Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Increasingly in the professional practice of counseling, the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) is becoming the credential of preference. This emerging emphasis has come about owing to the value and importance of praxis or clinical practical experience placed upon the participant within the degree program. Rather than being a research oriented degree such as the Ph.D. which is commonly thought of as the required teaching credential, the Psy.D. places fundamental emphasis upon skills training and practical clinical experience within the counseling setting. The Graduate Theological Foundation enters this field owing to the large number of clergy and ministry professionals who have come to seek the Psy.D. because they prefer an educational environment more responsive to their faith awareness needs than is typically exemplified in the secular professional schools of psychology and state university graduate departments.
The Psy.D. candidate at the GTF will encounter a two-fold emphasis: an unrelenting commitment to the academic study of psychology and its clinical practical application to the counseling situation and an equally active emphasis upon the role of the ministry professional as representative of the faith community within the counseling setting. By combining academic training and pastoral awareness, the Graduate Theological Foundation’s program will offer a unique opportunity for ministry professionals. Individuals must comply with the licensure and/or board certification requirements of the state in which they intend to be engaged in professional counseling as nomenclature is controlled by State Boards related to the various fields of counseling practice.  Visit this webpage, State Professional Counselor Licensure Boards and this webpage, State Licensure for Pastoral Counselors, for licensure details.
This Psy.D. program is open to those who have been actively engaged in some form of professional ministry (parish, social service, community outreach, chaplaincy, etc.) for at least five years and who meet the Admission Requirements listed for this degree. Students will benefit from pursuing the Psy.D. who are seeking to elevate their status within the profession, rather than seeking to obtain licensure or certification.  The degree is offered exclusively to the already credentialed ministry professional and is in no sense designed for those seeking to enter the field of counseling. Professional counseling and ministry credentials are viewed as prerequisites to entering this course of study with the GTF.
This degree is a 36 credit program that may be completed in no less than eighteen months and no more than three years.
  • 30 credits (10 courses)
  • 6 credits (Exit Project)
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Admission Requirements
  1. Baccalaureate degree or equivalent validated by a transcript.
  2. Master’s degree in a cognate field of ministry or counseling validated by a transcript.
  3. Five years of accumulated experience in full-time professional practice or some form of ministry.
  4. Completion of the Application Procedure.
Program Requirements
  1. Students are expected to thoroughly familiarize themselves with the Student Handbook of the year of their acceptance with particular focus on their particular degree program.  Students are bound by the academic and financial requirements of the Handbook in use at the time of their acceptance.  The current Student Handbook, as well as past years’ Handbooks, can be viewed here.
  2. Completion of ten Units of Study:  5 required from the Graduate Theological Foundation, and 5 completed through the GTF, through other approved educational institutions, or through the use of transfer credit.  
  3. Completion of the non-credit course, Research Methodology. This course is a prerequisite to beginning the doctoral project.
  4. Completion of the Doctoral Project and submission of one electronic copy including the Project Consultant’s evaluation forms. 

All academic requirements must be met by March 1 of the intended year of graduation.
All financial requirements must be met by April 1 of the intended year of graduation. 

Study Options 
This program requires the completion of ten Units of Study. A Unit of Study is defined as 40 contact hours of instruction and is equivalent to a 3-credit graduate-level course, one Unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, or 4 Continuing Education Units.
Units of Study may be completed through the GTF, from other approved venues, or by using transfer credit.
The Study Options lists the course offerings of the GTF and provides information about the various methods of earning Units of Study for your degree.
For Information about earning the Psy.D. through a residential PRIME affiliate institution, click here.
NOTE: For Paper Guidelines, please Click Here.
Research Methodology
Research Methodology is a required course for all students. The Research Methodology course requirement is explained here.  
Transfer Credit
Any student wishing to have previously completed academic work evaluated for possible transfer credit or wishing to complete coursework through a venue other than the Graduate Theological Foundation for use as transfer credit toward a degree must contact the Office of the Registrar for approval. Students may use transfer credit to fulfill a maximum 50% of their Unit of Study requirements for this degree program.  Accepted transfer credit has the potential to decrease the total tuition paid by the student. Requests for acceptance of transfer credit are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. GTF transfer credit policy allows for a $600 tuition reduction per Unit of Study (3 graduate credits) fulfilled by transfer credit.
Selection of Faculty Consultant and Nomination Procedure
Students select a faculty member of the GTF to serve as Project Consultant. This enables the student to receive helpful and pragmatic evaluative feedback from a member of the faculty in the developmental process of producing the Exit Project. The role of the faculty Project Consultant is responsive and suggestive rather than “supervisory” as is the case with academic thesis writing. The faculty person is encouraged to limit feedback to pragmatically helpful hints and suggestions and not to attempt any censorship of the project. The exercise of discretion with respect to time demands is very important for both the student and faculty member. The faculty Project Consultant must give final approval of the student’s work by submitting the Project Consultant’s Report Form.
  • The student peruses the Faculty Details page and makes a selection.
  • The student completes the Faculty Project Consultant Nomination Form 107 (Forms).
  • Academic Affairs provides the nominated faculty member with Form 107.
  • The selected faculty member notifies Academic Affairs of acceptance of student nomination.
  • Academic Affairs informs the student and faculty member of relationship approval and contact information is provided. 
Doctoral Committee
In order to ensure the highest level of academic rigor and to provide constructive and helpful feedback, students enrolled in professional doctoral degrees at the GTF will have a Doctoral Committee assigned to them.  
Doctoral Committee for professional doctoral students submitting an Exit Project:
Doctoral Project Consultant – The Doctoral Project Consultant will work closely with the doctoral candidate in the development of the project.  The project consultant has no responsibility for any copyediting of the manuscript, but is responsible for providing guidance regarding content and academic protocols.  The GTF expects that the project consultant must finally and formally approve of the doctoral project and submit the Doctoral Project Consultant’s Report Form.
Faculty Reader –Upon submission of the doctoral project and receipt of the Doctoral Project Consultant’s report, the Faculty Reader will read and review the work.  The Faculty Reader will submit a brief review and evaluation of the doctoral project.  If the Faculty Reader has any major concerns regarding the acceptability of the work, those concerns will be brought to the attention of the Doctoral Committee Chair, the Doctoral Project Consultant, and the doctoral student.
Doctoral Committee Chair – The Doctoral Committee Chair will write a final evaluation of the work which will be based on the Doctoral Project Consultant’s  report, the Faculty Reader’s report, and the Doctoral Committee Chair’s own evaluation of the work.
Doctoral Project
The Doctoral Project is a translation into practice of the insights, values, and creative concerns developed during the course of the units of interactive learning and the intervening periods of reading, reflection, and application. The project should directly relate the educational implications of the evolving relationships within the actual life of congregations or communities of faith and worship.
The Doctoral Project is a demonstration of praxis. Its structure, focus, and content, therefore, allows for a wide range of differing forms appropriate to the actual area of the practice of ministry addressed. The form may range, for example, from newly developed educational courses to a research manuscript or instructional video. A note about the length of the project is impractical when speaking of video and audio cassettes, workbooks, and manuals, as well as other hands-on praxis-based projects. For manuscript-style doctoral projects, however, the length would normally run from 35,000-40,000 words, double-spaced, footnoted, and with significant bibliographical references of at least 35 sources. It is also recommended that the bibliography include an annotated listing of the 10-12 sources that were vital to the development of the project.
In keeping with the nature of the entire Doctoral Program as an open interaction with fellow professionals, the project is a demonstration of practice, an exploration of applied reflections, or creative work rather than a test submitted to prove competency. One copy of the Doctoral Project, in its final form, must be submitted to the GTF by March 1 prior to graduation.
Pastoral Logotherapy Option
This concentration is offered through the Graduate Center for Pastoral Logotherapy.  For further information please Click Here.
Clinical Pastoral Supervision
This concentration is offered through the Institute for Psychodynamic Pastoral Supervision.  For further information please click here.  
Professional Associations in Counseling
There are over one hundred professional bodies recognizing, certifying, credentialing, or validating those in pastoral counseling practice in the United States.  The Doctor of Psychology candidate is encouraged to join at least one of the following certifying professional organizations.
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