Counseling Psychology PhD Programs

Jun 05, 2019

Individuals interested in learning details about counseling psychology PhD programs can do so by reading this article, which provides a general overview of these types of degrees.

PhD programs in Counseling Psychology are widely available at a number of research universities around the country. These programs may vary to some extent depending on the university, though there are some commonalities among them, including admission standards and required curriculum, which will be discussed below.

Information About PhD Programs in Counseling Psychology

PhD programs in Counseling Psychology prepare graduates for careers as counselors, psychologists, researchers, and professors within the field, among other possible career paths. These programs can typically be completed within 4 to 6 years, depending on whether students have already completed some graduate coursework and the pace at which they decide to complete the program. In addition to completing courses, students in these programs must complete a full year internship as well as significant research that culminates in a doctoral dissertation. Below are five courses that are commonly part of the required curriculum of PhD programs in counseling psychology.

History and Systems of Psychology

A course that is often required as part of the foundational curriculum of these programs is one that covers the history and systems of psychology, as it is important for students to gain an understanding of how the field of psychology has developed throughout history. In such a course, students will learn about various theories of psychology as well as how these theories have been applied in practice. Students will also learn about different people, cultures, and events that have contributed to the development of the psychological field.

Theories of Counseling

A course that is focused on theories of counseling will provide students with a broad overview of some of the major theories and approaches to counseling that are used in a contemporary counseling setting. Students may be asked how they can apply theories to confront some of the problems that they may encounter when working as a counselor or psychologist. Additionally, the course may provide students with insight into how they can use theory to develop their personal skills as counselors.

Multicultural Psychology

Multicultural psychology is also a topic that is commonly covered in the coursework of these programs. Such a course will focus on how to provide counseling and psychological care that is relevant and effective across cultures. This course will likely focus on how counseling services are approached from different perspectives by taking into account how mental health and wellness is perceived across cultures.


Students in PhD programs in Counseling Psychology will also likely be required to take one or more courses that focus on interventions, with courses typically organized according to a specific group or portion of the population. For example, a course may focus on interventions for adolescents, adults, or older adults, or it may focus on a specific type of intervention, like clinical intervention. In these courses, students will learn about the appropriate methods and techniques that they can use to effective treat patients and provide quality counseling care.

Cognitive and Affective Bases of Behavior

Another course that students will likely encounter will cover human behavior and the various cognitive and affective factors of behavior. Some topics that may be covered in this course include how emotions and thinking impact behavior, as well as long-term memory, reasoning, and language. This course will also cover contemporary research in this field in order to provide students with an up-to-date look at how various theories and treatments can be applied in a clinical setting.

General Admissions Guidelines for PhD Programs in Counseling Psychology

Students who are interested in being admitted into a PhD program in counseling psychology will need to make sure they meet the admission requirements of these programs. Some programs may be open to both graduates of bachelor's and master's degree programs, though some are designed only for graduates of master's degree programs or may specific that applicants with only a bachelor's degree must have a certain GPA and a degree in psychology. Other programs may not specify that applicants have previously earned a degree in psychology or a related field, but it is usually required that students have taken a significant number of psychology courses during their post-secondary academic career in order to be prepared for the doctoral coursework.

When applying to these programs, students will also need to compile an application file. This typically includes submitting letters of recommendation, all past academic transcripts, a CV or resume, and a personal statement. Programs may also require students to provide a statement regarding their research interests and detailing why they are interested in a school's PhD program in particular. Additionally, results from the GRE are also typically required.

PhD programs in Counseling Psychology require that students complete a large number of advanced psychology courses, an internship, and independent research towards their doctoral dissertation in order to earn the PhD degree.

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