- Online Counseling Programs
- Online Doctorate Degree in Counseling
Online Doctorate Degree in Counseling
A doctorate in counseling is an opportunity for you to distinguish yourself in a particular area of the profession. A counseling PhD qualifies you as an expert in a clinical arena, prepares you for tenure-track positions at universities, primes you to train other counselors and to also conduct and publish valuable research. The terminal degree also positions you to become a leader in professional organizations. While a PhD is not essential for practicing therapeutic counseling, the impressive credential will help you attract clients, stand out from other applicants when applying for clinical jobs, and designate you with a prestigious title.
What to Expect
A PhD is a massive commitment that should not be taken lightly. A PhD program requires a five to six year commitment of study, full-time internships and dissertation. A master's degree in counseling, psychology or a related field is required for admission to any counseling PhD program. Completion of a doctorate in counseling psychology requires 66 credit hours of coursework, though some prerequisites may have been met by your master’s level work.
In addition to core and elective courses, counseling PhD programs may include the following:
- Passing a comprehensive examination
- Writing and defending a dissertation
- Creating a developmental action plan and/or professional portfolio
- Conducting research with faculty
- Contributing presentations of your findings
- Publishing articles
- Working in an intensive pre-doctoral internship
What You’ll Gain
Beyond the expanded career options that come with the cache of the big credential, a PhD in counseling will also fortify your professional abilities with advanced teaching and counseling skills. A PhD is ideal for those interested in program evaluation and advanced research methods. Students are prepared to emerge as research and instructional experts who can bring their skills to a university setting or as counselor education leaders in hospitals, private practices, clinics, government agencies, rehabilitation centers, and more. Counseling PhD graduates are also well positioned to become diplomats or fellows of the American Psychotherapy Association, an impressive accolade that opens a lot of doors in research and broadens your audience when you want to present your findings and research.
Choosing a Program
Counselor supervision and education is the most common PhD program in this area. In fact, most of the CACREP accredited programs are of this designation. This particular degree qualifies you to train counselors in a supervisory role and positions you for professorial work as a university instructor and researcher. The counselor supervision and education PhD typically includes hours spent supervising master's degree candidates and teaching graduate level courses. Programs of this nature allow for specialization, whereby you can focus some of your courses, internship and dissertation on one area of counseling, such as marriage and family therapy, or adolescent and child counseling. Some programs allow students to zero in on a niche area through research on specific types of treatments or patients.
If you are seeking a PhD strictly to enhance your professional counseling career and don’t plan to teach or conduct research, some universities offer a comparable program in mental health counseling or counseling psychology.
Begin your program search by speaking with your advisors and/or colleagues. Then explore the options accredited and recognized by CACREP and the American Psychological Association. Most of the highest ranked private and public universities offer counseling PhD programs on campus. There are online options recognized by CACREP as well, though due to the immersive nature of a doctorate program, these are really hybrid programs and not wholly online.
- Synchronous Learning: Synchronous learning requires you to log in and attend classes at specific times as classes are conducted in real time. These types of classes usually require a webcam and limit scheduling flexibility a bit, but the result is an engaging classroom environment.
- Asynchronous Learning: Asynchronous learning allows you to log in and view lectures at your convenience. However, do not forget that there are still deadlines for assignments.
- Cohort Model: Some programs use a cohort-learning model, meaning you are part of a specific class of students that proceeds through the program together. In this instance, there is a set of courses that must be followed in a specific order. This model gives you the opportunity to network and become friends with your classmates and work with them in a collaborative environment.
- Flexible Course Scheduling: This model allows you to choose when you take each required course and lets you vary your course load from semester to semester. Some schools set a limit on the number of years needed to complete a degree. Without the same set of classmates, you are exposed to a diverse range of people and opinions.
Regardless of the preferred online education style at your university, many universities offer access to academic advisors who can help you devise a class schedule and graduation timeline that suits your needs and helps you reach your goals.