Meeting the 2013 Standard: An Initial Look at the Demand for Counselor Educators

Casey A. Barrio Minton

University of North Texas

Jane E. Myers

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Maggie G. Morganfield

University of North Texas


Author Note

            Casey A. Barrio Minton, Department of Counseling & Higher Education, University of North Texas; Jane E. Myers, Department of Counseling & Educational Development, University of North Carolina at Greensboro; Maggie G. Morganfield, Department of Counseling & Higher Education, University of North Texas.

            This study was supported by Association for Counselor Education & Supervision research funds.            Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Casey A. Barrio Minton, 1155 Union Circle #310829, Denton, TX, 76203, EMAIL:



In response to 2009 CACREP Standard I.W.2 regarding faculty members’ professional preparation and identities, many have asked whether the supply of doctoral level counselor educators will meet the demand in year 2013 and beyond.  This research brief includes results and discussion of an ACES-supported study regarding demand for counselor educators 2010-2013.


The 2009 revision of the CACREP standards stimulated considerable discussion over curricular changes and program requirements, perhaps none more so than what has come to be called “the 2013 standard.” This standard, Section I, Standard W.2, specifies that faculty and staff hired to teach in accredited counselor education programs will “have earned doctoral degrees in counselor education and supervision, preferably from a CACREP-accredited program, or have been employed as full-time faculty members in a counselor education program for a minimum of one full academic year before July 1, 2013” (CACREP, 2009, p. 6).  One of the major concerns about this standard stems from uncertainty whether existing counselor preparation programs will be able to provide sufficient graduates to meet the demand for hires, hence those opposed to the standard argue for the inclusion of related professional groups (e.g., counseling psychologists) as potential faculty hires. This discourse incorporates a long-standing debate over the identity of faculty who teach in counselor education programs (Calley & Hawley, 2008; Gale & Austin, 2003; Hannah & Bemak, 1997; Hiebert, 1992; Pepinsky, 1980; Shertzer, 1977).

Bernard (2006) reviewed 708 position descriptions over a 15-month period and noted that “it is still fairly common to see a position advertisement calling for a graduate of either a counselor education or counseling psychology program” (p. 88). Overall, 40% of the faculty position announcements listed counselor education as the only degree sought, and only 10% listed solely counseling psychology. While important distinctions exist between the two degrees, she concluded that “the counselor education degree [has] a clear identity in the marketplace, especially for faculty positions” (p. 68), and that the “CE degree is clearly sought in the market place, especially for faculty positions” (p. 79).

 In an earlier study of doctoral preparation, Zimpfer, Cox, West, Bubenzer, and Brooks (1997) found that counselor education programs tend to have a multiple-role curricular focus, incorporating counselor education (teaching), supervision, clinical practice, and leadership. “There is diversity rather than singularity of focus in the intended roles for which programs are preparing students. This seems particularly true for CACREP programs.” (p. 328). They noted that doctoral students have strong clinical interests and may seek clinical rather than faculty positions, hence it is difficult to determine projected numbers of new counselor educators who will enter the academic marketplace. This finding was supported by Zimpfer’s (1996) finding that 30% of doctoral graduates were employed in clinical positions, a trend he expected to continue based on participant feedback.

Purpose of the Study

At this time we lack data concerning both the number of potential position openings in counselor education in the coming years and the number of doctoral students whose intent it is to enter academic positions upon graduation. It is both timely and essential that we answer the question inherent in the literature and the standards: Will the supply of doctoral level counselor educators, especially graduates from CACREP-accredited programs, meet the demand in the year 2013 and beyond?  The current study was undertaken as an initial attempt to illuminate trends in demand for counselor educators in the three years leading up to 2013.  Specifically, research questions were:

  1. How many new and replacement counselor education positions are anticipated in the next three years?
  2. In which program areas are counselor education positions needed?
  3. What are department chairs’ comments and concerns regarding the readiness of counselor education programs to provide sufficient graduates to meet future demand?



            The population of interest in this study included master’s and doctoral-level counselor education programs that were accredited by CACREP or anticipating CACREP accreditation by 2013.  Upon IRB approval at our respective universities, we identified department chairs in each of the 603 programs listed in Counselor Preparation: Programs, Faculty Trends (Schweiger, Henderson, McCaskill, Clawson, Collins, & Nuckolls, 2011) as key informants regarding our population of interest.  We emailed personalized invitations to participate in a secure, anonymous survey via Surveymonkey beginning in Summer 2010, with two reminders sent in weeks following the initial request and a final reminder sent shortly after the beginning of Fall 2010.  Participants who visited the study site were provided with an informed consent notice prior to being presented with the data collection tool. Surveymonkey was configured to track which participants took part in the study but not to associate participant data (e.g., email address, university, or name) with specific responses.  To further ensure anonymity of data, we stripped IP addresses and any other identifying information from the dataset prior to analysis. 


            In all, representatives from 133 of 245 CACREP-accredited programs (54.28%) replied to our request for participation.  In addition, 92 of 358 non-accredited programs (25.70%) replied to the survey request, with 43 programs indicating they were anticipating CACREP accreditation by 2013.  Thus, the resulting sample included 176 programs eligible for participation in the study of which approximately three-quarters (75.57%) were accredited and one-quarter (24.43%) were anticipating accreditation.  Participants reported offering or seeking accreditation for the following CACREP program areas: school counseling (81.82%, n = 144); clinical mental health, community, or mental health counseling (79.98%, n =139); counselor education and supervision (22.73%, n = 40); marriage, couple, and family counseling (13.07%, n = 23), student affairs and/or college counseling (11.93%, n = 21), and career counseling (5.11%, n = 9).  Please see Table 1 for additional sample descriptives.


            Instrumentation for this study was developed by the first and second author with consultation from professional leaders including key stakeholders who represented the ACES Executive Council, CACREP, NBCC, and Chi Sigma Iota. The data collection tool included opportunities for participants to note program descriptives (i.e., accreditation status, degrees offered, program areas offered, type of university, and format of program); anticipated vacancies and replacements for academic years 2010-2011, 2011-2012, and 2012-2013 due to retirement, phased retirements, resignations, cutbacks, new lines, and other situations; types of positions expected (e.g., tenure/tenure-track, clinical, temporary); and anticipated needs for faculty members with specialties within each 2001 and 2009 CACREP program area.  Finally, we provided participants with an opportunity to provide open-ended feedback regarding their thoughts about the readiness of counselor education programs to provide sufficient graduates to meet the demand in the future.


Research Question 1: New and Replacement Positions

            For the first research question, we asked department chairs to estimate the number of counselor education faculty vacancies and replacement positions for academic years 2010-2011, 2011-2012, and 2012-2013.  Notably, one-third (32.95%, n = 58) of the department chairs indicated that they were currently experiencing hiring freezes due to the economic climate, and often participants qualified their responses with notes that the exact number or timing of positions was uncertain due to economic concerns.  Thus, results in this section should be viewed as general trends in projections.   

In all, participants anticipated a total of 341 retirements creating 341 position openings, an additional 341 position openings due to counselor educators moving within the field, 205.5 new counselor education positions, and 19 lost positions.  This resulted in a projected net gain of 186.5 full-time equivalent counselor education positions by 2013. About one-half of programs (51.14%, n = 90) expected adding faculty lines during this time period; however, just three programs accounted for nearly one-third (30.66%, n = 63) of new positions anticipated. Additionally, less than one-half of position openings were anticipated to be for tenure or tenure-track lines (45.38%, n = 216); rather, the majority of lines were accounted for by temporary (27.73%, n = 132) and clinical positions (26.89%, n = 128).  Please see Table 2 for a depiction of the number of anticipated vacancies and position openings. 

Research Question 2: Program Areas Needed

            In response to research question two, department chairs indicated the CACREP program areas in which they anticipated greatest need or priority for new and replacement hires.  As is shown in Table 3, participants noted greatest need for counselor educators who had expertise in school counseling.  A need for counselor educators with expertise in counselor education and supervision; marriage couple, and family counseling; clinical mental health counseling; and addiction counseling followed.  Because not all participants indicated specialty area focus for new hires, results do not sum to the total number of new and replacement positions anticipated.

Research Question 3: Department Chair Comments

Finally, we provided participants with an open-ended prompt asking them to share any comments regarding the readiness of counselor education programs to provide sufficient graduates to meet future demands.  A total of 46 (26.14%) participants entered comments.  Upon reviewing of the comments, we noted the following themes: economic concerns, quality versus quantity, core versus specialty, CACREP professional identity standard, and optimism. 

Economic concerns.  Open-ended comments provided throughout the survey and in response to the final prompt involved concerns regarding the current economic climate.  Participants cited budget cuts, university practices of not replacing positions upon retirements or resignations, and potential impact on course offerings and graduation rates as variables impacting their ability to hire as planned, a reality reflected by our finding that one-third (32.95%, n = 58) of the sample was currently experiencing a hiring freeze.  In the words of one participant, “Who knows in this economy?”

Quality versus quantityThe second most common theme represented in responses to the prompt included a desire to consider quality in addition to quantity of counselor education faculty candidates. Although several participants noted that they found graduates to be very well prepared, those who commented identified concerns regarding candidates’ research, teaching, and clinical preparation.  Often, participants varied in their focus of concern, rarely including attention to more than one area in responses.  Consider for a moment, the following representative quotes from participants:

  • …I am sometimes quite startled by how little many of our PhD graduates know, and how limited is their research knowledge and skill.  Counselor Education is going to become marginalized if we don’t start taking scholarship and research more seriously…
  • I do not believe that most counselor education doctoral programs sufficiently prepare counselor educators in training for the demands of an academic appointment…
  • We have interviewed many applicants with doctorates in counselor education and have been very disappointed with their level of ability to teach and supervise…
  • I fear for the quality of clinical training of Master’s students in the future unless high clinical standards and expectations (i.e., pre and post doctoral internships in clinical work) are mandated of Counselor Education and Supervision doctoral graduates.

The number of comments referencing research and clinical preparation was much greater than the number of comments regarding teaching preparation, suggesting that research and clinical preparation may be of primary concern.

Core versus specialty.  Several participants used the prompt to express concerns regarding ability to find doctoral-level school counselor educators, sometimes noting that positions went unfilled or filled with candidates who did not have expertise in the desired area.  One participant speculated that the lack of counselor educators in necessary areas was because master’s level practitioners, especially in school counseling, make more money than tenure track professors.  In several cases, participants noted a need for faculty members with core (e.g., assessment research) rather than specialty (e.g., school, clinical) expertise.

Role of psychologists.  Several participants used the open-ended prompt to discuss concerns regarding the impact of CACREP 2009 Standard I.W.2 requiring that new counselor educators hired after 2013 have earned degrees in counselor education.  In most cases, these participants identified as counseling psychologists who felt alienated, oppressed, or discriminated against given the new standard.  For example, one participant noted “I am gravely concerned about the way the ‘professional identity’ track we have taken over the last decade or so has become what looks like a personal vendetta.”  Several participants who expressed concerns regarding the role of psychologists linked these concerns with concerns regarding adequacy of clinical preparation of doctoral-level counselor educators. 

Optimism.  Despite a number of concerns expressed by those who chose to respond to the open-ended prompt, several participants expressed optimism regarding the future of counselor education.  As noted by one participant, “…our profession is on the cusp of realization and we need sound educators to practice and prepare the nation and the world.”


            This study of 176 counselor education programs revealed that 186.5 new positions in counselor education are expected in the immediate future. Openings will be the result of retirements, counselor educators moving within the field, and new positions. By far, the greatest need will be in school counseling. Department chairs expressed several concerns affecting future vacancies, including the unstable economy, the quality of doctoral level preparation, the lack of expertise in program areas where vacancies are expected (e.g., school counseling), and concerns over professional identity. The overall optimism of respondents was encouraging and a major impetus for continuing to explore our data and implications for our field.

            The number of potential position vacancies reported by our participants was encouraging, at the same time the nature of the openings may be disappointing to traditionalists among us. The net gain in positions (186.5) suggests an expanding market for counselor educators, however, consistent with national trends, most openings are not projected to be tenure track. Jasik (2009) reported in Inside Higher Ed that two-thirds of growth is in non-tenure positions, and overall less than 40% of faculty are in tenure lines or tenured. Growth in counselor education mirrors these findings. Similarly, a significant finding in our study was that only 3 programs accounted for one-third of new positions, presumably in on-line or hybrid, corporate-model programs. With the growth rate in on-line programs nearing 10% compared to only 1.5% growth in the overall higher education student population (Allen & Seaman, 2007), increasing numbers of faculty will be needed to teach in this venue.

The need for school counselor educators has been well documented (Schweiger et al., 2011), hence our findings of greater needs in this specialty were not unexpected. The school counseling specialty continues to have the most counselor education vacancies and the fewest doctoral level specialists. The most common reason cited is the earnings discrepancy between practicing school counselors and counselor educators combined with intangible benefits of the positions. School counselors are not required to conduct research, publish, or write grants, areas of increasing pressure for counselor educators.

Although a minority of our respondents provided remarks for open-ended prompts, the scope and depth of responses was notable. Economic conditions are out of our control and somewhat unpredictable, yet largely drive position vacancies. This uncertain climate leads to more intense needs to make good hiring decisions, raising expectations for doctoral student preparation in research, teaching, and clinical preparation.


            The extent to which our results may be generalized is limited by the scope and nature of the sample combined with an inability to determine accurately the extent to which the sample is representative of accredited counselor education programs. Uncertainty concerning the types of positions that will be available (e.g., clinical, part-time, adjunct, tenure track) complicates the interpretation of our findings. Given the different ways in which programs define FTE faculty, reports of shared positions between counselor education and other programs, and multiple qualified responses due to hiring freezes, our data can at best be viewed as reflecting general trends rather than absolute fact.


The issue of professional identity was noted in the introduction as a key concern stimulated by the “2013 standard.” This standard is often misinterpreted as meaning only counselor education graduates may be hired in counselor education programs. The full statement of the standard includes “…or have been employed as full-time faculty members in a counselor education program for a minimum of one full academic year before July 1, 2013” (CACREP, 2009, p. 6). This excludes only new graduates of counseling psychology or other programs, not existing faculty whose curricular preparation was in areas other than counselor education. The bottom line then is the question with which we began: will the supply of new counselor education graduates be sufficient to meet the demand in 2013 and beyond? We have established that there will be a need for more counselor educators as there will be more positions. Additional research is needed to determine the numbers and career aspirations of doctoral students, the nature of doctoral curricula vis a vis program requirements and needs, and the extent of match between program curricula, student aspirations, and marketplace needs.



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Table 1
Sample Descriptives (n = 176)




Degrees Offered












Educational specialist









Type of Program












Online only






Type of University      






Not for Profit






For Profit






Table 2

Anticipated Vacancies & Replacements (2010-2013)

  Expected Lines for Hire Expected Vacancies



Phased Retirements












New Lines








Table 3

Anticipated Specialty Needs

Program Area Positions %



Counselor Education & Supervision



Marriage, Couple, & Family



Clinical Mental Health






Student Affairs & College











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