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Prospective Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision Frequently Asked Questions

About Applying to the Program

How do I apply?

Visit this page to find out how to apply to the Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision program.

Do I really need to take the GRE?

Yes, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for all applicants to the Counselor Education & Supervision degree program. If you have recently attained a Master's or Doctoral degree in another field it may be possible to transfer or waive the GRE requirement. Please contact to see if you qualify. This is rare, thus, all applicants should plan to take the GRE submit original score reports to the Graduate School with the rest of their application.

What is the average length of the program?

Students may decide whether they wish to be a full-time or part-time student. For a full-time student, the length of the program is around two and a half years. All students have a six-year time period to complete all coursework and requirements for graduation.

What are the program course requirements?

The doctorate in counselor education and supervision requires a minimum of 105 semester hours, including a maximum of 30 semester hours from the master’s degree plus a minimum of 75 additional semester hours. See the current graduate catalog for additional details.

What prerequisite work must I complete before applying to the program?

In order to be considered for admission into the doctorate in Counselor Education & Supervision program, students must have attained a Master's degree in a counseling related field. If acceptable applicants have course deficits as outlined by the CAHE Department based on CACREP standards, they will need to add those additional courses to their doctoral program plan.

What if I have a Master's degree in a different field, can I apply?

If you have a master's degree in a different field and are applying to the doctorate degree program in counselor education, applicants may need to consider additional consultation regarding their career. Please contact for clarification and consultation.

Can I check the status of my application?

Yes. Log in to MyNIU using your username and password. Then click on Student Admissions, then Application Status. 

What is the PAW?

After all application materials have been received and reviewed, qualified applicants will receive an invitation to attend the Pre-Admission Workshop (PAW). The PAW is a half-day event offered once per semester that is required of all applicants to the M.S.Ed. in Counseling Program. Workshop attendees have the opportunity to interact with the Counseling faculty, gain more information about the Counseling program, meet students in the program, and interact with other prospective students. At the end of the session, all applicants will meet for lunch and be able to spend time getting to know the Counseling faculty and Doctoral students.

When will I find out if I am accepted into the program?

After attending the PAW, students will receive a letter within a few weeks notifying them of acceptance.

Do most students commute or live on campus?

The student life at Northern Illinois University is very diverse. At the doctoral level, most students commute. There are a variety of apartments on and off campus that students can live in. Check out the NIU Housing and Dining site and the Post-Traditional Student site for more information.

How do I apply to become a graduate assistant?

Graduate assistantships are available to all full time students. To be a full time student, a minimum of nine credit hours must be taken each semester. There are a variety of assistantships available across campus and many in the counseling department. Assistantships provide a monthly stipend and a tuition waiver. This application must be filled out in order to become a graduate assistant. It is also recommended that students contact professors in their department and inquire about any openings they have or they know of. Lastly, each spring, Northern Illinois University holds a Graduate Student Recruitment and Placement Weekend where students can meet with professors and explore possible assistantship opportunities. For more information, click here:

About the Master's Counseling Program

Will courses that I have taken at another school or in a different doctoral program at NIU transfer to the Counselor Education program?

It is possible that some courses may transfer to the Ph.D. in Counselor Education & Supervision program. These decisions will not be made until after a student has been accepted into the program.

Will classes I take as a Student-At-Large apply to my graduation requirements if I am later accepted into the Counseling program at NIU?

Yes. Up to 9 credits of relevant coursework attained as a student-at-large can be applied to graduation requirements after the student is officially accepted to the program. Students should note that ALL coursework required for graduation must be completed within a nine-year period, regardless of whether those courses were taken as a student-at-large or a Doctoral student.

What is Advanced Practicum?

Practicum is a supervised 5-hour course (100 clock hours) that includes a hands-on counseling experience in the Community Counseling Training Center. It is an opportunity for students to obtain additional practical experience in an educational setting, while also exploring advanced counseling approaches and advanced client conceptualization skills.

When and where are classes offered?

The doctoral program offers the majority of classes in the evening starting at 4, 6, or 7 p.m. Some elective classes are offered during the day, but in order to adhere to the working population nearly all of the classes are at night or weekend format. Most classes meet one night a week for two hours and forty minutes. A few courses are offered as online classes.

The main site for classes is at the DeKalb campus, but we do offer classes at our Naperville, Hoffman Estates, and Rockford sites as well. Not all classes will be offered off-campus. Please click here: to search for classes offered at the satellite sites.

Can I complete coursework for the program at NIU's satellite sites?

Yes. Some courses may be offered at NIU’s satellite campuses in Naperville, Rockford or Hoffman Estates. However, it is not possible to complete all coursework at satellite sites.

What is the average weekly time commitment for doctoral studies?

The doctoral student experience is an intense and intensive learning journey. While there is some flexibility between part-time and full-time student status and how individualized program plans are structured, students should expect to devote an average of 4 to 6 hours of outside of class time, per course, per week. Also, some doctoral internship experiences may require 6 to 10 hours of additional time on high flow weeks such as grading for co-teaching, midterm/final evaluations for supervision, and other types of high work-flow periods.

What is the average classroom size?

The maximum number of students allowed in a classroom is twenty-five. However, class size can range from five to twenty-five students depending on the course constructs and learning objectives.

What are the internship requirements for the doctoral program?

Approved internship experiences, comprised of teaching, supervision, research, advanced clinical counseling, and professional leadership is are a required part of the doctoral program. Students enroll in 1 credit hour of internship each semester. The specific division of internship experiences are determined in consultation with the student’s program committee.

Can I complete my practicum and internship hours at my current school or agency of employment?

Yes. However, you must schedule blocks of at least 3 consecutive hours during which you perform your internship duties. Scheduling one hour of internship at the beginning of your day and two hours at the end of the day, for example, would not be acceptable.

About the Counseling Profession

Will completing this program allow me to become licensed and certified in Illinois?

Because the NIU doctoral program is accredited by CACREP, doctoral students are eligible to sit for the National Counselor Examination and submit application as a Licensed Professional Counselor in Illinois.

Can I become a school counselor if I'm not already a certified teacher?

Yes. The State of Illinois no longer requires school counselors to hold a teaching certificate. However, students who are specializing in school counseling who do not have an Illinois Teaching Certificate will need to complete an additional 3 courses in order to gain Type 73 School Counselor certification upon completion of the program.

Can I become a school counselor if I have a Master's in Clinical or Community Counseling?

Currently, individuals holding a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health or Community Mental Health Counseling can become school counselors in Illinois through specially designed course options. Learn more about the School Counselor Institute at NIU.

Can my counseling work during the doctorate program count toward my LCPC licensure hours?

Yes. We strongly recommend that you review the current licensure applications for the state(s) in which you hope to pursue licensure and secure supervision verification as you complete/terminate certain supervisory relationships.

Would my work in the NIU doctoral program count toward Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS) requirements?

Yes, your internship work related to your doctoral program and supervision academic course can count toward your ACS application requirements. Visit the ACS website for the most current requirements and application details.

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