Ranking Top 10 Master in Counseling Psychology Online Degree Programs

Why earn a master 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. After earning a bachelor’s degree, those with a master’s degree in this discipline may work as licensed mental health counselors. They might also work as social workers, educators, consultants, and in other similar positions. There are many types of licensed counselors:

  • school counselors
  • mental health counselors
  • career counselors
  • marriage and family counselors

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 masters 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. Here are the top online counseling psychology programs.

Ranking Methodology

We created this ranking to highlight the best master’s in counseling psychology online. Here, we focused on the general counseling psychology program* as opposed to highly regimented ones in specific fields like clinical mental health counseling 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
  • 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 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 10 Online Counseling Master’s Degrees

#10. Cornerstone University – Grand Rapids, MI

Online MA in Counseling

Program Website
Cornerstone University has an online masters degree in counseling psychology. It 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
  • 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 program when it comes to sheer choice. 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 Counseling
  • Christian Counseling
  • Gerontology Counseling
  • Expressive Arts Therapy
  • Marriage and Family Therapy
  • 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. You’ll need to complete two week-long residencies in Phoenix. 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. These perks include:

  • five start dates
  • ample supervised practica
  • eight-week sessions

Students can graduate in two or three years. 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. The counseling program incorporates Christian principles through classes like:

  • Biblical Theology of Counseling
  • 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 University Wisconsin offers an online psychology counseling master’s degree. Concordia’s affordable online master’s degree in counseling program earns accolades from myriad ranking groups, including U.S. News and World Report. 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
  • 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. University of Massachusetts Global – Irvine, CA

Online MA in Psychology: Professional Clinical Counseling

Program Website
Californians, in particular, stand plenty to gain from attending UMASS Global’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, University of Massachusetts Global’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 counseling careers in church ministries. 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 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

These degrees will help prepare aspiring counselors in many types of counseling careers in the counseling field including:

  • clinical mental health counseling
  • career counseling
  • bilingual school counseling
  • school counseling
  • college counseling
  • clinical counseling
  • addiction counseling
  • rehabilitation counseling
  • group counseling
  • pastoral counseling
  • marriage and family counseling

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


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