If you are somebody who wants to advance your counseling skills and become specialized in counseling psychology, clinical psychology, school psychology, or any other field of professional counseling, then earning your online phd in counseling psychology is your next step. Potential careers after graduating with a Ph.D. in Counseling include becoming a marriage and family therapist, research director, or professor. The variety of professions that are open to you is endless. According to Payscale.com, the average salary for an individual who’s earned a counseling phd is $83,000.

Below we’ve compiled a list of the top 6 most affordable online doctorate in counseling degree programs. These general psychology programs are not only affordable but rank among the best universities to attend in the nation. You’ll be taught by mental health counseling professionals with years of experience who can attend to your needs and prepare you for all the challenges you’ll face in a professional counseling career. Many of these doctoral programs offer concentrations or specializations allowing students to design their education around their specific interests. Doctoral students in any one of these programs take courses in working on intensive researc and finish a dissertation before graduation. The experience gained with this online Ph.D. program will make your resume stand out when looking for employment.

Methodology

All schools considered for these rankings

  • Are regionally or nationally accredited
  • Offer at least one fully online doctorate in counseling degree (with no more than two weeks of required in-person work)
  • Were collected from official accrediting agency websites.

Schools are ranked solely by the average net price as released in the most recent IPEDs database collected in 2023

Accredited Programs That Might Interest You
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

2024 Most Affordable Online Doctorate in Counseling Degrees

RankSchoolAverage Net Price
1University of Louisiana-Monroe$10,950
2University of the Cumberlands$14,654
3Regent University$17,120
4Capella University$17,840
5Eastern University$23,338
6Liberty University$28,561

6 Most Affordable Doctorate in Counseling Degrees Online

1. The University of Louisiana-Monroe

Average Net Price: $10,950

School Type: Non-Profit
School Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Louisiana-Monroe (ULM) offers two online Doctorate in Counseling degrees:

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
  • Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Ed.D.) with a specialization in Counseling

Both programs are fully online and accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). This means that graduates of these programs are eligible for licensure as professional counselors in most states.

The Doctor of Philosophy in MFT program is designed to prepare students for advanced practice, research, and teaching in the field of marriage and family therapy. The program includes coursework in advanced counseling theories and techniques, family systems theory, and research methods. Students also complete a supervised dissertation project.

The Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction program with a specialization in Counseling is designed to prepare students for leadership roles in counseling education and practice. The program includes coursework in advanced counseling theories and techniques, curriculum and instruction, and research methods. Students also complete a supervised dissertation project.

Both programs are designed to be completed in three to four years of full-time study. Students must have a master’s degree in counseling or a related field from an accredited institution to be eligible for admission.

Admission requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy in MFT program include:

  • A master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or a related field from an accredited institution
  • A minimum GPA of 3.5 in graduate coursework
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement
  • A research proposal

Admission requirements for the Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction program with a specialization in Counseling include:

  • A master’s degree in counseling or a related field from an accredited institution
  • A minimum GPA of 3.5 in graduate coursework
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement
  • A research proposal

Students in both programs are required to complete a supervised internship or practicum. This allows them to gain real-world experience working with clients under the supervision of a licensed counselor.

2. University of the Cumberlands

Average Net Price: $14,654

School Type: Non-Profit
School Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of the Cumberlands (UC) offers a fully accredited online Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Counselor Education and Supervision. The program is designed to prepare students for careers in research, postsecondary teaching, and leadership in counseling programs and behavioral health agencies.

The UC PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision curriculum covers the five major domains of contemporary counselor education curriculum:

  • Advanced clinical work
  • Supervision
  • Teaching
  • Research and scholarship
  • Leadership and advocacy

Students in the program complete a variety of coursework, including:

  • Advanced counseling theories and techniques
  • Counselor education research methods
  • Supervision of counselors and counseling students
  • Teaching methods in counselor education
  • Leadership in counseling programs and behavioral health agencies

The program also includes a dissertation requirement, which allows students to conduct original research in counselor education or supervision.

The UC PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision is a rigorous program that is designed to prepare students for the highest levels of professional practice and leadership in the counseling field. The program is fully accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which is the recognized accrediting body for counselor education programs in the United States.

Admissions Requirements

To be eligible for admission to the UC PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision program, applicants must have:

  • A master’s degree in counseling from a CACREP-accredited program or the equivalent
  • An active professional counseling license or certification in their state of practice
  • A minimum GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement

Program Format

The UC PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision is a fully online program. Students can complete their coursework and dissertation research from anywhere in the world. The program is designed to be flexible and accessible to working professionals, so students can complete their studies at their own pace.

3. Regent University

Average Net Price: $17,120

School Type: Non-Profit
School Accreditation: SACS COC

Regent University offers a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Counseling & Psychological Studies online with residency. This program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

The Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies program is designed to prepare students for leadership roles in the counseling and mental health professions. Students will learn about the latest theories and research in counseling, as well as develop the skills and knowledge necessary to provide effective counseling services to individuals, couples, families, and groups.

The program is offered online with a week-long residency each summer. This allows students to complete their coursework at their own pace while still having the opportunity to interact with their professors and classmates in person.

The Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies program offers three specializations:

  • Human Services for Student Affairs
  • Life Coaching
  • Marriage & Family Ministry

Students in the Human Services for Student Affairs specialization will learn how to provide counseling and support services to college and university students. Students in the Life Coaching specialization will learn how to help clients achieve their personal and professional goals. Students in the Marriage & Family Ministry specialization will learn how to provide counseling and support to couples and families.

The Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies program culminates in a dissertation, which is a research project that students complete under the supervision of a faculty mentor. The dissertation allows students to demonstrate their mastery of the counseling discipline and to contribute to the body of knowledge in counseling.

4. Capella University

Average Net Price: $17,840

School Type: For-Profit
School Accreditation: HLC

Capella University extends a pair of enticing online doctorate programs in the realm of counseling:

  1. The PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision
  2. The PhD in Advanced Studies in Human Behavior

These programs bear the esteemed accreditation of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the foremost accrediting authority for counseling programs in the United States.

The PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision aims to equip students for roles as counselor educators, supervisors, and leaders within the counseling field. It immerses students in counseling theory and practice, research, and advocacy, honing their skills to an exceptional level. Additionally, students undergo practical training and internships, allowing them to showcase their abilities through real-world counseling and supervision experiences.

In contrast, the PhD in Advanced Studies in Human Behavior stands as a pathway for students aspiring to careers in research, teaching, and consulting in the realm of human behavior. This program offers a comprehensive curriculum encompassing human development, counseling psychology, and social psychology. A pivotal component is the dissertation research project, where students delve into a subject of their choosing, demonstrating their research prowess.

To secure admission to these esteemed programs at Capella University, candidates must hold a master’s degree in counseling from a CACREP-accredited institution. Additionally, applicants must furnish a letter of intent, letters of recommendation, and transcripts reflecting their prior academic endeavors.

Moving on to the curriculum, both programs at Capella University adopt a meticulously designed structure, furnishing students with the knowledge and competencies essential for thriving in their chosen vocations. Core courses include counseling theory, practical techniques, research methodologies, and ethical considerations. Furthermore, students enjoy the freedom to tailor their education by selecting specialized elective courses, spanning domains like addictions counseling, school counseling, and trauma counseling.

Invaluable to the educational journey are the practicum and internship components, which provide students with hands-on experience and skill refinement. The practicum entails 100 hours of immersion in real-world counseling, conducted under the expert guidance of a licensed counselor. The internship, spanning 600 hours, takes this experiential learning a step further, exposing students to diverse counseling settings and further enhancing their proficiency.

The culmination of this academic endeavor necessitates fulfilling specific graduation criteria. Students are required to complete all mandated coursework, successfully navigate a comprehensive examination, and undertake a dissertation research project. This final research endeavor serves as a testament to the student’s ability to conduct original research, thus contributing significantly to the ever-evolving field of counseling.

5. Eastern University

Average Net Price: $23,338

School Type: Non-Profit
School Accreditation:MSCHE

Eastern University provides two online doctoral degrees in counseling:

  1. Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy (Ph.D. in MFT)
  2. Doctor of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy (D.A. in MFT)

These programs cater to the needs of busy professionals and incorporate a combination of online coursework and intensive one-week residencies per semester, hosted at Eastern University’s St. Davids, Pennsylvania campus.

The Ph.D. in MFT program, spanning 78 credit hours, equips students to assume leadership positions in academia, research, behavioral healthcare, and pastoral care. This program prioritizes prevention and personal growth in the context of marriage and family therapy, alongside comprehensive training in modern therapeutic and diagnostic techniques. As part of their program requirements, students are tasked with crafting a dissertation in the field of marriage and family therapy.

In contrast, the D.A. in MFT program spans 48 credit hours and gears students towards advanced clinical practice in marriage and family therapy. This program uniquely integrates faith with counseling, demanding a commitment from students to nurture and rejuvenate their spiritual development, marriages, and family relationships. A capstone project forms a pivotal part of the program requirements.

It’s important to note that both programs hold accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).

Admission Requirements:

To qualify for admission into either program, applicants must possess a master’s degree in counseling, marriage and family therapy, or a related field from an institution accredited regionally. Additionally, applicants must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 and provide transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

Financial Assistance:

Eastern University extends various financial aid avenues to students enrolled in its online doctoral counseling programs. Eligible students may access federal loans, grants, and work-study opportunities. Moreover, Eastern University offers a range of private scholarships and tuition discounts to ease the financial burden.

6. Liberty University

Average Net Price: $28,561

School Type: Non-Profit
School Accreditation: SACS COC

Liberty University offers a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Counselor Education and Supervision online. The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which means that it meets the highest standards in the field of counseling.

The Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision program is designed to prepare students for leadership positions in the counseling profession. Students will learn about advanced counseling techniques, counselor education and supervision, leadership and advocacy, and research and scholarship.

To be eligible for the Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision program, students must have a master’s degree in counseling from a CACREP-accredited program. Students must also meet Liberty University’s general admission requirements, including submitting a completed application, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

Further Resources