Top 15 Fastest Accelerated Online Counseling Doctorates (PhDs)


Are you a professional counselor who wants a doctorate degree fast? We rank the fastest accelerated programs for PhD in counseling doctorate degrees.

Key Takeaways

  • The average time to complete traditional PhD and Doctorate in Counseling degree programs is four to eight years.

  • Fast and accelerated programs featuring online counseling doctorates can be completed in as little as three years.

  • Students who want to enroll in fast and accelerated online doctoral programs in counseling should note that the online courses require full-time study and commitment.

Inflation affects students mainly due to rising tuition, increasing personal expenses, and the prospect of having more debts for the same degree. This is especially true for students who take longer to graduate and those whose college’s room and board costs have increased or who live and dine mostly off campus.

Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to forecast how long this inflationary cycle will endure because it depends on many variables. Because of this, more and more students are coming to terms with enrolling in fast and accelerated degree programs.

Counselors interested in expanding their career opportunities but have no time for traditional degree programs should pursue an accelerated online doctorate programs in counseling. Accelerated online degree programs will help you finish your degree in less time than the average completion time, which means you’ll incur less cost and achieve your goals faster.

Counselor working with old woman

Featured Programs

Types of Accelerated Online Doctoral Degree Programs in Counseling

There are two common types of accelerated online doctorate degree programs. Students will have various options when selecting an accelerated program, depending on their educational institution.

The most common accelerated online doctorate degree programs are the single-degree ones. These accelerated online PhD programs allow students to focus on one degree before proceeding to another. For example, a student will earn a master’s degree before moving on to a doctorate degree.

The second type of accelerated program is dual-degree. This degree allows graduate students with a bachelor’s degree to pursue their master’s degree and doctorate degree simultaneously. The same credits that students earn for their master’s degree may occasionally also count toward their doctorate degree.

Accelerated doctorate degree programs can also be offered either on-campus, online, or a hybrid of the two. While on-campus doctoral programs are helpful for persons who like to interact with other students, those who must continue working or have family obligations during regular daytime school hours may consider the online doctoral programs.

Key Point: It’s important to note that 100% online accelerated PhD doctoral programs are very hard to find—most require at least some in-person meetings.

Additionally, different institutions have various class pacing for their fastest online doctorate programs. While some provide five-week programs, others offer eight-week sessions. The amount of time spent in each session influences how quickly the degree will be earned.

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Fast and Accelerated Online PhD in Counseling Doctoral Programs: Pros and Cons

The average completion time of a PhD in counseling program is four years, but it may take up to eight years, depending on the student’s pacing. The shortest doctoral program online is founded on the idea that you could complete your degree in three or even two years rather than spending four to eight years obtaining a doctorate degree!

The quickest online doctorate degree programs allow students to finish their degrees more quickly, but they are not without their own problems. It is vital to weigh the benefits and drawbacks before committing to an online doctorate degree program. This will help you to decide whether fast-paced online learning meets your needs.

Pros of the fastest online PhD in counseling doctorate degree programs:

Graduate More Quickly

The biggest benefit of pursuing an accelerated online program is the ability to graduate quickly. By earning a degree faster, you’ll notice improved productivity and be able to compete for positions faster.

Possible Decreased Cost

Prospective students who want to earn more or compete for a position quickly benefit greatly from this learning method. Furthermore, accelerated doctorate degree programs often cost less than conventional four- to ten-year degrees because they take less time and often require less coursework to complete.

Work Better Under Pressure

Accelerated degree programs allow students to immerse themselves in their coursework and deepen their counseling knowledge. As a result, accelerated programs prepare students to work better under pressure compared to students who have earned their degrees in the traditional way.


Students who require more flexibility benefit from accelerated degree programs. Accelerated counseling doctorates include condensed course schedules and shorter semesters.

Work at Your Own Pace

Many accelerated degree programs also provide students additional latitude regarding when they can enroll in classes and how quickly they need to be finished. This enables them to continue their education at their own speed while juggling other responsibilities.

Transfer Credits

The ability to transfer credits from previous college coursework, such as an unfinished master’s degree or professional experience is another benefit of many accelerated online education programs. The more credits students are able to transfer, the faster they arrive at their doctorate degree.

Cons of the fastest online PhD in counseling doctorate degree programs:

Heavy Workload

The biggest drawback of accelerated PhD programs is the time constraint and heavy workload. Unprepared students will find it challenging to keep up with the program’s rapid pace. This can increase stress and lead to burnout and dropouts.

Low Tolerance for Error

Students should also remember that there will be less tolerance for error because of the program’s time constraints. It’s frequently impossible to go back and repair errors after they have been committed or finish assignments correctly.

Autonomous Learning

Compared to traditional degree programs, accelerated online doctorate degrees often demand more autonomous learning. Students accustomed to a more structured learning environment may find accelerated degree programs challenging or impossible to complete.

More Classes

Another drawback is that students in accelerated degree programs frequently have to take more classes every semester than they would for a standard four- to ten-year PhD program. This can be difficult for students who are not used to such a heavy course load.

Employers are Unfamiliar with Doctorate Degree Programs

Another drawback of accelerated degrees is their familiarity with employers. Because accelerated degrees are not as common as traditional degree programs—unheard of for many employers—employers may be less likely to accept them as credible credentials.

Bottom Line: While there are many challenges when enrolling in an online PhD in counseling doctoral degree program, they are the perfect solution for busy professionals who cannot invest eight to ten years to further their education.

Counselor working with children

Median Salaries of Similar Careers in the U.S.

The following graph depicts the average salaries of similar occupations to Marriage and Family Therapists in the U.S.


Annual Salary
44740Rehabilitation Counselors
49730Counselors, All Other
53490Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
59660Marriage and Family Therapists
63090Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors
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15 Fastest Accelerated Online PhD in Counseling Doctorate Degree Programs

  1. #1

    Oregon State University

    Corvallis , OR
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    It’s hard to miss Oregon State University when visiting Corvallis due to its large campus and contribution to the state’s social, cultural, recreational, and economic health. It’s where academics, students, and alums put theories into practice, overcome obstacles, and resolve issues through investigation, invention, and application. More than 200 academic programs are available to students, many of which provide internships, research projects, and other hands-on learning opportunities.

    OSU offers over 1,750 classes and more than 100 degrees and programs online, including a short hybrid PhD in Counseling doctorate degree. While this program can be completed in up to five years, students with a master’s degree in counseling or other counseling-related degrees can speed up the program’s duration and graduation in three years.

    In addition to online coursework, students of the online program must attend on-campus instruction twice every quarter at OSU’s downtown Portland campus. Students will be part of a supportive and engaging cohort of peers, which includes working professionals with active licenses.

    • Required Credits: 150
    • Completion time: 3 years
    • Format: Hybrid

    What we love about Oregon State University

    The reputation of being one of the only three institutions to hold titles of Sea Grant, Space Grant, and Sun Grant.

    Oregon State University is great for students who:

    Thrive in large-sized classes and want to get active in the community.

    Oregon State University might not be the best fit for students who:

    Expect individualized attention from advisors.

  2. #2

    Regent University

    Virginia Beach , VA
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    Regent University is a top faith-based institution offering bachelor’s, master’s & doctoral programs in over 150 major areas, both online and on-campus. Regent’s graduate and undergraduate programs have demanding coursework requirements and high academic standards. But what really distinguishes Regent is its commitment to empowering capable people to excel in body, mind, and spirit.

    Regent is very popular when it comes to fast-paced online doctoral degree programs. The online PhD in Counseling & Psychological Studies is designed for practicing counselors with at least a year of professional experience and can meet the demands of a fast-paced learning environment. Prospective students choose from several concentrations, including Addictions Counseling, Biblical Counseling, Grief Counseling, Human Services Counseling, Human Services For Student Affairs, Industrial-Organizational, and more.

    Eligible students of the online program can apply for the Trailblazer Scholarship, which will grant them $36,000. In addition to this financial aid opportunity, students will be connected to a respected network of the state’s mental health practitioners.

    • Required Credits: 51
    • Completion time: 3 years
    • Format: Online

    What we love about Regent University

    Regent is regarded for offering a curriculum grounded in Scripture and practical implications.

    Regent University is great for students who:

    Want to have a curriculum centered on faith.

    Regent University might not be the best fit for students who:

    Thrive in large-sized campuses with lots of school parties.

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    What is University of the Cumberlands known for?

    University of the Cumberlands’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

    The University Of The Cumberlands is a renowned college with a campus in the center of Appalachia. UC provides undergraduate, pre-professional, graduate, and doctorate programs in more than 40 major subject areas. Additionally, it is one of the biggest and most reasonably priced private institutions in Kentucky that offers cutting-edge programs, practical, experiential learning, and research.

    Cumberland’s PhD in Counselor Education & Supervision Degree is one of today’s fastest online doctoral degree programs designed for licensed counselors who want to work in academia and research. Students in this PhD program will explore five key areas of today’s counselor education curriculum: Advanced Clinical Work, Leadership and Advocacy, Supervision, Teaching, and Research And Scholarship. Furthermore, Addiction, Advanced Counseling, and Leadership are the program’s three specialization areas.

    Regardless of your chosen specialty, the curriculum will include professional research and field experience coursework and core CES coursework. One of the best things about this online program is that it still allows students to continue working.

    • Required Credits: 66
    • Completion time: 3 years
    • Format: Online

    What we love about the University Of The Cumberlands

    The diversity and the comprehensive degree programs integrated with liberal arts and Christian principles.

    The University Of The Cumberlands is great for students who:

    Want to enroll in comprehensive degree programs in a small town setting.

    The University Of The Cumberlands might not be the best fit for students who:

    Want to attend a party school.

  4. #4

    Liberty University

    Lynchburg , VA
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    Liberty University is a prominent evangelical college that offers extensive programs. Each degree program at Liberty blends top-notch academics with a top-notch campus, compassionate professors, real-world experience, and a focus on moral leadership. All discipline is based on the tenet that every student will succeed in their field.

    Liberty is a pioneer and leader in online learning. One of its online doctoral degree programs is the PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision, which is known to be one of the fastest routes to earning a PhD. This program ensures that students receive training in counseling strategies, education and supervision of counselors, advocacy and vision, and scholarship and research to become proficient licensed counselors.

    Students should expect to receive cutting-edge clinical mental health practices guided by esteemed faculty with years of professional experience. Additionally, this degree aims to equip students for educational leadership roles in counseling departments at colleges and universities.

    • Required Credits: 60
    • Completion time: 3.5 years
    • Format: Online

    What we love about Liberty University

    We love Liberty not only because of its God-centered focus but also for its affordable and accessible online degree programs.

    Liberty University is great for students who:

    Want to develop their relationship with God and be surrounded by like-minded people.

    Liberty University might not be ideal for students who:

    Are too liberal. Due to its Christian heritage, Liberty is a very conservative school with rules that most liberal students disagree with.

  5. Counselor working with a small child

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    What is University of West Georgia known for?

    University of West Georgia’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

    The University of West Georgia is one of the perfect places for people who want to seize opportunities and forge their own paths. UWG started as a small institution and later grew as the region’s powerhouse with a rich culture and a dedication to greatness, changing the lives of students and people all around the world. In addition, UWG offers various opportunities for student growth, such as networking and internship opportunities.

    UWG’s online Doctor of Education in Professional Counseling and Supervision offers a comprehensive, fast-paced curriculum. This online doctorate program equips students with training in effective practices and programs, leadership, and advocacy to benefit their workplace and community. The curriculum is built on a solid basis created by prior graduate study and work experience.

    Doctoral students gain knowledge of program and intervention evaluation and improvement within their existing work environments. Students must complete a professional practice dissertation defense to prove their knowledge and skills before graduation. The dissertation should evaluate and improve programs or look at pertinent issues in professional counseling.

    • Required Credits: 60
    • Completion time: 3 years
    • Format: Online

    What we love about the University of West Georgia

    UWG is loved for offering hands-on teaching experience, peer tutoring, and student resources.

    The University of West Georgia is great for students who:

    Thrive in a tight-knit and quiet campus community.

    The University of West Georgia might not be the best fit for students who:

    Prefer a big campus and a big city.

  7. #6

    Hampton University

    Hampton , VA
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    Hampton University, a Historically Black University, is a vibrant, forward-thinking institution of higher learning that offers a wide range of graduate, undergraduate, and technical degree programs. As a result of Hampton’s determination to help students worldwide earn a reputable degree, the university created an e-campus extension. Hampton University Online ensures academic success and personal achievement through an excellent blended education with loving learner support services.

    Hampton U’s accelerated Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision online is among the best choices for fast PhDs. While the average completion time for this degree is 3.5 years, students who can transfer more credit hours from their master’s degree can complete the PhD in less time. The degree offers concentrations in school counseling and community mental health counseling to help students prepare for their desired profession after graduation.

    • Required Credits: 64
    • Completion time: 3.5 years
    • Format: Online

    What we love about Hampton University

    They always give scholarships and financial aid if necessary and ensure every student is part of a unique curriculum.

    Hampton University is great for students who:

    Want the HBCU experience.

    Hampton University might not be the best fit for students who:

    Want to earn a degree in liberal arts.

  8. #7

    Walden University

    Minneapolis , MN
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    What is Walden University known for?

    Walden University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

    Walden University is one of the leading schools for non-traditional students seeking to earn a degree without the need to step on campus. Walden offers a varied community of career professionals the chance to reinvent themselves as scholar-practitioners to create beneficial social change. And on top of being accessible, Walden’s online degrees are also known to be very affordable. Additionally, over 80% of the university’s students are enrolled in master’s and doctorate degree programs and can transfer up to 45 credit hours to earn their degrees faster.

    Walden’s accelerated PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision is one of the fastest online doctoral programs, having only an average completion time of 2.75 years. Students will be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge that allows them to work in academia and educational research. Additionally, students will work with a variety of instructors, students, theories, teaching philosophies, and research to broaden their perspective.

    Walden’s online counseling doctorate also provides five specializations: Addiction Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling, School Counseling, Trauma and Crisis, and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling.

    • Required Credits: 85
    • Completion time: 2.75 years
    • Format: Online

    What we love about Walden University

    Walden ensures that working adult and non-traditional students receive the same caliber of education as traditional on-campus students receive at a much lower price.

    Walden University is great for students who:

    Have already established their career paths and want to improve their knowledge without leaving their jobs.

    Walden University might not be the ideal choice for students who:

    Want to experience traditional campus experiences, such as Greek and dorm life.

  9. #8

    Adler University

    Chicago , IL

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    What is Adler University known for?

    Adler University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Adler University, the legacy of the pioneering community psychologist, Alfred Adler, is regarded as one of the oldest independent psychology schools in North America. It offers rigorous mental-health-related degrees, such as counseling and psychology, that aim to train socially conscious professionals in the proper ways to care for individuals and communities and help advance social justice. The university provides numerous master’s degrees in behavioral sciences and services and clinical psychology and counseling doctoral programs.

    Adler University’s PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision is a fast-paced doctorate degree program that mixes online courses with hands-on experiential learning, such as internships, in-person exams, and dissertations. This doctoral degree is best for students who want to focus on freedom and liberation. The curriculum delves into helping students understand diversity, social justice, empowerment, oppression, multiculturalism, freedom, and liberation.

    • Required Credits: 60
    • Completion time: 3 years
    • Format: Hybrid

    What we love about Adler University

    Students from all over the world travel to the university to study in a supportive environment with an esteemed faculty and professors.

    Adler University is great for students who:

    Want to obtain a doctorate in psychology, counseling, or other mental health-related degrees.

    Adler University might not be the best fit for students who:

    Want diverse curricular offerings.

  10. Counselor working with group of young adults
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    What is Alliant International University known for?

    Alliant International University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

    Alliant International University is one of the smallest yet very progressive universities in the United States. Alliant aims to provide students with the knowledge to help them with their careers and transform their lives. With a vast selection of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, Alliant University has something for everyone.

    Alliant’s PsyD in Educational Psychology with School Counseling Focus is best for students who are already working as counselors in a college or university. This fast and accelerated counseling doctorate degree gives students a deeper understanding of human development, school counseling, program assessment, and research design. On top of this, students will also receive a high caliber of education that includes social justice, equity, and leadership topics.

    • Required Credits: 50
    • Completion time: 2-3 years
    • Format: Online

    What we love about Alliant International University

    The outstanding seminar rooms, big lecture halls, cutting-edge computer laboratories, and libraries.

    Alliant International University is great for students who:

    Thrive in a setting where they’re given one-on-one attention.

    Alliant International University might not be the best fit for students who:

    Want to study in a more diverse environment and thrive in large-sized classes.

  12. #10

    Antioch University

    Culver City , CA

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    Antioch University

    Antioch University is a small private university that uses narrative assessment to provide students with a thorough, useful evaluation of their learning instead of assigning letter grades. The university believes that the “no tests, no grades” philosophy accommodate people with different learning styles. Still, Antioch provides letter grades equivalent to the student’s performance upon request.

    Antioch’s PhD in Counseling is best for counseling professionals who want to focus on couple and family therapy. Students will focus on coursework and practice experience for two years and process dissertation writing, which can be completed in one year. While some courses can be taken online, students must still attend on-campus activities, such as research and clinical training.

    • Required Credits: 86 to 89
    • Completion time: 3 years
    • Format: Hybrid

    What we love about Antioch University

    Antioch is best at offering collaborative learning spaces, which emphasize meaningful interactions with other learners to avoid students feeling alone or left out.

    Antioch University is great for students who:

    Thrive in an environment composed of a population from various ethnic, age, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds.

    Antioch University might not be the best fit for students who:

    Do not want additional research and writing activities. Antioch demands more group projects, research articles, and hands-on learning than tests.

  13. #11

    Mississippi College

    Clinton , MS
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    Mississippi College is a small Christian college with a compassionate faculty and a close-knit student body. Although Mississippi College is a small institution, the college offers cutting-edge medical research, award-winning fine arts programs, and much more.

    Mississippi College’s Doctor of Professional Counseling is an accelerated degree program designed for students who want to develop their skills and advance their knowledge in counseling. Students learn to comprehend and generate more complicated theory, practice, and research-based work. The program requires students to complete the Project Demonstrating Excellence—which uses a clinical case study to demonstrate advanced clinical skills—instead of doing a dissertation.

    The best part about this degree is its year-round enrollment.

    • Required Credits: 72
    • Completion time: 3 years
    • Format: Online

    What we love about Mississippi College

    The high caliber of teaching within a Christian environment.

    Mississippi College is great for students who:

    Seek to combine their faith and education and want to live in a tiny community.

    Mississippi College might not be the best fit for students who:

    Are not Christians themselves.

  14. Counselor working with a patient
  15. Sofia University has historically emphasized offering graduate degree programs in Transpersonal Psychology, a scientific study of the complete spectrum of human experience. The university, since then, has expanded the range of programs it offers and incorporated a transpersonal perspective into all of the new degree programs and fields it has introduced, including bachelor’s and master’s degrees in various fields, from business administration to computer and technology management.

    Sofia’s Doctor of Philosophy in Transpersonal Psychology allows students to complete the program in three years by taking nine units per quarter and advancing through basic courses and concentration courses. This program is provided in an online, low-residency model. Students who want to focus on becoming counselors can choose the program’s Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience concentration.

    • Required Credits: 75
    • Completion time: 3 years
    • Format: Hybrid

    What we love about Sofia University

    Sofia gives students a unique opportunity to enroll in Aikido classes, a course that teaches Japanese martial techniques, to promote personal growth.

    Sofia University is great for students who:

    Want to major in psychology.

    Sofia University might not be the best fit for students who:

    Want to study on a large campus and get involved in endless student engagement activities.

  16. #13

    Mount Mary University

    Milwaukee , WI

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    What is Mount Mary University known for?

    Mount Mary University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Mount Mary University, a Catholic institution for women, offers a wide range of programs taught by experts who put the needs of the students first by offering individualized care. Each major and program at Mount Mary blends creativity, social justice, and leadership to give students the skills and assurance they need to improve their communities and careers.

    Mount Mary’s online PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision is designed for working professionals who have obtained their master’s in mental health degrees and licenses. This program helps students enhance their skills and knowledge in various multicultural situations congruent with the counseling profession’s ethical and research-based practice. In addition to online courses, students will participate in counseling practice in their communities under the supervision of a PhD-level specialist.

    • Required Credits: 78 (can transfer up to 30 semester hours)
    • Completion time: 3 years
    • Format: Online

    What we love about Mount Mary University

    Because it’s an all-girls campus, students who enroll at Mount Mary University feel safer and more secure.

    Mount Mary University is great for students who:

    Thrive in small crowds.

    Mount Mary University might not be the best fit for students who:

    Want a coed campus.

  17. #14

    The Chicago School

    Chicago , IL

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    What is The Chicago School known for?

    The Chicago School’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

    The Chicago School Of Professional Psychology, as its name suggests, is a school that focuses on psychology degrees. Since 1979, TCSPP has been a leader in behavioral science and psychology development and a great provider for study abroad and international experiences. The college works in partnership with the community and other applied professional practice teams to promote ground-breaking training methodology and offer students a comprehensive spectrum of clinical training in various community and higher education leadership settings.

    TCSPP’s online PhD in Counselor Education And Supervision is only open to licensed professional counselors with master’s degrees closely related to counseling. Students will undergo a comprehensive curriculum to develop their understanding of counseling, education, and supervision concepts. In addition to online courses, students must complete hands-on experiences, such as field experience and residency.

    • Required Credits: 60
    • Completion time: 3 years
    • Format: Online

    What we love about The Chicago School Of Professional Psychology

    This was the first school recognized for leadership in service and civic involvement by being President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll- designated.

    The Chicago School Of Professional Psychology is great for students who:

    Want a college focused on psychology and counseling degrees.

    The Chicago School Of Professional Psychology might not be the best fit for students who:

    Want to enroll in courses outside the study of psychology.

  18. Female counselor talking to a young girl
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    The University of the Pacific offers students a unique practical experience by combining a small community’s personalized attention with a private university’s academic rigor. University of the Pacific offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in over 80 majors. Additionally, the school ensures that students can make connections in the classroom and via co-curricular activities that go beyond their campus time.

    UOP’s Doctor of Education — Counseling Psychology is a two-year EdD program designed for professionals who want to shift careers and work in the mental health field.

    Through rigorous coursework and supervised practicum, doctoral students will be equipped with the advanced knowledge and skills needed for employment in leadership roles in counseling practice in educational settings. Students should expect to undergo a curriculum that strongly emphasizes the creation and evaluation of student counseling services, competent consulting and supervising abilities, and the advanced study of counseling theory and practice.

    Professionals who are yet to obtain their licenses as psychologists must complete coursework beyond the concentration’s required units to sit for the State Board of Psychology examination.

    • Required Credits: 60
    • Completion time: 2 years
    • Format: On-campus

    What we love about the University of the Pacific

    The best things about UOP are the small class sizes, individualized attention from teachers, and strong academic programs.

    The University of the Pacific is great for students who:

    Thrive in small-sized classes that focus on group learning.

    The University of the Pacific might not be the best fit for students who:

    Thrive in big crowds and want a fast-paced and bustling environment.