Earning a PhD in School Counseling Online

Browse our ranking of the top online PhD in school counseling programs in the country, and learn how to take your next steps to a better career in school counseling today.

Should I Pursue a Ph.D. in School Counseling Online?

Job prospects are strong for students considering a doctorate in school counseling online, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects growth in the psychologist profession through 2026 that doubles the average profession. Furthermore, school counselors and other psychologists working in schools represent the largest psychologist workforce. School counselors can also explore self-employment, government positions, roles in healthcare, or ambulatory services.

In addition to school counselor positions, an online doctorate in school counseling prepares students to pursue careers as school psychologists, educational psychologists, mental health psychologists, and postsecondary teachers. Now, with the proliferation of online learning, students can access programs from a distance, increasing their choices along with their schedule flexibility. The following information goes into more depth about what students might find in an online doctorate in school counseling and what careers could result from this education.

Employment Outlook for Ph.D. in School Counseling Graduates

Equipped with a doctorate in school counseling, online graduates can explore a variety of careers in the education industry. These career options each bring something unique for professionals, allowing them to utilize certain skills, personality traits, or interests. The following information outlines the various careers available to graduates, what the professions entail, and their salaries.

Ph.D. in School Counseling Careers

While most students pursuing an online doctorate in school counseling possess compassion and communication skills, a learner's specific interests and abilities can help to guide their career path. A student with leadership skills or experience, for example, may aim toward a career as a director, whereas those with a passion for mental health may specialize in that field. The following list highlights some of the most common careers for graduates with an online doctorate in school counseling.

Director of School Counseling

Annual Median Salary: $56,310

A director of school counseling oversees the counseling services offered by a school or a district. These professionals may assess staff or program effectiveness to design and implement new programs. Most school counselors require a master's degree at a minimum, so directors should possess more advanced degrees, extensive experience, or both.

Mental Health Counselor

Annual Median Salary: $44,630

Mental health counselors work with patients dealing with mental health, addiction, or psychological issues. They may diagnose or treat patients in settings like clinics, hospitals, or treatment centers. Though many mental health counselors need master's degrees, clinical psychologists who cover similar territory typically require a doctorate.

School and Career Counselor

Annual Median Salary: $56,310

School and career counselors work with students in schools to help them manage or overcome problems. These students may require mental health assistance, learning disability help, or advice. While many counselors require master's degrees, a doctorate can help acquire better positions and better salaries.

Program Evaluator

Annual Median Salary: $56,344

Program evaluators observe an organization's operations and help them improve efficiencies. They assess employee performance and examine budgets to find areas that could improve. Though many of these positions require a bachelor's degree, a doctorate may grant candidates access to the more desirable positions and the highest available salaries.

What Can I Expect From an Online Ph.D. in School Counseling Program?

Every online doctorate in school counseling online offers students a unique set of skills and opportunities. Still, most of these programs share some things in common, such as core courses and outcomes. While the exact course descriptions may vary by program and state requirements, the following information identifies some of the more common possibilities for graduates.

Curriculum for an Online Doctorate Degree in School Counseling

Group Counseling

This course teaches students about the practice of group counseling. Learners train to conduct group counseling sessions by exploring common issues and discovering the best practices. After completing this training, graduates can run group counseling programs in schools or educational support groups. They may also apply this training to other psychologist-related professions, like mental health counseling.

Counseling Program Evaluation

In this course, students can explore how to observe, assess, and evaluate counseling programs. They learn to determine if a program meets the educational needs of students and how they might improve it. This type of training leads to careers in educational psychology and program evaluation.

Education Pedagogy

These courses explore how students learn and the ways educational programs can improve by looking at new methods of instruction and new program designs. Graduates can apply this training to careers in educational psychology and school counseling.

Advanced Theories of Counseling

Advanced theories of counseling observes the latest research and practices in counseling. Learners can explore new perspectives and discover how counselors can apply these modern strategies to their practices. This training comes in handy for all counseling and psychologist positions.

Ethics in Counseling

In this course, students examine ethical issues in counseling and how professionals can overcome them. They learn to ensure all practices follow the professional guidelines and laws set out by the government. With this knowledge, graduates can apply their training to all counseling and psychologist careers.

Certifications and Licenses a Doctorate in Early Childhood Education Prepares For

  • School Counselor Licensure: Each state features different requirements for school counselors to practice, but most require licensure. A role as a school counselor typically requires a master's degree or higher and sufficient experience, plus completion of the exam. For more information, visit the American School Counselor Association.
  • Mental Health Counselor Licensure: Candidates need to meet state requirements for licensure as mental health counselors. While these requirements vary, they typically include a master's degree at minimum, plus significant experience and the completion of the examination. For more information, visit the American Counseling Association.

Professional Organizations & Resources

Professional organizations provide students, new graduates, and experienced professionals with a valuable resource for career development. New students often gain access to scholarships and mentor programs through these organizations. After graduation, professional organizations can connect members, offer access to career boards, and provide career services assistance. Even veterans in the field benefit from membership through industry events, continuing education, and member policies and discounts. The following list highlights some of the most relevant organizations, along with other helpful resources for aspiring school counselors.

  • American School Counselor Association: ASCA strives to improve the profession of school counseling by supporting its members and giving them access to resources. Members can benefit from professional development opportunities and access to industry publications.

  • National Association of School Psychologists: NASP offers dedicated support to its members and the profession by instituting a set of best practices and empowerment. Members gain access to industry publications, networking opportunities, and professional development workshops.

  • Association for Counselor Education and Supervision: ACES seeks to improve counseling education and supervision of counselors by advocating for and developing better practices. The association also offers access to publication and networking events. 

  • International School Counselor Association: ISCA supports international counselors by advocating for the profession and offering leadership for its members. Once joined with the association, members can connect with the organization's network and access its professional development tools.

  • American Mental Health Counselors Association: AMHCA supports mental health counselors by providing members with continuing education courses, access to industry events, and various publications.

  • National Board for Certified Counselors: NBCC offers valuable resources for counselors and the public. The site provides information on certification, counselor directories, and resources regarding government affairs.

  • National Institute of Mental Health: NIMH is a federal agency that researches mental disorders. As a resource, visitors can learn about industry news and events, ongoing research projects, and the agency's strategic plans.

  • American Counseling Association: ACA strives to improve and increase the size of the counselor profession. The association offers information about counseling in general, runs continuing education programs, and provides access to events and resources. 

  • University Counseling Jobs: University Counseling Jobs offers visitors access to a large job board dedicated to different counseling jobs across the country. Visitors can post or seek out positions that require counselors.

  • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs: CACREP offers leadership and support for educational programs in the field of counseling. Visitors can learn about counseling education programs in general or search the approved programs.

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