Aug 16, 2022  
2020-2021 SGPP Catalog and Handbook 
2020-2021 SGPP Catalog and Handbook [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Counseling Psychology, Psy.D.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs of Study

Program Overview

This five year degree program provides training for the professional practice of psychology as a counseling psychologist and awards the Doctor of Psychology in Counseling Psychology (Psy.D.). The program’s philosophy and model of training are grounded in its identity both as a practitioner-oriented program which offers the Psy.D. degree and as a program which trains professionals to function in the role of a counseling psychologist. The program is student-centered, and is attentive to the needs of the adult learner. Once foundation courses are completed, the curriculum allows students to focus on areas of counseling psychology consistent with their interests and professional goals. The program emphasizes and integrates professional ethics, diversity and multiculturalism, and evidence-based practices throughout the curriculum.

Program Philosophy and Training Model

The Psy.D. is a professional degree which prepares individuals for careers as licensed psychologists. At the Vail Conference in 1973, the APA endorsed the Psy.D. for the training of individuals who offer direct psychological services. Consistent with the Vail Model, the program adheres to a practitioner-scholar model of training. The Psy.D. prepares graduates for the independent practice of psychology with individuals, couples, families, groups, and organizations. Psychological services include assessment, evaluation, and diagnosis; intervention with individuals, couples, families, and groups; professional consultation and program development with individuals and organizations; supervision of individuals providing psychological services; and assessment of outcomes of counseling psychological services.

Counseling psychology is a specialty within the broad framework of the professional practice of psychology. Counseling psychologists facilitate personal and interpersonal functioning across the life span with a focus on emotional, social, vocational, educational, health-related, developmental, and organizational concerns. Through the integration of theory, research, and practice, and with sensitivity to multicultural issues, this specialty encompasses a broad range of practices that help people improve their well-being, alleviate distress and maladjustment, resolve crises, and increase their ability to live more highly functioning lives. Counseling psychology is unique in its attention both to normal developmental issues and to problems associated with physical, emotional, and mental disorders.


The Psy.D. in Counseling Psychology at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is a program in health service psychology which is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). Accreditation information can be obtained from the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association, 750 First Street NE; Washington, D.C. 20002-4242. Phone: 202-336-5979; TDD/TTY: 202-336-6123.

Program Aims

The Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Psy.D. in Counseling Psychology program is based on a practitioner-scholar model and has two primary aims.
Aim 1: Develop professionally competent graduates prepared to demonstrate commitment to the pursuit of social justice and promote well being across the lifespan.
Aim 2: Produce counseling psychologists who engage in ethical practice with cultural humility and self-reflection.

Program Competencies

In alignment with the American Psychological Association’s Standards of Accreditation (SoA), the Psy.D. in Counseling Psychology Program seeks to train students in two broad areas. These include the following:

Discipline-specific knowledge. This area covers training in the scientific foundations of psychology, and includes biological bases of behavior, cognitive bases of behavior, developmental psychology, social psychology, research methods, and affective bases of behavior. 

Profession-wide competencies: This area covers competencies critical for competent and ethical functioning as a psychologist, and includes research, ethical and legal standards, individual and cultural diversity, professional values and attitudes, communication and interpersonal skills, assessment, intervention, supervision, and consultation and interprofessional/interdisciplinary skills.

Program Structure and Delivery

Courses in the program are delivered face-to-face on the Twin Cities Campus.

Degree Requirements

Scientific Foundations 20 cr.
Foundations of Professional Practice 35 cr.
Advanced Training for Professional Practice 12 cr.
Other Requirements 20 cr.
Total 87 cr.

Advanced Training for Professional Practice: 12 cr. (select from among the following)


The faculty members and advisers for the Doctorate of Psychology program have earned doctoral degrees in the areas they teach. Faculty teaching applied courses are practitioners who have professional experience in their area of expertise.

Admission Requirements

The program admits a new class of students to begin classes each fall. Normally, students will not be admitted to the program in the spring and summer terms. The number of students admitted each year is limited. Admissions decisions are based on the applicant’s ability to meet the expectations for academic performance outlined in the Program Handbook. Meeting the minimum admission requirements does not ensure admission to the program.

A master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, for which applicant maintained at least a 3.4 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, is required for admission. The master’s degree must be in a mental health related area (e.g. psychology, marriage and family therapy, social work, counseling, nursing, or human development). Applicants must have completed a clinical practicum of at least 300 hours. Applicants must demonstrate the language proficiency necessary for successful graduate coursework.

Applicants must have completed the following graduate courses within the last ten years with a grade of “B” or better. Coursework older than ten years may be accepted if the applicant has maintained a professional license to practice in a related field (e.g. LPC, LMFT) which requires documentation of continuing education credits. Applicants may be required to complete missing coursework prior to enrolling in doctoral level coursework:

  1. Developmental Psychology
  2. Physiological Psychology
  3. Counseling Skills
  4. Statistics
  5. Psychological Assessment
  6. Psychopathology
  7. Personality Theory and/or Theories of Counseling
  8. Clinical Interventions
  9. Professional Ethics

Early Entry Option for Saint Mary’s MA in Counseling and Psychological Services students ONLY

Students enrolled in the Counseling and Psychological Services Master’s Program at Saint Mary’s University may apply for admission to the Psy.D. program prior to completion of the M.A. program, and, if admitted, may enter the Psy.D. program after completion of approximately one year of full time master’s level course work. Students admitted to the Psy.D. program under this option will complete their remaining master’s level course work as part of their doctoral training, prior to internship applications.

Students admitted to the Psy.D. program under the early entry option must meet the following requirements and criteria:

  1. The following master’s level courses must be completed with a grade of “A”, “B”, or “P” (33 credits total)
PY605 Developmental Psychology 3 credits
PY608 Psychopathology 3 credits
PY613 Counseling Theory and Technique 3 credits
PY641 Marriage and Family Counseling 3 credits
PY620 Statistical Techniques 3 credits
PY724 Counseling Skills 3 credits
PY722 Ethical and Professional Issues 3 credits
PY606 Psychophysiology 3 credits
PY717 Psychological Assessment I 3 credits
PY718 Psychological Assessment II 3 credits
PY710 Practicum I 3 credits
  1. The requirement that applicants to the Psy.D. program must have completed a master’s degree is waived for early entry applicants. The courses listed above are substituted for the required prerequisite courses listed in the Psy.D. admissions requirements. All other requirements for admission to the Psy.D. program must be met by early entry applicants, including the requirement that a GPA of 3.4 or higher must be maintained in master’s level course work.
  2. Early entry applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their undergraduate coursework and 3.4 in their graduate course work.
  3. Early entry applicants must provide at least one of the required letters of recommendation from faculty or supervisors familiar with their master’s level work.
  4. Candidates for early entry may apply for admission to the doctoral program after completion of 18 credits out of the courses listed above. Courses in which applicants are enrolled at the time of application may be included in the 18 credits.
  5. Students admitted to the Psy.D. program under the early entry option are expected to complete their master’s in Counseling and Psychological Services through coursework taken in the doctoral program. The following doctoral courses or their equivalent must be completed for the master’s degree (21 credits total). As indicated below, students must also pass PYD881 Qualifying Examination within the doctoral program. If a student does not pass PYD881 and chooses to return to the master’s program to complete their master’s degree, then the student will be required to complete PY723, the capstone course.
PYD818 Multiculturalism and Diversity 3 credits
PYD803 Social and Organizational Psychology 3 credits
PYD816 Personality Assessment 3 credits
PYD820 Common Factors in Counseling 3 credits
PYD827 Vocational Assessment and Career Counseling 2 credits
PYD821 Advanced Cognitive Behavioral Theories and Techniques
OR PYD822 Advanced Psychodynamic Theories and Techniques
3 credits
PYD840 & PYD841 Practicum 1-A & 1-B 4 credits
PYD881 Qualifying Examination 0 credit

*Students completing the Master of Arts in Counseling and Psychological Services with the coursework listed above will not meet Minnesota requirements for the LPC or LPCC. Students seeking this licensure will need additional coursework and should discuss the necessary requirements with the M.A. Program Director.

Application Process

Applicants must submit the following:

1.  Completed application form and supplemental application form with the nonrefundable application fee (fee not required for alumni or students seeking readmission or veterans and active military personnel),

2.  All transcripts documenting undergraduate and graduate coursework, including an official transcript issued to Saint Mary’s University from the institution granting the applicant’s completed master’s degree. (an official transcript is one that is sent or carried to the university in an envelope sealed by the granting institution,

3.  Personal Statement: A three to six page personal statement which addresses each of the following areas:

a) Provide a very brief description of your background, training, and experience. Include work and experiences both within and outside of the healthcare field.

b) Describe your long term career goals. Be as specific as possible. It is understood that these goals may change, and that they may not be clearly formed at this point in time.

c) How does obtaining licensure as a psychologist fit into your career goals? What is unique about a professional identity as a psychologist in terms of meeting your goals?

d) The doctoral program in counseling psychology is demanding of both time and energy, and sometimes students underestimate the commitment needed to complete the program in a timely manner. How do you plan to integrate your work as a student in the program with the other demands in your life? How do you anticipate making changes in your life so that you can successfully complete a doctoral program?

e) Describe the academic, interpersonal, and personal strengths you would bring to your work as a student in this program.

f) Describe the academic, interpersonal, and/or personal challenges that might hinder your success as a student in this program.  How do you plan to address these challenges?

g) What concerns you the most about the prospect of embarking on graduate study in a doctoral program in counseling psychology?

h) What excites you the most about the prospect of embarking on graduate study in a doctoral program in counseling psychology?

i) How do you anticipate (and perhaps hope) that completing a doctoral program in counseling psychology will change you?

4.  Reflective Essay: A two to three page reflective essay which addresses each of the following areas:

a) What are your thoughts and beliefs regarding the etiology of client distress?  In other words, how do psychological problems develop and how are they maintained?

b) What are your thoughts and beliefs regarding the nature of the psychological change process?  In other words, how do psychological problems become resolved?

5. Three letter(s) of recommendation that verify professional and/or volunteer experience and academic ability,

6.  A current résumé listing educational background and work experience,

7.  Copies of any professional licenses or certifications obtained.

8.  Applicants with international transcripts may require an English language proficiency exam (TOEFL, IELTS, PTE or MELAB accepted.)

Application materials should be sent to the attention of the Office of Admission on the Twin Cities campus. Applications are due by January 15 for students who wish to begin the program the following fall. Applications must be complete in order to be considered. After preliminary review of applications by the admission committee, selected applicants will be invited for an admission interview. Applications will be notified of the admission decision no later than April 15. Students admitted to the program will be asked to make a non-refundable deposit to hold their place in the program. Selected applicants may be notified that they have been placed on a waiting list. Applications received after the January 15 deadline will be considered for the following fall only if there is still space available in the program.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs of Study