Degree Requirements: Master's degree
Completion Time: 5-6 years
Earned Credits: 60-75**
Guided by faculty with years of experience in the field of psychology, students may develop a creative graduate degree plan to expand their range of professional opportunities. In addition, students in Saybrook University's online Ph.D. in Psychology program may declare one of the following specializations:
*Dissertation to be completed in a minimum of two semesters and a maximum of six full semesters.
**Saybrook transcript must reflect a minimum of 60 completed credits of post-master’s learning for the Ph.D.
The Ph.D. in Psychology degree program in the Humanistic and Clinical Psychology Department offers mature students a foundation of scholarship based in the tradition of existential, humanistic, and transpersonal psychology. The Ph.D. program offers an education that helps students expand their outlook beyond the confines of a discrete discipline.
Graduates of our online Ph.D. in Psychology program find professional success in a variety of areas, including education, community health centers, prisons, the juvenile justice system, corporate offices, and nonprofit organizations.
Dedicated to alleviating human suffering on many levels, graduates of Saybrook University make significant contributions to better our understanding of human behavior. By developing and improving programs and services in private industry and community organizations, our graduates use their education to improve their local communities as well as the world as a whole.
Students may customize their electives in the Ph.D. program, selecting from a wide range of options to expand their horizons and meet a broad range of future professional opportunities. If students declare one of the three specializations, their academic requirements will be specific to that focus area. The Ph.D. in Psychology program provides flexibility in individual approaches to program planning and the study of psychology along with a range of opportunities to broaden and deepen knowledge, interests, and areas of academic and professional development. The program provides the opportunity to build upon the foundation provided by an M.A., from one of Saybrook’s degree programs or elsewhere. Students develop their own plan from a wide range of options to develop further areas of knowledge, skill, and expertise to expand the scope of future opportunities and endeavors in professional life. This program is not a clinical psychology program nor is it designed to prepare students for future professional licensure. Such students should consider admission to the HCP Clinical Psychology degree program.
Through its pedagogy grounded in humanistic thought, the Ph.D. in Psychology program has the following program goals and learning outcomes and competencies:
- Goal 1: Engage self and others in collaborative efforts to promote life-enhancing change, conscious awareness, and authentic and responsible living, individually and collectively.
- Goal 2: Develop scholars-practitioners who (a) use the depth and the breadth of scientific psychology, its history of thought and development, and its methodology in scholarship, practice, and education; (b) are engaged in reflective self-assessment and in reflective practice; and (c) use ethical reasoning, analytical skills, and quality assurance to contribute to the profession through scholarship, research, practice, and responsible action.
- Goal 3: Develop the attitudes and abilities essential for critical and creative thinking, for innovation, and for using scholarship to inform practice and practice to inform scholarship.
- Goal 4: Develop the ability to recognize, respect, and accommodate various individual and cultural differences in all aspects of professional work.
- Goal 5: Display self-awareness in relationships and a commitment to an empathic, compassionate dialogue that is constructivist, collaborative, authentic, and caring.
Our online Ph.D. in Psychology program is intended to open opportunities for graduates to pursue nonclinical careers or expand on their existing licenses and is not designed to prepare graduates to qualify for clinical licensure or certification.
- Consciousness, Spirituality, and Integrative Health
- Creativity Studies
- Existential and Humanistic Psychology
More program information can be found in our academic catalog.
Residential Orientation (RO)
All new students in the Ph.D. in Psychology program begin their studies with our one-time, two-day Residential Orientation (RO). ROs are held two days ahead of the Residential Conference at the start of the fall and spring semesters in California. Attendance at the entire RO is an academic requirement.
At the RO, students become familiar with the Saybrook culture and academic and support services, including online resources, and the library research services and databases. The challenges of distance and peer learning are also discussed during this time. At the RO, students:
- Consult with the Psychology department chair and an academic adviser to organize their degree plan process.
- Develop a rationale for the scope and sequence of their proposed plan of study.
- Plan what consultation they will need from other faculty.
Residential Conferences (RC)
All psychology students participate in two five-day-long required Saybrook Residential Conferences (RCs) per year (one at the beginning of the fall semester and one at the beginning of the spring semester). Although you may complete most of your courses through distance learning, all our online graduate degree programs have residential requirements. Residential requirements are academic requirements, and their completion is important for your successful academic progress as well as allowing you to meet with faculty and co-learners in a stimulating face-to-face environment. Our RCs are an important part of your learning experience as they nurture intellectual creativity, enrich the educational environment, and foster faculty and peer interactions. Courses are launched, and independent learning activities, peer learning opportunities, and other hands-on experiences are intended to nurture professional development, skill building, and transformative change. All students must be on-site on the registration day and remain in residence until the last day of each conference. It is imperative that students plan accordingly. Any exceptions must be approved by the department chair prior to the conference.
Doctoral students attend until they have advanced to doctoral candidacy (upon satisfaction of essay orals).
No academic credit is given for attendance at the RC. Students who attend a seminar at an RC and wish to study the topic further may, with the permission of the seminar instructor and department chair, register for an independent study course (ALL 8100) following the RC and receive 1 academic credit upon completion. Each course is individually designed and negotiated with the seminar instructor. Not all RC workshops, courses, and seminars are eligible for the follow-up independent study credit. Students will need to review their program plan to confirm the 1 credit Independent Study will satisfy degree requirements.
Transfer credits based on equivalent graduate courses taken at another regionally accredited institution in the same or similar discipline where the student received a grade of B or better may be transferred and will reduce the number of course credits required to be completed at Saybrook. Allowable transfer credits must be suitable for transfer to the intended degree as determined by the department chair. Transfer course credits do not affect the minimum number of credits required for the degree.
Transfer credit to be applied toward required electives may include up to 12 transfer credits completed in the psychology discipline, 6 of these credits may be from cognate fields, non-degree Saybrook certificate credits, Saybrook CE credits, or other non-degree credits taken at Saybrook University within the last seven years.
Ethics, Spirit, and Health Care
This course provides an overview of the ethical principles and codes of conduct in psychology. It will focus on the guidelines for ethical practice that integrates the spiritual, physical, and psychological dimensions into one’s professional work with individuals and groups. This core ethics course will focus then on a breadth of ethical considerations and concerns pertinent to the evolving intersections of mind-body-spirit. An introduction to ethics and the Code of Conduct created by the American Psychological Association will be provided. Ethical issues involving spirituality, faith, and medicine will be explored with an emphasis on helping students consider ethical issues related to the specific focus of their professional and academic goals. In that context students will be encouraged to explore their own personal values, beliefs, and biases pertaining to moral and legal ethics in the field. 3 credits
Ethics and Laws in Psychotherapy and Behavioral Science Research
This course is designed to introduce students to professional ethics, standards of conduct, federal and state laws, and board of psychology rules that inform, influence, and regulate teaching, clinical practice, and research in professional psychology. The primary foci of the course will be on knowledge of the content and application of professional ethics, federal and state laws, and board of psychology rules. Within the context of self-reflection and examination of personal values and beliefs, students will be introduced to the professional associations and state agencies responsible for leadership, public policy, promulgation of laws, professional practice standards and rules, jurisdictional boundaries, cooperative institutional relationships, and regulatory and administrative procedures. In addition, students will be required to become familiar with federal and state legislative statutes and rules that regulate the professional practice of psychology and conducting behavioral science and biomedical research in their jurisdictions. These include but are not limited to the education and training requirements and filing complaints for misconduct. 3 credits
Foundations and Critique of Contemporary Psychology–Part II
This is the second required course for doctoral students to be taken consecutively following Part I. The purpose of this course is to provide a solid underpinning in the foundational topics in the field of contemporary psychology. The course will cover mainstream perspectives and humanistic perspectives on the foundational themes addressed in contemporary psychology. Prerequisite: Successful completion of PSY 1500A. 3 credits
“Grounded in humanistic principles, we are interested in fostering the ‘fullness’ of the clinician, aligning who they are with how they practice, in the healing process of populations being served.”
—Dr. Theopia Jackson, Chair, Clinical Psychology Degree Program