Top 10 Accelerated Master’s in School Counseling Online Programs 2024

online master's in school counseling

Author: Adam Birch / Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson / First covered: December 2016 / Updates: 6

  • Our #1 ranking college online program for an accelerated master’s in school counseling is Fort Hays State University, followed by Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
  • These programs offer flexibility and speed, designed to be completed in less than two years, excluding internships.
  • These programs are cost-effective with tuition under $24,000 annually, attracting students seeking quality education at a lower cost.

This article profiles the top 10 accelerated online master’s in school counseling.

School counselors fulfill a very specific role in the counseling world. They guide primary and secondary students, as well as their parents. School counselors work with students on college plans. They help to identify risk factors in students. Issues can include:

Featured Programs

  • Mental health issues
  • Learning disabilities
  • Abuse and trauma

Many online programs take three to four years to complete. There are extensive internship requirements for licensure.

We reviewed around 60 programs listed by sites, such as NCES College Navigator. For most programs, coursework can be completed in under two years. This does not include an internship. Regionally accredited colleges and universities offer all of these programs. We selected programs that cost less than $24,000 annually to narrow our original pool of schools. The programs on our list are ranked according to raw affordability

Below is our list of the 10 online accelerated master’s in school counseling programs of 2024.

#10 – University of Tennessee

Online Master’s in Counseling

Martin, Tennessee

Website

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,912

The University of Tennessee Martin has an online master’s in school counseling. It can be completed in less than 18 months of full-time study and the internships in one year. This is a rigorous and fast-paced program open to educators and working students. Individuals in this program will take classes on:

  • Professional, Ethical, and Legal Issues in Counseling
  • Multicultural Issues in Education and Counseling
  • Growth and Development Across the Lifespan
  • Group Dynamics

UT Martin ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 42nd-best regional university in the country. Also, UT ranks #44 in best value schools.

Pros:

  • Academic and career counseling are available
  • Offers a wide range of academic programs

Cons:

  • TAs teach many of the classes
  • A lack of financial aid availability

#9 – Liberty University

Online Master’s in School Counseling

Lynchburg, Virginia

Website

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,893

Liberty University’s 48-credit fast online master’s in school counseling can be done in 16 months. It is one of the fastest school counseling programs on our list. The program does require four on-campus intensives. However, no prior teaching license is required for this program. As of 2015, Liberty’s online school counseling program received CACREP accreditation. Some of the required courses for the aspiring school counselor include:

  • Child and Adolescent Counseling in Schools
  • Counseling Theories and Techniques
  • School Counseling Program Development and Evaluation

Liberty ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 230th-301st best national university in the country.

Pros:

  • Customizable curriculum
  • Dual degree options

Cons:

  • Less diverse
  • Minimal tech support

#8 – University of Louisiana

Online Master’s in Counseling

Monroe, Louisiana

Website

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,490

The online master’s at the University of Louisiana moves at a fast completion rate. Students may double specialize in school counseling and clinical mental health counseling. By doubling the degree, students also increase their career opportunities. They will be qualified to work as:

  • Mental Health Counselors
  • School Counselors
  • School Administrators
  • Career Counseling Specialists
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Play Therapists
  • Life Coaches
  • Consultants

Even students who double specialize can complete their degree in just 2.5-3 years. U.S. News and World Report ranks the University of Louisiana #230-#301 among the best national universities. Also, many of the school’s online graduate programs have received top 100 and top 200 rankings.

Pros:

  • Named among the best colleges in the Southeast
  • Accepts dual and AP credits

Cons:

  • High student-to-faculty ratio
  • Graduation rate is lower than the national average

#7 – University of Texas

Online Master’s in School Counseling

Tyler, Texas

Website

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,264

Students in the University of Texas at Tyler’s accelerated online master’s in school counseling program can graduate in just 18 months. The tradeoff of the fast program is that while it meets Texas certification requirements, it may not be the same in other states. Certification may be needed if your residency is outside of Texas. Students with a master’s degree or an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher don’t need to submit GRE scores. The school is accredited and ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 81st-best regional university in the West. Also, UT ranks #27 among top public schools and offers highly affordable tuition for in-state residents earning a graduate degree.

Pros:

  • Highly rated faculty
  • Has a “small town” feel

Cons:

  • Some issues with the financial aid process have been reported
  • A lack of communication with advisors have been reported

#6 – University of West Alabama

Online Master’s in School Counseling

Livingston, Alabama

Website

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,678

The University of West Alabama offers an online school counseling degree. It is for counselors seeking a master’s degree and master’s level certificate. It’s also for current teachers seeking to become counselors. Depending on enrollment level, the 48-credit program takes 1-2 years to complete. Each course is eight weeks in length. Courses include:

  • Career Development and Counseling
  • Counseling Children and Adolescents
  • Diagnostic Techniques for School Counselors
  • Strategies for Crisis Intervention

The program is accredited by several agencies, including:

  • The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation
  • The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education

U.S. News and World Report ranks West Alabama #107 in regional universities South.

Pros:

  • Diverse student body
  • Military friendly college

Cons:

  • Very competitive admissions process
  • Graduation rate is lower than average

#5 – Angelo State University

Online Master’s in Guidance and Counseling

San Angelo, Texas

Website

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $4,181

Angelo State University offers online school counseling programs. They are for current educators or those seeking a career change. Applicants from all academic and professional backgrounds are welcome and encouraged to apply. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum of 2.75 GPA and all college and university transcripts. The GRE is not required. The program is 100% online, making it an excellent choice for working professionals. Courses include:

  • Career and Occupational Counseling
  • Curriculum and Methodology Trends
  • Legal and Ethical Principles
  • Professional Writing for Educators

U.S. News and World Report ranks Angelo State University #148 in best online graduate education programs.

Pros:

  • Great student support services
  • Diverse student population

Cons:

  • Graduation rate is lower than the national average
  • High student-to-faculty ratio

#4 – Southern Arkansas University

Online Master’s in School Counseling

Magnolia, Arkansas

Website

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,472

Southern Arkansas University’s has an online school counseling degree. It is designed for educators seeking to become K-12 school counselors. The counseling program offers teachers initial and add-on licensure for an Arkansas license. The program is designed to fulfill licensure requirements in Arkansas and most other states. The 48-credit program takes 2.5-3 years to complete. The difference is based on taking two courses per term, including summer. The program is administered through the College of Education and the Department of Counseling and Professional Studies. U.S. News and World Report ranks Southern Arkansas University #228 in best online graduate education programs.

Pros:

  • Small class sizes
  • Solid student support network

Cons:

  • Intense course workload can be overwhelming
  • Lack of diversity

#3 – Chadron State College

Online Master of Education: School Counseling

Chadron, Nebraska

Website

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $4,650

Chadron State College offers a master’s in education: school counseling online. It is for current or aspiring school counselors. The program leads to job opportunities as school counselors in a K-12 setting. Candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. The majority of the program is conducted online. A few courses and practicum experiences must be completed in person. Courses may include:

  • Educational Psychology
  • Advanced Human Development
  • Career and Lifestyle Development
  • Counseling and Communication Skills
  • Counseling Ethics and Professional Identity

Students must also interview with faculty as part of the application process. U.S. News and World Report recognizes Chadron State College in its cohort of regional universities in the Midwest.

Pros:

  • User friendly online platform
  • Faculty support for online students

Cons:

  • Graduation rate is lower than the national average
  • Lack of diversity in student body

#2 – Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Online Master of Education and School Counseling

Durant, Oklahoma

Website

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $4,734

SOSU’s online master’s in school counseling has 42 credits. It can be completed in as few as 12 months, followed by the practicum experiences working in the field. The program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum of 2.75 GPA. Alternatively, a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with:

  • A minimum 2.0 GPA
  • A valid teacher’s license
  • Two years of teaching experience

The GRE is not required to apply. U.S. News and World Report ranked Southeastern Oklahoma State University #96 in regional universities West.

Pros:

  • Online student support resources
  • Supportive faculty

Cons:

  • Student to faculty ratio is higher than the national average

#1 – Fort Hays State University

Online Master’s in School Counseling

Hays, Kansas

Website

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $3,729

FHSU’s accelerated school counseling master’s program can be completed in one year. The three intensives must be completed on campus during the summer semester. This adds to the flexibility of the program. Students will take courses like:

  • Lifestyle and Career Development
  • Management of Counseling Programs
  • Professional Counseling in Elementary Schools

Fort Hays ranks among the top regional universities, according to U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks Fort Hays #128-#165 in best regional universities in the Midwest. Also, many of the online graduate programs have earned top rankings.

Pros:

  • Has a good reputation
  • Online degrees carry the same weight as on-campus degrees

Cons:

  • Some issues with online platform have been reported
  • Lack of diversity among student body

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Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do with a master’s in school counseling online degree?

Those with a master’s in school counseling can impact the lives of their clients and students. Most school counseling degree recipients work in public and private schools. They help students develop their academic, social, and career-related skills.

Elementary school counselors work with K-5 student populations. Students learn the skills related to wise decision-making and academic skills. Additionally, school counselors work closely with classroom teachers and parents. They learn to address and mitigate behavioral issues and diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of those they work with. Middle school counselors perform many of the same job duties that involve academic and social counseling. In addition to holding classes and workshops related to academic and social skills.

High school counselors work with students to develop academic and social skills. along with preparation for college admissions, job interviews, and post-high school life. These counselors assist students with navigating the postsecondary landscape that includes:

  • College Selection
  • Application Process
  • Financial Aid
  • Major Selection

Moreover, high school counselors may teach classes related to:

  • Study Skills
  • Academic Achievement
  • Job Interviewing
  • College Preparation
  • Career Choices

While many school counseling professionals work in public and private schools, a large contingent may work for non-profit organizations, governmental agencies, and private organizations that work with clients on various social, occupational, and academic skills and personal development. These types of counselors are sometimes called career counselors.

What is the job outlook for individuals with a master’s in school counseling online degree?

According to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, school counselor jobs are expected to increase by 13% through the ten years of 2016-2026. Compared to the 7% occupational job rate for all other types of jobs, individuals with a master’s in school counseling degree can expect far better than average opportunities to find employment. As with other occupations, applicants willing to move to regions with higher growth will have better opportunities to procure positions.

Rising demand for the job is mainly driven by student enrollment in public and private schools. The need for skilled school counselors will only increase as the population continues to increase. As more governmental pressure is put on schools to perform, the role of school counselors will only increase as they play a vital role in the academic and social development of students. In a tight funding environment, public school funding is increasingly tied to student performance, so school counselors will play an integral role in helping students do well academically. Students also rely on post-high school plans, including college, vocational training, military, and workforce entrance. As the economy becomes more stratified and complex, students will need the services of high school counselors to make appropriate decisions for their futures.

How much can I earn with a master’s in school counseling online degree?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a school counselor as of May 2022 is $60,140. Despite the reputation of low pay in public and private K-12 institutions, the median salary of a school counselor is well above the national average salary for all other occupations, which comes in at $46,310 The lowest ten percent earn $38,280. In comparison, the highest ten percent make $98,530 per year.

As with other occupations, several variables dictate annual pay, including education level, geographic location, years of experience, and type of institution. According to salary research firm PayScale, late-career school counselors earn an average of 12% higher salaries than other school counselors with less experience. Experienced school counselors earn an average of 26% more than mid-career, early-career, and entry-level school counselors.

State, local, and private elementary and secondary schools pay the highest average salary of $65,930, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Post-secondary institutions, including colleges, universities, and community colleges, pay far less, with an average salary of $50,370 annually. It should also be noted that some school counselors at all levels of the educational system do not work during the summer.

Counselors working in the healthcare and social services industries earn far less than their colleagues, with an average salary of $39,650. This level of pay is especially low, considering most of the occupations in this sector require a master’s degree.

What are the admission requirements for master’s in school counseling online programs?

Admission requirements for a master’s in school counseling online vary according to program. Some programs are designed for current educators, while others welcome candidates from all academic backgrounds, including those with no teaching experience or education. Some programs are a blend of students with teaching credentials and individuals seeking a career change who aspire to become school counseling professionals.

Institutions designed for current educators will require the student to have a degree in education at either the elementary or secondary level. Depending on the program’s ranking, students must have a minimum GPA of between 2.0-3.0. The most prestigious programs require higher GPAs, especially in upper-division education courses. Along with a degree in education, programs designed for current educators will likely require candidates to have an unencumbered teaching license valid in the state of the institution’s program. Programs for aspiring educators will require students to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in any discipline. Higher-ranked programs require a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. Regarding test scores, most online master’s degree programs in school counseling do not require standardized tests such as the GRE or MAT. The programs that do require test scores often have waivers for students with a certain GPA or years of experience teaching.

How long does it take to earn a master’s in school counseling online degree?

The time to completion for most online master’s in school counseling is approximately two years. Programs for current educators with teaching credentials can be finished within 12-18 months due to less coursework and fewer hours to be spent working with students.

Programs designed for non-educators can take significantly longer, depending on the required classes and the number of hours needed in the field. Practicum experiences can often be done in the student’s community and are generally completed towards the end of the program. For non-educators, students must take courses that familiarize them with the teaching and counseling profession and courses that lead to initial certification. Fortunately, most online programs for non-educators are designed to be completed relatively quickly, generally 2.5-3 years, including practicum and field experiences.

In addition to program structure and academic background, enrollment level is integral in how quickly a program can be completed. Most online students have obligations outside of their studies, including full-time work. Part-time students can still earn their degrees relatively quickly depending on their background, but most students taking one course per term take between 3-5 years to complete.

School counselors fulfill a very specific role in the counseling world. They guide primary and secondary students, as well as their parents. School counselors work with students on college plans and help to identify risk factors in students, from mental health issues to learning disabilities, and in some unfortunate circumstances, abuse and trauma counseling. Many online programs take three to four years to complete, considering the extensive internship requirements for licensure.

Sources

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • National Center for Education Statistics: College Navigator
  • PayScale

CVO Staff

This concludes our list of the top 10 accelerated online master’s in school counseling programs of 2024.