Major Points

There are more and more phd degrees in counselor education offered online.


There are several fantastic choices available to students looking for doctoral-level counseling education and supervision online.


Students can pursue jobs in marital and family counseling, professional counseling, community mental health counseling, and more with the help of an online PhD program in counseling.

Inside this article:

The subject of online counseling doctoral programs

Careers for Graduates of Online Counseling Doctoral Programs

How are online PhD programs and doctoral degrees different from one another?

Featured Programs for the Best Online Doctorates in Counseling (PhDs)

There are a variety of online programs available for aspiring counseling PhDs who are interested in working as mental health counselors, in marital and family therapy, in providing school counseling services and program assessment, or in providing mental health services through a private practice.


In counseling education, a PhD is the highest degree you may obtain and is regarded as a terminal degree. This implies that online PhD counseling programs can open doors to positions in leadership, public consulting, research, and post-secondary teaching.


Candidates for online PhD programs in counseling are often experienced professionals. This implies that candidates for doctoral degrees must juggle their current obligations in terms of employment and personal life with those of a school that emphasizes advanced counseling. A way to attain this balance for many graduate students is through online courses and programs that are entirely online.


See how the online PhD in counselor education compares to conventional on-campus programs by reading our analysis of the Best Research Universities for Psychology Degrees.


instead, see the whole list of college rankings.



If not, continue reading to find out more about how you may enroll in a top-rated online counselor education program and obtain a PhD in counseling.


Woman giving group therapy

The subject of online counseling doctoral programs

There are many possibilities for online doctorate students, but when choosing an online PhD, quality and legitimacy are crucial. The top doctoral programs in counseling offered online will be properly accredited:


Institutional accreditation: For PhD programs offered entirely online, accreditation is essential. It denotes that the graduate program’s online PhD programs adhere to criteria set by an accrediting organization recognized by the Department of Education. To provide federal financial help to its online PhD applicants, a school also has to have accreditation.

Consider doctorate programs that have been accredited by a local authority for colleges and institutions while searching for online possibilities. To guarantee the caliber and legitimacy of your online program, you must obtain this seal of approval.


Make sure you are only researching online doctorate degree programs with programmatic certification in addition to institutional accreditation when you search for doctoral programs. For master’s and doctorate degree programs in counseling, CACREP normally awards graduate degree accreditation. To find counseling graduate programs online, look for the CACREP accreditation seal.

Carnegie Classification The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, or simply the Carnegie Classification, is a system for classifying all authorized, degree-granting institutions in the US. The Carnegie Classification, first developed in 1970 by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and currently managed by the Center for Postsecondary Research at the University of Indiana, is “the leading framework for recognizing and describing institutional diversity in U.S. higher education.”

According to this categorization, the best research institutions for doctorate candidates and PhDs are designated as R2: doctorate Universities for “high research activity” or R1: Doctoral Universities for “very high research activity.” When evaluating possibilities for your online PhD programs, pay attention to these classifications.


Important Point: The top PhD programs offered online will be accredited both institutionally and by their individual programs.


Doctoral-Level Counselor Education Admission Requirements

To be eligible for admission to PhD programs in online counseling or other psychology-related programs, prospective candidates must normally submit the following materials:


An online form that has been filled out

official transcripts from your undergraduate institution

scores from the GMAT, MAT, or GRE with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0

Testimonial letters

In-person discussions

Statement of purpose or essay

a study plan

Primary Idea: Generally speaking, after you have a bachelor’s degree, you are qualified to enroll in an online PhD program. But you might also need to obtain a master’s degree to enroll in some specialized online PhD programs. Before submitting your application to your PhD school, be sure you have finished all prerequisite undergraduate and graduate coursework.


a female veteran counselor

Programs of study and courses

Research is a crucial part of your online counselor education program, just like it is in other graduate and advanced degree programs. Both completely online doctoral degrees and hybrid degrees, which combine online learning with conventional on-campus coursework, fall under this category. The usual amount of time to finish a program is five to seven years, whether you do it in a traditional, hybrid, or online format.


Your online counselor education program may have the following usual elements:


General Education

Family therapy education, clinical counseling, counseling psychology, and other courses that are relevant to your focus are often included in the core curriculum. Other core courses will cover topics including research methodologies, experimental design, leadership development, ethical and legal concerns in counseling, and more. It’s possible that you can fulfill several of these criteria by taking online programs.


a PhD candidate’s qualifying exams

Before beginning their online doctorate candidacy, many online doctoral candidates must pass a few tests. After one to two years of core coursework, this will normally happen.


Usually, the completion of your dissertation will serve as the main focus of your online PhD program. As soon as you are accepted as an online PhD candidate, you will normally collaborate closely with a professorial adviser or mentor to create an original research question.


Your dissertation will be based on this research issue; it will be an ongoing undertaking that aims to answer it via practical study. While you will collaborate closely with your adviser or mentor, a significant portion of your dissertation will be based on your own independent research. For those taking an online PhD course, this is especially true.


Dental Defense

You will be required to defend your conclusions once you finish the written component of your dissertation, which would normally present the results from your original research effort. Usually, a panel of academics and subject-matter experts in your area will perform this “oral defense.” The defense may be conducted by teleconference for PhD applicants enrolled in some online degree programs.


Standards for Teaching

You may be required to serve as an adjunct professor or teacher’s assistant in an undergraduate or graduate institution as part of several online PhD programs’ teaching requirements. Students enrolled in the online doctorate program may be able to fulfill their teaching requirements by giving online lessons to other students.


The advancement of professionals

A field practicum is another requirement of many recognized counseling schools for PhD students. Typically, this will be a residency or internship in the field of mental health, under the supervision of a clinician. There may be one-week summer residences available for students who are otherwise completing their PhD through online education.


The PhD in counseling offered online has a strong research component. Your PhD degree program online will mostly revolve around your dissertation.


Back to Top Careers for Graduates of an Online Doctorate in Counseling

Programs for a terminal degree, such as a PhD in counseling, are typically offered online. This implies that graduates of a regionally approved institution’s online PhD in counseling program are often qualified for the best jobs and prospects in their industry. With only a master’s degree, many professionals who work as marital and family therapists, drug misuse counselors, and advanced group counselors can still practice their profession.


However, many of the top earners in the industry are individuals who use their training in counseling to do research projects for governmental organizations and those who use their clinical and managerial talents in post-secondary educational environments.


The top 10% of income in the industry, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is made up of these people. Counseling professionals with the highest salaries in 2021 brought in more than $98,000.


These higher salaries reflect the exclusive career prospects that await people with a PhD in counseling. The following occupations may be open to working professionals who complete an authorized doctorate online.


Research Journal on Counseling Practice

Counselor education at the college level

Family counseling and marriage

A consultation on mental health policy

Practice in Clinical

Psychology in the Workplace

Drugs for Conflict

Primary Ideas: The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that doctoral counseling students will make more money than bachelor’s or master’s degree holders in their field.


being mentored by a woman


How are online PhD programs and doctoral degrees different from one another?

A PhD is a specific form of doctoral degree, technically. In other words, all candidates for online PhDs are doctoral students. Unlike graduate students, not all doctorate candidates are graduate students.


The main difference is that doctorate students are more concerned in putting accepted theories into practice. Your online doctoral degree might include coursework in clinical practice, clinical leadership programs, working as a resident in a nursing school, and other requirements, depending on the subject you choose.


Online PhD students, on the other hand, are more interested in advancing existing knowledge. This often implies that online PhD applicants are concentrated on proposing new theories, developing research projects around these theories, and presenting fresh discoveries that exhibit a command of the body of current knowledge and the insight to contribute novel ideas into the area.


Today, more working adults than ever before are enrolled in online PhD and doctorate programs.

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