10 Top Counseling Master’s Online Schools


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10 Top Counseling Master’s Online Schools

The top counseling master’s online programs and schools offer a flexible and also affordable path to a new career. So You love to provide encouragement and guidance to help others achieve successful goals.

Do you have a knack for assisting people in developing skills or exploring the right career plan? Could you advise individuals on how to overcome obstacles that may prevent them from becoming successful in their own lives? This is the career path of a Counselor. Now that you know what a counselor does, what is needed to become one?

The answer is a Master’s degree in Counseling. Some employers may hire those with a bachelor’s level in some form of counseling, such as a BS in Psychology. However, most will prefer the graduate level of counseling education. Whether it is the MS or MA in Counseling, the first step is finding the right (and best) school to achieve your ultimate goal of becoming the counselor you always hoped to be.

How We Ranked the Online Counseling Master’s Programs

The editors at Online Schools Guide found schools offering online Counseling master’s degree programs. The list is based on several factors, including credit hours, accreditations, specializations, rankings, and more. Then, based on cost and reputation, we ranked the programs. Below are the top ten Counseling Master’s Online degree programs.

1. Adams State University   

Degree: Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Adams State University’s MA in Counseling offers students a sixty-credit hour program. It provides quality education with a focus on reaching students from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds throughout Colorado. The MA in Counseling program offers a research-based curriculum, creating an exceptional academic experience, but with a supportive yet challenging atmosphere.

Students will learn comprehensive skills and also a strong knowledge base of applied science. Students will also learn the ability to self-challenge, recognize other people’s values, and work among people from different backgrounds. Graduates of the MA program at Adams State University will not graduate without connecting and developing relationships with community agencies, organizations, and families from centers in areas such as rural and urban communities.

The counseling program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), CACREP, and also the Colorado Department of Education.  The program meets the state academic requirements for licensure for careers, such as school counselors and Licensed Professional counselors (LPC) in the state of Colorado. Additionally. the MA in Counseling is one of the best online master’s programs for counseling statewide. 

Program Highlights: 60 credit hours, 7 semesters, three accreditations, strong ties to community organizations. 

2. University of North Dakota    

Degree: MA in Counseling

The University of North Dakota offers the MA in Counseling program to students online. This program takes approximately two and a half years to complete and also offers sixty credit hours to working professionals. The program will provide an emphasis on school counseling for all grade school departments.

Courses included in the curriculum are child and adolescent counseling, multicultural counseling, and also career counseling. In addition, an internship and school-based practicum is included in the program. A graduate certificate is available once the graduate finishes the degree. The program prepares students for successful careers and reaches their ultimate goals.

The MA in counseling at UND ranks high among the Best Online Master’s in School Counseling Programs by The Best Schools. The online MA in Counseling program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and approved by the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices for School Counselor Competencies (ESPB). 

Program Highlights: fully Online, 2.5 years to complete, 60 Credit hours

3. Northwestern University    

Degree: MA in Counseling

The MA in Counseling program at Northwestern University offers a twenty-four-course curriculum. This program focuses on key theoretical approaches in counseling for a deeper understanding and also a higher level of learning. Additionally, the program includes a two-part clinical placement course.

Students taking courses enrolled with the bridge to a counseling program, twenty-seven courses would then be required to graduate from Northwestern University’s master’s degree. The total graduate program can be completed in eighteen months of both coursework and field training if on the accelerated track. The course program is available part-time and also full-time.

Northwestern University is among the most affordable colleges offering graduate-level programs. Over ninety percent of graduates find employment within the first year after graduation. Furthermore, the University is the largest in the state of North Dakota and is a high innovator of skills in engineering, medicine, aviation, and unmanned aircraft systems. The college is also one of the best online master’s programs for counseling.

Program Highlights: high rankings, low student-to-faculty ratio, school counseling concentration, 18 months full-time or 2.5 years part-time, the largest school in ND. 

4. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania    

Degree: Master of Arts in Counseling

The Edinboro University of Pennsylvania offers an MA in Counseling program for working professionals. It is ideal for those already in career positions within the field of counseling or also some form of social services. Furthermore, the master of counseling degree provides five distinctive concentrations for graduates to choose.

The choices are Art Therapy, Clinical Rehabilitation and Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Clinical Mental Health, College Counseling, and also School Counseling. Each concentration offers students an online format of learning with highly praised accreditations. For example, the Art therapy concentration ranks at #8 in the Nation by the Nonprofit Colleges Online’s “Students Before Profits Award”. The Art therapy concentration also meets the educational requirements of students who wish to pursue national Art Therapy Credential (ATR) and Pennsylvania Counselor Licensure (LPC).

In addition, the school counseling concentration ranks at #4 among the 10 Best Deals in Online Master’s in School Counseling Degree Programs by the higher education website Great College Deals. Edinboro University is among the top 100 colleges and universities as a top performer for social mobility, according to the US News and World Report. In addition, Edinboro University has accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Program Highlights: CACREP accreditation, top rankings, 30-33 credits. 

5. Wake Forest University    

Degree: MS in Counseling

Wake Forest University’s MS in Counseling offers a fully online program to graduates working in the field of counseling.  There are two concentrations within the MA degree students can choose. They can take either a Clinical Mental Health Counseling option or the School Counseling option.

Each program is a total of sixty credit hours and is also accredited by the CAREP. No matter which concentration a student chooses, each will provide the necessary skills that can offer more than just a promotion or higher pay raise in your counseling career.

The master’s in Counseling program will provide advanced therapeutic studies in areas such as human growth and development, social and cultural foundations, career and lifestyle development, and research and program evaluations. The specializations will also cover a professional orientation course. Graduates will learn from nationally recognized leaders in the field of counseling and the school is known to have a 95% passing rate on the National Counselor Exam. 

Program Highlights: 60 credit hours, highly renowned accreditations, high pass rates for graduates, two specializations offered. 

6. University of Montevallo   

Degree: Master’s degree in Counseling

The Master’s degree in Counseling program at the University of Montevallo offers 3 degree options for graduates interested in a counseling career. The core curriculum covers courses in techniques of counseling, crisis intervention and trauma, advancement of human growth and development, and also social and multicultural foundations.

The specializations require more detail and are for specific career paths. For instance, the clinical mental health track will provide twenty-four credits designed to prepare graduates to become counselors in settings such as mental health centers, substance abuse treatment programs, and also hospitals. Additionally, all degree tracks are certified by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

There is no application deadline for the MA in Counseling program.  However, there are several admission requirements to apply for the MA in Counseling degree. They include a short essay stating the graduate’s professional goals in the counseling program. Whichever track is chosen by the graduate, all courses at the University of Montevallo will assist students in providing the right skills, knowledge, and also experiences needed to complete their counseling degree. 

Program Highlights: 39 credits of core courses, 24 credits for clinical track, 21 credits for couples and family, and 9 credits for school counseling. Highly accredited program. Career-oriented. 

7. the University of Louisiana at Monroe   

Degree: MA in Counseling

University of Louisiana’s MA in Counseling program offers graduate students a degree in preparation for a future career path in the human service and also social services field. Students will learn skills that support an environment designed for diverse backgrounds.

The MA in Counseling offers two concentrations. One is in School Counseling and the other in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Students must have either a GPA of 3.0 to apply for the program or a score of 270 on the GRE. However, applicants with a master’s or doctoral degree are exempt from the GRE requirement.

Students graduating from the MA in Counseling program will not guarantee employment or licensure. However, it will provide a better chance of receiving promotions and higher pay salaries. The master’s degree in Counseling is CACREP accredited and also one of the most affordable master’s programs in the state. 

Program Highlights: two concentrations, top accreditations, affordable tuition rates, career-oriented.

8. University of Southern Maine  

Degree: MA in Counseling

University of Southern Maine’s MA in Counseling provides graduates with the skills needed to obtain counseling positions in areas such as mental health counselors, Life Coaches, and career counselors. The sixty-three credit program will provide students in the studies of human development and behavior, counseling theory, psychological measurement, and also research methodology.

This master’s degree in counseling offers three concentrations. Students can choose from the school counseling track, the clinical mental health counseling track, and also rehabilitation counseling track. There are some requirements for students before taking the MA in Counseling program, such as earning a cumulative GPA of 2.5 during their bachelor’s program at a regionally accredited institution, including a letter asking for consideration for the master’s program. 

Program Highlights: 63 credits, three concentrations, accredited by top organizations, and also career-oriented. 

9. Montana State University – Billings

Degree: MS in Counseling

The MS in Counseling program at Montana State University offers three concentrations within the counseling field. All paths provide skills to enter into a human and also social service career positions with rewarding benefits. The concentrations available are School Counseling, Marriage, Couples, and Family, and also Mental Health Counseling.

Students can enroll in courses during the summer, spring, and fall. The concentrated programs are between forty-eight to sixty credit hours and students can finish the degree in less than two years. Both full-time and part-time enrollment is offered to graduates. However full-time enrollment is highly encouraged since courses are in a sequencing cycle. 

All three of our programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The MS in Counseling is one of the best online masters in counseling programs nationwide and is also affordable to most graduates.    

Program Highlights: 48-60 credit programs, full-time and part-time options, three concentrations, and also highly accredited. 

10. Nova Southeastern University

Degree: MS in Counseling

Nova Southeastern University’s MS in Counseling provides a revolutionary academic program, offering sixty semester hours, designed for working professionals. Furthermore, this degree promotes a better understanding of human growth and development, from birth to death.

The program gives students the option of several specializations in mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling and education, applied behavior analysis, and also advanced applied behavior analysis. The concentration tracks run from forty-eight credits to sixty-three credits, depending on which the graduate chooses.

In addition, the counseling program provides a flexible class schedule and an affordable tuition rate. The master’s degree includes 33 credit hours of core courses and also 27 credits of track courses. Additionally, students must complete a Comprehensive Final Examination to end the program. Nova Southeastern University is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).  

Program Highlights: 48 to 63 credits, several concentrations, top accreditation, and the flexibility of courses.

What Does a Counselor Do?

There are many positions of employment where a Counselor can apply their gifts. Counselors can work in the school system, like school or guidance counselors, providing a clear vision to high school students on where their talents would be best used.

Counselors may also work in a nonprofit organization, providing help to the underserved population, or finding employment opportunities for the homeless. These professionals are needed in college settings as well, as an academic advisor providing help to new or current college students in where they see their career take them. 

Career Outlook for Graduates of the Best Online Masters in Counseling programs

The best way to utilize your graduate degree in counseling is to choose the job that fits your desire to make a difference in the lives of others. As mentioned before, graduates of an MS in Counseling can find work as school counselors, academic advisors, or social service workers. However, there are so many other options. So, check out the list of possibilities in the field of counseling. 

  • Mental Health Counselor
  • Group Facilitator
  • Rehabilitation Counselor
  • Career Counselor
  • Vocational Counselor
  • Art Therapist
  • Addictions Counselor
  • Life Coach
  • Consultant
  • Human Resources Specialist


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