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Counseling Psychology

Administrative Unit:Counseling Psychology
College/School: School of Education
Admitting Plans:Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Doctoral Minor

Faculty: Professors Gloria (chair), Hoyt, Quintana, Wampold; Associate Professors Thompson, Valdez; Assistant Professor Sánchez; Faculty Associate Lotta; Clinical Associate Professor Graham


The Department of Counseling Psychology offers a doctoral program in counseling psychology, which is fully accredited by the American Psychological Association.

The Ph.D. program in counseling psychology involves required course work in counseling psychology and related departments, as well as a series of supervised clinical training experiences. Through the course of this training, students are expected to attain competence in three domains that are critical to effective performance as a professional psychologist. The three domains are mutually reinforcing, in that skills in one domain enhance competence in the others.  

  • Preparation for role as a professional psychologist: professional standards and conduct;  scientific foundations;  knowledge and skill in psychological practice;  relational skills.
  • Understanding scientific basis for practice:  knowledge of research methods;  application of research findings to psychological practice;  application of scientific thinking to practice.
  • Multicultural competence and social-justice orientation:  cultural and scientific knowledge relevant to diverse and underrepresented groups;  awareness of self as a cultural being;  skill in application of knowledge of self, culture, and context to clinical work.

Supervised practicum experiences are available through many local agencies, including the departmental training clinic and the campus Counseling and Consultations Services. The culminating clinical training experience is a yearlong predoctoral internship, generally off campus and obtained through a national search-and-match process. Approximately 50 doctoral students and 40 master's students are enrolled in the department.

Graduates are employed as college/university teachers and researchers, in private practice, community agencies, government agencies, hospitals and professional organizations, and as administrators and public and private consultants.

Ph.D. Degree

The APA-accredited doctoral program in counseling psychology is based on the scientist/practitioner model of professional psychology and integrates counseling and psychological theory, scientific inquiry, and supervised practice. Counseling psychology is a psychoeducational specialty in which practitioners help others to improve their well-being, alleviate their distress, resolve their crises, and increase their ability to solve problems and make decisions. Counseling psychologists apply systematic, research-based approaches to help themselves and others understand and develop solutions to problems that are educational, vocational, emotional, social, health-related, or developmental in nature.

The UW–Madison program places special emphasis on multicultural competence and social justice, integration of research and practice, and preparation for ethical and professional conduct as either a researcher, teacher, or practitioner. The theoretical orientation of the program is best described as eclectic. Course work emphasizes the research base of counseling psychology and students are expected to involve themselves in faculty research. All students complete a one-year, full-time predoctoral internship as a culminating training experience. The planned length of the program for students entering with a master's degree is five years, although students may opt to take additional time depending on academic background and career objectives.

The department also admits a small number of students to a post–B.A. Ph.D. program. These students apply to the Ph.D. program at the completion of their undergraduate degree, and are required to integrate coursework and practicum training at the master's level, as well as introductory doctoral coursework, during the first two years of study. Students admitted to the post–B.A. Ph.D. program typically have excellent academic records and experiences that demonstrate high levels of both helping skills and research skills prior to admissions. The planned length of the post–B.A. Ph.D. program is six years, although again actual completion times will vary depending on student needs and career goals.

The mission of the counseling psychology Ph.D. program is to train psychologists who are skillful in research and intervention with diverse populations, who integrate science and practice into their professional roles, and who uphold high ethical and professional standards as psychologists. Program graduates are broadly prepared for a number of professional roles, including direct service, research, teaching, clinical supervision, and program design and evaluation.

The Ph.D. program is accredited by the American Psychological Association. For further information on accreditation, contact APA's Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242; 202-336-5979; apaaccred@apa.org.

Doctoral Minor 

Students from other departments may complete an academic minor that provides preparation for the helping professions. Students in business, communication, education, medicine, nursing, psychology, social work and sociology, in particular, may find opportunities for study closely related to their major fields of study. Students must secure an advisor from the counseling psychology faculty and this must be approved before taking courses in the minor. Doctoral minors may not enroll in practica unless they have been admitted by the doctoral committee into the "professional practice minor." Only students who are enrolled in other professional psychology programs may be admitted to the practice minor.

Licensure as a Psychologist

Graduates of the Ph.D. program are eligible for licensure to practice psychology. Licensure requirements differ by state, and currently most states require additional supervised practice post-Ph.D. All states require passage of the national licensure examination (the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology or EPPP), and most states also have state-specific written and oral examinations. Links to descriptions of licensure requirements by state may be obtained from the website of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards at http://www.asppb.net/.

Financial Aid

Although the program cannot guarantee funding to students admitted to the Ph.D. program, it is usual for these students to be supported by a combination of graduate assistantships and fellowships while they are completing course work in the program. The predoctoral internship is a paid appointment, with benefits, as well.

Department assistantships are assigned through a competitive application process each spring. Admitted students are included in the process the spring before they start in the program. Most students also apply for teaching or project assistantships outside the department, and most obtain at least some of their support in other departments or units on campus during their time in the program. Currently, all graduate assistantships and fellowships include tuition remission and health benefits.  

Qualified applicants may be nominated by the department for the Ed–GRS Education Graduate Research Scholars Fellowship and/or the University Fellowship. Qualifications for these awards are described in the departmental applications materials. Applicants are also encouraged to seek other private or federal funding sources. Applicants may obtain additional funding information from the local/college library and the Office of Student Financial Aid (which also has information on loans and work study).

Admissions Decisions

Admission to the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program is highly competitive. Approximately 130 doctoral applications are received each year. The department typically enrolls seven to eight doctoral applicants per year. Students are admitted once per year for either summer or fall matriculation. The Ph.D. application deadline is December 1.

In addition to acquired academic competencies and counseling skills, the counseling profession requires a high level of ethical behavior, self-awareness, and personal maturity. All are considered in assessing a student's fitness for a career as a professional counselor or counseling psychologist.

All materials listed below must be submitted to the department at the time of application and received by the application deadline:

  • The Graduate School Electronic Application and the associated Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Supplemental Electronic Application.
  • The general Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required. The subject test in psychology is optional. Scores are considered in conjunction with other admission information in the admission decision. Scores are to be sent directly from ETS to the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
  • Transcripts from all institutions attended since high school must be sent directly to the Department of Counseling Psychology. The GPA for the last 60 semester credits (or last two years) of undergraduate work is calculated and should be at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  • A statement of one to three pages should address specific goals and interests, background preparation; (both academic and professional), and reasons for graduate study in the Department of Counseling Psychology. This essay is electronically submitted through the Graduate School Application portal.
  • Letters of recommendation should include at least three current letters that address the applicant's professional and scholarly competence and potential. Letters are electronically solicited while completing the Graduate School Application on-line.
  • All work experiences (volunteer or paid) should be included on the Supplemental Application, whether or not they are counseling related.
  • Publications, presentations, and research experiences should be included on the Supplemental Application.

For more information: Admissions Coordinator, Department of Counseling Psychology, 335 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, Madison, WI 53706-1326; 608-262-4807; fax 608-265-3347; counpsych@education.wisc.eduwww.counselingpsych.education.wisc.edu.