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The Counselor Education doctoral program is a Ph.D. in Early Childhood, Special Education, and Rehabilitation Counseling with a formal option in Counselor Education and Supervision. The program is accredited by CACREP until October 31, 2030. The mission of the University of Kentucky Counselor Education and Supervision doctoral program is to promote professional excellence through personal development and the highest academic standards as we work with our students, persons with disabilities, and our state and community partners in rehabilitation counseling and clinical mental health counseling to achieve equal rights, social justice, and quality of life for persons with disabilities in our community, in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, nationally, and globally. Our goal is to train and develop professionals to pursue careers as counselor educators, researchers, administrators, and practitioners and advocates for individuals with disabilities in academic and clinical settings and policy development. To that end, the program is designed to (a) promote knowledge and scholarly inquiry, (b) prepare students to inform professional practice by generating new knowledge for the profession, (c) support faculty and students in generating and disseminating research and scholarship, and (d) develop students to assume positions of leadership in the counselor education profession. Our program objectives, as identified on page 2 of our program handbook, are identified below.

Program Objectives

The Ph.D. in Early Childhood, Special Education, and Rehabilitation Counseling with a formal option in Counselor Education and Supervision degree program addresses professional development and roles in five doctoral core areas: counseling, supervision, teaching, research and scholarship, and leadership and advocacy. These five doctoral core areas represent the foundational knowledge required of our program students. The specific objectives of this Ph.D. degree program are to facilitate student acquisition of knowledge and skills as follows:

  • Counseling – Related to counseling including application of theories and techniques in professional counseling and education, counseling process and outcome research and across diverse populations; analysis and synthesis of counseling theories and their application; development of knowledge, skill, and experience in application and teaching of related content in counselor education, research, and practice; client conceptualization; evidence-based practice; and ethical and cultural considerations.
  • Supervision – Related to clinical supervision including purposes, models, roles, skills, assessment, administration, legal and ethical issues, cultural diversity and inclusion, and social justice.
  • Teaching – Related to roles, pedagogy, learning models, curriculum design, online and in-persons instruction, assessment, mentoring, ethical issues, and cultural considerations and inclusion.
  • Research and Scholarship – Related to research design, statistical analysis, program evaluation, publication and presentation, use of human subjects, grant development, ethical practices, cultural considerations, and collaboration.
  • Leadership and Advocacy – Related to theories, skills, development, administration, consultation, social justice, ethical and cultural considerations, and public policy.

Why You Should Enroll

Our mission is to be a national and international leader in counselor education and supervision, rehabilitation and mental health counseling research, administration, and disability policy. We achieve this mission through our commitment to excellence, equity, justice, diversity, and to innovation in counselor education. The purpose of the Ph.D. in Early Childhood, Special Education, and Rehabilitation Counseling with a formal option in Counselor Education and Supervision is to develop professionals who are counselor educators, leaders, researchers, advocates, and critical thinkers.

Program Details

Delivery Method: On-campus

Credit Hours: 74

Tuition Cost: Refer to Credit Hour Rates for Graduate Students on the UK Tuition and Mandatory Fees page.

Refund Policies: You can find tuition refund policies, deadlines, amounts, and other important information on the UK Student Account Services website.

How to Apply

To apply for admission, potential applicants should first contact Dr. Debra Harley or Dr. Keith B. Wilson, Doctoral Program Co-Coordinators. You can complete the application for doctoral study with the University of Kentucky Graduate School. Or visit the UK Graduate School homepage. Students are admitted to the program for the Fall and Spring Semesters.


  • Fall admission applications are due by March 1
  • Spring admission applications are due by October 1

Program Requirements

Admission standards for the Departmental Ph.D. in Early Childhood, Special Education and Counselor Education Formal Option in Counselor Education and Supervision include the following:

  1. An undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75
  2. Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, Counselor Education, Mental Health Counseling, or a field with a GPA of at least 3.5. (Note: Students who are entering with a non-Counselor Education Master’s degree may be required to take leveling, or foundational courses courses which include (a) foundations or principles of counseling, (b) social and cultural diversity, (c) human growth and development, (d) career theory and development,(e) individual and group counseling theories and models, (f) assessment and testing, (g) research and program evaluation, and (h) psychosocial and medical aspects of disability.)
  3. Submission of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores (mandatory for all doctoral applicants). Note: All doctoral applicants are required to submit results from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Results from the GRE are used by program faculty along with all other application materials in making admission decisions. The GRE is also typically required for students applying for Graduate Scholarship Awards, Stipends and Fellowships; often a certain percentile is needed to be considered for a financial scholarship or fellowship award.
  4. A minimum of one year (two preferred) of post-Master’s experience in Rehabilitation Counseling, Counselor Education, Mental Health Counseling, or a related field. The program will alternatively consider extensive prior related experience and exceptional academic performance on an individual basis.
  5. At least three (3) positive recommendations attesting to the candidate’s professional disposition and fitness for the profession, self-awareness and emotional stability; oral and written communication skills; cultural sensitivity and awareness; and potential for scholarship, professional leadership, and advocacy.
  6. A written statement of the applicant’s objectives for completing a doctoral program.
  7. A sample of the applicant’s academic and/or professional writing. Final admissions decisions are the purview of the Department’s faculty.

Note: A holistic admission process is used that considers multiple dimensions including academic preparation, scholarly potential, alignment with the program, self-management, and social emotional competencies. Final admissions decisions are the purview of the Department’s faculty.

If an applicant meets these criteria and appears to have the background, academic record, experience, and professional objectives that are consistent with Department expectations, the person is invited to campus to interview with Program and Department faculty and to meet current doctoral students. If the candidate is unable to visit the campus, arrangements can be made to interview through video conference or alternative format. However, it is highly recommended that applicants visit campus.

I'm Ready to Apply


Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have regarding this program. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Debra Harley

Debra Harley


Tuition and Fees

Questions about tuition should be directed to the Registrar’s Office.  More information about tuition and cost to attend can be found on the Registrar’s website.

Financial Aid

There are occasional opportunities for students to receive funding as Teaching Assistants, Research Assistants, or via Scholarship funding. These announcements will be posted to the Student Advising Center on Canvas regularly. Students who are interested in more information about Financial Aid should contact the University of Kentucky’s Financial Aid Office at (859) 562-CATS (2287) or 128 Funkhouser Building, Lexington KY 40506.

State Authorization and Licensure

If you plan to complete a University of Kentucky online program while living outside of Kentucky, you should check the Out-of-State Students page to determine if the University of Kentucky is authorized to provide this program in your state of residence. If you plan to use the degree to seek licensure, you should also determine if the degree meets the educational requirements for licensure in your state.

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