Most Affordable Online Master’s Degrees in Counseling

This page highlights 18 accredited online Master in Counseling programs that rank highly on affordability and discusses other ways to lower the cost of your master’s degree. Read on to learn if these affordable online master’s programs are right for you and about how to fund your master’s degree.

Working as a counselor not only helps others, it also offers job security with the ever-increasing demand for mental health services. Many states require a master’s degree to work as a licensed or certified counselor, and many counseling programs offer their master’s degree in counseling online to make getting the necessary education easier. Remote learning also makes working while in school possible.

Even with the accessibility of online learning, paying for graduate education is still a major hurdle. This guide helps prospective counselors figure out how to pay for their online master’s degree. It also overviews how online counseling master’s degree programs work and how to find the most affordable program.

18 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Mental Health Counseling Programs for 2022

Choosing the right Master’s in Counseling program is a personal decision, and cost is a significant factor. While enrolling in a program you can afford is important, you don’t want to skimp on academic quality. The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) provided several quality metrics to help determine the most affordable and accessible high-quality online master’s in counseling programs for 2022. Learn more about how we developed our ranking system by clicking on the “About the ranking” button below.

About the ranking
1
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

Texas A & M International University’s Master of Science in School Counseling Online degree program prepares students for work as certified school counselors. The curriculum prepares students to pass the TExES School Counselor exam and meet the Texas Education Agency’s state certification eligibility requirements. For maximum flexibility, many classes can be completed online, and in-person practicum and internship training requirements can be completed at the same school where a student already works. With up to eight program start dates to meet unique scheduling needs, this program is intended for individuals already working as education professionals. Applicants need a valid Texas Teaching Certificate and two years of work experience.

Master of Science in School Counseling

  • Credits: 48
  • Length: 16 to 18 months
  • Cost: $17,585/program (in-state); $49,440/program (out-of-state)
  • Format: Partially-online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); Texas State Board for Educator Certification (program)

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
2
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

Fitchburg State University’s counseling programs provide two master’s degree options. Its Master of Science in Counseling with a concentration in Clinical Mental Health Counseling develops graduates ready to apply for licensure as Licensed Mental Health Counselors. Students can take up to six years to complete the program, but an accelerated option that allows for completion in less than three years is also available. Many classes are offered online, but students must also complete internships, practicums, and on-campus classes.

The second option, the Master of Science in Counseling – School Counseling, prepares students for becoming licensed school counselors for either elementary schools (pre-K to eighth grade) or secondary schools (grades five through 12). The curriculum is similar to the clinical mental health counseling program where students take on-campus and online classes in addition to completing internships/practicums.

Master of Science in Counseling

  • Credits: 60
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $347/credit
  • Format: Partially online
  • Accreditation: NECHE (school); AAQEP (program)

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation NECHE
3
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

Students needing flexibility in their online learning will appreciate the Master of Arts in Counseling offered by Western New Mexico University. Almost the entire program can be completed online, though students attend some classes synchronously via Zoom. Many classes are offered asynchronously through Canvas, but there are some in-person requirements (e.g., practicums or internships).

In addition to the convenient learning format, students choose between four concentrations. The Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Substance Abuse Counseling, and Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling concentrations all prepare students to become licensed mental health counselors in New Mexico. For those wanting to help students, the School Counseling concentration leads to eligibility as a licensed school counselor in New Mexico.

Master of Arts in Counseling

  • Credits: 60
  • Length: Three years
  • Cost: $3,364.11/semester (in-state); $5,807.61/semester (out-of-state)
  • Format: Partially-online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CAEP (program)

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
4
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

When it comes to learning options for getting an online master’s degree in counseling, Texas A & M University – Commerce leads the way with its MED/MS Counseling program. Students choose from four areas of concentration. Those interested in a Master of Education degree in counseling can enroll in the Student Affairs (this program is not CACREP accredited) track designed for those who want to work with college students. Those looking for a Master of Science degree have three choices, all of which are CACREP accredited. The Clinical Mental Health Counseling track prepares students to become Licensed Professional Counselors in Texas, and the School Counseling track readies students to become certified school counselors. Finally, the School Counseling with LPC track prepares students to become Licensed Professional Counselors. Regardless of specialization or degree, no thesis is required. Some classes can be completed online, but students also need to complete some classes on campus.

Master of Education in Counseling

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: One to three years
  • Cost: $3,669/semester (resident); $7,341/semester (non-resident)
  • Format: Partially-online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school)

Master of Science in Counseling

  • Credits: 51 to 60
  • Length: Three years
  • Cost: $3,669/semester (resident); $7,341/semester (non-resident)
  • Format: Partially-online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CACREP (program)

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
5
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

Fort Hays State University offers a master’s degree in counseling with two degree paths. The Master of Science in Counseling – Clinical Mental Health Counseling is a hybrid program with roughly 50% of the curriculum completed on-campus, though these classes are held only on Fridays and Saturdays. Graduates are ready to become licensed in the state of Kansas asClinical Professional Counselors or Licensed Professional Counselors. The second pathway is the Master of Science in Counseling – School Counseling, also a blended program with in-person and online requirements. Many in-person requirements include completing a practicum and internship. Students completing the educational requirements are ready for state licensure in Kansas as school counselors.

Master of Science in Counseling

  • Credits: 54 to 60
  • Length: Three years
  • Cost: $298.55/credit
  • Format: Partially-online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CACREP (program); CAEP (program)

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
6
Winston-Salem, NC
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services No
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
7
San Angelo, TX
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
8
Wichita Falls, TX
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
9
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
10
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services No
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
11
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
12
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
13
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
14
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
15
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
16
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
17
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
18
Russellville, AR
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC

5 Ways to Save on your Master’s Degree in Counseling

For most students, tuition is the biggest hurdle to enrollment. Thankfully, there are several options available to help pay for the cost of your online counseling master’s degree. Below are some of the funding options available to those considering the most affordable online masters in mental health counseling programs.

  1. Scholarships, grants, and fellowships created for Counseling Master’s students.

    Scholarships, grants, and fellowships are ideal forms of financial aid because they don’t have to be paid back. Many are available directly from schools offering online counseling degree programs. For example, the Master of Education in Counseling with a concentration in School Counseling from William and Mary offers various scholarships with awards from $2,300 to $5,000. Learn more about other scholarships and related opportunities through OMD’s scholarships and resources guide.

  2. Work-Study or Assistantships

    Work-study gives part-time jobs based on financial need and provides money to help pay for the education. Assistantships are a type of academic employment where students usually get paid in the form of tuition discounts in return for helping one or more faculty members with certain tasks. For students who must already be on campus, some online master’s in counseling programs, like Fort Valley State University’s on-campus work-study opportunities, have some options available.

  3. Employer Tuition Reimbursement Programs

    Employer tuition reimbursement programs are an employment benefit or perk where employers pay for some or all of your advanced education. Employees may need to continue working while taking classes, but exactly how the tuition reimbursement program works varies among employers. Generally, employers ask employees to continue working for them for a set number of years after graduation. If the employee fails to honor this agreement, they may need to reimburse their employer for the money spent on their education.

  4. Payment Plans

    Payment plans are a great option for those who have the money to pay for their education but need a bit of flexibility in doing so. The terms of a payment plan depend on the specific school, but they usually work by charging a modest fee, maybe $100 or so, to pay tuition throughout the semester instead of all at once. Usually, no interest is charged, and students make payments each month. Payment plans are more popular at the undergraduate level, but they do exist for some online master’s degree counseling programs, such as at Capella University.

  5. Paid Internships

    Accredited master’s degree programs in counseling require hands-on training through internships and/or practicums. These often take hundreds of hours to complete. To help students pay for their education, some schools, like William James College, offer stipends while students complete these in-person requirements. This is a great option for those who can’t use their full-time job experience to satisfy internship and practicum academic requirements.

FAQs about Affordable Master’s Programs in Computer Science

Q. What impacts the affordability of an online master’s program?

One of the biggest factors in affordability is whether a school is private or public. This difference may not matter for out-of-state students who will likely pay out-of-state tuition rates that rival that of private universities. In addition, some programs charge the same tuition regardless of a student’s residency status, so this factor may not matter. The true cost of attendance is also impacted by grants and scholarships as well as a school’s transfer credit policy.

Q. What is the ROI of an online master’s degree in Computer Science?

Earning a master’s degree in counseling improves your professional prospects, especially with compensation. For example, a mental health counselor who treats families only needs a bachelor’s degree and receives a median salary of $48,520. With a master’s degree in counseling, a mental health counselor is eligible to become a licensed family therapist and could increase their median salary to $49,880. The biggest benefit is the potential for even higher salaries with the top 10% of family therapists earning $96,520 and the top 10% of mental health counselors earning only $77.980.

Q. How can I ensure that an affordable Master’s in Counseling program is high-quality?

The best way to ensure you’re getting a quality education is to enroll in an accredited counseling program, such as one accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). In addition to accreditation, look at career services and networking opportunities. You’ll also want a program that prepares you for state licensure. If possible, look for statistics showing what percentage of graduates find a counseling-related position within a certain period after graduation.

Q. Is an online master’s degree more affordable than an in-person one?

Sometimes the tuition rate for online students is cheaper or the same as the tuition rate for in-state students. Other times, the tuition rate is the same for all students, but distance learning and self-paced curriculums make it easier for students to pay for their degrees. For instance, by adjusting the pace of learning, students can work while in school. In addition, not having to travel to campus means students can avoid travel and moving expenses.

Q. Can job experience count towards a master’s degree and help cut costs?

Many online counseling master’s programs let students obtain academic credit for work experience relevant to their degrees. There are variations in how this credit works, though. For example, schools differ in how many experience credits they let a student earn or what kind of class credits a student can replace with work experience.

Q. How can I know if an affordable master’s degree program is right for me?

This depends on what you need in a program. For example, one program could have the lowest tuition but only allow you to take classes full time, which might mean you can’t work while in school. If you don’t plan on working, perhaps an accelerated program letting you finish your degree early is ideal. To decide if a program is affordable, make a list of program characteristics that are important to you and go from there.