Adams State to offer Ph.D. in Counselor Education

(12-14-2012)

Adams State University's first doctoral program, a Ph.D. in counselor education, was approved by its Board of Trustees Dec. 15. Plans call for the program to begin with the fall 2013 semester, according to Adams State President David Svaldi.

"There is demand for an affordable, online Ph.D. program in counselor education. I think we will fill our slots immediately," said Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Frank Novotny. "No other such online program is offered in Colorado, so our program would be unique and fill an important need."

Program approvals will now be sought from the Colorado Department of Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the regional accrediting agency for Adams State. Once the program is established, Adams State will pursue accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Novotny added that nationwide there are only two other CACREP accredited online counselor education doctoral programs, both offered by private schools.

Adams State's master of arts program in counselor education recently renewed its CACREP accreditation under more stringent standards. CACREP sets the standard for counseling programs and for counselor licensure requirements in all 50 states.

"The demand for qualified graduate faculty is increasing," noted Program Chair, Dr. Susan Varhely. She explained CACREP now requires their accredited programs to hire only doctoral graduates from CACREP accredited programs.

The doctoral program will be offered in an online, cohort format, giving access to students who cannot attend a traditional campus because of financial situation or geographic location. Students will also attend on-campus summer intensives. The 66-credit program requires students to take six credit hours a term over 11 consecutive terms, including summers. Coursework includes practica and internships, as well as a doctoral dissertation. Entrance requirements include completion of a 48-hour master's degree in counseling from a CACREP-approved program.

The online format has proven successful in the Department of Counselor Education's online master of arts degree program, initiated in 2005. Now Adams State's largest graduate program, it attracts students from across the state and nation.

Beginning in 1980, Adams State has offered the master's in counseling at satellite campuses in Grand Junction, Pueblo, and Durango, as well as in Cañon City and La Junta on an as-needed basis. The master's level program offers emphases in school counseling, clinical mental health counseling, and addiction counseling.

Varhely noted that when she began teaching at Adams State in 1990, the counseling program had approximately 80 students in four locations. "We now have over 450 from all over the USA and in other countries."

By Julie Waechter