A school counselor's key tasks include evaluating students for behavioral or learning issues, providing resources for career and personal development, and offering guidance for college or job applications. Working as a school counselor typically requires a master's degree, but earning a Ph.D. may offer career advancement opportunities and higher earning potential. This guide provides an overview of the benefits and components of a school counseling Ph.D.
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Why Get a Ph.D. in School Counseling?
A Ph.D. qualifies students for high-level positions in the academic or medical fields, such as professor or administrator. Read on to discover the additional benefits of earning a school counseling doctorate.
Prepares You to Mentor Future School Counselors
Doctorate programs focus on training students to use current counseling theories to create their own counseling techniques. Developing these skills allows students to use their experience and expertise to mentor future school counselors.
Allows You to Pursue Research in the Field
Research is a key component in most school counseling Ph.D. programs. Programs typically involve conducting research to complete a project or dissertation. This process develops the analytical and writing skills students need to pursue a career in research.
Example Courses in a School Counseling Ph.D. Program
The school counseling field spans multiple age groups. Many programs allow students to tailor their degree to their career goals by offering concentration options. As such, the curriculum for a school counseling doctorate may vary. In general, most programs focus on developing research skills and a comprehensive knowledge of counseling theories and techniques.
A school counseling Ph.D. program provides students with the tools they need to lead research teams, teach at the university level, or work in administration. A few common courses students may encounter in a Ph.D. program include research methods in psychology, teaching in counselor education, and clinical supervision.
Research Methods in Psychology
This course provides a comprehensive overview of current research methods in psychology. Students design and implement research, which may help them complete their graduate research project or dissertation. Students also develop research and writing skills, formulate a thesis, and practice basic public speaking skills.
Teaching in Counselor Education
This course teaches the fundamentals of counseling education. The course trains students to use their personal experiences along with their knowledge of current best practices in counseling methods to effectively teach students.
This course explores the basic principles of clinical supervision to prepare students to oversee a counseling department. Coursework develops key leadership, observation, and planning skills. Students learn current best practices for monitoring counselors and implementing any administrative or policy changes. The course typically emphasizes class discussions and student self-reflection.
What Can You Do With a Ph.D. in School Counseling?
A school counseling Ph.D. prepares students for multiple high-level positions. A few common careers include professor, dean, counselor supervisor, or social worker. These positions typically require more responsibility and come with higher earning potential. Candidates with a Ph.D. earn an average annual salary of around $87,000. A counselor's salary may vary depending on their position, where they work, and their experience.
Common Work Environments
- Elementary, middle, and high schools
- Colleges and universities
- Social services
- Private practice
Career Advancement in School Counseling
Join A Research University or Organization
Joining a research university offers a few benefits, including access to research professionals and the opportunity to participate in research projects. One way to join a research facility is by becoming a postdoctoral fellow and researcher. This move allows professionals to earn a stipend while conducting research for their dissertation. To qualify, students must typically have already completed Ph.D. coursework and examinations.
Join A Professional Organization
School counseling graduates should consider joining a professional organization to access resources, research, and networking opportunities. Read on to learn more about five organizations to consider.
- American School Counselor Association This member organization supports school counselors in their professional development. It offers access to industry publications and professional development courses and hosts an online platform where counselors interact with their peers.
- American College Counseling Association This organization focuses on counseling professionals working in higher education. It connects members with webinars, industry publications, and a jobs board and hosts an annual conference where attendees network and learn about industry trends.
- The National Board for Certified Counselors This is the main organization for certifying counseling professionals. It provides access to current standards, policies, and credentialing information, which makes it a one-stop site for professionals needing to apply for or renew their licenses.
- National Education Association This member organization focuses on advancing public education. It provides members with access to educational tools and print and digital publications and hosts events that give professionals the opportunity to network and learn about the latest industry news.
- American Counseling Association This professional organization represents counselors spanning a variety of career paths, including school counselor. It provides members with continuing education courses, publications, a jobs board, and a conference.