Online Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology Degree Program Overviews

Apr 24, 2020

Essential Information

Online Ph.D. programs in counseling psychology are designed to provide students with an advanced and comprehensive understanding of psychology, counseling and methods of research. Such programs are only available for individuals with a master's degree in psychology, counseling or a related field who have already completed initial clinical requirements.

Universities that offer online Ph.D. programs in counseling psychology often have in-person requirements. These may be in the form of short residencies at various points in the program. Internships are also commonly required. For online coursework, students are provided with access to virtual classrooms and one-on-one online faculty mentoring. Doctoral students are also expected to augment their online coursework with research and reading from virtual libraries. If a fully online Ph.D. program is desired, students may opt to pursue their online degree in general psychology, as these programs are quite common.

Coursework and Requirements

Taking about three to four years to complete, the comprehensive curriculum found in an online Ph.D. program in counseling psychology expands upon the skills and tools used by professionals in the counseling field. In addition to core psychology and counseling courses, programs cover professional development, research methods and counseling tactics. Other online courses focus on specific aspects of neuropathology, psychopathology, life coaching and personal assessment.

In addition to completing the courses listed below, students must also complete a dissertation with the assistance of faculty advisers through email correspondence, Web chats and other forms of online communication.

  • Crisis counseling
  • Advanced psychopathology
  • Social issues in counseling
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Statistics
  • Research methods
  • Life coaching
  • Psychology career development
  • Personality assessment

Career Options

Earning a Ph.D. in the psychology counseling field can prepare graduates for career advancement in positions as educators, clinical researchers, psychology specialists, counseling consultants and more. An online Ph.D. in counseling psychology holds as much weight as a Ph.D. earned through a campus program and leads to the same career opportunities.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), psychologists held about 181,700 jobs in the United States in 2018 ( Of these, about 162,000 were counseling, clinical and school psychologist positions. The BLS predicts that those individuals who hold doctorate degrees in the field will have more promising career opportunities. The median annual wage of clinical, counseling and school psychologists in 2019 was about $78,200.

Earning an online Ph.D. in psychology will take about 3 or 4 years, with the addition of on-campus components such as residencies and internships. Students will complete courses with topics ranging from crisis counseling to statistics to prepare for careers as educators, specialists, counseling consultants, and other related professions.

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