Best Doctorate in Counseling Programs

A doctorate in counseling can help counselors expand their clinical skills and career options. BestColleges ranks the best doctorate in counseling programs.

portrait of James Mielke
by James Mielke

Published on July 19, 2022 · Updated on July 27, 2022

Edited by Desiree Cunningham
Share this Article

A doctorate in counseling allows graduate students the chance to build extensive knowledge and clinical expertise to prepare for careers as clinical leaders, counseling researchers, or counseling educators.

A doctoral program is a logical next step for many working counselors with a master's degree. And while deciding to begin a doctoral program and potentially take on more debt deserves careful consideration, many students use this academic path to expand career options and increase earning potential. Prospective students also consider whether to enroll in an online or on-campus program. For many, the program cost and dedication are worthy investments.

www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

Throughout their 2-4 year doctoral program, students gain expert knowledge and significant clinical experience. Additionally, degree seekers have the chance to tackle specialized coursework in areas like school counseling, substance abuse counseling, and mental health counseling.

Continue reading to learn more about doctorate in counseling programs, what these programs can do for you, and see which programs top our ranking.

Best Accredited Doctorate in Counseling Programs

Public School Programs

Accredited University Grad Tuition Program Information
Adams State University
Alamosa, CO
In State | $4,590
Out of State | $7,830
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 99%
Auburn University
Auburn, AL
In State | $9,828
Out of State | $29,484
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 81%
Ball State University
Muncie, IN
In State | $8,850
Out of State | $21,954
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 77%
Louisiana Tech University
Ruston, LA
In State | $6,592
Out of State | $13,333
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 64%
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK
In State | $5,531
Out of State | $21,034
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 70%
Pennsylvania State University (University Park)
University Park, PA
In State | $21,960
Out of State | $37,694
Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate | 76%
Radford University
Radford, VA
In State | $8,915
Out of State | $17,441
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 75%
SUNY at Albany
Albany, NY
In State | $11,310
Out of State | $23,100
Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate | 54%
Temple University
Philadelphia, PA
In State | $16,956
Out of State | $23,346
Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate | 60%
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX
In State | $6,677
Out of State | $18,700
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 58%
Texas Tech University
Lubbock, TX
In State | $5,958
Out of State | $13,428
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 69%
Texas Woman's University
Denton, TX
In State | $4,973
Out of State | $12,569
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 93%
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY
In State | $11,310
Out of State | $23,100
Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate | 61%
University of Akron Main Campus
Akron, OH
In State | $8,306
Out of State | $13,812
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 73%
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL
In State | $10,770
Out of State | $27,335
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 37%
University of Georgia
Athens, GA
In State | $8,878
Out of State | $25,186
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 45%
University of Houston
Houston, TX
In State | $8,370
Out of State | $17,746
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 65%
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA
In State | $10,079
Out of State | $29,026
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 83%
University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS
In State | $9,989
Out of State | $23,951
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 93%
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY
In State | $12,055
Out of State | $31,215
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 96%
University of Memphis
Memphis, TN
In State | $9,216
Out of State | $12,672
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 85%
University of Missouri-Kansas City
Kansas City, MO
In State | $9,542
Out of State | $24,636
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 61%
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, ND
In State | $10,534
Out of State | $18,434
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 81%
University of North Texas
Denton, TX
In State | $5,900
Out of State | $13,496
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 74%
University of Northern Colorado
Greeley, CO
In State | $10,867
Out of State | $19,620
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 91%
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK
In State | $6,583
Out of State | $21,242
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 80%
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR
In State | $14,958
Out of State | $26,811
Accreditation | Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Admission Rate | 82%
University of South Dakota
Vermillion, SD
In State | $6,062
Out of State | $11,656
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 86%
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI
In State | $10,728
Out of State | $24,054
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 54%
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, VA
In State | $12,701
Out of State | $26,039
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 87%
Washington State University
Pullman, WA
In State | $11,493
Out of State | $25,248
Accreditation | Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Admission Rate | 76%
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI
In State | $16,285
Out of State | $35,274
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 73%
West Virginia University
Morgantown, WV
In State | $10,134
Out of State | $26,154
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 84%
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI
In State | $10,134
Out of State | $30,432
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 80%

Popular Online Counseling Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Private School Programs

Accredited University Grad Tuition Program Information
Alaska Pacific University
Anchorage, AK
In State | $11,700
Out of State | $11,700
Accreditation | Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Admission Rate | 89%
American International College
Springfield, MA
In State | $11,579
Out of State | $11,579
Accreditation | New England Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate | 65%
Andrews University
Berrien Springs, MI
In State | $27,216
Out of State | $27,216
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 67%
Barry University
Miami, FL
In State | $17,820
Out of State | $17,820
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 51%
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, MA
In State | $30,600
Out of State | $30,600
Accreditation | New England Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate | 27%
Boston University
Boston, MA
In State | $54,720
Out of State | $54,720
Accreditation | New England Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate | 19%
Carlow University
Pittsburgh, PA
In State | $18,766
Out of State | $18,766
Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate | 92%
College of Saint Elizabeth
Morristown, NJ
In State | $18,018
Out of State | $18,018
Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate | 74%
Columbia University in the City of New York
New York, NY
In State | $47,600
Out of State | $47,600
Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate | 5%
Felician University
Lodi, NJ
In State | $19,080
Out of State | $19,080
Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate | 86%
Fordham University
New York, NY
In State | $34,608
Out of State | $34,608
Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate | 46%
Holy Family University
Philadelphia, PA
In State | $9,000
Out of State | $9,000
Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate | 73%
Howard University
Washington, DC
In State | $31,309
Out of State | $31,309
Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate | 36%
Lehigh University
Bethlehem, PA
In State | $27,000
Out of State | $27,000
Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate | 32%
Liberty University
Lynchburg, VA
In State | $7,980
Out of State | $7,980
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 51%
Loyola University Chicago
Chicago, IL
In State | $18,594
Out of State | $18,594
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 67%
Marquette University
Milwaukee, WI
In State | $21,060
Out of State | $21,060
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 83%
Mercer University
Macon, GA
In State | $15,422
Out of State | $15,422
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 74%
Mississippi College
Clinton, MS
In State | $11,250
Out of State | $11,250
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 42%
New York University
New York, NY
In State | $33,408
Out of State | $33,408
Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate | 16%
Northcentral University
La Jolla, CA
In State | $16,983
Out of State | $16,983
Accreditation | Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Admission Rate |
Northeastern University
Boston, MA
In State | $24,793
Out of State | $24,793
Accreditation | New England Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate | 18%
Northwest University
Kirkland, WA
In State | $19,101
Out of State | $19,101
Accreditation | Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Admission Rate | 93%
Northwestern University
Evanson, IL
In State | $56,067
Out of State | $56,067
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 9%
Our Lady of the Lake University
San Antonio, TX
In State | $16,326
Out of State | $16,326
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 68%
Rivier University
Nashua, NH
In State | $11,340
Out of State | $11,340
Accreditation | New England Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate | 75%
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
Winona, MN
In State | $9,180
Out of State | $9,180
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 92%
Seton Hall University
South Orange, NJ
In State | $23,580
Out of State | $23,580
Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate | 74%
Teachers College, Columbia University
New York, NY
In State | $40,800
Out of State | $40,800
Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Admission Rate |
Texas Wesleyan University
Fort Worth, TX
In State | $14,173
Out of State | $14,173
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 42%
University of Chicago
Chicago, IL
In State | $60,300
Out of State | $60,300
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 6%
University of Denver
Denver, CO
In State | $51,336
Out of State | $51,336
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 59%
University of Miami
Coral Gables, FL
In State | $37,800
Out of State | $37,800
Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Admission Rate | 27%
University of St. Thomas
Saint Paul, MN
In State | $24,766
Out of State | $24,766
Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission
Admission Rate | 81%

How We Rank Schools

Each year, the BestColleges Ranking Team evaluates hundreds of programs to produce our annual Best Doctorate in Counseling ranking. In 2022, the team sourced the most recent data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Navigator, both of which are hosted by NCES. We identified 68 schools that qualify for our ranking, listed in alphabetical order. The programs in our list are based on the following criteria.

The BestColleges Ranking Team is made up of contributors from our data science and product management teams. These contributors operate independently from the editorial team. All BestColleges school rankings are produced by the ranking team and are free of editorial influence. Read our Editorial Policy and Standards to learn more.

Top Three Benefits of a Counseling Degree

Counseling Is a Growing Field

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), projects that jobs for mental health counselors will grow by 23% between 2020 and 2030. Additionally, the BLS projects that marriage and family therapist jobs could see a 16% growth by 2030.

A Doctorate in Counseling Can Lead to Leadership Roles

Graduates with a doctorate in counseling have specialized knowledge and clinical skills that can help them secure managerial and leadership roles. Some of these positions include clinical counseling supervisors, directors of counseling, and clinical counseling directors.

Graduates Can Expect A Wide Selection of Career Options

Counseling doctorate graduates have access to various specialized areas, including mental health counseling, addiction counseling, school counseling, and marriage and family counseling. Additionally, some professionals secure jobs in academia as postsecondary instructors and researchers.

What Can I Expect From a Doctorate in Counseling Program?

Those enrolling in a doctorate in counseling program can expect to complete their degree in 2-4 years. Degree-seekers encounter advanced counseling theories and clinical techniques in their graduate school coursework. Some common classes include topics such as advanced theories of counseling, research methods in psychological sciences, and advocacy and leadership in counseling.

In addition to core academic requirements, doctoral students can pursue academic specializations in areas like substance abuse and educational and vocational counseling. Before graduation, counseling students typically complete a dissertation or a degree-culminating research project. It is also common for students to complete fieldwork in a clinical setting before graduating.

Check Out The Student's Guide to College Planning

Program Snapshot

Average Graduate Degree Tuition Cost Public institution: $12,410
Private institution: $26,597
Length 2 years
Credits 30
Program Tracks Doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.)
Example Concentrations (Remove if N/A)
  • General counseling
  • Educational psychology and supervision
  • Substance abuse counseling
  • Mental health counseling
  • Vocational counseling
Example Courses
  • Advanced theory of counseling
  • Advocacy and leadership in counseling
  • Advanced group counseling
  • Addictive behaviors
  • Research methods in psychological sciences

What Programs Are Similar to Counseling?

What Are the Admission Requirements?

The admission requirements for a doctorate in counseling program can vary, but applicants typically hold a master's degree in a related field. Some programs may require several years of professional counseling experience.

In addition to a completed application, prospective students may have to submit GRE scores, a professional resume, letters of recommendation, and an essay outlining academic and career goals. When preparing for graduate school, students should review admission checklists to ensure they meet all requirements.

Explore Our Graduate Admissions Guide

How Do I Pay for a Doctorate Degree in Counseling?

What Can I Do With This Degree?

Those earning a doctorate in counseling commonly pursue various research or teaching opportunities in academia, while others work as practitioners in clinical settings. Graduates interested in utilizing their skills in clinical settings, and those working in higher education, can expect these careers to grow over the next decade.

According to the BLS, jobs for mental health counselors are projected to expand by 23% between 2020 and 2030. Similarly, the BLS projects that marriage and family therapist jobs could grow by 16% over that same ten-year period.

Individuals with doctoral degrees commonly secure salaries at the top of their fields. The BLS notes that the top 10% of marriage and family therapists earn more than $96,520, and top earning mental health counselors make more than $77,980 per year.

Keep reading to review some popular counseling careers and how much they earn.

Popular Counseling Careers

Career Median Annual Salary
School Counselor $60,510
Mental Health Counselor $48,520
Marriage and Family Therapist $49,880
Postsecondary Teacher $79,640
Community Service Managers $74,000

Learn More About Counseling Careers

Counseling Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Counseling Licensing and Certification

Those pursuing a career in counseling must complete all of the academic and clinical requirements to secure professional licensure. Requirements vary between states, but counselors must hold a master's degree and complete over 2,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. Students can review state-by-state requirements through the National Board for Certified Counselors.

And while many individuals enrolling in a doctorate in counseling program already hold professional certification, students can enhance their skills through academic specializations and additional clinical experiences.

Should I Get a Doctorate in Counseling Online?

When choosing a college and deciding whether you should attend online or on campus, prospective students should consider the differences between these two academic delivery options. Keep reading to see if an online degree is worth it for you.

Online vs. On-Campus Degrees

Online
Pros Cons
  • Flexibility to learn on your schedule
  • Learn from anywhere
  • Network with people around the world
  • Save time/money on commuting
  • May be more affordable than on-campus programs
  • Access to online tutoring and career services
  • Requires more self-discipline
  • Not all programs are available online
  • More technical requirements
  • Potential social isolation and loneliness
On-Campus
Pros Cons
  • Access to on-campus resources and support services
  • In-person social interaction and networking
  • Hands-on learning
  • Classroom learning environment with fewer distractions
  • Extracurricular clubs and activities
  • May be more expensive than online programs
  • Set class times with less flexibility
  • Time/money commuting

How to Choose an Online Degree Program

Factors to Consider Resources
Cost Comparing the Costs of Online vs. On-Campus Programs
Program Format Synchronous Learning vs. Asynchronous Learning
Accreditation How Does Online College Accreditation Work?
Student Support Your Guide to Online Student Services and Opportunities

Frequently Asked Questions About Counseling Programs

Is a doctorate in counseling worth it?

For individuals interested in performing at the top of their field, completing a doctorate in counseling offers the academic and clinical skills that graduates can convert into expanded career options and earning potential. Degree-seekers in these programs complete high-level coursework, research, and hands-on experiences.

In addition to campus-based opportunities, online programs offer a flexible and affordable option. Online students have the unique ability to complete academic requirements while keeping up with personal and professional obligations.

What can I do with a doctorate in counseling?

A doctorate in counseling prepares graduates for an expansive list of careers in both academia and clinical settings. Some popular career paths include jobs such as clinical counseling directors, postsecondary teachers, and postdoctoral research associates.

Owing to the experience and status that comes with a doctoral degree, graduates often tackle managerial and leadership roles. These professionals can work in higher education, clinical settings, private practice, and nonprofits.

How long does it take to get a doctorate in counseling?

The time it takes to earn a doctorate in counseling can vary between programs. Students holding a master's degree typically graduate in 2-4 years or after taking 60-70 credits. Degree-seekers in these programs complete traditional coursework, intensive research, and supervised clinical experiences.

Some common doctoral courses include advanced theory of counseling, research methods in psychological sciences, and leadership and advocacy in counseling. Alongside supervised clinical work, some programs also require an internship before graduation.

How much money can I make with a doctorate in counseling?

Those graduating with a doctorate in counseling can typically anticipate expanded career options and enhanced earning potential. The BLS reports a median annual salary of about $50,000 for marriage and family therapists. And while those wages may seem a bit low for a doctoral graduate, the top 10% of earners make more than $96,520 per year.

Additionally, graduates who tackle roles in supervisory positions and leadership roles tend to earn more. Graduate students can pursue additional specialized certificates and professional certifications to boost their resumes.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a doctorate in counseling?

Job specifics, location, professional specialization, and experience can all impact how much people can make after completing their doctorate in counseling. The highest-paying jobs for doctoral graduates usually include managerial roles and positions that require extensive professional experience.

Professional credentials can also enhance earning potential. Certification as an approved clinical supervisor, principal investigator, and clinical project manager often accompanies increased wages.

Feature Image: Marko Geber / DigitalVision / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare your school options.

View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.