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Our counseling psychology doctoral (PhD) program is APA-accredited. Our program follows the Boulder model for preparing scientist-practitioners, with an emphasis on social justice issues.

Introduction to UK Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Program (Video)

The program requires full-time study (9-12 credits per fall/spring semester) and residence in Lexington.  Like all counseling psychology PhD programs, our program includes the completion of a dissertation and a one-year, full-time internship at an APA accredited site, which usually requires relocation to another state.  As is typical for counseling psychology PhD programs, our program takes most post-master’s students (who enter the program with an applied mental health master’s degree) five years to complete and most pre-master’s students seven years to complete.

A majority of our program graduates (click here to Meet our Alumni) gain employment in mental health agencies (e.g., medical centers, community agencies, group practices), university counseling centers, or federal facilities (e.g., VA’s, prisons). Some graduates engage in private practice. Other graduates pursue research or teaching positions in institutions of higher education. The first employment setting is typically closely related to the specialized type of experience gained from the student’s pre-doctoral APPIC internship year. Many graduates have been able to move to the director/manager levels of those health delivery systems within three to seven years of graduation.  Please review our PhD Program’s Student Admissions, Outcomes, and Other Data summary (see side menu) for information about time to completion, internship placement, retention, and licensure.

Check out our videos, in which we answer students’ questions about Counseling Psychology and our programs and our doctoral students talk about their experience with the UK Counseling Psychology PhD program.  Learn more about the awards and accomplishments and professional background and interests of our current students.  If you have questions about the program that you would like to ask a current student, email Melanie Miller (

Top 12 Reasons to Join Our Program

  • 100% of our alumni achieved gainful employment after graduation
  • 100% of our students obtain practicum placements in a variety of desirable settings such as VA Medical Centers, Hospitals, Prisons, University Counseling Centers, and Community Mental Health Agencies
  • 99% of students who wanted full-time (20/hrs/wk, includes tuition waiver and medical insurance coverage) funding in the last 3 years received it in the form of assistantships or fellowships
  • 98% of our students who applied for pre-doctoral internship in the last ten years received an APA-accredited and fully funded internship
  • Our students received 49 awards in 2020-2022
  • Our students were first authors on 27 publications and 52 presentations at professional conferences in 2020-2022
  • We have a 6:1 student to faculty ratio that facilitates close mentoring in research and personal attention in the classroom
  • We have a diverse student body and faculty in the program
  • Program faculty are successful in obtaining extramural grant funding to support their research (e.g., our department had $1,104,364 in primary and $11,428,625 in collaboration sponsored project grants and contracts for Academic FY 2022)
  • The opportunity to conduct multidisciplinary research: our faculty and students publish with scholars from Behavioral Science, Engineering, Public Health, Political Science, Sociology, Social Work, Gender and Women’s Studies, Education, and many other departments on the UK campus.
  • Social justice research, training, and advocacy opportunities (e.g., EDP Social Justice Scholarship Series, EDP Ally Development Workshop, Center for Equality and Social Justice)
  • Lexington is ranked as one of the Top 35 places to live in the USA by U.S. News & World Report, which described our city as a good place for young professionals to live given the constant influx of young, highly educated people, plus the temperate climate, outdoor recreation, and low cost of living.  Check out Lexington’s rankings, including recent Top 10 rankings on safety, place to raise a family, first-time home buying, place for new college grads, eating out affordably, work-life balance, and other quality of life indicators.

*List last updated in Fall 2022.

Program Philosophy and Social Justice Statement

The philosophy of the program is rooted in the values and goals of a socially just society. A socially just society is contingent on the optimal health and well-being of all persons in that society. The health and well-being of persons is contingent on access to healthy environments that support healthy development and functioning. We seek to train counseling psychologists who are competent health service psychologists (HSPs) that facilitate optimal well-being and the transformation of unhealthy and oppressive societal structures through engagement with science and practice.

Program Mission and Aims

Our mission is to train skilled and ethical scientist-practitioners who use their counseling psychology professional identity to competently address the evolving needs of a diverse society.  Learn more about the ten competencies and ten knowledge areas that underlie our program’s dual aims by examining the CP PhD Program Aims file available via our Handbooks and Forms webpage.

Program Training Model

We use a competency-based approach to training. We endorse the pedagogical principles for Preparing Professional Psychologists to Serve a Diverse Public and the Counseling Psychology Model Training Values Statement Addressing Diversity. We also embrace the following APA aspirational practice guidelines, among others: Multicultural Guidelines: An Ecological Approach to Context, Identity, and Intersectionality; Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Girls and Women; Professional Practice Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men, Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Older Adults; and Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Sexual Minority Persons; Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People; Guidelines for Psychological Practice for People with Low-Income and Economic Marginalization, and Guidelines for Assessment of and Intervention with Persons with Disabilities.  Our students completed clinical practica in a variety of settings in and around Lexington, including university counseling centers, community mental health agencies, private practices, assessment clinics, psychiatric hospitals, Veterans Health Administration medical centers (VA’s), correctional facilities, and specialty mental health clinics.

For in-depth information about all facets of the program, download the Doctoral Program Handbook and Program of Study from the Handbooks and Forms page.

Students who are looking for a program that will prepare them to be competitive for a career in academia will be delighted to learn that our program faculty (click here to Meet the Faculty) are some of the most productive, cited, and awarded in counseling psychology.


Academic Preparation for the Doctoral Program

Generally, students who enter the doctoral program have completed the master’s degree in psychology or counseling. We may accept strong applicants who have completed an undergraduate degree in psychology or a related discipline (e.g., sociology, pre-med), but do not have a master’s degree; these students are expected to complete our master’s level coursework and practica prior to beginning the doctoral coursework and practica. Students negotiate a specific program of study with their advisory committee. Students can often waive out of doctoral courses when they completed an equivalent course during their master’s program.

How Students are Selected for Admission

The annual PhD program application deadline (click here to Apply) is December 1.

Drs. McCubbin, Hammer,  and Stevens-Watkins will be taking doctoral students for Fall 2024 start. GRE scores are optional (unless the applicant wishes to work with Dr. Stevens-Watkins, in which case reporting GRE scores is required). There is no minimum GRE score requirement or cut-off.

Applications for admission are evaluated by the program faculty who carefully review the applicant’s (a) GPA; (b) GRE scores, when provided; (c) letters of recommendation addressing academic, research, and counseling experiences and interpersonal skills; (d) match with faculty research interests; (e) Statement of Purpose outlining professional goals (i.e., is it commensurate with our training model and social justice values, and does it demonstrate excellence in written communication); (f) writing sample demonstrating excellence in written communication; and (g) contribution to diversity, broadly defined to include individual social identities and background experiences. The program faculty holistically considers the entire application of a prospective student and makes decisions based not only on numerical criteria but also on perceived fit with program goals, needs, and values. Therefore, a low score in one area can be off-set by professional strengths in another area. Minimum GPA is >2.75 for undergraduate and >3.00 for graduate. Minimum TOEFL score is 79. It is crucial that students articulate in their Statement of Purpose how their specific research interests match the research program of one or two of the counseling psychology faculty members.

See the Apply webpage for information on what date doctoral interview day will be held via Zoom.

This interview process helps the program faculty and prospective students further assess fit with the program and intended faculty adviser. After the interview day, the program faculty meet to review, discuss, and make final decisions about admission offers.


The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in Counseling Psychology has been APA-accredited since November 9, 1983.

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



For specific questions about the Program, please contact:

Joseph H. Hammer, PhD

Associate Professor and Director of Doctoral Training

243 Dickey Hall

University of Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky 40506-0017


Phone: (859) 257-4158

We encourage prospective students to read the webpages mentioned above as well as the Handbook and Program of Study before emailing the Director of Training, as most questions are answered by these resources.  Dr. Hammer’s website also provides in-depth advice on applying to counseling psychology PhD programs.