If you’re the type of person that understands how humans operate and are striving to find a career that will enable you to help people, look no further. Pursuing counseling as a career not only benefits you in terms of long-term job assurance, but it also benefits everyone you’re able to offer guidance to along the way.
You might be concerned about the time investment, scheduling, or workload that obtaining a counseling degree would entail, but there is a far-reaching solution. 2020 has pushed online learning platforms to the next level. This means that, overall, virtual education providers have equipped their programs with increasingly flexible, advanced, and comprehensive curricula.
CACREP stands for the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. As far as counseling programs go, if it’s not CACREP-approved, it’s not worth your time or your money. As an organization, CACREP upholds the quality and value standards for counseling programs across the board; each must undergo an extensive evaluation process before it receives accreditation.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most affordable, accessible, and high-quality online counseling degree programs out there. With these suggestions, you’re sure to find the school that best suits you–one that will support you on your academic journey and along the path to long-term career success.
All schools considered for these rankings
- Are regionally or nationally accredited
- Offer at least one fully online CACREP-Accredited Counseling degree (with no more than two weeks of required in-person work)
- Were collected from official accrediting agency websites.
Schools are ranked solely by the average net price as released in the most recent IPEDs database collected in July of 2020.
2021 Most Affordable Online CACREP-Accredited Counseling Programs
|Rank||School||Average Net Price|
|#3||North Carolina State University||$14,958|
|#5||Lindsey Wilson College||$15,189|
|#6||Wright State University||$15,251|
|#7||University of Hawaii at Manoa||$15,441|
|#9||University of the Cumberlands||$16,340|
|#10||Union Institute & University||$16,585|
|#12||University at Buffalo||$17,264|
|#13||Lock Haven University||$19,128|
|#14||Oregon State University||$19,273|
|#17||St Bonaventure University||$23,445|
|#18||Wake Forest University||$24,800|
|#20||Colorado Christian University||$26,476|
10 Best Affordable Colleges for CACREP-Accredited Counseling Programs
1. Lamar University
Average Net Price: $12,716
Lamar University is a public university that was founded in 1923. It is located in Beaumont, Texas and is considered a large university with over 15,000 undergraduate students. This university possesses a CACREP accredited Master of Education (M.Ed.) program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. The program can be completed in less than three years and consists of 60 credit hours. Upon completion, students will have the necessary knowledge and skills to help those seeking clinical mental health counseling services, and all students will be required to apply for their license to become authorized as a counseling professional in the state they plan to work in. In addition to a fully online curriculum, all individuals who enroll in this program must attend two residencies as well as a practicum and internship, all of which are in-person. A few of the required courses that prospective students can expect to take are Human Growth and Development, Foundations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Counseling Skills, Individual Counseling Theories & Techniques, Multicultural Counseling, Group Counseling Theories & Techniques, Substance Abuse Counseling, and more.
2. Bellevue University
Average Net Price: $13,261
Bellevue University is a private university that was established in 1966. It is located in Bellevue, Nebraska and is considered an average size college with around 6,300 undergraduate students. This university is known for its CACREP accredited Master of Science (M.S.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. The program is offered online and consists of 60 credit hours. It is based on the standards of the national licensing model and will help students prepare for the test to become a licensed mental health counselor. Although the courses are all online, each student will be required to complete 100 hours of a practicum and 600 hours of a clinical internship experience, both of which will need to be supervised by a licensed counselor. Some of the courses that students enrolled in the M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling are required to pass are Introduction to Counseling Theories, Statistics and Quantitative Research Methods, Qualitative Research Methods and Program Evaluation, Human Development Throughout the Lifespan, Theories of Psychopathology, and more.
3. North Carolina State University
Average Net Price: $14,958
North Carolina State University is a public university that opened its doors in 1887. It is located in Raleigh, North Carolina and is considered a large university with an undergraduate enrollment of close to 24,000. This university offers three online master’s degrees in counseling, which are the Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, the Master of Education (M.Ed.) in College Counseling and Student Development, and the Master of Education (M.Ed.) in School Counseling. All three of these programs have met the CACREP standards and have received CACREP accreditation.
The objective of the M.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is to teach students how to work with professionals in different industries as well as ensure the well-being of their clients while remaining dedicated to social justice, diversity, and multiculturism. The following are a few of the courses that will need to be passed to graduate from the program: Career Counseling and Development, Multicultural Counseling, Theories of Counseling, Introduction to Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Group Counseling, Substance Abuse Counseling, and more.
The professors of the M.Ed. in College Counseling and Student Development program are committed to preparing students for careers in which they will spend a lot of time advocating for the development of college students. Upon graduation, all students will be ready to help students from different backgrounds with their academic, personal, social, and career pursuits. Several of the courses that will be offered to students in this program are Gender Issues in Counseling, Research Issues, Introduction to College Counseling and Student Development, Career Counseling and Development, Crisis Counseling, and more.
The M.Ed. in School Counseling program has a goal of educating individuals on how to handle the academic, career, social, and emotional requests and needs of all students. Individuals interested in this degree program should have a strong desire to help students accomplish their goals and chase after their passions and dreams. The following are a few of the courses that students will be required to take: Techniques in Counseling, Introduction to School Counseling, Counseling Couples and Families, Multicultural Life Span Human Development, Strategies for Clinical Assessment in Counseling, and more.
4. Regent University
Average Net Price: $15,062
Regent University is a private university that was created in 1977. It is located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and is rooted in the Christian faith. This university is considered a small college with an undergraduate population of around 4,200. Regent University features two online counseling programs that have met the CACREP standards and have earned their CACREP accreditation.
The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling provides students with the knowledge and skills to successfully help individuals deal with their life problems and lead them to better mental health solutions. After graduation, students will be able to take the licensure exam and begin a career as a licensed counselor professional. As a Christian university, this program will also include biblical principles to give students a strong Christian approach to the program.
The M.A. in Marriage, Couple, & Family Counseling program focuses on building and mending strong family structures. This program emphasizes the importance of helping couples and families create stronger and healthier relationships together. A few of the courses that are mandatory in this program are Marital & Couple Therapy, Models of Family Therapy, Theories of Human Sexuality, and more.
5. Lindsey Wilson College
Average Net Price: $15,189
Lindsey Wilson College is a private university that was formed in 1903. It is located in Columbia, Kentucky, and is rooted in the United Methodist faith. This university is considered a very small college with less than 2,000 undergraduate students. Lindsey Wilson College provides interested students with a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Counseling and Human Development. This is one of the top-rated CACREP accredited online counseling programs in the United States. Students who enroll in the program must have a passion and interest for helping people and creating a difference in the lives of others. Upon completion of the M.Ed. in Counseling and Human Development program, each student will be prepared to help individuals reach their highest potential and live a fulfilled life. The following are several of the courses that each student must successfully pass: Life Cycle Development in Individuals & Families, Multicultural Counseling, Group Counseling Techniques, Career Education Counseling, Individual & Group Assessment, and more.
6. Wright State University
Average Net Price: $15,251
Wright State University is a public university that was founded in 1967. It is located in Dayton, Ohio, and is considered an average size college with around 10,000 undergraduate students. This university offers a few CACREP accredited online counseling programs, which include the Master of Rehabilitation Counseling (M.R.C.) in Addiction Counseling, the Master of Science (M.S.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and the Master of Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling (M.R.C.).
The M.R.C. in Addiction Counseling degree prepares students for the National Counseling Exam to become a licensed professional counselor in the state of Ohio. Students who pursue this program will be educated about addictions, how to diagnose and use clinical treatment on clients, various counseling theories, and more.
The M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling focuses on a variety of theories and techniques for counseling individual clients, groups, and families. It also teaches how to do psychometric assessments. A few of the courses that students will be required to pass to graduate are Counseling Theory and Practice, Techniques of Counseling, Assessment and Evaluation in Counseling, Crisis Counseling, Group Process in Counseling, and more.
The M.R.C. degree emphasizes the importance of helping people with mental, physical, social, or emotional disabilities. This is a needed degree among professionals who are employed by hospitals, government offices, and the private sector. Some of the courses that individuals admitted to this program will be able to take are Clinical Pathology in Counseling, Career Counseling and Development, Marriage and Family Counseling, Counseling for Life-Span Development, Multicultural Counseling, and more.
7. University of Hawaii at Manoa
Average Net Price: $15,441
The University of Hawaii at Manoa is a public university that opened to students in 1907. It is located in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is considered an average size college with an undergraduate enrollment of around 12,000 students. This university offers an online Master of Science (M.S.) in Rehabilitation Science with a concentration in rehabilitation counseling. The purpose of the program is to teach students how to assist people with disabilities and help them accomplish their goals, such as getting a job, taking on responsibilities, having a sense of independence, and more. Students enrolled in this program can expect to graduate within three years. After graduation, they will be able to take the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and National Counselor tests.
8. Gallaudet University
Average Net Price: $15,639
Gallaudet University is a private university that was established in 1864. It is located in Washington, D.C., and is considered a very small college with only about 1,100 students. This university features one of the best CACREP accredited programs, which is called the Summers and Online School Counseling. This is a hybrid program that takes around three years to finish. Students will be provided with the necessary knowledge and skills to be essential school counselors. A few of the qualities that will be taught throughout the program are cultural awareness, sensitivity, and empathy. Preference is given to individuals who have experience with deaf or hard of hearing people, as the program focuses on helping deaf and hard of hearing students achieve academic excellence. The following are some of the courses that students must enroll in: Substance Prevention for Children and Youth, Family Therapy, Lifespan Development, Lifestyles, and Career Development, School-Based Group Counseling, Crisis and Trauma Counseling, Counseling Students with Additional Special Needs, and more. The courses are only offered on-campus during the summer or online.
9. University of the Cumberlands
Average Net Price: $16,340
The University of the Cumberlands is a private university that began teaching students in 1888. It is located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, and is considered a small university with less than 2,500 undergraduate students. This university offers two of the top-rated CACREP accredited programs in the country, which are the online Master of Arts (M.A.) in Addiction Counseling and the online Master of Arts (M.A.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
The M.A. in Addiction Counseling will prepare students for careers helping individuals who have developed addictions. They will learn how to apply their learned intervention and prevention techniques, counseling theories, approaches, assessments, and evaluations. Students will also learn how to properly diagnose and create treatment plans based on each client.
The M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is a growing field and needed expertise, as it helps individuals with emotional and mental health issues. Individuals who are interested in advocating and making a difference among those with mental health issues are perfect for this degree program. A few of the topics that will be covered are marriage and family counseling, child and adolescent counseling, clinical supervision, counseling theories and techniques, and more.
10. Union Institute & University
Average Net Price: $16,585
Union Institute & University is a private university that started accepting students in 1964. It is located in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is considered a very small school with less than 700 undergraduate students. This university provides interested individuals with an online Master of Arts (M.A.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, which has received its accreditation from CACREP. By earning accreditation from CACREP, the program has met all necessary requirements to provide the essential knowledge and skills to help students succeed in the counseling field. All graduates of the program must complete 60 credit hours and take the licensure exam to become a professional counselor or clinical mental health counselor. The curriculum is delivered entirely online other than two in-person residency requirements per year. The following are several of the courses that students admitted to the program must enroll in: Counseling Theory & Practice, Human Growth & Development, Group Work & Therapy, Career & Lifestyle Development, Helping Relationships, and more.