Best Online Doctorate in the Counseling

by TBS Staff

Updated September 26, 2022

reviewed by TBS Rankings Team
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Doctorate in Counseling Online

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.

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.

Featured Doctorate in Counselor Education Programs

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.

The Best Online Doctorate in Counselor Education Programs

#1

Adams State University

School Information
Location Alamosa, Colorado
Admission Rate 99%
Graduation Rate 30%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 51% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The Ph.D. in counselor education and supervisor program at Adams State University appeals to learners seeking an online doctorate. At the public university, degree-seekers engage in online classes to earn a doctorate. Doctoral students receive research support and participate in scholarly events.

During the online counselor education program, learners complete advanced coursework. Doctoral candidates move through the program by passing exams and researching a dissertation project. With a doctorate in counselor education, graduates can pursue academic, research, and industry roles.

Doctoral students who enroll online at the accredited institution often qualify for fellowships, scholarships, and other forms of financial aid. Prospective applicants can contact the program to learn more about the enrollment process and start dates.

Adams State University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 1,586

Online Master's Programs: 8

Online Doctoral Programs: 1

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 15-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $4,590

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#2

Hampton University

School Information
Location Hampton, Virginia
Admission Rate 36%
Graduation Rate 60%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 11% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The doctor of philosophy in counselor education and supervision program at Hampton University uses an online learning format. At the private institution, degree-seekers take doctoral classes in a flexible format. Doctoral students receive access to services including career advising and research support.

During the online counselor education program, learners take doctoral courses to earn their degree. Doctoral candidates pass comprehensive examinations and conduct research for their dissertation. As the highest degree in counselor education, the doctorate meets requirements for research, academic, and leadership roles.

Doctoral students can pay for the program with federal financial aid, fellowships, and scholarships. Prospective applicants can contact the program to learn more about research support, financial aid opportunities, and admission requirements.

Hampton University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 490

Online Master's Programs: 3

Online Doctoral Programs: 3

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 14-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $12,475

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#3

Liberty University

School Information
Location Lynchburg, Virginia
Admission Rate 51%
Graduation Rate 47%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision program at Liberty University offers a flexible route to a doctorate. The private university provides flexible enrollment options for degree-seekers. Doctoral students conduct research and participate in academic conferences.

During the online counselor education program, learners take doctoral courses to earn their degree. After meeting coursework requirements, doctoral candidates pass a comprehensive examination and conduct research for an original dissertation or project. As the highest degree in counselor education, the doctorate meets requirements for research, academic, and leadership roles.

The accredited institution meets federal requirements for financial aid support. Prospective applicants can contact the program to learn more about the enrollment process and start dates.

Liberty University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 78,511

Online Master's Programs: 67

Online Doctoral Programs: 9

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $7,980

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#4

Oregon State University

School Information
Location Corvallis, Oregon
Admission Rate 82%
Graduation Rate 67%
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The Ph.D. in counseling program at Oregon State University offers a flexible route to a doctorate. With its flexible format, the public university makes a doctorate more accessible. Doctoral students meet with career advisors and faculty mentors.

In the online counseling program, graduate learners complete advanced classes. After passing comprehensive examinations, doctoral candidates complete an original dissertation that contributes to the field. With a doctorate in counseling, professionals often work in academia, research, and leadership roles.

Doctoral students can qualify for several forms of financial aid at the accredited institution. Contact the program to learn more about the enrollment process and start dates.

Oregon State University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 14,977

Online Master's Programs: 13

Online Doctoral Programs: 2

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $12,933

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#5

Regent University

School Information
Location Virginia Beach, Virginia
Admission Rate 86%
Graduation Rate 57%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision program at Regent University enrolls online learners. Degree-seekers benefit from the flexible enrollment options at the private university. Doctoral students receive library access, research support, and career services.

During the online program, learners take doctoral courses to earn their degree. After passing comprehensive examinations, doctoral candidates choose a dissertation topic and conduct research in their specialty area. Professionals with a doctorate in counselor education can work in academia, research, and leadership roles.

Online doctoral students at the accredited institution can pay for their degree with scholarships, fellowships, and loans. Reach out to the program to learn more about transfer credit policies, research support, and admission requirements.

Regent University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 9,507

Online Master's Programs: 37

Online Doctoral Programs: 12

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 29-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $15,552

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Best Online Programs

Online Doctorate in Counselor Education Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

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.

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.

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. 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 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.

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

Median Salary 2020: $112,870 Projected Growth 2020-2030: 32%

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.

Director of Counseling

Median Salary 2020: $97,500 Projected Growth 2020-2030: 8%

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.

Postsecondary Teacher

Median Salary 2020: $80,560 Projected Growth 2020-2030: 12%

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.

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Median Salary 2020: $91,510 Projected Growth 2020-2030: 17%

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.

Clinical Counseling Director

Median Salary 2020: $107,680 Projected Growth 2020-2030: 8%

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.

Frequently Asked Questions About Counseling Doctorates

How Much Do Counselors With a Ph.D. Make?

According to PayScale, graduates with a Ph.D. in counseling made a median salary of $83,000 in autumn of 2021.

What Type of Therapist Makes the Most Money?

Psychologists working for the government make the most money, according to the BLS. The top 10% of psychologists made a median salary of $137,590 in 2020. Psychologists also often work as consultants.

What's the Difference Between a Therapist And a Counselor?

Therapist is an umbrella term that refers to a variety of professions that involve working with people to help them with mental and physical challenges. Counselors are a common type of therapist. Social workers and psychologists can also be therapists. You can learn more about therapists and psychiatrists with our helpful guide.

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