The Best Online Counseling Master’s Programs for 2024

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If you’re hoping to make a career out of counseling, getting a master’s degree is going to be a requirement no matter how busy or complicated your life might be. And that’s exactly why you’re looking at online programs.

With flexible options for taking in course content when it fits your schedule and the freedom to work towards earning your degree wherever you might need to be on a given day – not sitting in a lecture hall – it’s the first choice for any prospective grad student who is still out punching a clock in the real world. Increasingly, it’s also the first choice for anyone who wants a first-rate education but who may not be located in the same neighborhood as the school of their dreams.

But it’s not as easy as it sounds. Counseling is one of the last great bastions of on-site education. There are relatively few reputable counseling graduate programs that offer primarily online instruction in the first place. Almost all of them require at least some on-campus attendance, even if it’s just a couple of weekend sessions at the beginning and end of the program.

We’ve gone through the list of those programs and identified the top 20 in the country that have the highest proportion of online courses and the finest academic quality. We then put them together here to give you a leg up in your search for the best fully-accredited online master’s degrees in counseling for the 2020-21 school year.

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How Accreditation Plays A Role in Defining The Best

When we say fully accredited, we’re not kidding! Every major American institution of higher learning will have a national or regional accreditation from a general accreditor recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) as a matter of course.

But for counseling graduate programs, you should do one step better. CACREP, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, is the most widely recognized specialized programmatic accrediting agency for counseling graduate programs. They are also recognized by CHEA, but their sole focus is on validating the quality and expertise of counseling programs.

Because of that focus, they can tell you a lot about a counseling degree program that a general university accreditor can’t. They understand the basis of the counseling profession and the current demands out in the field and they can evaluate a degree on the basis of factors like:

  • Fieldwork supervision standards
  • Evidence-based curriculum development
  • Currency of course materials and instruction techniques
  • Legal and ethical education standards
  • Faculty qualifications and education

All this attention to detail shows.

Research shows that graduates from CACREP programs routinely perform better on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE).

That’s exactly the kind of edge you should demand in any master’s in counseling program, and it’s one we insisted on when considering what online programs to include on this list.

What Makes a Counseling Program Special

Of course, accreditation is just where we started, not where we ended up. Academic standards are a big deal, there’s no question about it. But you have a lot of other factors to consider before you make that final choice. We looked at an array of other qualities and qualifications before we included the programs you see here.


Cost was a big consideration, but value was an even bigger one. Counseling education is offered by both public and private schools, but one thing they have in common is that neither of them are cheap.

Nobody wants to hold a degree from a program with a reputation for being cheap, though. So one thing we did was to look at the program cost and compare it to the quality of the education in search of the best value. Extra electives, highly respected instructors, excellent support services, and other bonus features can make even an expensive program a great deal when you put it all together.

Options for Specialty Tracks

Different schools and faculty also have different therapeutic philosophies and specializations, and one key to picking the right program for you is identifying schools where those approaches align with your own predilections and interests.

We make that easy by telling you a little bit about what makes each of these programs tick, both philosophically and in terms of the tracks and electives offered.

Reputation Matters… Especially if You’re Going for a Doctorate

Reputation is also important so we looked at how schools stacked up in the court of public opinion. If you’re vying for a competitive position, hiring managers can’t help but notice if the school you attended had the kind of reputation they’d be glad to brag about when posting your bio on their website. And if your plans involve going for a PhD or PsyD and becoming a licensed psychologist, you better believe the admissions boards heading up the more competitive terminal degree programs are going to pay attention to where you earned your undergrad and master’s.

The More Online the Curriculum the Better

Because we’re looking exclusively at online programs, we also made an effort to find the most online programs available. In counseling, you will always have field experience that has to happen in person, but apart from that, many schools still require you to physically show up on campus from time to time, even if only for an orientation or intensive with your cohort. That’s true of most of the programs on our list, too, but we made an effort to find the ones that give you the most flexibility and require you to be on campus the least.

Top 20 Online – and Fully Accredited – Counseling Master’s Programs

When you put it all together, what you’ll find here are what we consider to be the twenty best online master’s degrees in counseling in the country. We’re confident one of them will be exactly what you’ve been looking for.

This list features programs that our editorial staff hand selected to present as top recommendations. We believe the many aspects of a program that come together to create an exceptional student experience can’t be reduced to numbers alone, so no formula was used to attempt to score or rank these programs. Instead, they represent our top picks based on a thoughtful review of the things we know mean the most to students. Each one of these programs offers something unique, and all come equally highly recommended. We stand behind the principal of editorial integrity and make these recommendations independently and without compensation.


Adler University (PR)Chicago, Illinois


Master’s in Counseling: Specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Other Degrees:

  • MA in Counseling: Art Therapy
  • MA in Counseling: Forensic Psychology
  • MA in Counseling: Rehabilitation Counseling
  • MA in Counseling: Sport & Health
  • MA in Counseling: Student Affairs and College Counseling
  • MA in Counseling: Couple & Family Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $1,265

  • Delivery: Primarily online (5-day residency in 1st and 2nd years)
  • Adler student provide more than 650,000 hours of community service annually
  • The school partners with more than 600 agencies for practicum and field experience placements
  • A unique Social Justice practicum requirement offers nonclinical experience designed to train students in becoming agents of social change
  • HIPAA-compliant online learning systems mean that important real-world cases can be discussed in online class settings
  • Cohort-based model emphasizes collaboration, connection, and camaraderie centered around Adlerian ideals of encouragement, empathy, and genuine care
  • A strong Alumni Association provides networking and learning opportunities both before and after graduation
  • The Adler Counseling Student Association is also open to graduate students seeking opportunities for professional development, leadership, and peer support

You know you are talking with some pretty hardcore psychological experts when they describe their online counseling program as a “modality.” That’s Adler for you, but you could have guessed it from the name: Adler University is named for Alfred Adler, a colleague of Sigmund Freud and pioneer of the community psychology approach. When you go to a school named for a guy that has an entire branch of psychology named after him, you expect a counseling program strongly rooted in core psychological theory and techniques, and Adler does not disappoint. You’ll cover human growth and development models, diagnosis of maladaptive behavior, and research skills in your core courses, all of it in line with the Adlerian theory of community mental health. A multicultural community approach is one of the tenets of that approach and the unique Social Justice practicum requirement gives you an edge in becoming a socially responsible practitioner. Clinical skill development isn’t neglected, either, with 700 hours of practicum and internship completed at fully vetted clinical training sites. You’ll learn it all from instructors at the pinnacle of the field, with deep background in both research and practice. There are few schools in the world that can compare to Adler in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and their online offering means you can take advantage of that excellence from anywhere in the country.


Antioch University – New England (PR)Department of Applied Psychology

Keene, New Hampshire


Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Other Degrees:

  • MA in Marriage and Family Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $949

  • Delivery: Primarily online (2 separate week-long residencies required)
  • A concentration is offered in Substance Abuse Counseling
  • High-tech digital learning environment created with cutting-edge tools like Sakai and Engage delivers both synchronous and asynchronous classroom experiences that will keep you connected with both instructors and fellow students

AUNE seeks to foster the development of a professional identity as a counselor in students by encouraging active, thorough, and continuing self-examination of the development of themselves in a professional role. That introspective approach is one of the keys to success that AUNE is known for in preparing professional counselors suited for work in a multicultural global community. The Clinical Mental Health counseling specialization trains students in 8 core areas, including ethics, career development, group counseling, assessment, and research. It’s a full-spectrum approach to counseling education, but you can take your own learning experience even deeper by going into the substance abuse counseling concentration the school also offers.


Asbury Theological Seminary (PR)Department of Counseling and Pastoral Care

Wilmore, Kentucky


Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling

Cost Per Credit: $650

  • Delivery: Primarily online (some courses may be unavailable online)
  • Graduates are eligible to join the Order of Asbury alumni association, a group of active and engaged alumni furthering the mission of the seminary and continuing lifelong relationships with fellow graduates. Mentors are available through the program for current students.
  • An advanced standing option can shave off a maximum of 12 credits of required coursework toward your Master of Arts degree

Christian schools tend to be among the best and most consistent providers of degree programs in the counseling arts, rooted in a centuries-old tradition of compassion, care, and stewardship. Asbury takes this tradition and puts it squarely in the modern world through the ExL Extended Learning Program that delivers courses in a flexible online format. Although the curriculum is, as you would expect at a seminary, heavily populated by biblical studies and Christian counseling beliefs, it also includes a full and in-depth course of instruction in advanced topics like psychopathology, cross-cultural counseling, and theories of personality development. Modern subjects such as recognizing and treating addictive disorders are fused with ancient principles of compassion and ethical approach to counseling, making the Asbury counseling program a perfect hybrid of proven technique with modern analysis.


Bradley University (PR)College of Education and Health Sciences

Peoria, Illinois


Online Master of Arts in Counseling – Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Other Degrees:

  • MA in Counseling – Professional School Counseling

Cost Per Credit: $890

  • Delivery: 100% online
  • Offers instruction in the groundbreaking practice of neurocounseling.
  • School ranked #6 among Midwest Regional Universities by U.S. News & World Report

Not only is Bradley a top-tier school, it’s one of the few places you can go in the country to explore the cutting-edge approach of neuroscience-based counseling. Neurocounseling challenges students to examine how counseling techniques and processes directly affect brain function, helping you to better understand how the nuts and bolts of the mind are better adjusted through different therapeutic approaches. Faculty are all experienced counselors with both the practical and research chops to innovate and lead in the development of this revolutionary approach to counseling, so you have the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the field. The curriculum fuses this approach with mainstream courses in traditional counseling subjects such as loss and grief counseling and substance abuse counseling, so you have the opportunity to apply the most modern techniques to age-old problems.


Capella University (PR)School of Counseling and Human Services

Minneapolis, Minnesota


Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Other Degrees:

  • MS in Marriage and Counseling Therapy
  • Master’s in School Counseling
  • MS in Addiction Studies

Cost Per Credit: $487

  • Delivery: Primarily online (Two 7-day in-person residencies required)
  • Distinguished counseling faculty have all earned PhDs
  • GuidedPath online learning format provides structure to the online learning environment to keep you on-track for graduation
  • A deep and on-call selection of resources are available to help smooth your online learning experience

Capella is one of the premier online universities in the United States, so you can already be confident you’re going to be getting the most cutting-edge digital learning environment available when you sign up for courses there. But you will also get a surprisingly advanced course of study in the most modern counseling approaches, courtesy of well-respected, highly-credentialed professors (including one who was recently selected to lead the American Counseling Association) who will lead you through the process of investigating current counseling theory and research, teach you to connect with diverse clients, and to bring your standards of practice in line with the state and national standards expected of mental health counselors. Critical thinking, writing, and communication skills will help you get a handle on client relations and professional approaches to counseling that will make you a master of the field.


William & Mary University (PU)School of Education

Williamsburg, Virginia


Online Master of Education in Counseling with a Concentration in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Other Degrees:

  • MEd in School Counseling

Cost Per Credit: $665

  • Delivery: Primarily online (Two 3-day on site residencies required)
  • A unique multi-cohort “Wheel” structure allows students to interact with peers from other counseling programs for a more well-rounded counseling education
  • Faculty include best-selling education authors with real-world background in hands-on counseling and curriculum development
  • Ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s Top 75 Schools of Education in the country

William & Mary is a small school with a big reputation. The School of Education punches above its weight, attracting world-class professors who have developed a curriculum program now dominant in more than 35 states. As a center of academic excellence in the counseling world, the collaborative approach to coursework and emphasis on interactive learning environments makes it a leader in the field. That interactivity includes roleplaying exercises and feedback from faculty and peers, as well as lecture series that offer exposure to diversity and social awareness. You’ll get not only a strong education in the classical elements of counseling, including group theory and technique and professional, ethical, and legal issues, but also an education in personal and interpersonal growth and an approach that aligns theory and practice to give you the skillset you need to ease distress, resolve crises, and assist clients in managing their own personal well-being.


Colorado Christian University (PR)College of Adult and Graduate Studies

Lakewood, Colorado


Master of Arts in Counseling

Cost Per Credit: $681

  • Delivery: Primarily online (Annual on-campus 5-day residency required)
  • A comprehensive graduate educational experience in counseling set apart by an evangelical Christian worldview
  • Uses the proven Blackboard LMS to conduct both synchronous and asynchronous online classes
  • Cohort program format keeps you connected with other students for mutual support and encouragement throughout the program

The CCU MA in Counseling promotes the study of biblical principles with the spiritual and physiological dimensions of the whole person. That means you’ll get a comprehensive education in the theological and spiritual basis of Christian counseling, but don’t imagine that means you’ll be studying a curriculum stuck in the dark ages. Instead, you’ll find yourself delving into cutting-edge approaches like psychopharmacology, psychopathology, and hitting modern conceptions of marriage and family, crisis and trauma, and lifestyle and career. The program includes electives in eating disorders, addictive behaviors, and neuroscience and clinical counseling. You’ll be getting instruction through experiential learning, rigorous coursework, and mentoring relationships designed to turn you unit a culturally responsive, ethically-minded, professional counselor.


Lamar University (PU)College of Education and Human Development

Beaumont, Texas


Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Other Degrees:

  • MEd in Counseling and Development

Cost Per Credit: $509 (resident), $924 (out-of-state)

  • Delivery: Primarily online (two required 5-week Residency courses with occasional on-site requirements)
  • Students are eligible for participation in the IMPaCT program, providing specialized fieldwork placements, mentoring, and a $10,000 stipend

Much of the Lamar CMHC program is oriented at producing graduates who are qualified for Texas School Counselor certification or Texas Counselor licensure. But their online program means you can take advantage of the terrific curriculum and instructors from any state. That includes close faculty advising and mentorship, which you’ll get from an assigned instructor that will help you understand all the components of the program. They will also help you create a roadmap for professional development, recognizing that the path to becoming a respected and professional counselor doesn’t end at graduation. Another unique feature at Lamar is the IMPaCT program: Integrative Mentoring Partnership and Care Teams that you are eligible to apply for that establish a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach for providing behavioral health services to children and adolescents. In addition to the always-welcome $10,000 stipend that comes with acceptance, you will get access to specialized field experience sites in schools and behavioral health providers along with direct supervision and personalized partnership support.


Lock Haven University (PU)Department of Social Work and Counseling

Lock Haven, Pennsylvania


Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Specialty tracks available include:

  • Counseling Military/Veterans
  • Counseling Children and Adolescents
  • General Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Cost Per Credit: $516 (resident), $774 (out-of-state)

  • Delivery: 100% online
  • The only public university in Pennsylvania offering a CACREP-accredited, fully online clinical mental health counseling program.
  • Licensure track available to provide coursework specific to state licensing requirements
  • Opportunities to participate in faculty research throughout the program

It’s always a treat to find an eminently affordable public school program in counseling that comes up to the level of a private school education at a fraction of the cost. Lock Haven is one of those gems of the public education system, offering core courses on the theories and models of counseling, addiction counseling, differential diagnosis and treatment planning, and ethical, legal, and professional issues that are delivered by instructors and at a level of professionalism and expertise on par with far more expensive programs. But the most amazing part about the CMHC MS at Lock Haven is that it then goes beyond that: three specialty tracks offer coursework and expertise that dive deeply into topics that many programs only touch on lightly or never cover at all. The program is also available entirely online, a rarity among CMHC degrees. To deal with the chronic problem of locating field placement sites outside the local area, the school maintains a list of approved sites to jump start your search. It’s a comprehensive, professional education in the field of counseling, and it can be taken from anywhere in the U.S. and at rates that often beat even local programs.


Malone University (PR)Graduate and Professional Studies

Canton, Ohio


Master of Arts in Education – Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Cost Per Credit: $595

  • Delivery: 100% online
  • Listed by U.S. News & World Report as a Best Value College for 2018
  • The Center for Professional Development offers regular workshops offered for graduate credit in diverse fields to broaden your expertise

Malone’s master’s in clinical mental health counseling is grounded in a Biblical worldview… no bad thing for someone whose profession will require a mountain of compassion, understanding, and faith. But the program also embraces a holistic approach to care that combines stringent clinical training with that faith-based curriculum to offer you an education that prioritizes cultural competence, leadership, and professionalism. The program includes both a practicum and a two-part internship, offering you a ton of field experience to put those classroom skills into practice. Combined with the flexibility of a self-paced, affordable online delivery, that’s a winning combination for anyone heading into the profession.


North Carolina Central University (PU)Department of Allied Professions

Durham, North Carolina


Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Other Degrees:

  • MA in Career Counseling
  • MA in School Counseling

Cost Per Credit: $592 (resident), $2,212 (out-of-state)

  • Delivery: 100% online
  • In addition to CACREP, program has also been approved by the International Registry of Counselor Education Programs (IRCEP)
  • Selected by the Southern Association of Counselor Education and Supervision as the Most Outstanding Master’s level Counseling Program

The Counselor Education Program at NCCU has a broad purview and a high volume of applicants, but don’t think that means you will get lost in the shuffle. As a top quality program, competition to get in is stiff, but once you’re in, you’ll receive individualized attention from expert instructors and administrative staff. The program works to promote social justice and responsibility by turning out graduates who will serve as leaders in a the diverse global community. You’ll learn how to become one of those graduates by absorbing practical lessons on how to respond to complex human needs from people across the lifespan and operating in every sort of cultural and social context.


Northwestern University (PR)The Family Institute at Northwestern

Evanston, Illinois


Online Master of Arts in Counseling

Cost Per Credit: $4,510

  • Delivery: Primarily online (two on-site immersion experiences required)
  • Embraces a learning-by-doing model that favors practical, hands-on counseling instruction
  • Specialization available in Child and Adolescent counseling
  • A field placement team will assist you in identifying and applying to Northwestern-approved sites for clinical practicum and internship placements
  • Faculty include experts in sports psychology, neurocounseling, substance abuse, and LGBT community counseling to offer you a broad range of experts to learn from
  • Bridge to Counseling program provides an on-ramp introduction to the field for students without a background in counseling or human services education

Okay, we’ll admit it up front: the tuition at Northwestern’s Family Institute MA in Counseling program is pretty eye-popping, particularly for a career field where you don’t find many millionaires. On the other hand, it’s a program with a lot of options attached that you will have trouble finding under one roof anywhere else: accelerated, traditional, and part time tracks for completion for instance. Or the Bridge to Counseling program, designed to provide a gentle on-ramp into the professions for students who didn’t get an undergrad degree in a related field. Or the highly collaborative immersion experiences that bring out together with faculty and staff in innovative capstone projects that round off your degree. It’s a rigorous education with a lot of expertise behind it, and professional instructors who have both academic and practical experience and are eager to pass it along. Students rave about the powerful experiences they encounter through the program, an outgrowth of the self-reflective approach that Northwestern encourages to help students understand themselves better in order to help others more competently. You won’t regret a dime of the tuition after completing your MAC at Northwestern.


Oregon State University (PU)College of Education

Corvallis, Oregon


Master of Counseling – Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Other Degrees:

  • MCoun – School Counseling

Cost Per Credit: $538

  • Delivery: Hybrid – Part-time only
  • Faculty renowned for both research and professional practice skills

OSU’s Master of Counseling degree is largely focused on working students and is a great choice if you are coming to counseling as a profession while already engaged in related or unrelated fields. The school only offers the program as a part-time degree, so you can take your time getting through the coursework without feeling crunched by school and real-life obligations simultaneously. The hybrid format also offers enormous flexibility, giving you the chance to complete much of your class work outside the classroom, in a place and at a time of your choosing. At the same time, occasional on-campus meetings (on and handful of Fridays and Saturdays each term, another concession to working adults) allow you to mind-meld with instructors and fellow students in a way that just never seems to happen entirely online. That’s not to devalue the enormously successful Ecampus system the school uses for online courses, which is as high-tech as anything you will find in the country today.


Regent University (PR)School of Psychology and Counseling

Virginia Beach, Virginia


Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Other Degrees:

  • MA in Marriage, Couple, & Family Counseling
  • MA in Pastoral Counseling
  • MA in School Counseling

Cost Per Credit: $710

  • Delivery: Primarily online (two week-long residences required on campus)
  • The Center for Student Happiness is a unique resource that combines general success coaching with specific tutoring services to improve the student experience
  • One of only a handful of Christian schools to hold accreditation from both APA and CACREP
  • Graduates have gone on to successful careers at the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the YMCA

Regent provides an intimate learning environment for a degree in CMHC that is firmly focused on a Christian worldview of counseling and healing. Combining models and techniques of modern counseling approaches with biblical principles offers a strong and balanced approach to the profession that graduates have gone on to employ successfully everywhere from prisons to youth centers. You’ll find courses in research and statistics, addiction therapies, multicultural counseling, and trauma alongside classes that tie together counseling and Christian thought practices, as well as high level overview of family systems and human growth and development norms. With a diverse but small and tight-knit student body around you, you’ll acquire your clinical skills in counseling in a safe space with plenty of support and encouragement to meet your goals for personal success.


The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (PR)Department of Counselor Education

Chicago, Illinois


Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Other Degrees:

  • MA in Counseling Psychology

Cost Per Credit: $1,164

  • Delivery: Primarily online (2 four-day residencies required, part-time only, 3-year program)
  • Counseling centers located in Los Angeles and Irvine offer a unique option for online students to complete required clinical training at school facilities
  • Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute for Mental Education puts together conferences, activities, and networking opportunities for students across the U.S.
  • Two dedicated centers for Latinx mental health offer a specialized window into well-being in the Latinx community
  • Office of Placement and Training offers support for all aspects of student practicum and internship training, delivering resources nationwide

The Chicago School has long been known for offering one of the most pioneering and innovative learning environments in the field, putting together world-class theoretical education with multicultural training and gritty and intense hands-on experience. You’ll get direct and relevant personal and professional mentoring from some of the most accomplished instructors in the business, faculty who have decades of experience in both academia and direct clinical service. They’ll take you through and past the theory of modern counseling techniques and into the weeds of individualized therapies. You’ll get all the preparation you need for a full and productive career in counseling helping diverse clients through issues like depression, anxiety, stress, and relationship difficulties. For your in-depth field practicum, you will work closely with your faculty advisor and the director of applied professional practice to locate a suitable site, or, uniquely, if you are in the Los Angeles area you can fulfill that training at either the LA or Irvine school-run counseling centers.


Union Institute and University (PR)Cincinnati, Ohio


Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Cost Per Credit: $810

  • Delivery: Primarily online (two face-to-face residencies required each calendar year)
  • Most faculty are licensed professional counselors who have practical experience in the field to offer alongside research and scholastic expertise
  • Research capstone project offers the opportunity to research, write, and present findings on a counseling topic of special interest to you as well as furthering your expertise on the subject

Union is a small school that offers you all the benefits you would hope to find at a small CMHC program: plenty of individualized attention, genuine comradely among and between students and faculty, and a scholarly pride taken in producing graduates who have the knowledge and expertise to boost the reputation of the school when they enter into practice. You can be one of those graduates, taking advantage of a faculty who maintain active practices themselves, and therefore have current insights into the state of counseling today. A surprisingly extensive array of elective courses are available as well, covering everything from psychopharmacology to childhood disorder diagnosis, allowing you to tailor your lesson plans for your intended area of practice.


University of Louisiana at Monroe (PU)School of Health Professions

Monroe, Louisiana


Master of Science in Counseling with a Concentration in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Other Degrees:

  • MS in Counseling – School Counseling

Cost Per Credit: $500

  • Delivery: 100% online
  • Marriage & Family Therapy and Counseling Center is a university-run program staffed by graduate interns developing real field experience under the supervision of faculty

The ULM counseling master’s program’s goal is to create a supportive and collaborative learning environment for a diverse student group to build the knowledge, attitudes, and skills essential to providing professional counseling services. And if there is only one state in the nation where you can be assured of a diverse cultural background in the body of students and faculty, it’s Louisiana! You’ll find professors with a proven track record of clinical experience on top of great research skills and be joined by fellow students with a commitment to learning who come from every imaginable background. It all comes together to build a stronger base for you to take on the role of licensed counselor after graduation, with the knowledge and skills to give you confidence in helping any client.


University of the Cumberlands (PR)Williamsburg, Kentucky


Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (Online)

Other Degrees:

  • MA in Addiction Counseling

Cost Per Credit: $400

  • Delivery: 100% online

University of the Cumberlands is a hidden gem, even on this list of gems in counseling master’s degree programs. With one of the lowest cost programs on the list, Cumberland also manages to be one of the very few entirely online programs available in the country. That’s a maximum of flexibility for a minimum cost, a huge advantage to working students, or really anyone who wants a great education with minimum disruption to their daily life. Expert instructors will take you through courses in counseling process and techniques and teach you about private practice and clinical supervision in both the context of marriage and family and child and adolescent counseling services. You’ll get a rigorous background in legal and ethical issues, group counseling, and research methods to go with the directed therapy practice. In short, it’s all the tools you need to launch your counseling career, at a great price.


Wake Forest University (PR)Department of Counseling

Winston-Salem, North Carolina


Master of Arts in Counseling with Clinical Mental Health Counseling track

Other Degrees:

  • MA in Counseling with School Counseling track
  • MDiv / MA in Counseling dual degree

Cost Per Credit: $1,420

  • Delivery: 100% online
  • Graduates enjoy a 98% pass rate on the National Counselor Exam

The motto of Wake Forest University is Pro Humanitate. It means “to serve humanity,” and that’s a great expression of how core the counseling program is within the overall mission of the university. Graduates rave about the authenticity and commitment of the program to helping them understand themselves and human nature generally. The dedicated faculty accomplish this through instruction in subjects like family counseling and cultural impacts on counseling. It’s tied together by a professional identity capstone course at the end, helping you close any gaps in your theoretical knowledge and practical skills.


Walden University (PR)School of Counseling

Minneapolis, Minnesota


Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Other Degrees:

  • MS in School Counseling
  • MS in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling

Specializations available include:

  • Addiction Counseling
  • Career Counseling
  • Forensic Counseling
  • Military Families and Culture
  • Trauma and Crisis Counseling

Cost Per Credit: $465

  • Delivery: Primarily online (two pre-practicum labs require on campus visits)
  • Mentoring available from doctoral-level scholars in counseling
  • Faculty include a past president of ACA as well as active current members, including authors of the course textbooks
  • Simulation and video presentation offer a unique perspective on counseling training
  • 24/7 support for online students includes digital library services, a writing center, and a career center

Walden offers a particularly collegial perspective on counseling education, with students encouraged to join together with faculty in a joint exploration of the critical social problems that the field is called upon to address. It’s heady stuff to be rubbing shoulders, even virtually, with the author of the textbook you are using, not to mention highly respected clinical practitioners and a former president of the ACA, but it’s a pattern that builds both your confidence and expertise in assessing and deploying both prevention and intervention strategies among diverse, multicultural patient populations. With five different in-depth specialization offerings to choose from (in addition to the default general program), you have plenty of options for developing highly optimized skills for any particular patient population you are interested in working with. Building on a strong core program of general skills, the specializations dive into a level of detail that will prepare you to jump immediately into your chosen area of practice.


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