Degree Requirements

Doctor of Philosophy, Counselor Education Ph.D.

The Counselor Education Ph.D. program prepares counselors for leadership roles in the counseling profession. Research competency, advanced counseling skills, and practice in the clinical supervision of other counselors are emphasized in the program. Graduates generally choose careers as university faculty members (counselor educators), practitioners in private practice, researchers, and leadership positions in mental health, agencies, higher education and business and industry.


Prospective Ph.D. degree students must meet the admission requirements established by the Graduate School. In addition, applicants must complete the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination. Ph.D. degree applicants are considered based on criteria developed by the faculty. Admission decisions are based on all criteria considered in relationship to the needs of the program and number of students who can be reasonably accommodated. In addition to the UNO Graduate Application, applicants to the Ph.D. program in Counselor Education must also submit the following: transcripts from all post-secondary schools attended; Graduate Record Examination scores from the General Test taken within the last five years; a personal statement; a Counselor Education application for doctoral studies; a current resume; and three letters of reference. Finalists for admission who are invited must also interview with the program admissions committee. The interview process includes completion of a writing sample and a videotaped mock counseling session.

Programs of Study

The Ph.D. program goes well beyond the accumulation of graduate course credits. It includes coursework, supervised field experiences, completion of examinations, a research project, and a dissertation. The degree program includes a minimum of 114 graduate credits beyond the bachelor's degree. There are 48 credits of entry-level core counseling courses (includes three credits in research), 12 credits of counseling courses in an area of concentration, 39 credits of doctoral-level core counseling courses (includes 12 credits in research), and 15 additional credits in research courses. Because of the number of credits completed in research (30 credits total), this area serves as the minor for doctoral students. The doctoral program includes a 100 hour clinical practicum and a 600 hour internship. Concentration areas in counseling in the doctoral program are focused in a particular area of counseling such as clinical mental health counseling, or school counseling. A Program of Study must be completed at the end of the student's first year of enrollment in the doctoral program.

Research Tools

Ph.D. students must complete a minimum of 30 credits in research, which includes coursework and dissertation research. Students develop competency in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. They choose one primary method for their dissertation and complete advanced research courses in that area. It is also possible for students to employ a "mixed-methods" approach to their research.

Retention Standards

Ph.D. degree students will be dismissed for any of the following academic reasons: they accumulate six or more hours of grades lower than B in graduate coursework required in their programs of study; their cumulative UNO graduate grade-point average for two consecutive semesters (fall and spring or spring and fall) is below 3.0; they fail the general or final (dissertation defense) examination twice.


A doctoral student must earn two consecutive semesters of a minimum of nine hours of residence. The doctoral residence requirement may be met alternatively by three semesters of enrollment at six or more hours, which may be non-consecutive.

Students who are in residence for the purpose of the above requirement are expected to devote all of their energies to graduate study under the direct supervision of a major professor and/or advisory committee. Transfer credit from other institutions may be accepted in partial fulfillment of the residency requirement if approved by the department and the Dean of the Graduate School.

Transfer of Credit

A student, with approval from the major professor and the department, may transfer all credits earned toward one or more master's degrees completed at other universities and up to 15 semester hours earned outside of a master's degree program. Only graduate credits in which grades of B were earned that were taken in residence at another university may be transferred. These transfer hours may be included in the program of study.

Continuous Enrollment

Doctoral students, after being admitted to the Ph.D. program, must enroll in graduate courses each fall and spring until being awarded the degree. A leave of absence must be formally requested from the faculty prior to any semester in which this requirement is not met. Students will be dismissed if they fail to meet this continuous enrollment requirement.

General Examination

Students must successfully complete a general examination to continue in the Ph.D. program. Students may take the general examination when they have completed most of their coursework, as defined by the faculty.

Time Limit

Ph.D. students must complete their degree within eight (8) calendar years.