2021 Best Online School Counseling Programs No GRE

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Students enroll on a quarter credit system with four semesters per year.

School Counseling Programs

There is a growing number of online school counseling programs with no GRE requirement for admissions.

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A school counseling graduate program may advance your knowledge of human psychology and help equip you with the professional skills you need you to make an impact on young people’s lives.

Online School Counseling Programs

School Counselor with child and parent

In a school counseling graduate degree program, you may be immersed in psychology studies that help prepare you for state-governed licensing exams and field study requirements.

You may pursue careers in schools, government organizations, and many nonprofits that support schools and community mental health services.

With a masters degree and the required licensure or certification, you may qualify for jobs where you can really make a difference in the lives of students. These roles include school counselor, guidance counselor, or school psychologist. Guidance counselors help with academic planning in both high schools and colleges.

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School psychologists and school counselors may play important roles in schools or in related mental health agencies, providing emotional, social, and psychological support to students.

Whatever path you choose to pursue, earning a masters degree online in school counseling may be the best first step toward a well-paid career as an educator, counselor, or youth-oriented community mental health professional.

School Counseling Careers & Salaries

School Counseling Careers & Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, masters degrees in school counseling may help equip you to pursue counseling-related jobs in schools. You may also pursue other personally satisfying careers related to education, psychology, social work, and community mental health.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists $79,820
Social and Community Services Managers $69,600
Instructional Coordinators $66,970
Middle School Teachers $60,810
School and Career Counselors $58,120
Social Workers $51,760
Marriage and Family Therapists $51,340
Health Educators and Community Health Workers $48,140
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $47,660
Social and Human Services Assistants $35,960

Distinct career pathways in counseling, education, and mental health fields are likely to involve specific state-governed licensing and certification requirements.

School Counseling Curriculum & Courses

School counselor working

Your online school counseling masters program should cover psychological concepts and theories as well as how to apply them using effective counseling methods and practices. The following courses may appear in a school counseling program’s curriculum:

  • General Psychology: This course is an overview of major topics in psychology for the study and analysis of human behavior, personality development, and mental health.
  • A Survey of Psychological Theories: This course gives a broad introduction to a range of theoretical frameworks related to the science of psychology and the tenets of effective psychoanalysis.
  • Child Psychology and Child Development: You’ll learn about key psychological factors related to healthy child development with insights into a child’s development in cognition, emotions, family relationships, and speech acquisition.
  • Psychological Testing: This course is an introduction to the theory and practice of psychological tests and measurements, including aptitude and personality testing, vocational testing, emotional testing, and learning assessments.
  • Personality and Personality Disorders: This course examines the formation of personality and individual identity as well as the factors and symptoms related to personality disorders.
  • Clinical Methods: You’ll learn how psychologists, counselors, and clinicians apply their training in a counseling setting for investigative, evaluative, or therapeutic applications.
  • Abnormal Psychology: This course covers the formal classification of psychology disorders and pathologies and is an overview of treatments and interventions.
  • Human Development and Aging: You’ll learn about psychology through the lens of distinct stages of human development.
  • Psychology and Society: You’ll learn about the relation between human psychology and personality development in relation to diverse social influences and social settings, including family dynamics, home life, and school and work settings.
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Research in Psychology: You’ll learn core tenets of reliable research models and constructs for conducting or assessing research in psychology and related fields.

The psychology component of your graduate program is likely to incorporate both rigorous science and clinical practices alongside fascinating theoretical construct.

Similar to when earning a general masters in mental health counseling online or on campus, the core courses in a school counseling curriculum cover a wide-range of psychological concepts and methods.

How to Become a School Counselor

school counselor with a teenager

An online school counseling masters program is key to becoming a school counselor. Other steps you’ll typically need to complete include internships or field study requirements and passing exams required by state licensing boards.

School counselors, community mental health workers, and instructional specialists are all likely to have unique state-governed licensure or certification requirements and exams.

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Requirements will vary based on what state you plan to work in, but here are the typical steps required to become a school counselor:

  • Master’s degree. Complete your master’s degree in school counseling with an accredited university and a program aligned with your state’s licensing requirements.
  • State licensing. Pass the applicable state licensing examinations.
  • Internship or fieldwork. Complete a counseling internship or other fieldwork requirement as prescribed by the licensing board in the state where you plan to work.

State boards often exercise close control of the licensing or certification process for school counselors. So, you may want ensure that you enroll in an accredited program with curriculum that satisfies all of the academic requirements prescribed by your state’s licensing board.

 Admissions Requirements

school counseling masters student

Admissions requirements for a school counseling masters program will vary by school, but many online masters programs are structured to make it easier for you to get started as soon as possible.

The following admissions requirements are common for school counseling graduate degree programs:

  • Undergraduate degree (BA or BS)
  • A satisfactory college GPA
  • GRE or GMAT scores (if required)

Some programs may also require prior coursework or work experience in psychology or a closely related field. School admissions officers can be a great resource if you need more information.

If you’re currently in college, you may find a guidance counselor at your school who’s trained to help you prepare for graduate admissions. There’s a chance they’ve even completed a masters program similar to the one you’re interested in.

Accreditation

School Counseling Programs No GRE Accreditation

When looking for school counseling programs with or without GRE requirements, it’s beneficial to stick with fully accredited schools and programs.

Regional accreditation means the school and its academic programs meet certain standards for quality, professionalism, and integrity. State licensing boards, other schools, and prospective employers are also more likely to honor a degree from a regionally accredited institution.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) can help you learn more about accreditation.

Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)

school counselors in meeting

Some accreditation organizations pool expertise from within a specific profession to help universities know how to provide the best evidence-based curriculum and training in their professional degree programs.

One of these organizations, recognized by CHEA and focused on the counseling profession, is the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

CACREP seeks to disseminate up-to-date knowledge, practices, and training in the counseling profession. CACREP uses its accreditation process to ensure that affiliate schools provide future counseling professionals with effective, research-based curriculum and training methods.

So, if you’re looking for program endorsements specific to curriculum and training in the counseling profession, you might want to seek counseling masters programs boasting CACREP accreditation.

School Counseling Licensure and Certification

School Counseling student

Psychologists and other mental health practitioners, as well as educators, typically need to complete licensing exams and supervised fieldwork for licensure or certification. Likewise, each state generally has specific requirements for school counseling professionals.

Licensure requirements will vary by state. It can be helpful to stay up to date on the process for getting licensed or certified in the state you want to work in so you’re ready to apply for jobs as soon as possible after graduating.

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Upon completing your school counseling graduate program, you’ll typically want to register for any qualifying exams required by the applicable licensing boards and fulfill any mandatory supervised fieldwork requirements.

Some school counseling programs may already have programs in place to help with licensing. These programs may even get you connected to a supervised field study opportunity.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

School Counseling Programs No GRE Financial Aid

Applying for financial aid may soften the financial costs of enrolling in a school counseling graduate program.

Financial aid awards are often based on available need-based state and federal student grants or need-based school scholarships. Student loans are another common form of financial aid.

If you plan to work in public schools, you may qualify for state or federal education loan forgiveness programs, future hiring bonuses, or similar incentive opportunities. If you plan to apply for need-based aid, filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is often a good first step.

What Can You Do with a Masters in School Counseling?

school counselor with a student

You’ll likely receive intensive in an accredited online masters in school counseling program. Once you have your masters and have completed any fieldwork requirements and state licensing exams, you may find yourself well qualified for school counseling jobs.

In addition to jobs in both public and private school settings, you might qualify for a range of social services roles in the mental health field, especially with organizations offering youth counseling and therapy. As a graduate from an online school counseling masters program, you may also pursue careers in psychology and social welfare fields.

Common careers include school counselor, guidance counselor, special education teacher, health educator, community health services worker, school psychologist, or substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor. Many of these jobs may require specific state-regulated licensing or certification.

Do You Need the GRE for a Masters in Counseling?

school counselor with a child

Some schools may require you to provide GRE test results when you apply for admission. If that’s the case, you may want to plan ahead so you can register at the right time to take any required entrance examinations.

That said, you’ll find a growing number of online master’s in counseling programs with no GRE requirements. If sweating over testing fees, registration deadlines, and GRE test prep is just not your thing, then you may find various accredited test-optional schools you can apply to.

What Degree Do You Need to Be a School Counselor?

Requirements can vary by state, but in most states you’ll need a master’s degree in psychology, school counseling, or a closely related field if you want to work as a school counselor.

In addition to a masters degree in a relevant major, state licensing boards often require licensing exams and supervised field study.

Is CACREP Accreditation Important?

school counselors in meeting

The importance of CACREP accredited online counseling programs may depend on your specific career goals and circumstances.

Some prospective employers may have organizational interests that determine the qualifications they most care about, and CACREP accreditation may not be as important to them.

That said, if you plan to work for larger organizations in more regulated environments and with diverse collaborative networks, such as a large urban school district, CACREP accreditation may prove to be vital.

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CACREP accreditation may provide employers assurances about the kind of academic standards and training your school provided. They can also know how it aligns with their own uniform norms, standards, and ethics for professional practice.

Asking prospective employers or counseling professionals in your region might be a way to know if programmatic accreditation, such as CACREP, might impact your career goals.

What Is the Difference Between a Guidance Counselor vs. School Counselor?

School counselor working

School counselor and guidance counselor are more or less the same career. If you work in a high school, you’ll likely provide student counseling services while also serving as a guidance counselor.

You may help students work through emotional and social challenges, and you may also administer aptitude assessments and guide academic and career planning. In younger grades, a school counselor’s primary role is to support students who are struggling to thrive in school, experiencing interpersonal conflicts, or struggling to adjust to academic demands.

In high school and college career centers, guidance counselors may help students find jobs or internships and counsel students on career options and choices. Guidance counselors may also help students make curricular choices best aligned with their future goals.

What Is the Difference Between a School Psychologist vs. School Counselor?

school counselor with a child at work

Although they may work closely together, the role of the school psychologist is different from that of school counselors. School counselors typically provide academic guidance or short-term emotional and social support with regard to common challenges of childhood or adolescence.

A school psychologist, on the other hand, serves more as a medical professional who is responsible for diagnosing organic learning disabilities or verifiable behavior disorders. School psychologists may also give input into school interventions and determine when to make referrals to outside medical professionals.

A school counselor typically spends the day meeting with students to talk about day-to-day conflicts or about academic guidance. A school psychologist is often called upon to gather assessment data about a student with more severe learning or behavior challenges.

In addition, school psychologists may produce and update evidence-based behavioral and psychological assessments of students on their caseload. They may also make intervention or referral recommendations to other staff in student intervention team meetings.

Is a Masters in School Counseling Worth It?

school counselor talking to a student

Yes, a masters in school counseling is worth it for many professionals. Jobs in community and social service field are projected to grow at a rate of 12% in the next 10 years (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Common school counseling careers in this field include school and career counselor, school psychologist, teacher or instructional specialist, health educator, or mental health counselor.

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School counseling jobs are forecast for above average growth. Many educators today understand that student wellbeing can correlate strongly to academic achievement.

If you like working with young, teenage, or college students and want to support them in their success, you might be interested in the role of a school counselor or guidance counselor. If you want to work as a school psychologist or youth mental health counselor, you’ll likely need some additional licensing steps.

Universities Offering Online Masters in School Counseling No GRE Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format. In addition, the universities either do not require GRE test scores as part of the admission requirements or offer GRE waivers for qualified students.

Bradley University

Bradley University

Bradley University offers a Master of Arts (MA) in Professional School Counseling. The program includes classes, internships, fieldwork experiences, and opportunities to connect with mentors to help students with personal and professional development.

The curriculum is designed to prepare students for the National Counselor Exam upon graduation.

Bradley University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Capella University

Capella University

Fully accredited for distance learning, Capella University offers an online-based school counseling program that consists of six core classes and seven specialization classes. There are also practicums, residencies, and internships. Students enroll on a quarter credit system with four semesters per year.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Creighton University

Creighton University

Creighton University offers a Master of Science (MS) in School Counseling and Preventive Mental Health. It requires 36 credits to graduate and can usually be completed in two years.

Specializations include Elementary School Counseling, Secondary School Counseling, and PK-12 Guidance Counseling. Classes cover topics in psychology and childhood development as well as policy and business administration.

Creighton University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Edinboro University

Edinboro University

The counseling program from Edinboro University offers a variety of studies, from cognitive disabilities to art therapy techniques. School counseling is just one area of focus for its master’s degree program. Others include Mental Health Counseling and Clinical Rehabilitative Counseling. Each program requires 60 credits to complete.

Edinboro University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Indiana Wesleyan University

Indiana Wesleyan University

The goal of Indiana Wesleyan University’s school counseling program is to provide rigorous instruction that can make students eligible for most state licensure and certification exams. Their program requires 48 to 60 credits and 700 practice hours to complete. Courses are available both online and on campus. No GRE is required for admission.

Indiana Wesleyan University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Liberty University

Liberty University

With flexible, self-paced classes in an online program, Liberty University is designed to allow students to earn a school counseling degree on their own timetable. Additionally, the classes are only 8 weeks long.

There are 8 different start dates throughout the year for the newly enrolled. Subjects include everything from human development to contemporary counseling practices.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

New York University

New York University

New York University offers the opportunity to earn a Master’s in School Counseling in just 6 terms. Students are expected to complete 48 graduate-level credit hours while also participating in labs, practicums, and internships. Some elements are online, while others involve hands-on instruction with K–12 students.

New York University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Our Lady of the Lake University

Our Lady of the Lake University

Our Lady of the Lake University has a Master of Arts in Counseling (MAC) program that requires 48 to 60 credits depending on your specialization. You can choose from School Counseling, Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling, and Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

The program is designed to make sure students are ready to sit for certification exams upon graduation. Students may prepare to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC).

Our Lady of the Lake University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

St Bonaventure University

St Bonaventure University

The Master of Science in Education (MSED) program at St Bonaventure University requires 60 credits and can typically be completed in two years.

School Counseling is a specialization, and classes are available online and in the afternoons and evenings. Students are expected to complete 100 hours of fieldwork experience as well as two internships comprised of 300 hours each.

St. Bonaventure University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Walden University

Walden University

Walden University offers a unique curriculum that has been tailored to address the gaps in today’s school counseling methods and models. Classes are available both online and in person, and there’s an accelerated track for intensive study with a shorter graduation time. No GRE is required.

Walden is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Masters in School Counseling Online

Masters in School Counseling Online

If you like the idea of helping young people while collaborating with other youth-oriented and idealistic colleagues, you may want to consider working as a school counselor.

Whether you want to study full-time or find degree programs with flexible pacing options, earning an online masters degree from an accredited university may be a strategic way to develop your skills and gain confidence in this field.

You may find a number of accredited online masters in school counseling programs without GRE requirements that are ready to help you get started.

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Keith Nickolaus
WRITTEN BY
Keith Nickolaus
Keith has a Ph.D. and Master's in Comparative Literature from the University of California - Berkeley and a Bachelor's in Literature from the University of California - Santa Cruz. A retired educator, Keith lives in Berkeley and researches and writes about trends in innovation, policy, and education leadership.