People often go into the field of teaching because they enjoy working with children, and one of the most rewarding jobs in education is that of a school counselor. An online master’s degree in school counseling can be your path to a career of guiding students toward useful and happy lives. Coursework in attaining a master’s degree in school counseling will prepare you to fulfill this valuable role in public and private schools. This list of the ten best deals for online master’s degrees in school counseling will help you find a respected and accredited school that won’t bust your budget.
School counselors provide a wide range of services, from assessing students for learning or mental health issues, to helping them deal with their problems. Many school counselors specialize in the area of career planning for high school and college students. Counselors also interact with parents, teachers, and administrative staff to discuss and enhance the well-being of individual students. Much time may be spent in administering and assessing tests. With the heavy emphasis being placed nationally on testing, school counselors find themselves at the forefront of this critical activity.
School counselors also see to it that the requirements of special-needs students are met. Rather than the principal or assistant principal, the school counselor is often the employee to whom parents will turn when they need help for a problem concerning their child. School counselors provide an essential element in the school environment.
A master’s degree is recognized as the minimum educational requirement for most positions as a school counselor. Online master’s programs are created to reflect the coursework found at a brick-and-mortar college or university. Students in this program will learn modern counseling practices, along with traditional fundamentals and the most up-to-date information in the field. Online students usually decide to focus coursework within a specific age range, and they will complete supervised internships at a local school. While attaining an online master’s in school counseling, students may complete their program requirements while continuing to meet any day-to-day work requirements.
In the following guide, you will find more information about how to use your master’s in school counseling degree and what kinds of positions await you after graduation.
What does a master’s in school counseling do?
An online master’s degree in school counseling equips you with the skills essential for a diverse range of educational positions. Besides focusing on academics, school counselors also help students with personal, social, and parental concerns. School counselors work at all educational levels, from elementary school to college.
An online master’s degree in school counseling will prepare you for the crucial areas that fill a school counselor’s daily life. These activities include the following: being an advocate for those in one’s care; organizing and executing testing and other forms of evaluation; providing leadership within the school and community; overseeing human resources for a school; paying proper attention to the healthy development of students; and awareness of and skill in utilizing counseling methods.
What does the degree cover?
An online master’s degree in school counseling offers students a strong background in techniques of counseling, current research in the field, testing and evaluation, learning and human development, and college and career planning. Opportunities to learn counseling in multicultural environments and the chance for collaborative learning are often available to replicate the day-to-day activities and experiences of a school counselor.
What jobs are available for degree holders and what is the job outlook for the profession?
While most counselors work in elementary, middle and high schools, both public and private, there are opportunities for those interested in working in institutions of higher education, where they may educate and advise students on specific classes and potential majors. According to data supplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for school and career counselors is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations in the coming years, barring cutbacks in local or state budgets. The industry as a whole is expected to add about 31,000 jobs by 2022, according to U.S. News and World Report. With a master’s degree in school counseling achieved entirely online, you will be qualified for employment in most educational settings. With experience, you could also function in higher-level positions within state or local governments.
What salaries can I expect?
Starting yearly salaries vary widely, but salaries for holders of a master’s degree in school counseling can range from $47,000 to $61,000, according to data from U.S. News and World Report.
Why should I study online instead of in traditional face-to-face college?
For the adult who has already begun a career or is dealing with personal responsibilities, achieving an online degree offers numerous advantages. An online education allows you the chance to proceed on your own schedule and to fulfill day-to-day obligations in the meantime. Many colleges and universities offer a reduced rate of tuition for online classes. Another savings will be gas and parking fees. There are also accelerated courses of study so you may complete your degree more quickly, saving even more time and money.
Students interested in an online master’s degree in school counseling should ascertain that a particular online degree for a master’s degree in school counseling fulfills their state’s requirements for licensure. Online master’s degree programs in school counseling will usually include an internship, which gives students the real-world opportunity to put to use what they have acquired in their classroom learning and experiences. In addition, many colleges and universities require a period of on-campus attendance, so you should check to see if this requirement applies to the program you are interested in.
How do I find the online master’s program that is right for me?
Online colleges can be evaluated in ways that are similar to traditional brick and mortar colleges, absent, of course, the need to be present physically at the institution. Any viable institution of higher education offers accreditation, an attractive faculty to student ratio, desired courses, and affordable tuition–all of which are factors that may be verified electronically.
Certain areas of student satisfaction are harder to gauge and may include the flexibility of the course offerings and his or her own needs. Materials and presentation of the coursework will affect student satisfaction with an academic program. Feedback policies are essential elements of a successful college experience, and this is the case with online programs, where a student’s completion of an assignment may depend on timely notification about previous work. Other driving forces behind a satisfactory fit with an online college involve technology support and post-graduation career resources. Tech support centers should be within reach 24/7. Because job markets continue to be competitive, colleges should offer assistance in finding employment after graduation. Be sure to utilize these services to the fullest extent.
Some of these programs have limited residential requirements. A few days a year, once a year, perhaps. Due to the sensitive nature of the counseling profession, it makes sense that schools would want to vet candidates for this important profession fully.
Does getting an online degree get me a different diploma than people who go to a brick and mortar college?
Getting an online master’s degree in school counseling from a school results in the same diploma that traditional students receive. You can even attend the same graduation ceremony if you want to. There is no “online” descriptor on the diploma. In many cases, the instructors are the same ones you would have had in the traditional program.
How will I pay for an online master’s degree in school counseling?
Some online schools may offer the same course per hour rate to out-of-state students as to those who are state residents. A master’s degree typically requires a year and one-half to two years of full-time study. To earn a master’s degree, you usually need to complete from 36 to 60 semester credits of study (or 60 to 90 quarter-credits). This equals 12 to 20 college courses. Public or state universities award most master’s degrees. Federal student aid and scholarships are available in the same manner as for traditional college students.
What kind of skills does online college require?
Online studies require certain organizational skills and awareness of one’s responsibilities. Most schools have a brief online quiz you can take to see where you stand on the possession of these skills. Many of the skills you learned achieving your bachelor’s degree will still apply in online graduate school. Online education also requires a technical component, but if you have managed to access this article without outside assistance, you likely have the acumen necessary to complete an online master’s degree in school counseling.
How were these rankings arrived at?
A number of factors entered into this ranking of the ten best deals on online master’s degrees in school counseling. Those factors are broken down in the bullet points below. Where there is a tie on points in school rankings, tuition cost will be the deciding factor. Another factor is a school’s student to faculty ratio, as well as bonus points that may be awarded for tuition breaks for out of state online students.
Tuition figures for the year are the out of state graduate tuition numbers reported to the National Center for Education Statistics, an information clearinghouse of the US government. Enrollment and student to faculty ratios are also from this source. Any per credit hour tuition rate included in the school review paragraph is courtesy of that school’s website and may reflect a discount from the government reported rate.
Rating and Ranking Methodology
- Under $30,000—1 point
- Under $27,000—2 points
- Under $24,000—3 points
- Under $21,000—4 points
- Under $18,000—5 points
- Under $15,000—6 points
- Under $12,000—7 points
- Under $9,000—8 points
Student to Faculty Ratio Points
- Above 35-1 point
- Above 30-2 point
- Above 25-3 points
- Above 20-4 points
- Above 15-5 points
- Above 10-6 points
- Top 40-1 point
- Top 30-2 points
- Top 20-3 points
- Top 10-4 points
- Top 5-5 points
Bonus for special tuition discount for online students
- Has special online discount for tuition or charges in-state tuition to online students-3 points
- Online students charged standard tuition-0 points
#10 – New York University
New York, New York
Online MA in Counseling and Guidance
New York University offers this online master’s degree through the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. With a student to faculty ratio of 10 to 1, their online master of art in counseling and guidance, school counseling concentration is a 48 credit hour degree program that includes coursework in cross cultural counseling and group dynamics: theory and practice. Students in this program will seek a concentration in either traditional school counseling or bilingual school counseling. Those who pursue the bilingual concentration will learn common challenges that face students for whom English is a second language, along with appropriate solutions for those challenges. New York University offers an online, graduate tuition rate of $1,660 per credit hour for this program. They are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
#9 – University of Missouri-Columbia
Online Master of Education in Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology
The University of Missouri-Columbia was founded in 1839. With a student to faculty ratio of 19 to 1, their online master of education in educational, school and counseling psychology with an emphasis in mental health practices in schools is a 34 credit hour degree program that includes coursework in developmental aspects of human learning and school mental health policy. The University of Missouri-Columbia online program utilizes three different approaches, the first two of which are self-paced: courses with a maximum completion time of six months; courses with a completion time based on 8 or 16 week sessions; or courses that are semester based. The University of Missouri-Columbia offers an online graduate tuition rate of $360 per credit hour. They are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
#8 – University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Master’s in School Counseling Online
The University of North Dakota is the Roughrider State’s oldest and largest university. With a student to faculty ratio of 21 to 1, their online master’s in counseling, emphasis in K-12 school counseling is a 50 credit hour degree program that includes coursework in group theory and process and career counseling. Students who have already obtained a graduate-level degree in counseling or a related field have the option of completing coursework for an online post-master’s PK-12 School Counseling Licensure. Completion of the individualized coursework provides eligibility for school counseling licensure in North Dakota, and the coursework may be compatible with licensure requirements in other states. The University of North Dakota offers an in-state, online, graduate tuition rate of $382.89 per credit hour, regardless of residency. They are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
#7 – University of Louisiana- Monroe
Online MS in School Counseling
The University of Louisiana-Monroe started as a junior college in 1931 and awarded their first doctoral degree in 1970. With a student to faculty ratio of 21 to 1, their online master of science in counseling-school counseling is a 60 credit hour degree program that includes coursework in theories of counseling and maladaptive behavior. The master of science degree in counseling offers three degree concentrations: School Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, or specialization in both. The University of Louisiana-Monroe offers an online, graduate tuition rate of $500 per credit hour, regardless of residency. They are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.
#6 – Angelo State University
San Angelo, Texas
Online Master’s in Guidance and Counseling
Angelo State University was founded in 1928 and is a proud member of the Texas Tech University System. With a student to faculty ratio of 20 to 1, their online master of education in guidance and counseling is a 36 credit hour degree program that includes coursework in dysfunctional behavior and leadership. They offer an eight-week, online program, which students may complete in less than two years. The Guidance and Counseling program was chosen for a “Students Before Profits Award” by Nonprofit Colleges Online. Angelo State University charges an out of state graduate tuition rate of $629.20 per credit hour. They are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.
#5 – Seton Hall University
South Orange, New Jersey
Master of Arts in School Counseling Online
Seton Hall University is one of the premier Catholic universities in the country and named for the first American-born saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton. With a student to faculty ratio of 13 to 1, their online master of arts in school counseling is a 48 credit hour degree program that includes coursework in counseling theories and abnormal psychology. Seton Hall’s Department of Professional Psychology and Family Therapy was created in the early 1960s with the goal of training professionals for a diverse range of counseling and educational fields. Seton Hall University offers an online, graduate tuition rate of $739 per credit hour for this program. They are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
#4 – University of West Alabama
Master of Education Online in School Counseling
The University of West Alabama was once led by famed educator and reformer Julia S. Tutwiler. With a student to faculty ratio of 12 to 1, their online master of education in school counseling is a 48 credit hour degree program that includes coursework in group counseling and career counseling. Admission to this program is contingent upon meeting all requirements for admission to the School of Graduate Studies. Applicants must have obtained a baccalaureate level certificate in a teaching field or a master’s level professional educator certificate in another area of instructional support. In addition, admission to the program requires two years of approved educational experience. The University of West Alabama offers an online graduate tuition rate of $429 per credit hour, regardless of residency. They are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.
#3 – Indiana Wesleyan University
Online MA in School Counseling
Indiana Wesleyan University is a private, non-profit school that was founded in 1920 in affiliation with the Wesleyan Church. With a student to faculty ratio of 14 to 1, their online master of arts with a major in school counseling is a 48 credit hour degree program that includes coursework in multicultural counseling and psychopharmacology. The 48-hour program consists of nine (9) core counseling classes (or 27 hours), offered online; three (3) School Counseling specialization classes (or 9 hours), only offered online; one (1) elective course (or 3 hours) either online or onsite; one (1) semester (100 hour) didactic Practicum face-to-face clinical experience in a school setting (or 3 hours) ; two (2) semesters of Internship (each 300 hours) face-to-face clinical experience in a school (or 6 hours) ; two weekend intensives (typically Thursday through Saturday in late October and early May). Indiana Wesleyan University offers an online graduate tuition rate of $533 per credit hour. They are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
#2 – Fort Hays State University
MS in School Counseling Online
Fort Hays State University was founded in 1902. With a student to faculty ratio of 16 to 1, their online master of science in counseling-school counseling is a 48 credit hour degree program that includes coursework in counseling skills development and lifespan human development. Also required is a three-hour research methods course and achieving a satisfactory passing grade on a comprehensive exam on the subject fields of the program. The master’s degree must be completed within six (6) calendar years after beginning the program. Fort Hays State University offers an online, graduate tuition rate of $280.73 per credit hour, regardless of residency. They are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
#1 – Concordia University-Wisconsin
Online MS in Education-Counseling
Concordia University-Wisconsin was founded by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod more than 125 years ago. With a student to faculty ratio of 11 to 1, their online master of science in education-counseling, school counseling concentration is a 45 credit hour degree program that includes coursework in individual counseling and consultation strategies. CUW’s counseling graduates find work in Lutheran and public schools, as well as agencies and communities, where they share their faith in God and their skills. Concordia University-Wisconsin offers an online graduate tuition rate of $579 for this program. They are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
By Jennifer W. Eisenberg