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Counselor Education (Ph.D.)


Counselor Education (Ph.D.) Bachelor's to Ph.D.
Counselor Education (Ph.D.) Master's to Ph.D.
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Counselor Education (PhD)

Peterson Hall | 206-281-2091


The primary aim of the PhD in Counselor Education is to educate and prepare doctoral students to serve as college and university-level school counseling educators, who can effectively teach and supervise graduate-level students and conduct publishable research and other scholarly work.

Some graduates may seek positions as supervisors/directors of counseling services. Opportunities for co-authoring professional publications are available.


The program's key emphases are multicultural approaches to school counseling; collaboration with families; implementation and evaluation of comprehensive school counseling programs; and the intersection of counseling and spirituality.

As such, the PhD program emphasizes both cutting-edge counselor education theory and research. Best practice and supervisorial skills are included as well.


After approximately one year, or 24 credits of coursework, you may register for EDU 7990 Leadership Colloquium. This requires you to write a scholarly paper and present that paper in a formal setting to the educational community.

Graduate faculty of the School of Education conduct an evaluation of the scholarship and colloquium. Students must take the Leadership Colloquium before taking the comprehensive exams.

Upon completion of all courses, students must pass three written comprehensive examinations. These examinations will cover the foundations, professional, and research components of the core course requirements, and the student's area of specialization. Successful completion of the comprehensive examinations advances the student to doctoral candidacy.


The doctoral dissertation is the culminating experience in the PhD in Counselor Education degree. It is a scholarly inquiry into an area of professional and intellectual interest, and it is a highly individualized experience.

Working with faculty throughout the coursework and with a dissertation advisor, students will develop a research question and proposal. Using the expertise and knowledge developed in the research courses and under the direction of a faculty dissertation advisor and committee, students will conduct the research and produce a quality report of the findings. As a final demonstration of scholarly competence, students will conduct an oral presentation and defense of the research.

While it is expected that the dissertation will follow standard accepted research methodologies and format, the topic of the research may vary depending on professional goals, area of specialization, and the expertise of the faculty.


At the time of admission, students may transfer up to 15 post-master's degree credits into the doctoral program with the approval of the director of doctoral studies. Courses transferred must be graduate level, from a regionally accredited institution, and relevant to the course of doctoral study.

The courses must have been taken within the three years prior to admission and must have been part of a planned program leading to a graduate degree or a professional certificate. Courses with grades below a 3.0 ("B"), or those receiving "pass" or "satisfactory" grades cannot transfer into the program.

Finally, transferred classes may be substituted for degree requirements if students can document in writing that the courses are comparable to required courses offered through SPU. Modifications to these transfer policies may be made at the discretion of the director of doctoral studies in consultation with the Doctoral Admissions Committee.


Students must be continuously enrolled (all four terms) in required SPU courses to earn the doctoral degree or until the student is officially withdrawn from the program. Exceptions to continuous enrollment must be approved by the director of doctoral studies.

A student who decides to no longer pursue a doctoral degree may officially withdraw from the program and the University by notifying the director of doctoral studies and the graduate programs manager.

A student may be granted a leave of absence for up to four quarters by the school dean or director of doctoral studies. Once the leave of absence has expired, the student will either enroll in doctoral coursework or be dropped from the program.

SPU's Student Academic Services (SAS) requires continuous enrollment to remain admitted in a doctoral program. After four quarters of non-enrollment, students will be placed in “inactive status” and will need to reapply for admission.

During dissertation work, students must enroll in dissertation credits every quarter until the degree is completed.


A minimum 3.2 overall GPA is required for graduation.


All requirements for the doctoral degree must be completed within five years from the quarter the first post-admission course was taken. Students who need more than five years to complete the degree must file a time-extension petition with the director of doctoral studies.


Applicants must submit the following materials for admission into the program:

  • A doctoral online application.
  • A $50 processing fee. Make checks payable to Seattle Pacific University.
  • Official transcripts documenting excellent undergraduate and graduate-level GPA.
  • Preferable: Master’s degree in school counseling or psychology, mental health counseling, counseling psychology, MFT, or related counseling discipline. ESA certification in school counseling. Highly qualified bachelor’s (BA/BS) level students in psychology or related discipline may also apply.
  • Master’s level applicants should have a minimum of two-years experience counseling in schools. BA/BS to PhD applicants should have experience serving (paid and/or volunteer) students in a educationally related settings.
  • GRE-Revised Test score taken within five years of application. Preferred minimum combined score of 303/60th percentile on verbal + quantitative or 1200 on the former GRE test.
  • Three letters of recommendation (two must be academic recommendations).
  • A writing sample demonstrating competency in academic writing.
  • Personal statement that includes professional academic goals and focus of study (no more than 500 words).
  • Personal interview with two graduate-level faculty.


For applicants with a bachelor's degree, the program requires a total of 138 credits. The first 72 credits comprise the MEd in school counseling with ESA certification, which is required in order to practice school counseling in Washington state. An additional 66 credits of doctoral-level courses are required to obtain the PhD.

When complete, students will earn a MEd in School Counseling, K-12 Washington state School Counseling Certification, and a PhD in Counselor Education.


For applicants entering the program with a master's degreee, the program requires a minimum of 90 credits, depending upon the applicant’s academic background.


The Graduate Center
Seattle Pacific University
3307 Third Avenue West, Suite 111
Seattle, WA 98119-1922


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