An online master’s in counseling will prepare you for jobs across sectors like healthcare, education, corporate, and social services, along with various clinical and professional settings. A master’s degree in counseling online will help you build the essential skills you need to excel as a counselor. Students have the opportunity to specialize in different areas like mental health, substance abuse, family and marriage therapy, teen counseling and school counseling, among others. A master’s degree curriculum helps students to build on the skills and knowledge developed as an undergrad. Online counseling master’s programs blend theory and history of counseling with a practical and experiential approach as well as with case studies and research-based evidence. Along with the various courses they take, students also undergo internships and practicums that offer a hands-on learning experience. An affordable online master’s in counseling is a great way to continue with higher education and gain a postgraduate degree as one continues to work. An advanced degree in counseling paves the way for career growth and better prospects, and an online format allows one to study and gain work experience at the same time.
In this article, we have looked at the schools that only offer a comprehensive curriculum but also affordable tuition rates as well. We have looked at the course offerings, accreditation, reputation, and academic quality but primarily ranked them by the affordability of tuition. Schools on the list were selected based on affordability, program quality, and support services, with our top school receiving the #1 ranking.
#20 Regent University
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Online Master of Arts in School Counseling
Regent University offers an online Master of Arts in School Counseling via its School of Psychology and Counseling. The 100% online program prepares students to become effective school counselors who can empower individuals with skills and resources to transform their lives. They gain the skills to resolve and find solutions to real-world problems faced by students today. The CACREP accredited and VDOE approved program also prepares them to meet the Virginia requirements for a career in professional counseling within the public-school system. Graduates go on to work in various K-12 educational settings, in public, private and charter schools. The 60-credit coursework includes orientation to the counseling profession, counseling children & adolescents, principles of school counseling, program development & evaluation for school counselors, counseling skills & techniques, theories of counseling, addiction therapies for individuals & families, career & lifestyle development, psychopathology & diagnosis, human growth & development, concepts of family systems, group counseling, ethics, professional orientation & legal issues in counseling, and multicultural counseling, along with other courses, practicums and internships.
Tuition per credit hour: $710
#19 Grace College and Theological Seminary
Winona Lake, Indiana
Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Grace College and Theological Seminary offers an online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling that blends Christian philosophy with in-depth counseling theory and knowledge and that of the social sciences. The program is primarily online but does include an annual seven-to-ten-day residency on campus. Graduates develop strong professional and interpersonal skills for effective counseling practice. The online 60-credit hour program includes courses like Theological Foundations in Counseling, Foundations of CMHC, Marriage and Family Counseling, Personality and Counseling Theories, Psychopathology, Counseling Skills, Psychotherapy with Children and Adolescents, Spirituality in Counseling, Research and Program Evaluation, Addictions Counseling, Gender and Sexuality, Advanced Clinical Practices & Treatment, and Ethical and Legal Issues, among others. The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
Tuition per credit hour: $624
#18 Malone University
Online Master of Arts in Education-Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Malone University offers an online Master of Arts in Education-Clinical Mental Health Counseling that blends the science of counseling with a biblical worldview. The 100% online program offers a holistic approach to care, combining clinical training with a comprehensive curriculum that covers all aspects of counseling. The 60-credit coursework covers topics like Major Counseling Theories and Techniques, Cultural Competence in Counseling, Human Development, Leadership in Counseling, Career Decision-Making, Addiction, Abnormal Psychology, Counseling & Helping Relationship, Assessment and Testing, Professional Counseling Orientation, Research Methods and Design, Treatment Methods, Holistic Approaches to Counseling, Ethical Practice, Diagnosis of Mental Disorders, Social Justice Advocacy along with State-specific credentialing requirements. Malone University’s online Master of Arts in Education-Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree also requires both a practicum and a two-part internship which helps students gain extensive hands-on training. It is accredited by CACREP.
Tuition per credit hour: $595
#17 Bellevue University
Online Master of Science in Clinical Counseling
Bellevue University offers an online Master of Science in Clinical Counseling degree that aligns with national licensing standards and prepares students to take the national licensing exam to become a mental health counselor. The 60 credit-hour online graduate degree program includes courses like introduction to counseling theories, helping relationships and orientation to the counseling profession, theories of psychopathology, statistics, and quantitative research methods along with practicum and internship. The CACREP-accredited program prepares students to apply their learning directly to the field and serve the mental health needs of children, adolescents, and adults over the lifespan. They learn to integrate ethical principles and standards, multicultural awareness and diversity issues into personal and professional activities. They go on to demonstrate professional counseling skills and techniques with their foundational knowledge of the counseling profession. Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and the Master of Science in Clinical Counseling is accredited by CACREP.
Tuition per credit hour: $575
#16 Liberty University
Online Master’s in Professional Counseling
Liberty University offers an affordable online Master’s in Professional Counseling which prepares students to gain state licensure and become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Graduates go on to work in various settings with individuals, families, and groups by addressing their mental health and behavioral problems. The 100% online program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The 60-credit hour coursework includes Ethical and Legal Issues in Counseling, Group Counseling, Multicultural Counseling, Theories in Counseling, Psychopathology, and many other areas of knowledge for evidence-based best practices that are essential for the counseling practice. Students have to undergo assessments, practicum, and internship to gain practical skills like observational and hands-on work knowledge. The evidence-based online curriculum enhances their understanding of human psychology so that they can promote mental health and holistic wellness of individuals in diverse communities.
Tuition per credit hour: $565
#15 Indiana Wesleyan University
Online Master of Arts-Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Indiana Wesleyan University offers an online Master of Arts-Clinical Mental Health Counseling program that trains students to become highly competent counselors and provide mental health services so that they can positively impact the lives of the people whom they serve. The 60-credit-hour program includes courses like Human Growth and Development, Multicultural Counseling, Theory and Techniques in the Helping Relationship, Theory and Techniques in Group Counseling, Theory and Techniques in Career Counseling, Appraisal of Individuals and Families, Research and Evaluation of Methods and Practice, Legal, Ethical and Professional Issues, Integration of Christian Faith in Professional Counseling, Foundations in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Assessment and Intervention in Clinical Mental Health, Ecological Counseling and Prevention, Issues in Addiction Recovery, and Psychopathology, along with practicum and internships. The program blends faith, learning and professional practice throughout the curriculum. The 100% online program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
Tuition per credit hour: $546
#14 University of Louisiana
Online Master of Science in Counseling
The University of Louisiana-Monroe offers an Online Master of Science in Counseling with two tracks: Clinical Mental Health and School Counseling. Both programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The programs train graduates to serve as professionals in their respective areas of interest and make a positive impacting by helping people. Graduates go on to work as mental health counselors, addiction specialists, mental health administrators, career counselors, school counselors, vocational counselors, rehabilitation counselors, group facilitators, and family therapists, among others. Each program consists of 60 credit hours and prepares students to provide effective counseling services to individuals from diverse backgrounds in a wide variety of settings. Students who already have a master’s or doctoral degree can get admission with GRE. The Clinical Mental Health Counseling curriculum meets the requirements for the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Louisiana. Students from other states would have to check with their state licensing boards to see if the course matches or prepares them for specific regulations.
Tuition per credit hour: $500
#13 University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Online M.A. in Counseling (K-12 School Counseling Emphasis)
The University of North Dakota offers an Online M.A. in Counseling with a K-12 School Counseling focus that prepares students to promote the career, academic, personal and social development of students in the K-12 setting. The 60-credit program includes courses like Professional Issues in Counseling, Life-Span Development in Counseling, Counseling Methods, Methods of Research, Group Theory and Process, Career Counseling, Diagnostic and Prevention Strategies in Counseling, Dynamics of Addiction, Theories of Counseling, Personality and Development, Psychology of Women,Gender and Development, Multicultural Counseling, Couples And Family Counseling, Child and Adolescent Counseling, and Cognitive Assessment, along with a Counseling Practicum. The online M.A.in Counseling (K-12 School Counseling Emphasis) program is accredited by CAEP, Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation, and approved by the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices for School Counselor Competencies (ESPB). Graduates of this program go on to help students overcome obstacles and reach their academic and career goals to the fullest potential.
Tuition per credit hour: $480
#12 Lindsey Wilson College
Online Master of Education degree in Counseling and Human Development
Lindsey Wilson College offers an online Master of Education degree in Counseling and Human Development that is designed for students who wish to pursue professional counseling careers to help others and make a difference. The program offers essential knowledge and skills to be a professional mental health counselor by emphasizing the core values of ethics and multiculturalism. The 60-credit hour includes courses like counseling theories and techniques, lifecycle development in individuals and families, individual and group assessment, personal growth and development group, research methods, professional issues and ethics among others. Practicum and internship requirements are included in the 100% online program as well. The affordable master’s degree online program is CACREP-accredited and equips students with the clinical skills, practical experience, and theoretical knowledge essential to be a successful counselor. Students looking to specialize in an area further can choose to get a Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling at the same time.
Tuition per credit hour: $474
#11 University of Missouri
Online Master’s in Educational, School and Counseling Psychology
The University of Missouri offers an online MEd in Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology with Emphasis in School Counselor, Elementary and Secondary Certification. The affordable and accredited online degree is part of the counseling psychology program. This specialty prepares students to work as effective counselors in elementary school, middle school or high school settings. The scientist-practitioner model of training and the counseling program model combines with comprehensive school guidance blending the theory, research or practice of counseling psychology. The 67-credit hour program includes courses like Lifespan Development, Foundations of Career Psychology, Overview of Research Methods and School Guidance Programs, Theories and Techniques of Counseling, and Foundations of Career Psychology, among others. The courses meet the requirements of the Department of Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology, the College of Education, and the University of Missouri Graduate School. They prepare graduates to practice successfully as school counselors in socially and economically diverse work settings.
Tuition per credit hour: $422.17
#10 Bethel College
Los Angeles, California
Online Master of Arts in Counseling
Bethel College offers an online Master of Arts in Counseling that prepares students to impact the lives of individuals and groups positively. The rigorous academic curriculum leaves students well-prepared to sit for the National Counselor Certification (NCC) and the Indiana licensing exam. Students have the opportunity to tailor their degree to match their professional goals by choosing any of the tracks like mental health counseling, marriage and family counseling, or addiction counseling. The 60-credit coursework includes Human Development Across the Lifespan, Theories & Techniques of Counseling, Group Counseling, Social and Cultural Diversity, Evidence-based Practices & Outcomes Management, Research Methods & Statistical Applications, Career Counseling, Psychometric Theory & Development, Practice Management & Consultation among others. Bethel College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Graduates go onto enjoy successful and satisfying counseling careers in clinical behavioral health and nonprofit sectors.
Tuition per credit hour: $455
#9 Adams State University
Online Master’s in Counseling
Adams State University offers an online Master of Arts in Counseling with an emphasis in Clinical Mental Health and School Counseling. Both counseling programs are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, CACREP and the Colorado Department of Education. Each program consists of 60 credit hours and meets the Colorado state academic requirements for licensure to practice as a school counselor and/or a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state. The programs are delivered in a flexible, online format but do require two one-week on campus summer residencies. Considered to be one of most affordable online counseling degree programs, they provide students with a comprehensive theoretical knowledge base, sound practical and relational skills, and the right professional dispositions to work in various settings and with a diverse clientele. Core courses include Introduction to Research, Multicultural & Diversity Issues, Lifespan Development, Counseling Theories & Helping Relationships and Group Counseling among others.
Tuition per credit hour: $435
#8 University of West Alabama
Online M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
The University of West Alabama offers an online in Clinical Mental Health Counseling that provides students with extensive knowledge and skills they need to help people with various issues. The 100% online program helps them to gain a deep understanding of counseling techniques, theories, and principles so that they can promote the mental health and wellness for individuals in diverse settings. Graduates go on to work in hospitals, community agencies, managed behavioral health care organizations, substance abuse treatment centers or set up private practices. The 60-credit hour coursework includes Life-Span Development and Learning, Techniques of Educational Research, Educational Statistics, Professional Orientation, Techniques of Counseling, Career Development and Counseling, Counseling Children and Adolescents, Strategies for Crisis Intervention, Diagnostic Techniques in Counseling, Group Counseling, Counseling Multicultural Populations, and The Diagnostic Process for Mental Disorders, along with practicum and internships. The program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
Tuition per credit hour: $429
#7 Angelo State University
San Angelo, Texas
Online Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling
Angelo State University offers an affordable Online Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling that prepares students to work in a variety of educational settings as public school counselors and college and university counselors, among others. Students are also well-prepared to take the Texas Examination of Educator Standards (TExES) for the Professional Certificate for School Counselors through this 100-percent online program. Graduates apply their knowledge base to promote the educational, personal, social, and career development of the students they work with. The 36-semester credit hour coursework includes Social and Cultural Influences, Tests and Measurements, Research, Legal and Ethical Principles, Curriculum and Methodology Trends, Professional Writing for Educators, Individual Counseling, Group Counseling, Theories of Counseling, Career and Occupational Counseling, Dysfunctional Behavior and Leadership among others.
Tuition per year: $12078.80
#6 University of the Cumberlands
Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
The University of the Cumberlands offers an online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling that prepares students to help people with mental health or emotional issues. Graduates go on to work in various settings like Clinical Mental Health Centers, Hospitals, Community Agencies, Private Practice, and Correctional Facilities to make a positive impact in the lives of others as a mental health counselor. The curriculum includes courses like Introduction to the Counseling Profession, Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling, Lifestyle and Career Development, Psychological Assessment in Clinical Practice, Human Growth and Development, Etiology and Diagnosis of Mental Disorders, Theories in Counseling, Counseling during Grief and Crisis, Theory and Practice of Multicultural Counseling, Group Counseling, Theories & Techniques for Treatment of Process Addictions & Substance Abuse, Marriage and Family Counseling, Child and Adolescent Counseling along with research methods, practicum, internships, and assessments. The affordable program is CACREP-accredited and also offers an option for an Addiction Counselor certification.
Tuition per credit hour: $400
#5 Creighton University
Online Master of Science in School Counseling and Preventive Mental Health
Creighton University offers an Online Master’s in School Counseling and Preventive Mental Health that aligns with the standards identified within the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) national model. Students get a comprehensive foundation in school counseling and related areas of child and adolescent development as they learn to develop strategies to help students cope with challenges. The 36-credit program includes courses like Professional Orientation to School Counseling, Introduction to the ASCA Model of School Counseling, Ethical Guidelines for School Counselors, Action Research in School Counseling, Individual & Program Assessment in School Counseling, Issues in Child & Adolescent Development for School Counselors, Theoretical Perspectives in School Counseling, Career Perspectives for Children & Adolescents, Individual Planning & Counseling Techniques for School Counselors, Data-Driven Perspectives in School Counseling, and Social Justice & Diversity in School Counseling, among others. Students can tailor their degree by opting for one of the three tracks like elementary school counseling, PK-12 guidance counseling, and secondary school counseling. Creighton University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
Tuition per credit hour: $577
#4 Lamar University
Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Online
Lamar University offers an online Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling that prepares students with the training, deep knowledge and practical experience to help individuals in distress. They learn to use empathy and intelligence to help people cope with marriage and family problems, career and other emotional issues along with substance abuse and addictions problems. The online M.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling prepares graduates to practice in a range of settings and work with a diverse population. The 60-credit hour program includes courses like Foundations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Individual Counseling Theories & Techniques, Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling, Group Counseling, Career Development, Measurement and Assessment, Multicultural Counseling, Professionalism, Ethics and the Law, Human Growth and Development, Abnormal Human Behavior, Counseling Skills, Substance Abuse Counseling, Crisis Prevention & Intervention along with practicums and internships. The Clinical Mental Health Program at Lamar University is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
#3 Southern Arkansas University
Online Master of Education (School Counseling)
Southern Arkansas University offers an Online Master of Education in School Counseling that prepares students to work in varied educational settings and with a diverse student population. It prepares students to become knowledgeable, self-aware professional school counselors and also meets the licensure requirements for school counseling K-12 for both advanced and initial credentials in Arkansas and most other states. The 48-credit program includes courses like introduction to the counseling profession, career counseling theory and practice, assessment procedures for counselors, counseling children and adolescents, basic counseling skills, counseling in a diverse society, development and administration of school counseling programs, and human development for helping professionals. Students must complete a practicum in counseling as well. The program aligns with the American School Counselor Association’s National Model and National Standards.
#2 North Carolina Central University
Durham, North Carolina
Online MA in Mental Health Counseling
North Carolina Central University offers an online MA in Mental Health Counseling that prepares students to work in diverse settings in non-profit, private, and other sectors. The 60-credit hour program is recognized as a Criteria C school for Licensure as a Clinical Addictions Specialist (LCAS) and prepares students for application as Licensed Professional Counselors in NC. For LCAS, students need to take three additional courses. The 100% online program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP.) Courses include Ethical, Professional Orientation to Counseling, Theories & Techniques, Crisis, Trauma & Grief Counseling, Intro to Mental Health Counseling, Psychosocial Development, Cultural Diversity & Gender Issues, Group Counseling, Intro to Family Counseling and Intro to Substance Abuse Counseling, among others. The Program is an endorsed member of the International Registry of Counselor Education Programs (IRCEP).
Tuition per credit hour: $256.64
#1 Fort Hays State University
Online Master of Science in Counseling-School Counseling
Fort Hays State University offers an online Master of Science in Counseling-School Counseling that prepares students to meet the state licensure requirements. Graduates are prepared to work in various educational settings and help students improve their academic achievement, set personal goals, and excel in what they do. The 48-credit hour coursework includes Educational Research, Counseling Skills Development, Lifespan Human Development, Foundations of Counseling, Lifestyle and Career Development, Appraisal in Counseling, Theories of Counseling, Management of Counseling Programs, Group Counseling: Theories & Procedures, Social and Cultural Foundations of Counseling, Professional Counseling in Elementary Schools, Psychopathology and Diagnosis, Professional & Ethical Issues in Counseling along with Practicum, Counseling Internship and Supervised Field Experience. The program is accredited by the Kansas State Department of Education and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
Tuition per credit hour: $287.75
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