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Graduate Bulletin Homepage |School of Education |Graduate Program Curricula | Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology Degree Program

Program Leading to the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology

The Ph. D. program in Counseling Psychology at the University at Albany provides integrated scientist-practitioner training in psychology as a scientific discipline and in counseling psychology as an area of professional specialization. Continuously accredited by the American Psychological Association (750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242, telephone 202-336-5979) since 1980, the Ph. D. program involves full-time study in courses, seminars, practica, and internship training. The required curriculum encompasses four basic areas: (a) a professional core in counseling psychology (including theory, research and practice in areas of intervention, assessment, and career development), (b) supervised practica, (c) research design, measurement, and statistics, and (d) core psychology coursework. In addition, students must engage in a variety of professional experiences, complete special training in the mandated reporting of child abuse/neglect, demonstrate competence in an appropriate research tool, pass comprehensive doctoral examinations, complete a 2000 hour pre-doctoral internship, and submit an acceptable dissertation demonstrating their ability to conduct scholarly research in counseling psychology.

Basic to the design of this program are several perspectives on the nature of the field.

Scientist-Practitioner Model

The first of these concerns the scientist-practitioner model in the profession of psychology. This model is one in which training is undertaken in both intervention methods and scientific inquiry, and in which the practice of the profession involves both being informed by and contributing to scientific knowledge. In our program, questions of science and practice are viewed as complementary and interdependent, and the scientist-practitioner model is implemented by thorough course work in basic psychological foundations, research methods, developmental and intervention theory and assessment, and by practice opportunities in both research and clinical activities via assistantships, professional development activities, practica, specialized course work, and independent study.

Focus on Strengths and Normative Human Development

The second perspective stems from the tradition of the counseling psychology professional specialty to facilitate human growth and development, and to focus on client assets and strengths. Thus, while recognition of abnormality and pathology is an essential skill, the counseling psychology training in our program emphasizes patterns of normal development, and students are exposed to theory and methods that relate to both prevention and remediation of intra- and interpersonal human concerns.

Focus on Contextual Factors

Third, also following from tradition in counseling psychology, is the importance of understanding the person in his or her particular context. Whether the context in question is one of education, occupation, relationship, family, culture, or other system, training in our program includes a focus on the individual, on the nature of that person's environmental context, as well as on the quality of the interaction between the two.

Valuing Diversity

The fourth perspective concerns the valuing diversity. Diversity in our program will be found in the opportunities to explore issues of individual and cultural diversity, to learn a variety of theoretical orientations, to pursue a range of research topics and methods, to study with a multicultural array of students and faculty, to work with a range of client populations, to practice in multiple work settings, and to engage in a variety of professional roles (i.e., counselor, researcher, instructor, trainer, supervisor, consultant).

Quality Training

Finally, we believe that quality training is both sequential and comprehensive. That is, all course work, applied practice, and professional development activities are designed and scheduled to promote a graduated series of learning tasks. Students receive training in a broad, generalist model that prepares them for a variety of roles and settings, while also having opportunities to focus on particular problems or settings.

Following from these perspectives, our goals are to produce graduates who (1) have the requisite knowledge and skills for entry into the practice of professional psychology, (2) are skilled in the interface between science and practice, and (3) can contribute to knowledge and practice in counseling psychology.

Admissions Requirements

We are looking for students who have research experience, experience in an applied setting, a strong academic record, above average GRE scores, good communication skills, and positive letters of recommendation. We do not use a "cutoff" system for GRE scores and grades. Rather, scores on GREs and graduate and undergraduate GPAs are considered in the context of the entire application. During the past several years, the average combined verbal and quantitative GRE score of accepted applicants has been around 1150. The average GPA of accepted applicants has been approximately 3.47 (on a 4 point scale) for undergraduate GPA and 3.88 for graduate GPA. Admission to the doctoral program is based on a general commitment to full-time study. Applicants are required to submit a personal statement, resume, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) verbal and quantitative scores, official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate course work, three to five letters of recommendation, application fee, the University at Albany Application for Admissions for Degree Graduate Study, and the Graduate Assistantship/Fellowship Application (available at Graduate Admissions or the Division website). Recommendations should include some undergraduate or graduate faculty letters. All admissions materials for the doctoral program must be received by January 15. Interviews are conducted for the top group of applicants in early to mid March. An applicant who holds a master's degree in counseling or in psychology may apply for up to 30 credits of advanced standing after admission.

Program of Study

The student, in consultation with the faculty advisor, develops a program of study using the following program areas and credit distribution:

Program Areas (minimum credits):
· Area A. Professional Core in Counseling Psychology (29);
· Area B. Practicum and Internship in Counseling Psychology (20);
· Area C. Psychological Measurement, Statistics, and Research Design (12);
· Area D. Psychological Foundations (15);
Total minimum credits = 76

Students must repeat any required course (courses falling within Areas A, B, and C) for which their grade drops below B (or "S" for S/U courses), provided that their overall GPA is at least a 3.0.  This policy does not apply to elective courses.  Students could receive a grade lower than B if the overall GPA remains a 3.0.

Mandated Reporter Training. Students are also required by New York State to complete a two-hour, non-credit, seminar in mandated child abuse reporting.

Professional Development Activities. In addition to completion of coursework, students are expected to perform ancillary teaching, research, administrative, or professional duties that contribute to their professional development. These duties are undertaken with an educational objective in mind, and are expected whether or not students recieve related financial support from UA.

Qualifying Examination
The student must pass a written comprehensive examination over the major content areas of counseling psychology: intervention, assessment, career development/vocational psychology and research. The exam is taken typically after completion of required courses in the Professional Core of Counseling Psychology sequence, as well as other relevant coursework.

Research Tool Requirement
Students must demonstrate competence in a research tool supportive of their doctoral research. This may include special competencies in computer science, statistical analysis, or coursework on methodology germane to counseling psychology.

Pre-Doctoral Internship Requirement
Students are required to complete an internship which must be one year of full-time or two years of half-time supervised experience equivalent to 2,000 hours of work. The internship is an educational experience involving counseling, supervisory and/or research activities in a setting in which the student is directly supervised by a doctoral-level psychologist. The internship is taken after completion of all course requirements, including doctoral practica, and after successful completion of the Doctoral Qualifying Examination. Also, students are encouraged to have a proposal of their dissertation research project completed and approved prior to commencing the internship. The Director of Doctoral Training in consultation with the student's graduate advisor must approve all internship placements. During their internship, students enroll in ECPY 895 for one credit hour during each semester spanned by their internship.


The student must complete a qualitative or quantitative investigation of some significant problem areas related to counseling psychology. The investigation should adhere to principles of logical analysis and empirical evidence in conducting the inquiry. The dissertation must demonstrate that the candidate has independently attained an acceptable level of research competence via adequate conceptualization of a problem, choice of research design, proper data analysis, and ability to report findings in a scholarly fashion. Following committee approval of the written dissertation, a final oral examination on the dissertation is conducted. Development of a dissertation proposal generally occurs in Cpy 890 (Independent Study) under the guidance of the proposed dissertation chair.

For students entering the program in 2005 and subsequently, an approved proposal is a pre-requisite for applying for internship. When the DQE has been passed, the research tool is completed, and the dissertation proposal has been accepted, the student moves to full status as a doctoral candidate.

After the dissertation committee and the dissertation proposal are formally approved, students should register for Cpy 899 (Dissertation). A minimum of 1 credit of Cpy 899 must be taken in the semester the student defends the final dissertation (students defending in the summer semester must register for Cpy 899 in the prior Spring semester). Although only one Cpy 899 credit is required, whenever students are requesting faculty time and help with dissertation research, they must be registered for Cpy 899 and maintain continuous registration.

Full Time Study in Residence

This program of study and research requires at least five academic years of full-time work, or the equivalent over a longer period, beyond the baccalaureate. Students entering with a master’s degree can complete the Ph.D. in four years full-time.

Each student in the doctoral program must engage in full time study in at least two sessions after admission. This requirement is designated to insure for each doctoral student a sustained period of intensive intellectual growth. For this purpose a student will enroll in full time study (minimum 12 credits) taken in each of two regular sessions which must be completed satisfactorily, except as indicated below.

  1. Graduate assistants holding a full assistantship may meet the residency requirement by completing one academic year in such a position, including the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 15 registered credits during the year plus satisfactory completion of assigned duties.
  2. A student may petition the Faculty for exceptions to the above policy in unusual circumstances. The petition should be presented to the Faculty for deliberation only after the written approval of the petition by the student's advisor and the Director of Doctoral Training.

Hence, the doctoral program is designed for full-time study during the academic year and it is expected that students will complete the majority of the program in the status of a full-time student during the regular academic year. Summer study is not regularly required; however, opportunities for summer study are frequently available.

Admission to Candidacy

A student will be admitted to candidacy upon the following:

  1. Satisfactory record in course work, seminars, and practicum;

  2. Satisfactory completion of the comprehensive qualifying examination;

  3. Completion of the University residence requirements;

  4. Acceptance of a dissertation proposal;

  5. Satisfactory completion of the research tool requirement.

Exchange Program in La Coruña, Spain

Beginning in 1999, the Doctoral program in counseling psychology and the Universidad de La Coruña, La Coruña, Spain, entered into an exchange agreement. Doctoral students in their third year (or beyond) who are fluent in Spanish may go to Spain for a period of 2 months to 1 year to train in La Coruña's interdisciplinary Postgraduate Family Intervention Program, directed by Dr. Valentín Escudero. This training program, which combines didactic material with seminars, case studies, tutorials, research, and clinical work with families, is taught by faculty from Spain and the U.S.

Eligibility for the program is determined by the Director of Doctoral Training in consultation with the faculty. To be eligible, students must demonstrate proficiency in Spanish, be in good academic standing, and have completed all required practica in the Department. Students must enroll for at least 3 credits per semester (Fall or Spring; 1 credit in the summer session). Tuition at the Universidad de La Coruña is waived in exchange for 5-6 hours of research assistance.


Last updated on 7/10/2008