Tuition-Free Doctoral Programs in Counseling

Tuition-Free Doctoral Programs in Counseling

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Tuition-Free Doctoral Programs in Counseling
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Licensed counselors provide support and guidance for patients dealing with many kinds of emotional and social challenges. Counselors work with patients of all ages, although some specialize in certain age groups, such as children, adolescents, or older adults.

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To work as a licensed counselor, most states expect professionals to hold a master’s or doctorate in counseling from an accredited school and program. Accreditation provides assurance that a program adequately prepares learners for licensed counseling practice.

Prospective students may worry about the cost of pursuing a graduate degree. However, a variety of affordable and tuition-free counseling doctoral programs exist to help students earn their degree at a low cost. Keep reading to learn more about these economical opportunities.

Top 10 Tuition-Free Doctoral Programs in Counseling

Rank School Location
1 Andrews University Berrien Springs, MI
2 Auburn University Auburn, AL
3 Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA
4 Boston University Boston, MA
5 Columbia University in the City of New York New York City, NY
6 James Madison University Harrisonburg, VA
7 Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA
8 Loyola University Chicago Chicago, IL
9 Marquette University Milwaukee, WI
10 New York University New York City, NY
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Great Tuition-Free Doctoral Programs in Counseling

  • Andrews University
    Location

    Berrien Springs, MI

    As a Seventh-Day Adventist institution in Berrien Springs, Michigan, Andrews offers several secular academic programs, such as the doctorate in counseling psychology. Overall, the degree comprises 106 credits: 80 in coursework, 12 in practicum/internship, and 14 in dissertation credits.

    The program requires the typical psychology Ph.D. components, including a 2,000-hour internship and a dissertation. Students can choose from four concentrations: adult, child/family, cultural diversity, and health psychology. In addition to completing their coursework, Andrews encourages students to begin engaging with research in their first years. A three-part comprehensive exam combines an oral assessment, along with at-home and on-campus written tests.

    To meet eligibility requirements for this program, each applicant must possess a master's degree with a minimum 3.3 GPA. They must also submit GRE scores, a writing sample, and a statement of purpose. Incoming learners can apply for graduate assistantships that cover half of their tuition costs.

    Courses Include:

    • Philosophical Foundations for Professionals
    • Psychology of Learning
    • Theories and Techniques of Counseling
    • Group Processes
    • Multicultural Issues for Counselors and Psychologists

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $1352/credit
    • Credits Required: 106
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; American Psychological Association

  • Auburn University
    Location

    Auburn, AL

    Alabama-based Auburn offers several academic programs to its nearly 30,000 students, including a Ph.D. in counseling psychology. This full-time degree follows the scientist-practitioner model of training. The program lasts five years, although some degree-seekers take six years to graduate.

    Learners complete various seminars, practicums, a dissertation, and a pre-doctoral internship. They receive many opportunities to participate in training, including psychotherapy, research, and assessment training. Ph.D. candidates also work in small groups for social justice/advocacy projects during their third year.

    All first-year students receive tuition remissions and stipends through assistantships within the psychology department. However, during their late years, students must apply for assistantships either within the psychology department or another university department.

    Auburn requires applicants to submit GRE scores. Although the university does not set minimum GRE or GPA requirements for admission, Auburn enrolls a class of only six students each year from a pool of 60-100 applicants.

    Courses Include:

    • Contemporary Issues in Counseling Psychology
    • Advanced Assessment and Diagnosis in Counseling
    • Career Development and Vocational Appraisal
    • Counseling Applications of Lifespan Development
    • Research Design in Counseling and Evaluation

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $5,898/semester for in-state students; $15,978/semester for out-of-state students
    • Credits Required: 105
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; American Psychological Association

  • Boston College
    Location

    Chestnut Hill, MA

    Founded by Jesuits in 1863, BC maintains an affiliation with the Catholic Church, while offering several secular programs, as well. This includes the Ph.D. in counseling psychology, which most learners can complete in 5-7 years. About 92% of graduates obtain licensure.

    The curriculum covers a professional core, statistics and research design, and psychological foundations and measurements. A first-year experience offers students training in practice roles. Each degree-seeker also completes an advanced practicum and pre-doctoral internship.

    The college offers a limited number of assistantships and fellowships to cover tuition costs for this degree. Students can apply for diversity or teaching fellowships, along with research or office assistantships. Full-time assistantships require 20 hours of work each week.

    The college allows applicants with a bachelor's degree to apply directly to the doctoral program, but it prefers prospective students with a master's degree. Candidates must submit GRE scores.

    Courses Include:

    • Counseling Psychology in Context
    • Cognitive-Affective Bases of Behavior
    • Psychopathology
    • Critical Perspectives in Race, Class, and Gender
    • Advanced Counseling Practicum

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $1,538/credit
    • Credits Required: 54
    • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education; American Psychological Association

  • Boston University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Now classified as a private, doctoral research university, BU traces its roots back to the Newbury Biblical Institute in 1839. The university is now a nonsectarian institute and enrolls about 35,000 students.

    Doctoral candidates at BU can pursue a tuition-free Ph.D. in counseling psychology and applied human development. The curriculum focuses on data analysis, research methods, and psychological foundations of behavior. In addition to a required dissertation and year-long internship, an enrollee may also complete an optional externship.

    The program allows students to specialize their degree on two levels. Doctoral candidates may choose a concentration in either counseling psychology or applied human development, along with tracks in child and adolescent development/mental health or sport/performance psychology. The degree lasts 4-5 years, depending on a student's specialization.

    Ph.D. candidates enrolled in this program receive free tuition. BU considers applicants with a master's degree and may consider applicants with a bachelor's degree, as well. The university requires GRE scores for admission.

    Courses Include:

    • Human Neuropsychology
    • Cognitive Affective Bases of Behavior
    • Effective Interventions
    • Prevention in Counseling Psychology
    • Intellectual and Behavioral Assessment

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $56,854/academic year for graduate students; Free tuition for Ph.D. in counseling
    • Credits Required: 97
    • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education; American Psychological Association

  • Columbia University in the City of New York
    Location

    New York City, NY

    At Columbia, students can pursue a 90-credit doctorate in counseling psychology through the university's teachers college. The program lasts at least five years for full-time students, including four years of instruction and a one-year internship.

    In addition to the internship, each student must complete a research methods exam, comprehensive exam, practicum, and dissertation. They may also participate in an externship if they need more supervised work hours. Doctoral candidates usually take the exams during their third year, and then work on their dissertation during their fifth and sixth years.

    Columbia offers scholarships, grants, assistantships, and fellowships to help students pay for tuition. These come with tuition waivers and stipends. However, Columbia does not guarantee funding for everyone, so incoming students must apply for these opportunities.

    To apply for the program, each prospective student must submit GRE scores and an academic writing sample.

    Courses Include:

    • Psychology of Memory: Cognitive and Affective Bases
    • Multicultural Counseling and Psychology
    • Seminar in Lifespan Developmental Psychology
    • Psychological Measurement
    • Consultation in Community Agencies and Resources

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $1,768/credit
    • Credits Required: 90
    • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education; American Psychological Association

  • James Madison University
    Location

    Harrisonburg, VA

    JMU began as the State Normal and Industrial School for Women in Harrisonburg in 1908. Over a century later, the Virginia-based university now enrolls both men and women in its several academic programs. Among those programs, the Ph.D. in counseling and supervision accepts a class of about 15 students each year.

    Ph.D. candidates may enroll either full or part time, generally completing the program in 3-5 years. The degree builds upon master's level coursework, with courses focusing on counseling techniques and research methods. Each enrollee participates in a doctoral practicum, doctoral internship, teaching internship, and supervision internship. The program also includes a dissertation.

    Each incoming student must possess a master's degree and submit a personal statement. The university does not require GRE scores for admissions. Additionally, incoming students may apply for funding through assistantships.

    Courses Include:

    • Intermediate Inferential Statistics
    • Advanced Supervision in Counseling
    • Leadership and Advocacy in Counseling
    • Counselor Education
    • Crisis and Emergency Services for Counselors

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $10,978/academic year for in-state students; $27,082/academic year for out-of-state students
    • Credits Required: 48
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; American Psychological Association

  • Lehigh University
    Location

    Bethlehem, PA

    Based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Lehigh's College of Education offers a Ph.D. in counseling psychology that students can finish in 4-6 years. The full curriculum comprises 102 credits, but an incoming learner with a master's degree only needs to complete 72 doctoral-level credits.

    The curriculum covers the biological, social, and cognitive bases of behavior, in addition to counseling and assessment techniques. Each doctoral candidate must complete a dissertation, a full-time internship over two semesters, and a college teaching apprenticeship.

    Incoming students may apply for graduate or research assistantships, which include tuition waivers and stipends. Enrollees can pursue tuition scholarships and grant opportunities, as well. An interested individual can apply with either a bachelor's or master's degree, as long as their GPA meets the minimum 3.0 requirement. Applicants must also submit GRE scores.

    Courses Include:

    • Counseling and Therapeutic Approaches
    • Counseling Issues and Skills: Advanced Techniques in Counseling
    • Behavioral Neuroscience
    • Social Basis of Human Behavior
    • Assessment of Adult Intellectual Functioning

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $565/credit
    • Credits Required: 102
    • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education; American Psychological Association

  • Loyola University Chicago
    Location

    Chicago, IL

    The Ph.D. in counseling psychology at Loyola follows the scientist-practitioner model and equips graduates for careers as licensed psychologists.

    The curriculum includes 69 credits of coursework, research, and professional practice. If incoming students come from non-psychology backgrounds, they may need to take up to 33 credits of prerequisite courses. Each learner also completes an internship, comprehensive exams with written and oral components, and a dissertation with an oral defense. Degree-seekers generally finish the program in 4-5 years, plus an additional year for the pre-doctoral internship.

    Graduate students may apply for scholarships and assistantships that cover tuition costs and come with $18,000-$26,000 yearly stipends. Assistantships require recipients to work an additional 20 hours on top of their full-time study.

    Each candidate must already have completed a master's degree in counseling, psychology, or another applicable field. Loyola also requires applicants to take the GRE, including the GRE subject test in psychology.

    Courses Include:

    • Advanced Theories in Psychotherapy
    • Intellectual and Personality Assessment
    • Seminar in Supervision and Consultation
    • Psychology of Immigration
    • Diagnostic Appraisal and Treatment Planning

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $949/credit
    • Credits Required: 69
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; American Psychological Association

  • Marquette University
    Location

    Milwaukee, WI

    At Milwaukee-based Marquette, students enroll in a Ph.D. program in counseling psychology that trains degree-seekers in both professional counseling and scientific research. About 96% of graduates obtain licensure.

    The full curriculum includes 91 credits: 27 credits of psychological foundations coursework, 52 credits of professional core requirements, and 12 research credits. Each student completes at least 1,000 hours of a doctoral-level practicum at two different locations. Following the supervised work experience, degree-seekers must also participate in a predoctoral internship.

    In addition to a dissertation, each Ph.D. candidate takes part in a collaborative research project under the guidance of experienced researchers.

    Many students fully cover tuition costs through fellowships, research assistantships, and scholarships. Each applicant must submit GRE scores, previous academic transcripts, three recommendation letters, and a personal statement.

    Courses Include:

    • Cognitive/Affective Bases of Behavior
    • Social Bases of Behavior
    • Lifespan Development
    • Professional Issues in Counseling Psychology
    • Cognitive Assessment

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $1,170/credit
    • Credits Required: 91
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; American Psychological Association

  • New York University
    Location

    New York City, NY

    As one of the largest public universities in the U.S., NYU enrolls about 52,000 students in its many undergraduate and graduate programs. The university's Ph.D. in counseling psychology follows a scientist-practitioner model to explore coursework, clinical training, and research training.

    Students begin the degree with coursework in psychology theory and counseling methods. Learners only become full doctoral candidates after passing an oral exam. During their final years, each degree-seeker completes a one-year internship and dissertation. Learners may only pursue this degree through full-time study.

    The university offers funding opportunities for doctoral students, including research assistantships and fellowships through the Steinhardt Fellows Program. Learners who receive the research assistantships each work for about 20 hours per week on faculty-led research projects. Both of these funding opportunities include a full tuition waiver and stipend.

    Each Ph.D. applicant must submit GRE scores and a professional autobiography.

    Courses Include:

    • Neuropsychology of Behavior
    • Emotional Development: A Cognitive Perspective
    • Interpretation and Use of Tests in Counseling Adults
    • Advanced Practicum: Individual and Group
    • Cross-Cultural Counseling

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $1,867/credit
    • Credits Required: 79
    • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education; American Psychological Association

  • Northeastern University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Students at Boston-based Northeastern can enroll in a four-year Ph.D. program in counseling psychology. The program allows students to practice in multicultural and urban settings.

    In addition to a dissertation and a one-year internship, each enrollee must complete two years of advanced fieldwork. They dedicate at least 20 hours each week to a total of 600 hours in the field each year. Half of these hours take place in direct services, and the fieldwork involves one hour of individual supervision, each with a licensed psychologist. Degree-seekers must also maintain at least a 3.0 GPA to graduate.

    Each candidate must possess a master's degree and submit GRE scores to apply. Northeastern prefers applicants with a minimum 3.5 GPA. Students may apply for grants and scholarships to help cover tuition costs.

    Courses Include:

    • Cognitive and Affective Bases of Behavior
    • Social Psychology in an Organizational and Ecological Context
    • Introduction to Cognitive Assessment
    • Advanced Clinical Interventions
    • Doctoral Seminar in Contemporary Theories of Psychotherapy

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $15,395/semester
    • Credits Required: 62
    • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education; American Psychological Association

  • Northwest University
    Location

    Kirkland, WA

    Located in Kirkland, Washington, NU offers a Psy.D. in counseling psychology that integrates the school's Christian worldview into the curriculum.

    The degree includes 119 credits of coursework, including a faith integration with psychology course that incorporates biblical teachings with psychology theory. The curriculum requires students to take a qualifying examination during their third year. After passing this exam, each doctoral candidate completes a dissertation, two practicums, and an internship. In addition, students undergo 10 hours of individual psychotherapy.

    The program also includes a cross-cultural immersion experience during the second year, during which students travel to countries, such as India, Turkey, and El Salvador. During this 10-14 day trip, students complete clinical practice and interact with cultural specialists in a new global context.

    Each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit GRE scores. Incoming students may also apply for assistantships to help cover the cost of tuition.

    Courses Include:

    • History and Systems of Psychology
    • Psychopharmacology
    • Human Sexuality and Sexual Disorders
    • Interventions and Practice II: Population-Based Approaches
    • Interprofessional Practice and Consultation

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $947/credit
    • Credits Required: 119
    • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities; American Psychological Association

  • Springfield College
    Location

    Springfield, MA

    Founded in 1885, Massachusetts-based Springfield fosters a humanics philosophy -- the ancient Greek worldview of the balanced individual -- in its academic programs. The Psy.D. in counseling psychology incorporates this philosophy into the curriculum, with psychology courses considering social justice and inquiry.

    Doctoral candidates study psychology theory and counseling methods. In addition to writing a dissertation, each learner participates in a practicum and an internship. The practicum comprises 1,400 supervised hours and takes place in the fourth year. Degree-seekers may either opt to fulfill the 2,000 required internship hours through full-time work over one year or part-time work for two years.

    Each applicant must submit two recommendation letters and GRE scores. Incoming students may transfer in up to 30 credits of graduate coursework. They may also receive a tuition waiver through fellowships and associateships.

    Courses Include:

    • Assessment, Appraisal, and Testing in Counseling
    • Psychopharmacology
    • Counseling Diverse Populations
    • Social Psychology
    • Foundations and Methodology of Social Inquiry

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $680/credit
    • Credits Required: 88
    • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education; American Psychological Association

  • Texas A & M University
    Location

    College Station, TX

    Based in College Station, Texas A&M offers about 400 undergraduate, master's, and doctoral programs to its 69,000 students. The Ph.D. in counseling psychology at Texas A&M integrates themes of multiculturalism, community engagement, and interdisciplinary collaboration.

    Throughout the program, students learn about the history and systems of psychology; cognitive, biological, and social aspects of behavior; and research methods and statistical analysis. Learners complete field practicums throughout their first few years before focusing on their dissertations and internships during their last two years.

    Most graduates find employment in hospitals, medical centers, university counseling centers, and independent practice.

    Prospective students can apply with either a bachelor's or master's degree. All applicants must submit GRE scores. Texas A&M provides funding for graduate students through both fellowship and assistantship opportunities.

    Courses Include:

    • Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy
    • Professional Issues in Counseling Psychology
    • Social-Counseling Interface
    • Multicultural Counseling
    • Statistical Analysis in Educational Research

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $7,874/academic year for in-state students; $17,014/academic year for out-of-state students
    • Credits Required: 75
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; American Psychological Association

  • University at Buffalo
    Location

    Buffalo, NY

    Operating as a public, research-intensive institution, UB enrolls about 31,500 learners in its undergraduate and graduate programs. The university's doctorate in counseling psychology and school psychology offers funding resources and an opportunity for full-time study.

    Students may choose a specialization in counseling psychology, which focuses on older adolescent and adult populations, or in school psychology, which concentrates on children. The program typically lasts 5-6 years, which comprises coursework, a practicum, internship, research project, and dissertation.

    Doctoral candidates receive tuition waivers and an annual stipend through graduate assistantships, research assistantships, and minority fellowships for their initial years of study. During advanced study in their final years, students can find additional funding through other scholarships, assistantships, fellowships, and part-time research positions.

    An applicant does not need to possess a master's degree, but they still submit their undergraduate transcripts demonstrating completion of a bachelor's degree.

    Courses Include:

    • Personality Assessment
    • Advanced Group Counseling
    • Psychological Assessment, Child and Adults
    • Human Development
    • Cognitive Psychology

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $5,655/semester for in-state students; $11,550 for out-of-state students
    • Credits Required: 96
    • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education; American Psychological Association

  • University of Denver-University College
    Location

    Denver, CO

    DU is a private institution of about 12,000 students. Among the 300 available academic programs, the counseling psychology Ph.D. prepares students for state counseling licensure.

    The full program comprises 90 credits, which includes coursework, two supervised practicum experiences, comprehensive exams, a pre-dissertation research project, and a dissertation. Students may choose the general counseling concentration, or they can opt for a specialization in clinical mental health counseling, school counseling, and research. All Ph.D. candidates also fulfill a one-year internship requirement.

    Degree-seekers submit departmental financial aid applications for assistantships. The university reports that all students in this department receive some funding for their studies, with doctoral candidates obtaining funding for at least three years.

    Applicants do not need to possess a master's degree to apply to this program. However, all prospective students must submit GRE scores.

    Courses Include:

    • Physiology Psychology
    • Counseling Psychology: Social Psychology
    • Psychometric Theory
    • Counseling Psychology Seminar: Advanced Integrative Course
    • Cognitive Assessment

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $17,112/semester
    • Credits Required: 90
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; American Psychological Association

  • University of Georgia
    Location

    Athens, GA

    Located in Athens, UGA educates nearly 39,000 students in its many schools and colleges. The university's Ph.D. in counseling psychology integrates values of social justice and multiculturalism into its curriculum, with courses approaching psychology from a biopsychosocial framework.

    The program comprises coursework, clinical training in psychotherapy and psychological assessment, and a one-year internship. Each enrollee also completes a publishable paper, a dissertation, and a portfolio outlining their achievements in their clinical work and assessment ethics. Generally, learners can complete the degree in five years.

    The curriculum plan allows degree-seekers to specialize in psychological assessment, preparing future faculty, supervision, and marriage and family therapy. They may also opt for a subspecialization in health psychology.

    Each applicant must possess a master's degree and submit GRE scores. The university offers assistantships to cover tuition costs, although students must enroll in at least 12 credits per term to qualify for this funding.

    Courses Include:

    • History of Psychology and the Evolution of Contemporary Practice
    • Research Methods in Counseling Psychology
    • Biopsychosociocultural Approach to Health and Illness
    • Consultation in Human Systems
    • Practicum in Counseling Psychology

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $370/credit for in-state students; $1,050/credit for out-of-state students
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; American Psychological Association

  • University of Houston
    Location

    Houston, TX

    With more than 46,000 undergraduate and graduate students, UH features 46 doctoral degrees, including a 102-credit Ph.D. in counseling psychology.

    The program includes coursework, an internship and practicum, a candidacy research project, and a dissertation. Each learner also completes a residency component at the beginning of the program, such as a dissertation defense meeting or a research symposium. The program takes about 5-6 years to complete. Alumni go into many fields, including research and professional practice, and 98% of graduates receive licensure.

    Doctoral candidates may opt to add a health psychology emphasis. This 15-credit minor covers topics like health disparities, women's health, public health, and childhood obesity. Students may also choose elective courses.

    The university requires applicants to submit GRE scores. Incoming students can also apply for help covering tuition costs through fellowships and assistantships.

    Courses Include:

    • History and Philosophy of Psychological Systems
    • Foundations of Neuropsychology
    • Theories and Research in Social and Personality Psychology
    • Atypical Growth and Behavior
    • Supervision and Consultation in Counseling Psychology

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $386/credit for in-state students; $908/credit for out-of-state students
    • Credits Required: 102
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; American Psychological Association

  • University of Iowa
    Location

    Iowa City, IA

    Students at UI can pursue a doctorate in counseling psychology tuition-free with the help of graduate assistantships, grants, and other funding opportunities. The degree takes about 5-6 years of full-time study to complete, and doctoral candidates with assistantships work an extra 20 hours each week.

    Coursework explores the biological and cognitive-affective bases of behavior, along with counseling and assessment techniques. Learners complete two practicum experiences and a yearlong internship. Comprehensive examinations include both a written and an oral component; after students complete their exams, they undertake a dissertation resulting in two articles.

    To apply, Prospective students need at least a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants with a master's degree can also apply, but they need graduate GPAs of at least 3.5. Each candidate submits GRE scores, three recommendation letters, and a personal statement.

    Courses Include:

    • Psychotherapy of Change
    • Intelligence Assessment
    • Processes and Outcomes in Counseling/Psychotherapy
    • Cognitive-Affective Bases of Behavior
    • Psychopathology Across the Lifespan

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $13,476/academic year for in-state students; $32,424/academic year for out-of-state students
    • Credits Required: 103
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; American Psychological Association

  • University of Kansas
    Location

    Lawrence, KS

    The Ph.D. program in counseling psychology at the Lawrence-based KU prepares students to pursue professional counseling practice. Approximately 96% of program graduates obtain state licensure.

    Learners typically complete the full-time program in 5-6 years. In addition to completing coursework, students fulfill a practicum experience and carry out dissertation research. Students must pass comprehensive exams to qualify as full doctoral candidates. Each degree-seeker also takes on a one-year internship to meet state and federal licensure requirements.

    To apply, each prospective student must possess either a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA or a master's degree with at least a 3.5 GPA. Applicants also submit GRE scores, including scores from the psychology subject test. Incoming students may also apply for financial aid through graduate research or teaching assistantships.

    Courses Include:

    • Diagnosis and Psychopathology
    • Diversity Issues in Clinical Psychology
    • Human Development Through the Lifespan
    • Individual and Group Assessment
    • Counseling and Interviewing Skills

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $424/credit for in-state students; $1,017/credit for out-of-state students
    • Credits Required:
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; American Psychological Association

  • University of Kentucky
    Location

    Lexington, KY

    The Ph.D. program in counseling psychology at UK uses an apprentice model of training, in which students learn through both supervised work and research. The university reports that 100% of alumni from this program find employment after graduation.

    First and second-year students focus on coursework, taking a qualifying exam for doctoral candidacy at the end of their second year. Each learner then spends years 3-5 working on their dissertation and completing practicum and internship requirements.

    Each doctoral candidate works on a faculty member's research team. Approximately 98% of students who apply for funding received it in the form of an assistantship or fellowship. These learners dedicate an extra 20 hours each week to working in the psychology department.

    An interested individual can apply with either a bachelor's or master's degree. All applicants submit GRE scores.

    Courses Include:

    • Human Cognitive Development
    • Seminar in Counseling Psychology (Substance Abuse)
    • Psychology of Career Counseling
    • Diagnosis and Psychopathology in Counseling Psychology
    • Multicultural Psychology

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $13,404/academic year for in-state students; $32,564/academic year for out-of-state students
    • Credits Required: 99
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; American Psychological Association

  • University of Miami
    Location

    Coral Gables, FL

    UM offers a Ph.D. in counseling psychology that prioritizes a scientist practitioner-approach to the field. Each enrollee completes 87-90 credits of coursework, a practicum, an internship, and a dissertation.

    Learners may only enroll in this program full time. They can finish the degree in five years, although many take an extra sixth year to complete their dissertation. Graduates of the program work in academic, clinical research, and counseling positions at universities, hospitals, and other health centers.

    The university usually provides doctoral candidates with graduate assistantships, which includes a tuition waiver and stipend of about $20,000 for nine months. Through the assistantship, students work for 20 hours each week. They can also apply for additional funding through smaller, university-sponsored scholarships.

    Each prospective student must possess a master's or bachelor's degree and submit undergraduate scores. The admissions process remains highly selective; out of around 100 applicants, the university admits a class of about five students each year.

    Courses Include:

    • Counseling Psychology: Theory, Research, and Practice
    • Psychological Appraisal
    • Cultural Diversity and Mental Health
    • Cognitive Neuroscience
    • Adult Psychopathology

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $37,800/academic year
    • Credits Required: 87-90
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; American Psychological Association

  • University of South Dakota
    Location

    Vermillion, SD

    USD educates over 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The public institution offers several programs, including a Ph.D. in counseling.

    The degree comprises 108 credits for a student who possesses a bachelor's degree or just 60 credits for an enrollee with a master's. Each learner must maintain a 3.5 GPA throughout the degree to qualify for graduation and pass a written comprehensive exam to obtain doctoral candidacy status.

    To complete the program, degree-seekers participate in supervised practicums and internships. They also carry out dissertation research, which culminates with an oral defense.

    Each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit GRE scores. Incoming students who apply for graduate teaching or research assistantships may receive a 53% reduction in tuition fees. Graduate assistants also receive stipends for their work.

    Courses Include:

    • Advanced Counseling Issues in Culture, Diversity, and Advocacy
    • Theoretical Approaches to Counseling
    • Seminar in Professional Issues: Research in Counselor Education
    • Cognitive Approaches to Educational Psychology
    • Qualitative Methods of Educational Research

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $336/credit for in-state tuition; $647/credit for out-of-state tuition
    • Credits Required: 108
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

  • University of St. Thomas
    Location

    Saint Paul, MN

    Based in St. Paul, the Catholic-affiliated UST is the largest private university in Minnesota. UST offers a Psy.D. in counseling psychology for individuals aiming to obtain licensure.

    The full curriculum comprises 82 credits, exploring theoretical and research methods coursework in addition to a dissertation, advanced practicum, and an internship. Many doctoral candidates complete their practicum and internship requirements at the university's Interprofessional Center for Counseling and Legal Services, which provides services to uninsured or underinsured low-income clients.

    The university also allows students to take a required course in diversity issues in Singapore. Through this study abroad experiences, learners study how Eastern cultures treat mental health issues.

    Each prospective student must possess a master's degree and submit GRE scores. Incoming Psy.D. candidates may apply for graduate grants and scholarships, as well.

    Courses Include:

    • Introduction to Doctoral Studies in Counseling Psychology
    • Diversity Issues in Counseling Psychology
    • Biological Bases of Behavior
    • Qualitative Methods of Inquiry
    • Contemporary Approaches to Psychotherapy

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $1,048/credit
    • Credits Required: 82
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; American Psychological Association

  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Location

    Madison, WI

    At the University of Wisconsin Madison, students can graduate with a doctorate in counseling psychology in 5-6 years, depending on whether they begin with a bachelor's or master's degree.

    The degree follows a few major modules, including discipline-specific courses, research methods coursework, professional counseling seminars, a clinical training sequence, and a dissertation and internship. Doctoral candidates may also opt to add a concentration.

    Students can choose a topic within the department, such as educational psychology, or pursue cross-disciplinary topics. Learners can additionally supplement their degree by participating in research teams led by faculty members.

    Each applicant must submit GRE scores, three recommendation letters, and an essay outlining their motivations for graduate study. Incoming students may apply for fellowships, teaching assistantships, and project assistantships. These funding opportunities come with a tuition waiver, monthly stipend, and health insurance.

    Courses Include:

    • Thinking, Feeling, and Learning
    • Theory and Issues in Human Development
    • Counseling Psychology Research in Individual Intervention
    • Mental Health Consultation in Health Service Psychology
    • Seminar: Research in Vocational Psychology and Career Development

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $780/credit for in-state students; $1,613/credit for out-of-state students
    • Credits Required: 63
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; American Psychological Association

What to Expect From a Ph.D. Program in Counseling

The specific requirements for Ph.D. in counseling programs vary from school to school. However, most programs retain some similar elements. For example, many require applicants to hold a master’s in counseling prior to enrolling.

Students should expect to complete a practicum and/or internship during a doctorate in counseling program. These field experiences provide important supervised contact hours with patients and prepare students for advanced clinical practice. Programs may require as few as 300 contact hours, or as many as 500; the total number varies between curricula.

Some programs expect students to hold an active state counseling license, as many states grant licensure with a master’s degree. However, other programs allow students to earn licensure as part of the curriculum and complete the necessary exams and supervised hours throughout their studies.

Keep in mind, different tuition-free counseling doctoral programs maintain different individual requirements.

Career Outlook for Counselors

Counselors work with all kinds of patients, serving a variety of demographics in different work environments. Some counselors specialize in a specific patient population. For example, they may serve couples and family groups as marriage and family therapists, as school counselors working with children and adolescents in educational settings, or general clinical counselors, providing care to any patient of any age group.

Counselors earn a mean annual wage of $85,340. However, earning potential depends on factors like geographic location, employer, experience, and education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, counselors earn the most on average in California, Oregon, and New Jersey. The states with the highest employment levels for counselors include California, New York, and Texas. The top paying industries include healthcare and physicians offices, and outpatient care centers.

Counseling jobs are projected to grow by 14.2% in the coming years, much faster than other occupations.

Online College Resources

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