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What Are the Best School Counseling Degree Programs and Schools?

Learn about top universities offering school counseling programs and the degree levels they offer. Read below for tips about selecting a quality school counseling program.

What Should I Look for in Top School Counseling Programs?

Top schools and programs might offer quality internships, access to research institutes, and special programs related to your K-12 or postsecondary area of interest. Additionally, you might look for a program that's been accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which means its curriculum has met quality testing standards. It also could be valuable to select a school that offers preparation for school counseling examinations offered through the National Board for Certified Counselors and Affiliates, Inc. Additionally, you should look for programs that have demonstrated excellence in the field by gaining rankings in nationally recognized publications.

What Are Three Top Schools for School Counseling Degrees?

Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus

OSU ranked number one in the 2019 U.S. News & World Report ranking for student counseling and personnel services programs. At OSU, you can explore education or counseling careers in the First Education Experience Program (FEEP). As an FEEP student, you'll work in local school districts four mornings per week, earning credit and seminar experience. You'll also have access to an internship center.

The counselor education program offers graduate students a choice of a school counseling or clinical counseling track through the College of Education and Human Ecology. OSU's school psychology Ph.D. program is recognized by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). Degrees available include:

  • Master of Arts (M.A.) in Educational Studies, Counselor Education
  • Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) in School Psychology
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Educational Studies, Counselor Education; or School Psychology

University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville

UF was ranked third among school counseling and personnel services programs by U.S. News & World Report in 2019. Programs are available in school counseling and guidance, school psychology, and mental health counseling. The College of Education hosts the Center for Community Education and the UF Alliance, which fosters family support programs in partner schools.

The 72-credit, CACREP-accredited entry-level school counseling and guidance master's program meets American School Counselor Association requirements and qualifies students for Florida certification in school counseling. Students can explore clinical sites with school districts, alternative schools and various government and not-for-profit organizations at the Practicum and Internship Fair. Degrees you can acquire include:

  • Master of Education (M.Ed.) in School Counseling and Guidance
  • Master of Arts in Education (M.A.E.) in School Counseling and Guidance
  • Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) in School Counseling and Guidance; School Psychology; or Mental Health Counseling
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in School Counseling and Guidance; School Psychology; or Mental Health Counseling
  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in School Counseling and Guidance; or Mental Health Counseling

University of Missouri (UM) in Columbia

UM-Columbia ranked tied for third in the U.S. News & World Report rankings for graduate school student counseling and personnel services programs in 2019. The College of Education's Missouri Prevention Center supports children and parents with youth aggression and depression interventions. The college boasts student and faculty recognition for research in the field. You'll have access to the Assessment Resource Center, the Allen Institute, and the Missouri Institute for Positive Coaching, among others, through the school's extensive outreach efforts. The college also takes part in community research projects, such as the Missouri Schoolwide Positive Behavior Support program.

The educational, school and counseling psychology department offers master's, Ed.S. and Ph.D. programs in school psychology. The department also supports graduate programs in counseling psychology, educational psychology and health education. Possible degrees you can earn include:

  • Master of Arts (M.A.) in School Psychology; Counseling Psychology; or Educational Psychology
  • Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) in School Psychology with Certification; or Counseling Psychology
  • Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Counseling Psychology; Educational Psychology; or School Psychology
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in School Psychology with Certification; Counseling Psychology with Certification; or Educational Psychology

Ten Top School Counseling Institutions

College/UniversityInstitution TypeLocationEstimated Graduate In-State Tuition*
University of Maryland, College Park4-year, PublicCollege Park, MD$15,000
University of North Carolina, Greensboro4-year, PublicGreensboro, NC$8,000
University of Georgia4-year, PublicAthens, GA$11,000
University of Wisconsin, Madison4-year, PublicMadison, WI$12,000
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities4-year, PublicMinneapolis, MN$18,500
Pennsylvania State University, University Park4-year, PublicUniversity Park, PA$22,500
University of Central Florida4-year, PublicOrlando, FL$9,000
Boston College (Lynch)4-year, PrivateChesnut Hill, MA$29,500
Indiana University, Bloomington4-year, PublicBloomington, IN$10,500
Vanderbilt University (Peabody)4-year, PrivateNashville, TN$48,000

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education