Alabama 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.

Doctorate in Counseling and Therapy Degree program information

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
  • Psychotherapy
  • 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

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