Mississippi College

MC Offering Doctor of Professional Counseling Degree

April 11, 2012

This fall, Mississippi College will offer the first classes leading towards a doctor of professional counseling degree on the Clinton campus.

The clinical doctorate is designed to advance the career goals of professional counselors wishing to develop a specialization.

MC School of Education Dean Don Locke and colleagues recently announced the university’s new degree during a recent conference of the American Counseling Association in San Francisco. This year’s president of the nearly 45,000-member national association, Locke said the response to the Christian university’s new doctorate has been pretty positive.

“The MC program is the first of its kind in the United States and therefore has exceptionally strong appeal,” he said. “It is anticipated that others will attempt to replicate the degree, but because of the time frame to develop and get programs approved that may take at least a year or more.”

Locke said he’s “very pleased with the reaction by the professional organization and particularly current master level students and working professional counselors.”

Earlier this year, the Mississippi College Board of Trustees gave its approval to start the program, but there’s still much work ahead.

Leaders in the MC School of Education began reviewing student applications in early April. There will be twelve students admitted in the initial cohort class. Mississippi College will hire additional faculty members to support the master level counseling degrees as some of the current professors join the new doctoral program.

The new doctorate, Locke said, “increases the national reputation for Mississippi College’s counselor education program, which is currently housing three journals and has two national level officers in the American Counseling Association.”

Enrollment in the three master’s degree counseling programs and the education specialist degree totaled 192 students for the fall semester.

MC’s new doctorate is 72 semester hours following a 60 semester hour master’s degree, and is expected to be completed in two calendar years. That’s a total of four regular semesters and two others over the summer months.

In the early 21st Century, there should be a strong national market for doctorates in professional counseling. In North America, about 25 percent of the population suffers from diagnosable mental health issues each year, reports show. Mental health counselors work with individuals and groups on a number of issues including substance abuse, aging, anger management, depression, marital problems, suicide, career issues and stress.

MC’s new program will be similar to other clinical or practice doctorates such as the doctor of social work and doctor of nursing practice.

Applicants are asked to submit Graduate Record Examination scores or those from other standardized tests, credentials such as the Licensed Professional Counselor certificate, three letters of recommendation, and previous college transcripts. Applicants also must write an essay of at least 800 words detailing personal and professional goals for seeking the doctorate of professional counseling.

Stephen Southern, who chairs the MC Department of Psychology & Counseling, and serves as the editor of national professional journals, will be among the faculty members teaching students in the new program.

In August 2011, Mississippi College awarded its first doctorate in educational leadership to a Jackson elementary school principal. At the time, there were over 50 other doctoral students enrolled.

MC leaders are pleased with the growth of  the educational leadership doctorate and anticipate enrollment will climb for the newest doctorate in coming years.

MC’s School of Education dean since 1998, Locke says he’s delighted that prospective professional counselors in Mississippi “are in a unique spot to be among the first in the United States completing this real futuristic degree.”

Earlier this year, Southern, Locke and Rochelle Cade penned a research article about the development of MC’s new doctor of professional counseling degree in “The Family Journal.”

For more information, contact Stephen Southern at southern@mc.edu or 601-925-3843 or Don Locke at locke@mc.edu or 601-925-3402.


Photo: Dean Locke

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