Counseling Psychology—Doctoral Program


Students in classroom

Admissions requirements

  • Resume or curriculum vitae (CV).
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • Written statement discussing your reasoning for wanting to pursue doctoral study, professional goals, assessment of your personal assets and relevant life experiences that might be useful in your work as a helping professional.
  • Complete this supplemental application program form.

Student success

  • Breezy Gibson
    "My studies gave me exposure to real- world research, which has made me much more confident in seeking a career in this field."Breezy Gibson, Alumni

Program overview

The program is offered in-person in Kalamazoo; however, there are some courses that are offered online. The program is offered in a hybrid format in Grand Rapids which means there are several courses offered online and some courses meet in-person.

Western Michigan University's doctoral program in counseling psychology began in 1978 and is currently based on a scientist-practitioner model.

The Counseling Psychology Doctoral program resides in the College of Education and Human Development in the Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology. The program's philosophy holds that theory, research and practice are interdependent and complementary. The curriculum and practical experiences are designed to ensure professional competency in all three dimensions and to facilitate their integration. The counseling psychology program’s student admissions, outcomes and other data are provided to help potential doctoral students make an informed decision. Program graduates are typically employed in a variety of settings including academic departments, university counseling centers, community mental health agencies, hospitals and independent practices.

The Counseling Psychology Training Committee is responsible for administering the program which leads to a Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology. Graduates of the program meet curriculum requirements for licensure as a psychologist in Michigan. Because the program is accredited by APA, students are typically in a good position to meet curricular requirements for licensing in other states.

Join us for a virtual information session to learn more.

Why counseling psychology at Western Michigan University?

  • Courses are offered at both the WMU Grand Rapids and the WMU Kalamazoo locations for our students' convenience. 
  • 95% of WMU counseling psychology graduate students were employed or continuing education within three months of graduation.
  • In addition to WMU funding opportunities, our department offers competitive assistantships and scholarships.
  • Students are encouraged to pursue additional educational opportunities through one of our many excellent study abroad programs.
  • We are the only institution in the U.S. that includes an optional co-curricular designation known as the WMU Signature. Pathways include: Teaching & Student Success, Leadership, Health & Wellbeing, Diversity, Inclusion, Equity & Justice, and more! 


The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of American Psychological Association. Questions related to the program's accredited status should be directed to:

Commission on Accreditation
Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
750 First Street NE
Washington DC 20002-4242
Phone: (202) 336-5979


The curriculum was developed by the counseling psychology faculty and is based on guidelines and principles of the American Psychological Association for accreditation of professional psychology programs.

Basic Scientific Core of Psychology

  • Research design and statistics
  • Biological bases of behavior
  • Cognitive-affective bases of behavior
  • Social bases of behavior
  • Individual behavior and human development
  • History and systems of psychology

Specialization in Counseling Psychology

  • Professional issues and ethics in counseling psychology
  • Counseling theory and practice
  • Consultation
  • Intellectual and personality assessment
  • Vocational psychology
  • Supervised practica
  • Supervision of counseling and therapy
  • Multicultural counseling psychology

Students are able to pursue specialty interests in counseling psychology through elective courses and other adjunctive experiences such as involvement in faculty research, individual or group clinical supervision. The student's doctoral chair and committee, along with the Counseling Psychology Training Committee, are responsible for helping the student develop a program of study and for monitoring the student's progress through the program.

Comprehensive exams

Students are expected to demonstrate attainment of core knowledge and competencies by successfully passing a series of examinations in the following areas:

  1. Counseling psychology information and knowledge, and
  2. Professional work sample.

Pre-Doctoral internship

A 2000-hour pre-doctoral internship in an APA and APPIC setting is required.


A dissertation that is psychological in nature is required.

Multicultural and diversity emphasis

The program emphasizes the importance of addressing the needs of an increasingly diverse society. To that end the program strives to increase the educational opportunities of racial minorities and diverse student populations. The program creates an atmosphere where unique values and concerns receive attention and respect. Racial minority and other diversity concerns are integrated into coursework, practica and supervision. Three courses in multicultural counseling are required: two of which have a focus on race and ethnicity and one in an elective area such as further racial minority studies, psychology of women, and lesbian and gay issues in counseling and development. Many faculty and students maintain active professional and research interests concerning various aspects of multicultural and diversity studies.

The program is also committed to recruiting and supporting diverse faculty and students. Among the students who are currently most active in coursework and department life (the last four admissions classes 2016 through 2019):

  • 46 percent are African or African American
  • 35 percent are White or Caucasian (non-Hispanic or Latinx)
  • 11 percent are Hispanic or Latinx
  • 4 percent are Asian
  • 4 percent are multiracial

Of the students admitted into the program since 2016, about 65 percent of the students are U.S. racial or ethnic minorities and approximately 73% are female. Also since 2016, prior degrees of students at admission vary with:

  • 61 percent of students hold Master's degrees
  • 39 percent of students hold Bachelor's degrees

Students are also diverse in a number of other ways—there are openly lesbian and gay students, students with disabilities, etc. There is also diversity among the faculty in regard to gender, age, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, and other considerations.

Licensed Psychologist

This option is specifically designed to meet the educational curricular requirements as a State of Michigan Licensed Psychologist. Because the program is accredited by APA, students are typically in a good position to meet curricular requirements for licensure in other states.

Cost & Funding

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