Ph.D. in Counseling and Counselor Education

Counseling and Counselor Education is designed to prepare advanced professional practitioners in counseling, counselor education and systems intervention with particular emphases on strength-based approaches to work with diverse populations and settings. Its purpose is to provide quality doctoral training for future educators, researchers and clinicians who wish to emphasize clinical applications that promote the health, quality of life and well-being of children, adolescents, young adults and their families.

The counseling theory and counselor education courses are designed to increase understanding of current research and practice in the field. The professional competencies and counselor education courses are designed to expose students to supervisory and teaching experiences to help the student become proficient in social science research methodologies and to best prepare the student for original research and career goals. Finally, electives taught in education, communication, pastoral counseling, health and kinesiology, psychology and other disciplines will be chosen with the advisory committee. These will offer each doctoral student a personal specialization area for professional development and research. The college/department in which courses are offered will determine the readiness of students to take courses.

The Ph.D. in Educational Studies: Counseling and Counselor Education prepares students to be qualified to engage in high-quality original scholarship. Recipients will have the knowledge and skills to assume college faculty positions with responsibility in teaching graduate counseling courses, participate in counseling and counselor education research, and assume leadership positions in counseling and counselor education within schools and other organizations.
TCU College of Education Hooding Ceremony at the Dee J. Kelly Center in Fort Worth, Texas on May 11, 2018. (Photo by/Sharon Ellman)

The Counseling and Counselor Education Ph.D. Program provided me with a solid foundation to teach, counsel, and lead others successfully in a variety of different capacities and diverse settings.

-Vanden Thong ’18


The Counseling and Counselor Education PhD program will not accept doctoral applications for fall 2021 enrollment. We are pausing admissions for this program in order to uphold our commitment to maintaining program quality and strong support for our current students. A new cohort model will be instituted beginning the fall semester of 2022. Doctoral students in Counseling and Counselor Education will be required to take a minimum of six (6) graduate hours each long semester (spring and fall), with a maximum of nine (9) credit hours per semester for full-time students. Research/teaching assistantships and stipends for full-time students will be offered to exceptional applicants.

For admission into the program, an applicant must have a master’s degree in a clinical mental health discipline and be eligible for licensure or certification as a mental health professional in the state of Texas. These disciplines include (but are not limited to) counseling, marriage and family therapy, psychology/psychological associate, nursing and social work. Each applicant must show evidence of knowledge and skill in human development, helping relationships, assessment, research and evaluation, and clinical experience in applied settings. Also, the applicant must present a strong academic record, acceptable GRE scores within the past five years, a writing sample (15-20 pages, exclusive of notes and works cited) that demonstrates appropriate academic writing skills needed for success in a graduate program and three professional letters of recommendation. Students may be admitted who lack the prerequisites for some of the courses required in the program. In such cases, it will be necessary for the student to complete the prerequisites in addition to the requirements of the Ph.D. degree. A live interview is also required prior to admission.

Program of Study

The Ph.D. in Counseling and Counselor Education requires a minimum of 51 credit hours post-matriculation.

For a detailed description of program of study for the Ph.D. in Counseling and Counselor Education, see the TCU Online Catalog.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination is taken at the end of the coursework and prior to beginning work on the dissertation. The purpose of the qualifying examination is to assess the student’s readiness to begin dissertation research. The qualifying examination requires students to demonstrate their ability to critically discuss theory, research and practice in the field of counseling and counselor education. The exams consist of a series of questions developed by the student’s advisory committee. These questions are designed for two purposes: 1) to examine the student’s knowledge of a body of literature in depth and 2) to examine the student’s breadth of understanding of the field of counseling and counselor education. The qualifying examination consists of two parts: a written examination and an oral examination. All committee members will read and give feedback to the student on the written product. When all committee members are satisfied with the quality of the written product, an oral examination will be scheduled. The student’s committee will determine by consensus if he/she 1) passed the examination, 2) failed the examination or 3) passed with conditions, which the student will need to meet prior to passing. A student is limited to three attempts to pass the qualifying examination.

Dissertation (6 hours)

The College of Education is committed to helping students establish their own research interests and agenda. To this end, the students will work with a committee of faculty to propose a research study, conduct the study and defend the results of the study. All students will take a minimum of six hours of dissertation proposal and research, but some students may require more than six hours, depending on the number of semesters that are needed for full completion of all requirements. Students may not begin dissertation data collection without the approval of the student’s full advisory committee.

Sequence of Experiences

  1. Completion of all non-dissertation coursework
  2. Completion of the qualifying exam
  3. Completion of original research and successful defense of the resulting dissertation

Advisor: Dr. Frank Thomas