The 8 Best Online Doctorate in Counselor Education Programs

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An online doctorate in counselor education equips graduates to lead, educate, and supervise other counselors as well as improve their own counseling practice. The programs broaden graduates’ ability to advocate for the profession and clients and prepares them for careers in clinical, academic, and research settings. Counseling professionals with a Ph.D. in counselor education or an Ed.D. in counselor education can work in a variety of settings, including clinics, hospitals, schools, nonprofits, and independent practice.

Online programs offer individuals the opportunity to acquire counselor education knowledge and skills from home. The programs usually incorporate several short, in-person residencies so students can connect with instructors and benefit from face-to-face feedback and personal insight.

Online Doctorate in Counselor Education Program Ranking Guidelines

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We selected the programs based on the quality of the program, the types of courses offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school’s reputation for effectively providing online degree programs.

The Best Online Doctorate in Counselor Education Programs

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Hampton University
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4

University of West Georgia 

Carollton, GA

About this school

The College of Education at the University of West Georgia houses a wide variety of departments and centers, including the Department of Communication Sciences and Professional Counseling. The Department offers a broad spectrum of school- and community-related undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. The Department promotes an overarching emphasis on preparing exemplary practitioners who make meaningful contributions to the community and lives of the individuals with whom they work, whether as education, counseling, or community-focused professionals. The program’s faculty are well recognized at the state, regional, and national levels. They publish peer-reviewed research, present at academic conferences, and hold leadership positions in professional associations.

The Department of Communication Sciences and Professional Counseling provides a doctor of education in professional counseling and supervision online degree program through the University of West Georgia online platform. The program emphasizes the application of knowledge through continued practice. Doctoral students learn to evaluate and improve programs and interventions in the context of their current work-setting.

The online Ed.D. in Professional Counseling and Supervision program offers two tracks:

  1. A 36 credit-hour track for those who hold an Ed.S. in counseling. This takes approximately 2 years to complete and costs approximately $11,232 total.
  2. A 60 credit-hour track for those without an Ed.S. in counseling. This takes approximately 3 years to complete and costs approximately $20,592 total.

Both tracks include the following core courses:

  • Ethics in Educational Leadership
  • Leadership and Diversity in the 21st Century
  • Professional Writing
  • Seminar I: Professional Issues
  • Seminar II: Advocacy for Marginalized and Underserved Persons

The program begins in the summer term; learners enter the program as part of a cohort of approximately 12 students. Enrolled students must make at least one on-campus visit during their studies. All students must complete a dissertation that improves an existing counseling program; this dissertation is developed throughout the program’s coursework.

Learners pay the same online rate regardless of residency. The program supports online students through its Center for Adult Learners and Veterans.

5

University of the Cumberlands 

Williamsburg, KY

About this school

The Department of Education at the University of the Cumberlands offers a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees designed to equip educators for successful careers. The online degrees offered through the Department of Education focus on innovative solutions and flexible options for busy learners pursuing higher education. The Department of Education operates according to the philosophy that teachers and administrators have a responsibility to ensure the welfare and enrichment of society.

Through the University of the Cumberlands Online platform, the Department of Education offers an online doctor of education in educational leadership degree program and an online Doctor of Philosophy degree program, both with concentrations in Counselor Education and Supervision. The programs prepare ethically sound and advocacy-driven counselor educators, administrators, supervisors, researchers, clinicians, and leaders. Both programs focus on equipping graduates for a career in higher education instruction. The programs cover everything from the advanced leadership skills administrators of behavioral health agencies need, to delivering advanced clinical training which enable graduates to function in private-practice settings or other innovative clinical environments.

The online Doctor of Education in Counselor Education and Supervision program requires 60 credit hours, while the Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision requires 66 credit hours. Both include the following core courses:

  • Advanced Counseling Theories & Skills
  • Ethical & Legal Issues in CES
  • Grant Writing & Proposal Development
  • Historical Development of Leadership Theories
  • Leadership & Advocacy in Professional Counseling
  • Learning in Adulthood
  • Multicultural Issues in Counseling & Education
  • Online Teaching and Learning
  • Program Planning and Assessment
  • The Change Process
  • The Politics of Educational Decision Making
  • Theories & Techniques of Clinical Supervision

Students in the online Doctor of Education and Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision programs must complete a practicum, internship, and dissertation.

Applicants must hold a master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.

6

Grand Canyon University 

Phoenix, AZ

About this school

The College of Doctoral Studies at Grand Canyon University provides students with a variety of doctoral programs across diverse fields, including business, psychology, and education. Placing a strong emphasis on the value of research, the College of Doctoral Studies seeks to prepare students through developing comprehensive understandings of the fields, and through commitment to continual growth and discourse. In accordance with the mission of Grand Canyon University, the College of Doctoral Studies integrates the Christian worldview into the core of its programs. The College provides students with a variety of flexible online programs.

The College of Doctoral Studies offers an online doctor of philosophy in counselor education and supervision degree program through the Grand Canyon University Online platform for students wishing to teach counseling students and supervise clinical counselors. Applying a Christian perspective of vocation and counseling, the program focuses on the areas of counseling, teaching, counselor supervision, leadership and advocacy, scholarship and statistics, and research. Upon completing the Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision program, graduates emerge prepared to serve as counseling professionals in roles such as faculty member; advanced clinician; couples, family, or school counselor; director of school guidance; and director of counseling agencies.

The Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision online program requires 62 credit hours and includes the following core courses:

  • Advanced Family Dynamics and Systems
  • Advanced Group Dynamics and Processes
  • Advanced Integrated Theories and Practices
  • Analysis of Existing Research Total Credits
  • Ethics, Laws, and Multicultural Issues
  • Integrated Models of Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment
  • Leadership and Social Justice Total Credits
  • Pedagogy of Counselor Education and Models of Supervision
  • Special Topics in Counseling Education and Supervision
  • Theories of Inquiry

Students in the online Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision program must also complete an internship, two residencies, and a dissertation.

Applicants to the Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision must have earned a doctoral or master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with an overall GPA of 3.4 or higher. The University considers applicants with a lower GPA for admission with specifications.

7

Adams State University 

Alamosa, CO

About this school

The Department of Counseling Education at Adams State University offers several programs that equip students for careers in the counseling profession. The Department also hosts workshops and symposiums that cover a variety of topics concerning counselors and therapists.

Students of the Department of Counseling Education learn through theory and study, as well as practicums and internships, providing them with diverse preparation for work as counselors and other professionals in the counseling field.

Through the Adams State University online platform, The Department of Counseling Education offers an online doctor of philosophy in counselor education and supervision degree program. The curriculum emphasizes research, encouraging students to expand the knowledge base of the counseling profession.

Graduates complete the program prepared to work as counselor educators, supervisors, researchers, and practitioners in diverse academic and clinical settings.

The online Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision program requires 66 credit hours and includes the following core courses:

  • Advanced Assessment
  • Advanced Group Counseling
  • Advanced Multicultural Issues
  • Advanced Statistics
  • Advanced Theories and Career
  • Instructional Theory in Counselor Education
  • Seminar in Counselor Education
  • Seminar: Leadership, Advocacy and Ethics in Counselor Education
  • Seminar: Program Evaluation and Grant Writing
  • Supervision and Consultation

Students in the online Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision program must also complete four one-week summer residencies, a practicum, an internship, and a dissertation.

Applicants must hold a master’s degree from a CACREP-accredited program and be license-eligible in their state of residence, or have a master’s degree in counseling, one year of full-time counseling experience, and meet the graduate coursework curriculum requirements in all the CACREP common core areas.

8

Capella University 

Minneapolis, MN

About this school

The School of Social Work and Human Services at Capella University offers a variety of online graduate degrees and certificates that prepare learners to lead change for individuals, families, and communities. The doctoral programs offered by the School train students in effective research and data analysis.

The curriculum in the School of Social Work and Human Services aligns with professional standards and skills; graduates emerge prepared to work as successful social workers, advocates, educators, and other human service professionals.

Through the Capella University Online platform, the School of Social Work and Human Services offers an online doctor of philosophy in counselor education and supervision degree program for students seeking to work in leadership roles in counseling, academic, or research settings. The Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision focuses on the following outcomes for its graduates: evaluating current theories and practices of the counseling profession; demonstrating commitment; conducting and contributing valid, reliable, and ethical research; thinking critically; writing effectively; leading and advocating for inclusion, tolerance, and acceptance; and practicing social and professional ethics.

The School of Social Work and Human Services offers both financial and academic support, including military and employer tuition discounts and doctoral and career advising.

The Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision online program requires 72 credit hours and includes the following core courses:

  • Advanced Counseling Practice
  • Advanced Study in Counselor Education Research Methods
  • Advanced Qualitative Methods in Counselor Education Research
  • Advanced Research in Human Development
  • Counselor Education Teaching and Practice
  • Counselor Supervision
  • Foundations of Advanced Social Science Research and Design
  • Leadership and Advocacy in Counseling
  • Quantitative Methods for Counselor Education Research

Students must complete a dissertation and three four-day residencies at the Capella University campus in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Applicants must hold a CACREP-accredited or CACREP-curriculum-equivalent master’s degree from an institution accredited by a US Department of Education—recognized accrediting agency or an internationally recognized institution

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What is a Doctorate in Counselor Education?

A doctorate in counselor education program teaches the practical and theoretical skills needed to work in a leadership position in the counseling profession. Programs usually best serve already licensed/licensable and/or practicing counselors, building on basic knowledge and helping students specialize in counselor education and supervision. Graduates of a counselor education doctoral program gain the knowledge and experience necessary to assume a leadership role in a clinical, community, academic, nonprofit, or research setting.

Ed.D. vs. Ph.D. Counselor Education Programs

This list includes both doctor of education (Ed.D.) and doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in counselor education and supervision degrees. One of the major differences between Ed.D. and Ph.D. programs is the type of research students must conduct. In their research, Ed.D. students draw from previous experience and knowledge and apply the information to problems in the real world, while Ph.D. students create theoretical solutions based on the knowledge gained in their field to solve a real-world problem. Ph.D. candidates usually find themselves more drawn to research, while Ed.D. students usually seek to practice in the counseling profession.

What Can You Do With a Doctoral Degree in Counselor Education?

A doctoral degree in counselor education translates to a wide range of careers and fields. Some graduates who hold this unique degree work as professors or researchers at postsecondary institutions, while others work as clinical counselor supervisors in hospitals. Still others work their way to directorial roles in clinical supervision in a nonprofit or set up private practice for their area of specialty. The following list represents some of the most common careers pursued by online doctorate in counselor education graduates.

Clinical Counseling Supervisor:
A clinical counseling supervisor oversees the work of other counselors and completes hiring and administrative duties in a clinical setting such as a hospital. They often also provide direct counseling to clients.
Salary based on experience:
  • Entry Level: $50,000
  • Mid-Career: $54,000
  • Experienced: $58,000
  • Late Career: $61,000
Director of Counseling:
Directors of counseling typically head the counseling departments of schools, overseeing managerial duties such as hiring and employee training along with occasionally providing counseling to students. The position often requires a doctoral degree, but educational requirements vary depending on the school.
Salary based on experience:
  • Entry Level: $52,000
  • Mid-Career: $56,000
  • Experienced: $65,000
  • Late Career: $64,000
Postsecondary Teacher:
Many students return to earn a doctorate in counseling education in order to work as a professor at a college or university. Counseling professors lecture and teach but also need strong research and analytical skills.
Salary based on experience:
  • Entry Level: $60,000
  • Mid-Career: $71,000
  • Experienced: $86,000
  • Late Career: $99,000
Postdoctoral Research Associate:
A postdoctoral research associate assists a tenured professor or senior researcher with their research in an academic setting. Their duties can range from helping investigators carry out experimental procedures to conducting quality control on research methodology.
Salary based on experience:
  • Entry Level: $45,000
  • Mid-Career: $48,000
  • Experienced: $50,000
  • Late Career: $49,000
Clinical Counseling Director:
A clinical counseling director ensures high quality of behavioral healthcare at a mental health agency, rehabilitation center, or other social service agency. Because they work in independent clinical settings, they typically make more than supervisors at large hospitals.
Salary based on experience:
  • Entry Level: $64,000
  • Mid-Career: $72,000
  • Experienced: $75,000
  • Late Career: $81,000

Source: PayScale

Choosing an Online Counselor Education Doctorate Degree Program

When considering different online counselor education doctoral programs, you should make sure you pick a program that fits your specific needs. If factoring in a limited timeline, you may need to prioritize a program that offers a more generous transfer policy, a lighter price tag, or the option to take courses at an accelerated pace. Since a wide variety of online doctoral programs for counselor education and supervision exist, students should review all options before deciding which program is best for them. Keep in mind that attending in-state schools often costs much less than venturing out of state.

Program Cost:
Program cost can vary widely. Many public schools offer a reduced tuition rate for in-state students, while private schools typically charge the same rate for all students. Some schools offer a reduced tuition rate for online credits, while others do not make this distinction. The more time you spend on the degree, the greater the cost.
Transfer Policies:
Transfer policies vary from school to school. Many public schools feature more generous transfer policies catering to in-state transfer students through articulation agreements with regional schools. These articulation agreements can prevent students from repeating coursework, saving them money and time.
School Size and Type:
Generally, private schools feature small class sizes but cost more than public school options. Public schools cost less and tailor more to nontraditional learners in their requirements, but their larger enrollment numbers can lead to a less personal learning experience.
Program Length:
Program length depends on several factors, including the number of required credits, course load, and whether the program is available in an accelerated format. Most online counselor education doctoral programs take two years to complete, though they can take up to four years if taken part time.
On-Campus Requirements:
Some programs may require a residency or other on-campus components. However, many are offered in a fully online format or feature a very light residency requirement. If a program requires a residency or other on-campus elements, you may need to prioritize in-state options or consider committing to a long-term move.

Accreditation for Online Counselor Education Doctorate Degrees

Postsecondary schools utilize accreditation from agencies and organizations with approval from the US Department of Education (ED), the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), or both, to ensure consistent educational standards. Three main kinds of accreditation exist: national, regional, and programmatic.

National accreditation applies to technical and vocational schools deriving accreditation from ED-approved national agencies such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. Regional accreditation provides institutional accreditation to most postsecondary schools and comes from the six regional accrediting bodies recognized by CHEA. Attending a program with national rather than regional accreditation can create future issues, as credits from a nationally accredited program may not transfer to many regionally accredited institutions. Students interested in online counselor education doctoral programs must also pay special attention to programmatic accreditation.

Programmatic accreditation ensures consistent standards for programs within the same specialized discipline and comes from national organizations such as the American Bar Association. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) serves as the main programmatic accrediting body for counselor education programs. It is important to consider only online counselor education and supervision doctoral programs with programmatic accreditation from CACREP to avoid issues when seeking certification and/or employment upon graduation.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Doctoral Degree in Counselor Education?

Ph.D. in counselor education and Ed.D. in counselor education programs typically last from 2.4–4 years and consist of 60–70 credits. Most of these doctoral programs require applicants to have a master’s degree in counseling or a closely related degree from a CACREP-accredited or equivalent program. In most cases, students with an applicable master’s degree can often receive credit for completed degree work and complete their Ph.D. or Ed.D. in counselor education and supervision in less time.

Courses in an Online Counselor Education Doctorate Program

Advanced Theory of Counseling
This course surveys major theories of counseling, including psychoanalytic, feminist, and rational emotive behavioral theory. Students apply these theories to a variety of populations and settings. The course also examines how supervisors and educators can best advise the application of these theories. Students present their own integrative counseling theory as a culminating assignment.
Leadership and Advocacy in Counseling
Students explore the intersection of contemporary political and social issues in counseling with theories of leadership, advocacy models, and social change theory. Among these issues, ethical and multicultural concerns within the counseling profession take priority. The course also incorporates experiential practice in developing leadership and advocacy skills.
Survey Research Methods
This course gives a broad overview of survey research methods through in-person interviews, self-reporting, phone interviews, and internet administration. Topics include survey design, administration, analysis, and mitigating the effect of bias. Students study theoretical and empirical research on the impact of question and questionnaire methods. The course may culminate with drafting a viable survey design.
Clinical Supervision
Students investigate the theoretical framework and experiential application of counselor supervision. Topics may include ethical and legal concerns in supervisor-supervisee relationships along with conceptual approaches for accommodating the different cultural backgrounds and learning styles of supervisees. Students complete their course by presenting their own integrative theory of counselor supervision in a practice setting.
Doctoral Internship
Many online Ph.D. in counselor education degrees culminate with an internship in an approved clinical setting prior to a dissertation. A practicum often precedes the internship. Required hours for the internship vary, but it can involve rotation between direct-service counseling with clients, supervising individuals or groups, and fulfilling administrative duties at the site.

Counselor Education Certifications

Pursuing special certification along with your online doctoral degree in counselor education bolsters your credentials and shows potential employers your commitment to best practices. Certifications prove especially useful in niche disciplines such as counseling supervision. Many credentialing organizations require candidates to present a certain number of hours of experience or educational attainment, pass a test, or even undergo training from the organization itself. Earning a credential such as certification for clinical counseling supervisors from the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE) grounds your practice and fortifies your value in the job market.

Approved Clinical Supervisor:
CCE offers certification for clinical counseling supervisors. Candidates need 45 hours of clinical supervision training, at least a master’s degree, and payment of a $150 application fee.
Principal Investigator:
The Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) certifies principal investigators in clinical research. Candidates must hold a doctoral degree and present 1,500 hours of clinical research experience to take the 125 question ACRP-PI exam.
ACRP Project Manager Subspecialty:
ACRP offers project management certification to clinical research professionals specializing in project management. Candidates must already hold PI certification or another ACRP credential in good standing to take the 60-question ACRP-PM exam.

Counselor Education Professional Organizations

Joining a professional organization benefits the professional development of recent graduates and industry veterans alike. This proves especially true in the development of graduates with more uncommon degrees, such as a doctoral degree in counselor education. These organizations offer online and face-to-face training that can count toward continuing education credit.

Association for Counselor Education and Supervision:
ACES promotes excellence among the counselor education and supervision disciplines. Members can access an online portal to every issue of the organization’s quarterly journal, discounted tickets to the organization’s annual national conference, and free webinars and online continuing education courses. The ACES website also features a career center where members can apply to and post job listings.
Counselors for Social Justice:
CSJ advocates for socially conscious practices in counseling. The organization offers professional development opportunities for counselors nationwide through an array of university chapters and awards scholarships for counseling students, including the Mary Smith Arnold Anti-Oppression Award and Social Justice Counseling Grant. CSJ also offers members access to a webinar series relating to social justice issues in counseling.
Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling:
AARC promotes best practices in counseling assessment, research, and evaluation across multiple levels, from practitioner to student. Many members find recognition by becoming AARC committee members or officers. AARC offers a variety of awards and grants to its professional and graduate student members, such as the Donald Hood Research Grant.

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