The Doctor of Professional Counseling (D.P.C.) degree program in Professional Counseling 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 successfulpractice in a variety of clinical settings and leadership in professional organizations. The Doctor of Professional Counseling 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. Eighteen semester hours of coursework from the Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree in Counseling may be transferred into the doctoral degree program. The Doctor of Professional Counseling 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).
Admissions, Maintenance, and Graduation Requirements
Each applicant for admission to the Doctor of Professional Counseling degree program must submit to the Dean of the Graduate School (P.O. Box 4029, Clinton, MS 39508) 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 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 by April 1st of the year preceding admission to the program. Admission to the Doctor of Professional Counseling program is limited to a cohort of 12 students each year. The Doctoral Program Review Committee, appointed by the Chair of the Doctor of Professional Counseling degree program, will review applications submitted by the annual 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 course work, including assessments of clinical competency and personal adjustment, are completed. Progress throughout the competency based program is monitored by the Chair of the Doctor of Professional Counseling degree program and the Doctoral Program Review Committee.
Each candidate will complete a series of assessments to determine fitness for counseling practice, progress toward master clinical competence, and completion of milestones in demonstrating contributions to advancement of professional counseling. Any student who does not pass or successfully complete 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.
Baseline Clinical Assessment-Pre-Doctoral Internship (completed in conjunction with COU 7504 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 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 )
Each doctoral student must be in continuous study and interaction with the core faculty of the Doctor of Professional Counseling degree program. The residency committee 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 a meaningful participatory action research and/or program development and evaluation project 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 serving clients in the community. The PDE is guided by 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 ).
Candidates will receive clearance for graduation after successfully completing the following:
- All coursework in the Doctor of Professional Counseling degree program with a minimum GPA of 3.25;
- Completion of all competency assessments in the approved sequence;
- Proposal and completion of the Project Demonstrating Excellence (PDE); and
- Presentation and defense of the Project Demonstrating Excellence (PDE).
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 Chair of the Doctor of Professional Counseling degree program, Dean of the School of Education, and Dean of the Graduate School.
A candidate may transfer a maximum of eighteen (18) semester hours of graduate credit completed in an Ed.S. degree program or equivalent and beyond the maximum 48 semester hours that may be transferred from a 60 semester hours of the Master’s degree program or equivalent. Transfer hours will be evaluated by the Chair of the Doctor of Professional Counseling degree program, Dean of the School of Education, and Dean of the Graduate School.