2019 Best Master's in Counseling Online Programs

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These are the five best schools for an online master's in counseling. With tuitions under $19,000 per year and reported median salaries of $57,000 or more, these schools stand out from the rest. Top-ranked Edinboro University of Pennsylvania offers a Master of Arts in Counseling with 3 concentrations: Art Therapy, College Counseling, and School Counseling. Annual tuition is only $8,520 and graduates report earning a median salary of $70,300.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about SR Education Group.

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Rank School Annual Tuition Median Salary
#1 #1 $8,520 $70,300
#2 #2 $17,250 $69,100
#3 #3 $17,952 $67,375
#4 #4 $8,081 $60,800
#5 #5 $18,120 $57,100
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo.

2019 Online Master's Degree in Counseling Ranking Details

  • Annual Tuition: $8,520
  • Median Salary: $70,300
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
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The Master of Arts in counseling at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania is an art therapy course that can be taken completely online or with a blend of on-campus and online courses. Students are provided with the requirements to become a nationally registered art therapist (ATR) and a Pennsylvania-licensed professional counselor (LPC). The 60-hour graduate program integrates both counseling and visual arts practices, utilizing the creative power of art for clinical assessment and treatment. Degree candidates must be genuine, warm, professional, empathetic, and have good intrapersonal skills. A master’s project or thesis is required for graduation.

  • Annual Tuition: $17,250
  • Median Salary: $69,100
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NECHE
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The master’s program at University of Massachusetts Boston is a 60-credit online course in mental health counseling. It meets the academic requirements for obtaining a license in the state of Massachusetts as a mental health counselor for those who complete an approved field placement in the U.S. under appropriate supervision. Although the course is online, both synchronous and asynchronous methods are used. The synchronous is comprised of 60-minute and 90-minute classes held on a weekly basis, and students are able to interact with one another as well as with the professor. Blackboard is used for the asynchronous classes. The online classes run for 13 weeks, and the course can be completed in two years.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $17,952
  • Median Salary: $67,375
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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The clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling graduate program at West Virginia University prepares entry-level rehabilitation and mental health counselors to work competently and ethically in the field. The primarily online program is 63 credit hours and qualifies students to obtain a professional license in many states. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree with a 2.8 grade-point average from an accredited institution. Two residences in Morgantown are required. Graduates are prepared to work as a mental health and substance abuse social worker, mental health counselor, rehabilitation counselor, medical and health services manager, school guidance counselor, marriage and family therapist, or occupational therapist. Additional education and/or certification may be required.

  • Annual Tuition: $8,081
  • Median Salary: $60,800
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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The University of North Dakota began distance learning by offering correspondence courses through the mail in 1911. Over a hundred years later, that tradition continues with online education. This master’s program gives graduates a Master of Arts in counseling that helps them shape and mold the lives of students in grades K-12. The 48-credit-hour course takes about 2.5 years to complete. Live online classes are held in the evening, and the course includes a semester-long practicum and internship in a school close to the student’s home, two four-day visits to campus during summer terms, and support services such as library, tech support, accessible office hours, and advising. Upon completion, graduates are eligible for licensure in North Dakota and perhaps other states.

  • Annual Tuition: $18,120
  • Median Salary: $57,100
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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For practitioners who wish to get advanced training and education but also have full and demanding schedules, the master’s program at Nova Southeastern University is a perfect fit. A degree in counseling with specializations in mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling and education, applied behavior analysis, and advanced applied behavior analysis is offered. Several concentrations are available. The clinical mental health concentration (60 credit hours) provides training for work in social agencies, mental health clinics, hospitals, personnel offices, and schools. It is available at NSU’s main campus, one of its five regional campuses, or fully online. The substance abuse counseling concentration (48 credit hours), substance abuse counseling and education concentration (60 credit hours), and applied behavior analysis concentration (51 credit hours) are also available as online courses.

Online Master's in Counseling Overview

Program Requirements

Before applying to an online graduate counseling degree program, students must first complete a bachelor's degree. Most graduate school admissions boards prefer that students major in sociology or psychology, but people with diverse backgrounds may pursue graduate degrees in counseling. Some master's degree programs in school counseling and psychology require applicants to prove that they have some related experience in education or counseling, while others accept all kinds of students, provided they have a bachelor's degree and can submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement. The personal statement of purpose is essentially an admissions essay that details how a person came to be interested in the field of counseling and declares what a person's postgraduation goals are. Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores are also requested by many schools. Online graduate counseling degrees generally take two to three years to complete.


Common course requirements in the master's curriculum include human development, communication skills, ethical counseling, human sexuality, group therapy, and psychological assessment. Students must also complete a significant amount of field experience hours while practicing client interviews and counseling. Graduates of master's programs may go on to complete the additional requirements to earn a state license or national certification; these usually include completing 2,000-4,000 hours of clinical experience and passing an exam.

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