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Mental health counselors and other counseling professionals can’t expect to make a fortune in their careers – they’re usually more interested in doing good than getting rich – so students looking for a bachelor’s in counseling have to consider their return on investment. That’s why an affordable counseling bachelor’s degree is an important consideration.

When a person decides that he or she would like to earn a degree in counseling because it seems like a rewarding career that allows a person the opportunity to help others, the next question may be where should a person attend school to complete the degree program. A person could start with a search to find the cheapest counseling degree. A person can look for both online and in-person programs that are cost-effective. Typically, online degree programs are usually slightly less expensive than a traditional program.

Featured Schools

Methodology: Ranking the Most Affordable Counseling Degrees

The Bachelor’s Degree Center ranking of the most affordable counseling degree programs is arranged by tuition rate, according to current IPEDS data. However, students want to know they will see a return on their investment, so BDC editors feature only accredited, trustworthy institutions that will have a real career impact.

1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The School of Education (SOE) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers an interdisciplinary counseling degree in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) that is recognized as a pre-professional major for those who wish to work in social work, health services, or nonprofits, among others. Chapel Hill’s undergraduate degree program is recognized among the state’s most affordable counseling degrees. Students enrolled in this major must complete 45 semester credits. The degree offers concentrations in Family & Child Health and Family Life Education.

UNC, located in Chapel Hill, is considered a public ivy league institution of higher education that was established in 1789. The university serves more than 29,800 students online and on its 70+ ace campus.

What We Like: The University of North Carolina holds claim to be the only higher learning institution to graduate students during the 18th century.

Degree: Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Human Development and Family Studies

2. Eastern Kentucky University

The College of Letters, Arts & Social Sciences at Eastern Kentucky University’s offers a variety of baccalaureate psychology degree programs that are among Kentucky’s most affordable counseling degrees. EKU’s undergraduate degree in psychology offers eight available concentrations online and on-campus – brain/cognitive science, developmental disabilities, child/family, forensic psychology, workplace psychology, and rehabilitation by psychology. Students graduate from Eastern Kentucky’s undergraduate degree in psychology and enter the workforce as case managers, mental health associates, or program assistants at community health providers. Students must complete 120 semester credits to meet program requirements.

Eastern Kentucky University (Eastern Kentucky) was established as a public institution of higher education in 1874. The school operates multiple campuses and a distance learning platform, which together serve more than 15,300 students.

What We Like: Eastern Kentucky University ranks among the top colleges for veterans, according to US News.

Degree: many choices w/ focuses on counseling addiction

Eastern Kentucky University Counseling

3. University of North Dakota

The University of North Dakota’s Department of Counseling Psychology & Community Services offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services that requires the completion of 120 semester credits to graduate. These available most affordable counseling degrees from the University of North Dakota are available as online or on-campus programs. Coursework for North Dakota’s includes contemporary issues in rehabilitation, helping skill for community service, and inclusion in recreational settings, among others.

The University of North Dakota (UND) was, prior to its statehood, founded in 1883. It is North Dakota’s oldest higher learning institution. More than 13,200 students attend classes offered on-campus and online by North Dakota.

What We Like: The men’s ice hockey team is the proud winner of more than 7 national ice hockey championships.

Degree: Rehabilitation and Human Services B.S.

University of North Dakota Rehabilitation and Human Services B.S.

4. Oregon Institute of Technology

Oregon Institute of Technology offers a BS in Applied Psychology that is available on both campuses as well as their Oregon Institute of Technology’s distance learning platform. Students graduate from Oregon IT’s most affordable counseling degrees to find rewarding careers as a treatment specialist, a mental health technician, research scientist, special ed teacher, or school counselor, among others. Classes for this bachelor’s degree include human growth & development, social psychology, abnormal psychology, cognitive psychology, plus an applied externship experience, among others.

Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon IT) is a polytechnic higher learning institution that was established in 1947. The school operates dual campuses that serve more than 5,000 students.

What We Like: Most students enrolled in the Oregon Institute of Technology are required to complete externships or practicums prior to graduation.

Degree: Applied Psychology BS

Oregon Institute of Technology BS in Applied Psychology

5. Paine College

Paine College offers a BS in Psychology that has an academic emphasis in counseling that is ranked among Georgia’s most affordable counseling degrees. Students enrolled in Paine College’s affordable counseling degree program prepare students for careers in the worlds of academia, research, clinical work, or professional employment. Students explore the field of psychology through traditional classroom learning and lab experiences to simulate real-world applications.

Paine College (Paine) is a recognized HBCU higher learning institution that was established by the United Methodist Church in 1882. The school’s 60+ acre campus in Augusta is home to more than 450 students.

What We Like: Parts of the campus at Paine College are registered as national historic sites due to its education and cultural contributions to the African American heritage in the area.

Degree: Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology – Counseling Emphasis

Paine College BS in Psychology

6. Washington Adventist University

Washington Adventist University offers a BS in Counseling Psychology that requires psychology majors to complete 36 semester credits from the psychology core curriculum. Washington Adventist University’s most affordable counseling degrees include coursework in developmental psychology, social psychology, stress management, learning & motivation, group counseling, and psychological testing, plus a relevant practicum, to name a few. Students graduate prepared to enter the psychology workforce as guidance counselors, secondary high school teachers, or mental health technicians, to name a few.

Washington Adventist University (Washington Adventist) was established as a private institution of higher education/seminary that was established in 1904. The university’s campus in suburban Takoma Park is home to more than 1,300 students.

What We Like: Students attending classes at Washington Adventist hail from more than 35 states and 45 countries.

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Counseling Psychology

Washington Adventist University BS in Counseling Psychology

7. Mid-Atlantic Christian University

Mid-Atlantic Christian University offers two of North Carolina’s most affordable counseling degrees with its Bachelor of Science (BS) degree program or its Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree program in Counseling and Psychology Major. Both of these baccalaureate counseling degrees offered by MACU required the completion of 120 semester credits to meet program requirements. Classes for these counseling degrees include counseling theories, ethics & legal issues for counselors, human sexuality, developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, and research methods, to name a few.

Mid-Atlantic Christian University (Mid-Atlantic Christian) was established by the Churches of Christ as a bible college in 1948. The school’s campus serves more than 200 students on its eastern North Carolina, Elizabeth City campus.

What We Like: When Eastern Christian College closed in the early 2000s, MACU absorbed its holdings and records.

Degree: Counseling and Psychology Major – BA or BS

Mid-Atlantic Christian University Counseling and Psychology Major – BA or BS

8. Alaska Pacific University

Alaska Pacific University’s Institute of Health & Wellness (Alaska Pacific) offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Counseling Psychology that prepares graduates for careers as program supervisors, behavioral health technicians, chemical dependency counselors, or for further education in a master’s degree program in psychology. Students enrolled in Alaska Pacific University’s most affordable counseling degrees can opt for an academic concentration in mindfulness, positive psychology, or community psychology & sustainability, which all required internships and practicums to allow students to apply theoretical knowledge. Students enrolled in this undergraduate counseling program have the option to apply coursework to professional certifications – BHA (Behavioral Health Aide), BHC (Behavioral Health), or CDC (Chemical Dependency Certification).

Alaska Pacific University (Alaska Pacific) was established by the Methodist Church as a higher learning institution in 1957. The school’s urban campus in Anchorage is home to more than 475 students.

What We Like: Alaska Pacific University maintains, through its partnership with the Alaska Native Tribal Consortium, the largest tribal health programs in the nation.

Degree: Counseling Psychology (B.A.)

Alaska Pacific University Counseling Psychology B.A.

9. Clarks Summit University

Clarks Summit University offers a BS in Counseling that is recognized among the best small college for the most affordable counseling degrees. Clarks Summit University offers an accelerated BS and MS psychology option for students interested in earning both degrees in only five years. Classes for this affordable counseling degree include ethics and professionalism, abnormal psychology, adult development, theories in counseling, physiological psychology, and child/adolescent development, to name a few. Clarks Summit offers up to 32 semester credits towards previous experience learned through work or other classes.

Clarks Summit University (CSU) was established as a Baptist bible college in 1932. The school’s suburban campus near Scranton, Pa, serves more than 500 students.

What We Like: Clarks Summit University offers academic degree programs at the bachelors, masters, and doctorate level, as well as offering high school students the opportunity to dual enroll and earn college credits.

Degree: BS in Counseling

Clarks Summit University BS in Counseling

10. Oak Hills Christian College

Oak Hills Christian College offers a BS in Applied Psychology that requires degree candidates to complete 120 semester units and a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Addictions Counseling that requires degree candidates to complete 126 semester units. Oak Hills Christian College’s most affordable counseling degrees prepare students for counseling work in schools, churches, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, group homes, or shelters, among others. Coursework for these counseling bachelor’s degree programs includes human sexuality, social psychology, professional ethics, family counseling, and psychological measurement & testing, to name a few.

Oak Hills Christian College (Oak Hills CC) was established as a bible college in 1927. The school operates as an interdenominational Protestant school with more than 100 students.

What We Like: Oak Hills Christian College opened a resident institution of higher education two decades after the initial school was founded.

Degree: Bachelor’s in Applied Psychology and Addictions Counseling

Oak Hills Christian College BS in Applied Psychology and Addictions Counseling

How Do I Save Money on a Counseling Degree?

Besides an affordable counseling degree, a person could also look into the option of free online counseling classes. Although a person won’t be able to complete the entire degree for free, it’s possible to earn a few credits for free that can be transferred to earn a complete degree.

A person should also look into grants and scholarships. Grants and scholarships are both free funding to go toward your tuition. An individual receives the funding to complete the program. The person must finish his or her degree, or he or she will need to pay back the funding. Grants and scholarships are available through colleges, and a person may also fund them from the state and federal government when he or she fills out his or her financial information sheet for college. Private scholarships and grants also exist, and a person can find these by performing an internet search.

Will a Certification Help My Career?

Anytime a person takes the initiative to earn a certification, complete a course, or advance in any way, it can help his or her career. It can give a person the opportunity to take on roles that may not have been available without the certification. It can allow a person to specialize in a certain area of counseling. That’s why a person will need to search for types of counseling certifications. He or she may also want to research to see which types are the most useful and can offer more room for advancement. One example is family counseling certificate programs. Family counseling certificate programs allow a person to specialize in providing counseling to spouses along with their children. Additionally, a person can benefit the people he or she sees as a counselor by having additional resources to help.

A person could also take the initiative to earn the counselor certification to become a national certified counselor. This demonstrates that a person took the initiative to advance,. Becoming a national certified counselor may be required by employers.

With a counselor certification, a person may be able to take on positions that he or she may not have been qualified for in the past. It’s more likely that a person can take on a leadership role with a counselor certification, in particular, with certain types of certifications.

The first step in how to get a counseling certification is to look at the different types of counseling certifications. A person should compare the different types of counselor certifications and determine which one seems like it would be most beneficial. Then, a person needs to complete the necessary education for the program. Finally, the last part of how to get a counseling certification entails a person taking a test to demonstrate his or her knowledge. A person may do this to become a national certified school counselor or in various other types of counselor certifications including in specialty counseling certifications.

As previously mentioned, a person wants to think about the types of counselor certifications that will most benefit his or her career in terms of what he or she wants to do in life. Additionally, a person should consider what types of counselor jobs are available in his or her area as well as how much do people with a specialty counseling certification make. It’s also vital to become a national certified school counselor because of all the positions available and the fact that a person gets to help students find their way in school and life.

How Much Can I Make as a Counselor?

Salaries of counselors vary based on their specialties. Salaries of counselors also vary based on a person’s geographical location and the facility the person works for. The average salary of a school counselor varies based on location and the school district. The salary of a school counselor also varies based on the level a person works at, such as middle school or high school as well as the size of the school. Private vs. public schooling determines the salary of a school counselor as well. On average though, the salary of a school counselor is $50,742 per year.

A person may also want to look into the other salaries of counselors besides school counselor salaries. The counselor salaries of a marriage or family counselor is close to the same. In fact, a person will usually make around $51,395 as a marriage or family counselor. A person may wonder how much do marriage counselors make per hour. Generally, how much do marriage counselors make an hour is around $24.71. Often, a person will need a certification to obtain a role, so the certified counselor salary is usually around the same. However, a person may be able to make slightly more for a certified counselor salary.

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