PhD Program in Counseling Psychology


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.

The program requires full-time study (9-12 credits per semester) and residence in Lexington.  Like all counseling psychology doctoral programs, our program includes a one-year, full-time internship at an APA accredited site, which usually requires relocation to another city or state.

A majority of our program graduates 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 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 for information about time to completion, internship placement, retention, and licensure.

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. Our goal is 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 Training Model

We use a competency-based approach to training based on the benchmark competencies developed by the Council of Chairs of Training Councils. 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; Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Older Adults; and Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients; Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People; and Guidelines for Assessment of and Intervention with Persons with Disabilities.

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 are some of the most productive, cited, and awarded in counseling psychology.  Click on the Productivity radar map (Academic Analytics, 2016) to enlarge it and see for yourself:

Counseling Psychology 2014 Radar

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.

Academic Preparation for the Doctoral Program

Generally, students who enter the doctoral program have completed the master’s degree in a psychology-related area. We may accept strong applicants who have completed an undergraduate degree in psychology, 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 during their first semester in the program.

Check out our videos, in which our *doctoral students answer four questions* about their experience with the UK Counseling Psychology PhD program.

How Students are Selected for Admission

The annual PhD program application deadline is December 1.  Applications for admission are evaluated by the program faculty who carefully and comprehensively review the applicant’s (a) GRE scores and GPA; (b) letters of recommendation addressing academic, research, and counseling experiences and interpersonal skills; (c) match with faculty research interests; (d) personal statement outlining professional goals (i.e., is it commensurate with our training model and social justice values, and does it demonstrate excellence in written communication); (e) contribution to diversity, broadly defined to include individual social identities and background experiences.  The program faculty carefully 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 high scores in another area.  There is no minimum GPA or GRE score requirement).

To further maximize the “fit” between applicants and the Program, we conduct an on-campus doctoral interview day where we host top applicants who meet individually and in small groups with program faculty and current students.  PhD interview day is held each year on a Friday in late January or early February.  This interview process helps the program faculty and the prospective student to further assess fit. After the interview day, the program faculty meet to review, discuss, and make final decisions about admission offers. Final decisions are made based on student qualifications, match with a core faculty’s research, current faculty advisory loads, and student contribution to cultural and individual diversity.


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
Assistant Professor and Director of Training
243 Dickey Hall
University of Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky 40506-0017
Phone: (859) 257-4158