The Top 10 Online Masters in Counseling Degree Programs

Many adults choose to further their education to improve opportunities in the job market, make their way up the corporate ladder with their current employer, change careers or for a variety of other personal reasons. Counseling offers a wide variety of career opportunities, in part due to the specializations that make it easy to design your counseling degree program in accordance with your goals.

Counselors specialize in areas such as marriage and family counseling, clinical counseling, school counseling, substance abuse or mental health counseling, rehabilitation counseling, career counseling, or counseling military veterans suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

These Top 10 Online Counseling Degree Programs offer outstanding opportunities for graduate students to achieve a Master’s degree in counseling. These great Top 10 choices were chosen for flexibility, degree and specializations offered, tuition and accreditation. Other factors in this methodology include ranking, recognition and awards as well as best practices and licensing.

10. Seton Hall University


Seton Hall offers the M.A./Ed.S. Professional Counseling, a 60-credit program spread over ten semesters. It is geared towards graduate students preparing for a career in mental health counseling. Seton Hall also offers the M.A. in School Counseling, a 48 credit hour program, giving prospective school counselors the opportunity to work in K-12 educational settings. This program meets credentialing requirements set by the New Jersey Department of Education and is NCATE accredited. Students should check the licensing requirements for their state as this program may meet specific requirements outside New Jersey. Tuition for both programs is $739 per credit hour.

Seton Hall is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, is a member of the Sloan Asynchronous Learning Network Consortium, and is “recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense’s education network of Defense Activity for meeting military requirements for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES).”

9. UMass Online


UMass Online offers the Master of Education degree in School Counseling, M.S. degree in Mental Health Counseling, M.S. in Family Therapy and the M.S. degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. The online counseling program is entirely online except for a two-week on-site residency.

UMass is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The Times of London ranked UMass the 19th highest-rated university in the world. UMass also received a 21st Century Best Practices Award from the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), an Excellence in Online Programming award from the Sloan – C Excellence Awards. Tuition is $495 per credit hour.

8. Nova Southeastern University


Nova Southeastern is a participating educational institution of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus Program (SREB). SREB-approved programs, including Nova Southeastern’s M.S. in Counseling degree, are “in full compliance with its comprehensive set of Principles of Good Practice.”

Earn an M.S. in Counseling degree in your choice of specializations, including Mental Health Counseling, Substance Abuse Counseling and Education, Applied Behavior Analysis or Advanced Applied Behavior Analysis. Tuition is $670 per credit hour.

7. Wake Forest University


Wake Forest has the distinction of ranking in the #27 spot on the U.S. News & World Report 2015 “Annual Guide to America’s Best Colleges.” It holds the #35 spot for “Best Value.” Wake Forest indicates that its Master of Arts in Counseling (MAC) degree is “designed to provide students with the working knowledge and clinical understanding to help those who need it most.” Wake Forest offers three MAC specializations, including the Master of Arts in Human Services, M.A. in Counseling – school counseling and M.A. in Counseling – Clinical Mental Health.

Wake Forest boasts a 100 percent pass rate for graduates taking the National Counselor Exam and is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Wake Forest’s Online Counselor Program has twice been selected “Outstanding Counselor Education Program” by associations of counselor educators, schools, and mental health facilities, according to the Wake Forest site. Online tuition is $1300 each credit hour.

6. Palo Alto University


Palo Alto University is a great choice because the university guarantees no tuition increases once a student is accepted. Palo Alto offers a Master of Arts Degree in Counseling, with a choice of the Family and Child or Clinical Mental Health specialization. Palo Alto University does require a one-week residency in the MA Counseling program.

PAU has regional accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. PAU features accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges for all degrees and a 17:1 student/faculty ratio institution-wide. Tuition is a low $19, 960 annually for the M.A. in Counseling.

5. Le Tourneau University


LeTourneau is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. LeTourneau gives graduate students the option of the specialization of Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Marriage, and Family Therapist or School Counselor option in its Master of Arts in Counseling Program.

LeTourneau is a faith-based university, named to the “top tier” of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report. Tuition is a low $595 per credit hour.

4. Post University


Post University offers a number of options for graduate students seeking to further their education. The degree is a Master of Science in Human Services, with a variety of specializations. The specializations include the M.S. in Human Services with your choice of Alcohol & Drug Counseling, Clinical Counseling within Organizational Settings or Forensic Mental Health Counseling.

Post University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. Post offers 24/7 support to online graduate students, accommodating the adult learner completing their program outside “normal” hours.

G.I. Magazine ranked Post in the top 15 percent of higher education institutions in the U.S. Post received a 2015 Silver Innovation Prize from the Connecticut Quality Improvement Award (CQIA) Partnership, Inc., for Post’s “implementation of performance analysis tools to improve online classroom engagement between instructors and students.” Tuition is $570 per credit hour.

For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program, and other important information, please visit our website.

3. Capella University


Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission as well as the American Counseling Association (CACREP), Capella University offers excellent variety in its M.S. in Counseling programs. Students can pursue specializations that include an M.S. in Marriage and Family Counseling, Mental Health Counseling, Addiction Studies, Human Behavior or School Counseling. Capella allows students to complete their degree in their FlexPath program, meaning that students learn at their own pace.

Capella indicates that 96 percent of employers rates job performance of Capella graduates as “exceptional.” Capella received numerous awards and recognition including the Yellow Ribbon Summit for “outstanding support of service members, veterans, and their families,” is the first online university to receive the CHEA Outstanding Institutional Practice in Student Learning Outcomes Award.

2. Walden University


Walden University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and CACREP. Walden offers a wide variety of specializations in its Master of Science in Counseling programs. Choose between Addictions Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Couple and Family Counseling or School Counseling.

The Walden School of Counseling “brings together students and a diverse global faculty in a collaborative learning community dedicated to addressing critical social problems.” Walden takes pride in its efforts towards Demonstrating Accountability, Transparency, and Assessment (DATA), sharing outcomes of its student, alumni and faculty surveys to assess the value of Walden’s online degree programs, learning outcomes and overall “impact of the Walden experience.”

1. Regent University


Regent University ranks #1 on the list of Top 10 Online Counseling Degree Programs because of the exceptional variety of its online counseling program specializations, which allow graduate students to customize their counseling degree program to their intended career path. The recognition of the school through accolades and accreditations help rank Regent University at the top of the list.

Regent is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), a specialized body recognized by CHEA has accredited several off the counseling programs. Regent boasted several accolades, including recognition as a “Top 15 Best University” by U.S. News & World Report and was named to “G.I. Jobs and Military Advanced Education” magazine 2015 list of Military-Friendly Schools. Additionally Regent received a grade of “A” by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), “based on a detailed examination of the latest publicly-available online course catalogs at the time of review.” Regent is among only 23 universities to receive the “A” grade from ACTA. The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) ranked Regent University among the top 7 percent “Most Affordable Tuition.”

Regent offers four online Master of Arts (M.A.) degree specializations through its School of Psychology and Counseling, which is one reason that Regent University places at the top of this list. The M.A. in Clinical Counseling prepares graduates to become a mental health counselor by “combining contemporary counseling techniques and theories with a solid biblical foundation for spiritual balance in the counseling approach.” The M.A. Human Services Counseling will “equip you with valuable counseling skills for use in ministry, missions or any other type of counseling career where you may practice counseling without a license.” The M.A. in Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling prepares graduates to sit for the marriage and family therapy licensing examination in most states. Regent’s M.A. in School Counseling prepares graduates to meet requirements for school counselors in Virginia. Students in other states should check licensure requirements in their state. Graduates of the online M.A. in Counseling degree programs may wish to continue their education at Regent University by pursuing the Ph.D. in Counselor Education & Supervision, a hybrid program.