PhD in Guidance Counseling: Info for Doctoral Students

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in guidance counseling train individuals for senior leadership positions in the area of school guidance counseling. Students in these programs hone their skills through a combination of coursework, clinical experience and dissertation research.

Essential Information

Candidates for guidance counseling Ph.D. programs should be of a compassionate nature and possess strong interpersonal and communication skills. Many programs require their applicants to have a master's degree in counseling, counseling education, or psychology. They also require applicants to have at least two years of professional counseling experience. Interested students are often required to come in for a personal interview as part of the application process as well.

Programs generally take about 4-5 years to complete and will most likely include dissertation and practicum requirements. After graduation, counselors must obtain licenses by passing state or national examinations and retain their credentials by taking continuing education courses.

Ph.D. in Guidance Counseling 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 8% job growth for these professionals in the years 2014 through 2024. The BLS also reported in 2015 that educational, vocational, guidance, and school counselors earned $53,660 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.

Students interested in educational counseling leadership positions should look into guidance counseling Ph.D. programs. These programs provide students with the necessary education, training and insight needed to earn licensure and succeed in the school and career counseling profession.

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