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The Doctor of Professional Counseling (D.P.C.) degree program is designed to meet the career advancement goals of licensed professional counselors who wish to develop clinical specialization and achieve parity with other allied health professionals. The doctorate is a professional degree intended to prepare master counselors for successful practice in a variety of clinical settings and leadership in professional organizations. The DPC requires a minimum of 72 hours beyond the 60 semester hours of the Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Counseling or Mental Health Counseling or equivalent degree program. The DPC degree program is a cohort-based course of studies in theory, research, and practice requiring students to be enrolled continuously and year-round once they have been admitted. The doctoral program consists of several components: Core Courses (30 semester hours); Application Courses (12 semester hours); Specialization Courses (12 semester hours); Internships (12 semester hours); and Concluding Courses (6 semester hours).  This program is available in both the traditional and online formats.

The Doctor of Professional Counseling degree program is accredited by SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools).  The program is not accredited by CACREP.  There is no assurance that a clinical doctorate will meet the CACREP standards for a research-based doctorate in Counselor Education and Supervision, which is currently the only doctoral-level accreditation. 

Admissions, Maintenance, and Graduation Requirements

Each applicant must submit to the Dean of the Graduate School (P.O. Box 4029, Clinton, MS 39058) a complete application consisting of the following elements:

  • An application for admission with all required information.
  • A $35.00 application fee (non-refundable; must accompany application).
  • One copy of all official transcripts from previous college work and any transferable graduate credit. A minimum GPA of 3.25 is required for graduate work completed at a regionally accredited institution of higher learning.
  • A score on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or another standardized admission test indicating a promise or likelihood of benefitting from doctoral level studies. The minimum acceptable score on the admissions test will be determined annually.
  • A minimum of two (2) years of documented experience in professional counseling.
  • A Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential or eligibility for the equivalent of an LPC in the state in which the applicant will practice.
  • An essay of 800 words describing personal and professional goals for seeking the Doctor of Professional Counseling degree.
  • A professional resume detailing relevant experiences.
  • Three letters of recommendation from professionals who can evaluate the candidate’s potential for success as a master counselor.
  • A portfolio of the applicant’s work as a professional counselor.

Doctoral Program Review Committee

The Doctoral Program Review Committee will review the applications and supporting materials of all applicants. All applications and supporting materials must be submitted six weeks prior to the start of the semester. Students are admitted into the program in the fall and spring semesters. The Doctoral Program Review Committee, appointed by the DPC degree program, will review applications submitted by the semester deadline, interview promising applicants, and select candidates for the degree based on particular admissions criteria developed by the committee. The committee will recommend regular admission, provisional admission, or rejection of the application to the Dean of the Graduate School who will notify the applicants in writing of their admission status. Initial admission to the doctoral program is conditional until the first twelve hours of coursework, including assessments of clinical competency and personal adjustment, are completed. Progress throughout the competency-based program is monitored by the Director of the DPC and the Doctoral Program Review Committee.

Competency Assessments

Each candidate will complete a series of assessments to determine fitness for counseling practice, progress toward master clinical competence, and contributions to the advancement of professional counseling. Any student who does not pass or successfully completes a competency assessment will meet with the Doctoral Program Review Committee and receive recommendations for remediation that must be completed for ongoing progression in the degree program. The competency assessments include the following: 

  • Baseline Clinical Assessment-Pre-Doctoral Internship (completed in conjunction with COU 8801 or equivalent)
  • Self and Professional Assessments of Personal Adjustment, Mental Health Status, and Fitness for Counseling (completed in conjunction with COU 8601)
  • Qualifying Examination-Defense of the Personal Practice Theory (completed in conjunction with COU 8604)
  • Comprehensive Examination-Project Proposal (completed in conjunction with COU 8901)
  • Clinical Proficiency Examination-Submission of a portfolio of clinical materials, Clinical Competencies Checklist, and an interview with the Doctoral Program Review Committee (completed in conjunction with COU 8804)
  • Project Demonstrating Excellence (PDE)-Capstone and Concluding Course (completed in conjunction with COU 8902)

Residency

Each doctoral student must be in continuous study and interaction with the core faculty of the Doctor of Professional Counseling degree program. The requirement may be satisfied by completing three full-time semesters with continuous enrollment once the candidate has been admitted to the doctoral cohort.

Project Demonstrating Excellence

The Project Demonstrating Excellence (PDE) is the capstone or concluding experience of the Doctor of Professional Counseling degree program in which each candidate proposes, conducts, and reports the results of meaningful participatory action research and/or program development in an approved clinical setting. The PDE replaces the traditional requirement of a research-oriented dissertation. Instead, the PDE is intended to provide a means for demonstrating high-level clinical competency and/or program design, implementation, and evaluation. The PDE is guided by a practitioner-scholar perspective in which research findings are applied in a systematic manner. The PDE is proposed in the semester before graduation and constitutes the comprehensive examination for the degree. The PDE must be completed, presented, and reviewed for acceptance in the final semester (COU 8902).

Graduation Requirements

Candidates will receive clearance for graduation after successfully completing the following:

  1. All coursework in the Doctor of Professional Counseling degree program with a minimum GPA of 3.25;
  2. Completion of all competency assessments in the approved sequence;
  3. Proposal and completion of the Project Demonstrating Excellence (PDE); and
  4. Presentation and defense of the Project Demonstrating Excellence (PDE).

Time Limitations

All requirements for the Doctor of Professional Counseling degree program must be completed within seven (7) years from initial enrollment. Candidates may apply for an extension of the time limit to the Director of the Doctor of Professional Counseling degree program, Dean of the School of Education, and Dean of the Graduate School.

Transfer Credit

A candidate may transfer a maximum of 21 semester hours of graduate credit completed in a post master's degree program or equivalent. Transfer hours will be evaluated by the Director of the Doctor of Professional Counseling degree program, Dean of the School of Education, and Dean of the Graduate School.

Courses

Requirement Class Name Hours
Core Courses   27
COU 8401 Introduction to Applied Research 3
COU 8402 Planning Consultation and Leadership  3
COU 8403 Advanced Seminar in Counselor Education, Technology, and Professional Advocacy 3
COU 8501 Advanced Professional Career and Lifestyle Planning 3
COU 8502 Advanced Lifespan Developmental Processes  3
COU 8503 Advanced Theories and Models of Counseling & Psychotherapy  3
COU 8504 Advanced Clinical Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment Planning 3
COU 8505 Advanced Group Dynamics and Contextual Factors in Counseling 3
COU 8506 Advanced Systems Theory, Multicultural and Transformational Models 3
Application Courses   27
COU 8405 Clinical Entrepreneurship 3
COU 8406 Advanced Psychopharmacology and Neurobiology 3
COU 8601 Professional Identity and Ethical Practice  3
COU 8602 Professional Growth and Wellbeing 3
COU 8603 Evidence-Based Practice: Clinical Applications of Research  3
COU 8604 Psychotherapy Integration 3
COU 8605 Trauma: Impact, Assessment, and Treatment 3
COU 8606 Advanced Case Conceptualization 3
COU 8805 Clinical Supervision 3
Specialization Courses   12
COU 8701 Specialization Seminar I 3
COU 8702 Specialization Seminar II 3
COU 8703 Specialization Seminar III 3
COU 8704 Specialization Seminar IV 3
Concluding Courses   6
COU 8901 Project Proposal 3
COU 8902 Project Demonstrating Excellence 3