Counseling Psychology PhD

Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology

Counseling Psychology Students

The Ph.D. Program in Counseling Psychology is dedicated to the preparation of counseling psychologists who facilitate the optimal development of individuals, groups, and organizations that is culturally relevant and psychologically appropriate across the lifespan. Our students are taught to use strategies of prevention, intervention, and remediation to assist others in developing effective coping skills and responses to their environments.

The program prepares students to meet the following profession wide competencies:

Individuals who successfully complete programs accredited in health service psychology (HSP) must demonstrate knowledge, skills, and competence sufficient to produce new knowledge, to critically evaluate and use existing knowledge to solve problems, and to disseminate research. This area of competence requires substantial knowledge of scientific methods, procedures, and practices.

Doctoral students are expected to: 

  • Demonstrate the substantially independent ability to formulate research or other scholarly activities (e.g., critical literature reviews, dissertation, efficacy studies, clinical case studies, theoretical papers, program evaluation projects, program development projects) that are of sufficient quality and rigor to have the potential to contribute to the scientific, psychological, or professional knowledge base. 
  • Conduct research or other scholarly activities. 
  • Critically evaluate and disseminate research or other scholarly activity via professional publication and presentation at the local (including the host institution), regional, or national level.

Doctoral students are expected to demonstrate competency in each of the following areas:

  • Be knowledgeable of and act in accordance with each of the following: 
    • the current version of the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct; 
    • relevant laws, regulations, rules, and policies governing health service psychology at the organizational, local, state, regional, and federal levels; and 
    • relevant professional standards and guidelines. 
  • Recognize ethical dilemmas as they arise, and apply ethical decision-making processes in order to resolve the dilemmas.
  • Conduct self in an ethical manner in all professional activities. 

Trainees must demonstrate knowledge, awareness, sensitivity, and skills when working with diverse individuals and communities who embody a variety of cultural and personal background and characteristics. The Commission on Accreditation defines cultural and individual differences and diversity as including, but not limited to, age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, language, national origin, race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. 

Doctoral students are expected to demonstrate: 

  • An understanding of how their own personal/cultural history, attitudes, and biases may affect how they understand and interact with people different from themselves.
  • Knowledge of the current theoretical and empirical knowledge base as it relates to addressing diversity in all professional activities including research, training, supervision/consultation, and service. 
  • The ability to integrate awareness and knowledge of individual and cultural differences in the conduct of professional roles (e.g., research, services, and other professional activities). This includes the ability apply a framework for working effectively with areas of individual and cultural diversity not previously encountered over the course of their careers. Also included is the ability to work effectively with individuals whose group membership, demographic characteristics, or worldviews create conflict with their own.
  • Demonstrate the requisite knowledge base, ability to articulate an approach to working effectively with diverse individuals and groups, and apply this approach effectively in their professional work.

Doctoral students are expected to: 

  • Behave in ways that reflect the values and attitudes of psychology, including integrity, deportment, professional identity, accountability, lifelong learning, and concern for the welfare of others. 
  • Engage in self-reflection regarding one’s personal and professional functioning; engage in activities to maintain and improve performance, well-being, and professional effectiveness. 
  • Actively seek and demonstrate openness and responsiveness to feedback and supervision.
  • Respond professionally in increasingly complex situations with a greater degree of independence as they progress across levels of training. 

Communication and interpersonal skills are foundational to education, training, and practice in psychology. These skills are essential for any service delivery/activity/interaction and are evident across the program’s expected competencies. 

Doctoral students are expected to: 

  • Develop and maintain effective relationships with a wide range of individuals, including colleagues, communities, organizations, supervisors, supervisees, and those receiving professional services. 
  • Produce and comprehend oral, nonverbal, and written communications that are informative and well-integrated; demonstrate a thorough grasp of professional language and concepts. 
  • Demonstrate effective interpersonal skills and the ability to manage difficult communication well. 

Trainees should demonstrate competence in conducting evidence-based assessment consistent with the scope of HSP. 

Doctoral students are expected to demonstrate the following competencies: 

  • Demonstrate current knowledge of diagnostic classification systems, functional and dysfunctional behaviors, including consideration of client strengths and psychopathology.
  • Demonstrate understanding of human behavior within its context (e.g., family, social, societal and cultural).
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply the knowledge of functional and dysfunctional behaviors including context to the assessment and/or diagnostic process.
  • Select and apply assessment methods that draw from the best available empirical literature and that reflect the science of measurement and psychometrics; collect relevant data using multiple sources and methods appropriate to the identified goals and questions of the assessment as well as relevant diversity characteristics of the service recipient.
  • Interpret assessment results, following current research and professional standards and guidelines, to inform case conceptualization, classification, and recommendations, while guarding against decision-making biases, distinguishing the aspects of assessment that are subjective from those that are objective.
  • Communicate orally and in written documents the findings and implications of the assessment in an accurate and effective manner sensitive to a range of audiences.

Trainees should demonstrate competence in evidence-based interventions consistent with the scope of HSP. Intervention is being defined broadly to include but not be limited to psychotherapy.  Interventions may be derived from a variety of theoretical orientations or approaches. The level of intervention includes those directed at an individual, a family, a group, an organization, a community, a population, or other systems. 

Doctoral students are expected to demonstrate the ability to: 

  • Establish and maintain effective relationships with the recipients of psychological services. 
  • Develop evidence-based intervention plans specific to the service delivery goals. 
  • Implement interventions informed by the current scientific literature, assessment findings, diversity characteristics, and contextual variables. 
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply the relevant research literature to clinical decision making. 
  • Modify and adapt evidence-based approaches effectively when a clear evidence-base is lacking, 
  • Evaluate intervention effectiveness, and adapt intervention goals and methods consistent with ongoing evaluation. 

Supervision involves the mentoring and monitoring of trainees and others in the development of competence and skill in professional practice and the effective evaluation of those skills. Supervisors act as role models and maintain responsibility for the activities they oversee. Doctoral students are expected to demonstrate knowledge of supervision models and practices. 

Consultation and interprofessional/interdisciplinary skills are reflected in the intentional collaboration of professionals in health service psychology with other individuals or groups to address a problem, seek or share knowledge, or promote effectiveness in professional activities. 

Doctoral students are expected to demonstrate knowledge and respect for the roles and perspectives of other professions, as well as knowledge of consultation models and practices.

Strengths and highlights of our training program include:

In-depth infusion of racial-cultural and social justice emphases throughout program components. Although our curriculum features certain courses with words like "multicultural" in the titles, our multicultural-social justice instruction does not just reside in those courses. Rather, we conceptualize every course and program experience within the context of a social justice and racial-cultural framework. Not only is this orientation consonant with our belief that socially-just practice is ethical, effective practice, it also allows us to align our work with broader movement toward social equity.

Counseling Psychology doctoral students pose with brightly colored lanyards

Research exposure and opportunities. At Teachers College, you have the opportunity to get first-rate practitioner preparation in the context of first-rate scholarship. Our faculty includes researchers whose work has shaped the counseling profession, and every faculty member maintains ongoing research teams to which students at any level of training may apply. To find out more about our faculty's research interests, please consult their individual pages on the TC website.

A commitment to the crucial role of experiential training and self-awareness within psychotherapist preparation. As a counselor or therapist, the instrument that you use to enact your professional work is you -- so the more aware you are of your own interpersonal style, skills, and biases, the more effectively you can use your instrument. Many students find that some of the most important, challenging, and transformational aspects of their TC training results from courses like Foundations, Group Counseling, and Racial-Cultural Counseling Lab, where students learn about themselves as they learn about the practice of psychology.

TC's program of study leading to the doctorate in Counseling Psychology is guided by criteria adopted by the American Psychological Association for accredited programs in professional psychology.

The course of study includes:

  • Scientific and professional ethics and standards
  • Psychological measurement, statistics, and research design and methodology
  • Knowledge and understanding of a) history and systems of psychology b) the biological basis of behavior c) the cognitive-affective bases of behavior d) the social bases of behavior (e.g., social psychology) and e) individual behavior (e.g., personality theory, human development)
  • Intervention strategies and methods of inquiry; and
  • Preparation to undertake a doctoral dissertation.

In developing the necessary mastery of these areas, students are expected to be attentive to the historical roots of counseling psychology, i.e., the study of individual differences, the vocational guidance movement, and the mental health movement. Similarly, they are expected to be prepared for the probable future of counseling psychology in the areas of expertise represented by the faculty, especially the influence of social and cultural systems (home, family, workplace, and environment) on human development and change.

Mentorship model. Students are advised by the faculty mentor with whom they selected during the application process. The advisor serves the important roles of orienting students to the program and helps them to develop their curriculum plans. Students receive mentorship in research by serving on the research teams of their advisors and ordinarily do research practicum on their mentor’s research team.  The doctoral mentors are:

  • Melanie E. Brewster: (Now interviewing new Ph.D. students to enroll in Fall 2024) Mental and physical health correlates of marginalization and/or objectification; atheism and nonreligious identities; collective action and well-being; instrument development and psychometric evaluation. Co-directs the Sexuality, Women, and Gender Project, which offers a graduate certificate. Link to website
  • Whitney J. Erby: (Now interviewing new Ph.D. students to enroll in Fall 2024) The relationship between the experience of racism, racial identity, and well-being; career development; Black women’s mental health; couple’s therapy; psychological assessment.
  • George V. Gushue: (Now interviewing new Ph.D. students to enroll in Fall 2024) The influence of racial/cultural attitudes, beliefs, and values on social cognition (e.g., perception, judgment, memory, and attribution) in the areas of client evaluation and counseling practice, career development, and health; group and family counseling; psychosocial dimensions of HIV/AIDS. Link to website. 
  • Cindy Y. Huang: Cultural factors associated with child development and psychopathology for ethnic minority and immigrant youth; prevention of psychopathology; culturally-informed child and family interventions; and family, school, and community-based prevention intervention. Link to website
  • Marie L. Miville: Multicultural counseling; universal-diverse orientation; Latina/o psychology; LGBT issues; women's issues; intersections of identities; supervision and training. Link to website. 
  • Laura Smith: Social inclusion/exclusion and wellbeing; psychological dimensions of social class, poverty, and classism; intersections of race and class; Whiteness and antiracism; participatory action research; community-based psychological interventions. Link to website.
  • Derald Wing Sue: Multicultural counseling and therapy, cultural competency, multicultural consultation and organizational development, psychopathology, racism and antiracism, law and ethics. Link to website.
  • Brandon L. Velez (Director of Clinical Training & currently interviewing new Ph.D. students to enroll in Fall 2024) The associations of discrimination and identity-related attitudes with mental health and career outcomes among sexual, gender, and racial/ethnic minority individuals, as well as populations with multiple minority identities. Link to website. 

For detailed information about the program and its requirements, please see the Doctoral Student Handbook available for download below.

The Ph.D. program also offers a Bilingual Latinx Mental Health Concentration.

Questions related to the program's accredited status should be directed to the Commission on Accreditation: 

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
American Psychological Association
750 1st Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 336-5979 / Email:

Teachers College Building
A graduate student studies in the TC library using a book and her laptop.

Admissions Information

Displaying requirements for the Spring 2024, Summer 2024, and Fall 2024 terms.

Doctor of Philosophy

  • Points/Credits: 90
  • Entry Terms: Fall

Application Deadlines

Entry Term AvailablePriority DeadlinesFinal DeadlinesExtended Deadlines
FallDecember 1, 2023December 1, 2023N/A

Select programs remain open beyond our standard application deadlines, such as those with an extended deadline or those that are rolling (open until June or July). If your program is rolling or has an extended deadline indicated above, applications are reviewed as they are received and on a space-available basis. We recommend you complete your application as soon as possible as these programs can close earlier if full capacity has been met.

Application Requirements

 Online Degree Application, including Statement of Purpose and Resume
 Transcripts and/or Course-by-Course Evaluations for all Undergraduate/Graduate Coursework Completed
 Results from an accepted English Proficiency Exam (if applicable)
 $75 Application Fee
 Two (2) Letters of Recommendation
 Academic Writing Sample

Requirements from the TC Catalog (AY 2023-2024)

Displaying catalog information for the Fall 2023, Spring 2024 and Summer 2024 terms.

View Full Catalog Listing

The program of study that follows is described in terms of full-time study. Some of the courses may be taken on a part-time basis. However, full-time study after the first 30 applicable credits is required unless the student can present persuasive evidence that his or her living and working circumstances have not prevented, and will not prevent, him/her from taking full advantage of the College’s resources. Certain essential subjects and practica are offered only in the morning and early afternoon hours.

The doctorate degree is granted after successful completion of a minimum of 90 points of planned, sequential study beyond the bachelor’s degree, of which at least 60 points must be taken at Teachers College. The doctoral program is accredited by the American Psychological Association and requires at least five years, including the equivalent of four years of academic study beyond the bachelor’s degree and one calendar year of internship.

Please note that upon admission to the Ph.D. program in Counseling Psychology, students will receive a Doctoral Student Handbook for the Ph.D. program in Counseling Psychology which will provide updated policy, program features, and requirements. (The most recent handbook is available on the Program website). The program of study leading to the Doctorate in Counseling Psychology is guided by criteria adopted by the American Psychological Association for accredited programs in professional psychology.

The course of studies includes: scientific and professional ethics and standards; psychological measurement, statistics, and research design and methodology; knowledge and understanding of: (a) history and systems of psychology, (b) the biological basis of behavior, (c) the cognitive-affective bases of behavior, (d) the social bases of behavior (e.g., social psychology), and (e) individual behavior (e.g., personality theory and human development), intervention strategies and methods of inquiry; and preparation to undertake a doctoral dissertation.

In developing the necessary mastery of these areas, the student is expected to be attentive to the historical roots of counseling psychology, i.e., the study of individual differences, the vocational guidance movement and the mental health movement. Similarly, she or he is expected to be prepared for the probable future of counseling psychology in the areas of expertise represented by the faculty, especially the influence of social and cultural systems (home, family, workplace, and environment) on human development and change.

In addition to core requirements, courses in specific and specialized areas of counseling psychology are available. Courses in the department are supplemented by appropriate offerings in other Programs and Departments at Teachers College, and Columbia University.

Please note that satisfactory performance in the degree program is defined as no incomplete grades and no courses in which the grade earned is lower than B. Academic dishonesty and unethical behavior may be grounds for immediate dismissal from the program (master’s or doctoral). Specific information regarding curriculum requirements are contained in the Doctoral Student Handbook. In addition to coursework, a number of other academic experiences are required.

Doctoral Certification

Candidacy as a doctoral student expires after a certain number of years. Ph.D. candidates must complete all degree requirements within seven years of first entering the program (six years if they have an applicable master’s degree or 30 points of advanced standing prior to doctoral admission).

Counseling Psychology students do not become official candidates for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy until they have passed: 1) a College-Wide Psychology Research Methods Exam, and 2) a Program Comprehensive exam which includes both a written exam and the submission of a Research Competence project paper. The written exam covers several areas in Counseling Psychology, including: (1) theoretical concepts; (2) core psychology course work; (3) clinical interventions; (4) assessment in career work and personal/social counseling; (5) professional issues such as ethics, professional trends, and developments in counseling psychology. Cultural issues will be infused into the content questions in the exam. In addition, they must satisfy all other requirements for certification prescribed by the Office of Doctoral Studies (ODS). Students who fail to take the certification examination at the appropriate point in their studies are subject to certain penalties. Also there are evaluations done annually to facilitate students’ timely completion of the Ph.D. degree (See Doctoral Student Handbook for more information).

Practicum and Externship

Practicum placements are available both on-campus and off-campus. The Dean Hope Center for Educational and Psychological Services (CEPS) is an in-house training clinic located at 657 528 Building. Students may petition program faculty to complete practicum placements off-campus and should contact the Fieldwork Coordinator for further information. A year-long externship placement may be required of students who do not obtain sufficient clinical hours during their practicum rotations.


For doctoral students only: Supervised experience in approved and appropriate agencies, institutions, and establishments. Students are required to petition faculty for internship training and must be approved to apply for an internship. Students must have completed all coursework during the academic year in which they are applying for an internship. Students must have passed all certification and comprehensive examinations as well as have an approved dissertation proposal.

The Dissertation

For most doctoral students, the completion of course requirements presents few problems. Successful completion of a dissertation is usually less easily managed. Unless carefully planned in advance, it can prove a difficult hurdle. Accordingly, the degree program has several built-in features designed to facilitate the formulation and successful execution of an acceptable dissertation proposal and assistance in completing the dissertation. These include the completion of a research competence project, the Dissertation Seminar course, and a Review of Research course.

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