At the top of the academic tier, doctorate degrees in counseling serve as one of the most respected and sought-after degrees in the country. So, naturally, we came up with a list of the best online Doctorates in Counseling, for those who want to take on their education from the comforts of home.
Doctorate in counseling programs focuses on cutting-edge counseling practices and psychology research to effectively help a variety of populations. Each program may vary; some are practice-focused, others are academic-focused, and some are a blend of the two. A doctoral degree in counseling prepares students for clinical, academic, and leadership roles in a variety of professional settings.
The growing demand for trained counselors and therapists is evident all over the world. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that about 63,300 counseling jobs will be created between 2016 and 2026. For individuals who are already in counseling and want to become respected leaders in the field, online doctorate degrees in counseling are a great option to pursue.
What are the Best Doctorate in Counseling Degrees?
We know that you have educational goals that you’re itching to pursue, but you may not know where to start. The editors of College Rank utilize a unique ranking methodology based on the following three aspects:
- 40% Potential Salary After Graduation: Average mid-career salary of school alumni
- 30% Institutional Accreditation: Regional and national accreditation
- 30% Overall Degree Affordability: Average cost of undergraduate and graduate tuition per school
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Oregon State University
Average Net Price
Oregon State University, located in Corvallis, Oregon, offers over 70 programs for undergraduate and graduate degrees. Their online degrees have ranked in the top ten in the nation for five straight years in a row by the U.S. News and World Report.
OSU’s Ph.D. in counseling prepares students to work as advanced practitioners, clinical administrators, and professors of counseling in both clinical and academic settings. CACREP-accredited, this advanced degree aims to prepare students to become leaders and activists for innovative change in their workplaces. This program is 150 hours, but 56 hours may be transferred from the student’s master’s degree.
To qualify for OSU’s Ph.D. in counseling, students need a master’s degree in counseling or a related field and must have completed a 600-hour clinical internship. A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required for both undergraduate and graduate work. In addition, potential students need three letters of recommendation, including one from a recent or current clinical supervisor and a writing sample.
While OSU’s Ph.D. in counseling is primarily online, this program requires students to meet for a face-to-face class twice each quarter for the first two years of the program at the downtown Portland classroom building. Once a student’s application is accepted, he or she will be assigned a cohort of other Ph.D. counseling students to work closely with during the program’s length. This program can be completed in three years, but most students finish in four years.
University of West Georgia
Average Net Price
Open since 1906, The University of West Georgia is the state’s sixth-largest university, offering 87 fields of study from bachelor’s degrees to doctoral degrees. The University of West Georgia offers an Ed.D. in professional counseling and supervision online.
This advanced degree is geared towards counseling practitioners who want to build their practices while expanding skills in evaluation, advocacy, and leadership
The Ed.D. program begins each summer with a cohort of 12 to 15 students. A two-and-a-half-day orientation is required for new students, located on the main campus of UWG in Carrollton, Georgia. However, after the orientation, all coursework, including the required dissertation, will be exclusively online.
Two doctoral-level courses are offered each term, and depending on the student’s previous education, he or she may finish this degree in as little as two years to as many as four years. If a student has an Ed.S. before admission, he or she will need 39 credits to achieve the Ed.D. counseling degree, whereas if a student does not have an Ed.S., he or she will need 60 credits to achieve the Ed.D.
To be eligible for the Ed.D. in professional counseling and supervision, candidates need to be licensed or licensable in counseling or a related field. They need a master’s degree in counseling or a related field and a minimum of three years of counseling experience. They need GRE scores from within the past five years.
Average Net Price
Liberty University, located in Lynchburg, Virginia, offers an online Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision. This advanced degree helps equip students with knowledge and skills in advanced counseling, counselor education, supervision, leadership and advocacy, and research and scholarship.
The courses integrate a biblical worldview into the curriculum while preparing students to effectively serve a diverse culture and population.
This degree, which is 60 credit hours, takes approximately four years to complete. It is intensives-based, meaning that students will attend a one-week portion where they meet with faculty members and other students in the program. It is divided into a 3-credit hour practicum, a 9-credit hour internship, and a 9-credit hour dissertation.
To apply for the Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision, students will need an accredited master’s degree in counseling or a related field with a GPA of 3.25 or above. The program is a post-licensure track, which means students will need to have an LPC licensure or be on track to receive one to graduate.
Students also need at least one year of clinical counseling experience, either MAT or GRE scores, proof of English proficiency, and two letters of recommendation from either academic or professional contacts. In addition, students need to submit a vignette, which is an APA-formatted research paper, 4-5 pages in length, on a topic related to clinical mental health counseling.
$730-$975 per credit
Capella University is another university that offers a Ph.D. in Counseling Education and Supervision online. This program offers real-world application of theories, along with hands-on experience during the internship.
The goal of this Ph.D. is to build the student’s skills in counseling, teaching, research, supervision, and advocacy. Those who graduate with this Ph.D. could explore careers such as a counseling educator or supervisor.
CU uses GuidedPath, which is a structured learning format online with an active peer community and faculty guidance. A factor that sets Capella apart in their Ph.D. program is that it offers the opportunity for students to start working on their dissertations early. They provide resources, including academic advisors and writing coaches, to closely work with the student on this project as early as the first year, rather than waiting until the last year as many other programs do.
To be eligible for CU’s Ph.D. in Counseling Education and Supervision, students need a master’s degree from a CACREP-accredited University or institution and a minimum GPA of 3.25 or higher on all previous degrees. Note that the GRE and GMAT are not required for admission into CU.
Average Net Price
Mississippi College, a Christian University, offers a Doctor of Professional Counseling (DPC) online that prepares counselors for leadership in clinical specialization in a variety of educational and healthcare settings.
The DPC requires a minimum of 72 hours beyond an M.S. in marriage and family counseling, clinical mental health counseling, or another related professional degree.
The Doctor of Professional Counseling degree program includes courses in theory, research, and practice and requires students to be enrolled continuously and year-round once they have been admitted.
The doctoral program consists of 27 credit hours of core classes, 12 credit hours of application courses, 12 credit hours of specialization courses, 15 credit hours of clinical courses, and 6 hours of concluding courses. This program is offered both online and in traditional classroom formats.
The Doctor of Professional Counseling degree program is accredited by SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) but is not accredited by CACREP.
To qualify for MC’s DPC, students will need two years of experience in the counseling field, a minimum of 3.25 GPA on all graduate-level work, three letters of recommendation, and an essay of 800 words describing personal and professional goals for obtaining the Doctor of Professional Counseling degree. In addition, potential students need to either already have an LPC or be eligible to obtain one. Note that all application material must be sent in the mail to Mississippi College rather than submitted online.
Frequently Asked Questions
A PhD in counseling is worth it on a number of fronts. It’s a terminal degree that allows you to gain highly advanced and specific knowledge and skills. You can then use this knowledge and skills to help your clients improve their mental well-being. A PhD in counseling also opens more career possibilities for you. In addition to working as a counselor, you might pursue consulting jobs, a teaching position at a university, or conduct research in the mental health space. You can also earn more money with a PhD.
The Education Data Initiative notes that the average doctoral degree costs nearly $151,000. However, it also reports that the average PhD program is just under $107,000 – still expensive, but far less than the average. How much you pay for your doctorate in counseling depends on a wide range of factors. These include the length of the program, the school you attend, and the amount of financial assistance you receive.
Online doctoral counseling programs usually focus on one of three areas: academia, administration, or clinical practice. These programs provide the same quality of education that traditional programs provide but in a much more flexible format. The coursework for a doctorate in counseling degree can vary, but some of the common core classes include statistical methods, neuroscience, and personality assessment. Social psychology, counseling ethics, and counseling various populations like children or older adults are also common. Practica, internships, and other experiential learning activities are typically required as well. Each university and program differs, but common qualifications to obtain a doctorate in counseling are a master’s degree in a related field, such as counseling or psychology, and previous counseling experience.
A PhD in counseling can take anywhere from three to five years and sometimes more, depending on the program’s focus. For example, a program in clinical practice usually takes five or more years because of the requirement to complete a lengthy internship. This may not be the case for an administrative-focused or academic-focused counseling PhD, both of which tend to be around three to four years. The amount of time you need to complete the program depends on the program’s requirements, your level of education prior to starting the program, and the course load you take each year.
Many online doctorates in counseling are accredited, though some are not. Enrolling in an accredited program is important because you’re assured of a high-quality education that meets accepted standards in the industry. Some internship sites and employers require you to be part of an accredited counseling program. Additionally, many states require you to graduate from an accredited counseling doctoral program to be eligible for licensure. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is the gold standard of counseling accreditation.
You can apply your expertise as a counseling PhD graduate in many areas. Clinical practice is perhaps the most common career path. Doctoral-level counselors work in many different settings, including community mental health centers, residential mental health treatment centers, and private practice. You can further specialize by working with specific populations, such as children, adolescents, or families, to name a few.
Some PhD-level counselors choose to work in academics. This is an especially attractive option for people who have experience working as master’s-level counselors, as that practical, real-world experience can help you provide improved training to your students. Less common is for PhD counseling graduates is to conduct research. Usually, mental health research is more common for graduates of PhD programs in psychology, but it could be an option if you have the appropriate doctoral-level training.
Yet another career option is to work in a clinical supervisory role. You might oversee a staff of counselors at a mental health facility, or you might take on an administrative role in a hospital and develop sound counseling practices for use with patients. These roles tend to be much less interactive with clients and more managerial in nature.
According to PayScale, the average salary for a PhD-level counselor is $87,000. However, the pay range is far wider, from the mid-$50,000s to well into the six figures. How much you make as a counselor depends largely on your field. Counselors in clinical settings tend to earn more than those in academics. More specifically, counselors in private practice often earn a higher salary than those working in other clinical settings, like a community mental health center. Your areas of specialization, the geographic area where you work, and your level of counseling experience can also affect your salary.
A PhD in counseling does not make you a psychologist. To be a psychologist, you need a PhD or PsyD in psychology. Though counselors and psychologists are closely related professionals, their training is different, and the types of jobs they can pursue after completing their degrees vary as well. This is because psychology tends to explore more serious mental health issues in a long-term therapeutic situation, while counseling tends to address day-to-day mental health issues in a short-term counseling situation.