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2016-2017 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook
Saybrook University
  Jul 13, 2020
2016-2017 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook 
2016-2017 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook [Archived Catalog]

Psychology, Ph.D.

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The Ph.D. Psychology degree program in the Humanistic & Clinical Psychology department offer mature students a foundation of scholarship based in the tradition of existential, humanistic, and transpersonal psychology. The Ph.D. degree program offers graduate education that helps students expand their outlook beyond the confines of a discrete discipline.

Students may customize their electives in the Ph.D. program, selecting from a wide range of options to expand their horizons and meet a broad range of future professional opportunities. If students declare one of the three Specializations, their academic requirements will be specific to that focus area. Please see the Requirements under each Specialization for details. The Ph.D. program in Psychology provides flexibility in individual approaches to program planning and the study of Psychology along with a range of opportunities to broaden and deepen knowledge, interests, and areas of academic and professional development. The program provides the opportunity to build upon the foundation provided by an M.A. degree, from one of Saybrook’s degree programs or elsewhere. Students develop their own plan from a wide range of options to develop further areas of knowledge, skill, and expertise to expand the scope of future opportunities and endeavors in professional life. This program is not a clinical psychology program nor is it designed to prepare students for future professional licensure. Such students should consider admission to the HCP Clinical Psychology degree program.

Degree Program Requirements

Hybrid Online Learning Model

The PhD Psychology degree program combines online learning with periodic in-person residential conferences.

Residential Orientation (RO)

All new students in the Ph.D. in Psychology degree program begin their studies with our one-time, two-day Residential Orientation. Residential Orientations are held two days ahead of the Residential Conference at the start of the fall and spring semesters in California. Attendance at the entire RO is an academic requirement.

At the RO, students become familiar with the Saybrook culture and academic and support services, including online resources, and the library research services and databases. The challenges of distance and peer learning are also discussed during this time. At the RO, students:

  • Consult with the Psychology degree program director and an academic advisor to organize their degree plan process.
  • Develop a rationale for the scope and sequence of their proposed plan of study.
  • Plan what consultation they will need from other faculty.

Residential Conferences (RCs)

All Psychology students participate in two five-day long required Saybrook Residential Conferences (RCs) per year (one at the beginning of the fall semester and one at the beginning of the spring semester). Although you may complete most of your courses through distance learning, all our online graduate degree programs have residential requirements. Residential requirements are academic requirements, and their completion is important for your successful academic progress as well as allowing you to meet with faculty and co-learners in a stimulating face-to-face environment. Our RCs are an important part of your learning experience as they nurture intellectual creativity, enrich the educational environment, and foster faculty and peer interactions. There are courses being launched, independent learning activities, peer learning opportunities, and other hands-on experiences intended to nurture professional development, skill building, and transformative change. All students must be on-site on the registration day and remain in residence until the last day of each conference. It is imperative that students plan accordingly. Any exceptions must be approved by the degree program director prior to the conference. Those students enrolled in the Ph.D. Psychology; Specialization in Psychophysiology adhere to the RC scheduled as outlined in the Specialization section.

Some Certificate programs may have additional residential obligations for RC attendance (see Certificate programs).

Residential Conference Requirement

Doctoral students attend until they have advanced to doctoral candidacy (upon satisfaction of essay orals).

Academic Credit for RO and RC

No academic credit is given for attendance at the Residential Orientation. Students who attend a seminar at an RC and wish to study the topic further may, with the permission of the seminar instructor and degree program director, register for an independent study course (ALL 8100) following the RC and receive 1 academic credit upon completion. Each course is individually designed and negotiated with the seminar instructor. Not all RC workshops, courses, and seminars are eligible for the follow-up independent study credit.

RC Approved Absence Policy

If a student must miss an RC due to extenuating circumstances that include, but are not limited to documented medical hardship or family emergency, attendance at an RC must be made up at a later date, even if that is beyond the point where the student would normally not be required to attend RCs. In such cases, the student needs to notify the degree program director prior to the missed conference for approval Refer to the Student Refund Policy for additional information.

Residential Conference Substitution Process

Prior to the Start of the Residential Conference

If students would like to substitute attendance at a professional conference for attendance at one of the RCs, they need to identify a faculty member who will sponsor them in this request. The conference must be at least five days, in accordance with Saybrook’s Residential Conference. Students must complete the “Authorization Request to Substitute for Residential Conference” form and submit it for approval no less than 30 days before the RC to be substituted.

After Attendance at the Substitution Conference

Following the conference, students must complete the “Confirmation of Attendance at Substitute Conference” form and send to their faculty sponsor. After review and approval, the faculty sponsor will then forward it to the degree program director, who will complete the recording process. Tangible documentation of attendance for the entire event is required, along with a copy of the completed Authorization Request signed by the supervising faculty member and any other required academic work or learning product required by the supervising faculty member.

Transfer Credit

Transfer credits based on equivalent graduate courses taken at another regionally accredited institution in the same or similar discipline where the student received a grade of B or better may be transferred and will reduce the number of course credits required to be completed at Saybrook. Allowable transfer credits must be suitable for transfer to the intended degree as determined by the Registrar and the degree Program Director. Transfer course credits do not affect the minimum number of credits required for the degree.

Transfer credit to be applied toward required electives:

  • PhD Psychology - May include up to 12 transfer credits completed in the Psychology discipline, 6 of these credits may be from cognate fields, non-degree Saybrook Certificate credits, Saybrook CE credits, or other non-degree credits taken at Saybrook University within the last five years.

Degree Completion Time

The degree completion time for a full time student enrolled in the PhD Psychology program following the default course sequence will range from 5 - 7 years. Any breaks in enrollment may impact completion time.

College, Degree Program, or Specialization change

Students who wish to change their degree program focus will be reevaluated by the new degree program director as to the appropriateness of admission to that new program of study. If admitted, those students will be held accountable to the degree program requirements as specified for the academic year in which such a change of enrollment is granted.

Ph.D. Research Requirement

The Ph.D. degree program in Psychology requires a sequence of research courses designed to develop research competencies in key areas. The sequence begins with Level 1 research courses: Information Competency and Library Use (RES 1006) in the first semester of enrollment, complemented by the Methods of Research and Disciplined Inquiry Part I and Part II courses (RES 1005 during first semester; RES 1015 during second semester or when RES 1005 is successfully completed). The initial sequence concludes with a Level 2 research methods course and the Research Practicum (RES 1100A/RES 1100B) in order to advance through the Candidacy process. These research courses must be taken consecutively:

  • Successful completion of RES 1006 and RES 1005 are required before the student may register for RES 1015.
  • Successful completion of RES 1015 is required before the student may register for the Level 2 research course.
  • Successful completion of the Level 2 research course is required before the student may enroll in the Research Practicum and essays.

Though not required, it is strongly recommended that the Research Practicum provides preparatory experience with the method to be employed in the dissertation research. Students who have not taken an advanced research course in the methodological area they plan to utilize for their dissertation research may be required by their dissertation committee to complete an additional advanced research methods course. An alternative Level 2 research methods course not offered in the current course list may also qualify if taken as an independent study with an available, qualified faculty member and a mutually agreed upon learning contract, pre-approved by the Director of Research, as well as the degree Program Director.

The remainder of the doctoral research sequence includes Qualifying Essay 1: Methodology Critique Essay (RES 9010), Qualifying Essays 2 and 3: Literature Review Essays (RES 9020 and RES 9030), successful advancement to Candidacy, completion and defense of the dissertation proposal, and completion and defense of the dissertation.

Ph.D. Psychology with Specialization:

Any student enrolled in the Psychology may opt to declare one of the Specializations offered through the HCP department. Specializations are available to students at both the master’s and doctoral level; they include:

  • Consciousness, Spirituality, and Integrative Health
  • Creativity Studies
  • Existential, Humanistic, and Transpersonal Psychology
  • Psychophysiology (different core program; see Psychophysiology Specialization section)


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree in Psychology; No Declared Specialization

Research Course Sequence (taken in order):

Total: 68-83 Credits ***

*Registration in RES 1100B required if practicum research not completed during RES 1100A

**Dissertation to be completed in a minimum of two semesters and a maximum of six full semesters

***Saybrook transcript must reflect a minimum of 60 completed credits of post-master’s learning for the Ph.D.


Unless otherwise stipulated by program, any other graduate-level coursework will apply toward Other Elective credit requirements

Total Other Elective Course Credits: 18

Saybrook M.A. to Ph.D. in Psychology *

While in the M.A. program in Psychology at Saybrook University, students may decide to apply to continue to the Psychology doctoral program. Once such students have completed the admissions process to the doctoral program, they may be accepted on the condition of completion of the M.A. degree requirements (i.e., successful completion of the thesis/project and all other degree requirements). Such students are allowed to enroll in up to an additional 9 credits of coursework while completing the thesis/project. If the student is admitted to the doctoral program, these 9 credits will be considered toward the Ph.D. degree. If the student does not continue to the doctoral program, those additional credits completed are awarded toward the M.A. degree. That is, admission into the doctoral program does not commence until the M.A. is complete. Such students will be required to adhere to the Psychology degree program catalog that is in place when they matriculate into to the doctoral program (i.e., after completion of the thesis/project), not the catalog in place at the time of their conditional acceptance into the doctoral program. In addition, if students have already completed the requirements for a Specialization at the M.A. level, the completion of an additional three courses (9 credits) is required for them to also claim the Specialization in CSIH, CS, EHTP, or TSC at the doctoral level.

The following requirements apply to students who 1) earn an M.A. in Psychology  at Saybrook University, and 2) are currently earning an M.A. degree and wish to apply for entry into the doctoral program immediately following graduation. If the student is accepted into the doctoral program and matriculates within two semesters of receiving the M.A., the following program requirements apply. If more than one year elapse between finishing the M.A. and beginning the Ph.D. program, the student must adhere to the standard Ph.D. course requirements as noted above.

Research Course Sequence (taken in order):


Unless otherwise stipulated by program, any other graduate-level coursework will apply toward Other Elective credit requirements.

Total Other Elective Course Credits: 18

Total: 60-75 Credits ***

*Registration in RES 1100B required if practicum research not completed during RES 1100A

**Dissertation to be completed in a minimum of two semesters and a maximum of six full semesters

***Saybrook transcript must reflect a minimum of 60 completed credits of post-master’s learning for the Ph.D.

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