NCU Catalog - April 2021 
    Jun 23, 2021  
NCU Catalog - April 2021

Psychology, Counseling Psychology - CA Track, PhD

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: School of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Description of Program

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program was designed in response to the growing interest in psychology as a discipline of study and the need for advanced studies, including research beyond the master’s level. This degree program emphasizes theory, research, and scholarship, culminating in a dissertation.

Click here for potential career opportunities within the PhD in Psychology.

Learning Outcomes

  • Appraise theories and principles in psychology to inform professional contexts
  • Evaluate research methods and data analysis in psychology
  • Select psychological principles and research for application to personal, social, and organizational issues
  • Evaluate ethical principles of psychology in academic and professional issues
  • Critique diversity issues in professional contexts
  • Design clear and effective communication for fellow professionals and the public

Basis of Admissions

Applicants entering the Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology with a specialization in Counseling Psychology, must have a conferred clinical master’s degree in a mental health or related field that included a practicum/internship, from a regionally accredited institution. There are two options for entering the doctoral program in psychology:

  1. Direct Entry – Individuals with a previously completed a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy, Marriage and Family Counseling/Therapy, or Social Work may immediately begin the 60-credit PhD program.
  2. Evaluation Track – Individuals who have previously completed a master’s degree in School Counseling, Addiction Studies, or Addiction Counseling must have their transcripts evaluated to determine if previous coursework meets the curriculum requirements.

Degree Requirements

The PhD in Psychology degree requires a minimum of 60 credit hours at the graduate level beyond the master’s degree.

The University may accept a maximum of 12 semester credit hours in transfer toward the doctoral degree for graduate coursework completed at an accredited college or university while enrolled in a doctoral program with a grade of “B” or better.

The PhD degree programs in psychology have the following graduation requirements:

  • A minimum of 48 credit hours of graduate instruction must be completed through NCU
  • Grade Point Average of 3.0 (letter grade of “B”) or higher
  • Satisfactory completion of the Pre-Candidacy Prospectus course 
  • University approval of dissertation manuscript and successful completion of the dissertation defense
  • Submission of the approved final dissertation manuscript to the University Registrar, including the original unbound dissertation manuscript and an electronic copy
  • Official documents on file for basis of admission: a conferred master’s degree from an accredited academic institution
  • Official transcripts on file for all transfer credit hours accepted by the University
  • All financial obligations must be met before the student will be issued their complementary diploma and/or degree posted transcript

Dissertation Completion Pathway

The NCU mission is dedicated to assisting students in achieving their academic aspirations and helping them become valuable contributors to their community and profession. To support our mission, NCU now offers a dissertation completion pathway for students who have successfully completed their doctoral coursework and achieved doctoral candidacy at a previous institution but were unable to complete their dissertation.  NCU’s Dissertation Completion Pathway (DCP) offers a unique opportunity for students to complete their doctorate in one of the doctoral programs offered at NCU (excluding the PhD in MFT, DMFT, DNP, and DHA). Students successfully meeting the entrance and application requirements will complete a minimum of 23 credit hours to earn their doctorate.

Click below for more information on the


Time to Completion

NCU allows 7 years to complete all doctoral programs of 60 credits or less.

The median time to completion for this program is 81 months.

Time to completion varies depending upon the pace in which a student completes courses and the number of transfer credits accepted. As most NCU students are working adults, balancing educational, professional, and personal commitments, our academic and finance advisors will work with you to develop a program schedule that works best for your needs.

Students following the preferred schedule designed by the Dean for this program, and applying no transfer credits, can expect to finish in as little as 46 months.

Dissertation Process

Faculty assists each NCU Doctoral student to reach this high goal through a systematic process leading to a high-quality completed dissertation. A PhD dissertation is a scholarly documentation of research that makes an original contribution to the field of study. This process requires care in choosing a topic, documenting its importance, planning the methodology, and conducting the research. These activities lead smoothly into the writing and oral presentation of the dissertation.

A doctoral candidate must be continuously enrolled throughout the series of dissertation courses. Dissertation courses are automatically scheduled and accepted without a break in scheduling to ensure that students remain in continuous enrollment throughout the dissertation course sequence. If additional time is required to complete any of the dissertation courses, students must re-enroll and pay the tuition for that course. Continuous enrollment will only be permitted when students demonstrate progress toward completing dissertation requirements. The Dissertation Committee determines progress.

Course Sequence

The PhD program may be completed in 60 credits (not including required Standard Curriculum courses) but may require additional credit hours, depending on the time required to complete the dissertation research. If granted, additional courses will be added to the student degree program in alignment with the SAP and Academic Maximum Time to Completion policies. Students who do not complete their program in accordance with these policies may be dismissed.


*The elective for both counseling specializations is PSY-8606 Clinical Supervision.

Counseling Psychology - CA Track

The Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology specialization in counseling psychology is designed for mental health professionals who are licensed or pre-licensed having a foundation of clinical knowledge and skills at the master level. The program is intended for professionals who seek to improve their theoretical knowledge and clinical skills, while preparing them to advance their career in the mental health field. In addition, the program is designed to provide for the meaningful integration of theory, practical application, research, and scholarship, culminating in a dissertation.

In this PhD-PSY specialization students will learn about clinical supervision, psychopharmacology, research, and cognitive and personality assessment. In addition, students will acquire knowledge in areas such as human sexuality, addictions assessment and treatment planning, child and adolescent psychology and lifespan dynamics.

This PhD-PSY specialization is designed to fulfill the current [2019] academic requirements [only] for licensure as required by the California Board of Psychology. The California Licensure Track meets the educational requirements for licensure as a psychologist in California. Students/ graduates will be responsible for acquiring supervised clinical training as required by Section 14 of the California Business and Professions Code [] independent of the program. 

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: School of Social and Behavioral Sciences