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PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

Transfer credits, next start date, mentor students with a phd in counseling – counselor education and supervision.

Do you want to use your counseling experience to aid the next generation of counselors in helping more people heal and grow? With a Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision (PhD), you can learn how to help students blend theory and praxis so they can help clients who are in need. Whether your goal is to become an educator or to further develop your clinical skills with new tools, our PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision is the perfect fit to help you meet your goals.

What is Counselor Education and Supervision?

Counselor education and supervision is the discipline of creating excellent programs to teach students to be effective counselors. This practice requires advanced expertise in the practice of counseling — through applying a comprehensive mastery of psychology and holistic mental health treatment. A PhD in Counseling focuses on counselor education and supervision. This can help prepare you for academic roles with counseling programs that teach and nurture new counseling students.

The mission of Liberty University’s Department of Counselor Education and Family Studies is to develop ethically and spiritually aware mental health counselors and counselor educators. Liberty seeks to foster experts in the field who demonstrate the values, knowledge, skills, and personal disposition to promote the mental health and holistic wellness of their clients. Through Liberty’s PhD in Counselor Education online program, you can impart what you have learned to others and turn knowledge into wisdom.

*Some exclusions apply. Please refer to our exclusions page for more information.

Why Choose Liberty’s Online Doctorate in Counseling?

After gaining experience in the field of counseling, you can be more equipped to apply theory to real-world situations with clients who need your help. As students enter the field of counseling for the first time, your experience could be a valuable tool to help them meet challenges with grace and competence. With Liberty’s PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision, you can help students prepare for the field of counseling and help others.

Our PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision program is CACREP accredited and provides you with advanced training in:

  • Counseling techniques
  • Counselor education and supervision
  • Leadership and advocacy
  • Research and scholarship

This program is designed for those who want to expand their career options and receive mentoring from experts in the field of counseling and counselor education.

Our faculty possess a passion for training you in advanced clinical mental health techniques so you can make a positive difference in schools and with families. As you graduate from our  PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision program you can leave more prepared to emerge as a counseling leader in college and university counselor education departments. Whether you desire to work in public, private, or government settings, a PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision can help you achieve your goals.

Military Tuition Discount We want to help you find the doctoral degree you want — at a price you’ve earned. As a thank-you for your military service, Liberty University offers eligible current and former service members like you or your spouse multiple pathways to earn a doctoral degree for only $300/credit hour . Find out how you can take advantage of this unique opportunity as you work towards your goal of reaching the pinnacle of your profession — for less.

Our PhD in counseling online degree is taught by professionals with real-world experience in clinical and leadership settings. The PhD in Counseling program curriculum builds on your knowledge and expertise to grow critical thinking, leadership, and clinical skills. Whether you are seeking to expand in your current role or explore other areas within the counseling field, our PhD in Counseling online program is designed to equip you with the knowledge and training you need.

Common Questions

When researching online counseling PhD programs, we understand that you will have questions. Below are some common questions you may have about Liberty’s counselor education PhD.

Is a doctorate worth it?

Earning a PhD in Counseling online is an important and substantial decision — but there are many benefits to earning a PhD if you are in the counseling field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that as of 2021, professionals with doctorate degrees make an average of $17,680 more than professionals with master’s degrees.*

Apart from higher average wages, having a PhD can assist you with more earning potential outside of private practice or clinical settings than a master’s degree in counseling alone. Working with a university counseling program, you can teach at the college level and gain the benefit of additional income.

What is a PhD in Counselor Education?

A PhD in Counselor Education can help equip you to use your counseling skills and knowledge of psychology to prepare students to enter the counseling field. The purpose of this program is to bridge the gap from your hands-on experience as a counselor to teach leading approaches and methods to the next generation of counselors.

Liberty University’s counselor education and supervision PhD is designed to give you this training and expertise. Our program can help equip you to prepare students entering the counseling profession with the tools they need to help people heal and grow. You can make a positive impact in the lives of many people by helping these students develop effective counseling practices.

Why should I get a PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision?

While researching online doctoral programs, you may question why a counselor education and supervision degree would be a good fit for your career. Aside from the potential for higher income, earning a doctorate in counselor education can broaden your professional experience by letting you invest in future counselors. A PhD can allow you to enter into a new phase of your career where you can learn critical skills and pass them on to your students while helping people in new ways.

With new expertise and skills, you can also be equipped to help your patients in innovative and effective ways. Teaching and mentoring professionals in your field can be an extremely rewarding experience — and one that earning a PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision online with Liberty University can help you accomplish.

*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, at Earnings and unemployment rates by educational attainment, 2020 (viewed online June 15, 2021). Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.

What Will You Learn in the PhD  in Counseling Online Degree?

Liberty’s Counselor Education and Supervision PhD is designed to prepare you to be a mentor in a professional counseling preparation program. Our PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision courses can help equip you with knowledge and skills in important areas such as:

  • Advanced counseling
  • Counselor education
  • Supervision

Our courses integrate a biblical worldview while preparing you to effectively and ethically serve diverse cultures. To ensure that you have extensive training and preparation, our program includes advanced field experiences and internships. These hands-on opportunities can help you connect with professionals in the field and gain the experience employers seek. At Liberty, you can be confident that you are receiving a world-class education that can help sharpen and equip you as you pursue positions of added responsibility.

Through this program, demonstrate your expertise and practice as a leader in the field of counseling. You can be well-equipped to develop programs to train up new counselors that will show ethics and biblical values.

Ph.D. in Counseling Featured Courses

  • COUC 715 – Advanced Theory Application and Orientation
  • COUC 970 – Teaching Internship
  • COUC 980 – Supervision Internship
  • COUC 999 – Counseling, Research, and Leadership Internship

Highlights of Liberty University’s Online PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

  • We are recognized by multiple institutions for our academic quality, affordability, and accessibility . Our commitment to excellence also helped us rank in the top 10% of Niche.com’s best online schools in America . Earning your online PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision degree from a nonprofit university with this kind of recognition can help set you apart from others in your field.
  • Our PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision program is CACREP accredited. Most counselor education departments at colleges and universities require counselor educators to graduate from a CACREP accredited PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision program.
  • Your success is our success, which is why we are committed to providing quality academics at an affordable tuition rate. While other colleges are increasing their tuition, we have frozen tuition rates for the majority of our undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs for the past 9 years – and counting.
  • Liberty’s PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision ranks on BestCounselingDegrees.net’s list of Top CACREP-Accredited Online Doctoral Degrees in Counseling!
  • You can complete this degree in about 4 years!

Potential Career Opportunities with a PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

  • Administrator in community and public roles
  • Advanced professional counselor
  • Advanced researcher or scholar
  • College or university administrator
  • College or university professor
  • Executive administration for private and government departments

The PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision program is designed for students who wish to become counseling experts, clinical supervisors, leaders, advocates, and scholars in the field of counseling.

PhD in Counseling Degree Information

The primary aim of our PhD in counseling program is to mentor a diverse body of doctoral students who sense a calling to extend their foundational knowledge on ethical and effective counseling, counselor education, and supervision through the dissemination of research and scholarship. Graduates can be prepared to influence the counseling field in leadership positions within clinical settings, higher education, and counseling associations.

  • This program is intensives-based  with a 3-credit hour practicum , 9-credit hour internship, and 9-credit hour dissertation .
  • Core courses and electives (36 credits) have a 1-week intensive portion to ensure that students develop mentoring relationships with faculty and meaningful relationships with peers in the program. These rich and meaningful relationships enable students to grow and flourish as future leaders in the field.
  • This program falls under the School of Behavioral Sciences .
  • Download and review the  Degree Completion Plan .
  • View the Graduate Behavioral Sciences Course Guides   (login required) .

  Apply Now     Request Info

Admission Requirements for Our PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

A regionally or nationally accredited master’s in counseling or related degree* with a 3.25 or above GPA in all previous conferred graduate coursework is required for admission in good standing. Please visit our  admission requirements page  for more detailed admissions-related information.

*This program is not designed for achieving licensure, but for preparing master’s-level professional counselors (including clinical mental health, school, and marriage and family counselors) who are licensed or working toward licensure or certification in their respective counseling fields. Students need to have or be working toward licensure to graduate from this program.

All applicants must submit the following:

  • Admission application
  • Application fee**
  • Official college transcripts for all conferred bachelor’s and master’s coursework showing a master’s in counseling or related degree*
  • Recommender contact information for 2 recommenders (academic or professional contacts familiar with the student’s training and practice)
  • Letter of intent
  • Professional vita showing professional counseling licensure or 1 year of clinical counseling practice
  • Ph.D. graduate status record
  • Vignette response
  • Proof of English proficiency (for applicants whose native language is other than English)

*Students with master’s degrees in areas other than counseling will require additional graduate-level prerequisites

**There is no upfront application fee; however, a deferred $50 application fee will be assessed during Financial Check-In. This fee is waived for qualifying service members, veterans, and military spouses – documentation verifying military status is required

*Some restrictions may occur for this promotion to apply. This promotion also excludes active faculty and staff, military, Non-Degree Seeking, DGIA, Continuing Education, WSB, and Certificates.

Apply FREE This Week*

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Doctor of ministry: chaplaincy, looking for a different program.

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Counselor Education and Supervision

*Ph.D. in Counselor Education


School Counseling (M.A.Ed.) ▼

Clinical mental health counseling (m.a.ed.) ▼, counselor education & supervision doctoral program (ph.d.) ▼, soe offices and resources ▼, program overview.

The CACREP accredited  Counselor Education and Supervision Ph.D. Program  helps excellent counselors shape the future of the counseling profession through teaching, supervision, advocacy, and research. Our program strongly endorses the researcher-practitioner model. Our students receive a strong foundation in research methods that help them to design and conduct research that can be translated into practice.

Counselor Educators and Supervisors are those skilled counselors who supervise, advocate, and teach. Counselor educators support the development of counseling students through direct instruction, as faculty in colleges and universities, and also through the supervision of the work of students and new professionals. Those are central components of ensuring high quality clinical work and protecting the clients who are served by counselors. Counselor educators are also advocates who help to shape the counseling profession, and address issues of injustice and inequity in our schools and communities. Our students have rich and rewarding experiences working in the classroom side-by-side with program faculty, and through teaching and supervising counselors in training.

Our  Nationally Recognized Program Faculty  include accomplished authors and researchers in the field.

Students who complete the Ph.D. program typically seek employment as counselor educators, higher education administrators, college counselors, clinical mental health supervisors, or K-12 school counseling leaders. Our program graduates have been tremendously successful, and consistently secure appointments to the faculty in colleges and universities across the country. Moreover, they are leaders in the field, serving in elected and appointed roles, and helping to shape counseling policy and practice.

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It is incredibly rewarding to be able to participate in the development of counseling students as they become professional counselors themselves. In order to be effective in this work, counselor educators must have excellent clinical skills, and be up to date on the latest developments in the field.  As a result, counselor educators are actively engaged in research to better understand what works in teaching, supervision, and clinical work.

Research interests can be as varied as issues that may appear in a counseling session, and that research helps inform practice. Finally, because counselor educators are so involved in shaping the future of the profession through the preparation of counselors, they are also ideally situated to be advocates and leaders for the counseling profession.

This degree program is offered at the Blacksburg campus, and is an in-person program, featuring face-to-face classes. The Blacksburg campus offers students the full services of the university, including an extensive library, technology support, and graduate student support.

All doctoral students complete required courses in Counselor Education. These include Professional Counselor Education and Supervision, Clinical Supervision, Advanced Counseling Theories and Multicultural Implications, Researcher Identity Development, Researcher Development in Counselor Education, Leadership and Advocacy Issues in Counselor Education in addition to Practicum and Internships described above.

Students are also minimally required to complete 15 credits in research, including both Quantitative and Qualitative methodologies. Students also complete a cognate of 9 credits in an area of interest outside of Counselor Education. Some of these have included Race and Social Policy, Preparing the Future Professoriate, Gerontology, Human Development and Family Studies. Additionally, 30 credits of Research and Dissertation are required.

Most full time students complete the EDCO doctoral degree in 3 – 4 years. 

Questions?  Please review our Advising Manual pdf.


Doctoral students complete a clinically oriented Advanced Practicum, a Doctoral Teaching Internship, a Doctoral Supervision Internship, and other doctoral internships as appropriate for the student’s goals, including clinical, research, and advocacy options. Doctoral students in the Virginia Tech program have access to the latest instructional technologies, work closely with the faculty, and often collaborate on research, publications, and conference presentations.


This program operates on a cohort model. Members of a given cohort attend all of the same classes in the same sequence and pursue common plans of study.

The benefits of a cohort model are many. It is designed to facilitate social interaction, collaboration, and the formation of a supportive learning community.

Students in cohorts learn from and help each other with the successful completion of coursework and professional networking. They report a strong sense of community and are more likely to complete their programs of study in a timely manner.

Course Descriptions

Edco 5204 - orientation to professional counseling.

Survey of the philosophy, scope, purposes, and methods employed in a variety of counseling settings including agencies, private practice, higher education, and elementary/middle/secondary schools with emphasis on services offered and professional identity and ethical issues.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Instruction Type(s): Lecture

EDCO 5214 - Theories of Counseling & Consultation

Major theories used to understand and change behavior in a counseling setting. Emphasis is placed on the application of theoretical orientations to understanding and changing behavior of clients. Systematic integration of themes used in the counseling process, including consulting and coordination roles in school and community settings.

Prerequisite(s): EDCO 5204 (UG) OR EDCO 5204

EDCO 5224 - Counseling Techniques

Systematic integration of techniques used in the counseling process. Course provides extensive practice, learning, integrating, and practicing skills characteristic of effective helping relationships. Extensive use is made of audio and video feedback in critiquing counseling interviews and techniques.

Prerequisite(s): EDCO 5214 (UG) OR EDCO 5214

EDCO 5234 - Group Counseling

Introduction to group counseling theory and practice. Emphasis on application of group counseling principles to practical settings. In a laboratory setting, students receive feedback about their personal behavior in a group and supervised practice in the design, implementation, and evaluation of a short term group counseling project.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Instruction Type(s): Lecture

Prerequisite(s): (EDCO 5214 (UG), EDCO 5224 (UG)) OR (EDCO 5214, EDCO 5224)

EDCO 5244 - Counseling Diverse Populations

Examination and application of counseling strategies for special client populations including the exceptional; economically disadvantaged; culturally, racially and ethnically different; those with different life styles. Emphasis on the range of human characteristics.

Prerequisite(s): EDCO 5204 (UG) OR EDCO 5204

EDCO 5254 - Career Development and Information Services

Evolution of how the relationships of work and leisure have evolved into the concept of Career Development. Brief review of the major theories of Career Development and their application to the collection, evaluation, and use of career information in a variety of counseling/student development settings.

Instruction Type(s): Lecture, Online Lecture

EDCO 5264 - Appraisal In Counseling

Various individual and group tests and informal approaches to better understanding of the individual in counseling. Case study methods examined in detail. Interpretation of test data and role of counselor in testing emphasized. Designed for masters level counselor preparation. 12 additional hours of suitable courses in education, psychology, or statistics required.

Prerequisite(s): EDCO 5204 (UG), (EDRE 5404 (UG) OR EDCI 4604 (UG)) OR EDCO 5204, (EDRE 5404 OR EDCI 4604)

EDCO 5284 - Practicum: Counselor Education

Supervised experience in the practice of counseling. Didactic instruction in advanced couseling techniques and methods coupled with practice with clients in a supervised setting. Extensive feedback on counseling practice in individual sessions and group seminar. Must have liability insurance. Previous course work in the field required.

Prerequisite(s): (EDCO 5204 (UG), EDCO 5214 (UG), EDCO 5224 (UG)) OR (EDCO 5204, EDCO 5214, EDCO 5224)

EDCO 5344 - Systems Counseling

Use of systems theory in practice of counseling. Influence of systemic factors on human development, theories of family development, and counselors role to remedy institutional and social barriers. Emphasis on counseling skills including systemic case conceptualization and clinical intervention used with individuals, couples or families, and other systems.

Prerequisite(s): EDCO 5204


EDCO 5354 - Addictions Counseling

Provides an overview of the strategies, goals, methodologies, programs and types of knowledge and skills necessary for effective identification and treatment of addictions Examines the classifications of drugs and other process addictions; impact of addictions on clients and their family members; components of addiction and recovery; prevention, treatment and relapse prevention resources; and salient legal and ethical guidelines. Graduate Standing required.

EDCO 5364 - School Counseling

Theory and practice of school counseling at the elementary, middle, and high school level, and introductory skills for those settings. Provides understanding of basic services performed by the school counselor; developmental characteristics of the age groups served; ethical, legal and societal issues that affect school counselors; special education terminology; techniques useful in school counseling; and sources of materials available for educational and career counseling at various school levels.

Prerequisite(s): (EDCO 5204 (UG), EDCO 5214 (UG)) OR (EDCO 5204, EDCO 5214)

EDCO 5374 - Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Counselor preparation for clinical mental health setting. Wellness, management of services and programs, counselor role and legal issues for a multi-cultural society in clinical mental health. Current controversies and professional issues.

Prerequisite(s): EDCO 5204, EDCO 5214

EDCO 5424 - Life Span Development

Stages of individual development as they occur in the context of the family life course. Overview of current developmental theories. Impact of race, gender, and class on cultural views of developmental norms.

EDCO 5554 - Crisis Prevention, Preparedness, and Response

Assessment of school and community climate and principles of personal and community crisis prevention for counselors, teachers, ans school adminstrators. Preparedness strategies appropriate for typical reactions to crises and relevant to special populations. Prepation and evaluation of crisis response plans that promote mental health and optimize potential for resilience and self-care. Pre: Graduate standing.

EDCO 5564 - Expressive and Experiential Techniques in Counseling

Basic principles and practices of intermodal expressive arts therapy. Integration of expressive theories and techniques in individual and group counseling. Pre: Graduate standing.

EDCO 5604 - Graduate Seminar in Education

Selected topics in administration, counseling, adult and continuing education, research and evaluation, and community college and other domains of higher education. Emphasis is on interactive discourses on topics not typically included in regularly scheduled courses. (Maximum 3C per course).

Credit Hour(s): 1 TO 3

Lecture Hour(s): 1 TO 3

EDCO 5614 - Internship

Clinical experience (minimum 600 hours) under the supervision of a university staff member and a site supervisor in an appropriate field site: school (at least 300 hrs K-6 & at least 300 hrs 7-12), community agency, university counseling center, or other setting. Extensive feedback in individual sessions and group seminar. (12 hours minimum for program). Must have liability insurance.

Credit Hour(s): 1 TO 19

Lecture Hour(s): 1 TO 19

Prerequisite(s): EDCO 5284 (UG) OR EDCO 5284

EDCO 5974 - Independent Study

Instruction Type(s): Independent Study

EDCO 5984 - Special Study

Edco 5994 - research and thesis.

Lecture Hour(s):

Instruction Type(s): Research

EDCO 6304 - Clinical Supervision

A didactic and clinical study of supervision. Training in the differential conceptual approaches and the different methodologies of supervision, as well as the application of the theory and skills to actual supervisory processes with supervisees. Trainees will supervise master's students and document their supervision skills for clinical review. Students will supervise a counselor or intern as a part of the course and document with videotape. Must have liability insurance.

EDCO 6324 - Professional Counselor Education and Supervision

Counselor Education and Supervision (CES) professional responsibilities and diversity issues. Council for Accreditidation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accreditation standards and process. Pedagogy, curriculum design and evaluation for adult learners relevant to counselor education and supervision. Progam evaluation. Pre: Graduate Standing.

EDCO 6404 - Advanced Counseling Theories and Multicultural Implications

Theories of counseling are examined in the context of contemporary research and practice, with particular attention to diverse populations and cultural influences. Effectiveness of selected past and contemporary counseling theories and practice with different populations is evaluated.

EDCO 6434 - Researcher Development in Counselor Education

Researcher identity development through examining design, professional writing, reflexivity, ethical and cultural considerations when designing topics, questions, methodology and dissemination in Counselor Education. Evaluation of counseling and program impact. Pre: Graduate standing.

Prerequisite(s): EDCO 5214, EDCO 5224, EDCO 5244

EDCO 6474 - Advanced Practicum

Provides advanced graduate students in counseling/student development with in-depth supervision and student personnel experiences in various field settings. Experiences accompanied by intense faculty supervision and evaluation. (Maximum 12C). 30 hours previous coursework in the field required.

Credit Hour(s): 1 TO 12

Lecture Hour(s): 1 TO 12

EDCO 6484 - Leadership and Advocacy Issues in Counselor Education

Leadership and advocacy theories, skills, and strategies in professional counseling and counselor education as applied to school, clinical mental health counseling, and/or higher education settings. Ethical and cultural strategies and social justice implications of leadership and advocacy. Social and political issues impacting the counseling profession and the individual, systemic, and policy-level skills of advocacy. Pre: Graduate standing.

EDCO 6524 - Doctoral Internship

Provides advanced graduate students in Counselor Education with in-depth supervision and experiences in various field settings for a minimum of 600 clock hours. May include supervised experiences in a clinical setting, clinical supervision, and teaching. Includes most activities of a regularly employed professional in the setting. Experiences accompanied by intense faculty and on-site supervision and evaluation. (12 hours minimum required in program). Must have liability insurance and instructor consent.

EDCO 6534 - DSM Application in Counseling

Advanced study of the criteria of mental disorders and standard diagnostic and assessment procedures. Provides students with the extensive knowledge and skills necessary to differentiate abnormal from normal behavior in children and adults, with special emphasis upon the identification and assessment of the mental disorders included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Emphasis will be on the application of the DSM in counseling situations.

EDCO 7704 - Field Studies in Education

Advanced applied research and/or evaluation study in one or more educational institutions or agencies. The student is graded on the basis of the design of the study and ability to conduct the study and report the results. (Maximum 12C).


EDCO 7714 - Internship in Education

Planned program of advanced clinical practice in education through assignment under direct supervision of outstanding practitioner for periods of up to two semesters. (Maximum 24C).

Credit Hour(s): 1 TO 24

Lecture Hour(s): 1 TO 24

EDCO 7994 - Research and Dissertation

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Gerard Lawson, Professor & Interim Director, VT SOE

Gerard Lawson, Interim Director & Professor

Adjunct Faculty

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Online Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision

Learn the theory and practice of educating and supervising future counselors in clinical settings and in your own higher education classroom.

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Programs & Requirements

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Expand your impact. Empower others. Teach the next generation of counselors.

Are you ready to apply your counseling expertise to a new challenge? Earning a PhD in counselor education and supervision could be how you take your career to the next level, whether in the classroom or in a leadership capacity. Your courses will cover the advanced leadership skills you’ll need to drive change as an administrator in behavioral health agencies and beyond. Coursework in areas like research design, counselor education, and inferential statistics will also help you prepare to contribute original knowledge to the field of counseling.  

By the numbers

Phd in counselor education and supervision.

The fully accredited online PhD in Counselor Education & Supervision from University of the Cumberlands teaches the knowledge and skills you need to launch a career in research and postsecondary teaching in counseling programs across the United States. Our program also covers the advanced leadership skills needed to drive change as an administrator in behavioral health agencies and beyond.   

Our curriculum covers the five major domains of contemporary counselor education curriculum: advanced clinical work, supervision, teaching, research and scholarship, and leadership and advocacy. The program breaks down into three essential components: core CES coursework, professional research and field experience coursework. In total, you’ll complete 66 post-master’s credit hours, including courses such as: Advanced Counseling Theories and Skills, Theories and Techniques of Clinical Supervision, Leadership & Advocacy in Professional Counseling, Online Teaching & Learning in Counselor Education, and Advanced Educational Research.  

Finally, you’ll work in collaboration with graduate faculty members to research, write and defend an original dissertation that advances knowledge in the counseling profession. You’ll graduate equipped with:  

  • Mastery that prepares you for a teaching career in higher education environments  
  • Administrative expertise preparing you for leadership in clinical and educational settings  
  • Advanced clinical skills aimed to maximize proficiency in an independent practice milieu  
  • Independent research skills preparing you to make original contributions to your field  

Course Requirements

  • CES 700   Program Orientation (0 Hours)
  • CES 704  Professional Writing
  • CES 705  Introduction to CES: Professional Identity
  • CES 715  Online Counseling and Supervision
  • CES 730  Andragogy in Counselor Education and Supervision
  • CES 731  Multicultural Issues in Counselor Education and Supervision 
  • CES 733  Ethical and Legal Issues in Counselor Education and Supervision 
  • CES 735  Advanced Counseling Theories and Skills
  • CES 831  Theories and Techniques of Clinical Supervision 
  • CES 833  Leadership & Advocacy in Professional Counseling 
  • CES 835  Online Teaching & Learning in Counselor Education
  • CES 837  Neuroanatomy & Behavioral Medicine for Professional Counseling

And one elective from the following:

  • CES 737  Trauma Counseling: Etiology, Treatment, and Interventions 
  • CES 710  Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Interventions in Mental Health Counseling
  • COUN 538  Intro to Play Therapy
  • COUN 540  Human Sexuality in Counseling 

*CES 738 or CES 851 may also be used to fulfill elective credits

  • CES 931  Advanced Practicum  
  • CES 953  Advanced Internship  
  • CES 955  Advanced Internship II   

Nine hours of the degree are earned through a series of courses focusing on research methods and research activities. The research courses culminate in the completion of a dissertation. Both CES 734 and CES 850 are required for all students. Each student will select either CES 851 or CES 738 depending on the methodology you intend to pursue with your dissertation research. Students may take both advanced research design courses and count one as their elective.

  • CES 734  Quantitative Research Design 
  • CES 850  Qualitative Research Design  
  • CES 851  Advanced Qualitative Research Design or CES 738  Advanced Quantitative Research Design 

Department of Counseling Sample Syllabi *The syllabi in this folder are samples and may not reflect the most current syllabus content

  • CES 838  CES Comprehensive Exam (0 Hours)
  • CES 736  Dissertation Seminar  
  • CES 839  Advanced Educational Research   

Students must be enrolled in a minimum of two semesters of dissertation coursework for a total of six (6) credit hours. 

  • CES 950  Dissertation  
  • CES 951  Dissertation 

NOTE ON DISSERTATION CREDITS AND PROCEDURES: The candidate must file an Intent to Graduate at the beginning of term of intended completion; must schedule Oral Dissertation Defense at least two weeks prior to Intended Date; and must file approved dissertation with Program Director prior to graduation. 

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Mission and goals.

The mission of UC’s PhD in counselor education and supervision degree program is to develop counselor educators and supervisors who are innovative in their contributions to the profession through research, leadership, advocacy, and clinical excellence.

Counselor Education and Supervision Careers & Outcomes

All stats from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor: $101,340

As a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor, you’ll provide an opportunity for your supervisees to discuss any work-related issues and difficulties they may have and help determine possible ways for them to be resolved. 

Psychologist: $81,040

Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how individuals relate to one another and to their environments. 

Mental Health Program Manager: $101,340

Mental Health Program Managers plan, direct, and coordinate the business activities of their mental health facility. 

Educational or Career Counselor: $60,140

Advise and assist students and provide educational and vocational guidance services. 

Compliance Manager: $71,690

Examine, evaluate, and investigate eligibility for or conformity with laws and regulations governing contract compliance of licenses and permits, and perform other compliance and enforcement inspection and analysis activities not classified elsewhere. 

Postsecondary Teacher: $79,640

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a variety of academic subjects beyond the high school level.

Common Questions

All programs at University of the Cumberlands are offered at some of the lowest rates in the nation – and we even include free textbooks through our One Price Promise! For more information on how affordable this program would be for you, visit our Financial Aid page.

A Ph.D. in counselor education is a doctoral degree that equips counseling professionals to teach in higher education classrooms. As a graduate counseling student at Cumberlands, you’ll learn the theory and practice of educating and supervising future counselors in clinical settings, as well as leadership skills you can apply in education, behavioral health, and human services settings.  

With your Ph.D. in counselor education, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of counseling career paths, including: counselor educator, licensed professional counselor supervisor, clinical director, regulatory affairs director, quality assurance director, compliance manager, compliance operations manager, risk manager, academic leadership, or assistant professor in a related field.   

As it turns out, University of the Cumberlands is one of the only higher education institutions to offer synchronous, CACREP-accredited programs online! When a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision program is available online, it provides a flexible, synchronous format to make it possible to pursue your studies even while working as a counselor. Admissions requirements typically include a CACREP-accredited master’s degree in counseling or the equivalent, as well as an active professional counseling license.

When considering pursuing a Ph.D. it is important to remember that a Ph.D. is the same as a doctorate, and degree programs at this level are typically research intensive and require an original dissertation. As a Ph.D. student studying counseling education, you’ll be taking courses in areas like research design, counselor education, and inferential statistics to help you prepare to contribute original knowledge to the field of counseling.  

Pursuing your doctoral degree in counseling education and supervision could be one way to enhance your career and drive change on a larger scale. Some reasons you may find it worthwhile to further your counseling education in a Ph.D. program are that postsecondary education roles in the field of mental health are expected to increase by 12 percent between 2021 and 2030; a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision offers the chance to build on your past education and experience while preparing to take your career in a new direction; and the median annual salary for postsecondary counseling professors was $77,500 in 2021, nearly $30,000 more than most other counseling professions.   

Faculty Experts

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Dr. Julia Dell'Aquila-Linares

Dr. Julia Dell'Aquila-Linares

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Dr. Lotes Nelson

Dr. Lotes Nelson

Dr. Bridget Rutigliano

Dr. Bridget Rutigliano

Cacrep assessment.

The CACREP Council accredits the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, Addiction Counseling program, PhD in Counselor Education & Supervision, and the related Doctorate of Educational Leadership Online (EdD) Program. CACREP is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) that accredits counselor-preparation graduate degree programs. For more information, visit  https://www.cacrep.org . 

CACREP Outcomes for the Department of Counseling at University of Cumberlands:

Vital Statistics:   2017 ,  2018 ,  2019 ,  2020

Program Evaluation Outcomes Report:   2015-2018 ,  2021 ,  2022

Interested in learning more about how our PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision program can help you achieve your professional goals? We're ready to talk.

Adams State University

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Adams State University

Online Ph.D. in Counselor Education & Supervision (CACREP)

McDaniel Hall

Online Delivery

The Doctorate of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision is offered online and requires four one-week summer residencies. The program received CACREP accreditation in July 2017.

Mission Statement

The Doctorate of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision at Adams State University prepares graduates to work as counselor educators, supervisors, researchers, and practitioners in diverse academic and clinical settings. Graduates are prepared to extend the knowledge base of the counseling profession as leaders for a climate of scholarly inquiry.

The Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision at Adams State University prepares graduates to:

phd in counselor education

  • Work as counselor educators and supervisors, researchers and practitioners in academic and clinical settings.
  • Extend the knowledge base of the counseling profession in a climate of scholarly inquiry.
  • Inform professional practice by generating new knowledge for the profession through dissertation or comparable research projects focused on areas relevant to counseling practice, counselor education, and/or supervision.
  • Assume positions of leadership in the counseling profession.

Adams State University

The Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision is designed to provide doctoral-level preparation for professionals who seek higher education positions in counselor preparation programs and advanced clinical training and leadership positions in the counseling field.  A unique feature of this program is its emphasis on increasing knowledge, awareness, and skills in interacting with socially and culturally diverse populations.  The program addresses professional roles in five doctoral core areas:  (1) counseling, (2) supervision, (3) teaching, (4) research and scholarship, and (4) leadership and advocacy.  These five doctoral core areas represent the foundational knowledge required of doctoral graduates in counselor education.  Doctoral-level students in counselor education may work as counselor educators, counselor supervisors, direct service providers, program consultants, researchers, program evaluators, and in other roles that require leadership in the areas of counseling, human services, family development, and community organizations.  Potential employment settings include institutions of higher education, schools, hospitals, employee assistance programs, substance abuse treatment centers, community mental health agencies, and private practice centers.

The Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision requires a minimum of 63 credit hours beyond those earned in an accredited master’s program of at least 48 credit hours.  Advance preparation is required in the following areas:

  • Implications of ways in which diversity (e.g., race, gender, age, religion, spirituality, ethnicity, mental/physical ability, nationality, and sexual orientation) influence counseling practice and counselor education
  • Theories pertaining to the principles and practice of counseling, career development, group work, and consultation
  • Clinical skill development in counseling, group work, and consultation
  • Theories and practice of counselor supervision
  • Design and implementation of quantitative research and methodology
  • Design and implementation of qualitative research and methodology
  • Models and methods of assessment and use of data
  • Ethical and legal considerations in counselor education and supervision
  • Instructional theory and methods relevant to counselor education

In addition to a 100-hour clinically based doctoral practicum, doctoral students participate in internship experiences of at least 600 clock hours that include teaching, supervision, and research.

Students also collaborate with faculty as a part of their Professional Development Plan in teaching, supervision, counseling services, research, professional writing, and service to the community, region, and profession.

Program Objectives

  • To acquire, integrate, and apply empirical and theoretical knowledge of the field of counseling
  • To develop leadership and advocacy skills in counselor education, supervision, advanced counseling practice, and research
  • To apply advanced skills and competencies in field-based settings
  • To conduct research and generate new knowledge in counseling
  • To design, adapt, and evaluate curricula in the field of counseling
  • To develop depth and breadth in professional growth and continued life-long learning
  • To examine the influence of social context and policy variables on human behavior
  • To show increased sensitivity and clinical skills that demonstrate awareness of the diversity of race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, mental/physical ability, nationality, and sexual orientation as relevant to counseling professionals

Admission Requirements

Applicants should possess a CACREP-approved Master’s Degree in counseling with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 (on a scale of 4.0) or higher.  Students with master’s degrees requiring less than 60 credit hours or degrees from non-CACREP-approved Master’s programs may need to complete prerequisite courses.  All doctoral students accepted into the program who graduated from a CACREP accredited program prior to 2009 or who graduated from a non-CACREP accredited program must provide documentation of a graduate level substance abuse/addiction course or add a substance abuse/addiction course to their program of study.  At least one year of experience as a professional counselor is preferred.

Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision requires 63 credit hours of coursework, including the dissertation.  If students add the optional Concentration in Play Therapy, their program becomes 69 credit hours.

Core Courses (21 credit hours)

  • CSLG 8100 - Advanced Theories of Counseling (3)
  • CSLG 8105 - Introduction to Counselor Education and Supervision (3)
  • CSLG 8110 - Clinical Supervision in Counseling (3)
  • CSLG 8203 - Instructional Theory in Counselor Education (3)
  • CSLG 8345 - Advanced Multicultural Counseling (3)
  • CSLG 8346 - Applied Multicultural Counseling (3)
  • CSLG 8998 - Seminar in Prospectus Design (3)

Clinical Courses (12 credit hours)

  • CSLG 8431 - Doctoral Practicum in Counseling (3)
  • CSLG 8442 - Doctoral Internship: Supervision (3)
  • CSLG 8443 - Doctoral Internship: Research (1 to 3) *
  • CSLG 8445 - Doctoral Internship: Teaching (3)

Students take CSLG 8443    beginning in their second semester of doctoral studies, for 3 consecutive semesters (Spring, Fall, Spring, etc.).  They enroll for 1 credit hour each semester and accumulate a total of 3 credit hours over this 3 semester sequence.  A minimum of 200 clock hours is required over the 3 semesters. 

Research Courses (24 credit hours)

  • RSCH 8110 - Descriptive and Inferential Statistics (3)
  • RSCH 8111 - Qualitative Research Methods (3)
  • RSCH 8120 - Advanced Statistics (3)
  • RSCH 8140 - Multivariate Statistics (3)
  • RSCH 8210 - Applied Research Methods (3)
  • CSLG 8999 - Dissertation (1 to 9) (minimum of 9 credit hours)

Elective Courses (6 credit hours)

Select a minimum of two of the following:

  • CSLG 7000-8999 (3)
  • RSCH 7000-8999 (3)
  • Courses outside the above list must have approval of the student’s Doctoral Advisory Committee and an Academic Petition must be submitted requesting the change.
  • GRAD 8990   , required for all doctoral students, is satisfied by RSCH 8210   .

Play Therapy Concentration (Optional) (12 credit hours)

  • CSLG 7142 - Introduction to Play Therapy (3)

Plus two of the following:

  • CSLG 7143 - Child-Centered Relationship Training: An Approach for Parents/Caregivers/Teachers (3)
  • CSLG 7144 - Contemporary Theories of Play Therapy (3)
  • CSLG 7147 - Multicultural and Social Justice Issues in Play Therapy (3)

Plus one of the following:

  • CSLG 7145 - Special Topics in Play Therapy (3)
  • Remaining course not taken above ( CSLG 7143   , CSLG 7144   , or CSLG 7147   )
  • Other course approved by the Director of the Play Therapy concentration

Total = 63 Credit Hours

Admission to candidacy.

Students are considered candidates for the doctoral degree on successful completion of the Comprehensive Examination and acceptance of the Dissertation Proposal.

Students select a program advisor and committee by the end of their first fall semester in the program.  The program advisors assist students during the initial stages of the program, which includes developing a Program of Study aligned with the program plan in DegreeWorks for the catalog year in which the student entered the program, developing a Professional Development Plan, and identifying faculty whose research interests and expertise are congruent with students’ areas of inquiry for the dissertation.  The assistance of the advisor does not relieve students of responsibility for following departmental and University procedures.  Following the comprehensive exam, students select a dissertation advisor/chair and committee.  The program advisors continue to provide academic advisement to students through their program, regardless of whether they are part of students’ dissertation committee.

Comprehensive Exam

The main objective of the written portion of the qualifying exam is to ensure that the student is adequately prepared to write a dissertation to complete the Ph.D. degree requirements. Being prepared means the following:

  • Examinees must have completed all degree core content courses.
  • Examinees must be able to analyze and synthesize information obtained from coursework and research within a multicultural counseling context.
  • Examinees must demonstrate advanced knowledge in the core areas of counselor education.
  • Examinees must demonstrate competencies in research methodology and evaluation.

The comprehensive exam is a 2-day written exam administered on campus.

Dissertation Committee

A Dissertation Committee, comprised of at least five faculty members, will be formally appointed for each student after admission to candidacy. At least three committee members must be on the Counseling Program faculty and one member will be appointed by the Graduate School. A person outside the University may serve as a full member of the Dissertation Committee in situations where knowledge or expertise of a particular nature is desired. With the mutual consent of the student and the faculty member, a faculty member will be designated to serve as the Chair of the Doctoral Committee. Chairs of Doctoral Committees are specifically responsible for seeing that the student progresses in an expeditious manner towards completion of the degree. Chairs will assist students in organizing committee meetings, conducting original research, presenting the proposal, and organizing the dissertation defense. Eligible faculty are all tenured faculty (Professor/Associate Professor), as well as Assistant Professors who have been reappointed for their second term. Each appointed Committee Member will have both voice and vote on all relevant matters pertaining to a doctoral student’s progress towards the degree. At least four committee members must be present for the oral defense of the dissertation. The oral defense is considered satisfactory upon the positive vote of at least four committee members. Prior to and following the appointment of this committee, students are encouraged to work with faculty on dissertation ideas.


Each candidate for the doctoral degree is required to prepare and present a dissertation that shows independent investigation and is acceptable in form and content to the Dissertation Committee. A doctoral dissertation must demonstrate the candidate’s ability to conceive, design, conduct, and interpret independent, original, and creative research and must make a unique contribution to knowledge in the field of counseling. Under the direct supervision of the Doctoral Committee Chair, students are encouraged to consult regularly with their Dissertation Committee members during the planning, conducting and writing of the dissertation. Following the approval of the dissertation proposal students are required to maintain continuous enrollment (fall and spring semesters) for dissertation study until work is completed. Continuous enrollment begins on the date the Graduate School approves the student’s dissertation topic. Students who exceed the required number of dissertation hours for degree completion will register for GRAD 9999    each semester until degree requirements have been completed.


Doctoral students are required to complete a total of 600 clock hours of internship in the areas of teaching, supervision, and research.  Students and their doctoral advisors develop collaboratively components of their internship experiences in accordance with relevant CACREP standards.  

A Doctoral Practicum is taken in the first year of study. The practicum requires 100 hours over the course of a semester at an approved site in the community. The Practicum involves the acquisition of new skills and learning regardless of the site selected.

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Online PhD in Counselor Education & Supervision

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Online PhD programs in counselor education and supervision teach students how to become educators and leaders in the counseling profession. Through a blend of didactic learning and hands-on experiences, graduates of these programs will be able to educate and lead new counselors and counselor students; they will also gain an advanced understanding of clinical counseling practice.

Online PhD programs in counseling education and supervision will vary in length, based on each individual student’s pace of progress. Some students finish their PhD in 3.5 years, others take seven years or longer. Generally speaking, these programs include several core courses, a dissertation, internship, and practicum. While much of an online PhD program can be completed remotely, there may be some face-to-face components, either at the program’s physical campus or in a student’s home area.

Online PhD programs in counselor education and supervision usually require applicants to have a master’s degree from an institution accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Most programs also ask their applicants to already be licensed professional counselors. PhD programs themselves should be accredited, too: CACREP accreditation is always preferred, but some programs with regional accreditation may suffice if their curricula align with CACREP standards.

According to a 2020 article in The Professional Counselor , there’s a growing pipeline problem in doctoral counselor education and supervision programs, due to their uneven distribution between states. Online PhD programs can solve that issue, making it easier than ever before for a counselor to become a leader and educator in the profession.

To learn more about online PhD programs in counselor education and supervision, read on.

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Featured online phd programs in counselor education & supervision.

Walden University offers an online PhD in counselor education and supervision that prepares students to drive positive social change as counseling educators, supervisors, leaders, and researchers. The core program can be customized with five different specializations: addiction counseling; clinical mental health counseling; marriage, couple, and family therapy; school counseling; and trauma and crisis.

The curriculum includes core courses, research courses, field experience courses (practicum and internship), and the completion of a doctoral dissertation. Walden’s Doctoral Degree Coach helps candidates map and track milestones, meet weekly targets, connect with faculty, and access additional resources.

While most of the program can be completed online, one face-to-face residency and two pre-practicum labs have on-site components. The program consists of 85 quarter credits.

  • Location: Minneapolis, MN
  • Tuition: $574 per credit
  • Accreditation: CACREP

Capella University’s PhD in counselor education and supervision program combines online learning and in-person experiences to help students develop into leaders in counseling. The curriculum is aligned with the values, principles, and ethical standards of professional counseling associations and honors societies. It includes core courses such as advanced counseling practice; counselor education teaching and practice; counselor supervision; leadership and advocacy in counseling; and research theory and philosophy.

Students must also complete a minimum of 100 practicum hours, 600 internship hours, and a dissertation. Capella’s GuidedPath program structures learning with an active peer community and faculty guidance, helping students meet deadlines and stay on track.

  • Tuition: Please view full profile for details

The University of the Cumberlands offers an online PhD in counselor education and supervision covers three main domains: leadership, professional research, and clinical coursework. Students may also choose to add a specialization in addiction or advanced counseling. As an institution grounded in Christian principles, the University of Cumberland puts an emphasis on strong ethical values for its students.

The curriculum includes courses such as advanced counseling theories and skills; neuroanatomy and behavioral medicine for professional counseling; leadership and advocacy in professional counseling; and theories and techniques of clinical supervision. Students will also need to research, write, and defend an original dissertation that advances knowledge in the counseling profession. The program consists of 66 credits.

  • Location: Williamsburg, KY
  • Tuition: $400 per credit

The Chicago School offers an online, accelerated PhD in counselor education and supervision that engages students in evaluating the theoretical and practical aspects of counseling through qualitative and quantitative research. It is intended for licensed professional counselors who wish to advance their careers through leadership, teaching, and/or supervision.

Students complete a minimum of 700 hours of practical experience through practicums and internships, in the five CACREP domains of counseling. Students also have access to an internal placement at the Virtual Clinical Training Center (VCTC) to gain further experience. While the program is only regionally accredited, its curriculum aligns with CACREP standards. The program consists of 60 credits in total.

  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Tuition: $1,560 per credit
  • Accreditation: WASC

Saybrook University offers an online PhD in counselor education and supervision that prepares the next generation of counselor leaders to address the most pressing challenges in their communities. Graduates can support counselors in training, develop their own professional identity, and understand how to best serve diverse clients. The program includes an examination of privilege, marginalization, and the dynamics of power.

The core curriculum includes courses such as qualitative research methodology; advanced quantitative analysis; community engagement and leadership; cultural responsiveness and advocacy; and advanced theories and practice. Students will also need to complete a practicum, internship, and dissertation. While the Saybrook program is only regionally accredited, the curriculum aligns with CACREP standards. The program consists of 54 credits in total.

  • Location: Pasadena, CA
  • Tuition: $980 per credit

The online PhD in counselor education and supervision at Liberty University sharpens graduates’ clinical skills and prepares them to lead, teach, and nurture new counseling students. The curriculum provides advanced training in counseling techniques; counselor education and supervision; leadership and advocacy; and research and scholarship. As a Christian institution, Liberty University imparts a biblical worldview while preparing students to effectively serve diverse cultures.

The program is intensives-based, with a practicum, internship, and dissertation in addition to core and elective courses. Each course includes a one-week intensive portion that fosters mentoring relationships between students and faculty. The program consists of 57 credits in total.

  • Location: Lynchburg, VA
  • Tuition: $595 per credit

The online PhD in counseling education and supervision at Regent University prepares graduates to take on leadership roles in the world of mental health. Presented from a Christian perspective, the curriculum emphasizes the application of biblical and spiritual interventions as a teacher, scholar, and practitioner.

Core courses include advanced multivariate statistics; multicultural issues in counseling; qualitative research methodology; quantitative research methodology; and preventive counseling. Students must also complete an internship, a practicum, and a dissertation. While most of the program may be completed online, there are three in-person weeklong residencies at the start of each academic year. The program consists of 66 credits in total.

  • Location: Virginia Beach, VA
  • Tuition: $900 per credit

Professors to Know in Schools with Online PhD Programs in Counselor Education & Supervision

Dr. Susan Foster is department chair of the Online Counselor Education Department at The Chicago School. She earned her MEd in counselor education from Southeastern Louisiana University, and her PhD in counselor education and supervision from the University of New Orleans. Dr. Foster’s research interests include technology-assisted supervision, consultation and collaboration; collective self-esteem in diverse populations; assessment metrics for counselor educator programs; and ethics and law in counseling and supervision.

Dr. Jennifer Preston is the program director and department chair in the Department of Counseling at Saybrook University. She earned her MS in counseling psychology from Avila College, and her PhD in counselor education and supervision from Oregon State University. Dr. Preston’s areas of expertise include child and adolescent development, identity development, and issues of sexuality and gender. Her work leans upon qualitative research, from a feminist and critical theory lens, often employing non-traditional research methodologies. She has published in the areas of addiction treatment for women, LGBT ally development for K-12 schools, LGBT homeless youth, and women's mentoring.

Matt Zbrog is a writer and researcher from Southern California. Since 2018, he’s written extensively about emerging issues in healthcare administration and public health, with a particular focus on progressive policies that empower communities and reduce health disparities. His work centers around detailed interviews with researchers, professors, and practitioners, as well as with subject matter experts from professional associations such as the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) and the American College of Health Care Executives (ACHCA).

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Counselor Education, Ph.D.

What will i study.

The doctoral program in Counselor Education and Supervision will prepare you to become a counselor educator, supervisor, or researcher in an academic setting.  In accordance with the most recent standards set by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs , the program’s goals emphasize preparing graduate counselor educators and supervisors to have advanced knowledge and skills in counseling, supervision, teaching, research and scholarship, and a commitment to professional and social leadership and advocacy.

Our faculty believe that counselor educators and supervisors have the responsibility to promote awareness, cultivate knowledge, and continually build skills in their interactions with economically, socially, and culturally diverse members of the communities they serve.

For information on types of classes, see Typical Coursework, below.

What kinds of research will I be able to do?

As part of your graduate-level training in qualitative and quantitative research design, implementation, and data analysis, you will have the opportunity to choose your own research topics; these could be based on your prior clinical experiences or life events. We will work with you to help you further develop your own identity as a scholar.            

What kinds of work will I be able to do?

Graduates of the program are often sought after for faculty positions in higher education. You might teach in counselor education programs, combining your clinical specializations such as school counseling or family counseling, to prepare the next generations of professional clinicians.  Wherever their careers may take them, our graduates contribute to the body of professional knowledge in the field through their scholarship, publications, presentations and leadership activities.

Typical Coursework

Counselor Education Courses (30 semester hours) Through 18 hours of core coursework, you will develop advanced-level knowledge and skill in counseling theory and practice, university teaching, issues of multiculturalism and theory and practice of clinical supervision. The remaining 12 semester hours are composed of clinical courses.  The clinical course work builds on the work you have done in your master’s-level training, stressing critical analysis and integration in each content area.

Assessment Courses (9 semester hours) You will complete 3 courses to develop skills relevant to counseling, research, clinical instruction, and supervision. These include two courses in psycho-diagnostics plus one course in the principles and practices of standardized assessment specific to the profession of counseling.

Research and Scholarship (15 semester hours) You and your program chairperson will decide together on the areas of research design, data collection and analysis (in both qualitative and quantitative methodologies) that you will study. This advanced training will prepare you to  make strides in the field of counseling and prepare you for your role as a scholar  or a member of university faculty.

Cognate Courses (9 semester hours) These courses will help you identify and become immersed in an area of professional relevance. These three courses usually focus on an area of counseling specialization, such as school counseling or mental health counseling.

Counseling Electives (21 semester hours) You will choose seven courses that create the foundation for your doctoral study. Relevant graduate counseling courses, most often those that you have completed as part of your previous graduate degree, fall into this area.

Dissertation (12 semester hours) The doctoral dissertation serves as the academic capstone project for your Ph.D. degree. In your dissertation, you will work with your dissertation chair and committee to conduct independent research on a topic that will make a significant contribution to the professional literature. Because of the quality of research in our program, your dissertation can be a springboard for your career as a researcher, giving you opportunities to participate in national presentations and publications.

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  • Counselor Education and Supervision Doctorate

Counselor Education and Supervision Doctorate (Ph.D.)

Kansas State University has offered CACREP-accredited counseling programs since 1999. As our programs transition from in-person modalities to 100% digitally delivered, our programs will undergo review for CACREP standards compliance. The content of the Ph.D. in Counselor Education & Supervision program is fully compliant with CACREP standards, and the online modality will be reviewed for accreditation consideration in 2024.

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The Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision prepares graduates for professional leadership roles in counselor education, supervision, advanced counseling practice, and research. The doctoral program is designed for those who aspire to careers in counselor education at colleges and universities; teaching, counseling, and supervision at community colleges; director of counseling programs in P-12 programs; consultation to community agencies, business/industry, and/or state departments; counseling and supervisory positions in student development; and/or, mental health private practice counseling. Graduates will complete the program with the coursework to apply for a mental health counseling license.

The program requires a minimum of 96 hours post baccalaureate and includes coursework in counseling, supervision, teaching, leadership, and research, culminating in a dissertation that is a unique contribution to the field. Students develop an area of focus of 6 hours of courses outside of the department planned with concurrence of the committee. The program includes a minimum of 12 hours of dissertation research.

Program Fast Facts (PDF)

See the Cashiers and Student Accounts website for tuition and fee schedules .

Admission Requirements

Admission to graduate study is granted by the Dean of the Graduate School upon the recommendation of the faculty in the graduate program. Applicants seeking admission to this degree program must submit the information noted below. Before starting the online application, gather all information and documents for all of the admission requirements so that they can be uploaded into the application system. All materials must be received before review will begin.

  • Completed Online Graduate School Application . (Follow the prompts for completing the application process.)
  • April 1 for fall enrollment
  • November 1 for spring enrollment
  • August 1 for spring (January) enrollment
  • Domestic Students: A $65 application fee is required for all domestic students; the application will not be processed without this fee. The fee can be paid by credit card when completing the online application.
  • International Students: A $75 application fee is required; the application will not be processed without this fee. The fee can be paid by credit card when completing the online application.
  • You must upload into the online application system a scanned copy (PDF preferred) of the official transcript(s) from each college or university where you received your bachelor's degree(s) and completed any post baccalaureate course work or degrees. Transcripts become part of your records at Kansas State University and cannot be returned. Please be aware that printouts from university student portals are not considered a copy of your official transcript.
  • If you are admitted, you will be required to submit an official transcript for GPA and degree conferral verification from the institution(s) where you received your degree(s) and completed any post-baccalaureate credits.
  • Students whose transcripts are not in English must furnish a translation by an appropriate authority. Failure to list any colleges or universities attended may result in dismissal from the university.
  • Career and professional goals and aspirations, and how being accepted to the program will benefit the goals and aspirations;
  • Evidence of commitment to the counseling profession;
  • Competencies and experiences related to the program (e.g., counseling skills and experience, interpersonal skills, teaching skills, program development experience);
  • Evidence of motivation, leadership, and strong work ethic;
  • Knowledge, competencies, and experience related to research;
  • Research interests;
  • Evidence of experience with diversity and, if applicable, fluency in languages other than English; and
  • Professional experiences that support application.
  • The paper is to be well written and thoughtfully presented. For resources to help writing the paper, see the Purdue Writing Lab (OWL) . An additional writing sample(s) that is independently authored may be submitted as part of the application process (e.g., graduate course paper, thesis, published article).

An important aspect of doctoral work is to advance and apply scholarship on educational issues within the context of the academic program. For the purpose of this application, please consider a complex issue related to counselor education and supervision that you find important and compelling, and develop a scholarly essay (approximately 5-8 pages) which includes:

  • an overview of the issue you’ve chosen to explore (e.g., research, practice, ethical, cultural considerations),
  • a presentation of the current state of knowledge in the literature related to the issue (citing sources as appropriate), and,
  • conclude with a possible interpretation of the critical issue from at least two different perspectives, including a first stab at the potential for future research on the topic. How could you further study this issue?
  • The essay should be uploaded as a MS Word document or PDF file, double-spaced, formatted in APA (7th ed.) style, and include a minimum of 5 scholarly (peer-reviewed) sources. The essay will be assessed according to the following elements: overview of the issue, incorporation of existing literature, interpretation of the critical issue, articulation of future research ideas, and overall coherence and readability.
  • Three letters of recommendation are needed from college or university educators and/or colleagues or supervisors who are qualified to address your professional skills and your potential for success in the graduate program. Enter the names and email addresses of the recommenders into the appropriate area in the online application.
  • You must upload into the online application system a professional resume/vitae that includes previous academic degrees, past and present employment, professional activities and roles, and other pertinent information.
  • An interview with faculty members in this program may be requested before an admission decision is made (e.g., phone, video conference, on campus).
  • To demonstrate competence in the English language, an official report of scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System – academic exam (IELTS) or Pearson Test of English (PTE) must be sent to Kansas State University for all applicants whose primary language is not English. Enter your scores in the online application and upload the report of your scores.
  • Learn more about English proficiency requirements

International applicants must meet the same academic standards for admission as those required of domestic students. When applying for admission, international applicants must provide an Affidavit of Financial Support and documentation of English language proficiency . Detailed information about these issues is provided at the Graduate School's International Students web page.

* Course is synchronous

Professional courses (24 credit hours)

  • EDCEP 821 - Fundamentals of Program Evaluation (3)
  • EDCEP 953 – Multicultural and Social Justice Issues in Counselor Education (3)
  • EDCEP 955 - Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling (3)*
  • EDCEP 957 – Teaching and Learning in Counselor Education (3)
  • EDCEP 958 - Advanced Group Counseling (3)*
  • EDCEP 962 – Leadership & Advocacy in Counselor Education & Supervision (3)
  • EDCEP 967 - Appraisal and Psychopathology (3)
  • EDCEP 985 - Advanced Counseling Theory (3)

Cognate area (6 credit hours)

Students will develop an area of focus of courses outside of the department planned with concurrence of the committee.

Research Courses (12 credit hours)

  • EDLEA 838 - Qualitative Research in Education (3)
  • EDLEA 938 - Advanced Data Analysis in Qualitative Methods (3)
  • EDCEP 817 - Statistical Methods in Education (3)
  • EDCEP 917 - Experimental Design in Educational Research (3)

Practicum/Internship (12 credit hours)

  • EDCEP 977 - Advanced Counseling Practicum (3)*
  • EDCEP 987 - Counseling Supervision Practicum (3)*
  • EDCEP 991 - Internship in Counseling and Educational Psychology (6)*

Research (12-15 credit hours)

  • EDCEP 999 - Doctoral Research (12-15)

During the coursework phase of the program, all doctoral students are required to attend one on-site residency experience in Manhattan, Kansas. Such residency opportunities will be offered annually in early August starting in 2025 and will be scheduled as a Friday evening through Sunday morning experience.

Student Learning Outcomes

Please see the Assessment Alignment Matrix (PDF)

SLOs Aligned with 2016 CACREP Standards Program Outcomes

  • Graduates will demonstrate knowledge and skill in scholarly examination of theories relevant to counseling, ethically integrate evidence-based theories to counseling practices recognizing culturally relevant needs in multiple settings, and evaluate effectiveness of methods.
  • Graduates will demonstrate knowledge and skill in legal, ethical, culturally relevant, and theory-based supervisory instruction implementing technology as appropriate and grounded in relationships that promote the development of skills in evaluation, remediation, and gatekeeping.
  • Graduates will demonstrate knowledge and skill in accreditation standards and processes, ethical online and on-campus curriculum design, assessment, and evaluation methods relevant to counselor education.
  • Graduates will demonstrate knowledge and skill of the roles and responsibilities and ethical and culturally relevant pedagogy and teaching methods for adult development and learning in counselor education.
  • Graduates will demonstrate knowledge and skill in ethical and culturally relevant processes and strategies for designing and conducting research and scholarship inclusive of program evaluation; qualitative and quantitative, univariate, multivariate, and emergent designs, methods, and analysis, research questions for professional writing for journals, grants, and conference proposals.
  • Graduates will demonstrate knowledge and skill in theory-based ethical leadership and advocacy in professional organizations and on behalf of the profession and professional identity; response to crisis and disasters; practices related to multicultural and social justice issues; and engagement and consultation with local, state, national, community policymakers.
  • Graduates will demonstrate knowledge and application of professional dispositions including professional behaviors; adherence to site, course, and program tasks and policies; multicultural competence in counseling; flexibility and adaptability; openness to feedback and change; congruence and genuineness; integrity; emotional stability and self-control; and initiative.

Course Syllabi

  • EDCEP 810: Mental Health in Schools
  • EDCEP 815: Using Tests in Counseling
  • EDCEP 816: Section A: Research Methods in Education
  • EDCEP 817: Section ZA: Statistical Methods in Education
  • EDCEP 822: Counseling Adolescents
  • EDCEP 823: Counseling Theories
  • EDCEP 824: Lifespan for School Counselors
  • EDCEP 832: Counseling Techniques
  • EDLEA 838: Qualitative Research in Education
  • EDCEP 852: Career Development
  • EDCEP 855: Professional Counseling Orientation and Ethical Practice
  • EDCEP 856: Counseling Children
  • EDCEP 857: Program Management
  • EDCEP 858: Group Processes
  • EDCEP 860: Trauma & Crisis Counseling
  • EDCEP 867: Counseling Mental Health Disorders
  • EDCEP 871: Leadership, Advocacy, and Consultation for Counselors
  • EDCEP 877: Practicum
  • EDCEP 887: School Counseling Intership
  • EDLEA 938: Advanced Data Analysis in Qualitative Methods
  • EDCEP 951: Multicultural Counseling
  • EDCEP 953: Multicultural & Social Justice Issues in Counselor Education
  • EDCEP 958: Advanced Group Counseling
  • EDCEP 962: Leadership & Advocacy in Counselor Education & Supervision
  • EDCEP 967: Appraisal & Psychopathology
  • EDCEP 977: Advanced Counseling Practicum
  • EDCEP 985 ZA: Advanced Counseling Theory
  • EDCEP 987 ZB: A dvanced Counseling Supervision Practicum
  • EDCEP 991: Advanced Counseling Internship

Ph.D. in Counselor Education & Supervision Program Objectives

  • PO-CES1 - Demonstrate advanced knowledge and skills in counseling theories and evidence-based counseling practices (CACREP Standards VI.B.1)
  • PO-CES2 - Provide high-quality clinical supervision of counselors in a variety of settings (CACREP Standards VI.B.2)
  • PO-CES3 - Educate, evaluate, and mentor students in counselor education programs (CACREP Standards VI.B.3)
  • PO-CES4 - Engage in scholarly research and professional writing for publication in counseling journals (CACREP Standards VI.B.4)
  • PO-CES5 - Assume leadership roles in counselor education programs, professional associations, and counseling organizations (CACREP Standards VI.B.5)
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Counselor Education and Supervision (PhD)

Doctoral Program

This PhD program is intended to prepare professionals for careers in research, academic and clinical settings. Graduates will work in counselor education programs and supervise the next generation of counselor educators.

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Why Pursue a PhD in Counselor Education?

This doctoral program is nationally accredited through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).  Department of Counseling faculty members are the leaders of international counseling associations, with positions such as former and current presidents and journal editors. Program graduates will have opportunity to learn from these faculty members and acquire advanced theoretical knowledge, advanced clinical skills, research skills and advanced clinical supervision skills.

Counselor Education and Supervision (PhD)

Research Opportunities

The PhD in Counselor Education conducts research in the following topics: creative interventions relative to relationship issues, grief and loss, Relational Cultural Theory, multicultural issues in counseling, behavioral health issues, brief family consultation, creative approaches to aging, on-line counseling, addictions, suicidal tendencies, crisis intervention, treatment of trauma, mentoring in the learning environment, legal and ethical issues in school counseling, injurious behaviors, rape and sexual assault.

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When you choose UTSA, you join a community of talented students being taught by award-winning faculty. See what our students have to say.

  • Admission Requirements

Application Deadlines

Funding opportunities, career options, admission & application requirements.

Applications are submitted through the UTSA Graduate Application . Please upload all required documents (listed below) on your UTSA Graduate Application. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure completion and submission of the application, a nonrefundable application fee, and all required supporting documents are on file with UTSA by the appropriate application deadline.

Applicants are encouraged to have their admission file completed as early as possible. All applications, required documents and letters of recommendation, if applicable, must be submitted by 5:00 PM U.S. Central Time on the day of the deadline. Deadlines are subject to change.

For more information about graduate funding, click below.

UTSA prepares you for future careers that are in demand. The possible careers below is data pulled by a third-party tool called Emsi, which pulls information from sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, online job postings, other government databases and more to give you regional and national career outlook related to this academic program.

Course Offerings & Schedule

The program is full-time and courses are taken one or two days a week on the UTSA Downtown Campus.

phd in counselor education

Graduate Advisor of Record

Devon Romero, PhD


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Student Development Specialist

Jessica Gonzalez

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Phd in counselor education and supervision.

57 credit hours

Program Length

as few as 36 months


Regionally Accredited by SACSCOC

Leadership in Counselor Education for the next generation of Integrative Counselors

The Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision prepares graduates to work as counselor educators, supervisors, researchers, and practitioners in academic and clinical settings with professional excellence and from a contextualized biblical worldview. This advanced degree in counselor education and supervision enables counselors to shift in identity and skill from clinical practitioners to scholar practitioners, learning the philosophy and skills of teaching and supervision while contributing to the field through advocacy, supervision, leadership, research, and educational instruction. Persons graduating with this doctoral degree in counselor education and supervision will be fully equipped to fulfill God’s purposes as ambassadors of the gospel to burgeoning faith-based and secular graduate counseling programs around the world.

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Dr. Seth Scott

Why Choose Columbia International University for this degree program

Columbia International University is unique with its intentionally multi-denominational foundation and deliberate mission focus, providing one of the few PhD in CES from a biblical worldview in the southeast. Drawing from an established and excellent clinical counseling program, the PhD in CES will expand and enhance the reach of counseling training through this train-the-trainer approach in doctoral counselor education.

Overall Benefits of the degree — what you can do with the degree

Counseling addresses issues of identity, meaning, purpose, and belonging, all issues that find their reality within the truth of the gospel and a biblical worldview. This program is uniquely suited to fulfill the mission of CIU within this critical need area by training counselor educators from a biblical worldview to impact the world for Christ as counselor educators in both faith-based and secular counseling programs, as supervisors in clinical settings, as researchers and authors providing insights and integration to address the whole person, and as leaders in the field to promote the focus on the whole person as made in the image of God. Counselor educators are needed, both within our own master of arts in counseling programs, and in hundreds of other faith-based and secular graduate counseling programs around the country and the world. This program has the opportunity to address the mission of God as CIU graduates within this niche in a unique way. Counselor educators are prepared for leadership and impact in clinical counseling, supervision, program evaluation and leadership, research, counseling education, and advocacy for effective change. Through practical experience throughout the program and opportunities for professional practice, PhD students in this program model the program philosophy of head, heart, and hands through excellence in knowledge, character, and skill across the five focal areas in counselor education and supervision.

Featured Faculty

phd in counselor education

Seth L. Scott

Professor of Clinical Counseling

phd in counselor education

Benjamin Mathew

phd in counselor education

Glenda Nanna

Director of Graduate Counseling Programs

phd in counselor education

Ginavra Gibson

Associate Professor of Clinical Counseling

Program Details

A. total number of credit hours required for the program: 57 semester hours.

  • PhD Residencies (3–4 semester hours, $1,500–2,000 fees)
  • PhD Residency — Year One (Orientation & Integration) — 1 credit, $500 fees
  • PhD Residency — Year Two (Teaching, Supervision, & Research) — 1 credit, $500 fees
  • PhD Residency — Year Three (Clinical & Research Presentations) — 1 credit, $500 fees
  • Optional Fourth Residency (Writing Intensive) — 1 credit, $500 fees

Curricular Requirements (42 semester hours):

  • Professional Orientation, Ethics, & Identity (3)
  • Research Theory, Designs, & Methods (3)
  • Teaching in Counselor Education (3)
  • Quantitative Research Methodology (3)
  • Advanced Counseling Theories (3)
  • Qualitative Research Methodology (3)
  • Clinical Supervision and Consultation (3)
  • Advanced Methodology (3)
  • Teaching Internship (3)
  • Program Evaluation, Leadership, and Publications (3)
  • Advanced Practicum in Clinical Counseling (3)
  • Internship — Across CES Domains (3)
  • Advanced Multicultural Issues (3)
  • Capstone: Counseling & Christian Thought (3)
  • Dissertation (12 semester hours)
  • Proposal Development (3)
  • Dissertation (3)

The first two years of courses are completed online with one-week residencies required the week after May graduation. Successful completion of the Competency Exam during the third residency and Clinical Supervision and Consultation course during the second year provides for registration in the Advanced Practicum in Clinical Counseling course. Successful completion of four research courses is required to present research during the third residency, enabling advancement to the dissertation proposal in Proposal Development. During the Advanced Research Methodology course, students will seek a qualified faculty mentor as a chair for their dissertation committee and to assist in proceeding toward Proposal Development. When the faculty mentor deems the dissertation to be ready for defense, the candidate defends his/her dissertation before a committee of at least two faculty readers, either internal or external to the university.

b. Additional requirements of the program:

Completion requirements.

  • Successful completion of all classes with a grade of B or higher.
  • Successful completion of a dissertation proposal prepared under the supervision of a faculty mentor.
  • Successful oral defense of a dissertation that is an original work of academic research (at least 80,000 words) before a committee of at least two internal and/or external faculty readers with program director joining the defense when two external readers are present.
  • Affirmation of the CIU doctrinal statement.
  • Successful completion of all requirements within eight years from matriculation.

Admission Requirements

  • Completed application
  • Official transcripts from a licensure-track, 48-hour (minimum) master’s degree in counseling or a related field such as psychology or social work. Those with less than 48 hours or non-CACREP accredited degrees may have to take additional coursework as a prerequisite to admission or concurrently with their first year in the program.
  • Minimum cumulative 3.5 GPA
  • 3 references (1 Professional, 1 Academic, and 1 Church Leader)
  • Research proposal
  • Have at least one year of experience in a mental health field (highly desirable).
  • Master’s thesis or a major research paper (at least 10,000 words) provided from a prior degree or coordinated during the application process
  • Interview with admissions committee 
  • Students are required to attend 3-one-week residencies each summer throughout their program of study with an optional fourth writing intensive residency the final summer of dissertation

Accreditation and Accolades

SACSCOC (The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges)

What Can I Do With This Degree?

  • Counselor educators in doctoral, masters and bachelor degree programs
  • Clinical directors and administrators in agencies, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations
  • Researchers and authors in counseling and social science fields  
  • Clinical supervisors in counseling settings
  • Social advocacy and program evaluation in administration or consultation

Yes, admission requirements include holding a licensure-track, 48-hour (minimum) master’s degree in counseling or a significantly related field such as psychology or social work from a regionally accredited institution. Those with less than 48 hours or non-CACREP accredited degrees may have to take additional coursework as a prerequisite to admission or concurrently with their first year in the program.

A license is not required, but is highly recommended along with existing clinical practice experience to increase opportunities for practice and engagement during additional internship hours required throughout the program.

Students are required to attend 3-one-week residencies each summer throughout their program of study with an optional fourth writing intensive residency the final summer of dissertation. The remaining 54 credits of the program are delivered through online instruction.

The program is designed for two classes each semester (six credits) of year-round instruction. The dissertation is intended to be completed within one year, but may take longer than that with students required to maintain enrollment until the dissertation is complete.

Six credits a semester (two classes) is full-time in this program. While the program is intended for professionals working full-time in the field of counseling, students should plan to spend twenty hours a week on average in reading, research, and assignments.

The PhD in CES is a 57-credit program. The program costs $625 per credit hour and a $500 residency fee for each of the three required residencies plus technology fees each semester while enrolled, the total program cost is just under $40,000 when completed in three years.

CACREP requires programs to graduate one round of students before application for accreditation with accepted CACREP-accreditation retroactively applied to program graduates. With this PhD in CES program launching Fall 2023, application for CACREP can begin Fall 2026. The PhD in CES is accredited with SACSCOC and ABHE.

With over 60 (and growing) CACREP-accredited faith-based graduate schools providing master’s-level training for future counselors, biblically grounded, integrative counselor educators prepared for clinical and academic excellence are in high demand. Clinical counseling programs need faculty with PhD in CES degrees and this degree, as well as this specific program, fills this present and growing critical need.

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PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

Take your counseling career to new heights by enrolling in palo alto university’s phd in counselor education and supervision program..

In this program, you will be part of the next generation of leaders moving the counseling profession forward by training new counselors and supervisors, researching effective clinical interventions, and providing influential leadership in organizations. The PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision program aims to prepare doctoral students to become culturally-affirming counselor educators and supervisors.

The Counselor Education and Supervision program strives to advance the counseling profession into the future by training leaders who promote anti-oppressive pedagogy, scholarship, supervision, advocacy, and practice. The curriculum and educational experiences, such as our innovative multiple article dissertation and internship program, are designed to prepare you for the real, day-to-day work of counselor educators.

Our program is designed to help students meet the following goals:

  • Graduates will know how to design engaging and culturally-affirming curriculum that is relevant to counselors working in diverse communities and digital mental health.
  • Graduates will be able to effectively utilize culturally relevant models of supervision and will demonstrate skill in evaluation and dispositional remediation.
  • Graduates will develop clear research agendas and publish rigorous, culturally relevant research that promote the counseling profession. 
  • Graduates will understand how to lead with cultural humility and demonstrate leadership excellence with specific skills in administration, accreditation management, program evaluation, and advocacy.
  • Graduates will be able to counsel clients using culturally affirming counseling practice utilizing relevant theories and evidence-based counseling practices.

What can you do with a PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision?

This program is designed to help you meet your specific career goals. Graduates with a PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision work as advanced level clinicians and supervisors, counseling program faculty, and administrators in higher education, K-12 organizations, and community agencies. This program will specifically develop your expertise in:

  • Graduate-level teaching and counselor preparation
  • Expanded knowledge of mental health through research
  • Counseling supervision
  • Organizational leadership in professional organizations, community agencies, K-12 schools, and higher education settings.

Our internship options and personalized research plan will allow you to prepare yourself for multiple career options.

  • Licensed professional counselors
  • Graduates of CACREP-accredited counseling programs
  • School counselors
  • Marriage and family counselors
  • Associate professional clinical counselors or post-graduate counselors working towards licensure

Program Format

This program is designed with working counseling professionals in mind. Classes are scheduled one to two days a week on campus, with the rest occurring synchronously online. Our faculty have been leaders in online counselor education for many years and have advanced skills in facilitating classes online.

Program Length

The program is designed to be completed in 11 quarters (including summers).

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this program accredited.

The accrediting body for Counselor Education and Supervision (CES) doctoral programs is the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). CES programs are not eligible to apply for CACREP accreditation until they have students entering the dissertation phase of their program. PAU has created the CES program to be in alignment with CACREP standards and will apply for CACREP accreditation as soon as we are eligible.

In addition to specialty accreditation, academic programs must be approved by regional accreditors to operate. The CES program is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), which is the regional accrediting body for PAU.  

Do I have to live in Palo Alto?

Students will attend class on campus in Palo Alto or Mountain View 1-2 days a week, so living a reasonable driving distance from campus is strongly recommended.

What are funding opportunities?

On-campus jobs, including administrative roles, Research Assistantships, Teaching Assistantships, and adjunct teaching roles are available, as well as limited Scholarship opportunities.

This is not a fully-funded program.

Do you require the GRE?

Admission to our program does not require submission of GRE scores. We believe that other indicators, such as your academic history, professional background, and volunteer engagement, can effectively demonstrate your suitability for our program.

Can I work full time?

Our program is designed for working professionals. Ideal candidates will have a schedule that allows them to attend class 1-2 days a week. 

Can I attend the program part-time?

At this time, the program does not allow for part-time students. If you have concerns about the schedule, please reach out so we can talk with you further about the plan of study and options that work for you. 

Can my internship be at my current employer?

Our internship program focuses on the areas of teaching, supervision, research, leadership and advocacy, and counseling. Your faculty advisor will work with you to create an internship plan that fits your career needs. This may mean you can complete parts of your internship in a setting where you are currently employed, but you will likely need to do other internship hours across different settings during your program. 

I am an LCSW. Can I apply?

This program is designed to advance the education of those with a CACREP-accredited master’s degree in Counseling. Please contact us if you have specific questions about your master’s degree curriculum. 

I am an MFT. Can I apply?

This program is designed to advance the education of those with a CACREP-accredited master’s degree in Counseling. Please contact us if you have specific questions about your master’s degree curriculum.

I have a CACREP Master’s degree but don’t have any hours towards licensure….

Our program does not require you to have any hours accrued towards licensure. You may be able to collect hours while you’re in the program, depending on your eligibility for California licensure laws.

What if my master’s program is not CACREP-accredited?

Students with MA in Counseling degrees from non-CACREP-accredited institutions are not automatically denied, however, applicants must provide evidence that their curriculum meets CACREP standards. 

Can I transfer credits from another CES PhD program?

Transfer Credit Policy 

  • Graduate Level: Only graduate level courses are acceptable for transfer credit. A graduate level course is any course for which a student received graduate credit at their previous institution(s).
  • Acceptable Grades: A grade of “B” or better is required in the graduate level course to be eligible for transfer credit.
  • Accreditation: Previous graduate work must have been completed at a CACREP  accredited Counselor Education and Supervision program.
  • Deadline for Requesting Transfer Credit: Requests for review of transfer credit must be submitted by Aug 1 of the year the student plans to enroll in the CES program.
  • Maximum Credit Awarded: A maximum of 13.5 quarter units or 9 semester units may be transferred into the CES program.
  • Transfer Unit Equivalencies: A student will be awarded the number of units the transferred course is equal to at Palo Alto University, which uses a quarter system. A 3 semester unit course will be awarded as a 4.5 quarter unit credit. A transferred course must be equal to or greater than the number of units of the corresponding CES course.
  • Time Limit for Transfer Credit: In order to be eligible for transfer credit, the course must have been completed within five years of the student’s matriculation at Palo Alto University.
  • Transferable Courses: Students applying for review of transfer coursework should indicate which course(s) they are applying to waive. It is not guaranteed that a course will be eligible for transfer credit.
  • Appeals and Exceptions: A student may appeal transfer credit decisions in writing to the Department Curriculum Committee. Appeals must be submitted within one week after the incoming student is notified of the outcome of their transfer credit application.
  • Please note that because the CES program is billed on a flat-rate, quarterly tuition schedule, transfer or waiver of units will not result in a reduced tuition rate. Additionally, because of our cohort model with required courses in each quarter, your time to completion of the program will not be reduced; however, students who are allowed to waive required coursework may have the luxury of more time available for supplemental internship, research assistantships, paid employment, etc.

Are there student employment opportunities?

On-campus, student employee positions are available to our doctoral students. Additionally, students who have completed their teaching internship (scheduled during the first year), are eligible to teach as adjunct faculty within the master’s counseling program. 

What is a multiple article dissertation?

Our multiple article dissertation format is designed to help launch your scholarship career early. Instead of a traditional dissertation, you will organize your research into 3 journal articles. Our curriculum is designed to help you be successful by providing intentional research opportunities from the beginning of the program. The dissemination of knowledge holds significant importance in the counseling profession. By structuring your research into journal publications, you acquire a vital skill of effectively communicating your discoveries. Furthermore, this approach enhances the likelihood of your work being published and cited even before defending your dissertation

Are international students elibible for the program?

Unfortunately, PAU cannot issue I-20s for the PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision, due to the portion of the program that is delivered online. International students who are in the US on another type of eligible visa are welcome to apply. 

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Doctoral programs in counseling

Doctorate (edd, phd), edd deadlines.

We welcome applications on a rolling basis. The next priority application deadline is April 15, 2024.

PhD deadline

Applications for PhD will open Fall 2024.

Full and partial assistantships

Specialize in your area of interest

Part-time and full-time options

Program overview

Whether you want to become a counselor educator or faculty in a higher education institution, pursue a leadership role in the counseling profession, enhance your credentials as a private practitioner, or contribute new knowledge about counseling, Warner’s doctoral programs in counseling will help you achieve your goals.

We invite you to check out our Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs-approved doctoral programs, and see how you can benefit from the expertise and support of faculty involved in cutting-edge research and innovative education reform projects, while pursuing your specific interests.

Key program features

  • Minimum credits: 96 graduate credits, including doctoral-level internships; some of the credits can be transferred from previous programs (up to 30 credits for PhDs; up to 36 credits for EdDs).
  • Curriculum: Coursework reflects emerging knowledge about the impact of early life experiences, the effects of chronic stress, clinical supervision, the biological basis of behavior, and the importance of employing an integrated diversity of approaches to psychotherapy.
  • Choice of research methods: Benefit from a vast array of research methods courses, and choose from a variety of research methods for your dissertation.
  • Internship opportunities:  Internships are available in an array of settings, including mental health clinics, healthcare facilities and hospitals, human services agencies, drug and alcohol treatment facilities and higher education settings. Interns can choose whether they want to work with children, adolescents and/or adults of various ages.  
  • Research opportunities: Warner faculty work on research and reform projects that provide opportunities for apprenticeships as well as interesting contexts for your dissertation.
  • Flexible: Programs can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis, starting in any semester; minimum one year full-time residency requirement for PhD students only.


  • Successful completion of a master’s degree in mental health counseling, school counseling, or a related field in the helping professions (e.g., social work, counseling psychology, creative arts therapy).***
  • At least two years of relevant practice experience in a counseling-related profession.
  • A license or certification to practice in a counseling-related profession.
  • Career goals consistent with attainment of a doctoral degree in counseling.
  • Ability to articulate potential avenues for dissertation research.
  • Capacity for sound clinical and interpersonal judgment.
  • Ability to deal with critique and conflict in a healthy and productive manner.
  • Reliable completion, even under conditions of stress and emotional challenge, of expected clinical and academic responsibilities.***
  • Respect for diversity of beliefs, practices, appearances and orientations, and a commitment to, and capacity for self-reflection regarding diversity issues.
  • Ability, even in times of extreme stress, to convey empathy and compassion.
  • Display of sound moral and ethical judgment.
  • The ability to relate to supervisees and students in an ethical, non-exploitive manner that prioritizes their welfare.

Scholarships, Tuition, & Financial Aid

Doctorate program options.

What's the difference between an EdD and PhD?

PhD in Education with Concentration in Counseling and Counselor Education

Prepares graduates for academic positions in universities and other higher education settings, as well as research positions in government agencies or other educational organizations. Coursework for the PhD in education (with specialization in counseling and counselor education) . 

EdD with Specialization in Counseling

Prepares and supports experienced counselors for leadership positions in their field, as well as selected higher education faculty positions; can be completed on a part-time basis while maintaining full-time employment. 

  • EdD Accelerated Option : Dissertation must be completed in the span of one year as part of a cohort, supported by a three-semester dissertation seminar. Coursework for the accelerated EdD in counseling and human development .
  • EdD Traditional Option : More flexibility for dissertation and coursework completion. Coursework for the traditional EdD in counseling and human development . 
  • EdD in Mental Health Counseling : Offers the option of including additional coursework, beyond the 96 credits required for the doctoral degree, that allows matriculated students to become eligible for the New York State mental health counseling license.  Students graduating from this program would be eligible for a New York State limited permit, and would need to complete 3,000 post-graduation supervised practice hours and pass the state examination to become a fully Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Coursework for the EdD in mental health counseling and supervision .

Customize your degree

Our degrees are designed to meet your interests and career aspirations. Whether you want to add an advanced certificate or specialize in a distinct area of emphasis, we can help craft the best option for you.

Ready to apply?

Growing need for mental health counselors.

The need for mental health counselors is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations nationwide due in part to the fact that health insurance plans have started providing coverage to mental health counseling services.

Today, the country faces a shortage of mental health professionals while the demand for mental health services has never been higher. In fact, 15 of the nation’s 50 states – including California, Connecticut, Florida, and 12 others – are experiencing a shortage of mental health professionals, as defined by the federal government. This means millions of Americans will continue to struggle with mental health issues as a result of the lack of licensed clinical mental health counselors.

A man who looks stressed is being shown images of meditation by a counselor

Core program faculty

Doug Guiffrida Constructivist counseling supervision; College retention

Martin Lynch Self-determination theory

Karen Mackie Creative arts in counseling; Narrative therapy

Andre Marquis Integral psychotherapy; Psychotherapy integration

Amanda McLeroy Mental health of college students; Racial and childhood trauma

Bonnie Rubenstein School counseling; Grief and loss

Contact admissions

(585) 275-3950

[email protected]

Request information

Receive a $70 application fee waiver when you complete the form below.

Take a course before you apply

Take a course before you apply to one of our programs for a discounted price. Inquire with admissions to learn about credits that also apply toward degree requirements.

Related certificates and degrees

Related advanced certificates.

Opportunities for additional specializations with minimum additional credits required.

  • Advanced Certificate in Urban Teaching and Leadership
  • Advanced Certificate in Mind/Body Healing and Wellness
  • Advanced Certificate in Online Teaching

Related degrees

  • MS in School Counseling
  • MS in Mental Health Counseling
  • MS in Human Development
  • EdD/PhD in Human Development

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Ph.D. in Counselor Education

The Counselor Education doctoral program provides the highest professional degree available to students who aspire to work in leadership positions in counselor education and supervision or school counseling. Many of our graduates have gone on to do entrepreneurial work with a model they created from their dissertation work. The Ph.D. in Counselor Education includes a prescribed curriculum consisting of required and elective courses for 60 hours of post-master's graduate credit. Qualified applicants must be a graduate of a CACREP accredited master's degree or 60-hour equivalent master's degree. Additionally, the doctoral degree is awarded on the basis of successful completion of coursework, the passing of comprehensive exams, and the completion of a major research study resulting in the presentation and defense of a dissertation.

Students who complete the doctoral degree in counselor education will:

  • apply counseling theory and research to the counselor education and/or school counseling leadership functions.
  • plan and deliver research-based counselor education didactic courses.
  • apply counselor supervision theory and research to individual and group supervision in counselor education and/or school counseling programs.
  • use advanced level communication and interpersonal skills in consultation, counseling, counselor education, supervision, and evaluation.
  • interpret the relationships among federal, state, and local agencies and the laws and ethical considerations applicable to the counselor education and/or school counseling program management fields.
  • apply advanced level diagnostic and assessment methodology and develop the capacity to teach appropriate treatment plans for a wide range of psychological concerns to master’s level students.
  • demonstrate multicultural awareness and competence during doctoral level counseling, supervision, and consultation.
  • incorporate adult education pedagogy and research as a basic tool in administering counselor education and staff development programs.
  • design doctoral-level counseling research and interpret results.
  • apply data to advanced level counseling capabilities and/or school counseling leadership functions.
  • successfully complete extensive internship experiences directly related to the student’s individual professional goals.
  • write for professional publication and presentations.

Additional information : Reference the Program Landing Page for additional information, such as cost, delivery format, contact information, or to schedule a visit.

The application deadline is March 1.

Applicants seeking admission to the doctoral program in Counselor Education must submit the following directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions :

  • Graduate Application
  • Application fee
  • Official transcript(s) showing receipt of a baccalaureate degree and a master's degree from an accredited institution
  • Master's degree GPA of 3.5 or higher. If master's degree GPA below 3.5, then an official GRE General Test score (within last 5 years) is required. 
  • Personal statement (1000 words maximum) (you are encouraged to showcase: your passion and/or rationale for wanting a Ph.D. in Counselor Education, understanding of what is involved in this type of degree, level of perseverance, specialties or experiences (i.e., what you bring to the table). 
  • Five Reference Evaluation Forms, three from former graduate-level professors or current clinical supervisor(s), the others may be from officials in schools or mental health agencies where the applicant has been employed (Note: These must be “closed” recommendations)

Applicants must have a CACREP accredited master's degree in counseling or 60-hour equivalent. Applicants must currently have or eligible to work towards an LPC (meet requirements set by the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council). 

Applicant Interview and Selection Process

The Counselor Education doctoral admissions committee will consider all applications through a holistic review process, considering the graduate GPA, GRE scores (if required), work experience, any relevant CACREP background, license(s), clinical experiences, recommendations, and interview scores. After reviewing the pool of applicants, the doctoral admissions committee will recommend the top candidates for the on-campus interview process. Applicants invited for the interview will be given specific guidelines for the process, which may include an interview with the faculty, group tasks (to examine cohort fit) and an on-site writing proficiency assessment. All qualified doctoral students are admitted under regular admission to the program.

Students will have significant opportunities both inside and outside of class to develop advanced levels of their supervision, counselor, research, and leader professional identities. 

This program follows a cohort model. This means that individuals are admitted to a specific group, called a cohort, and are required to take their coursework at the same time as the other individuals in the cohort. Cohorts begin each fall semester. In the event that students encounter personal emergencies that result in dropping out of their cohort, students may be allowed to join another cohort with a different schedule.

The program requires completion of 60-hours graduate credit. A comprehensive examination is required, usually occurring in the 2nd or 3rd year of the program. 

Students select a dissertation chair when enrolled in COUN 7363 research application. Students and their dissertation chair will jointly select the student's doctoral dissertation committee. Once students reach the dissertation phase of their doctoral program, they must have continuous enrollment every semester until graduation.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) marketable skills initiative is part of the state’s 60x30TX plan and was designed to help students articulate their skills to employers. Marketable skills are those skills valued by employers and/or graduate programs that can be applied in a variety of work or education settings and may include interpersonal, cognitive, and applied skill areas.

The Ph.D. in Counselor Education is designed to provide graduates with the following marketable skills:

  • Plan and deliver research-based counselor education didactic courses.
  • Apply counselor supervision theory and research to individual and group supervision in counseling and counselor education programs.
  • Design doctoral-level research and interpret research results.
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How to become a school counselor: educational and professional pathways to school counseling careers.

school counselor with student

Being a student can be tough. There are challenges everywhere—in schoolwork, social interactions, family dynamics, the search for self-identity and self-confidence, the drive to set and reach goals and the developmental changes that come with each new year. School counselors help students understand and resolve their issues and work toward positive transformations they can be proud of. 1 This is no small task. Each school counselor needs expertise and professional agility in areas such as psychology, mental health, conflict resolution, academic guidance and career coaching.

A career path as a school counselor will be rich in its challenges and fulfilling in its rewards. Read on to explore how to get ready for it and what to expect from it.

Education Requirements

Typically, a bachelor's degree in counseling requires two years of general coursework followed by another two years of specialized education in areas of your choice. If you earn a bachelor's degree in counseling, you may work as a counselor's assistant or caseworker or in other entry-level positions in the field. 2

In most states, eligibility to work as a school counselor requires a master's degree with a minimum of 48 credit hours. 2 A master's program in counseling may include specialization opportunities in areas such as clinical mental health counseling , marriage and family therapy, military and veterans counseling and school counseling . Graduate students will gain real-world experience through supervised fieldwork with clients. According to the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), most public school systems in the United States require their counselors to have graduate-level education in these topics: 3

  • Human growth and development
  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Testing/appraisal
  • Research and program evaluation
  • Professional orientation
  • Career development

A master’s degree is the highest level of education required by most states for a career in counseling. If you pursue a doctorate, however, you might choose one of these paths:

  • A doctoral program in counseling psychology focuses on counseling practice and prepares you to become a licensed clinical psychologist
  • A doctoral program in counseling education (or counseling education and supervision) prepares you to teach counseling or to lead a counseling department; coursework and practical experience will center on teaching, supervision, leadership, evaluation and performance improvement

Licensure and Certification

Counselors working with school children must be licensed and a master of education in school counseling from an accredited program is usually a prerequisite for licensing. Other requirements typically include completing a practicum and internship in a K-12 school and passing a state or national comprehensive exam. 4

The ASCA also offers certification that, once earned, can help you advance professionally. Graduate-level education will help you prepare for certification. The licensure and certification requirements for school counselors vary by state and are published on the ASCA’s website .

Internship and Supervised Practice

Each graduate student seeking counseling licensure will have to complete an internship , which involves providing counseling services under supervision. Many states require students to complete a certain number of supervised hours before obtaining a practice license. 5 To find an internship, seek assistance from your university's counseling program advisor and search for positions on job boards.

Personal Qualities and Skills

If you have a genuine interest in earning a master’s degree, you probably also have a resume that attests to your educational motivation and achievement. By the time you complete your M.Ed. in School Counseling , you’ll have graduate-level academic and professional credentials. You’ll look great on paper, but what about what you carry inside?

To flourish as a school counselor, it’ll help if you really like kids. If you’re comfortable in the rapidly changing, physically and emotionally noisy world of young people figuring out their next steps, this could be a career for you. In addition, though, you’ll be called on to collaborate with adults, navigating successfully within the structures and politics of an educational system. You’ll also need:

  • Active listening and observation skills
  • Strong assessment skills
  • The ability to communicate effectively with people of all ages and backgrounds
  • Persistence
  • A healthy, helpful sense of humor

Professional Organizations and Networking

Joining professional organizations helps you establish your credibility and network with others. There are several professional organizations specifically for school counselors, including: 6

  • The American School Counselor Association (ASCA), a worldwide organization for school counselors, which provides current research and guidance on topics relating to emotional and social development
  • The Association of Child and Adolescent Counseling (ACAC), which represents counselors in various settings, including private practice, schools and public agencies; members receive access to counseling strategies, professional development and other tools to use in their work
  • The American Counseling Association (ACA), which represents counselors in diverse settings, including schools; membership provides access to webinars, journals, publications, conferences and education sessions

Career Opportunities

School counselors work with students of all ages, backgrounds and levels of academic achievement, and with their teachers and family members. They work in elementary and secondary schools and at the college/university level, in public and private educational systems.

As you might expect, your responsibilities as a school counselor will vary depending on your students’ ages and needs. Working with very young children, for example, might involve a strong focus on academics and social adjustment, while older students are more likely to need your help with preparation for college and employment.

Continuing Education as a School Counselor

In the long run, all of the education and experience you need to become a school counselor will serve as a launching point, rather than the end point, of your training. As you grow in your career and as new theories and approaches are developed within the discipline of counseling, you’ll need to keep learning. Staying up to date on counseling research is essential. Fortunately, you’ll find opportunities for continuing education and professional development in many places, including through seminars, conferences, workshops and university courses.

The ACA offers a variety of continuing education resources for counselors, including online professional development courses and in-person conferences. It also provides resources specifically for school counselors, with more than 200 courses in topics including children and trauma, as well as general principles for counseling children and adolescents. 7

Ethical Practices in School Counseling

School counselors have important jobs with high standards. The ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors is a 12-page document “developed in collaboration with school counselors, state school counselor associations, school counseling district and state leaders and school counselor educators across the nation to clarify the profession’s norms, values and beliefs.” 8 Its guidelines “for the ethical practices of all individuals serving in a school counseling capacity” encompass these areas and positions within a school community:

  • Supporting Student Development
  • Confidentiality
  • Comprehensive School Counseling Program
  • Academic, Career and Social/Emotional Planning
  • Sustaining Healthy Relationships and Managing Boundaries
  • Appropriate Collaboration, Advocacy and Referrals for Counseling
  • Student Peer-Support Program
  • Serious and Foreseeable Harm to Self and Others
  • Marginalized Populations
  • Bullying, Harassment, Discrimination, Bias and Hate Incidents
  • Child Abuse
  • Student Records
  • Evaluation, Assessment and Interpretation
  • Technical and Digital Citizenship
  • Virtual/Distance School Counseling
  • Responsibilities to Parents/Guardians, School and Self
  • School Counselor Directors/Administrators/Supervisors
  • School Counseling Practicum/Internship Site Supervisors
  • Maintenance of Standards
  • Ethical Decision-Making

School Counseling Challenges and Rewards

As a school counselor, the challenges you’ll face will range from the institutional, such as being overworked and understaffed, to the individual: supporting students who face academic struggles, bullying, trauma at home, daunting choices about their educational and professional paths, and so on. This can all weigh heavily on your mind , taking an emotional and physical toll.

School counseling can, however, be a deeply rewarding career. You can be an advocate for social justice and social change, helping to create a more inclusive educational environment . You will shape the future of the students with whom you work: In guiding them through the difficulties noted above, you’ll help them to succeed as they become strong, resilient, compassionate, accomplished adult contributors to their families, professions and communities.

Succeed by Helping Others Succeed

Maximize your students’ ability to learn, engage with peers, navigate early-life decisions and become more resilient.

Led by world-class faculty , William & Mary’s Online M.Ed. in Counseling program with a concentration in School Counseling will develop your ability to guide the mental, emotional and physical development of students of all ages. With a focus on social justice , cultural responsiveness, program planning and evaluation practices, the robust curriculum in this CACREP-accredited program provides the knowledge and insight you need to become a transformative influence in students’ lives.

Don’t wait to make a crucial difference. Schedule a call with an admissions outreach advisor today.

1. Retrieved on March 12, 2024, from positivepsychology.com/what-is-school-counselor-role/ 2. Retrieved on March 12, 2024, from psychology.org/degrees/counseling/ 3. Retrieved on March 12, 2024, from schoolcounselor.org/About-School-Counseling/State-Requirements-Programs/State-Licensure-Requirements 4. Retrieved on March 12, 2024, from schoolcounselor.org/About-School-Counseling/State-Requirements-Programs 5. Retrieved on March 12, 2024, from thriveworks.com/counseling-internships 6. Retrieved on March 12, 2024, from bestcollegereviews.org/lists/five-professional-associations-school-counselors/ 7. Retrieved on March 12, 2024, from imis.counseling.org/store/catalog.aspx# 8. Retrieved on March 12, 2024, from schoolcounselor.org/getmedia/44f30280-ffe8-4b41-9ad8-f15909c3d164/EthicalStandards.pdf

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Counselors vs. Therapists vs. Psychologists: Key Differences

Counselors vs. Therapists vs. Psychologists: Key Differences

Industry Advice Healthcare

While emotional health concerns have gained visibility in recent years, many people still struggle to find the support they need in their daily lives. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America , an estimated 4.1 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2022. As a result, these current challenges in providing the right emotional care for individuals with emotional disorders are promising for young professionals hoping to become a mental health professional in the coming years.

If you are considering a career as a mental health professional, it can be exciting (and potentially overwhelming) to learn of the many job titles and career paths available to pursue. While the wide variety of jobs increases your chances of aligning your career goals and interests, understanding the differences between counselors and therapists can make choosing the “right” path a daunting task. 

Three of the most common job titles in the mental health industry are counselor, therapist, and psychologist. But what is the difference between these job titles? Are counselors, therapists, and psychologists really that different from one another, or are they more similar than different?

While there is overlap between these three career options, there are specific differences that you should understand before embarking on a career in the field. Here, we explore those differences. 

Ready to Make a Difference?

Download our free Counseling Psychology Career Guide to learn how.


What Is a Counselor?

The term counselor is used to broadly refer to a professional trained in the fields of psychology, counseling, social work, or a range of medical fields such as nursing. Mental health counselors , specifically, are those professionals working in a mental health capacity. 

Mental health counselors perform many functions and responsibilities. Their duties include conducting patient evaluations, providing educational resources around mental health conditions, and making recommendations that the client or patient can use to address mental health issues.

Often, mental health counselors will specialize in addressing a particular issue, such as substance abuse, sexual abuse, marriage and relationships, or family counseling, among others.

There are various types of counselors; here are some common job titles you can pursue in this field:

  • Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)
  • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
  • Substance Abuse Counselor

What Is a Therapist?

A therapist is an individual that has been professionally trained to provide some form of therapy to a patient or client that addresses either a mental or physical disorder.

Examples of the types of therapy used in the context of physical medicine can include physical therapists and occupational therapists. In the context of mental health, the terms mental health therapist and psychotherapist are common.

As with counselors, therapists will often specialize in addressing particular client issues, such as marriage and family issues, substance abuse, etc. There are various types of therapists; here are some common job titles you can pursue in this field:

  • Counseling Therapist
  • Family Therapist
  • Rehabilitation Psychology Therapist

The Difference Between Therapists and Counselors

If the two definitions above sound very similar, it’s because they are. Mental health counselors and therapists occupy the same professional space, treating the same issues within the same patient populations. Even within the industry, you can find the terms used interchangeably in some contexts.

However, here are some of the key differences between counselors and therapists you should keep in mind when choosing which career is right for you.

Data from Lightcast highlighting several of the key differences between therapists and counselors discussed in the article

1. Treatment Plans

Perhaps the biggest difference between the role of a counselor and therapist is their approaches to treatment. A s a practice, counseling services often address specific problems, emotional challenges, or behavioral struggles in a patient’s life in a very practical way.

A licensed counselor working with a patient who suffers from anxiety might, for example, provide the patient with different therapeutic practices that they can use to ward off a pending panic attack. Or they might give a patient with alcoholism a set series of steps to follow when they feel a craving coming on. In this regard, there is a certain problem-solving approach inherent in counseling.

Therapists, however, take a slightly different approach to mental health treatment. They work to help their patients address similar issues, and often provide the same advice that counselors might. However, a key difference is that therapists often seek to go deeper by helping the patient understand the how and why behind a challenge. For example:

  • What scenarios tend to bring on addictive issues and why?
  • What situations are more likely to trigger a panic attack and why?
  • What is the root of these issues?

Therapists seek to identify the source of these issues through a combination of talk therapy and other frameworks.

As such, counseling is often (though not always) a short-term approach, arming the patient with tools they can put into action immediately to begin living a more healthy life. Therapy, on the other hand, is often a longer-term process that can last months or even years as the therapist and client seek out the root of the issues being addressed to make lasting change.

It is important to note that despite these differences in treatment, however, counselors and therapists will often borrow from each other’s playbook.

2. Education

While the required education levels for these various positions overlap, there are some counseling certifications that don’t require advanced degrees. For example, some states certify addictions counselors with an associate degree, or a combination of college credits, professional seminars, and years of professional experience working in addiction. However, if you hope to become a licensed mental health counselor or own a private practice, you must earn a master’s degree to gain licensure.

According to our analysis of job postings data, 71 percent of advertised LMHC jobs require at least a master’s degree. If you hope to become a master’s-level counselor, it’s recommended that you hold a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology . However, there are a few additional options available to you if you are interested in alternative paths.

Therapists also need to earn at least a master’s degree through a psychology, social work, or counseling program. During this graduate program, students choose a field of specialty while completing their degree, including:

  • Family Issues
  • Couple Issues
  • Eating Disorders

According to our analysis of job postings data, 68 percent of advertised therapist jobs require at least a master’s degree in one of these programs. For some, this career path can be enticing for those who are interested in having more control over what they learn in the classroom, but there are additional differences to consider before making a final decision.

3. Licensure

Licensure is an important factor in any career in healthcare. For example, master’s-level counselors are expected to gain licensure if they hope to legally practice in the state they work in. Some of these common licenses include:

  • Licenced Mental Health Counselors (LHMCs)
  • Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs)

To qualify for your license, you’ll need to complete a certain amount of clinical work, and the exact amount often depends on the state you hope to work in as well as the license you are applying for. For example, in Massachusetts, at least 3,360 hours of mental health counseling over a period ranging between two and eight years need to be completed to gain licensure.

Therapists are also required to complete an extensive level of training that focuses on developing a wide range of clinical skills needed to properly address patients’ needs. This is done through professional experience supervised by a licensed therapist.

Depending on the type of therapy you hope to work in, here are a few examples of licenses you may want to obtain:

  • Licensed Marital and Family Therapist (LMFT)
  • Licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs)

The supervision period for these licenses largely depends on the state in which you hope to gain licensure, but this can range anywhere from 1,000 to 4,000 hands-on hours.

While the licensing requirements may create two different timelines for these professions, it is important to note that both a licensed counselor and therapist must pass a comprehensive licensing exam in order to legally practice.

Salary is a common factor in the decision-making process when it comes to choosing a future career path. This is particularly important when considering the salary discrepancy between therapists and licensed mental health counselors.

According to our analysis of job posting data, the median salary of therapists is $62,300 per year. On the other hand, LMHCs can expect a median annual salary of $83,300. Despite this salary difference, it’s important to note that the same report shows significant growth in the advertised wage trend of each job title. Therefore, these career paths may offer different median salaries, but both provide stable growth in annual earnings over time.

The advertised salary wage trend for both counselors and therapists is gradually increasing, with counselors typically making more than therapists.

5. Employment Opportunities

Every career path has different levels of employment opportunity. The good news is that both therapists and counselors can expect steady growth in unique job posting trends. According to our analysis of job posting data, therapists have seen an 11 percent increase in unique job postings over the past two years. Licensed mental health counselors experienced a 26 percent increase from April 2021 to April 2023.

This can be incredibly encouraging for anyone interested in going into the fields, but it’s also important to consider the states with the most job openings for each job title. For example, according to our job postings report the top five states that are hiring therapists are:

In contrast, the top states that are currently hiring LMHC include:

  • Massachusetts

phd in counselor education

While you may have already chosen what state you hope to work in, this information can be incredibly valuable when thinking about what career path fits your professional needs.

What Is a Psychologist?

Another common job title within mental health counseling is that of a psychologist. Whereas therapists and counselors hold similar responsibilities, the difference is more pronounced for psychologists and the mental health services they provide.

phd in counselor education

A psychologist is similar to mental health counselors and therapists in that they also work to improve their patients’ mental and emotional health. The techniques and frameworks that they use tend to differ, however. For example, while both counselors and therapists use various therapeutic approaches, psychologists generally draw on one or more theories of psychotherapy.

Some forms of psychotherapy include:

  • Psychoanalysis and psychodynamic: Focuses on changing problematic behaviors, feelings, and thoughts by discovering their unconscious motivations
  • Behavioral: Concentrates on learning’s role in developing behaviors and habits Cognitive therapy: Emphasizes what people think rather than what they do
  • Humanistic: Highlights people’s capacity to make rational choices and reach their maximum potential

These types of psychotherapy tend to play a bigger role in licensed psychologists’ treatment plans.

Additionally, psychologists are likely to deal with more complex issues than counselors. This is largely due to the fact that psychologists work with patients with severe mental health disorders, such as clinical depression, borderline personality disorder, and bipolar disorder. With this in mind, becoming a counseling psychologist will typically require a higher level of education, such as earning a PhD in Counseling Psychology . In fact, according to our analysis of job posting data only 17 percent of psychologist job postings require a master’s degree, while 59 percent require a PhD.

In addition to the type of degree, psychologists also have different licensing requirements. Much like certain counselors and most therapists, psychologists are required to work under licensed supervision for at least one year. This supervised experience tends to be longer than what is expected of counselors and therapists. These additional hours on top of the additional training and education makes becoming a psychologist a more time-consuming career path.

However, this additional work in both education and licensure is rewarded financially. According to our analysis of job posting data, the median annual salary of psychologists is $104,300. Not only that, psychologists have seen a substantial increase in unique job postings of over 40 percent since April 2021. As a result, it is important to consider all of these factors before making a final decision.

Choosing The Right Career For Your Future

If you’re considering entering the mental health field, it’s important to understand the various available job functions so you can choose a career path that aligns with your interests and goals. While there are many different variations of the titles discussed above, the most common will be counselor, therapist, and psychologist. Though these are related in many ways, the differences are also significant and can substantially change the trajectory of your career. Pursuing a degree in counseling psychology is one way you can ensure you are ready for whatever path you choose.

Jumpstart your career today by   learning more about the skills and experience needed to succeed in counseling psychology.

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About shayna joubert, related articles, 4 pressing global health problems we face today, global health careers: how can i make a difference.

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Can School Counselors Help Students with "FAFSA Fiasco"?

  • Posted April 1, 2024
  • By Elizabeth M. Ross
  • College Access and Success
  • Education Finances
  • Education Policy
  • Inequality and Education Gaps

FAFSA Illustration

Doreen Kelly-Carney, Ed.M.’93, fondly describes the school that she helped start 27 years ago as “The Little Engine That Could.” Tuition is free at the Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter Public School (APR) in Boston’s Hyde Park neighborhood, and students apply through a lottery system. The majority of its learners are students of color, and many come from immigrant families. APR prides itself on offering students intensive and personalized help in every aspect of the college search, application, and financial aid process, beginning in ninth grade. It’s a level of support that resembles what you would find at a wealthy independent school. Seventy percent of its alumni go on to graduate from colleges and universities, some of whose prestigious insignia grace the school’s website .

APR is not a place where the co-directors of college placement, Kelly-Carney and Diane Scott, Ed.M.’97, typically struggle to get their students across the federal aid application finish line, but this year has been different. Why?

The pain points

The rollout of the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, used to determine a student’s eligibility for grants, scholarships, federal work study funds, and loans, has faced delays, mathematical errors, and technical difficulties that have put even the most seasoned and well-resourced school counselors, like Kelly-Carney and Scott, to the test this year. 

The glitchy December 30 debut versus the traditional October 1 start for the FAFSA “pushed everything back for us,” explains master's student Daniel Gutierrez, a college counseling intern at APR. Gutierrez and the college placement team found themselves doing a lot of financial aid work in January, at the same time as regular decision college application deadlines, which created “a double burden on students trying to get their college essays finished … and being worried about the FAFSA,” he says. 

At APR’s annual FAFSA assistance night for students and parents this year, gone was the usual air of calm and quiet confidence conveyed by the college counseling team. “That night was pretty chaotic,” admits Scott who has worked at the school since 2002, because the new process has been “so problematic.”

Around 30 percent fewer high school students have submitted the FAFSA compared with last year, as of March 22, according to the National College Attainment Network .

Challenges for first-generation and low-income students

Gutierrez says he encountered “totally weird” and unexpected issues when trying to help students and parents set up their FSA IDs — the first step in the new and supposedly simpler financial aid application process this year. Concerns included disappearing electronic signatures and cell phone numbers that showed up in the financial aid system as still belonging to their previous owners rather than APR students and families.  

Separate usernames and passwords for parents and students to complete their individual sections of the new FAFSA form have made the process “much more difficult from a counselor perspective,” says Scott, especially when trying to assist immigrant and low-income families who work multiple jobs and have limited English proficiency and time.

The new FAFSA form’s ability to draw on federal tax data from the IRS — meant to make the transfer of tax information easier — has led to additional layers of security and challenges, too. For example, when Kelly-Carney tried to help a student and her mom by setting up a phone call in her office with a federal student aid helper, she says they were left on hold for almost an hour. When they finally got through, Kelly-Carney says she was asked to take the call off speakerphone so the representative could speak privately with the parent, but the mother struggled to understand the questions she was being asked.

Hiring more counselors 

This year’s unique challenges and obstacles underscore how crucial counselors can be in helping students and families access financial aid. In fact, research shows that when schools hire more school counselors, students receive significantly more aid dollars. However, while the American School Counselor Association recommends a 250-to-1 ratio of students to school counselors, the ratios differ greatly from state to state and the national average is 385-to-1. APR has a senior class of just 61 students.

“You can’t get the results everybody wants with a [traditional] guidance counselor at a school with a big caseload, having to do course scheduling and social emotional counseling, lunch duty, college counseling, alternative pathways, because we know how many hours it takes per kid,” explains Kelly-Carney who once worked as an admissions officer at Harvard College and excels, with her colleagues, in helping talented students get into some of the most highly selective schools in the country including ones that meet full demonstrated financial need.

Preparing for "summer melt"

Some colleges and universities have extended their enrollment deadlines beyond May 1 this year to give prospective students more time to consider delayed financial aid packages. Kelly-Carney and Scott welcome the move but they also worry about unintended consequences, such as an adverse impact on summer melt — when college-bound students fail to turn up in the fall because they have been overwhelmed by the many administrative tasks they have to complete to get there. While the counselors hope to apply for extra funding so they can hire Gutierrez to work this summer to support APR students, they are concerned about the implications of enrollment delays nationally.

In the best of years there are “so many talented, talented students in our country that are totally falling through the cracks because they don’t have the knowledge and the support” they need to steer themselves successfully through the college and financial aid application process, explains Scott. This year has already been so much harder.  

Parts 1 and 2 of our FAFSA series:

Tips for navigating financial aid, getting to college: fafsa challenges for first-gen students.

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The first in our series on how students, families, and colleges can find their way through the government’s “FAFSA Fiasco”

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2024-2025 community receptionist.

  • Richmond Campus
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  • Closing at: Jul 1 2024 at 23:55 EDT

Title: 2024-2025 Community Receptionist

Position Type: Student

Search Type: External - minimum 7 days

Department: 77R000 - University Housing

Division: 5R1000 - Student Affairs

Position Location: Richmond Campus

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Hours Per Week: 20

Additional Schedule Details: Must be willing to work some weekends, evenings, or nights.

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Contact Person: Holly Bowen

Job Summary/Basic Functions

EKU Housing & Residence Life is seeking students for the Community Receptionist (CR) position for the 2024-2025 academic year. Community Receptionists work the front desk to provide customer service, administrative assistance, and community engagement in each of our residential communities. Community Receptionists are responsible for greeting visitors, answering calls, answering questions,and referring calls or students to appropriate staff members, Community Receptionists must display a professional, attentive, friendly, helpful attitude while working. Greet residents and visitors in a friendly and professional manner. Monitor access to the residence hall, enforcing policies and procedures. Maintain accurate records of resident interactions, incidents, and key inventory. Assist with room key check-in/check-out procedures for residents and guests. Foster a sense of community by promoting hall events and activities. Encourage resident involvement in hall events and initiatives. Serve as a resource for residents about campus resources and services. Collaborate with other Residence Life staff to address resident concerns and promote a positive living environment. Follow established protocols in the event of emergencies or crisis situations. Maintain knowledge of emergency procedures, including fire evacuation routes and safety protocols. Maintain cleanliness and organization of the front desk area.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Current enrollment as a full-time student at EKU.
  • Strong communication and customer service skills.
  • Ability to multitask and work effectively in a fast-paced environment.
  • Dependable, responsible, and able to exercise sound judgment.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Knowledge of campus resources and services preferred.
  • Previous experience in a customer service or administrative role is a plus.

Job Duties:

  • Enforce the Visitation Policy, which requires accurate and consistent practice of allowing two guests per resident and requiring that guests be escorted by their hosts at all times. - (Essential)
  • Convey accurate information to individuals requesting assistance over the telephone or in person. - (Essential)
  • Contact the appropriate personnel in case of a crisis or emergency. - (Essential)
  • Monitor the front desk and lobby area for unacceptable behavior and address or communicate any problems or policy violations to appropriate staff member - (Essential)
  • Utilize StarRez to confirm occupancy, check students in/out, enter work orders, - (Essential)
  • Complete daily operational checklists. - (Essential)
  • Assist in implementation of emergency procedures and crisis response. Respond to policy or living community concerns by contacting Residence Life staff or University Police - (Essential)
  • Attend required meetings and trainings as scheduled. - (Essential)

Sponsorship:  This position is not eligible for visa sponsorship.

Open Until Filled: Yes

Special Instructions: The CR is NOT required to live on campus. This position will require some evening and weekend hours, and/or last-minute desk coverage. The CR is supervised by the Community Desk Manager (CDM) and Graduate/Residence Hall Coordinator (G/RHC). This appointment is for one full academic year. Must attend and actively participate in Fall Training (August) and Spring Training (January). Perform additional duties and special assignments as directed by the CDM and G/RHC.

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Eastern Kentucky University is an Equal Opportunity employer and educational institution and does not discriminate on the basis of age (40 and over), race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, ethnicity, disability, national origin, veteran status, or genetic information in the admission to, or participation in, any educational program or activity (e.g., athletics, academics and housing) which it conducts or any employment policy or practice.

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  1. 3 Reasons to Earn a PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

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