Counselor Education

Graduate Program HeadP. Karen Murphy
Program CodeCNED
Campus(es)University Park (Ph.D., M.Ed.)
Degrees Conferred

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Master of Education (M.Ed.)

Dual-Title Ph.D and M.Ed. in Counselor Education and Comparative and International Education

The Graduate Faculty


Professional preparation is offered at the master's level (M.Ed.) with emphasis areas in career counseling, clinical mental health counseling, school counseling, and rehabilitation counseling.

The Ph.D. program prepares candidates for positions as counselor education faculty members.

Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission. Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies.

Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are required for admission to the Ph.D. program. GRE scores are not required for the M.Ed. program.

M.Ed. applications with a 3.0 junior/senior average (on a scale of 4.00) and with appropriate course backgrounds will be considered for admission. The best-qualified applicants will be accepted up to the number of spaces that are available for new students. Exceptions to the minimum 3.0 grade-point average may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests.

Doctoral applicants must have completed a master's degree in counselor education prior to admission into the Ph.D. program. A master's degree is required for admission that must be comprised of a minimum of 48 credit hours that align with the standards of the Counsel for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). All doctoral applicants should present at least a 3.33 average in all graduate study completed prior to admission.

The language of instruction at Penn State is English. English proficiency test scores (TOEFL/IELTS) may be required for international applicants. See GCAC-305 Admission Requirements for International Students for more information.

Degree Requirements

All candidates are expected to exhibit, in addition to academic competence, effectiveness in interpersonal relations and in both written and oral communication. They also must provide evidence in support of professional counseling activities and involvement in professional organizations. All degree options require students to participate in extensive practicum or fieldwork experience under supervision.

Master of Education (M.Ed.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies.

The M.Ed. program includes 60 to 61 credits depending on the area of emphasis. This includes 36 credits of core requirements plus 24 to 25 credits depending on the area of emphasis. All courses must be taken at the 400 or 500 level.

Required Courses
CNED 404Group Procedures in Guidance and Counseling3
CNED 500Professional Counseling Orientation and Ethical Practice 3
CNED 501Counseling Theory and Method3
CNED 505Foundations of Career Development and Counseling Information3
CNED 506Individual Counseling Procedures3
CNED 507Multicultural Counseling: Foundations3
CNED 525Applied Testing in Counseling3
CNED 526Research in Counselor Education3
CNED 595ACounseling Practicum3
CNED 595ESchool Counseling Internship and Seminar6
or CNED 595G Counseling Internship and Integrative Seminar
Culminating Experience
CNED 596Individual Studies (Master's Paper)3
Total Credits36

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

The Ph.D. program consists of a minimum of four academic years of graduate level preparation (including master’s-level preparation), defined as eight semesters.

The Ph.D. program consists of a minimum of 96 credits including master-level preparation in counselor education. Ph.D. students must satisfy advanced degree requirements in the CACREP counselor education core areas (36 credits including 6 credit hours of CNED 595I doctoral internship), a specialty area of study (15 credits), and empirical foundations (15 credits). Students in the Ph.D. program are expected to complete a dissertation involving independent and original research. Students are expected to use theoretical models of counseling to investigate problems of importance to the field. The additional credits in the Ph.D. program incorporate advanced course work in research design, statistics, and counseling theory to prepare students for their subsequent roles as faculty members in counselor education programs.

Required Courses
CNED 502Advanced Counseling Theory and Method3
CNED 554Cross-Cultural Counseling3
CNED 555Career Counseling3
CNED 580Foundations: History and Trends in Counselor Education3
CNED 581Professional Issues in Counselor Education3
CNED 582Advanced Group Psychotherapy3
CNED 589Seminar on Counseling Supervision3
CNED 595DSupervision of Counselors3
CNED 595ICounselor Education Doctoral Internship6
CNED 595PCounselor Education Doctoral Counseling Practicum (3 credits per semester; two semesters [6 credits] are required)6
Specialty Area of Study15
Empirical Foundations15
Total Credits66

Qualifying Examination

All Ph.D. students are required to have a master's degree in counselor education prior to admission. After completion of 12 credits of doctoral study, which may allow the student to take the qualifying examination as early as the second semester in their doctoral program, Ph.D. students may take a qualifying examination. Given the requirement that doctoral students will have a master's degree in counselor education thereby demonstrating their ability to complete graduate work successfully, the nature of the qualifying examination will include a review of the following by the student's qualifying examination committee:

  1. the student's professional resume,
  2. a statement regarding the general direction of the student's research interests and possible areas of dissertation inquiry,
  3. grades from completed graduate courses,
  4. proposed course of study for subsequent semesters,
  5. selected graduate papers written by the student, and
  6. a statement regarding the student's professional goals.

In the qualifying examination, the student's qualifying examination committee determines the student's ability to continue in the program and to conduct doctoral research.

Comprehensive Examination

Ph.D. students are required to take a written and oral comprehensive examination once their course work is completed (or when they are in their final semester of required course work) and prior to the dissertation. The examination, prepared by the student's Ph.D. committee, covers all areas of the student's doctoral work. The comprehensive examination for Ph.D. students must include an assessment of the student's competence related to conducting independent and original research.

Ph.D. Committee Composition

The Ph.D. committee must meet all Graduate Council requirements.

Doctoral Dissertation and Final Oral Examination

Ph.D. students should complete the writing of the dissertation and make revisions to the satisfaction of the committee chair, who is expected to ensure that the dissertation is in near final form before allowing the final oral examination (defense) to be scheduled. The student is responsible for arranging and scheduling a time so that all members of the committee can be present. The student must give each committee member a copy of the complete dissertation two weeks before the final oral examination. Students should not expect this to be the final version for submission to the Graduate School, as there are typically revisions after successful completion of the oral defense.

English Competence

Candidates for the Ph.D. program are required to demonstrate high-level competence in the use of English language, including reading, writing, and speaking. Counselor Education evaluates English language proficiency in several ways. Prior to admission all students are required to provide written goals statements and personal development statements that are evaluated by faculty as a portion of the application process.  Additionally, international students must have either earned a master’s degree in the United States or supply official minimum scores for the TOEFL. Once admitted to the program and prior to taking the qualifying examination, students are evaluated for their reading, writing, and speaking in class assignments and as a part of their first-year portfolio evaluation. When problems are identified, individual remediation programs are developed that utilize faculty and all appropriate University resources.


Dual-Title M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Comparative and International Education

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-208 Dual-Title Graduate Degree Programs.

Admissions Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in Counselor Education and The Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program. After admission to their primary program, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the Comparative and International Education dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the Comparative and International Education Bulletin page. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in Comparative and International Education prior to taking the qualifying examination in their primary graduate program.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for the dual-title degree, students must satisfy the degree requirements for the degree they are enrolled in Counselor Education, listed on the Degree Requirements tab. In addition, students must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title in Comparative and International Education, listed on the Comparative and International Education Bulletin page.

The qualifying examination committee for the dual-title Ph.D. degree will be composed of Graduate Faculty from Counselor Education and must include at least one Graduate Faculty member from the Comparative and International Education program. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. There will be a single qualifying examination, containing elements of both Counselor Education and Comparative and International Education. Dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the qualifying examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for Ph.D. committees, the Ph.D. committee of a Counselor Education and Comparative and International Education dual-title Ph.D. student must include at least one member of the Comparative and International Education Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. If the chair of the Ph.D. committee is not also a member of the Graduate Faculty in Comparative and International Education, the member of the committee representing Comparative and International Education must be appointed as co-chair. The Comparative and International Education representative on the student’s Ph.D. committee will develop questions for and participate in the evaluation of the comprehensive examination.

Students in the Ph.D. dual-title program are required to write and orally defend a dissertation on a topic that is approved in advance by their Ph.D. committee and reflects their interest and education in Counselor Education and Comparative and International Education. Upon completion of the doctoral dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense) to earn the Ph.D. degree. The dissertation must be accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.


A graduate minor is available in any approved graduate major or dual-title program. The default requirements for a graduate minor are stated in Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies and GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies, depending on the type of degree the student is pursuing:

Student Aid

Graduate assistantships available to students in this program and other forms of student aid are described in the Tuition & Funding section of The Graduate School’s website. Students on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set by The Graduate School.


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Counselor Education (CNED) Course List

Professional Licensure/Certification

Many U.S. states and territories require professional licensure/certification to be employed. If you plan to pursue employment in a licensed profession after completing this program, please visit the Professional Licensure/Certification Disclosures by State interactive map.


Campus University Park
Graduate Program Head P Karen Murphy
Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Professor-in-Charge (PIC) Elizabeth A Prosek
Program Contact

Madison Marie Woomer
125 CEDAR Building
University Park PA 16802-3110
(814) 865-7454

Program Website View