Fastest Accelerated Online Master’s of Counseling Degree Programs 2023

Fastest Accelerated Online Master’s of Counseling Degree Programs 2023

If you want to continue your education or give your career a boost, we ranked the 20 fastest online master’s degree programs in counseling.

Key Takeaways

  • Accelerated counseling degree programs generally take two years or less of full-time studies.

  • Fast-track counseling programs usually have concentration options for students, and the choice of concentration greatly impacts your counseling career.

  • Online counseling programs aren’t always 100% online, a consideration prospective students must consider. Online courses are common. There are also in-person requirements like on-campus residencies and on-site practicum and internships.

Aspiring professional counselors may consider enrolling in the fastest online master’s of counseling degree programs!

Since a graduate degree is among the minimum requirements for professional licensure and certification in the counseling profession, an accelerated program is one of the best ways to start your career quickly.

Whether you’re already engaged in a counseling career or thinking of shifting to a counseling career, a graduate degree will open doors to new career opportunities.

Specifically, earning a master’s in counseling degree comes with several benefits. Although we must also emphasize that leveraging your graduate degree is your sole responsibility. In other words, the benefits of a graduate degree largely hinge on the effort you put into it.

Key Point:Tapping into your network, highlighting your counseling skills, and pursuing continuing education are effective strategies for getting the most out of your education.

The Benefits of an Online Master’s of Counseling Degree

When you effectively leverage your graduate-level counseling education, you may see the following returns on your efforts and investment.

Above-average income potential and job growth

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earned an annual median wage of $48,520 (May 2021).

  • Marriage and family therapists earned $49,880, while school and career counselors earned $60,510 in median annual wage in the same year.

  • Even better, the demand for professional counselors is on the rise. The projected job growth for counselors ranges from 10% for school and career counselors and 14% for marriage and family therapists to 22% for mental health counselors and the like.

  • With thousands of new jobs, every year, now is the best time to earn a master’s in counseling degree and make your mark in the counseling profession!

Opportunity to work in diverse fields

  • The best thing about a master’s in counseling degree is its flexibility of applications. Professional counselors work in various settings, from education, human services and social work, and healthcare to business, even military and church organizations.

  • Professional counselors possess marketable skills that enable such flexibility in the types of workplaces in which counseling knowledge and skills can be applied.

Key Point: An Accelerated Master’s of Counseling will provide a fast path to career advancement in a high-demand job market with diverse opportunities

Skills Developed in an Accelerated Master’s of Counseling Program

In pursuing an accelerated online master’s in counseling degree, students learn to develop excellent time management skills. The accelerated course format requires students to learn and retain information at a fast-pace, which is an invaluable skill in any profession.

Additionally, students will develop the fundamental skills of a professional counselor.

Specifically, students will learn to evaluate clients and their counseling needs; encourage clients to discuss their experiences, emotions and traumas; and guide clients in developing effective strategies to live better and healthier lives.

Of course, the concentration in pursuing a counseling degree influences the counseling skills used in particular situations. But the soft counseling skills are the similar, whether you are working as a mental health counselor or a marriage and family therapist!

These soft skills include:

  • effective communication
  • sincere compassion
  • interpersonal skills
  • patience and tolerance
  • a calm demeanor in the face of distressed clients

Key Point: An accelerated degree in counseling not only builds core professional skills and soft skills, but also teaches students how to manage their time effectively.

Accelerated Online Master’s in Counseling Degree Formats

Choose your counseling degree carefully, as different degree formats offer subtle but important differences.

Online master’s degrees in counseling programs come in three formats, namely:

  • Master of Science (MS) programs have a more science-centric approach with an emphasis on research and data analysis

  • Master of Arts (MA) programs generally have an interdisciplinary approach with a liberal arts emphasis.

  • Master of Education (MEd) programs are usually geared toward educators and administrators in charge of school counseling programs in the K-12 and tertiary levels.

  • Key Point: These master’s in counseling degrees are all accepted by employers and the counseling industry. Your prior educational and professional background, career aspirations, and personal interests will determine your choice.

Concentrations in Counseling Degree Programs

Most counseling programs offer concentration options that enable students to develop specialized skills within a specific counseling field.

These concentration options are the same as those in bachelor’s degree programs, thus, allowing master’s degree students to make a seamless transfer from their undergraduate speciality to their graduate program.

There are several concentration areas offered in accelerated online counseling programs which are accredited by the CACREP-Council for Accreditation of Counseling Related Educational Programs.

The most notable concentrations are as follows:

  • Substance Abuse, Chemical Dependency or Addiction Counseling
  • Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Career Counseling
  • School Counseling
  • Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling
  • Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Gerontological Counseling

Key Point: Note that there are online master’s in counseling programs that offer generalist counseling degrees. These generalist degrees are just as acceptable as specialist degrees, too, provided that the curriculum including the courses, practicum, and internship requirements meet counseling standards (i.e. programmatic accreditation)

Admissions Requirements

Every counseling program has its specific admissions criteria, although the documentation requirements are typically similar.

Accelerated programs may also have additional requirements, such as credits from prior graduate coursework and work experience in counseling settings, which may be paid or voluntary.

The number of hours related to the work experience varies, too. But it pays to have at least 12 months under your belt, as a faster program represents a significant challenge in terms of retaining information.

The common admissions requirements in online accelerated master’s degree in counseling programs include:

  • Bachelor’s degree in psychology, counseling or human services from a regionally accredited university with minimum GPA score (i.e., 2.5 to 3 in most programs)
  • Official transcripts of record for all colleges/universities attended for both undergraduate degree and graduate coursework
  • Satisfactory GRE scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement according to the recommended format, if any
  • Resume/curriculum vitae

Key Point: Master’s degree in counseling accelerated programs may also require in-person or virtual interviews with prospective students to determine their readiness for the challenges ahead.

Number of Credits

Most programs require students to complete a minimum of 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credit hours of graduate-level study. The number of credits include didactic coursework as well as practicum, internships and on-campus residencies.

Time-to-completion

Accelerated programs in counseling have a typical time-to-completion of two years for the didactic component. But it can be shortened to less than two years with transfer credits from prior graduate coursework and even work and life experiences. The number of years spent in a counseling program will also be affected by the coursework related to a concentration.

The required hours for the practicum and internship, however, cannot be shortened—it can be as long as 3,000 contact hours of supervised clinical experience over two years.

The typical master’s in counseling programs have a three- to five-year time-to-completion depending on type of matriculation—full-time or part-time, respectively.

Program of Study/Curriculum

Every counseling program has its specific courses and their descriptions, learning outcomes and sequence.

Accredited counseling programs, nonetheless, have courses that cover eight core areas of study, namely:

  • Professional Counseling Orientation and Ethical Practice
  • Assessment and Testing
  • Group Counseling and Group Work
  • Counseling and Helping Relationships
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Social and Cultural Diversity
  • Career Development
  • Research and Program Evaluation

Key Point: As previously mentioned, counseling programs have practicum and internship components. Practicum experiences are opportunities for students to apply their skills. Internships are opportunities for direct contact with diverse clients in treatment centers, hospitals, and schools, among other counseling settings.

Online Learning Experience

Every counseling program has its own learning management system (LMS) and policies and practices for its use among students, professors, and staff members.

Popular LMS in colleges and universities are Canvas, Moodle and Blackboard as well as other digital technologies (e.g., Zoom) that facilitate learning, interaction and communication among users.

Online learning has an enduring popularity among graduate students because of its suitability to their busy lifestyles, particularly for those who juggle family, personal, and professional commitments.

Graduate students can access their learning materials and coursework, complete and submit their assignments, and interact with their peers and professors from anywhere with an Internet connection.

Key Point: It’s this LMP technology that allows students to complete their program at accelerated pace.

Tuition and Financial Assistance

Online students pursuing a master’s in counseling degree will likely pay between $400 and $700+ in per-credit costs, meaning total tuition can range from $18,000 to $44,000 or more.

Note that in-state and out-of-state tuition may differ in online programs, too, although there are some online programs with a flat per-credit tuition for all students. Other online-related fees may also apply, such as a technology fee.

Graduate students in online counseling programs are eligible for federal and state financial aid, and the first step is filing the FAFSA whether you think you’re qualified or not. Note that graduate students aren’t considered dependents anymore and, thus, your income will be the sole determinant of your eligibility and amount of aid.

Look into the Federal Stafford Loan, the first choice among graduate students in counseling programs, and the Federal Grad PLUS Loan, too. Ask about school-based aid, too, such as grants and scholarships.

Key Point:Private loans generally have higher interest rates and, thus, aren’t recommended as a first choice if you must borrow to finance your master’s degree in counseling.

Continuing Education

While a master’s degree in counseling is the minimum requirement for professional licensure and/or certification, it’s only the start. Licensed counselors must maintain their professional credentials through continuing education credits (CEU) according to industry, state and employer standards.

There are several industry organizations that offer post-graduate counseling programs for CEU purposes including:

  • American Counseling Association
  • American School Counselor Association
  • American Mental Health Counselors Association
  • Substance Abuse Practitioner Certification Program
  • Association for Death Education and Counseling

Key Point: Be sure to look into membership in these professional counseling organizations, too, for its benefits. Networking opportunities abound here, not to mention the opportunity to be on top of trends, to be with like-minded individuals while also expanding your horizons, and to make friends.

Certifications and Licensure

Students of online master’s degree in counseling programs must look into national certification and state licensing requirements as early as possible.

These requirements will have a significant impact on the chosen concentration, number of practicum and internship hours completed, and program of study.

Note that national certification is usually voluntary in nature, but national certification will boost career readiness, credibility, and employability in the counseling profession.

The NBCC-National Board for Certified Counselors is the body in charge of administering the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential.

Among its certification requirements are:

  • Master’s degree in counseling and other related programs from a regionally accredited institution or a CACREP-accredited program (Other accepted academic credentials are education specialist credential, certificate of advanced study, or a doctorate in counseling)

  • At least 3,000 hours of post-graduate work experience (Waivers may be requested under special circumstances)

  • Passing either the NCE-National Counselor Examination or the NCMHCE-National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination

Key Point: As for state licensure, the requirements vary between states but a master’s degree in counseling and other related fields is a minimum requirement. Supervised work experience, passing score on either the NCE or NCMHCE, and criminal background checks are also common.

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Occupations with Master’s Degree in Counseling

With professional certification and license as credentials, counseling professionals have a wide range of counseling careers before them! Of course, your choice in concentration in counseling during your graduate studies will influence your career path.

Among the most popular counseling career specializations are the following:

  • Substance abuse, behavioral disorders, mental health counselors
  • School and career counselors
  • Clinical therapists
  • Clinical rehabilitation therapists
  • Marriage and family therapists

Key Point: You can choose your career path, too, between your own private practice or as an employee in public and private facilities, perhaps even as a volunteer in human services organizations and the like.

Accelerated Master’s of Counseling Ranking Criteria

In order for a student to have the highest chances of success in an accelerated program, the program must offer an optimized curriculum and the necessary resources needed for fast-paced learning.

As such, the following 20 online accelerated master’s degree in counseling programs were ranked based on these criteria:

  • With current national or regional accreditation
  • With programmatic accreditation as a bonus (e.g., CACREP)
  • With a track record of academic excellence as evidenced by its program of study, learning outcomes and graduate outcomes
  • With above-par student support services for online students

Key Point: When choosing from among these programs, we suggest looking at the official website afterwards and then asking for more information, if necessary. The alignment between your personal interests and professional goals and a program’s concentration and courses, practicum and internships and other aspects is a must.

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Fastest Online Master’s Degree in Counseling Programs

 New York University

 

New York University is among the world’s most prestigious universities with many renowned researchers among its faculty members. In fact, 23 of its professors have been recognized in the 2022 list of the Clarivate Analytics’ Highly Cited Researchers! NYU is recognized for its excellence in the arts and sciences, law and business, and medicine, among others.

No wonder that it’s #1 in our list of the best online counseling degree programs! NYU Steinhardt’s MA in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness program features rigorous didactic coursework and hands-on experiences in lab and real-world settings. Rolling admissions is in effect, as are multiple start dates and absence of GRE requirements.

  • Required Credits: 60
  • Completion time: 2 years (5 terms)
  • Format: Online courses and a 600-hour internship and 100-hour practicum

What we love about NYU:

In the heart of bustling Manhattan itself, NYU’s campus is a Big Apple icon with its urban vibe, diverse student population, and abundance of things to do! Plus, students are within walking distance of amazing internship and employment opportunities, not to mention that NYU graduates are highly valued in New York and beyond.

NYU is great for students who:

Relish the competitive academic environment, rich research opportunities, and value of degrees earned from a prestigious institution

NYU might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefer a more familiar environment where the status quo tends to remain

University Fast Facts

  • Location: New York City
  • Institution Type: Private research university
  • Admission Rate: 21%
  • Graduation Rate: 85%
  •  
  • Total Student Enrollment: 53,500+
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Learn More about New York University.


 Northwestern University

Northwestern University is also world-renowned for academic excellence, innovative research, and interdisciplinary culture across its 140+ centers. With research projects spanning the spectrum from drug discoveries to nanotechnology, neuroscience, and biotechnology, no wonder many of its past and present faculty members are Nobel Prize laureates, among other distinctions.

Northwestern’s Family Institute offers two CACREP-accredited online master’s in counseling degree programs—the MA in Counseling and the MS in Marriage and Family Therapy programs.

The MA in Counseling program features rigorous coursework focused on counseling evidence-based theories and practices, and a Child and Adolescent Specialization is offered. Live classes and asynchronous courses are complemented by clinical field experiences.

  • Required Credits: 24 courses
  • Completion time: 2 years
  • Format: Online courses and 200-hour practicum, 600-hour internship, and in-person immersions

What we love about Northwestern:

Northwestern offers the best of both worlds—it’s big enough for diverse opportunities in academics and extracurriculars but small enough for students to enjoy small class sizes, personalized faculty mentorship, and camaraderie. We also love the dynamic athletics program and nearness to Chicago.

Northwestern is great for students who:

Love an urban campus with a large student body from across the United States and the world, and the prestige of its degrees

Northwestern might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefer a more rural campus with a relaxed vibe

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Evanston, Illinois
  • Institution Type: Private research university
  • Admission Rate: 9%
  • Graduation Rate: 95%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 21,000+
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Learn More about Northwestern University.

 University of Southern California

The University of Southern California isn’t just a topnotch university—it’s also home to among the world’s best specialized care and research programs in regenerative medicine, stem cell studies, and cancer protocols! As the City of Angels’ largest private sector employer, its social and economic impact is truly massive—more than $8 billion annually.

The MEd in School Counseling program, offered through USC’s Rossier School of Education, is a training ground for the best school counselors in the country. Students develop skills in guidance and academic counseling to K-12 and college learners, promote whole child development, and develop appropriate programs.

The school counseling online degree program includes courses in human development theory, research methods, and legal and ethical issues in counseling.

  • Required Credits: 49
  • Completion time: 2 years or 5 semesters full-time matriculation
  • Format: Online courses and a 100-hour practicum and a 700-hour internship

What we love about USC:

Aside from academic excellence and prestige, USC ensures that its students live in comfortable accommodations and environments. Check out the USC Village with its living and learning facilities.

USC is great for students who:

Love the prestige of a world-renowned university and are willing to work hard to take advantage of its learning and networking opportunities

USC might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefer mediocrity over achievement

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Institution Type: Private research university
  • Admission Rate: 11%
  • Graduation Rate: 92%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 49,500+
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Learn More about the University of Southern California.

 University of Massachusetts

University of Massachusetts takes its Smudging Policy seriously! The burning of material offerings is an exciting manifestation of its commitment to inclusivity and diversity, particularly for its Native students and other minorities.

UMass students and faculty members are among the best in the country, too, with several Nobel Prize laureates, Fulbright, Truman and Gates scholars, and Puiltzer, Grammy and Academy Award winners.

Students in the cohort MS in Mental Health program prepare for successful careers in mental health counseling. Graduates meet the academic requirements for professional licensure in Massachusetts. Students can earn an additional three credits to obtain licensure as school adjustment counselors.

  • Required Credits: 60
  • Completion time: 2 years, full-time studies
  • Format: Online courses and two-week residency for clinical courses

What we love about UMass:

The UMass Pride is truly among the best with students and alumni being warm, welcoming, and helpful toward each other. Becoming a family is as important as making your mark and making a difference in the world.

UMass is great for students who:

Love the bustling atmosphere of a large campus where ideas are exchanged and debated in whatever form desired

UMass might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefer the familiarity of a small student body

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Amherst, Massachusetts
  • Institution Type: Public research university
  • Admission Rate: 65%
  • Graduation Rate: 83%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 73,900+ (All 4 campuses and medical school)
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education

Learn More about the University of Massachusetts.

 Palo Alto University

Of all the universities offering online master’s in counseling programs, only Palo Alto University is dedicated to the study of psychology and counseling.

Among its undergraduate and graduate programs are in Psychology and Social Action, Business Psychology, Clinical Psychology, and Counseling; most are graduate programs. Students thrive in the practitioner-scientist training model with its emphasis on scientific training combined with clinical practice.

Students in the CACREP-accredited MA in Counseling program can choose to become licensed Professional Clinical Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists! Palo Alto U is known for its commitment to five core values, including providing an excellent education for its students, promoting empowerment, and generating knowledge.

  • Required Credits: 93 quarter units
  • Completion time: 2 years
  • Format: Online courses and a 100-hour practicum and two 300-hour internships

What we love about Palo Alto U:

The APA-accredited Psy.D. Consortium is a training program between Palo Alto U and Stanford University School of Medicine that emphasizes the direct delivery to clients of exceptional clinical psychological services. About half of the doctorate courses at Palo Alto U are taught at the Stanford Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Palo Alto U is great for students who:

Have serious ambitions about gaining advanced knowledge and skills in psychology and counseling from a dedicated university

Palo Alto U might not be the best fit for students who:

Want a more generalized approach to counseling

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Palo Alto, California
  • Institution Type: Private nonprofit university
  • Admission Rate: 85%
  • Graduation Rate: 33%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 1,100+
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission

Learn More about Palo Alto University.

 Liberty University

Liberty University conducts the country’s largest gathering of Christian students on a weekly basis through its Convocation at the Vines Center. No surprise that its Rawlings School of Divinity is the largest seminary globally with its 5,700-strong students enrolled in 90+ fields of study.

Of course, LU offers among the best online school counseling programs in the United States! Its CACREP-accredited MEd in School Counseling program prepares students for successful careers as school counselors. The NCATE-accredited program features coursework in the foundation, principles, and practices of school counseling, as well as program development and evaluation.

  • Required Credits: 48
  • Completion time: Less than 2.5 years with up to 50% transfer credits of the degree total allowed
  • Format: Online with required intensives

What we love about LU:

There are so many choices in areas of study that there may be no need to look at other schools! LU also has generous transfer credit policies that result in shorter time-to-completion and lower total cost of attendance.

LU is great for students who:

Thrive in a learning environment where academic excellence and Christian values co-exist

LU might not be the best fit for students who:

Dislike the idea of their lifestyle choices (e.g., gender identity or religious faith) being scrutinized

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Lynchburg, Virginia
  • Institution Type: Private evangelical university
  • Admission Rate: 50%
  • Graduation Rate: 29%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 130,000+ (115,000+ online students)
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges  Schools Commission on Colleges

Learn More about the Liberty University.

 University of Denver

The 4D Experience is among the distinguishing characteristics of the University of Denver, a renowned university with world-class academic and research programs. Inclusivity and diversity are in its DNA, as are innovation and education for the 21st century and beyond.

Offered at the Morgridge College of Education, the CACREP-accredited MA in School Counseling program prepares future school counselors for the rewards and challenges of the job. The data-driven curriculum has 18 courses including Group Counseling Theory, Diversity: Multicultural Counseling, Psychosocial Issues, and Comprehensive School Counseling Programs. Students engage in mock counseling sessions and gain hands-on counseling experiences.

  • Required Credits: 72 quarter credits
  • Completion time: 2 years
  • Format: Online with a 100-hour practicum and two 300-hour internships

What we love about DU:

Students not only enjoy the 4D Experience within the stunning 125-acre campus but also benefit from the dynamic internship and employment opportunities in Denver.

DU is great for students who:

Thrive in a large campus community where academic excellence and friendly competition are valued

DU might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefer a small campus community

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Denver, Colorado
  • Institution Type: Private research university
  • Admission Rate: 61%
  • Graduation Rate: 77%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 12,000+
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Learn More about the University of Denver.

 Gwynedd Mercy University

With its 160-acre picturesque campus, Gwynedd Mercy University ensures that its students have access to extracurricular activities, particularly in sports. Aside from the softball, baseball, and soccer playing fields, there’s also the Griffin Complex with its sports amenities. Indeed, sports is a great way of taking a break from the rigorous coursework!

The MS in School Counseling program doesn’t just lead to an advanced counseling degree but also prepares students for successful careers as certified school counselors. Students put their knowledge to the test via weekend residencies and internships. Emphasis is placed on multicultural counseling, disabilities in school counseling, and intervention techniques.

  • Required Credits: 60
  • Completion time: Less than 2 years (Up to 6 credits of graduate work allowed for transfer)
  • Format: Online courses and two weekend residences, as well as three 3-credit internship courses

What we love about GMercyU:

There’s a great balance between a large institution where students enjoy excellent opportunities and a small college where familiarity with others is common. The campus itself is peaceful and beautiful but it’s near enough to downtown Philly for more citified excitement.

GMercyU is great for students who:

Love a small university with enough areas of study and extracurriculars that you don’t feel deprived of choices

GMercyU might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefer a large university with plenty of research and networking opportunities

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Lower Gwynedd Township, Pennsylvania
  • Institution Type: Private Roman Catholic university
  • Admission Rate: 88%
  • Graduation Rate: 52%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 2,700+
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Learn More about Gwynedd Mercy University.

 Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University is known for its commitment to social impact, and its Global Days of Service is its most notable example. Students, alumni, faculty, and staff members perform volunteer work and host service projects with community members across the United States and abroad.

The CACREP-accredited MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program also has a service-oriented philosophy where students are encouraged to be competent and compassionate professionals. Students develop their counseling skills informed by the cultural, social, and spiritual nuances of the counseling profession.

  • Required Credits: 60
  • Completion time: 2 years or less with transferred credits
  • Format: Online courses with 100-hour practicum, 600-hour internship, and two in-person residencies

What we love about SNHU:

Student life at SNHU is active, diverse, and fun! There are 75+ clubs and organizations that cover nearly everything from frisbee to environmental protection.

SNHU is great for students who:

Prefer an online learning environment without compromising on academic excellence, but with access to on-campus resources

SNHU might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefer a large on-campus student body

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Manchester, New Hampshire
  • Institution Type: Private university
  • Admission Rate: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 33%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 138,000+ (135,000+ online students)
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education

Learn More about Southern New Hampshire University.

 Seton Hall University

Freshmen students at Seton Hall University are immediately immersed in hands-on learning experiences as soon as they arrive on campus! There are opportunities to be part of research projects—of the brain, no less—and of stocks trading and radio work. Seton Hall is also known for its high return on investment in a college degree—affordable tuition and high-paying jobs.

The MA in School Counseling program, offered through the College of Education and Human Services, readies school counselors for advanced practice in the development, implementation, and improvement of school counseling programs. Many graduates of the school counseling degree program also become consultants, advocates, and leaders.

  • Required Credits: 48 credits
  • Completion time: 2 years
  • Format: Online courses with for-credit practicum and internship courses

What we love about Seton Hall

With its national reputation for academic excellence, state-of-the-art facilities, and extensive research, scholarship and internship opportunities, its small and supportive community is a welcome surprise. Did we mention that 24+ and counting of its students and alumni are Fulbright, Rhodes, and Truman scholars, among other distinctions?

Seton Hall is great for students who:

Thrive in a fairly large university with plenty of opportunities available

Seton Hall might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefer a party school with plenty of Greek letter societies and other extracurricular programs

University Fast Facts

  • Location: South Orange, New Jersey
  • Institution Type: Private Catholic research university
  • Admission Rate: 77%
  • Graduation Rate: 64%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 4,300+
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Learn More about Seton Hall University.

 Regent University

Within its stunning 70-acre campus, there’s plenty to entertain and enlighten students at Regent University! Life engagement opportunities abound with 50+ student organizations, 230+ campus events, and the Regent Royals athletic program, even weekly chapels.

The CACREP-accredited MA in School Counseling program trains students to apply their counseling knowledge and skills in K-12 school settings. Earning the school counseling degree also means becoming an advocate for the academic success, personal development, and social success of K-12 students.

  • Required Credits: 60
  • Completion time: 2.5 years
  • Format: Online courses with on-campus residency

What we love about Regent

While it’s a private university, Regent’s tuition is among the most affordable in Virginia, thus, allowing its students to graduate with low student debts.

Regent is great for students who:

Like the combination of academic rigor and Christian values with plenty of extracurriculars

Regent might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefer a more secular education

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Institution Type: Private Christian university
  • Admission Rate: 50%
  • Graduation Rate: 31%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 11,000+ including online students
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges

Learn More about Regent University.

 Lamar University

With its commitment to a well-rounded and competitive college education, Lamar University is a viable alternative to the likes of Harvard University! Lamar requires core courses, such as literature, composition, economics, math, and US government and history, which contribute to a strong general education foundation—and that Harvard University apparently thinks of as lesser in value.

This is true even in the MEd in Counseling and Development accelerated program where foundational knowledge and skills are emphasized.

Students prepare for successful careers as certified school counselors through the Coordinated School Health Model in Texas and ASCA National Model. The 5-week accelerated courses include Individual Counseling Theories and Techniques, Abnormal Human Behavior, and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling.

  • Required Credits: 60
  • Completion time: 2 years
  • Format: Online Online courses, two academic residencies, 100-contact hours practicum, and 600-contact internship

What we love about Lamar

Student diversity is truly a thing at Lamar, and it shows in its exceptionally diverse student body, both in terms of ethnicity and economic status. In fact, Lamar is among the top universities in the Lone Star State for degrees awarded to African Americans!

Lamar is great for students who:

Thrive in a competitive academic environment where students come from all walks of life and, thus, bring diverse perspectives that contribute to a dynamic campus culture

Lamar might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefer the familiarity of a small campus with less diverse student body

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Beaumont, Texas
  • Institution Type: Public university
  • Admission Rate: 83%
  • Graduation Rate: 32%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 15,000+
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges  Schools Commission on Colleges

Learn More about Lamar University.

 Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Known for its teacher education and aviation programs, Southeastern Oklahoma State University offers the added benefit of automatic 100% out-of-state non-resident tuition waiver for its students. While it’s in Oklahoma, many of its students are from the Lone Star State, thanks in part to this policy.

The MEd in School Counseling accelerated program, offered as part of the OEQA-accredited Educational Leadership and School Counseling programs, has a balanced approach to counseling principles and practices. Students pursuing the school counseling online degree develop the professional confidence to work with students, teachers, and parents; develop a comprehensive school counseling program; and apply research skills.

  • Required Credits: 42
  • Completion time: 12 months followed by practicum experiences
  • Format: Online courses and on-site hands-on experiences

What we love about Southeastern:

We love the small yet safe and friendly campus, which is just a two-hour drive from the metropolitan area of Dallas and Fort Worth, as well as the excellent academic programs.

Southeastern is great for students who:

Like the combination of a small campus and a large variety of academic programs

Southeastern might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefer the party experience in college

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Durant, Oklahoma
  • Institution Type: Public university
  • Admission Rate: 79%
  • Graduation Rate: 26%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 5,000+
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Learn More about Southeastern Oklahoma State University.


 Eastern University

Students at Eastern University have an abundance of opportunities to grow their Christian faith and transform it into action for the common good. These opportunities include serving, learning, missions, and campus ministries, as well as chapel opportunities.

The MA in Clinical Counseling cohort-based accelerated program requires full-time matriculation in its students. On-campus professors also teach the online courses in the program, thus, ensuring academic quality.

Courses include Group Dynamics and Counseling, Psychopathology and Diagnosis, and Social and Cultural Foundations of Counseling Practice. Applicants must have at least 6 credits completed in behavioral sciences within the last 10 years.

  • Required Credits: 60 credits
  • Completion time: 2 years
  • Format: Blended (On-campus evening classes and asynchronous online classes)

What we love about Eastern University:

Its campus is widely recognized for its beauty while its strategic location—near Philadelphia—means students enjoy the excitement of the city, too. The 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio contributes to the world-class quality of its academic programs.

Eastern University is great for students who:

Like the combo of a picturesque rural campus and easy access to a large city

Eastern University might not be the best fit for students who:

Like a party school

University Fast Facts

  • Location: St. Davids, Pennsylvania
  • Institution Type: Private Christian university
  • Admission Rate: 64%
  • Graduation Rate: 60%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 5,400+
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Learn More about Eastern University.

 Arkansas State University

Student-centered instruction, an expansive campus, and comprehensive academic programs are what distinguish Arkansas State University! As Northeast Arkansas’ economic engine, A-State is also notable for being a pioneer in several areas, such as hosting the state’s first osteopathic medical school. Its influence even extends to Mexico with the creation of the first American-style university in the country—the ASUCQ in Queretaro.

Students in its MSE in School Counseling – Concentration in Crisis and Trauma program benefit from the student-centered instruction, too, with its equal emphasis on theory and application. The intensive coursework covers the impact of trauma, multicultural issues in trauma, and school-based trauma and crisis planning.

  • Required Credits: 48
  • Completion time: 2 years
  • Format: Online

What we love about A-State:

With 200+ registered student clubs and organizations, there’s an abundance of extracurricular opportunities for students! For recreation and exercise, we love the Red WOLF Center.

A-State is great for students who:

Thrive in a research-centric university with a large and diverse student body and an even larger campus

A-State might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefer the comfort and familiarity of a small campus and student population

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Jonesboro, Arkansas
  • Institution Type: Public research university
  • Admission Rate: 67%
  • Graduation Rate: 49%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 13,700+
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Learn More about Arkansas State University.

 Wake Forest University

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is nearly absent at Wake Forest University, thanks to its campus-wide access to several collaborative tools and high-speed wired and wireless Internet connection. Such is its connectivity that it has been cited as among the country’s Most Connected Campuses. Said connectivity may even be a contributing factor to being the South’s pioneer in inclusivity and diversity, a tradition celebrated during the Faces of Courage event.

The CACREP-accredited MA in Counseling - Clinical Mental Health Counseling track program combines advanced didactic coursework and hands-on learning experiences. Students learn advanced counseling skills in eight areas including human growth and development, group work, and research and program evaluation.

  • Required Credits: 60
  • Completion time: 2 years
  • Format: Online courses with on-site practicum and internship experiences

What we love about Wake Forest

Community service is at the heart of education at Wake Forest, and it shows in its numerous service projects. But it isn’t all serious stuff here—sit next to the Lilting Banshees and laugh your heart out with its rowdy humor. Nothing and nobody is spared, either, so be prepared to be roasted!

Wake Forest is great for students who:

Like a well-rounded college experience with a balance between serious studies and fun activities

Wake Forest might not be the best fit for students who:

Like the familiarity and routine of a small campus community

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • Institution Type: Private research university
  • Admission Rate: 32%
  • Graduation Rate: 88%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 8,900+
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges  Schools Commission on Colleges

Learn More about Wake Forest University.

 University of West Alabama

In its beautiful 600-acre campus, the University of West Alabama ensures that its students get the whole nine yards in their college experience. Students have the opportunity to reach out to communities in and outside the campus, too, through Studio 96.

Students in the MS in Family Counseling program receive the best possible foundation for effective counseling interactions for families and their children. Family dynamics and strategies are emphasized through courses like Advanced Techniques in Family Counseling.

  • Required Credits: 33
  • Completion time: 1-2 years
  • Format: Online courses and internship

What we love about UWA:

The on-campus small-town vibe is complemented by Livingston’s small community and the people’s innate sense of Southern hospitality. We love the natural beauty of the campus with its expansive lake and nature trails.

UWA is great for students who:

Prefer the small-town vibe of a small college set in a livable city

UWA might not be the best fit for students who:

Like a party college experience

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Livingston, Alabama
  • Institution Type: Public university
  • Admission Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 31%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 5,700+ (4,400+ online students)
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges  Schools Commission on Colleges

Learn More about University of West Alabama.

 Grand Canyon University

In the 2022-2023 academic year, Grand Canyon University welcomed its largest incoming class so far—about 9,700 new students. The increase in year-to-year enrolment is a testament to the academic quality and relevancy of its programs combined with affordable tuition and dynamic Christian community.

The MS in Christian Counseling of Substance Use and Addictive Disorders program requires students to engage in an intensive survey of counseling theories and practices underlined by Christian values. Students develop their personal character and spiritual lives, too, while gaining the advanced knowledge necessary for an effective counseling practice.

  • Required Credits: 48 (Up to 12 credits or one-third of the degree total, whichever is less, allowed for transfer)
  • Completion time: 2 years
  • Format: Online with pre-practicum and internship

What we love about GCU:

Students have numerous indoor and outdoor recreational activities. There’s something for everyone, from sports to performing arts, which complements the strong campus community.

GCU is great for students who:

Love a spacious campus, diverse student body, and the emphasis on brotherhood and other Christian values

GCU might not be the best fit for students who:

Are not interested in a college that places an emphasis on the Christian faith.

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Phoenix, Arizona
  • Institution Type: Private for-profit Christian university
  • Admission Rate: 81%
  • Graduation Rate: 41%
  • Online Student Enrollment: 90,000+ (25,000 on-campus students)
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Learn More about Grand Canyon University.

 Abilene Christian University

Among the Southwestern’s largest private institutions, Abilene Christian University also boasts of a huge university endowment. With its national recognition, it’s particularly known for excellence in undergraduate teaching and research and service learning.

The COAMFTE-accredited Master of Marriage and Family Therapy program prepares students for the national certification exam. Students develop their skill sets via a combination of didactic coursework and practical training experiences in family, couple, and children counseling techniques. Students choose from four concentrations—Child and Adolescent Therapy, General, Therapy with Military Families, and Treatment of Trauma.

  • Required Credits: 60
  • Completion time: 2.75 years
  • Format: Online courses with 100-hour supervision and 500-hour internship

What we love about ACU:

The ACU traditions contribute to amazing college experiences! There’s Wildcat Week where freshmen and transfer students are introduced to the campus, and the homecoming, musical theater, and chapel.

ACU is great for students who:

Love a campus community small enough for meaningful student interactions yet large enough to have personal space

ACU might not be the best fit for students who:

Dislike enforced chapel attendance and other faith-related activities

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Abilene, Texas
  • Institution Type: Private Christian university
  • Admission Rate: 63%
  • Graduation Rate: 67%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 5,200+
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges  Schools Commission on Colleges

Learn More about Abilene Christian University.

 Capella University

With most of its programs delivered online, Capella University is among the best choices for online master’s in counseling degrees. But the academic programs are as diverse as its 38,000-strong student body, too—there are 52 degree programs offered.

The COAMFTE-accredited MS in Marriage and Family Therapy program enables students to build their clinical counseling skills in marriage and family therapy. There are 16 courses including Psychopathology: Diagnosis and Treatment of Behavior Disorders; Systemic and Group Interventions for Grief, Loss, and Trauma; and Diversity and Social Justice in Systemic Family Therapy.

  • Required Credits: 72 in GuidedPath
  • Completion time: 2 years or less with up to 16 transfer credits allowed
  • Format: Online course with 2 residences and 4 quarters of internship

What we love about Capella:

Every curriculum in its academic programs are designed with successful careers in mind, thus, the emphasis on building strong theoretical knowledge and real-world skills. Lessons can also be immediately applied in workplace and personal situations.

Capella is great for students who:

Thrive in a self-paced learning format without compromising on academic quality and professional credibility

Capella might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefer an in-person college experience or a party school

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • Institution Type: Private for-profit, online university
  • Admission Rate: 100%
  • Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Online Student Enrollment: 38,000+
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Learn More about Capella University.