A master's degree in school counseling prepares graduates to pursue a rewarding professional career in an important and growing field. Across the country, aspiring counselors can find a variety of school counseling programs offering competitive tuition. Increasingly, students are pursuing their master's degree in school counseling online, a convenient and affordable option for students from all backgrounds.

What are the most affordable school counseling programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC
2 Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN
3 University of Massachusetts Boston Boston, MA
4 Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, NC
5 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
6 University of St. Thomas Houston, TX
7 University of Mississippi University, MS
8 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
9 New York University New York, NY
10 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR

While searching for schools, it is important to separate affordable programs from cheap schools. Affordability is a key concern for students, and to be sure, distance learners should avoid colleges that charge too much in tuition or fees. But it's just as important to find a quality program. Prospective students must do their homework, and avoid diploma mills selling the cheapest online master's in school counseling degree you can find: these schools offer poor instruction and carry little credibility on the job market.

Below, we've ranked the most affordable online master's in school counseling programs in the country. We built the list with help from our "College Affordability Score" algorithm, which measures how student-friendly schools are financially. We considered a variety of factors, including return on investment, the amount of financial aid awarded to students, the amount of students entering loan agreements, and the number of students who are able to repay their loans. The following colleges offer the best blend of academic quality and affordability.

2020 Most Affordable Accredited Online Master's in School Counseling Programs

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 81%

North Carolina State University enrolls about 35,000 students across more than 300 programs. Students who enroll in its online master's in school counseling program join a part-time cohort. Learners take classes throughout the year and can graduate in three years.

Core courses include substance abuse counseling, techniques of counseling, group counseling, and gender issues in counseling. The program prepares graduates to earn a North Carolina school counseling license, although students must complete their practica and internships in North Carolina to be eligible.

Applicants must submit GRE or MAT scores. NC State is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and its M.Ed. in school counseling program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

2

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 94%

Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt University reports that 100% of recent graduates from its master's in human development counseling program found employment or earned acceptance into doctoral programs after graduation.

This 48-credit master's degree, which offers a specialization in school counseling, can be completed mostly online and takes three years to finish. Students must complete three field experiences and two on-campus immersions. The program follows a synchronous schedule with live virtual classes.

Students gain skills related to individual counseling, testing consulting, diagnosis and assessment, and research and evaluation. Graduates can pursue work in community, school, and corporate settings.

Applicants must submit GRE scores, although recent Vanderbilt graduates with a minimum 3.0 GPA can waive this requirement. Vanderbilt is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

3

University of Massachusetts Boston

Boston, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

The University of Massachusetts Boston hosts nearly 16,000 students across more than 200 academic programs. The school's online master's in counseling takes two years to complete and features general counseling and school counseling courses. Online students must visit the UMass Dartmouth campus for two weeks during the summer to complete two clinical courses.

Core courses include professional, ethical, and legal issues in school counseling; career development facilitation and training; principles of vocational, educational, and psychological assessment; and collaborative counseling in schools. Faculty deliver live online sessions.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Students must also submit GRE scores. The program charges the same tuition rate for all online students. UMass Boston is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

4

Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 89%

Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Wake Forest offers an online master's degree in school counseling that requires a practicum and an internship. Students complete coursework that covers topics like career and lifestyle development, human growth and development, social and cultural foundations, and research and program evaluation.

Graduates have found employment at more than 60 different agencies and schools, and they often pursue careers as school counselors and community and social service managers. Wake Forest reports that master's in counseling students hold a 95% pass rate on the National Counselor Exam.

Wake Forest is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Its master's in school counseling program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

5

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 92%

Based in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California enrolls around 28,000 graduate students each year. The school's online master's in school counseling can be completed in 2-3 years. Core coursework includes legal and ethical issues in counseling, human development theory in school counseling, and research methods and data analysis for counselors.

The program prepares graduates for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing's school counseling credential. Participants choose from three areas of focus: college and career readiness, restorative justice, and trauma-informed practice. Students must complete a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA. USC is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

6

University of St. Thomas

Houston, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 57%

The University of St. Thomas enrolls over 3,000 students and boasts an 11-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Based in Houston, Texas, UST offers more than 20 graduate degree programs, including a 48-credit M.Ed. with a school counseling specialty.

This cohort-based, online program takes two years to complete and leads to certification in Texas. The curriculum features a 160-hour practicum — including 80 hours of direct client contact — as a capstone project. Core courses include educational research design and data analysis, group procedures dynamics of group counseling, ethical and legal issues in counseling, and family counseling with children and adolescents.

The university charges the same tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students. UST is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

7

University of Mississippi

University, MS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 64%

Founded in 1848, the University of Mississippi currently enrolls over 23,000 students. Its M.Ed. in school counseling track prepares graduates to work as licensed school counselors at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

This online master's in counselor education requires a practicum and an internship. The 48-credit curriculum includes core courses like issues and ethics in counseling, lifespan development, counseling children and adolescents, and group procedures. Students must also earn a passing grade on the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination to graduate.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an approved institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA; however, learners with a GPA from 2.70-2.99 may be admitted on a probationary basis. Students must also submit GRE scores. Mississippi residents receive a discounted tuition rate. Ole Miss is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

8

East Carolina University

Greenville, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 65%

Based in Greenville, North Carolina, East Carolina University enrolls over 28,000 students and offers more than 125 online degrees and certificates.

The school's online master of science in counselor education includes courses in professional, legal, and ethical issues in counseling; developmental counseling and learning: a life-span approach; social and cultural issues in counseling; and family approaches in professional counseling. Students also complete a practicum and an internship. This program meets professional licensure and certification requirements in North Carolina.

ECU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Its counselor education program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

9

New York University

New York, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 85%

NYU Steinhardt — NYU's School of Culture, Education, and Human Development — enrolls over 6,000 students and employs around 300 faculty.

The school offers an online master's in school counseling that requires a 100-hour practicum and a 600-credit internship. Students can complete this 48-credit program in 18 months. The curriculum prepares students for school counseling licensure in New York state.

This program accepts applications on a rolling basis. Applicants do not need to submit GRE scores, although the university recommends prior work experience in counseling with agencies like psychiatric centers, suicide hotlines, or crisis centers.

NYU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Its master's in school counseling program is accredited by the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council.

10

Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 67%

A public research institution, Oregon State University enrolls students from all 50 states and roughly 100 countries. Students can take classes at campuses in Corvallis and Bend, at over 20 partner institutions around the Pacific Northwest, and online.

Students can earn OSU's master's degree in school counseling through a hybrid format, with 50% of the coursework offered online and 50% taking place on campus two weekends each term. The program targets Oregon and Washington residents.

Select classes include developmental perspectives in counseling, theory and techniques of child and adolescent counseling, and leadership of school counseling programs.

The university accepts a limited number of students into this program each year. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. OSU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.