Frequently Asked Questions About the Doctoral Program

As a prospective applicant to our doctoral program in counselor education, you are bound to have many questions. We have gathered the most commonly asked questions and answers below. If you do not find your question below or need more information, please feel free to contact us. We welcome your inquiries and want to provide you with the most current information possible in helping your make your decision to apply to the Counseling Program at Texas A&M University-Commerce.

Can I take any or all of my classes on-line ?
Several research/statistics classes are taught on-line (generally through the Department of Psychology and Special Education) and some electives are offered on-line. Currently our core counseling courses are not offered on-line.

What kinds of graduate assistantships are available?
The Counseling Program regularly offers three kinds of graduate assistantships: Graduate Assistant Teaching (GAT), Graduate Assistant Non-Teaching (GANT), Graduate Assistant Research (GAR). Graduate Assistant Teaching (GAT): The Counseling Program has an undergraduate minor in counseling, and many of our doctoral students have the opportunity to teach at this level. These meetings provide an opportunity for support, supervision, and mentoring as the GATs develop the courses, interact with undergraduate students, and handle the responsibilities of teaching.

  • Graduate Assistant Non-teaching (GANT): The department also has non-teaching graduate assistantships available for qualified students. Generally the GANT works with a faculty member in the supervision of master's level students as they develop counseling skills. Depending on funding, university entities other than the Counseling Program (such as the university counseling center and academic advising) have graduate assistantships available.
  • Graduate Assistant Research (GAR): Funded research projects allow for GAR's to work with faculty members, which can lead to a manuscript submission or a presentation proposal.

Are there any scholarships for doctoral students?
The department has various scholarships available. Texas A&M University-Commerce also has a financial aid office that will work with you in obtaining grants, scholarships, and loans.

How much is tuition?
Tuition is set on a regular basis by the university. The complete cost of attending A&M-Commerce will depend on the number of course you take, in-state or out-of-state tuition status, the cost of instructional material (e.g. books, lab fees, etc.), your housing needs, and other variables.

What credentials can I get with the doctorate in counseling?
Every state has different laws governing professional counselor licensure. You should consult with the licensing board of the state in which you plan to practice for specific information.

Generally, those states that have licensing laws for professional counselors require a 48-60 semester hour degree (generally a master's degree) and post-degree supervision hours to be eligible to practice counseling (licensed professional counseling or licensed marriage and family therapist). Many doctoral students have earned their masters degree and use the doctoral program to advance their skills in specific areas such as play therapy, child and adolescent counseling, couples and family counseling, and/or supervision. You can work with your advisor to tailor your electives to meet your license and practice needs

Will I be able to obtain coursework and experiences to apply toward Registration as a Play Therapist? What opportunities are there for clinical experience working with children in play therapy?
We have a play therapy course and can provide opportunities for clinical experiences that focus on working with children in the play therapy modality. Supervision in play therapy is a part of the training you can receive in our doctoral program. Our Community Counseling and Psychology Center offers counseling services to the community for all types of clients. In addition, the department has cooperative agreements with several area school districts and non-profits to provide play therapy for students and clients. Those hours can be applied toward your registration as a play therapist.

How many hours will I have to take to finish the degree?
The total number of hours it takes to earn a Ph.D. varies depending on your goals, needs, and number of electives you choose to take. Generally, a student can earn the Ph.D. with between 66-69 hours beyond a 48 hour CACREP master's degree in counseling. This is worked out with your advisor.

Do I need a master's in counseling to apply? Will any "leveling" courses (master's level) be required?
You do not need a master's degree to apply, but your master's degree must be completed prior to admission. The match between the student's master's level courses and the requirements for completion of an entry-level CACREP program will be considered in the admissions decision.

What is included and/or considered in the application process?
The applications will be evaluated on the bases of graduate GPA, GRE (V+Q), recommendations, professional work experience, an interview, compatibility of applicants' and departmental goals, master's level coursework, and a writing sample.

When are applications due to the department?
Applications are due by February 1st in order to be considered for August (Fall) admission.

Can students start at the beginning of any semester or summer session if accepted?
Although applications are only reviewed in the Spring for August (Fall) admission, up to 12 graduate semester hours completed prior to admission, but after being awarded the master’s degree, can be counted towards the Ph.D.

How long does it take to process an application?
The application process varies due to when material is received. An application packet will not be reviewed until all the materials have been received by the graduate school and forwarded to the department. Typically, interviews are conducted within one month after the application deadline. Admission decisions are usually made within a month after interviews are completed. The Graduate School has final authority for admission decisions.

Do I have to come to Commerce to get the doctorate?
Most of our core doctoral courses are taught in McKinney, TX. Some courses are offered at the Commerce campus, and some research/statistics courses may be offered on line. 

What is the residency requirement in the doctoral program?
Doctoral student residency in the A&M—Commerce Department of Counseling serves three purposes.  First, it is designed to encourage collegial relationships between students and faculty. Second, it introduces students to typical professional expectations they will encounter as they progress through their careers. Finally, activities within the residency enhance student learning by supplementing the academic and experiential components of the program. (Students do not have to live in Commerce during their doctoral residency).

Residency requirements include the following:

      * Attend a minimum of six doctoral seminars
      * Assist faculty members on two different projects leading to a program proposal or manuscript submission
      * Engage in a minimum of two departmental activities, such as assisting with Murphy Day, proctoring master’s comps, etc.
      * Actively engage in professional service, such as participating in Chi Sigma Iota or the Doctoral Student Association, or serving on a departmental or college committee

There is no specified time limit for completing residency.

Is your program accredited?
The doctoral program, as well as the masters school counseling and community counseling programs, are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

What opportunities are available to work toward publications?
Faculty members in the department welcome students to join them in publication efforts. Mentoring relationships are developed between faculty and doctoral students as the students prepare their own manuscripts for submission and publication as well.

Will there be opportunities to present at state or national conferences?
The faculty encourages our doctoral students to join them in professional presentations at local, regional, and national conferences. The faculty will also advise doctoral students, helping them to prepare proposals and presentations at local, regional, and national conferences.

Do students and faculty collaborate on professional activities?
The faculty of the Counseling Program has a long tradition of leadership in state, regional, and national professional associations. Faculty members are also involved in ongoing research, publication, and presentation activities. Our doctoral students benefit from involvement and collaboration with faculty members in these endeavors.

Is there a Doctoral Student Association or a way to speak with other doctoral students in the department or university?
The university has a Doctoral Student Association that is actively working to support doctoral students. Current doctoral students in our department would be happy to speak with you concerning their program and education. You can call the department office at 903-886-5637 for contact information.

Are there doctoral seminars or other departmental educational opportunities beyond the classroom?
The department hosts a series of doctoral seminars each semester. These are presented by faculty members and other qualified individuals (sometimes doctoral students). Examples of past topics include: ethics in supervision, play therapy, preparing your proposal/article for submission, conversations with the ACA President-Elect, preparing for doctoral comps, involvement in professional associations, and multicultural issues in the classroom.