Educational counselors and supervisors play a crucial role in students' academic and social development, from elementary school through college. These counselors collaborate with teachers, administrators, and parents to ensure students acquire the skills required to succeed in school, in their future careers, and in their personal lives. They also provide important counseling services in other settings, including family and community clinics, mental health facilities, substance abuse centers, and in private practice.
This page looks at the most affordable Ph.D. programs in counselor education and supervision and what to expect from a doctoral program. Earning a Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision requires extensive training in statistics and methodology and advanced coursework in client-centered counseling theory and practice, leadership and advocacy, and counseling supervision and teaching.
Graduates enter careers as clinical practitioners, educators, and researchers. They work as school counseling supervisors, program evaluators, postsecondary instructors, and consultants.
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Applying to an Affordable Doctoral Degree in Counselor Education and Supervision
Students interested in earning a doctorate in counselor education should explore curriculum requirements, the availability of specialties, and tuition costs before selecting a graduate program. Although specific eligibility requirements vary by school, applicants to Ph.D. programs in counselor education and supervision should hold a master's in counseling from a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
Most graduate programs require a minimum GPA in prior coursework. Applicants must submit official transcripts, GRE scores, and three letters of recommendation for admission. In addition to a resume and personal statement outlining research and career goals, many programs require in-person interviews conducted by department faculty. Many schools give preference to students who have completed volunteer or paid internship experiences during their master's program.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ph.D. programs train students to assess client needs, provide therapy, and supervise master's-level counselors. Degree-holders may teach at postsecondary institutions, conduct research, and administer counseling programs. In school settings, counselors may spend their time addressing behavioral and social issues, providing college admissions assistance, conducting academic and psychological assessments, and providing support for students with special needs.
While postsecondary schools hold accreditation from a national or regional accrediting organization, the best Ph.D. programs in counselor education and supervision hold CACREP accreditation. CACREP accreditation ensures that programs meet national standards established for professional practice. Counselors planning to work in public schools must obtain state certification from a CACREP-accredited program.
Students can earn a doctorate in counselor education and supervision in traditional on-campus or online formats. Accredited online programs offer the same quality education and maintain the same admissions and curriculum requirements as campus-based degrees. The online format particularly benefits master's-level counselors already employed in the field who seek career advancement while managing personal and work responsibilities.
Doctorates, which take 3-5 years to complete, require 60-100 credits. Part-time attendance, qualifying exams, and research and dissertation requirements may lengthen the time needed to finish the degree. Some Ph.D. programs allow students to shorten the time frame by accepting a small number of transfer credits from a CACREP-accredited master's degree.
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Most Affordable Doctoral Degrees in Counselor Education and Supervision
The Graduate School of Education offers a combined doctor of philosophy in counseling psychology and school psychology degree requiring 96 credits for completion. Full-time students can expect to spend at least five years on this in-person program.
All students follow the same core curriculum, which composes about 70% of the total coursework. The school psychology concentration focuses on children and adolescents, while the counseling psychology concentration focuses on older adolescent and adult patients.
Admission requirements include an online application and fee, official transcripts from all previously attended institutions, three letters of recommendation, a statement of interest, a statement about diverse experiences, and a personal interview.
Multicultural Counseling | Human Development | Personality Assessment | Cognitive Psychology
Cost: $470/credit (in state); $565/credit (out of state)
Credits Required: 96 credits
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education, American Psychological Association
UNM's Department of Individual, Family, and Community Education offers a doctor of philosophy in counselor education that requires 97 credits to complete. Most students enter the Ph.D. program with a master's in counseling, licensure, and professional experience. Students without these prerequisites can still gain admission and work closely with an advisor to make up any deficiencies. The program aims to prepare students to perform professional counselor educator duties.
Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA over the final two years of study. Applicants should also hold a master's degree in counseling from a regionally accredited institution and submit transcripts from all previously attended academic institutions. They must also bring evidence of relevant work experience, letters of reference, a personal statement, proof of multicultural competence, and a writing sample.
Advanced Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy | Advanced Multicultural Counseling | Leadership, Advocacy, and Professional Issues | Advanced Group Counseling and Psychotherapy
Cost: $9,761/24 credits (in state); $26,590/24 credits (out of state)
Credits Required: 97 credits
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
University of Mississippi
The University of Mississippi's School of Education provides a doctor of philosophy in counselor education degree requiring 68-71 credits for completion. The full-residency program holds classes at the Oxford Campus.
To graduate, students must designate an area of specialization, complete required coursework and comprehensive exams, successfully complete the dissertation, and complete practicum and internship experiences. Students can transfer up to 12 credits into the program.
Admission requirements include a master's degree in counseling or a related subject, an online graduate application, official transcripts, GRE scores, a statement of purpose, a resume, contact information for three references, and an interview. The institution prefers students with a master's degree in counseling from a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). GRE test scores must be less than five years old.
Advanced Multicultural Counseling and Advocacy | Professional Identity and Ethics in Counselor Education | Transitioning Into the Professoriate | Foundations of Qualitative Research Methodology
Cost: $500/credit (in state); $1,430/credit (out of state)
Credits Required: 68-71 credits
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
Auburn's College of Education provides a doctor of philosophy in counselor education requiring 64 credits for completion. Program requirements include engagement in professional leadership and advocacy in areas of social justice, diversity, and equity; a dissertation and comprehensive exam; a 600-hour internship; and practicum studies in the areas of teaching, clinical supervision, advanced clinical counseling, and research.
Prospective students must hold a master's degree from a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Students can apply for a fall-semester start by Feb. 1 and must submit all official transcripts, three reference forms, GRE scores, a statement of intent, a curriculum vita, and a graduate school application and fee. Applicants must attend an in-person interview as well.
Research Design in Counseling and Evaluation | Counselor Education Pedagogy | Diversity and Social Justice in Counselor Education | Theory and Methodology of Qualitative Research
Credits Required: 64 credits
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, CACREP
University of Arkansas
The College of Education and Health Professions offers a doctor of philosophy in counselor education and supervision, which requires 69-75 semester hours for completion. The curriculum consists of counselor education core courses, a specialization core, research and statistics requirements, an internship, and a doctoral dissertation.
Specializations include clinical mental health counseling, school counseling, and rehabilitation counseling. The program is nationally accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
Admission requirements include a completed master's degree in counseling or its equivalent in areas specified by CACREP, Graduate School application, official transcripts showing a minimum 3.5 GPA on all previous graduate coursework, GRE test scores, three letters of recommendation, an autobiographical sketch, a role-play recording demonstrating counseling skills, and a formal interview.
Advanced Counseling Theory and Methods | Supervision of Counselors | Introduction to Play Therapy | Advanced Psychosocial Aspects of Disability
Cost: $430/semester hour (in state); $1,170/semester hour (out of state)
Credits Required: 69-75 semester hours
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, CACREP