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    Saybrook University
  Apr 25, 2024
2023-2024 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook with Spring Addendum 
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2023-2024 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook with Spring Addendum

Ph.D. Applied Psychophysiology

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Overview of Program

Applied Psychophysiology (APH) is the sub-specialty of psychophysiology which uses knowledge of the biological bases of various behaviors in conjunction with numerous psychological techniques to help people moderate illness-related symptoms and optimize their behavior in the sports, educational, and business environments.  

Applied Psychophysiologists are professionals who develop and use behavioral assessments and interventions based on such areas as behavioral genetics, hormonal influence on behavior, individual differences in perception, and abnormal physiological patterns. They assist clients in recognizing and altering problems caused by these biological underpinnings. Common psychophysiological intervention techniques include biofeedback, relaxation training, hypnosis, neurofeedback, stress management, among others.  

The Department of Psychophysiology, within the College of Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences at Saybrook University, provides a Ph.D. Applied Psychophysiology with three doctoral level specializations to prepare graduates to pursue careers in a professional practice informed by a scientific understanding of mind and body. 

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Assess and appraise knowledge of the biological basis of behavior and accurately relate and interpret behavioral dysfunctions to underlying biological dysfunctions. 
  2. Evaluate and interpret psychophysiological recording methodology and set, monitor, recognize and consistently perform correct recordings utilizing psychophysiological equipment. 
  3. Create, organize, and conduct independent psychophysiological research studies utilizing accepted design and analysis techniques so that students recognize common mistakes in published studies involving design and analysis and can teach others how to do so. 
  4. Explain and assess the physiological and stress responses underlying both behavioral and physiological sequences impacting optimal functioning, in order to design and conduct appropriate training utilizing psychophysiologically based techniques to optimize functioning in business, education, sports, and (when appropriately licensed) clinical environments. 
  5. Explain and integrate ethical principles and professional practice standards, as promulgated by the field's professional organizations, within the field of applied psychophysiology. 


There are 3 Specializations in available for the Ph.D. Applied Psychophysiology: 

  • General Investigative 
  • Clinical 
  • Optimal Performance 

Career Opportunities

For licensed health professionals, the Clinical Psychophysiology curriculum provides a range of useful concepts and skills for application in most specialty areas of medicine and mental health including opportunities in public and private practice.   Students entering the Optimal Functioning specialization will learn to assess and assist healthy people to perform better through behavioral control of their physiological systems.  Optimal functioning assessments and interventions are widely used in sports, education, business, military, and clinical environments. Students with the General Investigative Specialization will be well prepared for careers in research and education.

Program Requirements

Admissions Requirements

Students entering the Applied Psychophysiology doctoral program must have completed a master’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university prior to enrollment. Doctoral students must complete a minimum of 76 credits. Applicants to the Clinical Psychophysiology specialization must document a current healthcare or mental healthcare license or completion of a licensable healthcare or mental healthcare degree. 
Students with weaknesses in academic writing skills may take Graduate Academic Writing, a 3-credit course. Depending on prior education, they may need to review learning modules provided by the department covering areas including electronic circuitry, biology, psychology or medical information needed to perform psychophysiological assessments. 
By approval, Saybrook may accept up to nine graduate transfer credits into the Ph.D. Applied Psychophysiology degree from other regionally accredited colleges and universities prior to entrance. Transfer credits must be from courses substantially similar to those offered by the Department. They are applied to reduce the required number of elective or required courses for degree completion. Alternately, they may be waived without granting credit so students can take other electives in place of the transferred courses.  Suitability of the proposed courses for transfer to the intended degree are determined by the Department Chair. 
If a student has taken more than nine credits of past graduate courses matching required courses, or can demonstrate learning equivalent to a required course, the required course(s) may be waived without credit, and students will take additional elective(s) in their place. For further details regarding transfer credit policies, consult the Institutional Transfer Credit Guidelines section of the University Catalog. 
Students who have earned a Saybrook M.S. Mind-Body Medicine, or the M.S. Integrative and Functional Nutrition, and who are admitted into the doctoral degree in Applied Psychophysiology, can generally transfer all master’s degree credits that match either a required course or an elective in the Ph.D. program. The exact amount depends on which master’s degree the student has completed, and which Ph.D. specialization the student selects. These students must fulfill the doctoral degree requirements not completed at the master’s level, including the remaining required courses and the dissertation or project. 
For further information on admission into the Ph.D. Applied Psychophysiology program after completion of a master’s degree at Saybrook University, contact the Applied Psychophysiology Department Chair. 
M.S.-to-Ph.D. Pathway Applied Psychophysiology 
The Department of Applied Psychophysiology offers a pathway referred to as the M.S.‐to‐Ph.D. in Psychophysiology for applicants who want to pursue the Ph.D. in psychophysiology but lack a master’s degree.   These applicants will apply in the same manner as they would to the Ph.D. Psychophysiology (but without the requirement to submit graduate‐level transcripts).  If accepted, they will enter into the 76‐credit Ph.D. program and will remain in the Ph.D. throughout their time as student.  Students will be awarded an M.S. Psychophysiology upon completion of 31 credit hours consisting of courses required for the M.S. Psychophysiology or their equivalents in the doctoral program. 

University Learning Experience

Virtual Learning Experience (VLE) - Required Spring, Residential Learning Experience (RLE) or Community Learning Experience (CLE) - Required Fall

All new students begin their studies with a Welcome Week. Welcome Week activities, including a degree program orientation, are held online during the week ahead of the start of the fall and spring semesters. Participation is strongly encouraged.

All students are also required to attend a 5-day Virtual Learning Experience (VLE) held online at the beginning of spring semesters. The VLE offers didactic/topical, research, and practice-oriented seminars, sessions introducing each core course in the program, and group meetings of the program as a whole. The virtual conferences also involve informal exchanges with other students and program faculty for mentoring and socialization to the field. 

Additionally, students are required to attend the in-person Residential Learning Experience in falls of even years and the Community Learning Experience in fall of odd years.

Finally, all APH students are strongly encouraged to attend each Annual Meeting of the Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.


All APH students register for the 1 credit APH 5515 Colloquium course which meets once per month.  While students register for only one term, they are encouraged to attend the Colloquium throughout their Saybrook career.    


Students in the Ph.D. Applied Psychophysiology program pursue a 25-credit sequence of core courses in Applied Psychophysiology, 18 credits in specialization courses, and 12 credits of psychophysiologically relevant elective courses. This training prepares graduates for a broad range of employment opportunities in medical and mental healthcare, stress management, optimal functioning, sports and mental health coaching, and wellness education. Students in the Ph.D. Applied Psychophysiology also complete a 21-credit sequence of research courses, culminating in a doctoral dissertation and oral defense of the dissertation. Students carry out several original research projects, including the doctoral dissertation, on topics relevant to psychophysiological assessments and interventions in areas such as optimal functioning and health care. 
Each of the doctoral specializations is described separately with its coursework and career applications, following discussion of the core Ph.D. degree in Applied Psychophysiology. 
Total Degree Credits (Years 1-5): 76 
Core Requirements: 25 credits 
General Electives: 12 credits 
APH Electives or APH Specialization: 18 credits 
Research courses: 21 credits 

Mode of Delivery

Courses are presented as a combination of reading assignments, videos, live videoconferences, asynchronous class discussions and written assignments. Each class format may vary based on content and instructor preference and students are encouraged to review the course syllabus and Canvas course shell prior to the start of each term to assess the requirements of each course. 

Length of Program

The degree completion time for a student for the default course sequence will average between 4 and 5 years. The program requires 76 credits for graduation. Some students may complete degree requirements in fewer terms, and some may require more terms to complete the degree.

Required Courses

Elective Courses

Required Specialization Courses for the Clinical Specialization include the following:

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