4 Cheap Doctorates in Counseling Online

Updated November 17, 2022

On the roster for consideration today is a list of affordable online doctorate degrees in counseling. This can be an excellent opportunity to sharpen your skills as a counselor and take your career to the next level. Since the master's in counseling is considered the terminal degree in the field, none of these programs are ...

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On the roster for consideration today is a list of affordable online doctorate degrees in counseling. This can be an excellent opportunity to sharpen your skills as a counselor and take your career to the next level. Since the master's in counseling is considered the terminal degree in the field, none of these programs are accredited by the CACREP, and thus may not specifically qualify you for the Marriage and Family Counselor's License Exam. All included programs are regionally accredited and eligible for federal financial aid.

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Top 4 Most Affordable Online Doctorates in Counseling for 2021

  • Capella University

    Minneapolis, MN



    Capella University provides an online doctor of philosophy in advanced studies in human behavior that is grounded in current practices and valid, ethical research. The 104 credit hour program operates on the quarter system where 1.5 quarter credits are equal to 1 semester credit. Capella University extends a tuition rate of $1,618 per quarter credit hour for this program. You are allowed a maximum of 28 transfer credits. The school requires a $50 application fee but often provides a promo code that will waive or discount this.

    • Graduation rate: 11%
    • School status: Private
    • Tuition cost: $$$ 
    • Number of programs offered: 50+ programs
    • City location: Minneapolis, MN
    • Admission requirements: Master’s degree, graduate GPA of 3.0
    • Contact: 866-933-5975
    • Website
  • Liberty University

    Lynchburg, VA



    The online doctor of education in community care and counseling at Liberty University offers three specializations: marriage and family therapy, pastoral care and counseling, and traumatology. This is a 57 credit hour program that that allows the transfer in of up to 15 credit hours. Liberty University offers an online graduate rate of $605 per credit hour and approaches the subject from a Christ-centered perspective. Discounted tuition is available for military personnel. There is an additional discount for veterans who serve as emergency responders.

    • Graduation rate: 40%
    • School status: Private
    • Tuition cost: $$
    • Number of programs offered: 700+ programs
    • City location: Lynchburg, VA
    • Admission requirements: Master’s degree, graduate GPA of 3.0
    • Contact: 800-424-9595
    • Website 
  • Northcentral University

    San Diego, CA



    Northcentral University allows five years for the completion of the online doctorate of marriage and family therapy. With a highly individualized approach to the field (read: class size of 1) this 60+ credit hour program comes with six available career-relevant specializations: child and adolescent therapy; general family therapy; small business development and entrepreneurship; couples therapy; mental health administration; and therapy with military families. Terms begin weekly and no residency is required. The tuition rate is $1,058 per credit hour for this program. Regional accreditation for the school is by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission.

    • Graduation rate: 34%
    • School status: Private
    • Tuition cost: $$$$
    • Number of programs offered: 50+ programs
    • City location: La Jolla, CA
    • Admission requirements: Master’s degree
    • Contact: 866-776-0331
    • Website 
  • University of Louisiana at Monroe

    Monroe, LA



    The Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Marriage and Family Therapy with a concentration in Systemic Studies offered by the University of Louisiana at Monroe is a 60 credit hour program that focuses on transformative change with academic rigor. This degree is non-clinical and based in theory. Tuition at the University of Louisiana at Monroe is $500 per credit hour. Advisory support is given to students throughout the program and a cohort model is used for the classes which are offered in a seminar fashion.

    • Graduation rate: 41%
    • School status: Public
    • Tuition cost: $$$$ 
    • Number of programs offered: 35+ programs
    • City location: Monroe, LA
    • Admission requirements: Master’s degree, graduate GPA of 3.5, GRE with minimum score of 297 (verbal and quantitative)
    • Contact: 318-342-1246
    • Website

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Metric Data Used Percentage
Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 25%
Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 35%
Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
Program Offerings Number of program options 10%
Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 15%
You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page.

How long does it take to get a doctorate in counseling?

How long it takes to get a doctorate in counseling depends on the requirements you have to meet to get licensed, the program requirements, and whether you enroll full- or part-time, among other factors. In general, though, doctoral programs in counseling can take anywhere between three and seven years to complete — or longer, depending on a range of factors.

What can you do with a doctorate in counseling?

The great thing about a doctoral degree in counseling is that it opens up new opportunities for employment that you wouldn’t otherwise have had. For example, with a doctorate in counseling, you can go on to work as a professional counselor in many settings, including marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling, and other areas.

Is a doctorate in counseling worth it?

A doctorate in counseling can certainly be worth the time and money investment for the right person. A doctoral degree in this field can open up new career opportunities and increase your earning potential, and tends to be a pretty solid return on investment. That said, it’s important to consider your career goals and whether a doctoral degree would align with those goals. If it does, this type of degree can turn out to be a great investment in yourself and your future.

How much does a doctorate in counseling cost?

The cost of your doctoral degree in counseling will depend on a number of factors. For example, you’ll generally pay less for in-state, public school tuition than you would for out-of-state or private school tuition, but scholarships and other funding can make a big difference in what comes out of your pocket. In general, though, doctorate programs in counseling can start as low as $30,000 and reach as high as $75,000 or more in total costs. You’ll need to look carefully at the costs associated with the programs you’re considering to understand what you’ll pay for this type of degree.

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Erin Gobler


Erin Gobler is a freelance writer who covers education topics for Best Value Schools, Graduate School Hub, and Criminal Justice Degree Schools, among others. Her work has been published on sites like Fox Business, Rocket Mortgage, and The Balance.

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Angelica Leicht is the schools editor at Best Value Schools who oversees our college rankings, school profiles, and other higher education coverage. She previously served as an education reporter at Kearney Hub, and an editor at the Dallas Observer and Houston Press. Her writing has appeared in Affordable Colleges Online, Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, and elsewhere.

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