United States Doctorate in Counseling Programs & Schools
Doctorate in Counseling Programs focus on cutting-edge counseling and psychology research, discussing how those findings might be applied to help different types of patients. How exactly each program goes about this may vary. Some counseling doctoral programs are practice-focused, meaning they prioritize putting research into action in the field. Others may be more scholarly, helping students to get involved with advancing counseling research to inform that practice. As a result, an array of unique program options may be available to align with different interests and career goals. Programs may be offered in campus graduate school settings, online, or even in blended programs.
Counseling doctoral programs may require 3 to 5 years of full time study, though this timeline may vary by student and program. To apply, students generally usually need to hold a master's degree in counseling or a related field. In some programs, a yearlong residency or internship is also required for hands-on experience. Earning a doctorate degree in counseling often requires a final project, usually in the form of either a dissertation or capstone.
Counseling doctoral programs tend not to be designed to support the requirements for initial licensure. That is because most states issue licenses to qualifying candidates at the masters level. As a result, most doctoral program students already hold relevant professional credentials. However, professionals usually have to maintain their license through continuing education each year, and doctoral programs in counseling may apply toward that requirement.
Some students may also prefer to look at CACREP accredited programs. To find out about a program’s accreditation status, reach out to the school in question. For more information about CACREP accreditation and what it entails, ask the school or the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs.
FUN FACT: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall, candidates with a doctoral or education specialist degree and post-doctoral work experience will have the best job opportunities in clinical, counseling, or school psychology positions. Candidates with a master’s degree will face competition for most positions, and many of them will find jobs with alternative titles, as nearly all states restrict the use of the title “psychologist” to Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree holdersi
Doctorate in Counseling Program Formats:
While it might be tempting to assume all counseling doctoral programs are alike, at least in terms of format. However, with advances in technology, doctoral candidates may have a variety of options out there to consider, with varying methods of course delivery, program requirements, and scheduling accommodations. While each program may have unique elements, they might be broken down into three basic categories, as described below.
- Online Doctoral Degrees in Counseling: Because these programs are accessible from your own computer or internet-enabled device (provided that it meets the requirements), online counseling programs are uniquely flexible. Online doctorate in counseling programs may be especially attractive to professionals looking to complete their doctorate while remaining committed to their ongoing professional practice.
- Campus Based Counseling Doctoral Programs: Whether you choose a flexible campus program in your community, or to relocate and study full time in a new city, earning your counseling doctorate on campus may carry with it some unique advantages. This includes the resources and opportunities on campus, like research support, laboratory access, and other hands-on experience.
- Hybrid Doctorate in Counseling Programs: Can’t decide whether online or campus learning is the better option for you? Hybrid programs, also known as partially online or blended programs, could offer the compromise you’re looking for. These programs offer the flexibility of online study with the perks of associated with a physical graduate school, allowing students to take advantage of both.
PhD Counseling Potential Curriculum
The curriculum you follow when working toward your doctorate in counseling could be influenced by several factors, including the school and program you choose, the type of program, and areas of concentration. Typically, you’d follow a core set of psychology and counseling courses, with additional course requirements reflecting your concentration area (if any), and potentially electives.
Below are some examples of the types of courses you might attend.
- Psychological Assessment
- Research methodology
- Group dynamics
- Counseling Research Methods and Designs
- Professional Ethics
In addition to courses like the examples above, you’re likely to see a few other requirements. If you chose a research-focused doctoral program, for example, your program would probably culminate in a dissertation. This would typically be a lengthy original research project, guided by a faculty mentor. If your program is more practical, you might see practicum or internship requirements or need to complete a capstone.
Different Types of Counseling Doctoral Programs
Several different types of counseling doctorates may be offered, each one designed to accommodate different areas of expertise, professional roles, or approaches. Understanding the similarities and differences could be useful in choosing programs that align with your interests and experience. Below, we’ve compiled several examples of several counseling doctorate degree types you may consider.
- PhD in Counseling: One of the more frequently offered degree types, counseling PhD programs often focus on conducting, writing and analyzing new and influential research in counseling and psychology. These degree types may be applicable in scholarly or research-related roles, in leadership and practice.
- Counseling Psy D Programs: Doctor of Psychology in Counseling programs are typically designed to support clinical practice. Often, students in these programs have experience in counseling private practice settings or similar roles, and may either hold or be working toward counseling psychologist licensure. PsyD counseling psychology programs emphasize scientific rigor and practical application of research findings to help patients.
- Counseling EdD Programs: Offered less frequently than some other degree types, a Doctor of Education in Counseling or Counseling Psychology could be applicable in education administration contexts. Some programs may help students prepare for licensure, while other non-licensure programs may also be available. These programs a minimum of 60 graduate semester credit hours and a 1,200-hour supervised internship.
- PhD in Counselor Education: Doctorate in counselor education programs may emphasize leadership and professional development in counseling. Often, they’re designed to prepare students to oversee other counselors in leadership and professional education roles.
- Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy: The DMFT is a concentration-specific doctorate, designed for counselors who want to work with couples and families. These tend to be practice-oriented, emphasizing application of academic concepts to help patients and their families. Some programs may also support students seeking MFT licensure.
Potential Career for Doctorate in Counseling Graduates ii
Psychologists and counselors could be employed in a variety of industries, including schools, government, and in clinical mental health settings like hospitals and private practice. Between 2016 and 2026, the projected job growth for psychologists is faster than average, at 14%. Counseling roles, meanwhile, are projected to grow at a rate of 20%.
Below are several examples of related career paths, along with the median pay each career reported in 2016.
- Psychologists: 2016 Median Pay $75,230
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral, and Mental Health Counselors: 2016 Median Pay $42,150
- Marriage and Family Therapists: 2016 Median Pay $49,170
The minimum education required for each position may vary by state and specific role. Licensure requirements may also vary. For more information, follow up with your selected school.
Find Doctorate in Counseling Programs
If you are looking to excel in your field, potentially have an edge over the competition, or you aspire to a career where a doctorate is required, achieving a Counseling PhD is the next step. Why not search for the right doctorate program in therapy and counseling on GradSchools.com today!
[i] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm | bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-behavioral-disorder-and-mental-health-counselors.htm | bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/marriage-and-family-therapists.htm
Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University’s Bridge to Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision program is for independently licensed or associate-level licensed mental health professionals who want to teach counseling students, supervise clini...
Walden University’s Ph.D. in Psychology program combines rigorous academics and original research so that you can build the skills and knowledge required to meet the changing needs of a diverse world. This program follows a scholar-practitioner...
- Chicago, ILChicago, IL
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Post-master's licensed counselors in the Chicago School’s Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision program have the distinct privilege of being guided by distinguished faculty who are leaders in the field of counseling.
Liberty University Online
Liberty University’s Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling (Ph.D.) — Counselor Education and Supervision online program instructs students in advanced teaching and counseling skills. This program is ideal for those interested in progra...
- Pittsburgh, PAPittsburgh, PA
Chatham University’s Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in Counseling Psychology is an integrative program which focuses on the professional and personal growth.
- Kirkland, WAKirkland, WA
Saybrook’s online hybrid clinical psychology programs are specifically focused on the knowledge, experience, and practical skills you will need to directly enter professional practice.
- Auburn, ALAuburn, AL
- Pocatello, IDPocatello, ID
Idaho State University
The Department of Counseling offers CACREP-accredited master's degrees in Marital, Couple, and Family Counseling, Mental Health Counseling, School Counseling, and Student Affairs Counseling. In addition, we offer a specialist degree in Counseling and a...
- Philadelphia, PAPhiladelphia, PA
Holy Family University
Our Doctor of Psychology in Counseling Psychology program is committed to a scientist-practitioner model espousing evidenced-based practice, including a developmental, strength-based, mind-body approach to treatment/wellness...
- Ames, IAAmes, IA
Iowa State University
The APA accredited doctoral program in counseling psychology at Iowa State University provides broad-based education and training in the science and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. It is appropriate for students with academic or applied career...
- Eugene, OREugene, OR
University of Oregon
Counseling Psychology Program utilizes an ecological model of training within a scientist-practitioner framework.
- Provo, UTProvo, UT
Brigham Young University
- Aston, PAAston, PA
Neumann equips scholars and practitioners for leadership in today's diverse world of mental health challenges.
- South Orange, NJSouth Orange, NJ
Seton Hall University
- Miami, FLMiami, FL
University of Miami
- Boca Raton, FLBoca Raton, FL
Florida Atlantic University
This specialization is to prepare graduates designed to train professional by National Accredition. The program emphasizes the development of skills in counseling.
- Boca Raton, FL
- Melbourne, FLMelbourne, FL
Florida Institute of Technology
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the design, implementation and evaluation of environmental modifications to produce socially significant improvements in behavior. ABA includes the use of direct observation, measurement and functional analysis of the...
- Pullman, WAPullman, WA
Washington State University
- Grand Forks, NDGrand Forks, ND
University of North Dakota
The program provides preparation at the Ph.D. level for employment in a variety of academic and psychological service settings, such as: community mental health agencies, college and university counseling centers, hospitals and medical centers, college...
- Columbia, ALColumbia, AL
University of Missouri - Columbia
The main focus of the counseling psychology program is the preparation of professional psychologists to work with and to study the many variations of developmental and interpersonal needs of normally-functioning individuals.
- Athens, GAAthens, GA
University of Georgia
The program is for students who have pursued careers in counseling and related educational fields is settings as diverse as schools, colleges, univers...
- Albuquerque, NMAlbuquerque, NM
University of New Mexico
International inquiries: c/o Office of International Admissions, Student Services Center, Room 140, UNM, Albuquerque, NM 87131...
- Bronx, NYBronx, NY