Why This Matters


    The number of children ages 6-17 years old in the U.S. has been increasing for the last few decades and is projected to remain around the 49 million mark for the next 10 years.


    Elementary, middle, and high school enrollment is expected to rise due to the increasing school-age population, leading to a predicted 27,200 new school counselor jobs.


    School counseling is a master’s-level entry field, meaning a graduate degree is the minimum amount of education an individual needs to be considered qualified for most jobs.

Our Research

This list concentrates on master’s degrees in school counseling. Degrees available in this field include Master of Science (MS), Master of Arts (MA), and Master of Education (M.Ed). Each type of degree program has a somewhat different theoretical and practical orientation, but all will prepare you for a career as a school counselor.

We included online, on-campus, and hybrid programs, so you can select the delivery method that works best for your learning style and schedule.

All of the programs reviewed are offered by regionally accredited institutions. Many programs also have programmatic accreditation through a body like the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) or the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

We evaluated on the basis of reputation, flexibility, affordability, faculty, and coursework. We then calculated an Intelligent Score for each degree on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 65 hours to write this article
  • 166 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 324 education programs we compared

The Top 39 Online Master’s in School Counseling Programs

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

Individual states set regulations for the type of education and professional credentials needed to work as a school counselor in public school settings.

Typically, individuals need a master’s degree in school counseling to be eligible for a state-issued credential. Depending on the state, a credential may be a license, a certificate, or an endorsement. Individuals must also usually pass an exam, pay a fee, and complete annual continuing education credits to obtain and maintain their credentials.

Some states specifically mandate that a student’s degree must come from a CACREP-accredited program to be eligible for credentials. Therefore, it’s important to review your state’s credentialing requirements before selecting a program.

Because of state regulations, some master’s in school counseling programs will only prepare you for credentials in the state in which the program is based, even if the courses are available online. This is another important consideration when choosing a program, especially if you are enrolling in an online program.

Many school counseling master’s programs also have an experiential learning component that involves practicums or internships in school settings. At the research stage, you should find out what exactly these requirements are, including the type of setting and how many hours you will have to complete. This will help you prepare to accommodate these components in your schedule.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Online Master’s Degree in School Counseling Programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Some programs seek applicants who have education experience, either as a teacher, teaching assistant, or another educational role. Review the program’s qualifications online, or talk to an admissions representative to find out what educational and professional background you need to be eligible for this program.
  • How are courses delivered? Online courses are delivered either synchronously or asynchronously. Students must attend synchronous courses remotely at set times, while in asynchronous courses, they can access lessons and assignments at any time. When selecting a program, consider what type of delivery method will work best for your schedule.

Now is also a good time to start collecting your application materials, including letters of recommendation and transcripts. Be mindful of application deadlines and interview dates. This information is typically available on the school’s website, or you can contact the admissions department directly.

You should also consider how you will finance your graduate degree. Options include loans, scholarships, assistantships, grants, and tuition assistance benefits from your employer.