Tuition-Free Doctoral Programs in Counseling 2021

Updated November 10, 2022

Want to study psychology through a tuition-free Ph.D. program? Check out this guide, which lists the best fully-funded psychology Ph.D. programs. 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: William_Potter / iStock / Getty Images
Counselors work rewarding jobs, guiding people struggling with various mental and emotional challenges. As more people seek counseling services, the profession continues to grow. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors could increase by 25% from 2019-29 -- much faster than the national average. Although counselors need either a bachelor's or master's degree in order to obtain licensure, some pursue their studies up to a doctoral degree. This terminal degree can help counseling professionals progress in their careers, earn higher salaries, and/or focus on research and teaching at colleges and universities. A doctorate may seem intimidating for many reasons, including the length, which can last up to seven years, and the price tag. However, many universities offer tuition-free Ph.D. programs online and on campus. In fact, schools often pay students to work as graduate research or teaching assistants. You can find a list of the best fully funded psychology Ph.D. programs below.

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.

Applying to Tuition-Free Doctoral Programs in Counseling

When applying for doctoral programs, students usually need a master's degree within the field they wish to study. For counseling Ph.D. candidates, that means holding a master's degree in counseling, psychology, or a related field. Doctoral programs also come with rigorous academic expectations, which means students need to submit their previous educational transcripts showing a high GPA. Doctoral programs may set the GPA minimum requirement at 2.5-3.2, but prospective students can make their applications more competitive with a GPA above 3.5. Applicants should submit resumes detailing their work experience. Some doctoral programs might look for previous professional experience, but this is not a general requirement. Prospective students may need to submit GRE scores and usually need to send in recommendation letters and participate in an admissions interview.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do counselors work?

Counselors find employment in various work environments. Many work in outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers, individual and family services, hospitals, residential and substance abuse facilities, and government agencies. They can also find jobs at prisons, halfway houses, juvenile detention centers, and employee assistance programs.

What is accreditation and why is it important?

It's important to look for accreditation when searching for potential degree programs. Accreditation certifies that a particular school or academic program will provide a valuable education and prepare you for your career. Graduates need accredited programs when searching for jobs or applying for certifications and licenses.

What does it mean when a program is tuition-free?

Students enrolled in tuition-free Ph.D. programs do not have out-of-pocket costs for their studies. These programs usually give tuition waivers for graduate students and often offer monthly stipends or low salaries, for students who work as graduate teaching or research assistants. Some graduate programs offer benefits, as well, such as health insurance coverage.

What can I do with a doctorate degree in counseling?

Professionals with a doctoral degree in counseling can work as psychologists, researchers at an institute, or faculty members at a university. Additionally, counselors sometimes pursue a doctoral degree simply to continue their professional education.


View ranking methodology here.

Tuition-Free Doctoral Programs in Counseling

  • Auburn University

    Auburn, AL



    Auburn University's counselor education Ph.D. program is one of four advanced counseling degree programs in the university's Counselor Education Programs department. Complete with a practicum and internship, Auburn's program has produced graduates presently working in mental health, rehabilitation, counselor education, and school counseling.

    As part of the coursework, the practicum for this tuition-free Ph.D. focuses on teaching, supervision, and advanced counseling. Also, the internships are adjustable to the students' professional goals. Graduate students meeting the university's requirements can receive a tuition waiver from the tuition fellowship program. To be eligible for the tuition waiver, students must obtain a graduate assistantship.

    Courses Include

    Counselor Education Pedagogy
    Advanced Theories: Cognitive/Behavioral Theories
    Research Design in Counseling and Evaluation
    Contemporary Issues in Counselor Education
    Diversity and Social Justice in Counselor Education

    Unique Features

    Cost: $11,796
    Credit Required: 61
    Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

    See School Website

  • Ball State University

    Muncie, IN



    At Ball State, the pathway to becoming a doctor of counseling psychology features several emphases, including rehabilitation counseling, clinical neuropsychology, and school psychology. Most students satisfy the degree requirements within four to five years. Every Ball State doctoral student is eligible for a graduate assistant tuition and fee remission program.

    Courses Include

    Career Theories and Realities
    Theories and Techniques of Counselor Supervision
    Objective Personality Appraisal
    Analysis of variance

    Unique Features

    Cost: $16,0442
    Credit required: 106 minimum
    Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    See School Website

  • Boston College

    Chestnut Hill, MA

    This tuition-free Ph.D. program provides students with the foundational knowledge consistent with the American Psychological Association (APA) format. Most BC graduate students complete all of the program's requirements in six years. The university guarantees assistantships with tuition remission awards for the first four years.

    Courses required

    Quantitative Research Design in Counseling and Developmental Psychology
    Biological Bases of Behavior
    Advanced Psychological Assessment
    Cognitive-Affective Bases of Behavior
    Quantitative Research Design in Counseling and Developmental Psychology

    Unique features

    Cost: $38,450
    Credits required: 54
    Accreditation: New England Commission on Higher Education

    See School Website

  • Carlow University

    Pittsburgh, PA

    Carlow's Psy.D. in counseling psychology demands about four years of dedicated study with a year-long internship, a dissertation, and a practicum. The program does practicum placements at well-known mental health agencies, medical hospitals, and rural locations in the Pittsburgh area. For tuition concerns, the university sponsors a limited number of assistantships, scholarships, and grants.

    Courses Include

    Counseling Skills and Techniques
    Diagnosis of Abnormal Psychology
    Social and Cultural Foundations of Diversity Training
    Research Methods (Statistical and Quantitative Methods)
    Human Growth and Lifespan Development

    Unique Features

    Cost: $26,475
    Credits Required: 93
    Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

    See School Website

  • College of Saint Elizebeth

    Morristown, NJ

    CSE's Ph.D. program requires the doctoral students to complete the four categories of discipline-specific knowledge (DSK): the history of psychology systems, basic knowledge in scientific psychology, integrative knowledge in scientific psychology, and methods of inquiry and research. Most students complete the requirements for this degree in four years. Assistantships pay for one course (3 credits) for every 10 hours of work.

    Courses Required

    Advanced Psychometrics
    Advanced Cognitive and Personality assessment
    Physiological Psychology
    Social Aspects of Behavior
    Child & Adolescent Psychopathology

    Unique Features

    Cost: $19,236
    Credits required: 88
    Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

    See School Website

  • Marquette University

    Milwaukee, WI

    Along with the standard Ph.D. program requirements, Marquette engages its students in multicultural research, top-ranked internships, and opportunities to work with prominent qualitative researchers. Its students perform practicums in top hospitals and veterans administrations. After completing the program in four to five years, many graduates assume leadership roles in their specialties. Marquette offers assistantships with a full stipend and merit-based aid.

    Courses Required

    Cognitive-Affective Bases of Behavior
    Consultation Strategies
    Biological Basis of Behavior
    Professional Ethics and Legal Issues
    Career Development and Counseling

    Unique Features

    Cost: $81,900; Marquette offers assistantships with a full stipend and merit-based aid.
    Credit required: 91
    Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    See School Website

  • Our Lady of the Lake University

    San Antonio, TX

    Upon completing the degree requirements, students are ready to become competent and licensed psychology practitioners. The average program completion period is five years, including a one-year internship. This doctorate program's design meets the requirements of Texas state licensure. It focuses more on the delivery of services than the standard research activity aspect of psychology. OLLU Graduate assistantships are available to offset the cost.

    Courses Required

    Cognition and Emotion
    Psychoeducational Assessment: Cognitive Testing
    Abnormal Psychology
    Advanced Systemic Approaches to Psychotherapy
    Behavioral Neuroscience

    Unique Features

    Cost: $23,315
    Credits required:117
    Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

    See School Website

  • Radford University

    Radford, VA



    This tuition-free doctorate program primarily concentrates on rural mental health, but it also favors social justice, cultural diversity, and evidence-based psychology. Since it stresses clinical teaching and application, students must complete a 2,000-hour internship. For full-time students in good standing, Radford provides tuition remission through assistantships and grant-funded fellowships.

    Courses Required

    Couples and Family Systems Therapy
    Multivariate Analysis
    Psychopharmacological Medication
    Biological Foundations

    Unique Features

    Cost: $12,409
    Credit required: 128
    Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

    See School Website

  • SUNY at Albany

    Albany, NY



    UAlbany's Ph.D. program requires proof of research tool competence, a 2,000-hour internship, a dissertation, and dissertation defense. Upon completion of the four-year curriculum, graduates are eligible for licensure in New York State. All first-year students receive guaranteed tuition funding, with assistantships covering the remaining years.

    Course Required

    Proseminar in Research in Counseling Psychology
    Regression Analysis for Counseling Research
    Ethics and Professional Issues in Counseling Psychology
    Multivariate Applications in Counseling Psychology
    Doctoral Practicum in Specialized Procedures

    Unique Features

    Cost: $13,454
    Credits: 81
    Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

    See School Website

  • University of Houston

    Houston, TX



    Students benefit from student-faculty mentorship, top-notch sites for clinical training, and a robust curriculum. This Ph.D. program also offers a health psychology emphasis. Even with the addition of this 15-hour minor, most students complete the program within five to six years. UH Doctoral students can use assistantships and tuition fellowships to offset the cost of tuition and fees.

    Courses Required

    Atypical Growth and Behavior
    Advanced IRT Theory Models in Psy/Educ Research
    Clinical Interventions in Counseling Psychology
    Inferential Statistics in Psychological and Educational Research
    Human Growth and Development

    Unique Features

    Cost: $18,528
    Credits required: 48
    Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

    See School Website

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.