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Earn Your PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision Online

Earning an online PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision can equip you to have an even greater impact on the next generation of counselors and their clients. Keep reading.

Search hundreds of top schools for the doctorate YOU want.

Written By

Ellery Weil

Last updated

Feb 20, 2024

Counselors not only play a crucial part in helping people maintain and improve their mental health, but also in providing advice and guidance as people make transitions in their lives. Its critical and universal importance makes this an in-demand role. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that both mental health counselors and school and career counselors will see their job prospects grow at faster-than-average rates over the next decade — meaning that not only will current counselors have plenty of job prospects, but that demand will also only continue to grow.

This means counselor education now occupies a key place in the academic landscape. Counselor education and supervision is an educational and pedagogical field designed to teach the next generation of counselors, providing them with appropriate supervised experiences before they become licensed. If you want to be a part of training the next generation of counselors, consider how earning a PhD in counselor education and supervision online can help you on your way — without the hassle and expense of relocating to campus. 

Let’s have a look at some best-in-class online PhD programs in counselor education and supervision to see if one might be a fit for you.

School Spotlights: Top Counselor Education & Supervision PhDs Online

While there are many hybrid and online PhD programs in counselor education and supervision, a few stand out due to their level of academic rigor, breadth of student support, and depth of offerings. Have a look at this sample of online counselor education and supervision programs to get you started in your research:

Capella University

Capella University is a private, for-profit, accredited university offering a variety of distance-learning degrees, including an online PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision, which can be completed fully online or in person. This program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and includes not only a core coursework program consisting of 12 required courses, but also a practicum and internship program where you will gain practical experience and complete a doctoral dissertation.

Interested students can apply online; as an online degree program, the PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision can be completed on a flexible schedule, and you have 24/7 access to coursework. Capella University’s GuidedPath program offers tuition that is billed on a pay-per-credit model for 10-week courses, meaning you can build a schedule that meets your needs. In addition, a variety of financial aid programs, including grants and scholarships, may be available to help you pay for your degree.

Palo Alto University

Palo Alto University is a private, non-profit, accredited university in California. It was founded as the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology and still specializes in psychology and counseling programs. They offer a partially online (hybrid) PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision, with students attending classes in person at their California campus only one to two days per week. This program is designed for currently licensed, experienced counselors who wish to pursue a career working in clinical and administrative settings, making its flexible schedule easily accessible to working professionals.

Interested prospective students may apply online; Palo Alto University does not require GRE scores for application, instead using a holistic admissions strategy. The program does not offer full, tuition-free funding, but various forms of financial aid may be available to accepted students.

Ed.D. vs. PhD: Which Degree Is Right for You?

A PhD in counselor education and supervision, taken online or in person, is first and foremost a research degree. This type of program is intended to prepare you for an academic, research-based, or clinical career, and the curriculum will have been designed with this in mind. However, as counselor education and supervision is a degree in education, some schools offer a different type of doctoral program for those looking for a terminal counselor education and supervision degree: a doctorate of education, known as an EdD.

So, what’s the difference? Unlike an online PhD in counselor education and supervision, an EdD in the same field is not intended to prepare you for an academic or research career. Instead, an EdD is a professional doctorate, preparing you for a career working directly in counselor education at the most advanced levels. Both EdDs and PhDs are highly respected advanced degrees — First Lady Dr. Jill Biden holds an EdD, while most college lecturers will hold PhDs.

Which program is best for you — an online PhD in counselor education and supervision, or an EdD in counselor education and supervision — will depend on your career goals, so only you can decide. If you’re interested in a more high-level doctoral degree, you may want to consider an online PhD in education

Common Courses of Counselor Education and Supervision PhD Programs

Your online PhD in counselor education and supervision will include a variety of courses, both compulsory and elective. While each program is different, there are a few classes that are common across all programs. Here’s a look at some of the courses you might encounter:

Advanced Topics in Counseling

Depending on where you are in your counseling and education career when you start your online PhD in counseling education and supervision, this is a course that may be building off your previous body of experience or breaking new ground. This course will help elevate your knowledge of counseling theory and practice, empowering you to impart the latest innovations in counseling onto your students and into your research in counseling education.

Clinical Supervision Practicum

As part of the study of counseling education and supervision, you will likely complete a clinical supervision practicum, where you work alongside trainee and/or experienced counselors in a clinical setting interacting with patients. This is a crucial aspect of learning to be a supervisor for counseling students and aspiring counselors, as you will be guiding them through their supervised clinical experiences should you choose to continue your educational career training counselors.

Counselor Leadership and Advocacy

As a future counselor education and supervision professional, you will be at the head of the counseling profession — whether you choose to build a career in academia, research, or a clinical setting. As such, you will be advocating for both counselors and future counselors under your supervision, and, where applicable, for the profession as a whole. This course will help you identify the best practices and circumstances to do so.

Multicultural Counseling

As a counselor, you must be prepared to work with people from a wide variety of backgrounds, including patients from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, sexual and gender identities, and more. As a future counselor educator, being familiar with multicultural counseling through your own education, and being aware of how best to approach patients across a variety of cultures, will help you train sensitive and effective counselors.

Research Methods in Counseling

As a PhD student, you will be expected to conduct original research in your chosen field, specific to counselor education and supervision, you’ll need intensive coursework not only pertaining to research methodology, but also ethics and best practices. This course will take you through academically sound, professionally ethical and sensitive research methodology to prepare you to conduct your own original research in the form of your dissertation.

Supervision Models and Practices

Supervision is a particularly sensitive area of counselor education, and it’s vital that it be done effectively by appropriately trained professionals. This course will teach you different forms supervision can take in different types of clinical settings and how these different models work. Further, you will learn the best practices for working as a counselor supervisor and how to appropriately approach different challenges that may arise working in supervision.

Components of An Online PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

All PhDs, including a PhD in counselor education and supervision online, contain multiple components, including classwork, original research, and potentially clinical and practical experiences. Learn more about some of these possible requirements for earning your PhD:

Advanced Counseling Courses

Coursework is an essential part of any PhD program, and in the case of your online PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision, these will be advanced courses in counseling and related topics. The coursework may build upon aspects of your previous professional career experiences, especially if you have already worked as a licensed counselor prior to enrolling in a PhD program. Your advanced counseling courses will typically be the very first component of your PhD and must be successfully completed prior to proposing or beginning any of your original research projects.

Clinical Supervision Practicum

The vast majority of online PhD programs in counselor education and supervision will contain some form of clinical supervision practicum or internship. Counselor education and supervision is a field that is highly relevant in clinical settings, and you may choose to work in a clinical setting yourself after completing the program. The clinical supervision practicum portion of your program will give you real-world counselor education and supervision experience in a safe and controlled environment while preparing you for clinical work after you’ve graduated with your PhD.

Dissertation or Capstone Project

As with any PhD program, your online PhD in counselor education and supervision will contain an element of original research in the form of a doctoral dissertation or capstone project. This will likely require you to craft a research proposal and have it reviewed before you may commence conducting the project. Your dissertation or capstone project will be the centerpiece and last portion of your PhD studies, and depending on your program, you may need to complete a defense of your work in front of a body of experts in your field — where you will answer questions about your research, your methodology, and your results — as the last step of your degree.

Prerequisites and Admission Requirements

Most PhD programs will have a list of admissions requirements and academic prerequisites you will need to have completed before your program can begin. In the case of an online PhD in counselor education and supervision, these may include requirements to have completed a relevant master’s degree program, and/or to have prior work experience as a licensed counselor or other related professional experience. Further, there may be prerequisite courses (such as graduate-level courses in counseling and psychology) that you will either need to have taken previously, or to take before your program begins.

Virtual Research Collaboration

Given that your PhD in counselor education and supervision is online, you may be concerned about the potential for collaboration on research with your fellow students. However, this does not need to be an issue. Many programs will provide you with the opportunity for virtual research collaboration with fellow students and/or university faculty. This can be done via a video chat program such as Zoom or through email and other forms of communication. While platforms vary, this virtual collaboration will give you a sense of how others work and inspire further learning about your field and remote methods of study.