Top Counseling Psychology Master’s Programs

Last Updated on March 9, 2023 by

Over 23 million Americans aged 12 and older are addicted to alcohol and other drugs. Who can they turn toward? According to National Institute of Mental Health, 52.9 million adults in the US live with a mental illness. Who will help them? A changing paradigm of what addiction and mental health mean to Americans makes counseling an emerging, crucial career. These are just a few of the issues one can tackle with a counseling degree.

However you wish to approach it, it is impossible not to have a vested interest in one’s community. Counseling is the link to the community’s spiritual, mental, financial, and socio-cultural health. If you value helping others but don’t want to sacrifice your job security, consider enrolling in one of the 35 Best Online Master’s Degrees in Counseling!

Counseling Psychology Rankings
RankSchoolDepartmentProductivity Index
1University of Missouri–ColumbiaPsychology8.455
2University of Maryland–College ParkPsychology7.521
3Ohio State UniversityPsychology5.232
4University at Albany, SUNYPsychology4.676
5University of IowaPsychology4.270
6University of North TexasPsychology4.210
7University of California–Santa BarbaraPsychology4.034
8University of Minnesota–Twin CitiesPsychology3.830
9Arizona State UniversityPsychology3.660
10Virgina Commonwealth UniversityPsychology3.618
11University of Notre DamePsychology3.244
12University of Illinois–Urbana/ChampaignPsychology3.237
13University of California–IrvinePsychology3.196
14Pennsylvania State University–Univ. ParkPsychology3.054
15Southern Illinois University at CarbondalePsychology2.987
16University of Nebraska–LincolnPsychology2.881
17University of FloridaPsychology2.716
18University of AkronPsychology2.677
19University of North Carolina–Chapel HillPsychology2.632
20Colorado State UniversityPsychology2.623
21Stanford UniversityPsychology2.561
22University of British ColumbiaPsychology2.514
23University of California–Los AngelesPsychology2.397
24University of KansasPsychology2.365
25University of GeorgiaPsychology2.332
26University of Texas–AustinPsychology2.321
27Kent State UniversityPsychology2.285
28University of WashingtonPsychology2.270
29Iowa State UniversityPsychology2.255
30Michigan State UniversityPsychology2.211
31University of OregonPsychology1.937
32Columbia UniversityPsychology1.904
33University of Southern CaliforniaPsychology1.837
34University of DenverPsychology1.776
35University of Tennessee–KnoxvillePsychology1.650
36University of Wisconsin–MadisonPsychology1.506
37Kansas State UniversityPsychology1.389
38University of Western OntarioPsychology1.335
39University of UtahPsychology1.287
40Syracuse UniversityPsychology1.286

What Is a Counseling Degree?

Counseling degrees come in many varieties. Degrees may be based on different foundational studies. These could include:

  • psychology
  • psychopharmacology
  • Christian ministry
  • faith-based leadership

Higher-level coursework may go on to several very different employable specializations. Classes will often include interesting humanities topics centered around:

  • inclusivity
  • culture
  • mental health
  • addiction

The heart of counseling will always be the desire to help one’s community. Good counseling degree programs will give graduates a well-rounded set of skills. It will set them on the path to using them in practice. Relevant certifications vary widely depending on where one wishes to apply their skills. Many degrees will get graduates started on the path to completing recognizable requirements for their region.

counseling degree programs are often built for people from all walks of life. Freshmen students will sometimes see higher-than-average GPA and test score expectations, but this is rare. Transfer students bound for counseling degrees can rest easy knowing that many schools that offer course credit for relevant professional experience or foundational credit from other institutions.

Careers for Counseling Majors

Counseling is something that most people need at one point in their life or another. Styles of effective counseling are as numerous as the people that need help. For this reason, counseling is a tremendously diverse degree. 

The changing perception and legality of drug and alcohol abuse in the US makes substance abuse and addiction counseling one of the most popular careers for counseling graduates. Graduates may also find a wide array of opportunities in careers like:

  • mental health counseling
  • marriage and family therapy
  • ministerial counseling
  • educational advising

Graduates with unique interests have even carved out a niche as an organizational psychologist or economic advisor.

As additional certificates beyond a bachelor’s are often required, many students go on to pursue master’s degrees in counseling, although doctorates are rare. Master’s degrees in counseling are often more specialized and built for students with some professional experience in the field, or for graduates who wish to teach. 

Counseling Salary Potential

Many certifications required to legally practice in most counseling professions. New job seekers can expect a reasonably high rate of pay in entry-level positions. The unfortunate financial downfall of many counseling careers is that there are relatively few opportunities for advancement in the traditional sense. 

While job prospects might be ripe for the picking, reputation-based advancement is the only tried and true salary increasing method for counselors on the front lines. Business-minded individuals may be able to transition into other positions within counseling organizations with some experience with the inner workings and a strong liberal arts background, so the numbers here are bound to reflect a limited selection of job titles.

While opportunities are uncommon, counseling jobs for civic and social organizations are some of the highest paying, with up to a mean annual salary of $47,740. Marriage counselors often make an impressive annual sum as well. Addiction/substance abuse and mental health counselors enjoy the most job growth, but annual salaries only average about $48,520 per year.

What Are the Best Master’s in Counseling Degrees?

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University of Florida


Gainesville, Florida




The University of Florida is one of the top schools with masters in counseling. UF offers one of the top mental health counseling programs. Where else can you find an affordable and excellent counseling master’s with a focus on social justice and community mental health? Nowhere—or at least nowhere as good as the University of Florida. The University of Florida couples this program with a specialization in community health. This is ideal for aspiring counselors who want to work for and within communities.

Some notable classes that the University of Florida offers are:

  • Counseling in Community Settings
  • Substance Abuse Counseling
  • Introduction to Family Counseling

Like most counseling master’s programs, the University of Florida’s program puts an emphasis on gaining experience in the field with practicum and supervision elements. 

Students complete the required 72 credits to graduate from this program. Most graduates from this program continue on to an internship to gain an appropriate amount of experience and clinical hours to become a counselor. Other graduates go on to other related educational programs such as doctoral programs, especially those who want to become clinical researchers and educators. 


University of Minnesota-Twin Cities


Minneapolis, Minnesota




The University of Minnesota’s Master of Professional Studies in addictions counseling program prepares students to work in sensitive situations with addicts and recovering addicts. The program is relatively quick at only 30 credits. Students have to maintain a 2.8 or higher GPA to remain in good standing. This is possible with focused studying and dedication to classes. 

Some courses in this 30-credit program are:

  • Multicultural Foundations of Behavioral Health
  • Methods and Models I: Motivational Counseling
  • Foundations of Group Work
  • Foundations in Addiction Studies
  • Applied Psychopharmacology

Students gain experience in the field through professional seminars and internships.

Are you interested in joining this esteemed program? Aspiring students need to submit proof of:

  • a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field from an accredited institution
  • personal transcripts
  • a professional statement
  • two letters of reference
  • a professional resume

Students from non-English-speaking countries must also submit proof of English proficiency, which they can do through the MELAB, TOEFL, or IELTS.


University of Cincinnati


Cincinnati, Ohio




The University of Cincinnati offers an excellent Master of Arts degree in mental health counseling. If you’re an aspiring mental health counselor who wants to work in a private practice or public clinic, this program is for you. Applicants to this program must provide:

  • proof of an undergraduate degree in a relevant field from an accredited university
  • three letters of reference
  • a professional resume
  • undergraduate transcripts
  • GRE scores

The two-year program offers students the chance to take fantastic classes, such as:

  • Psychopharmacology for Helping Professionals
  • Chemical Dependency Counseling
  • Assessment in Counseling
  • Counseling Theories

Students have to pass each class with a B- or higher to gain credit from the course.

Graduates from this program have gone on to successful careers as counselors for children, adolescents, and adults. Some graduates have chosen specializations like working with the severely mentally ill or homeless populations. Others have gone on to obtain doctorates. 


University of Wisconsin-Madison


Madison, Wisconsin




The University of Wisconsin-Madison is among the best public universities in the country. It’s in one of the coolest college towns, too. From the Grateful Red basketball fan section to countless extracurricular activity opportunities, University of Wisconsin students are almost always satisfied with their university experience. The school’s Master of Science in counseling is the best program in Wisconsin and one of the best programs in the Midwest.

Some courses that students take in this program are:

  • Foundations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Counseling Theories
  • Abnormal Behavior and Psychopathology
  • Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
  • Crisis and Trauma Counseling

As you can see, the program examines many niches of counseling. After graduating, students can follow the subfield that best suits them.

Students also must complete practicum and internship courses. These experiences require students to observe counselors and develop skills in individual and group counseling sessions. Additionally, they introduce students to counseling program management.


University of Maryland-College Park


College Park, Maryland




School counselors are the mentors and heroes of thousands of elementary and high school students. They help students coast over speed bumps, assess career possibilities, and plan for applying to universities. If you’re interested in becoming a school counselor, consider the University of Maryland’s Master of Education in School Counseling program. It is one of the best school counseling programs.

The 60-credit best school counseling master’s programs include one 100-hour practicum and two 300-hour internships in approved schools near the College Park campus. In these settings, students gain skills as counselors, supporters, and program managers. Students also take excellent courses like:

  • Multicultural Issues in Counseling
  • Family and Social Support Systems
  • School Consultation
  • Human Development in the Counseling Context

Students can search through the University of Maryland’s scholarship catalog to find support throughout the two-year program. The school also offers students the opportunity to gain a Graduate School Fellowship and Graduate School Assistantship to subsidize the cost of tuition. 


San Diego State University


San Diego, California




There’s nothing not to love about San Diego State University. SDSU offers a gorgeous campus, access to some of the country’s best beaches, relatively affordable tuition, and a nearly unmatched education. If you’re a California resident or you’re interested in becoming a counselor in California, consider the Master of Science in counseling with an emphasis on school counseling from San Diego State University. This is one of the top school counseling graduate programs.

Some notable courses in this program are:

  • Cross-Cultural Counseling Communication Skills
  • Theoretical Foundations of Counseling
  • Determinants of Human Behavior: Development
  • The Achievement Gap: Leadership, Advocacy and Systemic Change

Students also enroll in practicum and internship classes, which local schools host.

At $9,608 per year for in-state students, San Diego State University proves to be one of the most affordable options on this list.


The University of Texas at Austin


Austin, Texas




Whether you’re a football diehard or somebody who wants to get a taste of Austin’s incredible music scene, the University of Texas at Austin will suit you. It will also suit you if you simply want an excellent education that’s nearly unparalleled across the country. The university has a unique Master of Education in counselor education program. This fits those who want to become counselors in school and community settings. It also suits aspiring instructors.

This program comprises 48 credit or 60 credit options, which students take in core classes, elective courses, and practicum experience. Some classes that students take are:

  • Career Development
  • Group Counseling
  • Overview Of Psychoeducational Assessment
  • School Counseling
  • Theories in Counseling

Students in the regular Counselor Education track take 48 credits. If you want to obtain LPC Certification, though, you must take an additional four courses that amount to twelve credits. Either way, most students graduate from this program within two years. 


University of Georgia


Athens, Georgia




Mental health counseling is needed more than ever before. Mental health counselors are needed for veterans, millennials disillusioned by current affairs, and recovering addicts. Even those not in special populations benefit from mental health counseling. If you want to come to the aid of communities near you as a licensed professional counselor, consider the University of Georgia’s Master of Education in professional counseling with an emphasis on mental health counseling. 

The University of Georgia’s mental health counseling degree requires students to take at least 60 academic credits. Some of the notable courses in this program are:

  • Interpersonal Relationships
  • Social Justice and Advocacy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Individual Appraisal
  • Foundations of Mental Health Counseling

Students also enroll in a few practicums, which are completed in sites near the University of Georgia campus.

The University of Georgia is a competitive and demanding school. If you want to join its ranks, you must submit admissions materials, which include:

  • an application
  • three letters of recommendation
  • a personal statement
  • a professional resume
  • official transcripts
  • GRE scores


University of North Texas


Denton, Texas




The University of North Texas may not be as recognizable of a name as the other schools that share the top-10, but the quality of this program—and many other programs at UNT—are undeniably high. The University of North Texas offers a fantastic Master of Education in counseling program. Students in the general counseling program choose a specialization in school counseling or clinical mental health counseling.

All students in the counseling master’s program must take 33 semester hours of required counseling coursework, 27 semester hours of coursework in their specialization, one 100-hour practicum, and one 600-hour internship. Students must complete the practicum and internship in approved state-of-the-art sites near the UNT campus. 

The University of North Texas is a competitive program. After all, it’s one of the best programs in America. Thus, the admissions process is competitive, too. To gain admission to this program, students need to have:

  • GRE scores
  • a 3.0 or higher GPA from an accredited undergraduate institution
  • three references
  • a personal essay
  • a completed application


University at Buffalo


Buffalo, New York




The rehabilitation process is crucial. Rehabilitation counselors are some of the most vital professionals in the lives of:

  • veterans
  • addicts
  • emotional abuse victims
  • reintegrating convicts

The University at Buffalo offers one of the nation’s oldest and best graduate programs in rehabilitation counseling degree programs. Students can enroll in this program full-time or part-time, allowing the flexibility that many professionals need.

Students finish this program in two-to-four years. Some notable courses students in this program take are:

  • Rehabilitation Foundations
  • Foundations of Counseling Theory
  • Vocational Placement Process
  • Understanding Statistical Research

Students enroll in practicums throughout the program. They must pass a final exam to graduate with a master’s.

The University at Buffalo is a relatively selective program. Applying students need to have:

  • unofficial transcripts
  • a bachelor’s degree in a related field from an accredited institution
  • a statement of intent
  • two letters of recommendation
  • an admissions interview


Arizona State University


Tempe, Arizona




Unless big schools deter you, there’s nothing not to love about Arizona State University. ASU offers a warm climate all year, excellent college sports, more extracurricular activities than you could dream of, and hundreds of robust programs. If you think it’s too good to be true, well, you’re wrong. Arizona State University’s Master of Counseling program will give you access to fantastic coursework and the graduate college experience you want.

Some notable courses in Arizona State University’s Master of Counseling program are:

  • Lifespan Human Development
  • Multicultural Counseling
  • Analysis of the Individual
  • Counseling Pre-practicum
  • Occupations and Careers

In this graduate program, students must complete two internship courses and two practicum classes, which are each placed in locations near campus. 

Students in this program can choose a practitioner or research track. The research track is best for aspiring researchers, doctoral candidates, and educators. Students in the research track must write a thesis on an original idea and defend the thesis in front of program faculty.


New Mexico State University


Las Cruces, New Mexico




New Mexico State University offers an excellent Master of Arts in clinical mental health counseling program. Students in this program prepare to enter the vast clinical mental health counseling field, which includes:

  • private practices
  • rehabilitation centers
  • public agencies

If serving the world is your cup of tea, you won’t do wrong by New Mexico State University’s program.

Students can enroll in this program full-time or part-time. That requires a two and four-year commitment, respectively. Some courses students in this program take are:

  • Counseling Research
  • Multicultural Counseling
  • Professional Issues in Mental Health Counseling
  • Child and Adolescent Counseling
  • Counseling Theory and Technique

Students must complete two internships. The final internship requires students to pass an oral or written exam, which asks students to demonstrate the lessons they’ve learned throughout the internships. Students need to have accumulated 60 credits to graduate. 12 of these credits are in the two internships. 


University of Iowa


Iowa City, Iowa



Students at the University of Iowa are consistently some of the most satisfied and fulfilled students in the country. From an active campus life to excellent properties and some of the best programs in the world, the University of Iowa is one of the best schools in the country. It is anybody’s guess why it lies hidden. The University of Iowa’s Master of Arts in school counseling prepares students to become school counselors, administrators, and more.

Students in this program take excellent classes like:

  • Introduction to Group Counseling
  • Characteristics of Disabilities
  • Intro to Educating Gifted Students
  • Research and Program Evaluation
  • Career Development

Each student must also complete a practicum and internship in a local school.

The University of Iowa’s Master of Arts in school counseling is competitive. Thus, the program requirements are somewhat demanding. If you want to gain admission to this program, you must have:

  • a 3.0 GPA or better
  • GRE test scores
  • a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • an interview with faculty
  • a background check


Northern Arizona University


Flagstaff, Arizona




As priorities shift in the school system, more districts are placing an emphasis on hiring more high-quality school counselors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field will grow by 13% by 2026. If you want to become a school counselor, consider Northern Arizona University’s excellent Master of Education in school counseling program. NAU students benefit from the campus’s location in Flagstaff, which is one of the best jump-off points for the outdoors in Arizona. 

Students in this 48-hour program follow the requirements set forth by the Arizona Department of Education’s K-12 Guidance Counselor Endorsement. Students in this program focus on:

  • human growth and development
  • social and cultural foundations
  • career and lifestyle development
  • research and program evaluation
  • professional orientation

Northern Arizona University’s school counseling degree is relatively demanding. Students in this program must:

  • maintain a 3.0 or higher GPA
  • adhere to the requirements specific to their academic plan
  • graduate from the program in no more than six years


Boise State University


Boise, Idaho




Boise State University may be best known for its blue football field, but there’s a lot more to the school. The university offers dozens of excellent undergraduate and graduate programs, from which its Master of Arts in counseling program is a standout. The program requires students to choose between its addiction counseling cognate and school counseling cognate. 

Some notable classes that Boise State University students have to take are:

  • Counseling Theories
  • Foundations and Ethics in Counseling
  • Culturally Aware Counseling
  • Career Development and Vocational Counseling
  • Lifespan Development

Students must complete a two-part practicum and two-part internship, which are each hosted in facilities nearby Boise State University.

Applying students need to have a 3.0 or higher GPA in a related field from an accredited university. Additionally, prospective students have to provide:

  • official transcripts
  • a personal statement
  • a professional resume
  • three letters of recommendation
  • a pre-admissions campus interview
  • a background check
  • a completed online application


University of Wyoming


Laramie, Wyoming




Students enrolled in the University of Wyoming’s Master of Science in counseling program choose a concentration in school counseling or mental health counseling. Both options are equally strong. Both are also increasing in demand. If you’re concerned about salary, school counseling pays better. If public service is your calling, consider the mental health track. 

Some courses that students in this program take are:

  • Assessment in Counseling
  • Career Across the Lifespan
  • Play Therapy
  • Multicultural Counseling
  • Advanced Issues in Counselor Preparation

Students also take an Introduction to Research class, which is pertinent for students who wish to pursue a doctorate. And like most schools on this list, the curriculum includes a practicum and internship component.

The University of Wyoming is selective, but it’s not very selective. Applying students should submit:

  • unofficial transcripts
  • a summary of academic background
  • a personal statement
  • three references
  • a professional resume
  • the online application essay


Portland State University


Portland, Oregon




Portland State University offers Oregon’s best Master of Arts in counseling education with an emphasis in clinical mental health counseling. Graduates from this program can go onto successful careers in:

  • rehabilitation centers
  • mental health centers
  • outpatient care centers
  • public agencies
  • private practices

Whatever your dreams are, Portland State University’s fantastic program will take you there and beyond.

Several notable courses that Portland State University students take are:

  • Foundations of Addictions Counseling
  • Multicultural Counseling
  • Couples Therapy
  • Systematic Perspective on Human Sexuality
  • Group Counseling

Students complete several hundred hours of clinical experience in internships and practicums. Portland State University connects students to several excellent facilities in Portland for these experiences.

Portland State University offers two other concentrations in the master’s program: one in marriage, couple, and family counseling and another in school counseling. These graduate programs are excellent, too, but we found that the clinical mental health counseling program was a particular standout. 


University of Kansas


Lawrence, Kansas




The University of Kansas’ has one of the best counseling psychology master’s programs. The Master of Science in counseling psychology programs belongs to the KU School of Education. The U.S. News and World Report ranks that as the 8th best in the nation. That means students here can expect a high-quality education. Students feel that from the day they begin their studies until their career ends. Your education will be good. Your resume will look good, too.

Some courses that University of Kansas students can expect from this program are:

  • Understanding Research Through Education
  • Human Development Through the Lifespan
  • Advanced Counseling Skills
  • Substance Abuse Counseling

Students choose between a master’s project, master’s thesis, and the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination. 

The University of Kansas emphasizes real-world experience in its counseling psychology program. Thus, students in the practicum can expect to serve as counselors to actual clients. Through this real-world experience, serving as a counselor after graduation will hardly feel like a transition. 


University of Missouri-Columbia


Columbia, Missouri




The University of Missouri offers one of the best counseling psychology programs. It has an excellent Master of Education in counseling psychology. This program is appropriate for aspiring counselors, researchers, social workers, and doctoral students. The program emphasizes research training and counselor training through several immersive experiences that require students to act as counselors, researchers, and supervisors in the field.

Students learn in the outstanding courses offered at University of Missouri. Some notable courses in the program are:

  • The Helping Relationship
  • Foundations of Career Psychology
  • Foundations of Educational and Psychological Measurement
  • Methods in Group Counseling

Students can choose a track in Sport Psychology, Career Counseling, and Research, which each require courses specific to the specialization options.

The University of Missouri has similar admittance standards as most state schools on this list. To gain admittance to the program, students need:

  • three letters of recommendation
  • an undergraduate degree in a related field from an accredited institution
  • a statement of purpose
  • GRE scores
  • a 3.0 or higher GPA


The University of Texas at San Antonio


San Antonio, Texas




The University of Texas at San Antonio offers a slightly smaller and less competitive program compared with the flagship University of Texas campus. Students benefit from smaller class sizes, a less competitive admissions process, and access to beautiful San Antonio. The program offers an excellent Master of Education in school counseling, which is ideal for people who wish to become school counselors in Texas and beyond. 

The 48-credit program comprises a dozen classes and an internship. The internship requires students to gain experience in the field and present their findings, research, and experience in a portfolio. Some courses students in this program take are:

  • Introduction to School Counseling
  • Counseling Theories
  • Diagnosis in Counseling
  • Counseling in a Multicultural Setting

Applying students should have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, special education, sociology, or a related field from an accredited institution. If they don’t, they may have to take up to 15 credits before gaining admittance to the school counseling program. 


University of Utah


Salt Lake City, Utah




The University of Utah offers students a unique college opportunity. From world-class skiing less than an hour away to the only Mormon-majority state in the country, every student at the school finds their niche. The University of Utah offers a Master of Education in clinical mental health counseling program, which is ideal for aspiring counselors, mental health professionals, and social workers.

The program follows the licensure requirements of Utah. If you wish to practice elsewhere, the program may still benefit you, but you should confirm whether the program meets the needs of your state. Otherwise, you may have to find adequate field experience independent from any learning institution.

The University of Utah’s clinical mental health counseling program is small and competitive. There are only seven faculty in the program, but the student to teacher ratio remains ideal because of the small program size. Students here benefit from:

  • small classes
  • personalized attention
  • customizable outcomes


Fitchburg State University


Fitchburg, Massachusetts




Fitchburg State University offers a Master of Science in counseling with an emphasis on clinical mental health counseling and school counseling. We’ve chosen the clinical mental health counseling program for this review, but the school counseling specialization is also highly regarded. Students can choose between an online format or a hybrid format with evening courses. 

Students typically finish this 60-credit program in just over two years. Some courses students take throughout their stay at Fitchburg State University are:

  • Life Span Development
  • Professional Practice, Standards and Ethics: Mental Health and Family Counseling
  • Crisis Intervention for Counselors
  • Introduction to Professional Counseling: Issues and Skills; and Counseling Theories

Fitchburg State University has rolling admissions. Hence, students can submit an application to this program whenever they wish. Admission requirements include:

  • an official transcript of a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • three letters of recommendation
  • a professional resume
  • a personal statement
  • a completed graduate application


Indiana University of Pennsylvania


Indiana, Pennsylvania




Indiana University of Pennsylvania offers one of the top Master of Arts in clinical mental health counseling degrees. This IUP program is one of the many programs around the country that have emerged in response to the looming mental health crisis that plagues America. Aspiring counselors should consider this program if they wish to become rehabilitation counselors, private practitioners working with the mentally ill, or integral parts of a public agency. 

Some courses students take in this 60-credit program are:

  • Counseling Theories
  • Career Counseling
  • Assessment Procedures for Clinical Mental Health Counselors
  • Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Introduction to Diagnostic Issues for Counselors

Like all top masters in counseling programs, this program includes a fieldwork element.

Students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania have access to several financial aid opportunities, including scholarships and graduate assistantships. Otherwise, the program is relatively affordable compared with most of the programs on this list. The program is available on the campus in Indiana, Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 


Texas Woman’s University


Denton, Texas




Texas Woman’s University is one of the best schools for counseling psychology. Are you searching for a program with a feminist scope and a focus on advancing women in today’s still-uneven professional landscape? If so, you’ll love Texas Woman’s University’s Master of Arts in counseling psychology program. This is one of the top counseling psychology masters programs. With academics just as good as some of the best programs on this list and affordable tuition rates, there’s little not to love about this fantastic program. 

Notable courses include:

  • Psychology of Gender
  • Advanced Developmental Psychology
  • Multicultural Psychology
  • Clinical Therapeutic Group Processes
  • Addiction Counseling
  • Ethics in Psychology

Some of these courses are on-campus; others are practicum or pre-practicum classes that students take in the field or in preparation for fieldwork.

Students complete a thesis or take a comprehensive examination. Admissions are somewhat competitive for students applying to the top counseling psychology programs. Students need:

  • a 3.0 or higher GPA
  • GRE scores
  • reference letters
  • essays
  • an admissions interview


University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Lincoln, Nebraska




The University of Nebraska offers an excellent Master of Arts in counseling psychology program. Students in this program choose between the community counseling and school counseling tracks. The former specialization is ideal for those who want to strengthen marginalized members of the community. The latter suits those who want to work with students in K-12 schools.

Every student in this program must take a comprehensive examination during their final semester of coursework. This exam requires students to choose to be tested on three of the following four subjects:

(1) statistics and measurement

(2) cognition and learning

(3) human development,

(4) behavior

Students may also choose a thesis option, which requires additional coursework to prepare for thesis research and execution. The thesis option is highly suggested for students who wish to apply to a doctoral program after graduating.

Students also complete 300 hours of field work. School counseling students complete the hours in schools. Community counseling students can choose a relevant setting near the Lincoln campus. 


Lamar University


Beaumont, Texas




Lamar University offers an excellent Master of Education degree in counseling and development with an emphasis on marriage, couple, and family counseling. Marriage, couple, and family counseling is one of the most important fields in the counseling sector. Research has shown time and time again that a broken family often works as a catalyst for many more harmful events. The goal of this program is to become a counselor who can keep families together.

The 60-credit program comprises extensive coursework, an internship, and a residency. Some courses students take are:

  • Counseling Skills
  • Abnormal Behavior
  • Group Counseling Theories and Techniques
  • Crisis Prevention and Intervention
  • Consultation
  • Substance Abuse Counseling

Lamar University requires students to have more fieldwork than most programs on this list. Each student must:

  • accumulate 100 hours in a practicum
  • gain 600 contact hours in an internship
  • complete two residencies

Students can fulfill all of these experiences at pre-approved host organizations and clinics. 


University of North Florida


Jacksonville, Florida




The University of North Florida offers an excellent master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling program. This program lasts two years for the average student. It’s one of the smaller programs on this list. Only 24-26 students are admitted each year. Thus, admission is a somewhat competitive process. Requirements include:

  • a GPA of 3.0 or higher from an accredited undergraduate institution
  • a resume
  • a letter of intent
  • three letters of recommendation
  • GRE scores
  • a personal interview with program faculty and admissions staff

Some courses are:

  • Sexual Issues in Counseling
  • Addictions Counseling
  • Counseling Diverse Populations
  • Clinical Research Evaluation
  • Introduction to Family Counseling

Students can choose three electives or a thesis option. The latter is ideal for aspiring Ph.D. students and researchers. 

Each student must accumulate 1,000 hours of fieldwork experience during their time at the University of North Florida. The fieldwork must be completed at pre-approved sites. Students need to be able to demonstrate what they’ve learned from their experiences.


San Francisco State University


San Francisco, California




If you can get over the exorbitant living costs of San Francisco, there’s little not to like about San Francisco State University. It’s in one of the coolest cities in the world. The programs are excellent. Students can participate in many extracurricular activities during their stay at the school. San Francisco State University’s master’s in counseling program requires students to choose one of four specializations:

  • career
  • college
  • gerontological
  • school

Each path requires slightly different coursework. Every student takes the same core classes. Likewise, every student must complete several hundred hours of field experience. Obviously, though, your concentration will be the biggest determinant of where you complete your fieldwork.

The California State University system is somewhat competitive. To apply, requirements include:

  • a professional resume
  • unofficial transcripts from all attended schools
  • a personal statement
  • an optional transcript of volunteer experience
  • two professional recommendations
  • GRE scores


Louisiana State University


Baton Rouge, Louisiana




Louisiana State University Shreveport offers the best master’s in counseling program in Louisiana. The courses are excellent, the faculty is experienced, and the campus has located several state-of-the-art counseling facilities where students complete the required fieldwork hours for graduation. As you can see, LSUS is nothing but a good thing.

Some classes students in this program take are:

  • Analysis of the Individual
  • Counseling Methods and Techniques
  • Advanced Psychopharmacology
  • Case Formulation
  • Advanced Human Development

Graduate students complete coursework on campus. They complete fieldwork in pre-approved settings near campus.

Louisiana State University Shreveport places an emphasis on researching and reading scientific research. The program acknowledges that most students wish to become practitioners, not researchers. But it insists that students should still know how to research and make a routine of reading the latest research in the field. That way, students can stay updated on the best practices in counseling. 


Oregon State University


Corvallis, Oregon




Oregon State University offers one of the most flexible Master of Counseling programs in the country. Students can choose a two-year, full-time program or a three-year, part-time program. This flexibility allows graduate students to accelerate their education with the full-time program or make time for other aspects of their busy lives with the part-time program. Note that this program begins in June, which sets it apart from the September start date of most programs on this list.

There are two available concentrations in this program: clinical mental health counseling and school counseling. Clinical mental health counseling is a 90-credit program, while school counseling requires students to complete between 78 and 84 credit hours. Thus, school counseling is a faster program. However, don’t let a few courses be the determinant of the next 40 years of your life.

Some courses students in this program take are:

  • Cross Cultural Learning
  • Applied Psychopathology and Psychodiagnostics
  • Consultation
  • Developmental Perspectives
  • Social and Cultural Perspectives


Governors State University


University Park, Illinois




Chicago offers countless opportunities: Access to marginalized communities, more public agencies than you could dream of, and the culture that only a global city like Chicago can maintain. If you wish to practice in a city, consider the Master of Arts in counseling program from Governors State University. Students here choose one of three sequences:

  • clinical mental health counseling
  • school counseling
  • marriage, couple, and family counseling

The program takes most students three years to complete. Each student must accumulate 100 or more hours of practicum experience and at least 600 hours in an internship. Some notable courses in this program are:

  • Lifespan Developmental Issues
  • Professional Orientation and Ethical Standards for Counselors
  • Group Dynamics

Each specialization requires several more courses and sequence-specific fieldwork experiences.

Applying students need a 2.75 or higher GPA in a related field from an accredited undergraduate institution. Additionally, students need to provide:

  • official transcripts
  • three letters of recommendation
  • a statement of character form
  • a counseling application form


SUNY at Albany


Albany, New York




The State University of New York system is one of the best public university systems in the world, behind only California and perhaps a few others. Each university in this system is equally strong, but every university in the system has its own expertise. The University at Albany is particularly notable for its master’s in mental health counseling program. The program comprises:

  • electives
  • fieldwork
  • core classes
  • a comprehensive exam

Some courses that students in this program must take are:

  • Research Principles and Methods in Counseling
  • Behavioral Disorders
  • Lifespan Human Development
  • Career Development Theory
  • Multicultural Perspectives in Counseling Theory and Practice

Each course requires students to study extensively. 

Students may transfer up to 29 credits to the University at Albany, making it one of the most transfer-friendly graduate top masters counseling programs. The university doesn’t require applying students to have majored in a related field, either. As long as they’ve completed 15 prerequisite courses in psychology, they can gain admission to this program. 


California State University-Los Angeles


Los Angeles, California




Los Angeles is another global city. It provides opportunities to millions of people from all corners and cultures of the world. It also provides access to unique settings that few other cities can offer, such as Skid Row, a settlement of over 10,000 homeless people. While this may not sound like a highlight, Skid Row makes Los Angeles a unique challenge for counselors and research professionals.

Some courses at CSULA’s Master of Science in counseling program are:

  • Disability in Schools and Society
  • Lifespan Human Development for Counselors
  • Assessment in Counseling
  • Research in Counseling

Students are also required to complete 18 units of fieldwork in pre-approved locations in Los Angeles.

Students in the Counseling program can choose an option in:

  • applied behavior analysis
  • marriage and family therapy
  • school counseling
  • rehabilitation counseling
  • school psychology

These options allow students to choose a concentration for the field in which they will work throughout their professional careers. 


Southern Illinois University-Carbondale


Carbondale, Illinois




If you want to practice counseling in Illinois, but going to school and being a counselor in Chicago isn’t for you, then you’ll love Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The program is small, the city is in a rural setting, and students here aren’t overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the city. Life runs at a slower place in Carbondale and so does school.

That’s not to say that the program isn’t fantastic, though: It just doesn’t run at the same gears as Chicago. Students enrolled in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s master’s in rehabilitation counseling program take excellent classes and have access to wonderful fieldwork experience. They can also matriculate as a doctoral candidate in the school’s rehabilitation program.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale is one of the more affordable options on this list. Students can also benefit from:

  • graduate assistantships
  • grants
  • scholarships
  • other financial aid opportunities

Some of these opportunities can waive your tuition costs; others greatly subsidize your costs. 


Western Washington University


Bellingham, Washington




We won’t blame you if the first thing you notice about Western Washington University is its Pacific Oceanfront location and pristine views of the North Cascades. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful campus locations on this list. The school’s master’s program in clinical mental health counseling is not too shabby either. Students usually complete this program in two years under a full-time format.

Some classes that students in this program must take are:

  • Cross-Cultural Counseling
  • Adult Psychopathology
  • Theories of Counseling
  • Group Processes in Counseling
  • Crisis Intervention

Students also complete practicum and internship hours that fulfill Washington’s counseling requirements. 

This program is somewhat competitive. Students have to maintain a 3.0 to remain in the program; otherwise, they risk expulsion or academic probation. To gain admission to this program, students provide:

  • GRE scores
  • three letters of recommendation
  • a statement of purpose
  • university transcripts


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