Counseling (Ph.D.)

Program Description

The PhD in Counseling prepares individuals to work as faculty and administrators in colleges and universities; advanced clinicians and supervisors in mental health agencies and private practice; consultants; and school and agency leaders. Our program affords students a unique, student-centered doctoral program experience:

  • Students have the opportunity to develop scholarly expertise, tailored to the student’s specific interest, while also learning and engaging in faculty research.
  • Intentional diversity is the signature of our program and is reflected in our faculty and students, research areas, and commitment to advocacy and social justice, and community engagement within local, regional, national and international communities.
  • Our diverse renowned faculty of scholar-practitioners provide mentoring and advising in research, coursework, and the counseling profession.
  • Our community includes full-time and part-time students who pursue individualized study in areas such as college counseling, higher education, counselor supervision, marriage and family counseling, clinical mental health counseling, play therapy, school counseling, career counseling, and addictions counseling.

Our graduates have found successful positions as:

  • Faculty members in colleges and universities
  • Agency directors
  • College and university senior administrators
  • Directors of school counseling
  • Consultants, supervisors, and advanced clinicians

For more information, click here:

Admissions Requirements

We welcome applications from individuals who share our commitment to diversity and community engagement.

All prospective applicants must have completed a master’s degree in counseling or closely-related field. Applicants who did not take the following courses may be required to take prerequisites prior to enrollment in doctoral counseling core courses.

  • Career Counseling
  • Counseling Techniques
  • Counseling Theories
  • Group Counseling
  • Human Development
  • Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling
  • Multicultural Counseling
  • Research Methods
  • Testing/Appraisal
  • Practicum and Internship

Application Requirements

  • Submission of GRE scores taken within the last 5 years
  • Official transcripts of previous earned degrees and coursework
  • Three (3) professional letters of recommendation from individuals who know the applicant’s clinical work and/or educational abilities. At least one letter from a faculty member and one from a supervisor must be included with the application.
  • Current resume
  • Responses to three (3) essays:
  1. A personal statement in which you describe past accomplishments, educational, and work experience that serve as foundational activities to your development as a scholar-practitioner. Explain your rationale for selecting MSU’s Counseling PhD program.
  2. Share your strengths and areas of growth in relation to being a culturally responsive counselor and social justice advocate.
  3. Please discuss your current research interests and how you hope to incorporate them into doctoral study.

The online application may be found at The Graduate School.


Applications are accepted for Fall admission only. All application materials must be received by February 1st. Completed applications received by November 15th will receive priority and early review. Please visit the Graduate School site for a full list of required materials and submission instructions.

Applicants evaluated as potential students will be invited for a personal interview, held on campus (all day). The interview day includes a writing sample, interview by faculty, and time with current students.

Questions?  Email or call 973-655-3133.

Program Requirements

Complete the following requirements for a minimum of 66 credits.

Core Courses
COUN 810Advanced Counseling Theory and Methodology3
COUN 812Counselor Supervision3
COUN 814Advanced Social and Cultural Issues in Counseling3
COUN 816Clinical, Leadership and Organizational Assessment3
COUN 818Advanced Group Counseling3
COUN 820Advanced Career Counseling Techniques and Practice3
Clinical Experience and Cognate or Elective Studies
Clinical Experience
COUN 824Professional Internship I: Instructorship3
COUN 826Professional Internship II: Fieldwork3
Cognate or Elective Studies
Complete 9-12 credits from counseling or another relevant discipline with approval from doctoral advisory committee.9-12
Research Core
COUN 822Research in Counseling Seminar3
EDFD 820Qualitative Methods for Educational Research3
EDFD 822Advanced Methods of Quantitative Inquiry in Education3
EDFD 823Advanced Qualitative Research in Education3
EDFD 821Quantitative Methods for Educational Research3
Required Dissertation Courses
Dissertation Advisement can be taken for 3-12 credits and must be repeated until 15 credits are achieved:15
Dissertation Advisement
Dissertation Extension (taken each semester after COUN 900 is completed.) 1
Qualifying Portfolio/Exam/Assessment
Successfully complete the qualifying portfolio, examination or assessment requirement.
Admission to Candidacy
Following completion of pre-dissertation research courses and qualifying exam, you may be admitted to candidacy.
Dissertation Requirement
Complete a dissertation in accordance with Graduate School and doctoral program requirements.
Total Credits66

After 15 credits of COUN 900, complete 1 credit of COUN 901 each semester, as required.