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IMGALTTAG Chatham University :: Majors & Programs :: Human Development Division :: Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


What is special about Chatham University’s PsyD in Counseling Psychology program?
Chatham University offers one of only six PsyD in Counseling Psychology programs in the nation. Chatham already has a strong presence in the region with its well-established Masters of Science in Counseling Psychology program, which prepares students to become licensed professional counselors. The new Doctor of Psychology in Counseling Psychology degree builds upon this strong foundation, and enables students to become practice-focused doctoral level psychologists.

What is Counseling Psychology?
The American Psychological Association defines Counseling Psychology as the subfield of psychology that helps people “recognize their strengths and resources to cope with their problems. Counseling psychologists do counseling/psychotherapy, teaching, and scientific research with individuals of all ages, families, and organizations (e.g., schools, hospitals, businesses). Counseling psychologists help people understand and take action on career and work problems. They pay attention to how problems and people differ across life stages. Counseling psychologists have great respect for the influence of differences among people (such as race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability status) on psychological well-being. They believe that behavior is affected by many things, including qualities of the individual (e.g., psychological, physical, or spiritual factors) and factors in the person's environment (e.g., family, society, and cultural groups)” (for more information, please see The overlap between the interests of Clinical Psychology and Counseling Psychology is considerable. Chatham elected to provide a program in Counseling Psychology, however, because of its strong emphases on the strength-based perspective, diversity, prevention, and consideration of context.

What is a PsyD degree?
Doctoral training in psychology culminates in the awarding of either a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree. Each degree enables its holder to pursue licensure as a psychologist and to practice independently. The difference between the two degrees lies in their relative emphasis during the training process. Most Ph.D. programs have a dual training emphasis on both clinical practice and conducting scholarly research. In contrast, the training model adopted by most PsyD programs places greater emphasis on clinical practice rather than on research. Graduates of PsyD programs are generally better prepared for a direct service rather than an academic or research-oriented career.

What else is special about the program?
Chatham’s PsyD program offers comprehensive basic education and training in counseling psychology, with an added unique focus on counseling psychology’s role in promoting sustainable health and well-being in individuals, families, and communities. Our PsyD will make use of Pittsburgh's rich health care resources adn urban communities, as well as Chatham's resources related to sustainability and its newly acquired Eden Hall Farm Campus.

What is meant by “psychology for sustainable health and well-being”?
Psychology, along with other disciplines, has become increasingly aware of the interdependence of all parts of the world – including individuals, families, schools and work, neighborhoods, and the nonhuman natural world. The psychologist of the 21st century must recognize this complex interdependence, and appreciate that all parts must learn to work together in order to sustain the health and well-being of each part into the future - the health of any part of the system is closely related to the health of the other parts. Our PsyD program prepares counseling psychologists to work systemically to promote mental, physical, and social health of individuals, families, and communities, with the vision of doing so in long-term respectful and sustainable ways.

What does “sustainable” mean?
Chatham University defines sustainability as the capacity of society to meet its current needs without compromising the ecological, social and economic systems on which society will rely for meeting future needs. This definition can be expanded to include parts that make up the societal systems – individuals, families, organizations, and communities. Sustainability is about health that grows from balance, reflection, long-term thinking, and thoughtful action, always considering the needs and strengths of all parts of a system.

Is this a new field of study within the discipline of psychology?
Yes and no. The concepts of balance, reflection, long-term thinking, and thoughtful action have long been a part of the psychologist’s practice. In addition, the science of psychology has from the beginning involved the study of human behavior, and of the interaction between humans and their environments. According to the current president of the American Psychological Association, Alan E. Kazdin, psychology has been involved in environmental issues “for a couple of decades, as reflected in such interrelated areas as environmental psychology, ecopsychology, conservation psychology, psychology of social justice and areas of applied psychology.” The discipline is now taking a fresh look at this area of study. Kazdin further states, “We ought to make the promotion of a sustainable environment a high priority within psychology and integrate our rich offerings with the efforts of other sciences, agencies and organizations. So many topics of our field (and virtually all of our APA divisions) are directly relevant and could be mobilized to convey more clearly that psychological science makes a difference” ( Chatham’s program will build on the already solid knowledge and skill bases of psychology, and apply them to efforts to promote sustainable health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities.

Is a doctoral degree necessary for a career in psychology?
It is possible to enjoy a career as a mental health professional at the bachelors or the masters degree level. However, the term “psychologist” is protected and reserved for those individuals who have earned a doctoral degree in psychology. Licensure as a psychologist is limited to those who have earned a doctoral degree. The decision to pursue doctoral training in psychology is a personal one that depends on many considerations, including career goals, life circumstances, and many other factors.

What is the model of training in Chatham’s PsyD program?
Chatham’s PsyD program in Counseling Psychology has adopted the practitioner-scholar model of training. This means that students will receive training in both research and practice, but that there will be greater emphasis on practice.

What are the basic requirements for admission to the program?
Enrollment in Chatham’s PsyD in Counseling Psychology program requires a masters degree in psychology, counseling, or a related field. Click here for additional requirements for the program. Interested applicants who do not meet all requirements for admission are encouraged to consult with program directors about their situations and individual options. For example, many of the pre-requisite courses are available for students to take at Chatham the summer prior to admission to the doctoral program.

Can credits from a masters degree be transferred in toward the doctoral degree?
Chatham’s PsyD program is a post-masters degree program, so no masters level credits can be transferred in. The transfer of credits from previous doctoral level coursework will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

What are the basic requirements for the degree?
The PsyD degree consists of three years of full-time academic study, including courses and practicums, followed by a one-year pre-doctoral internship. Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above in order to earn the degree. The curriculum is designed to lead the program to accreditation by the American Psychological Association.

What kinds of practicum training are offered?
Chatham’s psychology department has strong relationships with many agencies, hospitals, schools, and organizations within the Pittsburgh region. Practicum settings will allow students to provide services to a wide variety of populations under the supervision of psychologists.

Is a dissertation required for the PsyD in Counseling Psychology degree?
PsyD students will complete a doctoral level research project as part of their studies. Consistent with the philosophies of the PsyD degree and the practitioner-scholar training model, the project involves research that will inform practice and be directly beneficial to communities and constituencies affected by or involved in the research.

Who are the faculty in the PsyD program?
The PsyD faculty is widely diverse, and represents a range of orientations and types of practice. However, we have a shared commitment to the goals and values of Chatham’s PsyD program. Students in the program can expect to be challenged and supported by faculty members to grow intellectually, professionally, and personally. Click here for information about individual faculty members.

What careers are possible with a PsyD from Chatham?
Graduates of Chatham’s PsyD program can expect to pursue careers in most areas of psychology practice across the full spectrum of settings, including hospitals, community agencies, university counseling centers, clinics, and independent practice.

Will it be possible to work full-time while enrolled in the PsyD program?
Working full-time while completing the PsyD program would present many challenges. Courses are offered in the evening and, occasionally, on the weekend. During the fall and spring, the course load per term averages 12 credit hours. In summer, the load is slightly less. Beginning in the second semester, there are practicum experiences each semester, each requiring about 20 hours per week on-site.

What is a cohort program?
Students in a cohort model progress through the program as a unit, taking most of the same courses in the same sequence at the same time. Cohort programs result in a cohesive training experience for the students involved.

Is the program accredited?
Chatham University will seek accreditation by the American Psychological Association. The program is designed to meet the guidelines and principles for accreditation set forth by the Commission on Accreditation. For information about these guidelines and principles, please see Accreditation involves a self-study of the program, conducted during the first few years of the program’s existence, and site visits by the Commission representatives. We will also apply to become an ASPPB/National Register Designated Doctoral Program. It is possible to apply for this designation earlier in the life of the doctoral program, before the APA Accreditation process commences. Once a program becomes designated through ASPPC/National Register, the following statement will apply to it:

This program meets the "Guidelines for Defining 'Doctoral Degree in Psychology'" as implemented by the ASPPB/National Register Designation Project. Therefore, a graduate of this designated program who decides to apply for licensing as a psychologist typically will meet teh educational requirements for licensing. However, there are additional requirements that must be satisfied prior to being licensed as a psychologist. Please contact the state/provincial/territorial licensing board in the jurisdiction in which you plan to apply for exact information. Additional information including links to jurisdiction is available on the ASPPB's webssite:

IMGALTTAG Chatham University Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
Coolidge Hall • Woodland Road • Pittsburgh, PA 15232