Top CACREP-Accredited Online Doctoral Programs in Counseling

Updated November 10, 2022

If you're interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in counseling online, there are many great programs to choose from. Read about the top CACREP-accredited online doctoral programs in counseling here. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Credit: Ridofranz / iStock / Getty Images
Best Counseling Degrees Badge
As any Ph.D. student can tell you, pursuing a doctoral degree is a significant commitment. These programs generally take at least 3-4 years to complete, although part-time students may spend up to a decade pursuing their degrees. For counselors who want to become experts in their field, however, counseling doctoral programs offer enormous value. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredits master's and doctoral degrees in counseling in the U.S. When searching for programs, students should make sure to look for CACREP-accredited degrees. The CACREP also accredits online doctoral programs in counseling. Many students prefer to pursue their Ph.D. in counseling online, especially if they live far from campus or work full time. Online degrees give distance learners the flexibility to log on and watch lectures at their own convenience. Students can also save time and money by avoiding a commute to campus (there is even free PH.D. programs online). You can find a list of the best online Ph.D. counseling programs below.


View ranking methodology here.

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

  1. Adams State University

    Alamosa, CO

    ASU, a public university in Alamosa, Colorado, offers an online doctorate in counselor education and supervision. Applicants should hold a master's degree from a Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP)-accredited program. Students holding non-accredited master's degrees may need to complete remedial coursework before beginning their doctoral program.

    The program prepares students for leadership positions in the counseling field and work as practitioners, researchers, or educators. In addition to coursework, the curriculum also includes a practicum, an internship with both teaching and supervision components, and a dissertation. Though classes take place online, all students must participate in four one-week summer residencies.

    Courses Include

    • Advanced Multicultural and Ethical Issues
    • Instructional Theory in Counselor Education
    • Advanced Group Counseling
    • Seminar in Counselor Education
    • Seminar: Program Evaluation and Grant Writing

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $575 per credit
    • Credits Required: 66
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  2. Liberty University

    Lynchburg, VA

    A private evangelical Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty offers an online doctorate in counselor education and supervision. Designed for professional counselors who want to expand their knowledge and skills while learning to lead the next generation of counselors, the four-year program integrates a biblical worldview with scientifically proven tools and techniques.

    Though courses take place online, hands-on fieldwork experiences form a key component of the program. Students must also attend one-week on-campus intensives with professors and peers as part of their core courses. All students must also pass a qualifying exam and present and defend a dissertation.

    Applicants must hold a master's degree in counseling or a closely related field. Licensure or being on track to licensure is also required.

    Courses Include

    • Supervision and Consultation
    • Advanced Multivariate Statistics and Quantitative Research
    • Dissemination of Research and Scholarship in Counseling
    • Advanced Career Counseling
    • Counseling Leadership and Advocacy

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $595 per credit (full time) / $650 per credit (part time)
    • Credits Required: 60-66
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  3. University of the Cumberlands

    Williamsburg, KY

    A private Baptist university located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, Cumberlands offers an online doctorate in counselor education and supervision. Jointly presented by the university's Department of Education and School of Counseling, the research-intensive program prepares students for a wide variety of careers, such as counseling psychologist, clinical psychology professor, or even regulatory affairs director.

    Applicants should hold a master's degree from a Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP)-accredited program. Others may be admitted pending remedial coursework. Applicants must also hold a current professional certificate or license in their home state.

    All students take the same series of core courses. They then choose a specialization such as addiction counseling, advanced counseling, or leadership. Finally, all students must complete a practicum, an internship, and a dissertation.

    Courses Include

    • Neuroanatomy and Behavioral Medicine for Professional Counseling
    • Qualitative Research Design
    • Spirituality and Values in Counseling
    • Play Therapy
    • Change Process: Advanced Human Resource Management

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $400 per credit
    • Credits Required: 66
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Applying to a CACREP-Accredited Online Doctoral in Counseling Program

Just like traditional on-campus programs, online doctoral programs in counseling come with the same rigorous admission requirements. First, applicants should possess a master's degree in a field like counseling or psychology. Most counseling Ph.D. programs require a minimum 3.0 GPA. Since doctoral programs are competitive, students should strive to earn high GPAs during their undergraduate and master's degrees to increase their chances of admission. Some schools might look for candidates with licensure or certification and work experience, although this is not a standard requirement. Many doctoral programs also require students to submit GRE or MAT scores. Finally, prospective students may need to submit additional materials like a personal essay, writing samples, or recommendation letters. For doctoral programs, applicants should expect to participate in an interview as part of the admission process.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do with a doctorate degree in counseling?

Many choose to earn a terminal degree, like a doctorate, because they want to work as faculty members at universities, teach college students, and conduct research. For others, a doctorate can open up leadership opportunities or otherwise advance their counseling career.

What is accreditation and why is it important?

When looking for any academic program, it's vital to pay attention to the program's accreditation status. Accredited programs guarantee that students will receive a valuable education and be adequately prepared for their career. An accredited degree is a requirement for obtaining licensure, and employers look for job candidates with accredited degrees.

Is a doctorate degree in counseling a good degree?

A counseling Ph.D. can lead to higher salaries, leadership positions, or jobs at colleges and universities. However, a doctorate doesn't fit everyone. These degrees can take several years to complete -- especially for part-time students -- and demand a considerable amount of work. Students should make sure they feel dedicated to their Ph.D. program before they begin.

How much do counselors make with a Ph.D.?

It's difficult to know exactly how much counselors make with a Ph.D. According to data from the BLS, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors made a median salary of about $46,240 per year. However, individuals with higher degrees tend to earn above the median income. In fact, PayScale data shows that counseling psychologists with Ph.D.s earned an average salary of about $82,000.

Recommended Reading

Helping you prepare and gain the most out of your educational experience.

Are you ready to do impactful work in your community?

Choose what you’d like to specialize in, and discover which schools offer a counseling degree that can help you make a difference.