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.
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The Best Online Doctorate in Counselor Education Programs
Adams State University
Founded in 1921, ASU enrolled its first student of 119 during 1925. The university's enrollment grows year over year, with its 2020 enrollment at slightly more than 3,000 students.
ASU's doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision prepares students to work as counselor educators, practitioners, researchers, and supervisors. Prerequisites include holding a master's degree and license eligibility. Additional requirements include attending interviews, orientation, and summer residencies. Students must submit an online application, application fee, letter of intent, three references, and resume.
Accreditation: Adams University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Established in 1868, HU changed its name from Hampton Institute to Hampton University in 1984. HU currently enrolls 3,516 students.
HU's doctor of philosophy in counselor education and supervision is a 64 credit degree program that takes 42 months to complete. This degree program features concentrations in community mental health counseling and school counseling. Graduates prepare for counseling, supervision, and teaching roles. Admission requirements include submitting a writing sample, personal statement, licensures, resume, three letters of recommendation, and college or university transcripts.
- Graduation Rate: 58%
- Receiving Loans: 68%
- Online Enrollment: 7%
Accreditation: Hampton University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Founded in 1971, Liberty's campus currently sits on over 7,000 acres and features over 450 online programs. Liberty's current enrollment is nearly 130,000 students.
Liberty's Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision is a 60 credit-hour program training students in counseling techniques, counselor education and supervision, research and scholarship, and leadership and advocacy. Students must participate in a three-credit-hour practicum, nine-credit-hour internship, and nine-credit-hour dissertation as an intensive-based program.
- Graduation Rate: 50%
- Receiving Loans: 60%
- Online Enrollment: 90%
Accreditation: Liberty University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Established in 1826, MC was the first college in the US to grant a woman a degree in 1831. MU's current enrollment is around 5,000 annually.
MU's doctorate of professional counseling allows students to develop programs specific to their area of specialization. Degree requirements include at least 72 hours beyond a master's in clinical mental health counseling, marriage and family counseling, or other professional degree programs. Students must also submit a professional portfolio containing their accomplishments and experience, licensure, and three recommendation letters.
- Graduation Rate: 53%
- Receiving Loans: 49%
- Online Enrollment: 39%
Accreditation: Mississippi College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Oregon State University
After its establishment in 1868, OSU started as a church-affiliated institution for K-12 students. Today, students have access to two campuses, with approximately 33,000 students enrolling annually.
OSU's Ph.D. in counseling prepares graduates for careers in clinical and academic settings as advanced practitioners, counselor educators, and clinical supervisors. This program is 150 quarter hours, which translates to 100-semester credits. Students must participate in face-to-face classes twice per quarter in Friday through Saturday blocks as a hybrid program.
- Graduation Rate: 67%
- Receiving Loans: 43%
- Online Enrollment: 43%
Accreditation: Oregon State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
Virginia Beach, VA
Initially founded in 1977 as a private Christian university, Regent started with 77 students and grew to over 10,000 students annually.
Regent's counselor education and supervision doctorate is a 66 credit-hour online program with residency. Students have opportunities to learn how to integrate faith and science while gaining advanced training and growing in their careers. Admission requirements include having at least one experience in the mental health field, hold a licensing track or a 48-hour master's degree.
- Graduation Rate: 59%
- Receiving Loans: 80%
- Online Enrollment: 91%
Accreditation: Regent University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Colleges (SACSCOC).
University of the Cumberlands
Though Cumberlands was founded in 1888, its doors didn't open until 1889. Its current enrollment is approximately 18,000 annually.
Cumberlands' online Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision prepares students for careers as counseling psychologists, licensed professional counselors, psychologists, regulatory affairs directors, and more. This 66 credit program teaches students about advanced counseling theories and skills, theories and techniques of clinical supervision, and more. Students also collaborate with faculty to research, write, and defend original dissertations.
- Graduation Rate: 33%
- Receiving Loans: 40%
- Online Enrollment: 85%
Accreditation: The University of the Cumberlands is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Colleges (SACSCOC).
University of West Georgia
Since its founding in 1906, UWG has grown to serve over 13,000 students in 36 states and 69 countries. Students have access to 87 programs, eight research centers, and a 19:1 student to faculty ratio.
UWG's doctor of education in professional counseling and supervision equips students with the skills necessary for advancing or achieving careers in the counseling field. Prerequisites include a minimum of three years of counseling experience in public or private schools, private practices, universities, community agencies, or hospitals.
- Graduation Rate: 42%
- Receiving Loans: 59%
- Online Enrollment: 59%
Accreditation: The University of West Georgia is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Online Doctorate in Counselor Education Programs Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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