Best Online Master’s in School Counseling for 2024

Interested in being a school counselor? Explore the top online master's in school counseling programs to find the one that is right for you.
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Updated on April 18, 2024
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Best Online Master's Degree Programs in School Counseling

School counselors are the unsung heroes of the education system. They are devoted to ensuring student success, access, and equity from kindergarten through college.

If that sounds like the kind of career you want, an online master's in school counseling might be the best fit. Explore this page to learn more about this degree, then check out the top-ranked online master's in school counseling programs, as well as our sponsored programs.

Featured Programs in School Counseling

Best Online Master’s in School Counseling Programs for 2024

We use trusted sources like Peterson's Data and the National Center for Education Statistics to inform the data for these schools. BestColleges.com 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. from our partners appear among these rankings and are indicated as such.

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#1 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling for 2024

University of Missouri-Columbia

  • Columbia, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: ​​Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Cost per Credit: 

In-State | $535

Out-of-State | $535

Credits to Graduate: 60

The online master of educational, school, and counseling psychology at Mizzou offers students the option to pursue school counselor licensure at both the elementary and secondary levels. Students take one course at a time in an eight-week format, finishing their degree in about three years. The curriculum includes 12 practicum hours, which require supervision in an approved school setting.

This degree prepares graduates for licensure in Missouri. Many states honor reciprocity for the Missouri school counseling license. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,017
Out-of-state
$28,992
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,950
Out-of-state
$27,245
Retention Rate
88%
Acceptance Rate
77%
Students Enrolled
31,401
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
63% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#2 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling for 2024

Concordia University-Irvine

  • Irvine, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $665

Out-of-State | $665

Credits to Graduate: 48

The master of arts in education with a concentration in school counseling at Concordia University-Irvine is an online, cohort-based program. Students prepare for the pupil professional services credential that serves as the license for K-12 school counselors in California. Distance learners complete one content course in a synchronous format and one practicum/fieldwork experience in each eight-week term over 26 months.

The curriculum features research and capstone experiences and distinctive courses on mental health interventions and crisis prevention and management.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$37,990
Out-of-state
$37,990
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,564
Out-of-state
$8,564
Retention Rate
76%
Acceptance Rate
81%
Students Enrolled
3,710
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
71% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
#3 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling for 2024

William & Mary

  • Williamsburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

Cost per Credit: 

In-State | $725

Out-of-State | $725

Credits to Graduate: 60

The fully online master of education in school counseling at William and Mary is designed for professionals seeking advanced leadership positions in counseling, administration, or curriculum design. The curriculum offers a unique emphasis on social justice and educational equity.

Distance learners complete their degree in as few as 17 mini semesters lasting 7.5 weeks each. In addition to fully online courses, the program requires two three-day on-campus residencies to prepare for practicum and internship experiences.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$17,434
Out-of-state
$40,089
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$10,516
Out-of-state
$28,305
Retention Rate
93%
Acceptance Rate
37%
Students Enrolled
9,517
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
25% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#4 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling for 2024

Florida State University

  • Tallahassee, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: State of Florida Department of Education

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $444

Out-of-State | $1,076

Credits to Graduate: 60

FSU’s online master of science in counseling and human systems program offers a school counseling major. The curriculum covers how counselors can make a difference through assessing and implementing various school programs and providing guidance. Students must complete an eight-credit internship and complete courses in career and college readiness, counseling and school, family, and community partnerships. 

FSU graduate applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Application requirements include transcripts, recommendation letters, and GRE/GMAT scores. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,640
Out-of-state
$19,084
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,684
Out-of-state
$24,116
Retention Rate
94%
Acceptance Rate
37%
Students Enrolled
45,130
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
58% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#5 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling for 2024

Creighton University

  • Omaha, NE
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

Cost per Credit: 

In-State | $626

Out-of-State | $626

Credits to Graduate: 48

Creighton University’s master of science in school counseling offers specializations in elementary school counseling, secondary school counseling, and PK-12 guidance counseling. The curriculum reflects the university’s Catholic Jesuit values of compassion, relationship building, and humility. The fully online program can be customized to accommodate professional, personal, and career goals.

The program provides a guaranteed scholarship to all current educators. Students with a teaching certificate may take 36 credits to finish their degree instead of the typical 48 credits.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$42,618
Out-of-state
$42,618
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$17,190
Out-of-state
$17,190
Retention Rate
91%
Acceptance Rate
78%
Students Enrolled
8,735
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#6 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling for 2024

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

  • Raleigh, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

Cost per Credit: 

In-State | $526

Out-of-State | $1,635

Credits to Graduate: 60

The master of education in counselor education at NC State is a three-year online program. Distance learners progress through the program in cohorts, taking up to two courses per term throughout the academic year, including summers. In the final year, students must attend required on-campus weekend classes.

Based on the School-College-Community Collaboration Model, the curriculum explores developmental theory, the design and implementation of preventive interventions, and counseling theories and practices. Required coursework emphasizes the program’s commitment to multicultural diversity and cross-cultural perspectives. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$6,535
Out-of-state
$27,320
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,095
Out-of-state
$27,082
Retention Rate
94%
Acceptance Rate
47%
Students Enrolled
36,831
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#7 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling for 2024

Wake Forest University

  • Winston-Salem, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

Cost per Credit: 

In-State | $1,650

Out-of-State | $1,650

Credits to Graduate: 60

The online master of arts in school counseling at Wake Forest University consists of 12 credits in research and theoretical foundations, 18 core credits in core areas, including crisis management, group procedures, and family counseling, and 21 credits in beginning and advanced therapeutic practice.

The program prepares graduates to take the National Counselor Exam for state licensure. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree with an overall 3.0 GPA, a current resume, a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$58,708
Out-of-state
$58,708
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$38,650
Out-of-state
$38,650
Retention Rate
94%
Acceptance Rate
25%
Students Enrolled
8,947
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
16% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#8 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling for 2024

University of St Thomas

  • Houston, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $598 

Out-of-State | $598 

Credits to Graduate: 48

UST's M.Ed. in school counselor education is offered fully online. Graduates can pursue school counselor certification in Texas. The program emphasizes counseling strategies, school programming, mental health, and diversity. Students complete a counseling practicum for one semester. 

UST accepts applications in the fall, spring, and summer. Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0, official transcripts, a Texas Education Agency ID number, a 250-300 word essay, and an interview with the UST faculty program director. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$30,800
Out-of-state
$30,800
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$20,934
Out-of-state
$20,934
Retention Rate
73%
Acceptance Rate
98%
Students Enrolled
3,877
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
72% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#9 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling for 2024

New York University

  • New York, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council 

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $2,101

Out-of-State | $2,101

Credits to Graduate: 48-51

Graduates of NYU's master of arts in school counseling can pursue pre-K-12 certification in the state. The online program emphasizes counseling practice, research, and equity and social justice. Students can choose from two concentrations: school counseling or bilingual school counseling. The program requires a 100-hour practicum and 600-hour internship at an NYU-approved school in the student's community. 

Students can complete the program in two years. NYU accepts applications year-round, and GRE scores are not required. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$53,770
Out-of-state
$53,770
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$35,982
Out-of-state
$35,982
Retention Rate
94%
Acceptance Rate
13%
Students Enrolled
58,226
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#10 Best Online Master’s in School Counseling for 2024

University of Nebraska at Kearney

  • Kearney, NE
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

Cost per Credit

In-State | $326

Out-of-State | $522

Credits to Graduate: 43

The UNK school counseling master of science in education offers flexible online and blended course schedules combined with campus residencies and fieldwork opportunities. The curriculum prepares graduates to work with diverse client populations, specializing in rural mental health. 

The program provides a non-teacher pathway that allows applicants with an undergraduate degree to become a school counselor. Students in this program complete 12 credits of online teacher education field-based training in addition to the requirements for the school counseling master’s degree.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$6,270
Out-of-state
$13,650
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$6,216
Out-of-state
$13,656
Retention Rate
76%
Acceptance Rate
90%
Students Enrolled
6,275
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
73% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

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To create this ranking, BestColleges sourced the most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard. We then ranked each school according to the top variables college students selected in our College Choice and Admissions Survey. To learn more, check out our full rankings methodology or read the summary below.

Ranking Methodology Summary

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To qualify for our rankings lists, each school must be an accredited public or private, nonprofit institution. Each eligible school was then ranked based on a formula measuring:

  • Affordability (30%)
  • Student outcomes (30%)
  • Reputation (20%)
  • Diversity and social mobility (20%)

In addition, we only included colleges with graduation rates in the top third of all online colleges.

Why Should I Get a Master's in School Counseling Degree?

To start, you can't become a school counselor without one. A master's in school counseling gives you the specialized skills and training required to work closely with student populations and develop a counseling program in a school.

Benefits of a Master's in School Counseling

  • Qualify for licensure to work with student populations
  • Access to school counseling roles
  • Boost your earning potential
  • Pick your preferred student age group
  • Make a major difference in the lives of young people
  • Learn transferable career skills

Reasons to Get Your School Counseling Degree Online

  • More flexibility
  • Complete coursework remotely
  • Ability to learn from anywhere
  • Great for career-changers

How Much Does a Master's in School Counseling Degree Cost?

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that required tuition and fees for a master's degree costs between $25,000-$57,000 for two years as of 2022. Attending a public college in your state or choosing an affordable online school counseling program can help keep your costs down.

Online programs can help you save on commuting costs, on-campus fees, and room and board. When you calculate the price tag of getting your online master's degree, weigh any potential indirect costs, including:

  • Travel
  • Books
  • Materials
  • Technology fees
  • Loss of income

Average Annual Cost of Master's Degree Tuition and Fees

Public Institution

$12,596

Private Institution (Nonprofit)

$29,931

Source: NCES


Total Average Cost of a Master's Degree (Two Years)

Public Institution

$59,440

Private Institution (Nonprofit)

$85,400

Source: BestColleges

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master's Degree in School Counseling?

Most full-time programs take between 18-24 months to complete. Part-time students generally need closer to three years to graduate, while some distance learners can graduate sooner by enrolling in accelerated programs.

Required Course Credits

30-60*

Field Study Requirements

Yes*

*Depending on your program and specialization

How Much Money Can I Make With a Master's in School Counseling Degree?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for school and career counselors was $61,710 in May 2023. This salary is well above the median annual salary of $58,084 for all U.S. workers.

Counselors working at elementary and secondary schools earned a median annual salary of $74,910 in 2023, while those at colleges and universities made $58,390. Salaries vary depending on the employer and may increase with further education, experience, and credentialing.

"Generally, school counselors make similar salaries as teachers within the district. However, there is often additional pay for having a master's [degree]… "

Amanda Sterk, MS in School Counseling, Ed.D.

Median salary for school counselors and advisors

$61,710

Median salary for the top 10% of earners in school counseling

$100,050

Source: BLS

Salary also varies by location. Some of the top-paying states for school counselors include California, Washington, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

What Jobs Can I Get With a Master's in School Counseling Degree?

What can you do with a master's in school counseling degree? In addition to school counseling careers, you may be able to pursue marriage therapy positions, mental health counseling careers, and other related support professions. Some of these positions may require extra licensure.

"Traditionally, those that get a degree in school counseling will want to [work] as a school counselor. However, many go on to work in social work, higher education positions, school-based after-school programs, and nonprofit organizations that focus on student success."

Amanda Sterk, MS in School Counseling, Ed.D.

Career Paths You Can Pursue With a Master's in School Counseling

Is an Online Master's in School Counseling Worth It?

Yes. Earning a master's in school counseling can provide many personal and professional benefits. According to the BLS, school and career counselors enjoy higher-than-average median annual earnings and projected job growth.

An advanced degree can lead you to a school counseling career and fulfill a need to make a difference. The training can also prepare you for careers in other fields, along with management positions.

"School counseling is worth it on many levels. Many teachers seek to be school counselors after a few years of teaching, as they love working with students but may not want to teach all day, and they like the more varied schedule."
Andrew Lokenauth

Amanda Sterk, MS in School Counseling, Ed.D.

"It sounds corny, but knowing that you're helping people reach their potential is huge. I loved that I was planting the seeds of self-care at a young age, teaching even kindergarteners that everyone has problems sometimes and it's okay to ask for help."
Andrew Lokenauth

Lisa Hess, M.S. in Education, Previously Served as an Elementary School Counselor

Everything Else You Need to Know About Master's in School Counseling Degrees

Are there any in-person components required for an online master's in school counseling?

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An online master's in school counseling will require in-person fieldwork, during which you will observe a licensed practitioner at work, and later, perform counseling functions yourself. Many programs allow you to complete this in your own community. Some programs may have a brief on-campus component, such as onboarding.

What are the highest-paying jobs to pursue after an online master's in school counseling?

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The highest-paying jobs after completing an online master's in school counseling include school counseling jobs in state, local, and private elementary and secondary schools, which pay a median annual salary of $65,930.

What's the difference between an MA or MS in school counseling and an M.Ed. in school counseling?

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An M.Ed. is primarily directed toward practitioners in a school system. In contrast, an MS emphasizes research and advancing the field, while an MA emphasizes counseling practice.

What courses will I take in an online master's in school counseling?

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During an online master's in school counseling, you will take courses in human and adolescent development, conducting assessments, and statistics and research. You will also learn the legal and ethical aspects of counseling and culturally appropriate approaches.

Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by BestColleges. Page last reviewed November 28, 2023.

BestColleges.com 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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