Counseling PhD Programs

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Nobody says you need to write a doctoral dissertation to be licensed as a counselor. Nobody says you need to do ground-breaking research either. For some, though, it is a calling. Across the United States, professional counselors are licensed on the basis of a master’s degree. Many professionals, though, opt to study at the doctoral level. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) lists 63 doctoral programs in its directory: the vast majority conferring PhDs, some granting EdDs.

CACREP Accredited PhD in Counseling Program:

Capella University offers four online CACREP - Accredited Graduate Programs in Counseling including the CACREP accredited PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision. SMaster's specialty tracks include Mental Health Counseling, Marriage and Family Counseling/Therapy, Addiction Counseling, and School Counseling. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their programs.

For some highly educated candidates, the doctoral degree is the first counseling degree (though there may already be a string of initials beside their name). For many, though, the doctoral degree is a continuation of counseling studies. Many counseling PhD programs only admit students with master's degrees in counseling or closely related fields.

Here is a look at some types of counseling PhD programs and the professional goals you may achieve.

Counselor Supervision and Education PhD Programs

Counselor supervision and education is a common designation. The PhD level internship typically includes hours spent supervising master's candidates and teaching graduate level courses.

Some jurisdictions set educational requirements for counselor supervisors higher than those for counselors. A PhD in counselor supervision and education can be a chance to go beyond the minimum.

This can be the ticket to more than just a tenure-track faculty position –some professionals even conduct research in the counselor education arena. A group of three at Regent got a head start as doctoral students when they worked on a project comparing the experiences of students of online and traditional CACREP-accredited counseling programs.

CACREP lists all doctoral level counseling programs as "counselor education and supervision" but notes that there are actually many specialties possible. Indeed, many PhD students are carving out their own niches. Browse the student profiles of Idaho State University's Counseling and Counselor Education and you’ll find diverse interests ( One student includes among her interests sand tray therapy, creative interventions with adolescents, and blending Eastern and Western philosophies. Another is interested in counselor supervision as well as adventure counseling and using music in counseling. Yet another, experienced in counseling mentally disabled sex offenders, counts mindfulness, advocacy, and supervision as “scholarly interests”.

Capella University offers one of the very few online General Counselor Education and Supervision Ph.D. programs. Click Here to contact Capella University and learn more about their program.

Pastoral Counseling PhD and PhDs in Related Fields

Some master's level practitioners pursue degrees in counseling and pastoral care or pastoral counseling so that they can integrate spirituality into their professional practice.

Others advance the pastoral counseling field without providing direct care. If suitable mentors are available, PhD students may focus their dissertation on pastoral counseling issues even if the track does not specify "pastoral care"; this is more likely to be the case at a university with a spiritual or religious focus. One PhD candidate at Regent University focused on Honduran mental health needs as identified by counseling students at a religious seminary

Mental Health Counseling PhD Programs

The PhD in mental health counseling is an opportunity to distinguish yourself in a particular area of the field, for example, grief counseling.

In addition to becoming an expert in the clinical arena, you may become a leader in professional organizations.

At Pace University, in addition to passing a comprehensive examination and writing and defending a dissertation, PhD students create a developmental action plan which can include presentations, publications, research, and mentoring. One of their first tasks is to begin a professional portfolio; this portfolio is updated as they achieve professional goals.

A professional portfolio is necessary if you aspire to be a diplomat or fellow of the American Psychotherapy Association. Attaining such status does more than just provide a sense of personal accomplishment. Accolades are an asset if you want to present your findings… and want to be heard.

Sample of Online Counseling PhD Programs

capella university

Capella University offers an online General Counselor Education and Supervision PhD program accredited by CACREP.

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*CACREP lists several campus based Counseling PhD programs in their directory. They are all listed as Counselor Education and Supervision PhD programs. Click Here to see their listing of Counseling PhD programs.

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