Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in counseling are, occasionally, offered in hybrid formats that allow some coursework to be completed online, although on-campus programs are much more common. Students interested in a fully online program can find may consider a Ph.D in Counseling Education and Supervision program which offers coursework entirely in an online format.
Educational and licensing requirements for counselors vary by work setting and by state. In general, counselors in private practice must be licensed, and school counselors must hold at least a master's degree and earn professional credentialing.
Ph.D. in Counseling
A doctoral degree curriculum provides a broad overview of advanced counseling theory, contemporary issues in the field and advanced research topics at the forefront of counseling practice. Topics may include compulsive and addictive behaviors, child and adolescent counseling, mental health issues and advanced counseling theory.
Information and Requirements
Distance learning doctoral programs in counseling are most often offered through a hybrid model that incorporates online coursework with several face-to-face experiences that take place on-campus. Some programs ask students to visit campus twice a quarter to attend a Friday through Saturday block session. In addition to coursework and on-campus experiences, doctoral students are expected to complete dissertation research and present their findings as a component of graduation. Students can expect this type of degree to take about 3-4 years to complete.
Online courses are typically delivered through an online learning portal system, such as Blackboard. Students need a high-speed Internet connection and e-mail in order to access course materials and stay in contact with both faculty and their fellow students. Course delivery methods typically include streaming video, online discussion boards and Web chat.
Online coursework incorporates instruction in key components of advanced counseling practice, including supervision, assessment, group counseling and counselor education. Courses focus on providing an understanding of issues and solutions that students can immediately apply to their daily work practice.
Child and Adolescent Counseling Course
In this class, students examine the influence of individuals, family, community, societal and multicultural factors that play a role in the development and treatment of childhood disorders. Topics discussed include ethical and legal requirements, systematic concepts, diagnostic treatment planning and play therapy techniques.
Advanced Quantitative Research Methods in Human Services
This course reviews the research methods and designs used by human service professionals, such as counselors, to address specific social problems. Focus is placed on human subjects protection, instrument development, measurement, data collection and research management. Students also consider methodology adaptations when conducting research involving diverse and vulnerable populations.
Counselor Supervision Course
Methodologies for developing and implementing counseling services and programs, professional development of counselors and counselor competency are topics covered during this course. Students study theories and practices of counselor supervision, as well as the ethical and legal considerations needed for counselor supervision.
Career and Licensure Information
Graduates from a counseling doctoral program have the option to enter the world of academia as researchers and professors. Those with a Ph.D. may also advance their scope of practice and assume positions as clinical supervisors, counselor educators or consultants in a variety of settings.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected the overall employment of mental health counselors to grow by 22% from 2018-2028, faster than the average for all occupations (www.bls.gov). Although salaries vary depending on the counseling specialty, the BLS reported that as of 2018, mental health counselors earned a median annual wage of $44,630, with the top 10% earning $72,990. Licensure requirements vary greatly depending on the state, work setting and occupational setting. Professionals entering the counseling field should research their state's requirements for their counseling specialty.
Many doctoral degree programs in counseling are offered as a hybrid model that allows students to do some coursework online and require occasional visit on-campus.