Why This Matters


    There are 49.3 million school-aged children in the United States, and that number is slowly increasing. It’s predicted there will be 50.5 million school-aged kids in 2050.


    The need for school counselors is outpacing the average growth rate of most jobs. Eight percent job growth for school counselors is expected through 2029.


    School counselors command a median annual salary of $57,040. That’s $10,980 over the $46,060 that counselors, social workers, and community service specialists make.

Our Research

We reviewed many master’s in school counseling programs, including those that award Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), and Master of Education (MEd) degrees. These programs offer online, on-campus, and hybrid courses.

All of the included programs are regionally accredited, and many are also programmatically accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) or the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP). Attending an accredited program ensures schools and employers will recognize your degree.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 54 hours to write this article
  • 173 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 373 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Master’s in School Counseling Degree Programs

Best Master's in School Counseling Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

School counselors are overseen at the state level, and most states require a license, certificate, or endorsement before you can begin working in this role. Though requirements vary by state, becoming credentialed usually requires a fee, an exam, and a master’s degree.

In some states, school counselors must hold a master’s degree from a CACREP-accredited school. Check to see whether this is a requirement in the state where you intend to work, and enroll in an appropriate school if it is a requirement you must meet.

Additionally, some programs prepare students to work only in the state where the program is located. Make sure the program you enroll in prepares you to work in your desired locale.

Most master’s in school counseling degrees have an experiential component, such as an internship or practicum. Make sure in-person requirements are compatible with your schedule. This is a consideration for both on-campus and online programs, because online programs usually still have an in-person component.

A master’s in school counseling specifically prepares students to work in a school setting. Be sure it’s the type of setting you’d enjoy before enrolling in a program. Other counseling degrees can lead to careers in different settings.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to consider as you research master’s in school counseling programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Master’s programs normally require an undergraduate degree, and some master’s in school counseling programs also require experience as a teaching assistant or teacher. Make sure you meet all of a program’s requirements before applying.
  • What licensing or certifications are required? School counselors are credentialed at the state level, and credentialing requirements vary by state. Make sure the degree program you enroll in is accepted by the state(s) where you hope to work.

When you choose the programs that meet your needs, find out what their admissions process involves. Check admission deadlines and required submission materials by browsing a program’s webpage or contacting an administrator.

Also consider how you’ll cover the cost of tuition. Check with programs about financial aid options, and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible. If you already work in a school setting, your employer might offer tuition reimbursement.