Doctorate in Counseling Programs

Doctoral counseling programs help expand your clinical knowledge and salary potential. Discover the top programs in our ranking.
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Updated on February 7, 2024
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A doctoral program may be the logical next step for many counselors. Beginning a doctorate in counseling and taking on more debt deserves careful consideration. But for many, the program cost is a worthy investment as graduates can expand their career options and increase their earning potential.

Students can build extensive knowledge and clinical expertise to prepare for careers as clinical leaders, counseling researchers, or counseling educators. Learn more about the top doctoral in counseling programs, tuition, and potential careers.

Popular Online Doctorate in Counseling Programs

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

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%
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.

  • Each school must be an accredited public or private, nonprofit institution.
  • Must offer a doctorate degree program in the given subject.
  • Must submit an annual report to NCES.

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

  1. 1

    Counseling Is a Growing Field

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for mental health counselors will grow by 18% between 2022 and 2032, much faster than the average growth for all jobs. The BLS also projects that marriage and family therapist jobs could see 18% growth during that same period.

  2. 2

    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.

  3. 3

    Graduates Can Expect A Wide Selection of Career Options

    Graduates with a doctorate in counseling can specialize in 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?

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

In addition to core academic requirements, doctoral students can specialize in substance use, mental health, educational and vocational counseling. Before graduation, counseling students typically complete a dissertation or a degree-culminating research project and fieldwork in a clinical setting.

Read More: The Student's Guide to College Planning

Program Snapshot
Median Graduate Degree Tuition Cost
  • Public Institutions: $12,950
  • Private, Non-Profit Institutions: $26,570
  • All Institutions: $11,640
Length 2-4 years
Credits 30
Program Track(s) Ph.D.
Example Concentrations
  • 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
Source: NCES

What Programs Are Similar to Counseling?

What Can I Do With A Doctoral Degree in Counseling?

Some graduates with a doctorate in counseling pursue academic research or teaching opportunities, while others work as practitioners in clinical settings. Graduates can expect these careers to grow over the next decade.

According to the BLS, jobs for mental health counselors are projected to expand by 18% between 2022 and 2032. Similarly, the BLS projects that marriage and family therapy jobs are projected to grow by 15% over that period.

Doctorates allow you to attain some of the highest salaries in counseling. The BLS notes that the top 10% of marriage and family therapists earn more than $96,520, and top-earning mental health counselors earn more than $77,980 annually.

Job Growth and Salary for Popular Counseling Careers in 2022
Career Projected Job Growth (2022-2032) Median Annual Salary Annual Salary for the Top 10% of Earners
School and Career Counselors 5% $60,140 $98,530
Substance Use and Mental Health Counselor 18% $49,710 $82,710
Marriage and Family Therapist 15% $56,570 $98,700
Postsecondary Teacher 5% $78,810 $136,680
Community Service Managers 9% $74,240 $123,320
Source: BLS

Read More: Counseling Careers

Counseling Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Counseling Licensing and Certification

Licensed counselors must complete all the academic and clinical requirements to qualify for licensure. Requirements vary between states, but generally, counselors must:

  • Hold a master's degree
  • Pass a background check
  • Pass the National Counselor Examination
  • Complete at least 2,000 hours of supervised clinical experience.

Students can review state-by-state requirements through the National Board for Certified Counselors.

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

Should I Get a Doctorate in Counseling Online?

When choosing a program and deciding whether to attend online or on campus, prospective students should consider the differences between these two delivery options. Compare some of the pros and cons for each format to determine if an online degree is worth it.

Online vs. On-Campus Degrees

Pros of Online Degrees

  • Flexibility to learn on your schedule
  • Learn from anywhere
  • Network with people around the world
  • Save time and money on commuting
  • May be more affordable than on-campus programs
  • Access to online tutoring and career services

Cons of Online Degrees

  • Requires more self-discipline
  • Not all programs are available online
  • More technical requirements
  • Potential social isolation and loneliness
  • Limited or no access to on-campus resources

Pros of On-Campus Degrees

  • Access to on-campus and online resources and support services
  • In-person social interaction and networking
  • Hands-on learning
  • Classroom learning environment with fewer distractions
  • Extracurricular clubs and activities

Cons of On-Campus Degrees

  • May be more expensive than online programs
  • Set class times with less flexibility
  • Time and money commuting

How to Choose an Online Degree Program

Frequently Asked Questions About Doctorate in Counseling Programs

Is a doctorate in counseling worth it?

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Completing a doctorate in counseling can be worth it for graduates who want to lead their field because it offers graduates the academic and clinical skills that they can convert into expanded career options and earning potential. Degree-seekers in these programs complete high-level coursework, research, and hands-on experiences.

What can I do with a doctorate in counseling?

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Graduates often tackle managerial and leadership roles because of the experience, higher-level knowledge, and status that come with a doctorate in counseling. These programs prepare graduates for careers in both academic and clinical settings.

Some popular career paths include clinical counseling directors, social and community services managers, postsecondary teachers, and postdoctoral research associates. Graduates can work in higher education, clinical settings, private practice, and nonprofits.

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

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The time it takes to earn a doctorate in counseling can vary between programs. Most students take 2-4 years to earn 60-70 credits to graduate. Degree-seekers in these programs complete traditional coursework, an intensive research project like a dissertation, 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, doctoral programs require an internship before graduation.

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

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The average salary for a doctorate in counseling is $84,000, according to April 2023 data from Payscale. Several factors, including geographical location, job position, and specialization, affect your salary potential.

For example, New York has a higher average salary for clinical psychologists than Wyoming, but the cost of living is much greater in New York. Graduates who take on leadership or administrative positions also typically have a higher salary potential.

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

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According to Payscale, the top four of the highest-paying jobs for graduates with a doctorate in counseling psychology are clinical director, organizational development director, psychologist, and assistant post-secondary professor in psychology. The average annual salaries for these positions range from $94,900-$130,000.

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.

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