2023 Best Online Masters in School Counseling Programs (2023)

Overview of an Online School Counseling Program

For many young students, navigating the education system can be daunting. They face social problems, challenging courses and difficult decisions about where their lives will go after elementary school. School counselors are hired by institutions to guide students through these issues, offering advice and mentoring. If you are interested in this career, you will need to obtain amaster's in school counseling.

Master's-level online mentorship programs can take students one to three years to complete and require 30 to 75 credit hours.

Before applying to school at Masters level, you will need a Bachelors degree in a similar subject such asteaching,psychological counseling,social work, or simplyadvice. Some students earn their bachelor's degree in school counseling before continuing their studies to amaster's degree in secondary educationto work at university level.

Earning an online master's degree is a valuable option for your future counseling career prospects. It is also considered ahighly respected degreeonline with traditional on-campus learning. By participating in an online school counseling program, you will learn important skills in behavior assessment and intervention techniques and study the detailed history of the US education system. student body.

Common Courses for a Specialization in School Counseling

Courses in online school counseling programs cover the specific skills and knowledge you will need to become alicensed counselor. You will study social and cultural issues, human growth development, career development and how to apply research and data to your profession.

Below is a list of five courses that are commonly found among the best school counseling master's programs:

Ethical and legal issues in school counseling

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This course addresses the ethical standards of school counseling today, while looking at the field through historical, philosophical, and cultural lenses. He will speak about trends in school counseling, as well as the profession's ethical standards set forth by leading organizations in the education sector.

Lifespan development

Lifelong development looks at the emotional, social, and cognitive processes of human growth. This course provides information on the basic stages of development to provide a better understanding of what young learners go through on a biological level.

Research in School Counseling

Here, students will take a data-driven approach to counseling by investigating and analyzing school counseling research. They are introduced to the scientific practice of research and relevant terminology, before being given their own research project, where they will write their findings in a report.

Child therapy and assessment

This class takes the proven methods of adolescent psychology and applies them to an educational setting. You will see intervention techniques and assessment practices taking into account the student's home environment, cognitive issues, and family structure to provide constructive therapeutic techniques.

School Counseling Techniques

This course covers the skills needed to be an effective and ethical school counselor, including best practices for interviewing, observation techniques, data collection, and writing comprehensive reports.

School Counseling Concentrations

Some online masters in school counseling offer concentrations that allow you to study a niche within the field more closely or develop additional skills that will increase your employment opportunities.

For example, some programs may offer a bilingual extension that discusses educational practices and theories in a commonly spoken language, such as Spanish.

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Others offer mental health concentrations that focus on the practice of addressing the cognitive and behavioral issues that many young students face during their education.

career prospects

School counseling degrees are designed to teach students the skills to operate as a professional counselor in an educational institution. Schools are unique environments, especially when compared to psychologists' offices, rehabilitation centers or welfare agencies.

Professionals in this area are hired by public and private schools, where they monitor student behavior, provide academic and social guidance, and administer aptitude tests.

School counselors earn an average annual salary of$ 60.510per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). When you compare that to the median salary of $58,260 for all occupations in May 2021, you can see that school counselors earn only slightly more each year.

There were 322,000 school counselors working in the US in 2020. The BLS projects that an additional 37,000 jobs will be added by 2030, giving school counselors an 11% employment outlook. This is faster than the average occupancy growth rate, which is around 8%.

Do you need a master's degree to be a counselor?

Typically, you must earn a master's degree in school counseling before applying to become a licensed counselor. Additionally, the skills and knowledge you will gain in a graduate program are necessary to be an effective, fair and ethical advisor to young students.

Public school counselors, specifically, areState-issued credential requiredto be able to practice. Unfortunately, the title of this credential varies from state to state. Some states call this a certification or license, others call it an endorsement.

What license and certification do you need?

States often require a master's degree, along with a license, to work as a school counselor in grades K-12. HeAmerican Association of School Counselors(ASCA) is an excellent resource for each state's requirements for working as a certified counselor.

Each state has its own requirements for education, practical experience, and even background checks. Some states, such as Alaska, may also require you to take cultural courses related to your region, including a specific set of credit hours dedicated to Alaska and multicultural studies. Once you meet these requirements, you are eligible to apply for a state license in school counseling. From there, you can start applying for a full-time job at private and state schools.

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If you're looking for more professional recognition, a certification provides a designation for an individual's accomplishments in the field. You can choose to win aNational Certified School Counselorcertificate or complete theNational Counselor Examof the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). This will help increase your credibility and knowledge through additional courses on trauma, abuse, addiction and family counseling, as well as program evaluation and human development.

Choosing an Online Master's Program in School Counseling

Accreditationverifies the legitimacy and effectiveness of an institution. Checking your school's accreditation status should be the first step in choosing the right program.

HeCouncil for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs(CACREP) is the leading institution that accredits graduate programs in school counseling. Its rigorous standard looks at everything from a program's learning environment to how a program tests its students. Additionally, all of OnlineU's recommendations for Masters in School Counseling come from accredited institutions.

In addition to accreditation, there are other facts to consider as well. If you have credits from another university, you must ensure that they transfer correctly to the new program. Credits are a valuable resource for Master's students, so it's important to check your school's transfer policy before committing to this program.

Another thing to keep in mind is how applying for online learning differs from on-campus learning and what requirements may exist for your online degree. Most Masters in School Counseling require in-person practices or internships. So while most of your courses are online, you'll also need to gain on-site work experience from an approved employer. For those studying out of state, you will need to make sure there are local institutions where you can complete your internship.

If you're looking to graduate quickly from your Master's, check out our article on accelerated learning options and howgraduate early.

Is it worth doing a Masters in School Counseling?

There are several things to think about before choosing an online master's in school counseling. With so many hurdles to overcome and a high cost along the way, you might be wondering if it's worth it.

Let's take a look at the various pros and cons of getting a master's in school counseling:

potential benefits

School counseling can be a very fulfilling and rewarding career. This is mainly because their responsibilities revolve around helping and guiding children and young learners through their most formidable years.

Teachers and counselors are given more free time than other occupations. According toNational Board of Teaching Quality, teachers work approximately 185 days a year compared to the average occupation which works about 230 days a year.

Some school counselors are eligible for federal loan forgiveness plans. Once hired as a school counselor, you may qualify to have your master's loan forgiven by the federal government throughPublic Service Loan Forgiveness.

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Possible disadvantages

Elementary school counselors are often considered underpaid. Although their role in public schools is vitally important, counselors receive only a modest salary from$ 60.510, which is even smaller than the$ 61.820high school teacher salary

School counseling can be a stressful task. According to recent research compiled by the NBCC academic journal,the professional adviser, school counselors report that stress and burnout contribute to "a negative influence on the services they provide to students".

A rising ratio of students to school counselors could mean their work becomes less effective. HeAmerican Association of School Counselors(ASCA) reports that the national ratio of students to school counselors in 2021 was 415-1, much higher than its recommendation of 250-1.


As a graduate student, you can seek help in a number of ways, fromstudent loansascholarships. As mentioned above, there are several organizations that offer helpful resources for graduate counseling students.

ASCAprovides a list of state requirements for certification and membership opportunities for master's graduates, where you can receive professional liability insurance coverage, among other benefits.

NBCCoffers two professional certificates relevant to aspiring school counselors.

CACREPprovides resources for accredited educational programs in the area of ​​school counseling.

NoAmerican Counseling Association(ACA), you can apply for membership that offers professional and continuing education resources, discounts for relevant services, advice-related content, and advocacy projects on behalf of professionals in the field.

In short

Earning a master's degree in school counseling is an expensive undertaking that can take years to complete. The theme addresses sensitive issues related to adolescent behavior and the respective therapeutic techniques used in the school environment. There are many networks and support organizations designed to help students with their further studies and career steps. Upon graduation, you'll likely earn a modest salary, which may seem more balanced when you consider all the days off and the help you can provide your students.

If you're not sure about how to get a master's degree in counseling online, you can also search for graduate programs ineducational leadership,primary education,special education, ohealth education.


Is it easier to get accepted in online Masters program? ›

At schools with both distance learning and traditional study options, the admissions requirements are just as stringent for applicants to the online program as they are for the on-campus program. GPA requirements are the same no matter which learning format you choose.

What is the future outlook for a school counselor? ›

Quick Facts: School and Career Counselors and Advisors
On-the-job TrainingNone
Number of Jobs, 2021336,000
Job Outlook, 2021-3110% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2021-3132,400
3 more rows
Sep 8, 2022

What is your strongest asset as a school counselor? ›

Listening. First and foremost, a school counselor needs to be a good listener. Often, they have several students they work with and may get very few chances to converse with them in a one on one setting. “The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood,” said Ralph G.

Is Masters in counseling worth it? ›

Yes, a masters in mental health counseling is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting 12% job growth in community and social service occupations over the next 10 years, much faster than the average for all occupations.

What's the easiest masters degree to get accepted? ›

Here are some of the easiest masters programs to get into:
  • Healthcare Administration. Median Salary: $84K/year. ...
  • Organizational Leadership. Median Salary: $77K/year for MS, $89K/year for MBA. ...
  • Sports Management. ...
  • Education. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Business Communications. ...
  • Education and Teaching. ...
  • Criminal Justice.
Jan 17, 2023

What is the easiest online master's degree? ›

Here is a list of the easiest online master's degree programs:
  • Accounting.
  • Criminal Justice.
  • Communication.
  • Sports Management.
  • Psychology.
  • Nursing.
  • Healthcare Administration.
  • Applied Computer Science.
Jan 30, 2023

What are the highest paying school counselor jobs? ›

The states and districts that pay School Counselors the highest mean salary are California ($81,590), New Jersey ($76,040), Massachusetts ($75,660), Washington ($75,160), and Maryland ($72,730).

Is it hard to get hired as a school counselor? ›

Applying for those hard to find school counseling positions can likely be a challenging process. As an applicant, you have obtained your Master's degree, passed state exams, and survived the grueling state licensure process. Now, the greatest feat since licensure will be landing a job.

What are the disadvantages of being a school counselor? ›

These are some disadvantages of being a school counselor:
  • Training and education. Depending on a person's educational path and training, it can take six to eight years to become a school counselor. ...
  • Pace and resources. School counselors may work in fast-paced and challenging environments. ...
  • Compensation.
Oct 26, 2021

What is the most challenging for a school counselor? ›

Student demands, parental communications, and leadership expectations all can complicate the role. Because counseling requires high amounts of empathy and concern for students, it can be easy for work stresses to blend into your personal life.

What is the hardest part of being a school counselor? ›

Suicidal Threats. While bullying is one of the most common problems counselors face, suicidal threats can be the scariest. One of the most common mistakes counselors make when confronting children who are rumored to have made suicidal threats is accepting their first answer and the truth.

Are online counseling degrees respected? ›

Online counseling certificates are just as respected as in-person certificates, and your state will view any accredited program in the same way when it comes to licensure.

Which counseling degree pays the most? ›

Highest paid counseling jobs
  1. Pediatric counselor. National average salary: $63,934 per year. ...
  2. Licensed clinical social worker. National average salary: $64,671 per year. ...
  3. Direct support professional. ...
  4. Therapist. ...
  5. Physician assistant. ...
  6. Mental health counselor. ...
  7. Registered nurse. ...
  8. Physical therapist.
Sep 15, 2021

Is a master's degree in counseling hard? ›

To Work or Not to Work, That Is the Question…

A master's program in counseling is challenging, time consuming and most easily conquered with single-mindedness of purpose. However, if you must work while attending school, then by all means work.

Are online master's degrees respected? ›

Yes. Advanced degrees completed online have just the same value as if you were to attend class in person. Just look for one that's verified by one of the many accrediting agencies out there and backed up by U.S. News & World Report's highest level higher education rankings.

Which masters degree is most in demand? ›

The 10 Most In-Demand Master's Degrees for Employers
  • Accounting. Master's degrees in accounting prepare students to work as accountants. ...
  • Computer Science. ...
  • Dietetics and Nutrition. ...
  • Human Resources. ...
  • Library Science. ...
  • Mechanical Engineering. ...
  • Mathematics and Statistics. ...
  • Nursing.

What is the best GPA for Masters? ›

Typically, a 3.4 is a pretty good GPA for masters program admission. It's not a guarantee that you'll get into your program of choice, but it's often enough to qualify for sending in an application. Some fields of study are more competitive than others, though.

Is it better to have 2 bachelors or a masters? ›

If you are interested in making a career change or a large shift, a second bachelor's may allow you more opportunities in a new industry. If you want to stay in your current field and earn a promotion or qualify for more positions, a master's might allow you more opportunities.

What are the 2 most common master's degrees called? ›

The most common academic master's degrees are the Master of Arts (MA or AM) and Master of Science (MS or SM). However, there are many different master's degree titles, especially in the professional fields.

Is it possible to fail a master's? ›

Failing a Masters

A Masters is challenging, but you're still unlikely to fail. For one thing, universities won't admit students who aren't ready and prepared for the course.

How can school counselors make extra money? ›

School Counselor Side Hustle covers seven main areas which include:
  1. Creating Resources.
  2. Authoring a Book.
  3. Public Speaking.
  4. Developing Tools.
  5. Selling Merchandise.
  6. Adjunct Teaching.
  7. Private Practice Counseling.

Is being a school counselor stressful? ›

School counselors may experience job stress when the high demand of large caseloads mismatches the resources and supports needed to meet the demands of students in their large caseloads.

What degree do most school counselors have? ›

High school counselors typically hold a bachelor's degree in counseling, psychology or other related field, a master's degree in counseling and a state-issued license to practice.

Why have you chosen to become a school counselor? ›

The job enables you to earn a living while helping students overcome developmental, personal and social problems. While other academic professionals guide students through their studies, a counselor's main focus is helping students reach their full potential.

What should I wear to a school counselor interview? ›

It is certainly your safest bet to wear a suit (women choose a skirt or pants suit, men a standard business suit). Investing in one nice, well-fitted suit is a good idea, even if (like most of us) you have spent your school years in jeans and t-shirts!

Are counselors in demand? ›

According to the BLS, the demand for mental health counselors is expected to grow by 22.1% through 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

Why do counselors quit? ›

Why therapists don't stay therapists when they wanted to stay therapists. Obstacles and lack of opportunities. The lack of quality of supervision or inadequate training for other elements of the job. The lack of research on therapist workforce issues.

What do you avoid doing as a counselor? ›

What a Therapist Should Not Do: 23 Red Flags to Watch For
  • Skip building trust or rapport. ...
  • Lack empathy. ...
  • Act unprofessionally. ...
  • Be judgmental or critical. ...
  • Do anything other than practice therapy. ...
  • Lack confidence. ...
  • Talk too much or not at all. ...
  • Give unsolicited advice.
Feb 12, 2021

What are common mistakes done by counselor? ›

In summary, when dealing with couples, counselors should avoid making the following mistakes:
  • Showing bias or favoritism.
  • Failing to collect enough information about both people to avoid making assumptions.
  • Failing to establish ground rules at the beginning.
  • Failing to identify the actual client.
Mar 13, 2020

What are the five types of behavioral issues subject to counseling in schools? ›

There are five basic models in understanding child behavior. These include biological, behavioral, Cognitive, systemic and psychodynamic.

How old are most counselors? ›

The average age of an employed therapist is 41 years old. The most common ethnicity of therapists is White (72.6%), followed by Asian (11.3%), Hispanic or Latino (7.9%) and Black or African American (4.0%).
Therapist Gender By Year.
9 more rows
Sep 9, 2022

What are the pros and cons of being a counselor? ›

11 pros and cons of being a mental health therapist
  • Job satisfaction. ...
  • Good salary.
  • Status. ...
  • Flexibility. ...
  • Working with a variety of people and topics. ...
  • Many employment opportunities. ...
  • Good job outlook. ...
  • Schedule can be inconsistent and unpredictable.
Nov 23, 2021

What is a good research topic for school counselors? ›

New York University (NYU)
  • Human Growth and Development.
  • Individual Counseling.
  • Group Counseling.
  • Social & Cultural Issues in School Counseling.
  • Academic Achievement.
  • Evaluation of Student Progress.
  • School Counseling Program Evaluation.
  • Cyberbullying: The Role of a School Counselor.

What is the most essential skill that a counselor must possess? ›

A counselor must be accessible to clients in order to gain their trust, but perhaps more importantly, a counselor needs to be genuine and empathetic—in his or her communication, listening, and professional persona.

What is the most important role of a school counselor? ›

School counselors work to maximize student success, promoting access and equity for all students. As vital members of the school leadership team, school counselors create a school culture of success for all. School counselors design and deliver school counseling programs that improve student outcomes.

What are the disadvantages of online counseling? ›

Cons of Online Counseling
  • There is less intimacy: Some clients need that in-person meeting to create that intimate therapist-client bond that makes for a successful therapy journey.
  • It isn't always covered by insurance: Some insurance companies do not cover online counseling.

Do online degrees say online on them? ›

Employers prefer to see online distance learning diplomas from non-profit universities. Most students are typically worried that the term “online” will be printed on their diploma. Generally, your diploma will not reflect the word “online” on it.

Do you need to take the GRE for Masters in counseling? ›

No, several institutions offer counseling programs that don't have a GRE requirement. How many hours is a master's in counseling? Several master's in mental health counseling programs require students to complete 60 credit hours over two or three years.

What is the fastest growing field in counseling? ›

Marriage and Family Therapy is one of the fastest-growing mental health professions in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment for MFTs to grow at a rate of 14 percent from 2021 through 2031.

Does counseling have a future? ›

Employment of relationship therapists, clinical social workers, mental health counselors and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners is projected to grow 23% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations overall, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How do counselors make money without a degree? ›

14 counseling careers without a degree
  1. Teacher's aide. National average salary: $14,883 per year. ...
  2. Developmental service worker. National average salary: $16,593 per year. ...
  3. Camp counselor. ...
  4. Safe house program assistant. ...
  5. Community health worker. ...
  6. Peer counselor. ...
  7. Residential counselor. ...
  8. Health coach.
May 11, 2021

Is it worth getting a masters in counseling? ›

Yes, a masters in mental health counseling is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting 12% job growth in community and social service occupations over the next 10 years, much faster than the average for all occupations.

What is the difference between an MA and MS in counseling? ›

An MS degree is best suited for students who have earned a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related field, while a master of arts in counseling is ideal for students with a general bachelor's degree, such as English. These programs are designed to incorporate lab work, scientific research, analysis, and evaluation.

What does MA mean after a therapists name? ›

A Master of Science (MS) and a Master of Arts (MA) are both postgraduate degree programs that prepare you to be a clinician in fields such as mental health counseling, marriage and family counseling, and substance abuse counseling.

Is it hard to get your masters online? ›

Accredited online master's programs make it easier than ever to get a graduate degree. Many top-ranked universities offer online master's degrees. Whether you're working full time or juggling a busy schedule, an online format gives you the flexibility to reach your educational and career goals.

Is it easier to get accepted to an online college? ›

Contrary to what some prospective students believe, online bachelor's programs aren't always easier to get into than those offered on a physical campus. That's one of several findings based on an analysis of data that schools submitted to U.S. News in an annual survey about admission to online colleges.

Is getting a Masters online hard? ›

How hard are online classes? In general, master's degree programs are challenging for most students because you're encouraged to adopt learning modes that are different from what you experienced in undergraduate college.

Is it better to do an online masters? ›

Choosing an online Master's degree can be a better option for students who have a limited budget. Online programmes are usually much cheaper than on-campus courses because they require fewer resources to organise.

How many people get their Masters online? ›

Exclusively online students in postsecondary degree programs accounted for 17.5% of the total student population in 2019. In 2020, that figure jumped to 45.5%. The percentage for online master's students was even higher, at 51.8%.

Do online master's degrees say online on the diploma? ›

The short answer is no, there will be no mention that you took your degree online. Your diploma will look the same as a traditional student attending the brick and mortar institution. Online is only the format you would be taking your education.

What is the acceptance rate for master's degree? ›

Grad schools typically have an acceptance rate of around 15%, so there is a chance that even with impressive qualifications, an applicant will still get rejected.

What college has a 100% acceptance rate? ›

Located in North Dakota's capital city, Bismarck State College tops the list of colleges with the highest acceptance rates. The third-largest institution in the state's public university system, BSC serves approximately 4,000 students each year. The school accepts 100% of applicants.

What online college has the highest acceptance rate? ›

What the Data Say
SchoolBest Online Programs 2017 rankBest Colleges acceptance rate for first-time freshmen (fall 2015)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University—Worldwide168.9%
Temple University255.7%
University of Oklahoma377.6%
Arizona State University482.9%
13 more rows
Apr 3, 2017

What online university has the highest acceptance rate? ›

Best Online Colleges with 100% Acceptance Rate 2022 Online Colleges That Accept Everyone
  • 1St. Petersburg College.
  • 2University of Maryland Global Campus.
  • 3University of Texas El Paso - Extended University.
  • 4Utah Valley University.
  • 5Western Nevada College.

Do grad schools care about online degrees? ›

Institutions are well aware that an online degree program must meet or even exceed the same requirements for traditional in-class instruction in order to issue an accredited degree, so accepting applicants from an online program is rarely an issue.

Is an online Masters worth less? ›

This is now changing, and as long as your online Masters degree is awarded by an accredited university, it is worth exactly the same as any other Masters (after all, you still have to write the essays and complete the dissertation). If you aren't sure if a university is accredited, you should check.

How do I choose an online masters degree? ›

Top Five Factors for Choosing an Online Master's Program
  1. Faculty Support. Whether online or on-campus, it is paramount to have support from the faculty and administration when earning a degree. ...
  2. Student-Centric Online Learning Experience. ...
  3. Flexibility. ...
  4. Networking Opportunities. ...
  5. Accreditation and Credibility.


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