Preparing African American Counselor Education Students for the Professorate

Article excerpt

The purpose of this article is to highlight the underrepresentation of African American faculty in CACREP-Accredited counseling programs and to discuss ways of creating and sustaining a pipeline of potential counselor educators for the academy.


Over the last twenty years there has been an upward trend for the attainment of doctoral degrees by African Americans (St. John, 2000). However colleges and universities continue to struggle with the underrepresentation of African American faculty. For instance, of the 160,000 faculty members who are at doctoral extensive and intensive institutions, less than 3% identify themselves as African American (Antonio, 2002; Smith, Wolf, & Busenberg, 1996). In counselor education, a study by Bradley and Holcomb-McCoy (2004) revealed that only 41 (3.4%) counseling faculty out of approximately 1,200 in CACREP-accredited programs identify themselves as African American. As the U.S. becomes more diverse, building a diverse university faculty that more closely resembles the demographics of the nation as a whole becomes increasingly important (Holcomb-McCoy & Bradley, 2003).

When we consider the recent trend in doctoral degree attainment by African Americans as well as the continued shortage of African American faculty, it appears that African American doctoral students are not choosing the professorate as a career option. We are unable to know definitively whether this is in fact the case because there are no empirical data to ground such a discussion (Bradley & Holcomb-McCoy, 2004). Thus, the purpose of this article is to consider the extent to which African American students are actually represented in CACREP-accredited doctoral programs. Implications for the counseling profession will be discussed.

Counselor Education Doctoral Programs

In order to gain a sense of the status of African American doctoral students in counselor education programs, information was obtained to assist in the development of a future study. CACREP liaisons were contacted (via email) and asked to identify: the total number of students in their program, the total number of African American doctoral students, and the gender breakdown of African American doctoral students in their respective programs. Follow up phone calls were also made to program liaisons that did not respond to the original email.

Of the 45 CACREP-accredited doctoral programs in counselor education contacted, 29 (64%) responded with information on their program. This information revealed that a total of 825 students were currently enrolled in CACREP-Accredited counseling programs. Of the 825 total students, 148 (17.9%) were African American; 44 (5.3%) of which were men and 104 (12.6%) were women. Table 1 shows the distribution of African American doctoral students in CACREP-accredited programs by gender and region, based on programs, which responded to the email. The highest concentration of African American doctoral students, both male and female, was in the Southern region with a total of 93 students (25 males and 68 females). Of note was the Western region, which had only one African American doctoral student, who was male.

Discussion and Implications

The information obtained from the CACREP liaisons suggest that African American doctoral students are adequately represented (17.9%) in counselor education programs. This finding is consistent with the current upward trend for African Americans attaining doctoral degrees in general. The results also indicate that African American females are three times as likely than African American males to be enrolled in counselor education doctoral programs. This disparity has potential implications for the future of African American males in the professorate.

It is also important to point out that the majority of African American counselor education doctoral students are located in the southern portion of the United States. …