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Top Online School Counseling Programs—13 Master’s Under $20,000

Online school counseling programs prepare you to work with children

School counselors of all types are in demand at schools in all corners of the nation. If you believe you have what it takes to help today’s children grow into the strong, capable adults of tomorrow, enrolling in one of these affordable online school counseling programs can give you the skills and credentials you need to go into this much-needed education specialty.

School Counseling Graduate Programs

Online school counseling programs have classes in many aspects of psychology, but they are usually shorter than degrees that give you the credential needed to practice outside of school settings as a psychologist or counselor. Online school counseling programs will also have many specialized courses in behavioral strategies, assessment, special education and more.

School counselors come in different flavors, and some people want a more specialized program to become a guidance counselor, a college student affairs counselor, or a school psychometrist who can identify special educational needs or gifts through testing. There are focused programs that can take you into these career tracks, but most online school counseling programs offer more generalized training that will allow you to more broadly serve a student population. School counseling can involve many aspects of helping students to reach their full potential that it can be a very rewarding career.

Many people look for an affordable online school counseling program to add skills to their career in education, either as a teacher or administrator, but some people will use online master’s in school counseling programs to switch careers into education from another profession. Some online colleges for school counseling require you to have a teaching license or certificate before you apply, while others will let you take courses before you have your state license or certificate.

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Becoming a Professional School Counselor

In each state, licensure requirements for school counselors will vary, with some requiring their own or other exams, some requiring specific work experience in education, and others who don’t have these requirements. Some online school counseling master’s programs are geared to help students get licensure in a particular state, but most online master’s in school counseling programs will fulfill the educational requirements for other states as well. Before choosing a program, it is advisable to check with your state to make sure that the degree you earn will qualify you for licensure as a school counselor.

In addition to the education, states may require background checks and teaching certificates to practice as a professional. For instance, Maryland requires a master’s degree, a PreK-12 certification, and a background check, but no exam. Massachusetts, on the other hand, doesn’t require the background check at the state level but at the point of hire, yet does require certain practicum experience and a passing score on the Massachusetts Communication and Literacy Skills Test. With each state, the process to become licensed can be a bit different, but all of the online master’s in school counseling programs have extensive coursework that will meet most state requirements. Some states will allow a provisional certificate while you are enrolled in an accepted master’s program, as the demand for these professions is very high.

Online School Counseling Programs: Cost, Length & Career Possibilities

Affordable online school counseling programs can take between 18 months to three years or more to complete. All are designed to allow you to study while working, so they can be completed online. Some programs do require short on-campus visits, so consider whether you would like some in-person interaction and can afford the time to travel. The costs for online school counseling programs can vary from around $11k to almost $90k. The schools on our list are all in the very affordable range, with tuition and fees totaling no more than $20k for in-state students. Financial aid, military education benefits, and employer training funds can help many students cover these costs.

The job outlook for school and career counselors is projected to rise much faster than average, at 8% between 2019 and 2029. The median salary for the profession is $57,040 per year, with the vast majority of school and career counselors working in K-12 schools or higher education settings like junior colleges, professional schools, or universities. The top earners in this profession can make over $90k per year. School counselors can have different titles and perform slightly different duties depending on the school, the needs of the student population, and the expertise of the school counselor. With the responsibility of helping students succeed, school counselors are positioned to have a profound impact on student’s lives, the success of the school system, and to help meet pressing needs in society for quality education for all students.

13 Most Affordable Online School Counseling Master’s Programs

With such a wonderful helping profession to look forward to, you make not want to spend a fortune to get the training you need to become a school counselor. Have no fear: we have a list of the most cost-effective online colleges for school counseling that will give you a quality education. Here are those schools:

  1. Southeastern Oklahoma State University

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $11,130

    Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s online MEd in School Counseling offers eight different start dates per year and the courses can be completed in as little as one year. Students will also need to do a practicum for this 42 credit program. Courses in the program include Theories of Counseling, Social and Cultural Diversity Issues in Counseling, and Developmental School Counseling. No GRE is required for admission, and applicants with just a 2.0 GPA from their undergraduate degree with a teaching certificate, or 2.75 overall GPA of 3.0 GPA on the last 60 credits of undergraduate courses may apply. The 100% online program from Southeastern Oklahoma State University is perfect for students from anywhere who seek a cost-effective online school counseling program with no GRE.

    Find Out More:
    Master of Education in School Counseling


  2. The University of Texas at Tyler

    Total Cost (In-State): $11,950
    Total Cost (Out-of-State): $30,560

    With the 100% online MA in School Counseling from The University of Texas at Tyler, students can complete the degree in 24 months. With pass rates on the Texas certification exam of 99%, this proven program allows for lots of interaction over digital media with the talented faculty. In-state tuition is a bargain, while out-of-state students will pay more for this top-quality program. Applicants need to have a combination of GPA and GRE scores to qualify for admission, though admission is not guaranteed. Texas students must hold a Texas teaching certificate and have two years of teaching experience in Texas to qualify, and students will only be eligible for the Texas certification in school counseling if they perform their practicum in Texas. The program operates on the cohort model, so is a good choice for those who want to develop strong peer relationships during their degree.

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    Master of Arts in School Counseling


  3. West Texas A&M University

    Total Cost (In-State): $12,911
    Total Cost (Out-of-State): $28,371

    The 36 credit hour online MEd in School Counseling from West Texas A & M University is an interdisciplinary program with core required courses, electives, and a practicum. Students complete a comprehensive exam as part of the curriculum, which is good preparation for the national certification exam. Courses in the program include Group Counseling, Cross-cultural Counseling, Assessment and Testing in Counseling, and Crisis Counseling. Applicants should have a 2.75 GPA on the last 60 credits of undergraduate work, and a teaching certification with at least one year of classroom experience is preferred but not required. Students will set up their own practicum arrangements, which can be completed in their own community. The program allows students to transfer up to 12 credits from another master’s program, and those with military service may be eligible for some credits as well. West Texas A & M University’s affordable online school counseling program is great for Texas residents and others who wish to go into this in-demand specialty.

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    Master of Education in School Counseling


  4. Angelo State University

    Total Cost (In-State): $13,313
    Total Cost (Out-of-State): $28,253

    Angelo State University’s online MS in Professional School Counseling is a 48 credit program that can lead to Texas or other state certification, along with other certification requirements. The classes are eight weeks long, making it possible to complete the program quickly while studying around your other responsibilities. Five different start dates per year means students can start their program on their own schedule. Courses in the program include Tests & Measurements, Dysfunctional Behavior, Role of the School Counselor, and Professional Writing for Educators. Applicants should have a 2.75 GPA on either their complete bachelor’s degree or the last 60 credits of undergraduate work, but no GRE is required for admission. With maximum flexibility and low cost, the Angelo State University degree is one of the best online school counseling programs with no GRE exam required.

    Find Out More:
    Master of Education in Guidance & Counseling


  5. Fort Hays State University

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $13,812

    The 3-year online MS in Counseling – School Counseling from Fort Hays State University is designed to help students meet state licensure requirements after they complete the program. Students can start in the fall, spring or summer semesters. Courses in the program include Research & Evaluation in Counseling, Lifestyle & Career, Management of Counseling Programs, and Professional & Ethical Issues in Counseling. Students will be required to pass a comprehensive exam before they begin their practicum and internships. To apply, students will need a 3.0 GPA on the last 60 credits of undergraduate work, although the faculty may conditionally admit some applicants. Up to 6 credits can be transferred from another program, and applicants will need to complete a video interview and a background check as part of the application process. This grad school for school counseling has impressive 98% completion and 96% licensure pass rates, so it is a terrific choice for students who desire an affordable online school counseling program.

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    Master of Science in Counseling / School Counseling


  6. University of the Cumberlands

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $14,575

    University of the Cumberlands offers the online MAEd with a concentration in School Counseling as part of their online master’s program in educational leadership. With the program accepted by almost all state boards, this degree is terrific for students from all across the US. Sample class titles include Advanced Human Behavior Development & Learning, Issues & Trends in Special Education, Introduction to Addiction Counseling, and Counseling Aspects of Grief & Loss. The 45 credit program is designed so that those who wish to pursue the EdS degree will only have to complete 5 classes past the master’s degree. Applicants need a 3.0 GPA from their undergraduate degree, and students who have a valid teaching license can waive the exam requirement by submitting their Praxis scores. For students who want to use their master’s degree as a stepping-stone to the EdS credential, the program from University of the Cumberlands is a great online school counseling master’s program.

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    Master of Arts in Education / School Counseling


  7. Texas A&M University – Commerce

    Total Cost (In-State): $14,969
    Total Cost (Out-of-State): $29,909

    The online MEd in Counseling / Student Affairs is just one of the online school counseling programs offered by Texas A & M University – Commerce. This MEd program is a 36 credit hour fully online program that helps student affairs professionals at colleges increase their credentials to delivery better care and qualify for promotion to higher levels of responsibility. The program has no thesis required, but a comprehensive exam and an internship are required parts of the program. Courses in this program include Counseling Diverse Populations, Crisis Intervention, Assessment & Treatment of Chemical Dependency, and The Contemporary College Student. Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA and must submit scores from the GRE exam, though no minimum score is needed. The MEd from Texas A & M University is a perfect fit for those seeking a grad school for school counseling that will help them better focus on supporting students in a higher education setting.

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    Master of Education in Counseling / Student Affairs


  8. University of Alabama at Birmingham

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $15,550

    University of Alabama at Birmingham offers a fully online option for the MA in Education in School Psychometry, which gives you the skills to administer tests to identify learning disabilities and recommend therapeutic interventions. This 34 credit program includes such courses as Formative and Summative Assessment, Positive Behavioral Supports, Introduction to the Exceptional Learner, and Lifespan Human Development. The program includes lots of hands-on experience, in practicums and internships. For admission, applicants will need either a 2.75 GPA on their bachelor’s degree or a 3.25 on the most recently completed master’s degree, GRE or GMAT school in the 50h percentile or higher, and documentation of two years of experience in an accredited school. Psychometry is such an important part of helping students succeed, and for those seeking a way to help students reach their full potential, the affordable online school counseling program from University of Alabama at Birmingham offers a perfect way to gain these skills while continuing in your current position.

    Find Out More:
    Master of Arts in Education in School Psychometry


  9. University of Central Arkansas

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $15,600

    The online MS in School Counseling from University of Central Arkansas has both asynchronous and synchronous classes, allowing for flexibility but also virtual face-to-face interaction. The program admits students with or without a teaching license, and allows up to 15 credits of graduate coursework to be transferred from another institution. Applicants need to have a 2.70 GPA on undergraduate work and at least a 3.0 GPA on any graduate work completed for admission. GRE or Praxis scores are also required. Sample courses include Life-Span Development, Career Guidance for School Counselors, Educational Assessment & Measurement, Instructional & Behavioral Strategies for School Counselors, and Educational Programming for Students with Mild Disabilities K-12. With a well-rounded curriculum, the MS in School Counseling offers great training for those who wish to have a fully online program that includes “live” virtual interaction.

    Find Out More:
    Master of Science in School Counseling


  10. Lamar University

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $16,500

    Lamar University’s online MEd in Counseling and Development with a Specialization in Professional School Counseling can be completed fully online in less than 30 months. There are multiple start dates each year, and many classes are 5 weeks long. Longer classes are 15 weeks, and they include Substance Abuse Counseling and School Counseling Practicum. There is also a one-week on-campus residency required during the course of study. The affordable tuition can be paid by the course, and applicants need to have a 2.5 undergraduate GPA and a teaching license. The Lamar University MEd offers flexible scheduling, an award-winning faculty, and is a great online school counseling master’s program.

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    Master of Education in Counseling & Development / Professional School Counselor


  11. Southern Arkansas University

    Total Cost (In-State): $17,390
    Total Cost (Out-of-State): $24,686

    Southern Arkansas University offers the online School Counseling MEd in a mostly online format, requiring just one summer intensive on the campus. The 48 credit program usually takes 2.5-3 years to complete, and offers such courses as Supervision: Process & Practice, Counseling Theories, Case Management and the DSM, and Psychopharmacology & the Counseling Profession. Some of the courses require one-day attendance on campus on Saturdays. This well-organized program allows for many practicum and internship sections, giving students a great foundation for future work in the profession. Applicants can choose from three different start dates per year, and those who have a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher do not need to submit scores on the GRE or GMAT. For students who value in-person learning along with their flexible online courses, the MEd from Southern Arkansas University offers a terrific online school counseling program with no GRE.

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    Master of Education in School Counseling


  12. Ottowa University

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $18,035

    The online MA in Education with a Concentration in School Counseling from Ottawa University offers students a program designed to help them become a school guidance counselor. With 36 credits to complete the program, courses are divided into foundation and concentration courses. Titles of classes in the degree include Theories of Trauma, Grief, & Loss; School Counseling in a Changing Environment; and Life Plan & Career Development School Counseling. Applicants should have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0, but provisional admission may be granted to those with a GPA of 2.5 to 2.9 on the last two years of undergraduate work. Preference is given to those with two years of relevant professional or volunteer experience. For those who know their calling is in guidance counseling, the Ottawa University MA is a perfect online college for school counseling.

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    Master of Arts in Education / School Guidance Counseling


  13. Campbellsville University

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $19,152

    Campbellsville University’s online MA in Education – School Guidance Counseling is a faith-based degree program rooted in ethical and Christian values. It offers 48 credits and can be completed in 18 months, with convenient 8-week classes. Courses include Foundation of Leadership & Ethics in School Counseling, Developmental Guidance for Middle/High School Counselors, Cultural Competency, and Students Victimized by Crisis & Abuse. There are three internships included to give students hands-on experience with supervision. A 2.75 overall GPA or 3.0 GPA on the last 30 hours of undergraduate study is required for admission. Up to 12 transfer credits are allowed, and Campbellsville is a military-friendly school with programs to assist those who serve. Students who appreciate a Christian perspective in their education and want a quick and affordable pathway to the master’s degree should consider Campbellsville’s program.

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    Master of Arts in Education in School Guidance Counseling


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You can fulfill your dream of being a school counselor with one of these online school counseling programs, becoming a go-to professional in your current school position, or starting a whole new chapter in your career. Affordable online school counseling programs make it possible to keep your everyday life the same while you study to take on a new challenge that will really help the students in your community. Take a look and see what inspires you to take the next step.

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