Master's in School Counseling Online Programs

Last updated: June 2020

All Online School Counseling Programs 2020

In the past, individuals were required to teach for a few years before becoming a school counselor. While some states still adopt this for certification and licensure, the requirements for others is the completion of a master’s degree in school counseling.

As any online degree in counseling, an online school counseling graduate degree promotes the understanding of student development, developing counseling skills, and increasing one’s knowledge on academic, personal/social, and career topics.

When researching for your online school counseling degree, you should consider several factors: accreditation, student support, school internship placement assistance, class size, live discussions, and an alignment with the American School Counselor Association’s National Model.

Sponsored Online Graduate Degree Programs in School Counseling

Sponsored Online Graduate Degree Programs in School Counseling
University Name School Counseling Program Type Type of Online Class Program Length Total Credits
University of Southern California Master of Education in School Counseling Live 2 - 3 Years 49 Credit Units
University of Denver Master of Arts in School Counseling Live 2+ Years 72 Quarter Credits
New York University Master of Arts in Counseling and Guidance Live 1.5 - 2 Years 48-60 Credits

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Compare Online Master's in School Counseling Programs

Compare Online Master's in School Counseling Programs
University Name School Counseling Program Type Type of Online Class Program Length Total Credits
Adams State University Master of Arts in Counseling, Specialization in School Counseling Not Live 2.5 Years 60 Credits
Arkansas State University Master of Science in Education - School Counseling Not Live 16-18 Months 48 Credits
Bradley University Master of Arts in Counseling, Specialization in Professional School Counseling Live 2 - 3 Years 51 Credits
College of William and Mary Masters in Counseling - School Counseling Not Live 17 Minimesters 60
Edinboro University Master of Arts in Counseling, Specialization in School Counseling Not Live 2 - 3 Years 60-63 Credits
Indiana Wesleyan University Master of Arts in Counseling, Specialization in School Counseling Not Live 2.5 - 5 Years 36-60 Credits
Liberty University Master of Education in School Counseling Not Live 2-2.5 Years 48 Credits
Messiah College Master of Arts in Counseling, Specialization in School Counseling Not Live 2 - 4 Years 60 Credits
New York University
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Master of Arts in Counseling and Guidance Live 1.5 - 2 Years 48-60 Credits
North Carolina Central University Master of Arts Counseling, Specialization in School Counseling Both N/A 51 Credits
North Carolina State University Master of Education in Counseling, Specialization in School Counseling Live 3 Years 60 Credits
Regent University Master of Arts in Counseling, Specialization in School Counseling Not Live 2 Years 60 Credits
University of Denver
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Master of Arts in School Counseling Live 2+ Years 72 Quarter Credits
University of Massachusetts - Boston Master of Education in School Counseling Live 2 - 3.5 Years 60 Credits
University of Louisiana - Monroe Master of Science in School Counseling N/A 2 Years 60 Credits
University of Southern California
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Master of Education in School Counseling Live 2 - 3 Years 49 Credit Units
Wake Forest University Master of Arts in Counseling Not Live 2 - 3 Years 60 Credits

Insights into Online School Counseling Master’s Degrees

Adams State University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 Credits
  • Completion of five consecutive semesters
  • Submit an Official Transcript
  • Complete 12-credit hour internship

Admission Information

  • Completed online application with $30 fee
  • Official transcripts from baccalaureate degree
  • Two letters of professional recommendation
  • Personal statement, 3-5 pages typed, double-spaced on your past helping experiences, future goals in the helping profession, and personal qualities that will enable you to be an effective counselor
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75

Arkansas State University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 48 Credits
  • Supervised Practice in a School Setting

Admission Information

  • Complete Online Application and $30 Fee
  • Complete Three Essay Questions
  • Two Recommendation Forms
  • Submit the Site Supervised Form
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0

Bradley University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60-61 Semester Credit Hours (CACREP Accredited curriculum) + Additional 4 elective credits for non-teachers
  • Completion of 750 hours of supervised experiences: practicum - 100 Hours, internship - 650 Hours
  • Two required campus-based residencies

Admission Information

  • Completed graduate online application with $40 application fee
  • Admissions essays
  • Official transcripts from an accredited baccalaureate university or college
  • Maintained a 3.0 GPA for the last 60 credit hours of undergraduate work
  • Three professional letters of recommendation - one must be a current supervisor
  • Official GRE or MAT scores may be used if other requirements are not available

College of William and Mary

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 Credit Hours
  • Completion of 700 hours of supervised experiences: practicum - 100 Hours, internship - 600 Hours
  • Two required campus-based residencies

Admission Information

  • Completed graduate online application with $50 application fee
  • Personal Essay
  • Official transcripts from an accredited baccalaureate university or college
  • Maintained a 3.0 GPA for undergraduate work
  • Three professional letters of recommendation from academic and professional references
  • Resume detailing employment history
  • Official GRE scores

Edinboro University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60-63 credits
  • The student must satisfactorily complete a comprehensive examination.
  • Capstone Project
  • 12-credit internship of 600 hours of on-site experience.

Admission Information

  • Online graduate application and fee
  • Official transcripts from accredited institutions
  • Three letters of reference and contact information
  • Writing sample of up to 500 words
  • Admissions interview

Indiana Wesleyan University

Program Overview

Program Requirements: 48 credits including experience in a school setting; 6 hours or two (2) semesters of Internship (each 300 hours) face-to-face clinical experience in a school.

Admission Information

  • A bachelor’s degree and official transcripts from an accredited college or university
  • An undergraduate grade point average of 3.0
  • Six credit hours in Psychology, of which three credit hours must be in Abnormal Psychology (Developmental Psychology for Student Development Counseling and Administration)
  • Six credit hours in Bible
  • GRE taken within five years of application to the program. Verbal (V) score of at least 146 required.
  • Submit an autobiography
  • Three recommendations

Liberty University

Program Overview

Program Requirements: 48 credits including a 2-semester internship

Admission Information

  • A bachelor’s degree and official transcripts from an accredited college or university
  • An undergraduate grade point average of 3.0
  • Complete the online application
  • Submit and Official Transcript

Messiah College

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 Credits
  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA
  • Recommendation of graduation from advisor
  • Six credit internship and one practicum
  • Attend at least one professional counseling conference
  • Attend two one-week, one campus sessions

Admission Information

  • Official transcripts verifying baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution
  • Completed application with $30 fee
  • Minimum cumulative undergraduate 3.0 GPA
  • Personal statement of purpose, 300-500 words
  • Two recommendations
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • 150 word answers to four essay questions
  • State Authorization (Messiah can NOT accept online graduate students taking classes while living in Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, or Wisconsin)

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New York University

Program Overview

Program Requirements:

  • 48 Credits
  • Completion of 700 hours of field work

Admission Requirements:

  • Completed online graduate application
  • Application Fee: $75, priority application timelines are $45
  • Statement of Purpose: Introduction of your goals, interests, career plans and reasons why you are pursuing a master's degree in counseling.
  • Current Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • Transcripts from every postsecondary school uploaded. If admitted, you will need to provide official copies.
  • Two letters of recommendation from academic references.
  • If your native language is not English, you will need to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores.
Learn more about NYU's online master's in counseling and guidance with information from Counseling@NYU.

North Carolina Central University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 51 Credits
  • 100-Hour Practicum
  • 600-Hour Internship

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate degree from an accredited university
  • Minimum GPA of 2.7
  • Completed online application with $40 fee
  • Two Recommendations
  • GRE Scores
  • Application Essay

North Carolina State University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 Credits
  • Internship completion

Admission Information

  • Official transcripts verifying baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution
  • Online and Department Application with fee
  • Resume
  • GRE or MAT scores
  • TOEFL for International Students
  • Three Academic Recommendations

Regent University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours
  • Practicum: 100 hours
  • Internship: 600 hours

Admission Information

  • Bachelors from a regionally accredited college or university
  • A minimum of a 3.0 GPA for all undergraduate coursework
  • Complete application online and pay application fee
  • Submit official and unofficial transcripts and test scores
  • Writing sample
  • Recent resume or curriculum vitae
  • Pre-admissions interview

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University of Denver

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 72 quarter credit hours
  • Optional on-campus immersion
  • 100-hour practicum and 600-hour internship experience

Admissions Requirements

  • Two letters of recommendation
  • A current resume
  • Unofficial transcripts; if admitted, official transcripts will be required
  • A $65 application fee
  • Your statement of professional goals
  • Your diversity statement
  • Completion of an individual interview
Discover DU's online master of arts in school counseling, request information from Morgridge College of Education Online.

University of Louisiana-Monroe

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credit hours
  • Internship

Admission Information

  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75 overall or on the last 60 semester hours of undergraduate coursework. 2.2 GPA needs GRE scores.
  • A bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Complete an application online, submit official transcripts from all schools attended, and submit a score from the GRE.
  • Have official transcripts sent directly from the issuing institution.
  • If any prior graduate coursework has been completed, it will be reviewed.

University of Massachusetts - Boston

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 Credit Hours
  • 100 Hour Practicum
  • 600 Hour Internship
  • One Two-Week Summer Session

Admission Information

  • A Bachelor’s Degree from an Accredited College or University
  • Online Application
  • Official Previous Transcripts
  • Minimum 2.75 Undergraduate GPA
  • GRE scores required if no advanced degree held
  • Three Letters of Recommendation
  • Statement of Intent
  • Resume
  • Personal Interview

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University of Southern California

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 49 Units

Admissions Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university
  • GPA of 3.0 or above
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Sealed, official post-secondary transcripts
  • Current resume or curriculum vitae
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), if applicable
  • Application fee of $90
Discover USC's online master of education in school counseling, request information from USC Rossier.

Wake Forest University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 Credits
  • 200-Hour Practicum
  • 600-Hour Internship

Admission Information

  • Complete online application with $75 fee
  • Official transcripts verifying baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution
  • Undergraduate GPA greater than 2.5
  • GRE Scores
  • Three Letters of Recommendation

How to Choose the Right School Counseling Degree

Look for Accredited School Counselor Degrees

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Programs (CACREP) and the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) accredit online counseling programs that meet specific standards that are important in shaping future professionals. Accredited programs may set the foundation for licensure in many states, ensuring future school counselors are best prepared for their work with students.

What is CACREP Accreditation?

CACREP school counseling accreditation is awarded to programs that meet their general standards as well as examine the some key aspects to the CACREP accredited curriculum:

  • Various Models of School-Based Collaboration and Consultation
  • Assessments Specific to Grades PreK-12 Education
  • School Counselor Role as a Leader, Advocate, and System Change Agent
  • Interventions to Promote Academic Development
  • Promotion of Equity in Student Achievement and College Access

What is MPCAC Accreditation?

MPCAC accredits a handful of school counseling programs across the United States. These standards are more general but a bit more comprehensive. Curriculum standards for MPCAC accreditation include:

  • Evidence-based Theories and Practice of Counseling & Psychotherapy
  • Multiculturalism and Diversity
  • Biological Basis of Behavior
  • Development Basis of Behavior
  • Social, Organizational, Community Basis of Behavior

Online School and Guidance Counseling Degree Programs

University of Southern California Logo

Earn your Master of Education in School Counseling online from top-ranked1 USC Rossier.


  • No GRE Required
  • Prepare to Pursue Your School Counseling Credential
Explore the University of Southern California
University of Denver Logo

Earn your Master's in School Counseling online from University of Denver.


  • No GRE Required
  • Complete in as few as 24 Months
Explore New York University
New York University Logo

Earn your master's in school counseling online from NYU Steinhardt.


  • No GRE Required
  • Complete in as few as 18 Months
Explore New York University

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Is there student support for online students?

Students attending graduate coursework on campus may be able to check in with their advisors, financial aid representatives, or other support services personnel. For online students, connecting with these critical supporters may become more difficult. However, some online school counseling programs have support for online students specifically, sometimes with extended office hours, virtual meeting times, and online resources.

Is there school counseling internship placement assistance?

Your internship experience is essential to post-grad licensure or certification and internship requirements vary by state. Internships will also give you the opportunity to practice your learned skills in real time, under a licensed and approved supervisor. Even if you have experience working in mental health or education, securing an internship site can be difficult to navigate. Some universities have distance learning internship placement teams to help you, no matter where you live, with securing your next experience.

How big are the class sizes?

Having a smaller amount of peers in your cohort, or team, may help you develop professional and meaningful relationships that can transcend your online school counseling program. A smaller ratio between students and instructors, professors may also be able to provide more one-on-one discussion and face time with you.

What is the type of online learning environment?

Synchronous learning allows students and instructors to meet at a designated time, possibly once a week - virtually. In these live discussions, online school counseling students can “meet” face-to-face in a format mimicking on-campus interactions. For online school counseling degree students, this type of learning can really help to share experiences, theoretical questions, or ask for supportive resources.

Do the courses have an ASCA National Model Influence?

For any online master’s in school counseling, you may want to make sure that their curriculum and values align with the ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs. School counselors develop and deliver school counseling programs that promote student development in academics, personal/social, and careers. Through these programs, school counselors advocate for equitable access to education, provide developmental support in the three previously mentioned domains, and use data to drive decision making.

Other coursework that most online master’s degree in school counseling require include: foundations in school counseling, school counseling program development, child and student developmental theories, and/or learning and behavioral disorders.

Curriculum

Although specific course titles and content may vary, CACREP-accredited Master of School Counseling programs feature curriculum that covers eight core areas required by CACREP that represent knowledge fundamental to the counseling profession:

  1. Professional counseling orientation and ethical practice
  2. Social and cultural diversity
  3. Human growth and development
  4. Career development
  5. Counseling and helping relationships
  6. Group counseling and group work
  7. Assessment and testing
  8. Research and program evaluation.

The curriculum for a Master of School Counseling program may encounter such topics as:

  • Counseling theories, methods and techniques.
  • Principles of human growth and psychological development.
  • Social and cultural foundations.
  • Group counseling in the school setting.
  • Individual counseling.

To help in evaluating a graduate-level school counseling program’s curriculum, refer to the American School Counselor Association’s (ASCA) School Counselor Professional Standards and Competencies (PDF, 337 KB). The ASCA framework outlines the knowledge, abilities, skills and attitudes needed in order to meet the rigorous demands of the school counseling profession. These competencies are also useful in helping school counselors self-assess their own skill sets and formulate appropriate professional development plans.

Practicum and/or Internship

Online Master of School Counseling programs may include a practicum and/or internship component. In CACREP-accredited programs, this consists of a minimum of a 100-hour practicum (minimum 40 hours of direct service) and a 600-hour internship (minimum 240 hours of direct service). CACREP defines direct service as “the supervised use of counseling, consultation or related professional skills with actual clients for the purpose of fostering social, cognitive, behavioral and/or affective change.”

The practicum and internship portion of a graduate counseling program may satisfy fieldwork requirements for entry to professional practice; additional hours may be needed depending on your state’s licensure requirements.

Because the clinical experience portion of an online Master of School Counseling program is time and effort intensive, prospective students should plan accordingly before enrolling. Some questions to ask regarding the clinical component include:

  • What are the practicum and/or internship requirements?
  • What is the weekly expected time commitment for fieldwork?
  • Does the program help identify suitable clinical sites?
  • Are there any required on-campus residencies or intensives?

MS vs. MA vs. MEd in School Counseling

Online school counseling graduate programs may confer either a Master of Science (MS), Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Education (MEd) in School Counseling. The differences between MS, MA and MEd programs are minor, but it’s important that you understand these differences so you can decide which type of school counseling degree program is right for you.

  • Master of Science degree programs promote mastery of counseling psychology through research projects, thesis presentations and fieldwork experiences. As a scholarly focused degree, the MS in School Counseling may be ideal for students interested in continuing their education with a doctoral degree.
  • Master of Arts degrees are almost identical to MS programs in terms of coursework and practicum/internship experiences and requirements. If you have an undergraduate degree in a field other than psychology, it may be easier to be admitted to an MA program.
  • Master of Education degree programs may focus more on pedagogy and educational theory than MS and MA programs. To apply to a Master of Education in School Counseling degree program, you may need an undergraduate degree in education or experience working as an educator.

Is an Online Master of School Counseling Right for You?

If you’re debating whether an online Master of School Counseling degree is right for you, it may be helpful to consider some of the traits and characteristics of online students:

  • Self-motivated and able to learn outside of a classroom setting.
  • Comfortable working independently.
  • Good at planning ahead and meeting deadlines.
  • Prefers flexible scheduling options.
  • Has a computer and reliable internet access.

Does this sound like you? If so, you may enjoy an online Master of School Counseling degree program. Other reasons to consider an online program are the flexibility and convenience of earning your degree online and the opportunity to apply to top-ranked school counseling programs throughout the country.

What Can You Do With a Master’s in School Counseling?

You may be wondering, “What can I do with a master’s in school counseling?” There are a variety of career options available once you’ve earned a master’s degree. Many school counselors choose to work in educational settings such as elementary, middle and high schools, specializing in areas such as mental health and family counseling. There are also school counselors who work at universities and colleges. In some cases, you may find school counselors working in social services, health care facilities or in workplace training centers. We’ll outline some of the career paths available.

What Does a School Counselor Do?

Depending on the age level of the students, school counselors — who are also sometimes called guidance counselors — perform different functions.

Elementary school

Elementary counselors help students with personal development, and any academic or social challenges students may be facing. They play a very important role in education whether they are working with the students themselves, parents and other school staff. They provide counseling on an individual level as well as in group settings for students. They also provide teachers with tools they need to keep their classrooms productive and safe spaces for students. Elementary school counselors may also consult with the school’s principal and other organizations to advocate for student issues, needs or problems.

The role of an elementary school counselor may include:

  • Helping students set academic and social goals
  • Working with those who are developmentally delayed or behaviorally challenged
  • Working with teachers and the administration to adjust curriculum when needed for Particular students
  • Informing parents and discussing significant issues with them
  • Dealing with signs of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Monitoring how marginal, lower-income, and minority students cope with daily life as students
  • Counseling students who have a parent who has died or is in prison

Middle School

Middle school counselors also help students with personal, social and academic development. They may help students individually or gather a group of students together to help them work through interpersonal issues that arise in middle school, which can be a challenging time. In some cases, they redesign classrooms in order to give students the best possible learning environment or accommodate students with specific needs. Students learn in different ways, and middle school counselors address these unique needs through collaborative efforts. Middle school counselors work with parent organizations as well as other teachers to address student needs or help provide interventions.

High School

In high school, typically grades 9 or 10 through 12, those responsibilities grow to include teen life issues as well as college and career planning. Their priorities cover academic and social issues, life skills, and coordination with teachers and administrators. They may coordinate college-campus visits and help students who are applying to schools for financial support.

School counselors may teach classes on social issues, such as sex education. They may do vocational counseling, present information to the student population on bullying, and work with students and parents in mental-health situations, providing referrals to outside resources when needed. They may develop school programs to improve study habits and time management or give individual assessments to students that show promise or difficulty in specific areas.

Counselors at all levels develop written plans for their schools based on local student achievement goals and the American School Counselor Association’s (ASCA) School Counseling Standards. These standards include ethical guidelines, professional standards and competencies, and the ASCA’s “Mindset and Behaviors for Student Success: K-12 College- and Career-Readiness Standards for Every Student,” which lists 35 standards to assess student development and increase achievement.

FAQs

Do you need a master’s degree to become a school counselor?

Yes. Counselors must hold a master’s degree in school counseling in order to become a school counselor. Beyond graduate coursework, students also complete a certain amount of hours of supervised training in a school environment.

Can a school counselor become an LCP?

Yes, school counselors can become an LCPs, or licensed professional counselors. It’s possible to pursue a license while in graduate school, but you must obtain a master’s degree in order to become licensed. School counselors pursue licensure for a variety of reasons, and it may also help deepen their knowledge of mental health disorders.

Do you need a master’s to be a guidance counselor?

A guidance counselor is the equivalent of a school counselor; therefore, guidance counselors, or school counselors, must obtain a master’s degree in order to become a counselor. A typical pathway is earning a bachelor’s degree in a related field and then pursuing a master’s degree in school counseling.

What requirements are needed to be a school counselor?

In order to become a school counselor, you must first complete a bachelor’s degree, earn a master’s degree in school counseling, complete an internship and pass exams for licensure. You must keep your skills up to date with continuing education.

How much does a school counselor make with a master’s degree?

All school counselors must hold a master’s degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), school counselors earned a median annual wage of $57,040 per year in 2019, and the highest 10% earned more than $96,090.

See our guide to school counselor salaries.