PhD in Guidance Counseling: Info for Doctoral Students

Explore Ph.D. degree programs that are related to guidance counseling. Read about prerequisites and common course topics for doctoral students. Review employment outlook and salary statistics for school and career counselors.

Essential Information

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in guidance counseling train individuals for senior leadership positions in the area of school guidance counseling. They aren't usually called Ph.D. in Guidance Counseling, but some specific titles are Ph.D. in School Counseling and Guidance, Ph.D. in Guidance and Psychological Services or Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology.

Candidates should have master's degrees in counseling or a related field and professional experience. They should be of a compassionate nature and possess strong interpersonal and communication skills. These programs take an average of 4-5 years to complete, although the doctoral dissertation can take longer. A practicum is also required. Counselors must obtain licenses by passing state or national examinations, and retain their credentials by taking continuing education courses.

Educational Prerequisites

While admissions requirements vary between institutions, many programs require applicants to have a master's degree in counseling, counseling education or psychology. Most programs also require applicants to have at least two years of professional counseling experience. Some programs accept bachelor's-degree holders. Because most doctoral programs in counseling admit only a small number of students each year, the admissions process can be quite competitive. Applicants are usually required to come in for a personal interview as part of the application process.

Program Coursework

All Ph.D. programs in guidance counseling require candidates to complete a doctoral dissertation, which involves original research in the subject. Degree candidates receive a limited number of credit hours for their dissertation research. Students also participate in a counseling practicum where they work with clients under supervision. Below are common titles included in a curriculum.

  • School counseling and guidance
  • Guidance program organization
  • Statistical methods for educational research
  • Children and adolescent counseling
  • Ethical issues in counseling
  • Consulting procedures

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Graduates may go on to work as school and career counselors for students ranging from elementary to college levels. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a 19% job growth for these professionals in the years 2010 through 2020. The BLS also reported in 2012 that educational, vocational, guidance and school counselors earned $53,610 as an annual median wage.

Continuing Education and Licensure Information

All states require counselors to be licensed either nationally or by state. National certification from the National Board for Certified Counselors is voluntary, but some states accept it for their requirements. General licensing requirements include earning at least a master's degree from an accredited institution and passing a comprehensive exam. Continuing education credits are required by some states to maintain an active license.

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