Ranking Top 25 Master’s in Counseling Psychology Online Degree Programs

//Ranking Top 25 Master’s in Counseling Psychology Online Degree Programs
Ranking Top 25 Master’s in Counseling Psychology Online Degree Programs 2021-12-22T17:20:32+00:00

masters in counselling psychology online

By OPD Staff

Why earn a master’s in counseling psychology online? Counseling psychology is perhaps one of the broadest sub-fields of psychology due to its versatility and relevance to many career fields. In general, counseling psychologists help people deal with a wide range of emotional, mental, and physical health problems through every stage of life. Those with a degree in this discipline may work as licensed counselors but also as social workers, educators, consultants, and in other similar positions. Today there is also a lot of overlap between counseling and clinical psychology, which also emphasizes the comprehensive treatment of mental and behavioral health conditions.

If you’re interested in earning a master’s in counseling psychology online, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to see our ranking of the top online programs for future counselors, counseling educators, and clinical psychologists.

Ranking Methodology

We created this ranking to highlight the best master’s in counseling psychology online. Here, we focused on general counseling psychology programs* as opposed to highly regimented ones in specific fields like Clinical Mental Health or School Counseling (which are often tightly regulated by certain accrediting agencies). After acquiring a list of all eligible schools, we then collected information and ranked each program in three categories: affordability, accessibility, and experiential learning opportunities.

To gauge affordability, we used data from College Navigator (a government-run education database) to calculate each school’s average annual price based on their resident and non-resident tuition rates and fees.

In rating accessibility, we considered what percentage of the program’s classes are available online (not including field experiences). Due to licensure requirements, many of the programs on this ranking do require some face-to-face component, such as an on-campus residency or “intensive” course.

We assessed experiential learning opportunities by looking at the amount of hands-on training the program provides. Most of these counseling psychology degrees do include at least one field experience (e.g., a practicum or internship). However, many require multiple such experiences, and some even incorporate thesis papers or research projects on top of all that! Here, we quantified each program’s experiential learning component by looking at the number of credits they allot to such practical, real-world training.

After collecting all the data, we assigned points to each program in each category, tallied the totals, and calculated the final scores. The highest possible score was 36 points. Scroll down to find out more about the best master’s degrees in counseling online!

*Note that we did not consider private for-profit institutions in this ranking, although there are plenty of for-profit colleges that offer graduate programs in counseling psychology.

Ranking Top 25 Online Counseling Master’s Degrees

#25. Trinity Christian College – Palos Heights, IL

Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology

Program Website
Trinity Christian University’s counseling master’s degree includes a smattering of hybrid courses that require some on-campus time. As such, you’ll only want to apply if you live within commuting distance of Palos Heights, Illinois. And if you do, you may come to prefer this blended approach, as it allows you to complete some of your studies online while also benefitting from face-to-interactions with instructors and classmates. This program is also a particularly good fit for Christian students; professors impart lessons through a faith-based lens and even teach a dedicated course on “Christian Perspectives on Counseling.”
Average Tuition: $24,830/yr
Score: 10.6

#24. San Diego State University – San Diego, CA

Online MA in Education with a Concentration in Counseling

Program Website
Earning an affordable master’s in counseling psychology online at San Diego State comes with plenty of benefits. Speed, for one: you can earn your degree in a single year, even while working. The program also deftly incorporates an in-person component by requiring two intensive on-campus workshops, each lasting three to five days. Aside from these two visits, program participants can complete all their work online. This approach makes the degree accessible to students around the country while still incorporating valuable interactive exercises. And if you intend to pursue a Ph.D.-level study, you’ll appreciate that the curriculum offers a research methodology course and even provides an opportunity for you to conduct your own research.
Average Tuition: $12,814/yr
Score: 19.4

#23. Seton Hall University – South Orange, NJ

Online MA /EdS in Professional Counseling

Program Website
Seton Hall program utilizes a cohort model, which means you’ll take all 16 classes that comprise your counseling degree with the same group of students. This structure makes it easier for you to develop strong connections with your classmates. Other opportunities for interaction are available during two four-day residencies at the South Orange, New Jersey, campus. (Note that expenses for the residencies are included in your tuition.) While pursuing this top online master’s in clinical psychology, you’ll also benefit from a curriculum that blends theoretical studies with practical applications, including research and three required internships. The program wraps up with a final exam or capstone project where you’ll synthesize what you’ve learned.
Average Tuition: $21,722/yr
Score: 20.4

#22. California Baptist University – Riverside, CA

Online Master of Science in Counseling Psychology

Program Website
If you’re looking for an affordable online master’s degree in counseling psychology that leads to licensure in California, check out CBU. This faith-based program prepares you to work in the state as either a licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC) or a marriage and family therapist. The program also stands out for its smart blend of asynchronous and synchronous classes. In the latter, you’ll use state-of-the-art high-definition video-conferencing tools to create an interactive (virtual) classroom experience. It’s also worth noting that the school has a Baptist affiliation. As a result, all classes incorporate Christian ethics, making the degree particularly well-suited to aspiring marriage and family therapists who want to practice in a faith-based setting.
Average Tuition: $12,140/yr
Score: 20.5

#21. Antioch University Santa Barbara – Santa Barbara, CA

Online MA in Clinical Psychology

Program Website
Of all the schools on this master’s degree in counseling online ranking, Antioch University is one of the only schools whose program offers concentrations in specific sub-fields of psychology. Students can choose to specialize in Healthy Aging, Latino Mental Health, or Somatic Psychotherapy. In addition, they can opt for one of two licensure-specific tracks: LPCC or LMFT/LPCC. Note that to complete the Somatic Psychotherapy track, you’ll need to participate in 20 hours of personal psychotherapy sessions. You can do so as an individual or part of a family, group, or couple. In general, the degree also puts a strong focus on clinical training and requires all students to complete 225 hours of supervised counseling practice.
Average Tuition: $17,364/yr
Score: 20.6

#20. Eastern University – St. Davids, PA

Online MA in Clinical Counseling

Program Website
You’ll need a solid three years to complete Eastern’s affordable online counseling master’s degree – longer than the average program on this ranking. But in exchange for this extra time commitment, you’ll receive a hefty helping of hands-on experiences that will leave you well-prepared to handle any challenges you may face in the workplace. After tackling the program’s required 100-hour practicum and 600-hour internship, you’ll also qualify for LPC licensure in Pennsylvania. However, keep in mind that you will need to make the occasional trip to campus, as some of the Clinical Counseling classes include face-to-face components.
Average Tuition: $16,430/yr
Score: 21

#19. Sofia University – Palo Alto, CA

Online Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology

Program Website
If you’re looking for an M.A. in Counseling Psychology with options for customizing your degree, you might appreciate Sofia University’s program. For example, you’ll have the opportunity to specialize in one of two tracks (Professional Clinical Counseling or Marriage and Family Therapy). This is also one of the best online master’s degrees in counseling psychology for students interested in Clinical Expression, as the school offers an optional four-unit certificate in the subject. If you opt for the certificate route, you’ll also have a chance to incorporate arts interventions into your practicum work, which is required for all degree candidates.
Average Tuition: $22,150/yr
Score: 21.8

#18. New York University – New York, NY

Online MA in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness

Program Website
On this master’s degree in counseling online ranking, NYU differentiates itself by taking full advantage of technology. Not only does it incorporate live, synchronous classes to make learning more interactive, but it also offers hands-on training through an innovative online counseling “lab.” In this lab, you and fellow students will connect over the web to act out common therapist-client scenarios. These exercises provide ideal preparation for the next step of the program: completing a practicum and internship at an NYU-approved site close to home. By the time you graduate, you’ll be more than ready to take on jobs in addiction centers, community agencies, private practice, and more.
Average Tuition: $42,368/yr
Score: 23.4

#17. Wayland Baptist University – Plainview, TX

Online MA in Counseling

Program Website
Residents of Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas stand to benefit the most from Wayland Baptist University’s top online master’s in clinical psychology program. Why? Because the university has locations in each of these states, making it relatively easy for people in these regions to make the occasional visit to campus. And this is a feature that will come in handy while pursuing WBU’s MA in Counseling, which incorporates both online and evening/weekend classes. The degree will also prepare you for licensure in the states listed above, and it incorporates ample practicum and internship hours to meet state requirements.
Average Tuition: $11,800/yr
Score: 24

#16. Prairie View A & M University – Prairie View, TX

Online Master of Arts in Counseling

Program Website
Offered through its Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling, Prairie View A&M’s affordable master’s in counseling psychology online includes a slight education bent. Required classes like “Educational Statistics” and “Career Development Counseling” impart key skills that train graduates for work in classrooms and other academic settings. That being said, Prairie View’s program also includes plenty of broadly applicable courses – like “Theory and Practice of Counseling” and “Group Dynamics” – that will prepare you for jobs outside the classroom. Finally, you’ll round off your studies with a practicum experience that will put your knowledge to the test in a real-world setting.
Average Tuition: $11,158/yr
Score: 24.5

#15. Hope International University – Fullerton, CA

Online Master of Science in Counseling Psychology

Program Website
When it comes to hands-on learning, Hope International University’s MS in Counseling Psychology goes above and beyond standard requirements. Not only do degree candidates complete a 280-hour internship, but they must also accrue 50 hours of “professional development.” The latter covers a wide range of experiential learning activities, from community service to educational seminars and workshops. Graduates of this top online master’s in clinical psychology are also eligible for licensure as an LPCC in California. But even if you don’t live in California, you can still benefit from the program’s balanced curriculum and knowledgeable faculty, many of whom are current practitioners.
Average Tuition: $17,332/yr
Score: 26

#14. Union College – Schenectady, NY

Online Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology

Program Website
If you want to earn an affordable master’s degree in counseling online through Union College, prepare to spend some time on the school’s Barbourville, Kentucky campus. Although the program is largely web-based, it does include a few evening courses as well. But the occasional campus visit could be well worth the trip for local students – especially given that Union’s average annual tuition comes in at a very affordable $10k. Another perk? Those seeking licensure can tack on an optional “endorsement contract” and earn the credits they need to sit for Kentucky’s Psychological Practitioner certification exam.
Average Tuition: $9,650/yr
Score: 26.1

#13. Carlow University – Pittsburgh, PA

Online MS in Professional Counseling

Program Website
Carlow stands out on this online master’s degrees in counseling psychology ranking by offering four separate tracks within its M.S. degree: Addictions, Adult/Generalist, Child and Family, and Trauma. Each concentration includes three to four subject-specific courses that range from introductory-level topics to highly-focused ones (such as “Interventions with Children” in the Child and Family track). Some other attractive benefits? You can choose from three separate start dates, and you don’t need to take the GRE or GMAT to apply. Keep in mind that you will need to attend some classes on the Pittsburgh campus, so this program might be best for locals.
Average Tuition: $16,391/yr
Score: 27

#12. Southwestern Assemblies of God University – Waxahachie, TX

Online Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology

Program Website
No campus support network is off-limits to online learners attending Southwestern Assemblies of God University. Indeed, you’ll have access to a whole host of extra resources – including a wellness center, counseling center, and career center – while you earn your affordable master’s in counseling psychology online at SAGU. As for the degree curriculum, it’s biblically-focused and places a strong emphasis on theological principles. Therefore, it’s best suited for Christian students who want to employ their counseling skills in a faith-based setting (such as a youth group) or ministry. Religious components aside, the program also covers a wide range of general counseling topics – including a special focus on substance abuse and marriage/family relationships.
Average Tuition: $11,310/yr
Score: 27.5

#11. Angelo State University – San Angelo, TX

Online Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology

Program Website
Texans, take note: Angelo State University has one of the best online counseling master’s degrees in the state. Why? For one, this program will prepare you for licensure as both an LPC and an LPA in Texas. It’s also a great choice if you prize flexibility, as the curriculum offers both thesis and non-thesis tracks. If you choose the former you’ll accrue credits by working on your thesis report, while those in the latter track will pick 12 credits of electives instead. Interestingly, ASU’s program also lets you customize the number of practicum hours you complete – a benefit for anyone who wants additional hands-on experience.
Average Tuition: $10,068/yr
Score: 28

#10. Cornerstone University – Grand Rapids, MI

Online MA in Counseling

Program Website
Cornerstone University is one of a small group of schools on this online master’s in clinical psychology ranking to offer a program with multiple specializations. Here, you can choose from Addictions Counseling, Interdisciplinary Studies, Multi-State Licensure, and Trauma Counseling. The third option, in particular, should be attractive to online learners. If you choose this track, you’ll work with an admissions counselor to develop a degree plan that readies you for licensure in your own state. Bear in mind that you will need to attend two three-day intensives on the Grand Rapids campus, but you can complete the rest of your work – including rigorous Bible study and theological courses – online.
Average Tuition: $13,486/yr
Score: 28.4

#9. Ottawa University – Ottawa, KS

Online Master of Arts in Counseling

Program Website
Ottawa University might offer the best online counseling master’s degree when it comes to sheer choice. To be sure, some other schools offer customizable programs with specialization options. But Ottawa goes above and beyond in its MA in Counseling, which includes six concentration options! These include Addictions, Christian, or Gerontology Counseling; Expressive Arts or Marriage and Family Therapy; and Treatment of Trauma, Abuse, and Deprivation. Regardless of your area of interest, you’ll get plenty of hands-on learning; 900 client contact hours over the course of eight terms, to be exact. Two caveats: You’ll need to complete two week-long residencies in Phoenix, and this degree only prepares graduates for licensure in Arizona and Wisconsin.
Average Tuition: $11,485/yr
Score: 29.4

#8. Clarks Summit University – South Abington Township, PA

Online MS in Counseling

Program Website
For sheer affordability, you won’t beat Clarks Summit University: The average tuition here comes in at just under $7,000. But the school’s M.S. program has plenty more to offer, including five start dates, ample supervised practica, and eight-week sessions that let you graduate in two or three years. And to minimize disruptions to your schedule, this top master’s degree in counseling online limits face-time to just three week-long residencies at the South Abington Township campus. It’s also worth noting that CSU is a religious school, and the counseling program incorporates Christian principles through classes like “Biblical Theology of Counseling” and “Spiritual Issues in Counseling.”
Average Tuition: $6,930/yr
Score: 29.4

#7. Concordia University-Wisconsin – Mequon, WI

Online Master of Science in Education – Counseling

Program Website
Concordia’s affordable online master’s degree in counseling psychology earns accolades from myriad ranking groups, including U.S. News and World Report, and it’s easy to see why. First, the program emphasizes skill development and hands-on training by requiring students to complete both practica and internship experiences. As for classroom lessons, you’ll enjoy a comprehensive curriculum that incorporates a range of theoretical and practical topics. Although Christian underpinnings inform the degree, most required classes don’t stray into religious territory. However, students of faith can choose theologically driven electives like “Christian Reconciliation Training” and “Current Support Issues for Christian Pastors and Church Workers.” Plus, educators who work at Christian schools receive 25% off their Concordia tuition.
Average Tuition: $10,290/yr
Score: 29.8

#6. Regis College – Weston, MA

Online Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology

Program Website
Regis represents a strong choice for students who want to pursue licensure, as the program fulfills standard education requirements for both the LMHC and LPC exams. To meet these requirements, the curriculum incorporates two clinical internships as well as a set of required on-campus residencies (each one lasts just three or four days). Thanks to Regis’ partnership with the VA hospital in nearby Bedford, you can even apply for a clinical practicum that will train you to work specifically with veterans. Other perks of attending this top master’s in counseling psychology online include a flexible schedule (with three annual start dates) and an expert team of faculty, all of whom hold doctoral or other terminal degrees.
Average Tuition: $11,250/yr
Score: 29.9

#5. Brandman University – Irvine, CA

Online MA in Psychology: Professional Clinical Counseling

Program Website
Californians, in particular, stand plenty to gain from attending Brandman University’s affordable master’s degree in counseling online. In addition to online courses, local residents can easily attend traditional classes at one of the university’s many campuses throughout California (including San Diego, Monterey, and Irvine). Plus, the curriculum – which boasts extensive training in how to counsel specific populations (such as victims of domestic violence) – will prepare you for licensure as an LPCC in California. Like other top programs, Brandman’s curriculum also incorporates lessons in multicultural diversity and ethics and provides plenty of hands-on experience (through three practica).
Average Tuition: $11,460/yr
Score: 30

#4. Crown College – Saint Bonifacius, MN

Online MA in Counseling

Program Website
Crown College offers one of Minnesota’s best online counseling master’s degrees for Christian students who want a program that mirrors their faith. The core set of courses even includes a required “Orientation to Counseling & Integration of Christian Worldview” class, which explores the philosophical groundings of counseling and asks students to integrate their own faith into their studies. Other classes – such as “Marriage and Family Therapy” and “Theories of Personality” – also incorporate a Christian perspective. As such, this degree provides ample preparation for careers in church ministries, but it’s also applicable elsewhere. In addition, it prepares students to sit for Minnesota’s LPC exam and includes coursework that meets many other states’ requirements.
Average Tuition: $9,160/yr
Score: 30.9

#3. Liberty University – Lynchburg, VA

Online MA in Professional Counseling

Program Website
America’s best-known school for evangelicals also has one of the best online master’s in clinical psychology when it comes to price, flexibility, and licensing opportunities. First, Liberty maintains an average tuition rate of just under $8,500 plus offers generous discounts for qualifying service members and emergency response personnel. Students with previous academic experience will also be happy to hear that they can transfer in up to 50% of their required credits to save both time and money. Finally, the curriculum leads to licensure as an LPC in many states, and the website maintains a comprehensive list of states with unusual requirements. The only catch? You will have to complete a few required intensives on the Lynchburg campus.
Average Tuition: $8,420/yr
Score: 31.4

#2. Faulkner University – Montgomery, AL

Online MS in Counseling

Program Website
Faulkner adds another Christian-centric program to this online master’s degree in counseling psychology ranking. Drawing on its religious roots, the school’s counseling curriculum emphasizes biblical principles and a Christian worldview. It also includes both a practicum and an internship, and it leads to licensure in Alabama. Like many programs on this list, Faulkner’s M.S. also requires students to attend some in-person sessions. At Faulkner, these come in the form of two “Clinical Training” classes at the Montgomery campus. Keep in mind that these residencies typically run from Tuesday through Saturday, so working adults may have to take some time off from their jobs to attend.
Average Tuition: $10,380/yr
Score: 32.2

#1. University of West Alabama – Livingston, AL

Online MS in Experimental Psychology: Clinical Psychology Option

Program Website
Another Alabama school tops this list of the best master’s in counseling psychology online programs. Technically an M.S. in Experimental Psychology with a focus in Clinical Psychology, this degree includes a strong focus on research, making it a great choice if you want to go on to earn your Ph.D. But aspiring practitioners will find plenty of relevance here too, including a curriculum that meets requirements for LPC licensure in many states. The vast selection of clinical electives let you bring even more focus to your degree, and you’ll wrap up your studies with a practicum, an internship, and a thesis or comprehensive exam.
Average Tuition: $9,775/yr
Score: 34.5

You’ve reached the end of our list of top master’s in counseling psychology online degree programs.

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