Grad School Hub - Online Counseling ProgramsBy Kristen Fescoe

In this article, we highlight our selections for the top online PhD in counseling programs.

In the world of professional counseling, a doctoral degree is ideal. Although a master’s degree can be used to enter the field, an online doctoral program in counseling can create many more opportunities for advancement. By earning a doctoral degree as a counselor, one has the ability to open a private practice or join an existing practice, work in a hospital or mental health facility, work in a school or academic setting, train future counselors, supervise other counseling professionals, among other excellent options. According to the 2015 US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Handbook, the job outlook for Mental Health Counselors is “much higher than average” at a projected growth rate of 29 percent over the next ten years. This area of social services is an excellent fit for those people with a strong desire to help those in need.

For information about the factors involved in this ranking of online counseling PhD programs, see the methodology and sources page.

Ranking Top 10 Best Online PhD Counseling Programs

#10 – Amridge University – Montgomery, Alabama

The School of Human Services

Points: 3

Program Website

The Amridge University School of Human Services offers qualified candidates a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) degree in Professional Counseling online. This program is a rigorous 60-credit-hour, research-oriented program. The total number of credits necessary for completion of this doctoral program depends upon the number of previously accumulated graduate hours. Upon completion of the doctoral program, graduates will be able to:

  • Complete original, empirically based research, including both quantitative and qualitative methodologies.
  • Exhibit an inclusive knowledge base of the current state of empirical research in psychology and counseling.
  • Recognize, and correctly categorize, syndromes of mental disorders and create appropriate and effective treatment plans.
  • Establish the capability to function as both a scholar and practitioner through critical analysis of the student’s own practice setting.
  • Apply counseling skills and research in teaching or clinical practice.

These student outcomes are evaluated through completion of coursework, completion of the comprehensive examination, and completion of the dissertation.

Degree Offered:Online Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling

US News and World Report 2015 Ranking of Best Graduate Program in Psychology: Not ranked

Additional US News and World Report Ranking

US News and World Report #236 on High School Counselor Rating List

Accreditations:

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

Program Format: Hybrid of online and on-campus

Average Annual Tuition: $10,305

Areas of Concentration: None Offered

More Information on Amridge University

#9 – Capella University – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Capella University Online PhD Counseling

Harold Abel School of Social Science and Behavioral Science

Points: 4

Program Website

Capella University offers an online Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Counselor Education and Supervision program designed for students who hope to become leaders in the field of professional counseling. The program includes online coursework, residencies, and field experiences designed to build clinical, teaching, research, and supervisory skills. This doctoral degree program offers qualified students the chance to fulfill the internship requirement by working alongside other counseling students enrolled in the university’s CACREP-accredited Master’s degree programs. The Ph.D in Counselor Education and Supervision program includes 5 integrated components:

  • Online coursework
  • In-person experiences (called colloquia or residencies)
  • Fieldwork (including practica and internships)
  • Comprehensive exams
  • Dissertation

Each of these elements is an important part of the educational process and builds upon the others to achieve the ultimate goal of a Ph.D. Graduates of the Ph.D in Counselor Education and Supervision program are qualified to “lead and advocate for inclusion, tolerance, and acceptance, evaluate the current theories and practices of the counseling profession, and demonstrate commitment to one’s personal and professional development.” Students will gain the necessary skills to conduct and provide valid, reliable, and ethical research in the field of professional counseling; conduct themselves in keeping with social and professional ethics; and think critically and write effectively in the discipline of choice.

Degree Offered: Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Education and Supervision Online

US News and World Report 2015 Ranking of Best Graduate Program in Psychology: Not ranked

Additional US News and World Report Ranking Not Applicable

Accreditations:

The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)

Program Format: Online coursework with in-person residency and field work.

Average Annual Tuition: $12,348

Areas of Concentration: None Offered

More Information on Capella University

#8 – Keiser University – Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The Graduate School

Points: 5

Program Website

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Counselor Education and Supervision Degree Program was developed at Keiser University to train students through challenging coursework and rigorous experiential opportunities. Students enrolled in this Ph.D program are exposed to the rudimentary concepts and techniques used in clinical intervention and treatment, research, and clinical supervision. Graduates of this program have the skills and potential to tackle leadership positions in the counseling field and are equipped to model the highest ideals and ethics of the profession. The program was created for individuals who have completed a 60 credit hour Master’s Degree program in counseling, have current licensure or certification as professional counselors, and have demonstrated the potential for assuming major leadership roles in the counseling profession at the regional or national level in university, clinical, or research settings.

Program objectives are founded on one primary goal: “the education of outstanding counselor educators prepared to assume leadership roles in multicultural settings that provide supervision, instruction, and research.” The objectives of the doctoral program include the following:

1. Students will be able to describe and utilize the principles, ideas, skills and applications of advanced counseling, counselor education, and counselor supervision. This can be completed through faculty mentoring, coursework, practica, internships, and independent and dissertation research in the following areas:

  • Theories related to the principles and practices of counseling and counselor supervision.
  • Instructional theory and methods relevant to counselor education.
  • Multicultural issues and competencies, including social change theory and advocacy action planning.
  • Design, implementation, and analysis of quantitative research.
  • Models and methods of assessment and use of data.
  • Ethical and legal considerations in counselor education and supervision.

2. Upon completion of the program, graduates will be qualified to take on leadership roles in the field of counseling as college and university faculty, advanced practitioners, consultants, researchers and scholarly authors, and administrators.

3. Students will establish a sense of multicultural awareness leading to culturally suitable applications in all areas of counseling, education, and supervision, as well as application of this awareness in diverse contexts.

Degree Offered: Online PhD in Counseling Education and Supervision

US News and World Report 2015 Ranking of Best Graduate Program in Psychology: Not ranked

Additional US News and World Report Ranking

US News and World Report #40 Best College or University in the Southern Region of the United States

US News and World Report #13 Best College for Veterans

Accreditations:

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

Program Format: Fully Online

Average Annual Tuition: $16,284

Areas of Concentration: None Offered

More Information on Keiser University

#7 – North Central University – Prescott Valley, Arizona

The School of Psychology

Points: 5

Program Website

In order to be considered for the online PhD in Psychology at North Central University, applicants must have completed a Master’s Degree program at a fully accredited university. There are three options for entering the doctoral program in psychology:

Direct Entry: This option is for students who have already completed a Master’s Degree in any area of Psychology, Mental Health Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy, or Social Work. These students may immediately begin the 60 credit hour degree program.

Evaluation Track: This option is designed for students who hold a Master’s Degree in an area other than those previously listed. These applicants must have their transcripts evaluated by the department to determine if previous coursework meets some or all of the Standard Curriculum requirements. Students in the Evaluation Track traditionally begin their doctoral studies by completing a specific list of courses, after which they will take the required Standard Curriculum courses prior to taking the remaining courses in their degree plan.

Mental Health Policy and Practice Specialization Track: Individuals hoping to enroll in this track must be licensed practicing clinicians (social workers, counselors, therapists, psychologists) in their state of practice. These students will automatically be enrolled in the 60 credit hour Ph.D program for this specialization.

Once admitted into one of the three tracks, students can choose their area of specialization, including: Gender Diversity, General Psychology, Health Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, and Mental Health Policy and Practice. The Ph.D program in Psychology was developed in response to rapid growth in the field and the need for more advanced educational opportunities in psychology. Students accepted into this program have the opportunity to enhance their critical thinking skills and to expand their existing knowledge base in psychology in order to better evaluate individual, social, organizational and global problems.

Degree Offered: Online Psychology PhD

US News and World Report 2015 Ranking of Best Graduate Program in Psychology: Not ranked

Additional US News and World Report Ranking Not Applicable

Accreditations:

Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)

The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)

Program Format: Fully Online

Average Full Program Tuition: $58,370

Areas of Concentration:

Gender Diversity

General Psychology

Health Psychology

Industrial Organizational Psychology

Mental Health Policy and Practice

More Information on North Central University

#6 – Liberty University – Lynchburg, Virginia

Liberty University Online Department

Points: 6

Program Website

The online PhD in Counseling at Liberty University was created to train qualified counselors who will serve as clinicians, researchers, educators, supervisors, administrators and consultants in the field of professional counseling. It is expected that upon graduation students exiting this program will have developed an expert level of competence and study. The program’s curriculum emphasizes a course of study that is grounded in ethical training and practice; as such, it is empirically based and stresses clinical experience and a cutting edge approach to understanding the human experience and how Christian values and beliefs influence behavior. This Ph.D program is a 63 credit hour, post-Master’s Degree program of study. The curriculum is made up of core coursework and elective courses, a Qualifying Exam, completion of a Practicum Experience, an Internship, and a qualified Dissertation. Students will complete the program of study in a hybrid learning environment made up of online courses as well as a full week of on-campus study.

Degree Offered: Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling

US News and World Report 2015 Ranking of Best Graduate Program in Psychology: Not ranked

Additional US News and World Report Ranking

US News and World Report #80 Best College or University in the Southern Region of the United States

US News and World Report #37 Best College of Veterans

Accreditations:

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS)

Program Format: Fully Online courses with one required week of on-campus study

Average Annual Tuition: $21,706

Areas of Concentration:

Advanced Clinical Counseling

Counselor Education and Supervision

More Information on Liberty University

#5 – Regent University – Virginia Beach, Virginia

The School of Psychology and Counseling

Points: 6

Program Website

The online PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision at Regent University was created for currently licensed counselors who want to gain a greater level of training and competency in the professional field of counseling. In order to maintain its CACREP accreditation, the school adheres to that accrediting body’s prescribed outline of coursework. Students must fulfill an internship as well as complete and defend a doctoral dissertation. One of the most important components of the program is the emphasis on combining counseling knowledge, skills, and strategies with biblical teachings and faith-based practices. Students at Regent are part of a community, both during three week-long, on-campus residencies as well as through online courses that are designed to maximize team-building and create a cooperative identity. Graduates of this program will be capable of serving as leaders in a variety of professional roles that include university faculty, clinical practitioners, counselor supervisors, administrators in mental health agencies and schools, researchers, and consultants. Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • Explain and employ the philosophies, skills and applications of advanced counseling, counselor education and counselor supervision, as accomplished through faculty mentoring, coursework, practica, internship, and independent research.
  • Take on leadership roles in the field of counseling as college and university faculty, advanced practitioners, consultants, researchers and administrators.
  • Establish an holistic counseling perspective with solid ethical and moral standards that integrate a Christian worldview with best practices in the field of counseling.
  • Demonstrate a sense of multicultural awareness that will result in culturally appropriate practices.
  • Show leadership development and maturity in their professional and spiritual lives that will positively influence their practices as counseling professionals and encourage their service to Christ and community.

Degree Offered: Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision

US News and World Report 2015 Ranking of Best Graduate Program in Psychology: Not ranked

Additional US News and World Report Ranking

US News and World Report #184 on High School Counselor Rating List

Accreditations:

Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

Program Format: Fully Online

Average Annual Tuition: $16,638

Areas of Concentration: None Offered

More Information on Regent University

#4 – Adams State University – Alamosa, Colorado

The Graduate School

Points: 7

Program Website

The Graduate School at Adams State University has created an online PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision. The program is designed to meet the growing need for highly skilled and adequately qualified counseling professionals. This doctoral program will prepare counselor educators and supervisors to:

  • Secure positions as faculty members, researchers and practitioners in academic and clinical settings.
  • Cultivate an extensive base of knowledge in the counseling profession.
  • Publish and present the findings of empirical research and investigation.
  • Contribute to the colloquies that further professional practice by offering new knowledge in the field through dissertation research focusing on areas relevant to counseling practice, counselor education, and/or supervision.
  • Assume positions of leadership in the counseling profession and/or their area of specialization.

The curriculum in the doctoral level program in Counselor Education and Supervision at Adams State University will create students who are:

  • Prepared to teach courses in counseling skills, theory, ethics, research, assessment, group counseling, supervision, instructional theory, and career opportunities.
  • Skilled in the practice of advanced clinical counseling.
  • Aware of the complexities of cultural diversity.
  • Experienced in online course development, delivery, and counseling supervision.
  • Prepared to teach courses mandated by the CACREP core.
  • Prepared to supervise counselors and counseling students who provide individual and group counseling.
  • Experienced in conducting empirical research.
  • Experienced in presenting research findings at conferences of various levels.
  • Experienced in writing for professional publications.
  • Prepared to evaluate counselor education programs and clinical counseling sites.
  • Experienced as professional counseling leaders, mentors, practitioners, and consultants.

Degree Offered: Online PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

US News and World Report 2015 Ranking of Best Graduate Program in Psychology: Not ranked

Additional US News and World Report Ranking Not Applicable

Accreditations:

Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)

The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)

Program Format: Fully Online

Average Annual Tuition: $7,449

Areas of Concentration: None Offered

More Information on Adams State University

#3 – Argosy University – Phoenix, Arizona

The School of Education

Points: 7

Argosy University offers a unique degree plan for those interested in becoming professional counselors. The online EdD in Counseling Psychology degree program (with an optional concentration in Counselor Education and Supervision) was created by the School of Education to meet the distinct requirements of busy working professionals who are dedicated to developing their knowledge and skills to handle the changing needs of modern organizations. This Ed.D program was developed to offer current professionals in the field the chance to further their academic and professional goals through the completion of a doctoral program. The curriculum for this degree program emphasizes the development of outlooks, a knowledge-base and skill sets that are essential in the creation of professionals who are committed to the ethical delivery of quality services. To ensure superior preparation in this field, students learn from a curriculum that was specifically designed to provide them with a meaningful integration of theory, training, and practice. Specific objectives of the program include the following:

  • The training of practitioners who will be fully capable of delivering effective treatment to diverse populations of clients.
  • The education of qualified counseling psychologists who will understand the biological, psychological and sociological bases that underlie human functioning.
  • The training of practitioners who are ready to exercise leadership qualities in both the health care delivery system and in the training of other mental health professionals.
  • The preparation of counseling psychologists who will be fully capable of using their role within the greater society.
  • The training of capable practitioners who will work alongside members of other disciplines as part of an interdisciplinary team.

Degree Offered: Online EdD in Counseling Psychology

US News and World Report 2015 Ranking of Best Graduate Program in Psychology: Not ranked

Additional US News and World Report Ranking Not Applicable

Accreditations:

Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

Program Format: Fully Online

Average Annual Tuition: $13,663

Areas of Concentration:

Counselor Education & Supervision

More Information on Argosy University

#2 – Walden University – Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Department of Psychology and Counseling

Points: 8

Program Website

The online PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision offered by the Department of Psychology and Counseling at Walden prepares the counseling leaders of tomorrow. Students accepted into this program will gain the information and skill set required to tackle leadership roles in clinical, community, academic, nonprofit, and research settings. The curriculum developed for this program of study prepares students with advanced teaching, supervision, and counseling skills so that they can expand their ability to advocate for the profession of counseling as well as for individual clients. This online PhD in Counseling Education and Supervision Degree Program offers a General Counseling Program as well as six specializations which can help students reach their academic and professional goals. These specializations include:

  1. Advanced Research Methods
  2. Consultation
  3. Counseling and Social Change
  4. Forensic Mental Health Counseling
  5. Leadership and Program Evaluation
  6. Trauma and Crisis

Upon completion of this doctoral program, graduates will be prepared to demonstrate the following:

  • Information, skills and the effective practice of clinical supervision.
  • Knowledge, abilities and applicable practice in leadership, advocacy, and social change.
  • Skills related to legal, ethical, and multicultural issues.
  • Effective participation in research and scholarship.
  • Advanced skills in professional counseling.
  • Advanced teaching skills in counselor education.

Degree Offered: in Counselor Education and Supervision

US News and World Report 2015 Ranking of Best Graduate Program in Psychology: Not ranked

Additional US News and World Report Ranking Not Applicable

Accreditations:

Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)

The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)

Program Format: Fully Online

Average Annual Tuition: $14,300

Areas of Concentration:

Advanced Research Methods

Consultation

Counseling and Social Change

Forensic Mental Health Counseling

Leadership and Program Evaluation

Trauma and Crisis

More Information on Walden University

 

#1 – Oregon State University – Corvallis, Oregon

OSU E Campus

Points: 13

Program Website

Oregon State University’s Ecampus offers a largely online doctoral training program in Counseling. The Ph.D in Counseling degree program prepares students to take positions as advanced counseling practitioners, clinical supervisors, and counselor educators in both clinical and academic settings. The overall goal of the program focuses on student contribution to the counseling profession through empirical research while understanding and addressing the societal changes of modern communities. The Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling is offered jointly by Oregon State University’s College of Education and the OSU Ecampus. Applicants to this program must possess a Master’s Degree in Counseling or a closely related field. The credits acquired through Master’s level training can be applied toward the doctoral training’s total credits. The program utilizes a collaborative cohort model of training, meaning that students become members of a supportive and active cohort of peers. Each student is matched with a department professor or advisor throughout the entirety of the three- to five-year doctoral degree program. The hybrid learning style used by the program involves both on-campus and online instruction for each course. On campus meetings occur twice per quarter in a Friday-through-Saturday block in Wilsonville, Oregon. The remaining coursework is completed completely online. With tuition under $9,000/yr, this is one of the most affordable online doctoral degrees in counseling available anywhere.

Degree Offered: Online Phd Counseling

US News and World Report 2015 Ranking of Best Graduate Program in Psychology: #101

Additional US News and World Report Ranking Not Applicable

US News and World Report 2015 #138 Best National University

US News and World Report 2015 #70 Top Public School

Accreditations:

Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

Program Format: Hybrid

Average Annual Tuition: $8,276

Areas of Concentration: None Offered

Opportunities for an Online Doctoral Degree in Counseling

A doctoral degree in Counseling is an excellent start for those people who have an interest in psychology and a strong desire to help others. The BLS predicts that a large number of news jobs will be created in the field of Counseling. While people with master’s degrees are minimally qualified to fill those positions, individuals who hold doctoral degrees will have the best opportunities. Students can choose whether a Ph.D in Counseling, Counselor Education and Supervision, Psychology, or even an Ed.D in Counseling is the best fit for them. The opportunity to earn a doctorate in Counseling in a fully online format allows students to learn when, where, are how they want by enabling them to set their own timetables and accommodate their already busy lives. An online doctoral degree in Counseling is a great start toward a new career in a field of nearly unlimited potential.

More Information on Oregon State University

About the Author

After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Rutgers University and then a Master of Science in Clinical and Forensic Psychology from Drexel University, Kristen Fescoe began a career as a therapist at two prisons in Philadelphia. At the same time she volunteered as a rape crisis counselor, also in Philadelphia. After a few years in the field she accepted a teaching position at a local college where she currently teaches online psychology courses. Kristen began writing in college and still enjoys her work as a writer, editor, professor and mother.

Feel free to use the award badge from this article for your own promotions and publications. A high resolution version can be found here.