An online educational counseling degree or school counseling degree can provide current education professionals with the skills they need to take the next step in their career. Teachers and administrators who decide that they would like to work as guidance counselors, educational psychologists, academic advisors, or in educational assessment will almost certainly need an advanced degree in a relevant field.
Online schools provide an excellent resource for busy adult learners who don't have the time to spend four or five days a week on campus. By choosing distance education, working professionals can keep their jobs, complete classes on their own time, graduate faster, and save money. Speaking of saving money, many schools offer online degrees at a significantly reduced price compared to traditional programs!
The 35 Best Online School Counseling Programs Ranking Methodology
For this ranking, we focused on public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer online educational counseling degrees. This also included related programs in school counseling and educational psychology.
We judged each qualifying school in five categories:
- Accreditation: Is the program accredited by a specialized agency in the field of counseling and/or education? We awarded points based on the quality of the accrediting agency and its relevance to the field of educational counseling*.
- Certification/Licensing Potential: Does the program prepare students to earn professional educator/counselor licensure?
- Online Delivery: What percentage of the degree is available online? For this category, we awarded a maximum of 5 points for programs that are available entirely online. The minimum possible score was 1 point, which we assigned to programs that require students to take at least five classes on campus (not including internship/practicum experiences).
- Program Size/Popularity: How many degrees did the program confer last year? We used a 6-point scale to assess programs that graduated as few as 1-9 students (1 point) or as many as 50+ (6 points).
- Affordability: What is the average cost per credit?**
*Examples include CACREP (The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs), CAEP (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation), TEAC (The Teacher Education Accreditation Council) and NCATE (The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education).
**We acquired this data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). For public schools, all posted values are the average of their in-state and out-of-state rates.
After adding up all the categories and calculating a total score for each school, we scaled the final values so that the #1 program earned a full 100 points. The results are below – just scroll down to find out about the top 35 school counseling programs online!
35. Prescott College
Online School Counseling (M.S.)
Note: This is not a 100% online school counseling program! Rather, Prescott describes it as a "limited-residency" degree that includes web-based courses as well as some required on-campus visits. Of course, this is a major downside for students who don't live near campus. But if you're an Arizona resident or can afford to make the occasional trip out to Prescott, the hybrid format is actually a perk. The in-person contact allows program members to get face-time with their professors, connect with their classmates, and participate in hands-on training exercises. Another benefit? The curriculum comes with unique concentrations in fields like Eco-therapy and Equine-Assisted Mental Health.
Average Cost: $845/credit
34. University of Alabama
Online MA in Educational Psychology – Learning and Assessment
The University of Alabama's flexible MA in Educational Psychology prepares program graduates for a number of career fields. Recent alumni have leveraged their degree into jobs as youth ministers and counselors, leaders of government organizations and non-profits, and education professionals. And with a curriculum that's approved by NCATE, this accredited online school psychology program is an especially good fit for students who want to work in teaching-related occupations. However, the coursework – which includes classes like "Statistical Methods in Education" and "Evaluation of Classroom Learning" – is also suitable for individuals seeking careers in social science research.
Average Cost: $1,016/credit
33. University of Tennessee-Knoxville
Online Master of Science degree in Educational Psychology
Like UA, The University of Tennessee Knoxville offers an "EdPsych" program for professionals working in both the public and private sectors. Admitted applicants can choose from two concentrations – Adult Education and Applied Educational Psychology – although the requirements are largely the same for both tracks. However, while Adult Ed. concentrators will study adult development and learning in the workplace, students on the Applied Psych path will focus on psychological theories and formal methods of analysis. On another note, the synchronous delivery makes this one of the best online school psychology programs for distance learners who need structure and accountability to succeed.
Average Cost: $1,121/credit
32. University of Massachusetts-Boston
Online Master's of Education degree in School Counseling
In many ways, UMB has one of the best online educational counseling degrees on our list. Through a rigorous and highly relevant curriculum, this MPCAC-accredited program prepares students to become licensed school counselors in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The coursework takes six semesters to complete (including summers) and includes classes – like "Family Therapy Theories" and "College Readiness Counseling – that have immediate applications on the job. However, the program is not available entirely online. Although most classes are web-based, degree candidates must also complete a practicum, two internships, and two clinical courses on the UMass Dartmouth campus.
Average Cost: $1,037/credit
31. Eastern Michigan University
Online Master of Arts in Educational Psychology
Whether you want to practice counseling up close in a school environment or study it from afar in a research setting, EMU can help you accomplish your goals. The university's smartly-designed, affordable online school psychology program includes two concentrations that cater to these different objectives. For example, the Developing Learner track provides a deep dive into cognitive, emotional, and social aspects of psychology. Classes like "Motivation to Learn" and "Crisis Intervention" uniquely prepare students for their future careers as school counselors. The Research and Assessment track, on the other hand, imparts skills in grant writing, statistics, and survey/assessment design.
Average Cost: $895/credit
30. University of Georgia
Online Master of Education in Educational Psychology
The University of Georgia's College of Education offers a number of M.Ed. degrees through distance learning, including two top online school psychology programs. Applicants can choose between specializations in Gifted and Creative Education and Applied Cognition and Development. The former is a 37-credit degree that qualifies graduates for the state's Gifted In-Field Endorsement. Alumni often find jobs as professors, teachers, and educational program coordinators/directors. On the other hand, students who prefer to approach educational psychology from a research standpoint may prefer the applied cognition track. This curriculum explores how human development and motivation can affect classroom experiences.
Average Cost: $679/credit
29. University of Northern Colorado
Online Educational Psychology Master of Arts – Teaching Applications Emphasis
Through its M.A. in Educational Psychology – Teaching Applications, the University of Northern Colorado combines the essential aspects of psychology and teaching into a single degree. The 19-month program, which begins in the summer, opens the door to careers in academic consulting, research, and even teaching (although it does not prepare graduates for licensure). But students who already have their teaching certificate can enhance their skills and understanding with this cheap online school psychology program. Coursework addresses important concepts like environmental, societal, and cultural influences on learning as well as techniques to foster confidence and motivation in the classroom.
Average Cost: $801/credit
28. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Online Master of Education in Educational Psychology
At Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, 10 courses are all it will take for you to acquire the skills you need to enhance your current career or start a new one in the field of educational psychology. These courses cover a broad range of highly-relevant concepts, from "Crisis Management and Violence Prevention in Schools" to "Foundations of Literacy." Program members also have the opportunity to participate in seminars that address disabilities and other "exceptionalities" in the classroom. However, before you complete this online school psychology program, you'll also need to pass a comprehensive exam with a score of at least 70%.
Average Cost: $604/credit
27. University of Memphis
Online Master of Science degree in Educational Psychology
While most accredited online school counseling programs train students for a narrow range of careers, the University of Memphis' M.S. in Educational Psychology takes a more general approach. Applicants come from just about every background you can imagine – teaching, of course, but also business, law enforcement, social work, consulting, and even the military! In other words, this program is suitable for anyone who wants to learn about the role of human development in academic performance – regardless of their educational or career background. And in case you decide that you're more interested in statistics and analysis, Memphis also offers an M.S. concentration in Educational Research.
Average Cost: $489/credit
26. University of Nevada-Las Vegas
Online Master of Science in Educational Psychology
Community college professor, research analyst, educational psychologist, human resources specialist – these are just a few of the career possibilities for graduates of UNLV's M.S. in Educational Psychology. So if you think an accredited online school counseling program might be too restrictive, UNLV could offer a flexible alternative. And this program is flexible in other ways, too. For example, degree candidates have the opportunity to customize certain aspects of their curriculum to their preferred area of expertise. What's more, students also choose how to complete their degree requirements – by writing a thesis or taking extra electives and participating in a capstone seminar.
Average Cost: $410/credit
25. Our Lady of the Lake University
Online Master of Education in School Counseling
Unlike most educational psychology degrees, OLLU's affordable online school counseling program adopts a rather narrow focus. Indeed, the coursework mainly addresses mental health therapies and issues that are common in young people. Examples of classes include "Child and Juvenile Psychological Development," "Ethical Issues in Schools," and "Vocational and Aptitude Assessment." At the culmination of the 60-credit program, most graduates go on to take – and pass – the School Counseling Exam in Texas. In fact, 100% of OLLU "counselors in training" have passed the exam every year since the program's inception! And as a bonus, you'll qualify to take the more general Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and National Certified Counselor (NCC) exams as well.
Average Cost: $855/credit
24. Creighton University
Online School Counseling & Preventive Mental Health (Master of Science)
Creighton University's thoughtfully-designed M.S. in School Counseling and Preventative Mental Health features a flexible yet engaging curriculum. Eight-week courses condense new information into manageable sections, allowing you to focus on just one subject at a time. The two-year program also includes separate specializations for counselors who work in elementary, secondary, and PK-12 schools. Each of these three tracks consists of one or two classes highlighting current issues in elementary and/or secondary school systems plus two internships (three credits each). Another perk? This cheap online educational counseling degree is made even more affordable thanks to scholarships created exclusively for graduate students in the Education Department.
Average Cost: $820/credit
23. University of St Thomas
Online M.Ed. in Counselor Education
The University of St. Thomas' online M.Ed. Program is about as comprehensive as it gets. Within the School of Education and Human Services, you'll find both online and hybrid programs in a diverse range of specialties, including curriculum and instruction, educational leadership, and of course counselor education. Each program consists of 36 credits and requires students to have at least two years of professional experience before graduating. Degree candidates in the Counselor Education track can accrue some of these hours through a required practicum in their final semester. But that's not all. To earn your accredited online educational counseling degree from St. Thomas, you'll also need to complete an "action research proposal" related to your specific area of study.
Average Cost: $1,163/credit
22. Mercy College
Online Master of Science Degree in School Counseling and Bilingual Extension
Want to enroll in a cheap online school counseling program and graduate quickly? Mercy's 48-credit M.S. in Counseling could help you do just that. Although it requires slightly fewer credits than many other similar degrees, Mercy's curriculum will still prepare you for "provisional certification" as a school counselor. But even more unique is the college's "Bilingual Extension" program. This option includes all the same classes as the school counselor program plus a few extra credits and required internships in a bilingual school setting. Then all you'll need to do is pass the Bilingual Evaluation Assessment Examination to earn a specialized certification – an achievement which is sure to boost your appeal in the job market!
Average Cost: $842/credit
21. University of Missouri-Columbia
Online Master's Degree in Mental Health Practices in Schools
With an accreditation from the Teacher Education Accreditation Council, 100% online delivery, and an affordable tuition rate, there's plenty to love about UMC's school counseling program. The 34-credit curriculum for this Master's Degree in Mental Health Practices in Schools will teach you how to identify and manage atypical behaviors, implement evidence-based programs, and communicate with parents, among other skills. And don't worry about the extra costs if you live out of state. Enroll in this cheap school counseling graduate program online and you'll pay in-state tuition rates regardless of where you live!
Average Cost: $660/credit
20. Salem College
Online Master of Education in School Counseling
Students interested in working as school counselors in North Carolina should check out Salem College. The school's "research-driven" MEd program prepares graduates to take the PRAXIS II exam and become licensed counselors in the state. If you're interested in applying to Salem's accredited school counseling graduate program online, note that the program isn't entirely web-based. While most classes are online, you will also need to attend two weekend seminars on campus (and complete internships, of course). In addition, the program is currently only admitting NC residents, although this restriction may change in the future.
Average Cost: $412/credit
19. Southwestern Assemblies of God University
Online Master of Education in School Counseling
Although SAGU's MEd degree officially focuses on counseling, it also contains some elements more commonly found in online school psychology programs. For example, the curriculum includes a "Research Component" that highlights current topics in literature and technology. Other classes will teach you how to perform instructional assessments and analyze various learning strategies. At the same time, SAGU's program touches on all the traditional counseling subjects. These include classroom management, career development, crisis intervention, and a required internship in a school setting. And to top it all off, the university is currently offering a renewable 15% tuition grant to new MEd students!
Average Cost: $575/credit
18. Gwynedd Mercy University
Online Master of Science in School Counseling
Gwynedd Mercy's online graduate degree provides a direct line to careers in school counseling. Classes like "Theories of Counseling," "College and Career Readiness," and "Effective Communication for Educators," prepare students to pass the Praxis II professional exam and find work in K-12 school settings. In total, the curriculum consists of 48 credits of coursework, including a 100-hour practicum and two 210-hour internships. Although this might seem like a lot of hands-on work, it will surely pay off. Plus, your professors will be there to provide guidance as you take classes, complete your practicum, and ultimately graduate from one of the top online school counseling programs.
Average Cost: $669/credit
17. North Carolina Central University
Online MA in School Counseling
North Carolina Central University hosts a comprehensive counselor education program with concentrations in career, mental health, and school counseling. The latter consists of 51 credits of coursework and prepares degree candidates for K-12 licensure in North Carolina. Along the way, program members take classes that, at times, go beyond the typical scope of even the best online educational counseling degrees. Subject matter traverses a wide array of topics, from psychosocial development to educational research – there's even an entire course on statistics! Not only that, but students must complete pre-practicum, practicum, and internship experiences to accrue the real-world skills that will be necessary for a successful career.
Average Cost: $1,375/credit
16. Fort Hays State University
Online Master of Science in Counseling – School Counseling
Like all the top school counseling graduate programs online, FHSU's M.S. degree aims first and foremost to prepare students for professional licensure. But unlike most other schools, Fort Hays provides three pathways by which program members can achieve this goal. The "traditional" option (48 credits) is for candidates who already have their teaching license. Non-educators can opt for the "Parallel Pathways" track, which includes a few extra classes (54 credits total) and an internship requirement. Lastly, students who already have a general MS in Counseling and have been hired as a school counselor can pursue the "Restricted License" program, a customized curriculum designed to bring them up to speed on issues relevant to school environments.
Average Cost: $400/credit
15. Concordia University-Wisconsin
Online Master of Science in Education – Counseling
Take a quick glance at their website and you'll easily be convinced that Concordia University – Wisconsin has one of the best, most affordable school counseling graduate programs online. In fact, CUW has earned accolades from a variety of ranking publications – from College Values Online to College Choice – for its top-notch counseling curriculum. And while the school already boasts one of the lowest tuition rates on our list, many applicants can expect to save even more on their education costs. That's because Concordia offers steep discounts – up to 25% – for students who work in Christian schools or for one of the university's "preferred educational partners."
Average Cost: $565/credit
14. University of Tennessee-Martin
Online Master of Science in Education: School Counseling/Counseling Endorsement
Applicants to UT Martin's M.S. in Counseling can choose from three concentrations: Clinical Mental Health, School Counseling, and School Counseling Endorsement. Although the names are similar, there are significant differences between the latter two options. The "traditional" track is much more comprehensive; it consists of 48 credits, including two 300-hour internships and a practicum. In contrast, the "endorsement only" option consists of just 27 credits, including two internships (but no practicum). However, graduates of both accredited online school counseling programs are eligible to take the PRAXIS exam and earn licensure in the state of Tennessee.
Average Cost: $633/credit
13. Southern Arkansas University
Online Master of Education (School Counseling)
Southern Arkansas University provides a flexible yet cheap school counseling graduate program online. Indeed, affordable tuition is just of many perks it offers. As a student, you'll enjoy a convenient course schedule that takes about three years to complete. On top of that, you'll be able to take classes both online and on-campus, which means local residents can benefit from face-time with their professors as their schedule allows. But perhaps even more appealing is the program's ability to accommodate students seeking K-12 Add-on licensure. The curriculum is largely the same for all participants, and those who need this additional credential can easily tack on a few extra requirements (a practicum and internships) at the tail end of their coursework.
Average Cost: $347/credit
12. Wake Forest University
Online School Counseling Graduate Program
Wake Forest is one of the few universities that offers a CACREP-accredited school counseling graduate program online. This designation puts the school in an elite group and signifies its commitment to maintaining a high-quality, relevant curriculum. The coursework explores a variety of fundamental counseling topics, from family, addiction, and cultural counseling to life span development and crisis management. In addition, all students must complete a final capstone course. During this class, you'll be challenged to compile an "e-portfolio" of your work and give a presentation that summarizes all the knowledge you've gained over the course of the program.
Average Cost: $1,340/credit
11. Chadron State College
Online Master of Education – School Counseling
Like most of the top online school psychology programs, Chadron State's MEd in School Counseling requires candidates to complete both practicum and internship experiences before graduating. However, the length of internship (i.e. number of hours) is dependent on each individual student's career goals. Program members seeking endorsement for grades PK-8 or 7-12 must only accrue 450 internship hours, while those who desire K-12 certification will have to put in double the time. Also note that, while most of the coursework is online, a few classes are only available in an on-campus format.
Average Cost: $300/credit
10. Oregon State University
Online Master of Counseling: School Counseling
Oregon State University's 75-credit Master of Counseling degree is not strictly an online program; in fact, a full 50% of classes take place on campus in Salem. And yet, OSU still ranks in the top ten on our ranking of the best online school psychology programs, so you know it has a lot to offer! Indeed, the university's highly respected counseling curriculum comes with accreditations from both CACREP and the NCATE. And of course, graduates of the program are eligible for licensure as school counselors in Oregon – and possibly other states as well.
Average Cost: $629/credit
9. University of North Texas
Online Master of Science in Educational Psychology – Concentration in Gifted and Talented Education
At UNT, students interested in educational psychology can become experts in one of the field's most popular areas of study: gifted and talented education. Classes focus on niche topics that rarely make the course list in more generic programs, like the "Nature and Needs of the Gifted and Talented Student" and the "Social and Emotional Components of Giftedness." And if you're already a licensed teacher, completing UNT's program will qualify you for a supplemental certificate in Gifted and Talented Education. All in all, the University of North Texas has one of the best educational psychology degrees online for teachers who want to help bright students reach their full potential.
Average Cost: $603/credit
8. University of the Southwest
Online MSED School Counseling
Education professionals who want to become licensed school counselors in New Mexico should head straight to the University of the Southwest (or rather, to its website). There you'll find a 42-credit, fully-online (aside from internships) MSEd in School Counseling that will prepare you not just for licensure, but for a successful career. The coursework trains future counselors to ask the important questions, like "How do students interact with their environment?" and "How can I ensure a student's access to education?" This is also one of the best online school counseling programs for teachers who want to expand their knowledge through interesting electives such as "Play Therapy" and "Psychopathology."
Average Cost: $599/credit
7. Ball State University
Online Master of Arts in Educational Psychology: Gifted and Talented Specialization
BSU marks the second of two universities in our top ten ranking to offer an affordable online school psychology program with a focus on gifted and talented education. But that's not all that makes Ball State stand out. This 100% online program takes just 18 months to complete (or less than a year if you attend full time) and features nationally recognized faculty who are experts in child development, academic anxiety, statistics, and more. The gifted and talented specialization is most appropriate for applicants who want to work in schools and offers a "high ability license" for students who already have their Indiana teaching certificate.
Average Cost: $808/credit
6. Missouri Baptist University
Online Master of Arts in Counseling (School)
Want to earn an affordable online educational counseling degree? At less than $600 per credit, Missouri Baptist's MA-SC program can offer you just that. It can also offer you a flexible schedule that's designed for busy adults but will still take you from start to finish in just three years. In that three years, you'll take classes like "Advanced Human Development," "Group Counseling," and "Tests and Measurements." As part of the 51-credit curriculum, students are also required to complete a practicum and two internships – one in an elementary school and one in a secondary (middle or high) school.
Average Cost: $570/credit
5. Texas A & M University-College Station
Online Educational Psychology: Specialization in School Counseling (M.Ed.)
For a program that blends educational psychology with school counseling, check out Texas A&M University. Its MEd in Educational Psychology: Emphasis in School Counseling includes classes like "Career Counseling in Schools" and "Planning and Organizing Comprehensive Guidance Programs" but also "Techniques of Research" and "Assessment in School Settings." This cheap online school psychology program (which costs less than $500/credit) also includes two practicum experiences, but no internships. And unlike some other Ed Psych degrees, TAMU's program won't require you to write a final thesis or design a research project in order to graduate!
Average Cost: $470/credit
4. University of West Alabama
Online Master of Education School Counseling Certification Program
The University of West Alabama is part of an elite group of colleges on our top online school psychology programs ranking. Why? Because it has one of the only counseling degrees to earn accreditation from both the NCATE and CACREP. And there is perhaps no clearer sign of a program's quality than approval from these prestigious agencies. This also likely explains UWA's popularity; its immense counselor education program graduated more than 100 students with master's degrees just last year! And to top it all off, the university's low tuition rates make it one of the most affordable choices on this list.
Average Cost: $533/credit
3. Liberty University
Online Master of Education in School Counseling
Liberty University is well-known as a top provider of online degrees. But what you might not know is that Liberty offers one of the best school counseling graduate programs online. With CACREP accreditation and a nearly unbeatable tuition rate, this university would give any college a run for its money in a contest of best values. If there's any downside to choosing Liberty, it's that the curriculum isn't entirely online. To complete the coursework, you'll have to travel to its Virginia campus for occasional "intensive" sessions. But considering the other perks that come with this 48-credit degree, it's almost certainly worth the commute!
Average Cost: $466/credit
2. Angelo State University
Online Guidance and Counseling Master's Degree (M.Ed.)
At Angelo State University, you'll find a well-rounded, practical education in its Master's Degree in Guidance and Counseling. Designed for professionals who want to work in both public K-12 schools and at the collegiate level, this 36-credit program covers a diverse range of topics in a relatively short timeframe. Classes in group and individual counseling, dysfunctional behavior, lifespan development, and career and occupational counseling provide a strong foundation for anyone who wants to work in this field. And because it doesn't include any practicums or internships (only a "Comprehensive Program Review") this is one of the best online educational counseling degrees for applicants who don't need any additional hands-on experience.
Average Cost: $414/credit
1. North Carolina State University
Online Master of Education in School Counseling
What does it take to become number one on our ranking of affordable educational psychology degrees online? Cheap tuition certainly doesn't hurt, but North Carolina State University offers much more. Its MEd in School Counseling is CACREP-accredited, features a flexible schedule (utilizing a part-time, cohort model), and – of course – qualifies graduates for K-12 school counselor licensure. But perhaps the most interesting quality of NCSU's program is its strong commitment to diversity. Recognizing the need for school counselors who come from a variety of backgrounds, the program has increased the percentage of "culturally different" degree candidates from 5-20% in recent years.
Average Cost: $720/credit
Thanks for reading our ranking of the 35 best school counseling graduate programs online!
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