Professionals with education counseling degrees have long helped students meet their developmental, educational, and career goals. School counselors routinely plan, intervene, and facilitate communication with all parties to achieve these goals, even for struggling students. The typical school counselor meets daily with teachers, administrators, and parents, as well. In order to be properly prepared, education counselors must have a solid educational foundation as well as a clear idea of the school’s and district’s visions.
That foundation is gained at colleges and universities in classes taught by professors with doctorates in education counseling. Thoroughly schooled in research, counseling, and teaching, those with education counseling doctoral degrees have the insight necessary to train frontline school counselors. Another component of a doctoral education in the field includes evaluation; education counseling doctorate holders play a significant role in supervising counselors in schools and leading educational agencies. Rounding out their education with intense study of research methods, education counselors frequently publish the results of their original research in professional and scholarly journals.
Why a Doctoral Degree?
According to the American School Counselor Association, most states require at least an education counseling master’s degree to be certified as a school counselor. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) demonstrates that those with a master’s degree typically earn 20% less, each year, than their doctoral degree counterparts; doctorate holders generally also have a 25% better chance of finding employment, compared with those with only a master’s degree. A recent report by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce shows that counseling professionals with master’s degrees will earn $1,000,000 less over their lifetimes than those with doctorates. Clearly, if you have the time and the will, a doctoral degree is a good investment.
Getting Into a Doctoral Program
Only highly qualified candidates are accepted into doctoral programs. Like other doctoral counseling programs, doctoral education counseling programs typically require the following:
- Master’s degree from an accredited counseling program or demonstrated knowledge in several areas of core competencies
- Sufficiently high grade point average (GPA) – typically 3.0 or higher
- Sufficient score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
- Letter of intent or a statement of goals
- Demonstrated fitness for the profession
- Prerequisite course work in certain program areas such as family and marriage, education, or mental health counseling
Inside an Education Counseling Doctoral Degree Program
Education counseling doctoral programs tend to be rigorous. Most require two years of course work, and a third year in which to present, write and defend a dissertation. During the third year, an internship and practicum are also generally required.
Like all online education counseling degrees, doctoral students take a variety of counseling courses, covering both theory and practice. Unique to doctoral programs, however, is a focus on supervision and professional development. Doctoral students are also expected to take several advanced statistics courses and research methods. At the completion of the program, a doctorate holder should be well versed in the theory and practice of supervising school counselors, as well as competent to teach and research at the university level.
What’s Next for Education Counseling Doctoral Degree Holders?
Education counselors with doctoral degrees generally earn in excess of $60,000, according to the BLS. Those working as professors at institutions of higher education can expect their field to grow by about 17% through 2020, a rate that mirrors the average for all fields. Data tailored to education counseling supervisors is more difficult to find, but school administrators, in general, earn an annual average of over $85,000. Whatever the career choice, education counseling doctorate holders find they are able to leverage their advanced degrees to find and grow fulfilling careers.