Doctorate in School Counseling Program Guide

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If you're considering a doctorate in school counseling, the employment outlook is bright. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) projects 8% job growth for school and career counselors between 2019 and 2029, which translates to 26,800 new positions. Additionally, graduates with a Ph.D. can become postsecondary teachers, for whom the BLS projects 9% job growth during the same period.

School counselors collaborate with parents, teachers, students, and administrators. They help K-12 students thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. Graduates may also qualify to become career counselors. A master's degree prepares students for entry-level positions, but a doctorate in school counseling can help you gain an advanced leadership position. 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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This guide provides an overview of doctoral concentrations, certifications, licensure, and career options.

Should I Get a Doctorate in School Counseling?

Career options and increased salary potential make a doctorate in school counseling an excellent choice. Both a doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D.) and a doctor of education (Ed.D.) can advance your earning potential. According to the BLS, the top 10% of school counselors, career counselors, and advisors earn more than $97,910 per year.

The top 10% of school counselors, career counselors, and advisors earn more than $97,910 per year.

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If you already hold a master's degree in counseling, you can generally graduate with an Ed.D. in three years. However, part-time students can take much longer to complete their degree. Most states require a graduate degree for state counseling licensure, in addition to supervised clinical hours and a passing score on an exam.

What Can I Expect from a Doctorate in School Counseling Program?

Doctoral programs in school counseling vary in curriculum and flexibility. Working professionals might find full-time classes challenging on top of other obligations. However, online programs often offer flexible part-time and asynchronous learning formats.

Prospective students may encounter both Ed.D. and Ph.D. programs in school psychology. An Ed.D. suits professionals pursuing educational leadership roles. A Ph.D. in education prepares graduates for careers in research and academia.


Counselor Education and Supervision
This concentration prepares students for leadership roles managing and critiquing other counselors. Graduates pursue careers as supervisors and researchers at universities and counseling practices.
Research, Measurement, and Statistics
This concentration focuses on quantitative and methodological issues in counseling and designing research studies. Covered topics include multivariate statistics, hierarchical linear modeling, and growth modeling.
Educational Psychology
This concentration offers professional counselors concentrated studies in counseling, counseling education, and counseling leadership.
Organizational Change and Leadership
Organizational change and leadership focuses on issues in education, strategies, and solutions. Classes explore data that can drive instructional decisions. Graduates can pursue careers as instructional leaders, program directors, and education experts.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.

How to Choose a School Counseling Doctoral Program

A doctorate in school counseling can take 3-7 years to complete. Most programs require 60-150 credits. Online programs generally offer the most flexibility in terms of scheduling and delivery method.

Additionally, most schools incorporate an internship component, since supervised clinical hours are often a state requirement. Professional school counselors enrolled in these programs may be able to complete these requirements on the job.

Programmatic Accreditation for Doctorate in School Counseling Programs

Regional, national, and programmatic accreditation ensure that a school's curriculum provides students with a quality education. There are six regional governing bodies that grant accreditation to most colleges in the United States. National accreditation is for trade schools, vocational colleges, for-profit institutions, and Bible schools.

Programmatic accreditation involves an audit of a department's programs. The auditors ensure that the program prepares graduates for careers in their field. Doctoral programs in school counseling should hold programmatic accreditation through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

Popular Online Doctorate's in Educational Psychology Programs

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

Find the top online doctorate in school counseling programs.

How to Get Into a School Counseling Doctoral Program

A doctorate in school counseling requires a master's degree in counseling or a related field. Prepare for a 12-month application process; although, some doctorate in school counseling programs provide year-round rolling admissions.

Additionally, doctoral applicants need a 3.0 GPA, and many programs require GRE scores. However, some programs offer waivers if applicants meet specific requirements. Prospective students may also need two years of teaching experience for guidance counselor licensure.

As learners begin the application process, they should order their official transcripts. Most programs also require letters of recommendation and a personal statement.

Read Our Guide to Graduate Admissions.

What Can I Do With a Doctorate in School Counseling?

Counselors work in K-12 schools, universities, and in agencies assisting the unemployed. Graduates can also work as career counselors at postsecondary institutions and career centers.

A doctoral degree can advance school counselors to administrative and school leadership roles. Directors of school counseling supervise counseling programs. They train counselors, perform managerial duties, and help with counseling as needed.

Popular Career Paths


Counseling careers offer an opportunity to exercise empathy and compassion while objectively analyzing various behaviors. Counselorshelp patients find solutions to emotional challenges and mental health issues, such as substance abuse. Additionally, they might specialize in career counseling, guidance counseling, or school counseling.

Career Counselor

Career counselors help clients define their career paths and find work. They administer personality, interest, and aptitude tests and evaluate educational and employment backgrounds. In addition, career counselors help with job search strategies, arrange job fairs and lectures, and conduct mock interviews.

Mental Health Counselor

Mental health counselors treat and sometimes diagnose mental health issues. They typically hold state licensure and a master's degree in counseling or human psychology. Most mental health counselors work in a clinic or office during traditional business hours.

Director of School Counseling

Directors of counseling are typically the heads of counseling departments at schools. Counseling directors assign work, supervise personnel, and may work as counselors. They also develop and implement department policies.

Program Evaluator

Program evaluators work in the public and private sectors with for-profit and nonprofit organizations. They work with data to develop comprehensive reports for all stakeholders, including boards, CEOs, and management. Program evaluators must have strong interpersonal skills for interviewing, leading focus groups, and issuing questionnaires.

How Much Money Can I Make With a Doctorate in School Counseling?

Salaries depend on experience, licensure, and job title. For example, according to the BLS, salaries range from $35,620-$97,910 for counselors, academic advisors, and career advisors. In comparison, the median annual wage for postsecondary education administrators is $97,500, with the top 10% of earners making over $199,400 per year.

Certifications and Licenses a Doctorate in School Counseling Prepares For

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    National Certified Counselor

    The NCC is the premier counseling certification. Counselors in all specializations pursue the NCC to demonstrate their competency, increase career opportunities, and enhance their reputation. Professionals must meet educational requirements through graduate-level coursework and supervised field experience. They also need a professional endorsement and at least 3,000 hours of postgraduate counseling work experience. Additionally, they must receive a passing score on the National Counselor Examination or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examinations.

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    National Certified School Counselor

    These professionals are board-certified counselors. They must meet education, examination, supervision, experience, and ethical requirements in school counseling. Professionals also need at least two semesters of graduate education, including a course in the foundations of school counseling. Applicants must also hold an NCC certification.

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    Licensed Professional Counselor

    Licensed professional counselors provide mental health and substance abuse care. In some states, they are licensed clinical professional counselors or licensed mental health counselors. This state license requires a master's degree, practicum hours, supervised counseling hours, and a passing score on an examination.

Frequently Asked Questions About Doctorate in School Counseling Programs

What is school counseling?

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School counseling involves academics, career, and personal counseling services. These counselors help students resolve emotional, social, or behavioral problems.

How much does a counselor with a Ph.D. make?

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According to PayScale, a counselor with a Ph.D. earns an average salary of $83,000 per year. Certifications, additional skills, and experience all affect salary potential.

Can a school psychologist work as a school counselor?

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Yes, although they may need state licensure in school counseling. Both careers provide counseling, crisis intervention, and professional expertise. However, school counselors focus on improving mental health and behavioral symptoms through counseling and education, while school psychologists gain insight into behavioral symptoms and academic issues through testing, researching, and assessment.

Do school counselors get paid more than teachers?

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It depends on the school and experience levels. According to the BLS, counselors in K-12 schools earn a median annual salary of $64,960, while high school teachers earn a median annual salary of $62,870.

Is it hard to get a school counseling job?

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With the right education, graduates should find plentiful opportunities for counseling jobs. The BLS projects 8% job growth for school and career counselors between 2019 and 2029. 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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