Published June 2016
Welcome to our ranking of the seven top master’s degrees in counseling in Illinois.
If you’re thinking about earning your master’s or Ph.D. in counseling and you live in Illinois (or you would like to) take a look at these top-ranked schools. From the bustling metropolis of Chicago to the small town of Macomb, Illinois is overflowing with academic opportunities for aspiring counselors. The state is one of the few to break double-digits in its top value ranking (in other words, to include 10 or more eligible colleges and universities), which requires schools to earn above a certain score in our methodology in order to be included. This is good news not just for Illinois residents, but anyone in the Midwest who wants to earn a high quality counselor education for a low price.
Click here to see the methodology we used for this best master’s in counseling degree ranking.
If you want to practice as a counselor, you need licensure; before that, you need a degree. Chicago State University does far more than merely qualify students to sit for their counseling licensure examinations, however. With CACREP accreditation for both its School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling master’s programs, there can be little doubt about the quality of CSU’s counseling faculty and curriculum. As an urban-oriented department, students earning either of these top master’s degrees in counseling are trained in city-specific counseling methods, including the American School Counseling Association (ASCA) Model for counseling interventions.
Tuition and Fees: $10,786/yr
Although the Illinois Institute of Technology is probably better known for its engineering and design departments, the Lewis College of Human Sciences has rightfully distinguished itself by offering some of the best counseling master’s degrees in Illinois. Of particular note are IIT’s M.S. programs in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling, which are not only CACREP-accredited, but offer research opportunities; professional development and job placement resources; and practical experience in individual and group counseling. Through internships and practicums in local mental health and counseling centers and even medical hospitals, students frequently go on to careers in local mainstays such as the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Ada S. McKinley Community Services, and the Anixter Center.
Tuition and Fees: $25,247/yr
Bradley University is noted for its rigorous and comprehensive counseling core, which has earned CACREP accreditation for both its School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling master’s programs. This 51-credit sequence lays the foundation for Bradley’s counseling curriculum, and spans human development, diversity training, psychopharmacology, and of course the latest in youth and adult counseling methodologies. Although the coursework for these two top graduate degrees in counseling diverge into specializations at the conclusion of this sequence, counseling fundamentals are thoroughly reinforced through required internships at local schools, hospitals, and mental health facilities.
Tuition and Fees: $15,190/yr
It is said that Christ calls on his followers to not only do no harm, but to love compassionately as well. With the spirit of God behind you, counseling is a promising way to share his love and enjoy a fulfilling career at the same time. Lincoln Christian University’s M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling stands apart from even the best counseling graduate degrees in Illinois by bolstering an intense academic experience with the Christian perspective on life. Therefore, not only does LCU prepare students for the National Counselor’s Exam (NCE) and State Licensure, it also prepares them to follow in the path of the Lord.
Tuition and Fees: $7,524/yr
Southern Illinois University’s impressive array of accredited master’s in counseling degrees almost defies description. From the M.S.Ed. in School Counseling; Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling; and Clinical Mental Health Counseling to a doctoral program in Counselor Education and Supervision, SIU’s counseling program caters to advanced human services professionals as well as those seeking licensure for the first time. Master’s students are equipped with the counseling skills and ethical and diversity training needed to succeed in a variety of communities and organizations, while PhD candidates focus on developing teaching and research experience to launch their academic careers.
Tuition and Fees: $21,519/yr
With thirty-five years of experience training and educating counselors, Northeastern Illinois University has developed a reputation as the place to earn one of the best master’s degrees in counseling in Illinois. NEIU’s impressive selection of CACREP-accredited graduate programs in Family Counseling, School Counseling, and Clinical Mental Health Counseling affords students the opportunity to specialize in counseling practices as diverse as they are rewarding. In fact, with counseling jobs growing at an explosive rate (according to the U.S. Department of Labor) around the country, NEIU’s programs make an attractive affordable alternative to psychiatry and psychology programs.
Tuition and Fees: $10,139/yr
With full- and part-time classes available at satellite campuses in Rockford, Naperville, and Hoffman Estates, Northern Illinois University’s Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education offers some of the most comprehensive and convenient counseling graduate degrees in Illinois. NIU’s accelerated, CACREP-accredited programs are comprised of a core counseling curriculum, diverse specialization electives, and nine semester hours of supervised practicums and internships that round out theoretical coursework with practical experience. This dual emphasis on rigor and flexibility makes NIU a great choice for students from a variety of locations and backgrounds.
Tuition and Fees: $16,450/yr
As the state of Illinois’ first and only public liberal arts college, the University of Illinois Springfield is often singled out for offering world-class education at a highly competitive price. UIS’s affordable counseling graduate degree programs are no exception. In addition to the small class sizes, robust student resources, and close faculty attention that come with the liberal arts package, the counseling department at UIS requires three stages of practical experience for all students in every degree program. Combining supervised clinic visits, practica, and internships, UIS guarantees that all counseling students leave the program with a resume as impressive as their degree.
Tuition and Fees: $14,446/yr
A true Christian helps others whenever he or she can; why not apply those principles towards the vocation of counseling? Concordia University of Chicago’s faith-based approach to counseling is just the first item in a long list of advantages this school offers to Christian students. Combined with their CACREP-accreditation, robust distance education platform, and close-knit cohort program, it’s easy to see how Concordia earned such a high counseling master’s degree ranking. Concordia’s reputation has earned them consistent internship placement at prestigious Chicago institutions like Advocate Hospice, the Auburn Counseling Center, Helping Hand Center, and the Interim Housing Program for Women.
Tuition and Fees: $14,688/yr
Located in the Quad Cities, Western Illinois University is an intellectual oasis amidst miles of cornfields in every direction. WIU’s affordable counseling graduate degrees attract students from around the Midwest who are eager to get their start in one of the fastest growing sectors of healthcare. Where CACREP accreditation all but guarantees the educational value of WIU’s master’s programs in School and Community Counseling, an ample selection of merit- and need-based scholarships—such as the Mary Cay Talbott Memorial and Alumni Scholarships—help students finance this already extremely affordable program.
Tuition and Fees: $13,865/yr
This concludes our ranking of the best graduate degrees in counseling in Illinois.