There are several reasons for you to pursue a Masters in Counseling online. Convenience is often the most common answer. Your scheduling will be extremely flexible and you will be able to study whenever it is most convenient for you. For individuals with families, this makes it easy for them to study when they have a few minutes of quiet time. An online degree program also allows the student the opportunity to earn their degree while working full time. Students who are taking online courses can literally study anywhere, be it at home, at work, or on the road. They can even take their classes with them on vacation.

Earning an online degree is also a good idea for students who have trouble studying with a lot of distractions. People who don’t like a classroom setting can study online and complete their education in the comfort of their own home. The student can also pick the school of their choice, even if it is across the country. Students are no longer confined to their own location when it comes to learning. They can now explore schools from almost any location and enjoy the benefits of learning remotely.

Methodology: Ranking the Best Online Master’s in Counseling

Best Master’s Programs editors have selected the best online counseling master’s programs from accredited, trusted colleges and universities offering fully online and hybrid master’s degrees. These institutions are ranked according to factors including cost, reputation, and salary potential, from Niche and IPEDS data.

1. North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University offers one of the best online masters in counseling programs with its Masters (MeD) degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. North Carolina State University’s best online masters programs in counseling require degree candidates to commit to multicultural diversity. These best online masters programs for counseling majors is offered as a part-time program that will take 36 months to finish as a solitary cohort. North Carolina State University’s graduate degree in counseling can propel the degree candidate to professional licensure.

North Carolina State University (North Carolina State) was founded under the Morrill College Land Grant Act in 1887. North Carolina State University is also a space-grant and sea-grant higher learning institution that serves more than 36,100 students. North Carolina State University earned the most prestigious innovation and economic prosperity school award given by the APLU.

Degree: Clinical Mental Health Counseling, MeD

2. University at Buffalo

The University at Buffalo’s Dept. of Counseling, School & Educational Psychology offers a Master of Science (MS) degree in Mental Health Counseling that requires the completion of 60 semester credits to meet program requirements. U Buffalo’s best online masters in counseling programs can be completed in as little as four semesters, plus a summer semester. The graduation rate for these best online masters programs in counseling from U Buffalo is 94%. Students enrolled in the University at Buffalo’s best online masters programs for counseling must also complete a 600-hour practicum.

The University at Buffalo (U Buffalo) is a research school that was established in 1846. The University at Buffalo is a space-grant and sea-grant higher learning institution that serves more than 31,600 students each year. The University at Buffalo was founded by the thirteenth president of the United States, Millard Fillmore.

Degree: Mental Health Counseling, MS

3. San Diego State University

San Diego State University’s Dept. of Counseling & School Psychology offers one of the state’s best online masters in counseling programs with its Master of Arts (MA) degree program in Education with an academic track in Counseling. Students enrolled in these best online masters programs in counseling from San Diego State University have the option of completing a graduate certificate simultaneously. San Diego State University’s best online masters programs for counseling allows students to explore alternative restorative practices for schools/communities in lieu of traditional discipline.

San Diego State University (SD State) was established as a normal school in 1897. As the third oldest of the San Diego state system, San Diego State University serves more than 34,000 students. Additionally, San Diego State University is a space-grant institution of higher learning. San Diego State University offers more than 200 baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate level degrees.

Degree: Education: Counseling, MA

4. Wake Forest University

Wake Forest University offers one of the state’s best online masters in counseling programs with its CACREP accredited Master of Arts (MA) degree program in Counseling. Students enrolled in WFU’s best online masters programs in counseling can opt for a clinical mental health track or a school counseling track. Grads of Wake Forest University’s s best online masters programs for counseling wish to be the catalyst in the world of positive social change and have a passing rate for the national exam for counselors of 95%.

Wake Forest University (WFU) is a research institution of higher education that was established in 1834 as a manual labor school. Wake Forest University’s s suburban campus in Winston-Salem serves more than 8,200 students. Notable people at Wake Forest University include athletes Muggsy Bogues and Arnold Palmer.

Degree: Counseling, MA

5. West Virginia University

West Virginia University’s Dept. of Counseling & Learning Sciences offers one of West Virginia’s best online masters in counseling programs with its Master of Science (MS) degree in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health. West Virginia University’s best online masters programs in counseling require degree candidates to complete a 150-hour practicum in their specialty/major. The CACREP accredits these best online masters programs for counseling offered by West Virginia University. Classes for this graduate counseling degree include medical aspects of rehabilitation, disability across the lifespan, seminar in vocational evaluation services and techniques, plus the practicum.

West Virginia University (West Virginia) was established in 1867 as a land-grant higher learning institution under the Morrill Land Grant College Act. West Virginia University is also the state’s flagship campus and a space-grant school. Nearly 30,000 students attend classes on the school’s various campuses throughout the state.

Degree: Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health, MS

6. University of North Dakota

The University of North Dakota offers an MA in Counseling, which is recognized among the state’s best online masters in counseling programs. Students attending classes at the University of North Dakota’s best online masters programs in counseling offer students four academic tracks – rehabilitation counseling, community mental health counseling, addiction counseling, and K-12 school counseling. Degree candidates will be required to complete 60 to 71 semester credits to graduate from one of these best online masters programs for counseling, depending on the selected academic track.

The University of North Dakota is the flagship campus of the state that was established in 1883. Additionally, this space-grant higher learning institution serves more than 13,200 students on its urban campus in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The University of North Dakota’s men’s ice hockey team boasts a total of 8 national championships.

Degree: Counseling, MA

7. Kansas State University

Kansas State University offers one of the best online masters in counseling programs in the state of Kansas that is also a CACREP accredited MS in School Counseling program. Kansas State University’s best online masters programs in counseling require the completion of 48 semester credits, of which twelve semester hours are dedicated to clinical requirements. These best online masters programs for counseling also requires a 600 hour supervised counseling internship to meet program requirements. Classes included in this degree include counseling theory and counseling program management.

Kansas State University (K State) was established under the Morrill Land Act in 1863 as a land-grant school. Kansas State University is also a space-grant higher learning institution that serves more than 21,100 students on its college-town campuses, one of which is located in Manhattan, KS. Kansas State University holds the distinction of being the oldest of all public higher learning institutions in the state.

Degree: School Counseling, MS

8. Seton Hall University

Ranked among New Jersey’s best online masters programs for counseling, Seton Hall University’s School Counseling MA program require degree candidates to complete 48 semester credits to meet program requirements. Coursework for Seton Hall University’s best online masters in counseling programs includes counseling theories, abnormal psychology, principles of learning & behavior modification, and counseling & community agencies, plus a practicum and an internship, among others.

Seton Hall University (Seton Hall) is a private higher learning institution that was established in 1856. This Roman Catholic university serves more than 10,100 students from its suburban campus in South Orange, about 40 minutes from downtown Manhattan. Seton Hall University is the oldest diocesan institution of higher education in the nation.

Degree: School Counseling, MA

9. University of Mississippi

The University of Mississippi offers one of the best online masters in counseling programs with its Masters (MeD) degree in Counselor Education. The University of Mississippi’s best online masters programs in counseling are accredited by the CACREP and require students to complete 60 semesters credits to meet program requirements. In addition, students enrolled in the University of Mississippi’s best online masters programs for counseling must pass the CPCE – the Counselor preparation Comprehensive Exam to meet graduation requirements.

The University of Mississippi is a public higher education institution that was established in 1848. The University of Mississippi is the state’s flagship school and also a space-grant and sea-grant university, serving more than 23,100 students. Students studying at the University of Mississippi were very much a part of the civil rights movement in 1962.

Degree: Counselor Education, MEd.

10. University of Louisiana at Monroe

The University of Louisiana at Monroe offers an MS in Counseling that is considered among Louisiana’s best online masters in counseling programs. These CACREP accredited best online masters programs in counseling offers two tracks – school counseling or clinical mental health counseling. Students graduate from the University of Louisiana Monroe’s Mississippi’s best online masters programs for counseling and enter the workforce as a life coach, a consultant, a career or vocational counselor, mental health counselor, or a group facilitator, to name a few.

The University of Louisiana (UL Monroe) is a member school of the state’s university system that was established in 1931. The university serves more than 8,700 students from its 200+ acre urban campus in Monroe. The University of Louisiana at Monroe offers the state’s only atmospheric science program in meteorology.

Degree: Counseling, MS

11. Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University’s Psychology College offers a Master of Science (MS) degree in Counseling that is considered among the Sunshine State’s best online masters in counseling programs. Students enrolled in Nova Southeastern University’s best online masters programs in counseling requires the completion of 60 semester credits to graduate. Classes for Nova Southeastern University’s best online masters programs for counseling include counseling theories & practice, human sexuality, community mental health, advanced treatment interventions, human growth & development, ethical and legal issues for counselors, and substance abuse, to name a few.

Nova Southeastern University (NSU Florida) is a private institution of higher education that was founded in 1964. Nova Southeastern University’s campuses in sunny south Florida serve more than 20,200 students vying for the academic degrees offered by NSU’s eighteen colleges/schools. The school is built upon an old abandoned naval field once used in WWII.

Degree: Counseling, MS

12. Tarleton State University

Tarleton State University offers one of the state’s best online masters in counseling programs with its Master of Science (MS) degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Degree candidates for TSU’s best online masters programs in counseling are mandated to complete 60 semester credits over 2.5 to 3 years. These best online masters programs for counseling are offered through the school’s College of Health Sciences & Human Services. Classes for this graduate degree include human growth development, research methods in counseling, foundations of psychopharmacology, ethical foundations of counseling, and behavioral addictions, plus a practicum.

Tarleton State University (Tarleton) is a senior member school of the Texas A&M system that was established in 1899. More than 12,000 students attend classes on Tarleton State University’s urban campus that covers more than 1,800 acres. Tarleton State University is renowned for its teacher education program that offers accelerated degrees.

Degree: Clinical Mental Health Counseling, MS

13. Regent University

Regent University’s School of Psychology & Counseling offers a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) that is ranked among Virginia’s best online masters programs for counseling. Regent’s best online masters programs in counseling require degree candidates to complete coursework in theories of counseling addiction therapies, psychopathology & diagnosis, ethics and legal issues for counselors, and multicultural counseling, plus a clinical mental health practicum, to name a few. Regent’s best online masters programs for counseling does include a residency requirement for distance learning students.

Regent University (RU) is a Christian higher learning institution that was established in 1977. More than 8,500 students attend classes on Regent University’s 50+ acre suburban campus in Virginia Beach. Regent University is considered the Harvard University of the Christian right movement.

Degree: Clinical Mental Health Counseling, MA

14. Northwestern University

Northwestern University offers an MA in Counseling that is ranked among Illinois’ best online masters programs for counseling. Northwestern’s CACREP accredited best online masters programs in counseling require students to complete an internship, a practicum, and 24 graduate-level classes. Students enrolled in Northwestern University’s best online masters programs for counseling can opt for an academic emphasis on children and adolescents. Classes for this graduate counseling degree include theories of psychotherapy, cultural diversity in counseling, foundations of family, marital & couples counseling, to name a few.

Northwestern University (Northwestern) is a research higher learning institution that was founded in 1851. The university’s campuses in Evanston and Chicago cover more than 250 acres and serves more than 21,800 students. Northwestern University boasts that it is a founding member of the Big Ten Conference.

Degree: Counseling, MA

15. Valdosta State University

Valdosta State University offers one of the state’s best online masters in counseling programs with its Masters (MeD) degree in Counselor Education. Valdosta State University’s best online masters programs in counseling require degree candidates to complete 60 semester credits to meet program requirements. Valdosta State University’s CACREP-accredited, best online masters programs for counseling, offers students small cohorts made up of only ten to twelve students. Students graduate from Valdosta State University’s graduate counseling degree and enter the workforce as school counselors, licensed professional counselors, or career counselors, among others.

Valdosta State University (Valdosta State) is a public higher learning institution that was established in 1906. Valdosta State University serves more than 11,100 students from each of the state’s 157 counties. Valdosta State University operates a campus in Valdosta and another on the Moody Air Force Base.

Degree: Counselor Education, MEd.

16. University of Southern Maine

The University of Southern Maine offers an MA in Counseling with an academic emphasis in Clinical Mental health that is considered among Maine’s best online masters programs for counseling. The University of Southern Maine’s best online masters programs in counseling have received accreditation from CACREP. Students enrolled in USM’s best online masters in counseling programs must complete 63 semester credits in graduate coursework. Specialty coursework for this graduate counseling degree program includes crisis intervention, professional issues for mental health counselors, and diagnosis and treatment planning, plus a 900- hour internship.

The University of Southern Maine (USM) is a public school that was established in 1878. The university operates dual campuses in Gorham and Lewiston that serve more than 7,600 students. The University of Southern Maine was originally two universities that were integrated to streamline higher ed in Maine. The University of Southern Maine boasts a student to faculty ratio of only 13 to 1.

Degree: Counseling, MS

17. University of Montana

The University of Montana’s College of Education & Human Sciences offers a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Counselor Education that is ranked as one of the best online masters programs for counseling. Degree candidates must complete 60 semester credits to graduate from UM’s best online masters programs in counseling. Students enrolled in the University of Montana’s best online masters in counseling programs can complete the degree in two years studying full-time, with students completing the degree, on average, in 1.5 to 3 years.

The University of Montana (Montana) is the state’s flagship higher learning institution that was established in 1893. The university serves more than 10,700 students from its university-town campus in Missoula and online. The University of Montana is recognized fifth in the nation for producing Rhodes Scholars.

Degree: Counselor Education, MA

18. Winston Salem State University

Winston Salem State University’s School of Health Sciences offers a Master of Science (MS) degree in Rehabilitation Counseling that is considered among North Carolina’s best online masters programs for counseling. Winston Salem State University’s best online masters programs in counseling have received accreditation from CACREP. Classes for Winston Salem State University’s best online masters in counseling programs include foundations of rehabilitation counseling, group counseling, theories & techniques of counseling, ethics in rehabilitation counseling, human growth & development, and crisis counseling, to name a few.

Winston Salem State University (WS State) is recognized as a Historically Black College/University that was established in 1892. WS State is a member school of the state’s university system that serves more than 4,900 students annually. Winston Salem State University was ranked among the top ten schools for social mobility.

Degree: Rehabilitation Counseling, MS

19. University of the Cumberlands

The University of the Cumberlands offers a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling that is CACREP accredited and considered among the state’s best online masters programs for counseling. The University of the Cumberlands’ best online masters programs in counseling prepare students for rewarding careers as mental health counselors, health educators, rehab counselors, natural sciences managers, or mental health professionals. UC’s best online masters in counseling programs include 60 hours of graduate coursework, with specialty classes in child and adolescent counseling, process & techniques in counseling, and marriage & family counseling, among others.

The University of the Cumberlands (UC) is a private higher learning institution that was established by Baptist Ministers in 1888. UC serves more than 13,200 students from its rural campus in Williamsburg. The University of the Cumberlands is only about an hour’s drive from Knoxville, Tennessee, and about 3 hours from Cincinnati, OH.

Degree: Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

20. Adams State University

Adams State University offers an MA in Counseling that is ranked as one of Colorado’s best online masters programs for counseling. Adams State University’s best online masters programs in counseling have received accreditation from the CACREP and the Colorado Dept. of Education. Students enrolled in Adams State’s best online masters in counseling programs have the option of choosing from two academic tracks – the school counseling track and the clinical mental health track. Classes for Adams State University’s graduate degree in counseling include lifespan development, group counseling, counseling the couple and family, crisis, disaster and trauma, and ethics and professional issues for counselors, plus two clinical practicums.

Adams State University (Adams State) was established in 1921 as a public institution of higher education dedicated to training teachers. The school’s Alamosa campus serves more than 3,300 students. Adams State University’s campus is located on more than 80 acres in the San Luis Valley.

Degree: Counseling, MA

21. Montana State University – Billings

Montana State University-Billings’ Health and Human Development Division offers a Master of Science (MS) degree in Counseling that is considered one of Montana’s best online masters programs for counseling. MSU’s best online masters programs in counseling offer degree candidates three concentrations within its CACREP accredited program – mental health, school or marriage, couples & family. Coursework included in Montana State University’s best online masters in counseling programs includes professional issues in counseling, crisis counseling, diagnosis and mental health, counsel child and adolescents, and theory & practice of addiction counseling, plus two internships, among others.

Montana State University (MSU Billings) is a land-grant higher learning institution established under the Morrill Land Grant College Act in 1893. The university’s main campus in Bozeman is home to more than 16,500 students. Montana State University holds claim to have the largest university campuses in the state of Montana.

Degree: Counseling, MS

22. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania’s MA in Counseling offers several academic emphases – art therapy, clinical mental health college counseling, clinical rehab, and school counseling. Edinboro University’s best online masters in counseling programs seek to integrate research, theory, and practice into the program and to prepare degree candidates for many occupations in the human services industry.

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (Edinboro) was established as a private teacher’s college in 1857. The school’s campus in Edinboro covers more than 500 acres and serves more than 4,500 students. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania is located about 15 minutes from Erie, Pennsylvania, and offers students a student/faculty ratio of 18 to 1.

Degree: Counseling, MA

23. Walden University

Walden University logo. (PRNewsFoto/Walden University)

Walden University offers an MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling that is recognized as one of Minnesota’s best online masters programs for counseling. Walden University’s best online masters programs in counseling is CACREP accredited and requires degree candidates to complete 45 semester credits to meet program requirements. Students enrolled in Walden University’s best online masters in counseling programs are offered six concentrations from which to select – general, addictions, forensics, marriage, couple and family, trauma/crisis, and military families/career. Students graduate from Walden’s graduate counseling degree to find rewarding careers as mental health therapists, professional counselors, and clinical therapists.

Walden University (Walden) is a for-profit higher learning institution that was established in 1970. Walden University primarily offers online and distance learning options. Nearly 50,000 students attend classes offered by Walden University. President Bill Clinton performed the commencement speech at Walden in 2011.

Degree: Clinical Mental Health Counseling, MS

24. University of Montevallo

The University of Montevallo’s College of Education and Human Development offers one of the best online masters in counseling programs with its Masters (MeD) degree in Counseling. These 63-semester credit best online masters programs for counseling offers several academic tracks – clinical mental health, school counseling, and couples & families. Core coursework for Montevallo’s best online masters in counseling programs includes theories in counseling, advanced human growth and development, applied research, social & multicultural foundations, and crisis intervention, plus a practicum and internship, to name a few.

The University of Montevallo (Montevallo) is a public school that was established in 1896. The university’s campus in Montevallo serves more than 2,500 students. As a public arts institution of higher education, the University of Montevallo’s is a member school within the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges.

Degree: Counseling, MEd.

25. University of Denver

The University of Denver offers an MA in School Counseling that is ranked among Colorado’s best online masters programs for counseling. The University of Denver’s best online masters programs for counseling can be completed in about two years and is designed to comply with CACREP standards. Students enrolled in the University of Denver’s best online masters in counseling programs are required to complete 18 courses for a total of 72 quarter semester units. Additionally, degree candidates for the University of Denver’s graduate degree in counseling must complete a 700 hour counseling practicum to meet program requirements.

The University of Denver (UD) is a research institution of higher education that was founded in 1880 as a seminary. Although founded by Methodists, the University of Denver operates as a nonprofit, nonsectarian school. The University of Denver’s campus is only a few miles from downtown Denver and serves nearly 13,000 students.

Degree: School Counseling, MA

How Do I Choose the Best Online Counseling Master’s?

Choosing the best online counseling Masters is often a personal choice. You can either choose by the school or by the degree program itself. If you have a preference for schools, you can choose almost any college or university that you like as long as it offers online coursework. The school you choose should be well-known for its counseling degrees and offer the highest quality coursework possible. It’s also a good idea to choose a college that has been accredited by CACREP. Being accredited by a professional organization shows that the college offers quality degree programs.

If you choose an online counseling Masters degree program on its own merit, you need to find one that provides you with the courses you are looking for and the degree that will open new doors for opportunity. Returning to school to earn your Master’s means that you have already completed a lot of your education. With that being said, it is important to stay in line with the path you have already created. While you can always branch off and take on a specialty, it’s important to remember that maintaining momentum in your career should always be your priority.

Is CACREP Accreditation Important?

CACREP stands for The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. Accreditation by a professional organization means that the college or university has been proven to provide curriculums that provide the skills, tools, resources, and knowledge that a graduate will need to be able to excel at their position. Schools of higher learning must be able to show that the courses they offer meet or exceed the standards that are put in place as benchmarks for a specific industry or professional field.

By enrolling in an online Master’s degree program that has met or surpassed CACREP accreditation standards, the student can rest assured the degree program they are enrolled in will provide them with everything they need to be an effective counselor. They will be able to follow their goals and have the successful career they have always wanted. With CACREP accreditation, they can take their degree and apply for almost any position they choose to pursue. It can also provide them with the credentials and reputation they need to ask for the raise or promotion they have worked so hard to earn.

How Much Can I Make with a Master’s in Counseling?

Counselors that have a Master’s degree or higher can make, on average, approximately $70,000 per year. Several factors will affect this number, however. While it’s common knowledge that a person who is just starting out will make much less, their geographic location and the facility they work at will also be determining factors. Remote or rural locations may not have the resources to provide the high level of pay that a large metropolitan city may be able to offer. The same can be said for the size of the facility. A large facility will normally have the financial means to pay a much higher salary than a smaller facility with limited resources.

The years of experience a person has, especially if they have pursued a specialty such as dual diagnosis, pediatric, or forensics. The more years of experience you have, the more money you will make per year. Most individuals who pursue a Masters in Counseling online are looking to move upward in their field. Graduates who have earned their Masters in counseling can look forward to new opportunities in their existing position or they may choose to pursue a job at a different company that offers additional responsibilities and challenges.

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