20 Cheapest CACREP Accredited Programs Online

Choosing a graduate program that aligns with your educational and career goals can be time-consuming and nerve-wracking given the many considerations to account for. Through your research, you may have to choose between different accreditations and even those that are not accredited. 

Accreditation means that the academic program in question has received recognition or a “stamp of approval” from an accreditation body for meeting the guidelines and standards set by the profession to which the degree is applicable. For example, in the humanities and social sciences field, an accredited program ensures the program prepares students in competencies for possible licensure requirements upon graduation from that program. 

The Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is an accrediting body for close to a thousand master’s and doctoral degree programs. This accreditation agency evaluates counseling and related educational programs to ensure students receive the education and training needed to be successful in their careers upon graduation. They assess the legitimacy and standards of programs to ensure they meet state and national guidelines and requirements. 

This article aims to highlight 20 of the most affordable CACREP-accredited programs that are offered online. It explores different fields and career tracks to help guide you toward easing your decision.

Featured Online Master’s in Counseling Programs

1. Lindsey Wilson College

The Lindsey Wilson College School of Professional Counseling offers a Master of Education degree in Counseling, which is a military-friendly school. The program consists of a 60-credit-hour curriculum where students are provided with the education and training requirements necessary to meet the requirements for licensure in Kentucky. The program consists of 8-week courses, and students are provided with the opportunity to be certified in substance abuse counseling at the same time. 

The program is designed to prepare students for a career practicing as a mental health professional in a variety of settings. There is an emphasis on clinical training and an opportunity to specialize in clinical mental health counseling. 

The online program fosters a supportive environment where students are provided with an interactive platform to interact with other students and faculty. Students have flexible scheduling and are able to maintain their employment whilens alongside pursuing an education. 

Since this program is an accredited non-profit institution, there are numerous grants and loans available to students that lower the already affordable tuition, making it even more affordable. Tuition is typically around $491 per credit hour, and more than 95% of students receive some form of financial aid.

2. Fort Hays State University

FHSU College of Education provides Master of Science degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling. Both programs are offered in fully online or hybrid formats. 

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is tailored with student flexibility at its forefront. 50% of the required courses are offered online, while the remaining 50% are offered on campus on Fridays and Saturdays. The program itself consists of a 60-credit-hour curriculum with many courses shared with the School Counseling program. This specific program consists of specialized programs dedicated to honing in on specific counseling education and training. The program prepares students for licensure as Licensed Professional Counselors in the state of Kansas. 

The School Psychology program is offered completely online, with the option of enrolling full-time or part-time in either an MS or EdS degree. While the program is mainly tailored to students that work primarily in Kansas, the online program is available to students nationally. The curriculum consists of around 60 credit hours, with a number of program tracks available to choose from. 

The cost per credit hour is typically around $319.45 per credit hour, making this institution one of the cheapest to working professionals.

3. North Carolina State University

The College of Education at NCU has an online Clinical Mental Health Counseling program catering to students wanting a career in practice in the field of mental health. The program incorporates theory and practice and prepares students for professional licensure in the state of North Carolina. 

This online program consists of either a two-year full-time or three-year part-time plan where students take courses year-round. There is a heavy emphasis on clinical training, and the program provides students with resources and support in their education and training. 

At this institution, in-state tuition is around $12,041, and students have a variety of financial aid options and scholarship opportunities available throughout the course of the program.

4. The University of the Cumberlands

This institution has a Clinical Mental Health program that is clinically focused on preparing students for a career in the field, where students meet the national and state requirements for professional licensure as Licensed Professional Counselor. Students are offered the opportunity to specialize in addiction counseling, which increases their competitiveness upon graduation and when looking for employment. 

The curriculum consists of a total of 60 credit hours, and classes are taken in 8-week sessions in bi-terms. The financial aid office offers a ‘One Price Promise’ where rates offered are all-inclusive and students are offered the most in terms of available financial aid and scholarships. Typically, the fee rate is $355 per credit hour for online graduate courses.

5. Midwestern State University

MSU-Texas offers online Master of Arts degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling. The CMHC program meets the educational and training requirements to become licensed as a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Texas. With a curriculum consisting of 60 credit hours, students typically graduate in two years. 

The program is geared towards preparing students to provide mental health counseling services within a school setting, and the program integrates an internship experience, along with the completion of the TExES test that falls in line with guidelines and requirements by the state for the Texas Counselor certification. 

Tuition rates are typically around $450 per credit hour. Graduate students are often offered merit scholarships and other grants based on academic performance, and are also offered opportunities for graduate assistantships that offset the cost of tuition.

6. East Carolina University

ECU offers a Master of Science degree in Counselor Education. The core curriculum is designed to improve students’ professional identity as professional counselors, with three specialization areas available. Specializations include professional school counseling, student affairs and college counseling, and clinical mental health counseling. 

The courses are offered completely online, and experiential learning opportunities and training requirements are supported by faculty. The curriculum consists of around 60 credit hours, which include educational core requirements, practicum training, and internship hours, that set students up for professional licensure upon graduation. 

Typical yearly tuition and fees for resident students are $5,213, and a significant advantage that distance education provides is that the cost of attendance does not include additional housing and transportation fees. Students are offered a number of opportunities to obtain scholarships and graduate assistantships.

7. Bellevue University

Bellevue University offers several degrees within the field of psychology and social sciences, including a child, youth, and family studies program, a clinical mental health counseling program, and an industrial organizational psychology program. While each program has accreditation associated with them, the only CACREP-accredited program is the clinical mental health counseling degree. 

The program is designed to prepare students for licensing standards as professional mental health counselors in the state of Nebraska and most other states. Clinical training takes precedence in this program, where students are encouraged to build professional skills and networks. The curriculum consists of 60 credit hours and can typically be completed in about two years. 

The cost per credit hour is around $649 for in-class or online credit. Graduate students are eligible for up to $20,500 per year in financial aid opportunities. Faculty also work with students to help them make use of available scholarships and even employment opportunities that further add to the affordability of this program.

8. Winston-Salem State University

Winston-Salem State offers Bachelors’s and Master of Science degrees in Rehabilitation Counseling. The Masters’s program is a terminal program that offers students the ability to be eligible to sit for the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor examination alongside eligibility for state Professional Counselor licensure as an LPC. Masters students can choose from the following specializations: rehabilitation counseling, clinical mental health, deaf and hard of hearing, transition, and vocational evaluation. 

The curriculum consists of a 60-credit-hour plan, which includes the educational and training requirements necessary for graduation and licensure. The school offers several scholarships and RSA grants that cover most of the tuition cost, in addition to providing students with a stipend to further offset additional costs.

9. North Carolina State University

NC State offers a Counselor Education Program with specific degrees in School Counseling, College Counseling and Student Development, and Clinical Mental Health Counseling. All degrees are offered online and in-person, affording students the ability to maintain a flexible schedule alongside keeping up with life’s obligations. The program prepares students for licensure and taking the National Counselor Examination. 

The online option consists of a three-year, part-time program that requires students to take classes year-round. Tuition costs per year are typically around $12,041. This school offers students the ability to have most expenses covered by scholarship and financial aid funds.

10. Freed-Hardeman University

The Master of Science degrees in Clinical Mental Health and School Counseling are tailored to prepare students for national licensing examinations, and they meet the requirements for professional licensure. The programs are aimed to fit the flexible and busy schedules of working professionals, and to where students can complete the degree in two years. 

The curriculum consists of typically a 60-credit-hour course track, where tuition is around $650 per credit hour, with no additional fees. Some classes are offered in a hybrid format with traditional classes offered on Fridays and weekends. Students have the option of enrolling on a full-time or part-time basis.

11. Grace College

Grace College’s Graduate Counseling department offers a Clinical Mental Health Program that is grounded in scriptural concepts. The program meets the standards and guidelines of the ACA and the AACC, that prepare students for licensure in Indiana. The curriculum consists of 60 credit hours, which includes the education and training requirements to graduate and licensing competencies. Students can typically complete this program in three years with the option of transferring up to 12 credits of applicable graduate work. 

The tuition costs are around $608 per credit hour, however, graduate students may qualify for up to $20,500 in Stafford loans that cover the majority of the cost of attendance. Additionally, graduate students also qualify for a number of grants and scholarships, along with graduate assistantships.

12. Liberty University

Liberty offers a number of accredited online degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and even doctoral levels. Of the many available options, the institution offers a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Mental Health and a Master of Education in School Counseling. The courses are taken on 8-week terms and can be completed in a lesser time compared to a traditional campus. 

Being one of the most affordable programs in the nation, nearly 80% of online students are offered financial aid. The tuition rate per credit hour is $615 and the curriculum consists of 60 credit hours, with students being able to graduate in two years.

13. Malone University

The Clinical Mental Health program and the School Counseling program at Malone University are offered in online and in-person formats. The program also offers a dual online program where the CMHC and School Counseling programs can be taken together due to the overlap in the curriculum. 

The curriculum consists of 81 credit hours with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous courses. Tuition rates are typically around $725 per credit hour. Students are offered a number of student loan and scholarship options that help with the cost of attendance, making pursuing an education accessible.

14. Southern New Hampshire University

SNHU offers four Master of Science degrees in Psychology with areas including general psychology, child and adolescent development, forensics, and industrial-organizational psychology. The program is designed to be completed in 15 months, and students can access the class when it is convenient for them. 

The degree tuition averages around $627 per credit hour with 25% off for service members and spouses. Scholarships and employer tuition assistance are available to students along with a variety of financial plans depending on student needs.

15. Walden University

The Counseling department at Walden University offers Master of Science degrees in Clinical Mental Health and School Counseling that are accredited and prepares students for state licensure upon graduation. This institution also offers a dual degree option, adding to student qualifications and competitiveness in the job market. 

The curriculum consists of 90 credit hours, and the average cost is around $505 per credit hour. Students are able to graduate in 33 months, and students have the ability to specialize in addictions, forensics, marriage, and family counseling, military families and culture, and trauma and crisis counseling. Graduate students qualify for a scholarship valued at around $7000 in addition to other financial aid options and scholarships.

16. University of Alaska Fairbanks

The School of Education at UAF offers a School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling program that is accredited with Master of Education degrees. Courses are offered through web-based synchronous meetings or asynchronous online modules, designed to assist with flexible schedules of working professionals. 

The cost of attendance is $539 per credit hour with scholarships and additional financial aid offered to most students attending the program. The curriculum consists of a standard 60-credit-hour course plan, and it prepares students for professional licensure upon graduation.

17. University of Concordia

Concordia University offers Counseling degrees in both in-person and online formats. The accredited program prepares students for professional licensure in California, with an accelerated program in which students could graduate within 24 to 36 months. The curriculum has a faith-based element that integrates social sciences into a 60-credit-hour curriculum including educational and clinical training. Courses span 7 weeks and students are expected to engage in coursework for 13 to 16 hours weekly. The curriculum is designed to accommodate students employed full-time and preparation for licensure spans across most states in the nation.  

The cost of attendance is $695 per credit hour, with financial aid options available to students enrolled full-time. Scholarships are available to all students, and a number of graduate assistantship opportunities are available to graduate students in particular.

18. Northwestern University

Northwestern offers a Master of Arts degree in Counseling and a Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, which are offered online and in-person. The MFT program is COAMFTE accredited and the Counseling program is CACREP accredited. As a student in the Counseling program, you would have the opportunity to work directly with adults and children from a diverse population to gain the education and training for professional licensure upon graduation. The curriculum is self-paced and clinical training placements are guided by the program with approved sites available to students. 

The curriculum consists of 60 credit hours, with the ability for students to specialize in child and adolescent counseling. The program costs around $12,000 per quarter, but the institution offers financial aid and loan options along with the ability to engage in academic research and graduate assistantships. The program is accommodating of working professionals who are employed full-time alongside pursuing an education.

19. Bradley University

Bradley University offers Master of Arts degrees in Professional School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling both of which are offered online. Both programs prepare students for professional licensure, and students are supported in completing their practicum requirements locally. 

Both programs consist of a 60-credit-hour curriculum including internships and practicum training. The courses are taken completely online, which offers students the ability to maintain a flexible schedule. Fees are typically around $990 per credit hour however students receive a significant tuition reduction on selective courses that can cover up to 100%. Scholarships are available to almost all students, along with renewable assistantships as students proceed in the program.

20. Adams State University

Adams State University offers a Master of Arts degree and a Ph.D. in Counselor Education. Both programs are CACREP accredited. The Master of Arts degree is a 60-credit-hour program that meets the academic and training requirements to qualify for professional licensure in Colorado. The MA degree offers two areas of emphasis including Clinical Mental Health and School Counseling. Students take courses completely online with the requirement to attend a week-long lab twice in the program. The Ph.D. program is also offered online and requires four one-week summer residencies. 

The cost of attendance is $435 per credit hour for the MA program and $575 for the Ph.D. program. 91% of full-time students receive financial aid, with over 100 scholarships offered yearly. Additionally, full-time students exceeding 12 credit hours, could take up to 16 credits with no additional cost. Students are provided with additional grants, scholarships, loans, and special programs to offset the cost of attendance.

Featured Masters in Counseling Programs Offered Online


Adams State University

American Counseling Association

American Association of Christian Counselors

Bellevue University

Bradley University

Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Fort Hays College

East Carolina University

Fort Hays College

Freed- Hardeman University

Lindsey Wilson College

Malone University

Midwestern State University

North Carolina State University

Northwestern University

Southern New Hampshire University

The Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

The University of the Cumberlands

University of Alaska Fairbanks

University of Concordia

Walden University

Winston-Salem State University