most affordable online counseling degrees

In this article, we profile the top 30 most affordable online master’s in counseling degree programs of 2021.

Counselors work in various industries. From schools to mental health organizations, counselors provide treatment to support individuals’ mental health needs. According to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of school and career counselors is projected to grow eight percent through 2029. Employment growth is also anticipated for mental health counselors. In fact, a 25 percent growth is expected for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors. With a favorable job outlook, earning a master’s in counseling online degree can set you on the path for a thriving career.

Featured Programs

Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Counseling Degree Programs Methodology

We looked at 117 colleges and universities listed by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) College Navigator that offered a master’s in counseling online degree program. These programs included a variety of online counseling disciplines, such as school counseling, mental health counseling, Christian or pastoral counseling, and other counseling specializations. To narrow our original pool of schools, we applied the following criteria: accreditation from a reputable governing agency, a school or program ranking from a major publication like U.S. News and World Report, and affordable graduate tuition/fees. We then listed our top 30 online master’s in counseling programs according to raw affordability.

Below is our list of the most affordable master’s in counseling online degree programs of 2021.

#30 – Seton Hall University

Online Master’s in School Counseling

South Orange, New Jersey

Website

Seton Hall University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
Seton Hall University offers an online master’s in counseling degree that is fully accredited and ranked with U.S. News.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $24,350

Through Seton Hall University’s College of Education and Human Services, students may earn an affordable master’s in counseling online  degree that serves as preparation for a career as a K-12 school counselor. The program covers topics via online courses like appraisal and assessment in counseling, career development and counseling, counseling and community agencies, multicultural counseling and psychology, principles of learning and behavioral modification, and psychology of human development. Students also complete a comprehensive final exam or capstone project near the end of the degree. Seton Hall ranks with major publications and is fully accredited. In fact, Seton Hall ranks #133 in best national universities.

#29 – Nova Southeastern University

Online Master’s in Counseling

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Website

Nova Southeastern University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
Nova Southeastern University – ranked and affordable for online master’s in counseling degree programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $21,206

One of the more affordable schools on our list offering online counseling degrees is Nova Southeastern University. Here, students may earn a master’s in counseling online degree designed for working adults. The program offers five concentration areas so that students may better align their studies with career goals and interests. Available concentrations include applied behavior analysis, clinical mental health counseling, school counseling, substance abuse counseling, and substance abuse counseling and education. To complete degree requirements, students must earn 48-60 total credits, depending on which concentration path is chosen. In addition to offering affordable online counseling programs, Nova Southeastern ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, recent rankings include #227 in best national universities.

#28 – University of Massachusetts

Online Master’s in Mental Health

Shrewsbury, Massachusetts

Website

University of Massachusetts - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
UMass offers NECHE-accredited online counseling programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,888

UMass Online (University of Massachusetts) offers an online master’s in mental health program designed to prepare students to become Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC) through the Board of Allied Mental Health. The admission process requires an earned bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and an undergraduate transcript with at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA. The program can be completed fully online by taking courses taught by the same UMass professors who instruct on campus. UMass is accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE) and ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report.

#27 – Southern New Hampshire University

Online Master’s in Counseling

Manchester, New Hampshire

Website

Southern New Hampshire University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
SNHU – Affordable online master’s in counseling degrees.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,810

Southern New Hampshire University offers an accredited and affordable online master’s in counseling aligned with the recommendations set forth by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. The 60-credit program covers advanced counseling topics like human development, prevention and intervention of crisis and trauma, and treatment planning in clinical mental health counseling. To be considered for admission to SNHU’s counseling program, you must provide a personal statement, completed application, transcripts, and two letters of recommendation. SNHU ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 75th best regional university in the North, 71st best value school, and #1 most innovative school in the country.

#26 – LeTourneau University

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Longview, Texas

Website

LeTourneau University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
LeTourneau University’s master’s in counseling online degree prepares students for careers in professional counseling.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,618

LeTourneau University’s School of Psychology and Counseling offers an online counseling degree designed to prepare graduates for a career as a professional counselor. Career paths for recent graduates include marriage and family counselor, mental health counselor, and school counselor. Some of the required classes covered in this program include career counseling and lifestyle development, counseling skills and techniques, counseling theories and family therapies for professional counselors, and trauma and theology in the developmental context. A total of 66 credits are required for completion of the degree. LeTourneau ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, rankings include #26 in best regional universities in the West and #15 in best value schools.

#25 – Bradley University

Online Master’s in Counseling

Peoria, Illinois

Website

Bradley University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
Ranked and accredited! Bradley University’s online counseling programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,660

Bradley University offers an online master’s in counseling designed for students seeking licensure as clinical mental health counselors. Courses are delivered online and taught by the same university faculty who instruct on campus. Courses cover topics like counseling ethics and law, crisis intervention, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, human growth and development, and theories and techniques of counseling. In addition to offering academically rigorous courses, the program is fully accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. Also, Bradley University has earned rankings from major publications like U.S. News and World Report. Rankings include #5 in best regional universities in the Midwest and #3 in best colleges for veterans.

#24 – Oregon State University

Online Master of Counseling

Corvallis, Oregon

Website

Oregon State University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
OSU’s master’s in counseling online program can be completed on a part-time basis.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,802

Through Oregon State University’s College of Education, the school offers a hybrid, part-time master’s in counseling that combines distance-learning courses with in-person classes that meet two Fridays/Saturdays per semester. On-campus courses are held in Salem, Oregon, while online classes may be taken from anywhere. The program prepares students to work in various counseling careers, including colleges, community counseling agencies, primary care centers, and veterans’ affairs. Students can finish the program in 3.5-4 years while enrolled part-time. Courses cover topics like developmental perspectives in counseling, foundations of mental health counseling, and life style and career development. OSU ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 153rd best national university in the country.

Featured Programs

#23 – New England College

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Henniker, New Hampshire

Website

New England College - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
24 months online! New England College – Master’s in Counseling online program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,228

New England College offers an affordable online master’s in counseling degree for students seeking clinical mental health counselor careers. The 60-credit program takes just 24 months to complete online. In addition to online coursework, students must also complete residency requirements online through synchronous sessions. Courses cover advanced topics in counseling, such as human growth and development, introduction to counseling, research methods and program evaluation, and substance use disorders. In addition to being fully accredited, New England College ranks with U.S. News and World as the 136th-176th best regional university in the North and 71st top performer on social mobility.

#22 – Gwynedd Mercy University

Online Master’s in Counseling

Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania

Website

Gwynedd Mercy University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
Gwynedd Mercy’s online counseling programs are highly affordable.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,055

Gwynedd Mercy University offers an affordable and flexible online school counseling degree for those interested in becoming a K-12 school counselor. Admission requirements to the online counseling program include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and undergraduate courses in general psychology, developmental psychology, and research methods or statistics. Additionally, applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA, two letters or recommendation, a personal statement, and transcripts. Students with a GPA lower than 3.0 are required to submit GRE scores. For those with a higher GPA, a GRE waiver may be issued. Gwynedd Mercy ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 113th best regional university in the North.

#21 – Colorado Christian University

Online Master’s in Counseling

Lakewood, Colorado

Website

Colorado Christian University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
Colorado Christian University – a top choice for master’s in counseling online programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,029

Colorado Christian University provides an online counseling degree for busy adults seeking flexible, affordable, and online coursework from an accredited program. The online master’s in counseling can be completed entirely online with the exception of three 5-day residential requirements at the Lakewood, Colorado campus. The program takes approximately 2.5 years from start to finish. Upon graduation, students are prepared to take the National Counselor Examination. Online courses cover topics like counseling skills, crisis and trauma, human growth and development, lifestyle and career, and professional orientation and ethical issues in counseling. U.S. News and World Report ranks Colorado Christian 68th in best regional universities in the West and 99th in top performers on social mobility.

#20 – St. Bonaventure University

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Saint Bonaventure, New York

Website

St. Bonaventure University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
St. Bonaventure University offers an online master’s in clinical mental health counseling degree.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,860

St. Bonaventure University offers an online master’s in clinical mental health counseling degree for individuals seeking careers as clinical mental health or school counselors. The program, accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, covers advanced topics in professional and school counseling. Courses include abnormal psychology, advanced human growth and development, introduction to the profession of counseling, and theories and techniques of counseling. In addition to being fully accredited, St. Bonaventure University ranks #19 in best regional universities North and #6 in best value schools. Also, the online master’s in education programs (including school counseling) rank #226-#298 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

#19 – Eastern University

Online Master’s in Clinical Counseling

Saint Davids, Pennsylvania

Website

Eastern University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
100% online clinical counseling – Eastern University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,264

At Eastern University students may earn a master’s in counseling online degree following either a full- or part-time track. The 100% online counseling degree program takes four years to complete when enrolled part-time and three years when enrolled full-time. There is also an accelerated track that finishes the degree in just two years. Two concentrations are also available and allow students to tailor their degree to better align with career goals. These concentrations include applied behavior analysis certification and trauma studies. Eastern University ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 83rd best regional university in the North and 51st best value school.

#18 – Campbellsville University

Online Master’s in School Guidance Counseling

Campbellsville, Kentucky

Website

Campbellsville University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
Finish in just 18 months! Campbellsville’s master’s in counseling online program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,690

Campbellsville University offers an affordable online master’s in school guidance counseling designed for working professionals seeking graduate-level credentials from an accredited university. The 48-credit online program also offers an efficient completion time of just 18 months, making it one of the fastest graduate programs on our list. Featured courses cover advanced counseling topics like college and career readiness for all learners, counseling theory and practice, group counseling, human development, and tests and measurements. Campbellsville ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 94th best regional universities in the South and 93rd in top performers on social mobility.

#17 – Lock Haven University

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Lock Haven, Pennsylvania

Website

Lock Haven University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
Lock Haven University offers a master’s in counseling online program that’s highly affordable.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,519

Lock Haven University offers a master’s in counseling online program that provides accredited coursework and the convenience of online delivery. Students may enroll on both a part-time or full-time basis. The goal of the program is to prepare students for work as licensed clinical mental health counselors within a variety of contexts. Students who successfully pass all coursework and the National Counselor Examination will be eligible to submit their final transcript to receive a National Certified Counselor Credential. The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs and ranked by U.S. News and World Report. In fact, Lock Haven ranks #111 in best regional universities in the North and #36 in top public schools.

#16 – Messiah University

Online Master’s in Counseling

Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Website

Messiah University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
Ranked and affordable! Messiah University’s online master’s in counseling.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,420

The CACREP-accredited online master’s in counseling at Messiah University is an affordable distance degree option for working adults seeking a graduate credential from an accredited institution and program. In addition to offering accreditation, the program has several specialization areas designed for students to tailor their degree. These concentrations include clinical mental health counseling, marriage and family counseling, and school counseling. Courses are delivered online and cover topics like assessment techniques for individuals and families, counseling techniques, evidence-based treatment of psychopathology, and group counseling. Messiah ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 19th best regional university in the North and 19th best value school.

#15 – Brandman University

Online Master’s in Counseling

Irvine, California

Website

Brandman University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
100% online and affordable! Brandman University’s master’s in counseling online program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,320

Brandman University offers one of the most affordable master’s in counseling online degree programs on our list. The program is designed for graduates who plan to assume school counselor positions in various educational settings. Admission requirements include a complete application, transcripts from all regionally accredited institutions attended, autobiographical essay, current resumé showing work with children, and two letters of recommendation. Courses cover topics like advanced counseling and intervention, best practices in counseling, introduction to counseling and interpersonal relations concepts and skills, and research and evaluation methods. Brandman is fully accredited and ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report.

Featured Programs

#14 – Edinboro University

Online Master’s in Counseling

Edinboro, Pennsylvania

Website

Edinboro University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
Edinboro University is a top choice for online counseling programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,246

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania offers online counseling degrees, including the master’s in counseling. With several available concentrations including art therapy, clinical mental health, college counseling, clinical rehabilitation and clinical mental health counseling, and school counseling, students have options for tailoring their degree. Choosing a concentration allows students to better align their degree toward areas of interest or to meet career goals. Courses cover a number of advanced counseling topics and are taught by the same professors who instruct on campus. Edinboro ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 131st best regional university in the North and 47th top public school.

#13 – University of Hawaii

Online Master’s in Counseling Psychology

Hilo, Hawaii

Website

University of Hawaii - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
For busy and working students! The master’s in counseling online program at University of Hawaii.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,184

The University of Hawaii offers an affordable master’s in counseling online degree program designed for busy and working individuals. The online program requires the completion of 60 credits and provides student-centered training in counseling psychology with a specialization in clinical mental health counseling. Courses cover topics like counseling theories, group work and counseling, lifespan human development, and psychological assessment. University of Hawaii is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, Hawaii ranks #298-#389 in best national universities and #154-#209 in top public schools.

#12 – North Carolina State University

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Raleigh, North Carolina

Website

North Carolina State University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
Accredited and ranked! NC State’s online master’s in counseling.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,673

At North Carolina State University, students may earn an online master’s in clinical mental health counseling degree. The program is considered to be affordable, offering tuition and fees of less than $12,000 per year. To be considered for admission, applicants must provide satisfactory and competitive GRE or MAT scores. Official transcripts and three letters of recommendation should also be submitted for review. Classes are delivered online and cover topics appropriate for advanced counseling techniques. These courses include career counseling and development, group counseling, special problems in guidance, and theories and tech of counseling. NC State ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 80th best national university and 65th best value school in the country.

#11 – Malone University

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Canton, Ohio

Website

Malone University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
Ranked with U.S. News! Malone University’s master’s in counseling online program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,180

Malone University’s online master’s in clinical mental health counseling is grounded in a biblical worldview, adhering to the school’s Christian values. Key topics covered in the online counseling program include abnormal psychology, addiction, cultural competence in counseling, human development, and leadership in counseling. The online program is CACREP-accredited and boasts a 90 percent pass rate. Graduates have gone on to secure roles as mental health counselors in a variety of settings, including education, government, and religious organizations. Malone ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 71st best regional university in the Midwest and 53rd top performer on social mobility.

#10 – The University of Tennessee

Online Master’s in Education – Counseling

Martin, Tennessee

Website

The University of Tennessee - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
Affordable and ranked! University of Tennessee – a top choice for affordable master’s in counseling online programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,616

The University of Tennessee at Martin offers one of the most affordable online counseling programs on our list. Students have the option of choosing between two concentrations: clinical mental health counseling or school counseling concentrations. Courses cover various counseling topics that serve as preparedness for a career in the field. These courses include alcohol and substance abuse counseling, group dynamics, growth and development across the lifespan, and mental health services management. No GRE is required for admission. UT Martin ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 30th best regional university in the South and 49th best value school.

#9 – University at Buffalo

Online Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling

Buffalo, New York

Website

University at Buffalo - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
Study rehab counseling at University at Buffalo! Online and affordable!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,524

University at Buffalo offers a master’s in counseling online degree program that focuses on preparing students to become competent rehab counselors. The fully accredited program leads students to become nationally certified counselors. The program is CACREP-accredited and the most affordable of its kind in the state of New York. In addition to accreditation, the program offers a quick completion time of four to six full-time semesters. Courses cover topics like career development, foundations of counseling theory, legal and ethical issues in counseling, and tests and measurement. University at Buffalo ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 88th best national university.

Featured Programs

#8 – University of Louisiana

Online Master’s in Counseling

Monroe, Louisiana

Website

University of Louisiana - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
Accredited and affordable! University of Louisiana – online counseling programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,239

The University of Louisiana at Monroe provides one of the most affordable online counseling programs for working professionals seeking an online degree in the field. The program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. In addition to accreditation and flexibility, the program offers concentrations in clinical mental health counseling or school counseling. The concentrations allow students to tailor their degree to align with career goals and interests. The University of Louisiana at Monroe ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, current rankings include #298-#389 in best national universities.

#7 – Salem College

Online Master’s in School Counseling

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Website

Salem College - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
Salem College’s online master’s in counseling is highly affordable.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,220

At Salem College, a private North Carolina institution, students may earn an online master’s in school counseling degree. The program is cohort-based, allowing students to network and form relationships while enrolled online. In addition to online classes, students take part in two weekend seminars on the Winston-Salem campus and complete an internship in their own community. Courses for this degree cover topics like ethics and legalities in education for school counseling, focus on student advocacy and the school counselor, and managing the comprehensive school counseling program. Salem College ranks with all major publications, including U.S. News and World Report. In fact, Salem College ranks 140th in best national liberal arts colleges.

#6 – Clarks Summit University

Online Master’s in Counseling

South Abington Township, Pennsylvania

Website

Clarks Summit University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
A biblically-based online counseling program – Clarks Summit University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,160

Clarks Summit University’s online master’s in counseling is a biblically based counseling program that prepares students for state licensure and careers as counselors. Students take numerous courses in counseling and psychology. The 60-credit program offers tracks in addictions, general counseling, hospital chaplaincy, marriage and family, mental and mood disorders, and therapeutic recreation. These tracks help students tailor their degree to better align with career goals. Completion of the program prepares students to take the National Certified Counselor exam. Clarks Summit is fully accredited and ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top faith-related school.

#5 – Adams State University

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Alamosa, Colorado

Website

Adams State University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
Ranked and accredited! Adams State University – a top choice for master’s in counseling online degrees.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,311

Online counseling programs, such as the Adams State University master’s in counseling online degree, provide students with distance degree options that are both convenient and flexible. The 60-credit graduate program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, CACREP, and The Colorado Department of Education. Completion of the program meets Colorado academic requirements for a licensed counselor. Classes cover topics like assessment in counseling, lifespan development, multicultural and diversity issues, and professional school counseling issues. Adams State ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 95th-124th best regional university in the West and the 50th-66th top public school.

#4 – University of West Alabama

Online Master’s in School Counseling

Livingston, Alabama

Website

University of West Alabama - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
12 months to complete the master’s in counseling online degree! University of West Alabama.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,868

Online school counseling degrees, such as the University of West Alabama’s master’s in school counseling, provide working and place-bound students with the opportunity to earn a graduate degree from any geographic location. The 48-credit hour program offers eight-week courses and takes approximately 12 months to complete, making it one of the most efficient programs of its kind, and certainly one of the fastest on our list. Courses cover advanced counseling topics like educational statistics, lifespan development and learning, and techniques in educational research. In addition to offering a CAEP-accredited program, UWA ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. Current 2021 rankings include #103-#133 in best regional universities in the South and #50-#62 in top public schools.

#3 – University of the Cumberlands

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Williamsburg, Kentucky

Website

University of the Cumberlands - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
100% online! University of the Cumberlands – affordable online master’s in counseling program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,970

University of the Cumberlands provides students with an online master’s in counseling degree that is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The online master’s degree provides necessary training for a variety of counseling careers. Admission requirements include an accredited bachelor’s degree with 3.0 minimum GPA, transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a writing sample. Required courses cover counseling topics like advanced counseling theories and techniques, child and adolescent counseling, and private practice and clinical supervision. University of the Cumberlands ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top national university.

#2 – Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Durant, Oklahoma

Website

Southeastern Oklahoma State University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
Ranked #2 in affordability! Southeastern Oklahoma State’s online counseling programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,022

Southeastern Oklahoma State University offers a master’s in counseling online degree program that prepares graduates for careers in clinical mental health counseling. The affordable online graduate degree offers online courses that cover topics like assessment in counseling, group counseling, human growth and development in counseling, and research in counseling. Completion of a practicum and internship are also required. In addition to being fully accredited and highly affordable, SOSU ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. These rankings include ##95-#124 in best regional universities in the West and #50-#66 in top public schools. The school also ranks 71st in top performers on social mobility.

Featured Programs

#1 – Fort Hays State University

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Hays, Kansas

Website

Fort Hays State University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs
#1 most affordable online master’s in counseling – Fort Hays State University!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $4,356

Fort Hays State University ranks #1 for most affordable master’s in counseling online degree program. The FHSU counseling degree serves as preparation for students seeking careers as licensed counselors and mental health professionals. Students must complete 60 credit hours of coursework, while maintaining a strong GPA of 3.0 or higher. Courses are delivered online and taught by the same university faculty who instruct on campus. These courses cover topics like appraisal in counseling, counseling skills and development, educational research, social and cultural foundations, and theories of counseling. In addition to being fully accredited, FHSU ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, FHSU ranks #112 in best regional universities in the Midwest.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with a master’s in counseling online degree?

There are several career pathways for individuals with a master’s degree in counseling. Graduates typically focus on a specific type of counseling such as substance abuse, behavioral disorders, or working with a specific population, such as students. School counselors typically work in K-12 public and private settings engaging in a variety of counseling activities centered on academic achievement, college and career planning, and behavioral intervention.

Elementary school counselors work with students to develop skills such as decision-making, studying, and navigating the social landscape of an institution. They also work closely with parents or guardians as well as classroom teachers to formulate strategies to help the student thrive both academically and socially.

High school counselors work closely with students to develop academic and career plans. They also work closely with students who may have personal issues that are inhibiting their success. In addition, high school counselors help students develop a clear path after graduation, such as college or workforce entry. They assist students with college applications, resumes, and interviewing skills.

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental counselors work in a variety of settings such as counseling centers, correctional institutions, treatment centers, and the like. They work with patients with a variety of issues such as drug addiction, behavioral disorders, and non-crisis interventions such as interpersonal relationships. Work may be done in small groups or individually.

What is the job outlook for individuals with a master’s in counseling online degree?

The overall job outlook for individuals with a master’s in counseling is quite strong. According to data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, school and career counselor jobs are expected to increase by 8% from 2019-2029, twice the rate of all other occupations during that same timeframe. Moreover, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor occupations are expected to rapidly increase at a rate of 25% from 2019-2029, more than six times the growth rate of all other occupations that BLS tracks.

Rising demand within K-12 and postsecondary educational institutions is expected to drive demand for more education and career counselors. The increased demand for mental health counselors is being driven by the rising need for mental health services as individuals continue to be under intense societal pressure, as well as criminal justice reform that seeks alternatives to jail time.

Individuals living in high-demand areas should experience increased job opportunities, as should those willing to relocate to those areas. Major metropolitan areas including New York/New Jersey, Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim, and Boston/Cambridge/Nashua rank numbers one through three in the number of counseling positions. States with the highest concentration of mental health and educational counseling jobs per capita are Vermont, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

How much money can you earn with a master’s in counseling online degree?

While a master’s degree in counseling provides the professional with satisfying and fulfilling work, the occupation also pays above average wages. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median wage for a substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor is $46,420 per year. The lowest 10 percent earn $29,520 and the highest ten percent earn $76,020. School and career counselors earn even more. According to BLS data, the median annual wage for these professionals is $57,040, with the lowest and highest ten percent earning $34,380 and $96,090 respectively. For context, the average wage for all occupations tracked by the BLS is $39,810.

The industry also matters in terms of remuneration. Substance abuse, mental health, and behavioral disorder counselors earn $52,720 when working in government positions – the highest rate among industries. Local, state, and private hospitals pay the second-highest wage with a median amount of $49,100.

For school and career counselors, the story is much the same. Elementary and secondary counselors earn an average salary of $64,060, by far the highest number among all industries. Community colleges and colleges and universities pay the second-highest salary with an average of $51,120. Healthcare and social assistance agencies pay the lowest wage of $40,620.

What professional associations can you join while enrolled in a master’s in counseling online program?

Joining a professional association has several benefits for students who are enrolled in an online master’s in counseling program. Associations provide access to industry journals and trade publications with the latest industry news and research. Additionally, students get access to networking and professional development opportunities through conferences, networking events, internships, and job openings.

  • American School Counselor Association

The ASCA is an international organization that represents school counselors at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels. The organization publishes the ASCA School Counselor Magazine on a bimonthly basis and also offers networking, professional development, and a wide range of free resources.

  • American Counseling Association

The American Counseling Association is a non-profit, educational organization established in 1952 that represents a wide range of counseling professionals in various practice settings. The association has 56 chartered branches across the United States, Europe, and Latin America that serve members through various functions and publications. Students and recent graduates can join the association at a deep discount.

  • International School Counselor Association

The ISCA is a unique counseling organization based in Delaware that is dedicated to the advocacy and professional development of counselors working in international schools. The organization provides networking and professional development through mentoring, conferences, publications, and more.

What are the admission requirements for master’s in counseling online programs?

Admission requirements vary according to program and institution, but there are several commonalities across programs to be aware of. Nearly all stand-alone master’s in counseling programs require an accredited bachelor’s degree. Top-tier programs will require the degree to be conferred from a regionally accredited institution but may allow a bachelor’s degree from a nationally certified college or university.

Most programs have existing prerequisites the candidate must complete in order to apply. This might be accomplished through the requirement of a bachelor’s degree in a specific discipline such as psychology or a related field, or through completion of specific courses that prepare students for graduate study in a counseling program. These courses typically include general psychology, abnormal psychology, statistics, and human development.

In addition to possessing a bachelor’s degree, programs desire applicants that have demonstrated academic success through the successful completion of courses. This metric is captured through a minimum GPA standard applicants should possess, which is typically 2.5 and above. Some programs allow conditional acceptance for lower GPAs and will fully admit a student upon successful completion of courses within the program.

Standardized testing requirements are more common among top-tier institutions. Many programs do not require candidates to take tests such as the GRE or MAT and evaluate applicants on other metrics like those mentioned above, as well as letters of recommendation, personal statements, and professional work experience.

BCO Staff
December 2020

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This concludes our list of the top 30 most affordable online master’s in counseling programs of 2021.