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25 Best Master's in School Counseling Programs 2020

By the GradReports team | Updated 4/1/2020

This list highlights the best 25 colleges with a Master's in School Counseling, ranked by the highest median starting salary for graduates of this program. Concordia University-Irvine tops the list with a starting salary of $78,700 for Master's in School Counseling graduates. The school with the lowest median debt for this degree is Alfred University, with a debt of $19,979. The median starting salaries on the list range from $51,300 to $78,700.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

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Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Location Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 Irvine (CA) Irvine (CA) $7,774 $42,500 $78,700
#2 #2 Los Angeles (CA) Los Angeles (CA) $45,561 $88,246 $66,900
#3 #3 Bronx (NY) Bronx (NY) $20,400 $30,000 $64,800
#4 #4 Los Angeles (CA) Los Angeles (CA) $17,687 $38,596 $63,700
#5 #5 New York (NY) New York (NY) $20,228 $32,020 $58,900
#6 #6 Hayward (CA) Hayward (CA) $17,921 $37,945 $58,100
#7 #7 Long Beach (CA) Long Beach (CA) $17,736 $31,124 $57,100
#8 #8 La Jolla (CA) La Jolla (CA) $15,480 $42,914 $56,600
#9 #9 Alfred (NY) Alfred (NY) $37,045 $19,979 $56,500
#10 #10 Seattle (WA) Seattle (WA) $19,880 $61,500 $56,000
#11 #11 San Francisco (CA) San Francisco (CA) $18,198 $43,494 $55,200
#12 #12 Louisville (KY) Louisville (KY) $13,166 $41,000 $55,000
#13 #13 La Verne (CA) La Verne (CA) $14,238 $42,833 $55,000
#14 #14 Jersey City (NJ) Jersey City (NJ) $20,724 $61,500 $54,900
#15 #15 Brooklyn (NY) Brooklyn (NY) $20,352 $24,000 $53,900
#16 #16 River Forest (IL) River Forest (IL) $9,180 $30,217 $53,800
#17 #17 South Orange (NJ) South Orange (NJ) $23,422 $47,762 $53,700
#18 #18 San Bernardino (CA) San Bernardino (CA) $17,860 $38,900 $52,600
#19 #19 Houston (TX) Houston (TX) $12,200 Not Reported $52,600
#20 #20 Thousand Oaks (CA) (and 2 others) Thousand Oaks (CA) (and 2 others) $19,215 $51,250 $52,400
#21 #21 Laredo (TX) Laredo (TX) $14,375 $28,125 $52,300
#22 #22 Livingston (AL) Livingston (AL) $13,546 $34,166 $51,600
#23 #23 Los Angeles (CA) Los Angeles (CA) $18,106 $67,771 $51,600
#24 #24 Northridge (CA) Northridge (CA) $17,831 $35,397 $51,300
#25 #25 Houston (TX) Houston (TX) $18,280 $40,134 $51,300

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

#1
Median Salary $78,700
Median Debt $42,500
Annual Tuition $7,774

Concordia University Irvine offers a Master of Arts in Education: School Counseling program, which is designed to prepare working educators to become school counselors in California. The program has a 48-unit minimum for completion and can be finished in 33 months. Students can complete the master's in school counseling online or on Concordia University Irvine's campus. Once enrolled, students will take an introductory class that orients them to current school counseling issues, theories, and methods. There are 13 other three-unit courses for school counseling majors, including Psychopathology, Counseling Exceptional Children, and Educational Research: Methods and Analysis. There are also 6 units of supervised fieldwork, where each student must clock at least 600 hours of approved field experience.

By the end of the program, students will also have completed a capstone project, which involves collaborative work with other students and the supervision of an advisor.

Visit Concordia University-Irvine's website.

#2
Los Angeles (CA)
Median Salary $66,900
Median Debt $88,246
Annual Tuition $45,561

The University of Southern California's Master of Education in Educational Counseling (EC) program combines courses in counseling theory with opportunities to gain real-life, practical experience. The EC program is aimed at preparing individuals who wish to become counselors in higher education. To that end, 210 hours of fieldwork will be required of each student, alongside a fieldwork course, which guides students in thinking about ways they observe counseling theories play out outside of the lecture hall. Students also have the option of doing a thesis or taking two semesters of seminar courses.

The EC master's degree has a 48-credit requirement and is completed through USC's Rossier School of Education. Students are able to enroll on a full-time or part-time basis, depending on their work hours and scheduling preferences. While enrolled, students have the opportunity to participate in EC graduate assistantships on campus or at nearby colleges and universities. An assistantship can be in a number of categories, like orientation events, residential education, and multicultural resource centers. This opportunity for students provides hourly wages, tuition remission, or room and board. 

Visit University of Southern California's website.

#3
Bronx (NY)
Median Salary $64,800
Median Debt $30,000
Annual Tuition $20,400

The City University of New York's Lehman College offers a Master of Education degree in Counselor Education. This program requires students to complete 48 credits and two semesters of internship. There are 14 different three-unit classes all counselor education students must take (two of which are internships), including classes like Professional Identity in Counseling, Multicultural Counseling, and College Access Counseling. Then students can choose two elective courses in their major to go toward degree completion. Electives include Multilingual School Counseling and Parenting Within Diverse Family Structures. 

Students getting their counselor education master's degree at Lehman College have an option of doing the Bilingual School Counseling Extension. This extension is a 12-unit program that trains qualified students in bilingual counseling. In order to take this course, a student must pass the Bilingual Education Assessment, as per the New York State Department's requirements. There is also a 15-unit extension in family counseling. Students studying counselor education can opt to take this degree extension, which would require they take five specified courses, including Couples Counseling: Theories and Techniques and Sexuality Counseling. 

Visit CUNY Lehman College's website.

Median Salary $63,700
Median Debt $38,596
Annual Tuition $17,687

California State University, Los Angeles offers a Master of Science in Counseling with an option in School-Based Family Counseling – Marriage and Family Therapy and School Counseling. Students who pursue this option will learn how to serve and assist children and young adults (infancy–21 years) live more wholesome, healthy lives. This program requires students to complete 73-77 credit hours, which usually takes three years to finish. The program aims to enroll students from diverse backgrounds, retain all students until they have earned their degrees, provide accredited curriculum, and ensure that graduating students find relevant work placement. 

Students have the ability to prepare for licensure to become a marriage and family therapist by further specifying their degree through the Pupil Personnel Services Credential with Advanced Authorization in School Counseling and Child Welfare and Attendance. Another master's in counseling option that trains students to work with children is the Option in School Psychology. In this program, students take in-depth classes to learn about the psycho-educational development of children. The school-based family counseling master's degree is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

Visit California State University-Los Angeles's website.

#5
New York (NY)
Median Salary $58,900
Median Debt $32,020
Annual Tuition $20,228

The master's degree in school counseling at Hunter's College at the City University of New York is completed through the School of Education. The program is designed to teach, challenge, correct, and grow students in such a way that they leave the program better able to help others live fulfilling, enriched lives. School counseling is one of four available programs within the counseling degree at Hunter College – the other three are mental health counseling, rehabilitation counseling, and bilingual extension for pupil personnel services. Each of these programs requires a student to complete 60 credits, except for the bilingual extension for pupil personnel services, which is a post-baccalaureate certificate program and requires only 15 credits.

The school counseling degree program requires at least 700 hours of fieldwork to be completed through the Practicum and Internship courses. The combination of learning and practicing exemplifies Hunter College's intention of giving students real-world training. Some examples of courses for school counseling graduate students are Life Stage Developments, Psychosocial Aspects of Disability, Multicultural Aspects of Counseling, and Counseling Interventions for Children and Adolescents. 

Visit CUNY Hunter College's website