earned a master's degree, but are working toward applying for educator certification through the Texas State Board. The certification program was designed for students pursuing careers as school guidance counselors for students in grades K-12. The program can usually be completed in 10 months or less, depending on the availability of courses that particular semester. The graduate coursework is delivered on an eight-week rotation. The entire department is accredited both nationally and statewide.

  3. Salem College

    Winston-Salem, NC

    The Salem College master of education in school counseling degree is delivered through online coursework that covers ethics, assessment and evaluation, legal issues, advocacy, personal development, career counseling and program management. The research-driven program not only includes online learning classes, but also involves internship experiences and two on-campus seminars. The program, which is structured in the cohort format, teaches students how to empower children and youth, as well as how to manage dialogue and interaction with their parents and school personnel. Students start in the fall and can complete the program in 36 months.

  4. Indiana State University

    Terre Haute, IN

    The master of education degree in school counseling offered by Indiana State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The Career Center helps students, including graduate students, develop and achieve professional goals after graduation, while also connecting them with work opportunities in school. The Health Center, which is open to all graduate and undergraduate students who take at least one credit hour at Indiana State University, offers care for ailments, injuries and illnesses. Students also have access to counseling, tutoring, library and research services, disability services and a math and writing center.

  5. North Carolina Central University

    Durham, NC

    Students who complete the master of arts degree in school counseling at North Carolina Central University will be prepared for careers as school counselors working with children in grades K-12. The program satisfies both the supervised experience requirements and the curriculum requirements necessary to receive licensure from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Graduate students will have full access to campus recreation and activities, as well as to student leadership and engagement. Students will stay up to date on school events through Campus Echo, which has served the university since 1927.

  6. University of Missouri

    Columbia, MO

    University of Missouri-Columbia graduate students pursuing a career in school counseling can choose between a master of arts degree and a master of education degree, each comes with a variety of possible specializations. Students will have access to three centers where they can collaborate with peers and faculty for the purposes of service-related projects and research. Upon graduation, students will be qualified to advance or begin careers in environments like colleges, universities, governmental entities, public schools, clinics and hospitals. Many graduates go on to work as licensed professional counselors, school counselors, health educators, psychologists and researchers.

  7. University of Mississippi

    University, MS

    Aspiring school counselors can pursue a master of education degree at the University of Mississippi. The specialized track satisfies the state requirements needed to serve as licensed counselors in a range of academic settings, including elementary schools, middle schools and high schools. The program is flexible, offering some online courses as well as the option to take classes at regional centers in Oxford and Tupelo. Once candidates pass the licensing exam, they will have earned that status of licensed professional counselor (LPC), and will be qualified to enter private practice or to work for a wide range of agencies and organizations that require counseling services.

  8. Kansas State University

    Manhattan, KS

    Graduate students who participate in the school counseling program at Kansas State University will emerge with a master of science degree. The program, which is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, consists of 48 hours of coursework. Upon graduating, students will be prepared to implement and design school counseling programs in a variety of settings. When it comes to licensure, the state offers two tracks. The first designed for specifically for participants who already hold a teaching license. The second is a parallel pathway option that requires extra experience in the field over the course of two semesters.

  9. Concordia University-Wisconsin

    Mequon, WI

    Prospective students striving for careers as school counselors can work toward that goal through the master of science in education degree program at Concordia University-Wisconsin. The program, which provides a concentration in counseling, prepares students to enter the field in the K-12 setting in both public and private parochial schools, as well as in a variety of community-based settings. The program can be offered in the online format, and distance learners can choose the site of their practicum experience based on their unique situation and interests. The program, which boasts small class sizes, satisfies licensure requirements for several states.

  10. Creighton University

    Omaha, NE

    The master of science in school counseling and preventative health at Creighton University prepares participants for careers in the field. Students can choose to follow one of three tracks: elementary, secondary or PK-12 guidance counseling. The program, which is designed to be flexible, is delivered through online courses that follow an eight-week format, and an internship experience that lasts nine months. Graduates will be prepared to work in universities, colleges, school systems, community agencies and employment services. Students will receive help from academic advisors, who will help them choose the right courses and graduate successfully.

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