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Courses & Curriculum

The Psy.D. program in Counseling Psychology is a new program at Saint Mary's University. First year classes will be offered in the fall semester of 2010. Each year, additional classes will be offered as students progress through the program.

Schedule Overview

In an effort to accommodate the needs of adult learners who may be working while attending school, the counseling psychology doctoral program schedules classes at limited and predictable times.

All classes are held on Wednesdays and Thursdays between the hours of 1:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., with one class in the afternoon and the other in the evening. The time between classes is used for first-year seminars, practicum seminars, student advising, meetings, and presentations. Most semesters, students will take two or three classes, although it may be possible to complete up to four classes in a given semester. While on practicum, up to 20 additional hours per week will be required at the student’s training site. The internship requires a one-year full-time commitment or two years of half-time commitment. The program is designed to be completed in five years, including four years of course work and practicum plus a year of full-time pre-doctoral internship. It may be possible to complete the program in four years if the student can devote full time to their graduate studies. 

Download a sample 5-year program progression (PDF)

Program Requirements

In addition to traditional coursework, the program requires that students complete a first year proseminar, two years of practicum experience, a series of qualifying examinations, an individualized mentorship, a one year internship, and a clinical dissertation. A general description of these requirements is provided below. Refer to the list of Degree Requirements and the sample 5-year program progression for more specific course listing and sequencing. Refer to the Course Syllabus for detailed information about requirements and expectations for specific courses, and to the appropriate manual for detailed information about other requirements.

Proseminar (1 Credit) - This small group meets once a week during the first semester of attendance in the program. It is designed to provide support and advising, and to introduce the student to both the program and the profession.

Scientific Foundations Courses (20 Credits) - These courses are typically taken in the first two years of the program, and provide training in research methodology and data analysis, and in basic content areas of psychology which provide the scientific basis for applied work. Training in research methodology focuses on applications for the evidence-based practice of psychology.

Foundations of Professional Practice (33 Credits) - Typically taken in the first two years of the program, these courses provide basic training in assessment, diagnosis, and intervention. Professional ethics, diversity, consultation, and supervision are also included in this area. A unique course in this group is the Contemporary Practice of Professional Psychology taken toward the end of the program. This course is designed to orient the student to functioning in the real world of professional practice, with an emphasis on collaboration with other health care professionals in the context of the modern health care delivery system.

Advanced Training for Professional Practice (14 Credits) - These courses build on the foundations courses, and are typically taken in the third and fourth year of the program. Advanced training courses are divided into three areas: Advanced assessment and interventions, Counseling in diverse settings, and Counseling with diverse populations. Within each of these areas students select courses based upon their interests and career goals. Through judicious selection of courses, and in combination with the individualized mentorship (see below) the student can develop his or her unique area of concentration in the program. Advanced training courses are selected in consultation with the student’s advisor.

Practicum (8 Credits) - Students complete two practicum experiences, typically in the second and third years of the program. Each practicum experience includes supervised training in both assessment and interventions. Each practicum extends of approximately nine months for a minimum of 600 hours (15 to 20 hours per week). Attendance at a practicum seminar on campus which meets once a week is required while students are on practicum. All practica must be developed through and approved by the Director of Training. Students may not complete practicum training at their place of employment. The training department maintains a list of practicum sites, and coordinates the practicum application process. Students must obtain approval from the Director of Training before applying to a practicum site. Refer to the Practicum Manual for detailed information about practicum policies, procedures and requirements.

Qualifying Examination and Clinical Case Presentation (0 Credits) - Students must pass the qualifying examination, typically taken at the end of the second year of study. The Qualifying Examination involves the integration of knowledge from coursework and the current literature as it applies to current issues in professional psychology. The Clinical Case Presentation is based on a case from the student’s practicum experience, and includes a written and an oral component. There is a fee for the qualifying examination and case presentation. Refer to the Qualifying Examination Course Syllabi for detailed information about policies, procedures and requirements.

Individualized Mentorship (3 Credits) - The individualized mentorship is a unique aspect of the Psy.D. in Counseling Psychology program. Arranged in the year before the student goes on internship, the individualized mentor ship is designed to allow the student to create an individualized learning experience under the close supervision of a professional psychologist. The individualized mentorship may include supervised clinical experience, independent study, attendance at seminars or lectures, research, or, some combination of these. The content of this experience should be integrated to provide an in depth training experience which furthers the student’s professional and career goals. The student contracts with a psychologist to supervise this experience. The plan for the individualized mentorship plan must be approved by the student’s academic advisor. In combination with the selection of courses in the advanced training area (see above) the individualized mentorship allows the student to develop expertise in his or her specialized area of practice. Refer to the Individualized Mentorship Course Syllabus for detailed information about policies, procedures and requirements.

Internship (3 Credits) - The internship is a one year (full time) or two year (half time) supervised training experience with a minimum of 2000 hours. Internships in psychology are coordinated nationally through the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC.) All students must participate in the APPIC internship match process. More information on the APPIC and the internship match process may be found at Students must successfully complete all course work before starting internship. Students must have passed the first and second year qualifying examinations and have an approved dissertation proposal on file before applying for internship. Students may not complete internship training at their place of employment No internship applications may be submitted without the approval of the Director of Training. Refer to the Internship Manual for detailed information about internship policies, procedures and requirements.

Clinical Dissertation (3 Credits) - The clinical dissertation is a scholarly work that makes a unique contribution to the practice of psychology. The dissertation is completed under the supervision of a faculty committee. Students must take a series of three sequential courses to guide them through the process of completing the clinical dissertation. Students are strongly encouraged to complete the clinical dissertation before or during the internship year. Refer to the Clinical Dissertation Manual for detailed information about policies, procedures and requirements.