Online PhD in Counseling Education

A perfect degree for the experienced counseling professional who is looking to move into a full-time position in post secondary education, an online PhD in Counseling Education provides holders the ability to work as counselor educators or to assume administrative leadership positions in clinical, community, non-profit, academic and research settings. Since most states require at least a master’s degree in counseling or mental health in order to be licensed as a professional counselor, an online PhD in Counseling Education must acquaint students with the tenets of adult education. Online Counseling Education PhD programs will ground students in psychological development and behavioral health principles, and make internship and field opportunities available that will familiarize students with the real world situations faced by professional counselors. Online Counseling Education doctoral programs aim to provide students with a well-rounded experience by combining strong academic foundations of theoretical knowledge with practicums, internships and embedded field experiences while pursing the degree. Programs generally take two to four years to complete depending upon other demands of a student’s time. Students must combine classroom, individual research and field emphasis to create and complete their doctoral dissertation.

About Online PhD in Counseling Education Programs in Counseling Education

Accredited online doctoral programs in Counseling Education requires students to be empathetic and enjoy working with people, and additionally, to use their current knowledge to educate future counselors. Students should enter the program with a healthy respect for personal boundaries and be able to understand and educate others on maintaining proper therapeutic distance with clients. Students often come from a background in prior counseling and are looking to become a leader in their given field. Most come from backgrounds as school counselors, vocational and career counselors, mental health counselors, substance abuse counselors, behavioral disorder counselors and marriage and family counselors. They must also hold a Master’s degree as well. The program will consist mostly of developing original writings during coursework to prepare the student for a doctoral dissertation that is designed to have a lasting impact on educating future counselors. Most online doctorate Counseling Education programs will be very similar to traditional programs, however, most online programs can be completed in a shorter amount of time. Below, is a list of courses that may be offered through online programs.

Year One:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Theories of Counseling. This course provides students with an in-depth knowledge base of cognitive-behavioral theories, past and present.
  • Advanced Group Counseling. The focus of this seminar is the direct application of theories of group dynamics and group leadership within the therapeutic process.
  • Introduction to Research Methods. A required course prior to all other research courses throughout the curriculum, this course provides a brief introduction to the philosophical underpinnings of research inquiry.

Year Two:

  • Brief Psychotherapies. This class explores theoretical models that underlie this mode of treatment and examines ways for their application in applied settings.
  • Professional Development in Counseling. This course focuses on the development of counselors and therapists over their career lifespan in order to enhance the professional development and competence of counselors and therapists.
  • Clinic Consultation. This course presents the consultative theories and techniques related to successful multidisciplinary consultation and collaboration in clinical practice.

Year Three:

  • Leading and Managing Change in a Diverse Society. This course focuses on concepts and strategies for managing change in educational human services and business settings.
  • Existential-Humanistic Theories of Counseling. Exploring in-depth humanistic psychotherapies, this course teaches the origins and histories of the existential, Gestalt and person centered therapies.
  • Advanced Statistical Methods. This course provides a survey of advanced techniques to support doctoral research using hands-on applications with SPSS, a statistics software program, that includes multiple regression, time-series analysis and multiple discriminate analysis.

Dissertation topics should focus on developing new, or improving existing, techniques for teaching and administering counselors. Prospective students can find a list of completed Doctorate of Counseling dissertations at the University at Albany’s Division of Counseling Psychology <a href=””>website for dissertation topic ideas.

Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Counseling Education

Like most online programs, the biggest value in pursuing an online PhD in Counseling Education is that it allows students the ability to continue to pursue their careers while furthering their education. This can be particularly helpful to those currently working as counselors who are seeking to make a transition into full-time post secondary education. The degree is also an extremely useful tool for someone looking to make the transition into administration or management at K-12 schools, colleges and universities, or mental healthcare facilities. This is good news for prospective educators, as the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that job growth for educators is expected to increase at faster than average rates, with a 15 percent increase through 2018, while education administration growth is expected to grow by eight percent. Another valuable aspect of pursuing on online Counseling Education degree is that they are typically much shorter to complete than traditional campus-based programs. Most campus-based programs take four to six years to complete, depending on the institution and program. One disadvantage of an online doctorate in Counseling Education is that students seeking a doctorate in the field, but who are not interested in teaching, may want to pursue another type of mental health doctoral degree as this particular PhD will have less of an impact in professional circles.

Application & Admission Requirements

When applying for an online doctorate in Counseling Education, all applicants will need to send in a completed application, a current resume, all undergraduate and graduate transcripts, any applicable test scores (including the GMAT), and, in most cases, a personal mission statement or essay. The mission statement, or essay depending on the program, outlines the applicant’s professional goals and any applicable research, work or academic experience that applies to the program. Schools will use the mission statement or essay to determine an applicant’s strengths and interest in the program. Online Counseling Education PhD candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree, but most will require a master’s degree as well. Most applicants enter doctoral programs with master’s degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy, Human Services, Couple and Family Counseling, Mental Health Counseling or Addiction Counseling. Students should possess strong leadership and superb interpersonal skills in order to be successful in the workplace.

Career Options & Job Market

The most common career path online Counseling Education doctoral graduates is to become a post secondary educator, or professor. The degree will qualify graduates to teach counseling at both two year community colleges and four year colleges and universities. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics post secondary educators earned a median annual income of $58,830 as of May 2008, however the top ten percent earned more than $120,000 annually. Graduates can also seek employment as school administrators who specialize in school counseling and may oversee a K-12 educational district’s network of school counselors or administer counseling services at a college or university. Annual income was for K-12 education administrators was more than $83,000 while post secondary administrators earned more than $80,000 as of May 2008 according to the Bureau. Graduates can also seek employment as the director of clinical services at community mental health and addiction treatment centers as they are qualified to design the psychological components of treatment programs, provide support to staff and implement treatment plans on an individual basis.

Where to Find Information

How to Get Funding

The online Counseling Education doctorate program offered by Capella University costs $4,485 per quarter for course based learning. While costs will probably rise from year to year, and will differ slightly by school and program, the figures mentioned should give prospective students a good idea of what to expect for tuition costs. One important step to consider when applying to any doctoral program, apply for Federal Student Aid through the <a href=””>FAFSA website. FAFSA can help provide low-interest loans and grants that can be a tremendous help when trying to pay for a doctoral studies. Prospective students can also look into the following scholarship opportunities as well.

  • U.S. Department of Defense Information Assurance Scholarship. Offered by Cappella University, students are eligible for this one year full scholarship because Capella is one of the select institutions to earn the Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAEIAE) designation from the National Security Agency (NSA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Current master's and doctoral learners, and undergraduate learners who have earned at least 90 credits. Applicants must be enrolled in a program related to computer and network security.
  • <a href=””>Robert C. Ford Scholarship. Named after former Capella University dean, the Robert C. Ford Scholarship is offered four times a year to any Capella student who demonstrates academic and professional objectives reflective of Dr. Ford's mission to help people help themselves.
  • David Palmer Military Scholarship. This scholarship is offered through Walden University to enrolled doctoral students who have been on active duty with a branch of the U.S. armed forces for at least a year.

Essential Advice

  • Weigh your options and do the research. You'll need to know for sure whether an additional degree will increase your earning potential more than a bachelor's or master's degree in a similar field would.
  • Try to obtain a scholarship, fellowship or grant. Studying at a PhD level is costly, and you may not be able to predict how many years it will take you to complete it.
  • Professional associations are a great way to gain knowledge about your field of choice. In order to gain exposure to great resources for business professionals, professors, and other potential fields within organizational leadership, join an association.
  • Talk to current PhD candidates and graduates about course load, time management, what admission materials they submitted, and so on. This is the best way to learn if the program is right for you.