What Can I Do with a Doctorate (PhD) in Counseling?

Graduates with a Ph.D. in Counseling can apply their expertise in a variety of professional settings. Keep reading to learn what you can do with a doctorate in counseling. Schools offering Mental Health Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.


Graduates of a Ph.D. program in Counseling are able to work in three main areas: academia, administration, and clinical practice. Which area you choose to enter depends on your interests and your skill set.

Important Facts about this Occupation

Postsecondary Psychology TeacherPostsecondary Education AdministratorMental Health Counselors
Median Pay (2018)$76,710$94,340 $44,630
Job Outlook (2016-2026)15% 10% 23%
Licensing/CertificationIs voluntary, may be required for some positionsNone neededLicense necessary in most cases
Key SkillsCommunication, writing, resourcefulness, critical thinking Problem-solving, interpersonal skills, organized, computer literateCompassion, interpersonal skills, listening and speaking skills

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics


As a graduate of a doctoral program in counseling, you could teach at a public or private college or university on the undergraduate or graduate level. In addition to leading classes, you might help develop curricula for various certificate and degree programs, evaluate counseling programs and serve as a mentor for aspiring counselors. You also might write textbooks and/or engage in original research.


With a Ph.D. in Counseling, you could become a clinical supervisor in a hospital or other medical setting. You may also find work as a director or coordinator with a mental health agency or rehabilitation facility.

Outside of the healthcare arena, one option is director of career counseling with a college or university. You might also oversee family counseling services for a nonprofit or social service agency, such as a division of child and family services, or for a corrections facility or religious institution.

Clinical Practice

With a Ph.D. in Counseling, you could work in public or private practice as a licensed professional counselor. Depending on your area of specialization, you might work in mental health counseling, pastoral counseling, substance abuse counseling, family and marriage counseling, or school and career counseling. Potential employers include health care facilities, churches, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, elementary and secondary schools, and postsecondary institutions. Other prospective employers include employee outplacement and assistance programs and human resources departments.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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