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||University of Missouri - St Louis||DPC|
|Bridge (Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision)||Grand Canyon University||PhD|
|Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology - Counseling Psychology||Northcentral University||N/A|
|Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies||Regent University||PhD|
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Counseling PhD Program||Degree Awarded||Potential Focuses|
|PhD in Counseling||PhD||Conducting research, analyzing research, leadership and professional and academic involvement|
|Counseling PsyD Programs||PsyD||Preparation towards clinical practice, private or in other settings|
|Counseling EdD Programs||EdD||Preparation for Counseling usage in education administration and other educational roles|
|PhD in Counselor Education||PhD||Prepare students for overseeing other counselors in leadership and professional education|
|Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy||DMFT||Preparation for clinical practice of concepts geared towards helping patients and families|
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