Doctoral student persistence in counselor education programs: Student-program match and the decision making process

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Human Services


Alan D. Goldberg


Doctoral student, Persistence, Counselor education, Student-program match, Decision-making

Subject Categories

Higher Education Administration | Student Counseling and Personnel Services


This study investigated doctoral student attrition/persistence in counselor education programs accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). It is a qualitative study using in-depth interviews with 33 students from 17 different doctoral programs. The purpose was to describe from the students' perspective the factors that influenced their decision to persist or leave their programs in Counselor Education. Students described a number of factors that influenced their decision. Those factors were as follows: (a) pre-program expectations, (b) student experience, (c) goals, (d) reason for study, (e) program focus, (f) curriculum, (g) student-faculty relationships, (h) peer relationships, (i) nonacademic factors (e.g., finances, family) and, (j) personal investment. These factors were described by students as key components of their decision making process. A framework was created to demonstrate this decision making process. Students also described the first eight factors as those components important to a student-program match. The majority of students who perceived a program mismatch were planning to incorporate counseling practice into their career goals. Based on these findings, implications for counselor education students and faculty are discussed.


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