Nature of Program
Our counseling psychology program is administered collaboratively by the Department of Psychology and the Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education. The collaborative program is designed to enable students to become (a) psychologists who are trained in general psychology as behavioral science, (b) competent in conducting research on a wide variety of psychological problems, and (c) competent in providing effective counseling. At all levels, our curriculum provides integration of general psychology, research participation, and counselor training. There is a strong expectation throughout the program for students to be active in research. Those interested primarily in professional training, as opposed to scientist-practitioner training, may wish to consider programs offering a professional doctorate degree (PsyD). Our program is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA); graduates of the program are eligible for certification and licensing examinations as psychologists.
This page provides an overview of our program and is not intended to provide a detailed discussion of our program policies. The most complete source of online information about the program can be found on the Counseling Psychology Program website, which is housed in the College of Education.
Curriculum and Requirements
Our curriculum provides an integration of training in general psychology, research, and counseling. Students are expected to enroll full-time in the program. Most also carry a 10-20 hour per week assistantship during the 9-month academic year. There are usually no summer courses for our graduate students. Formal coursework typically takes three to four years. Students often use their fourth year to complete the comprehensive examination, begin work on their dissertation, and finish any remaining classes. Most students complete their dissertation during the fifth year and go on internship in the sixth year. There is a strong expectation throughout the program for students to be active in research.
The curriculum is a set of courses and experiences oriented toward understanding patterns of human functioning and the development of strategies for fostering human effectiveness. In recognition of the diversity of program members, clients, and styles of effective functioning, the curriculum is arranged for students to develop a variety of competencies in scholarship, teaching, research, and counseling services.
General psychology courses include selections from biological, cognitive, social, and individual differences psychology (developmental or personality), as well as the history and systems of psychology. The courses in counseling psychology include theories of counseling, career psychology, assessment, research methods, multicultural psychology, and didactic practica. The professional issues course provides coverage of ethics and legal issues. Finally, all students complete a sequence of research and statistics courses.
During the first two years, all students who have not completed an approved master’s research thesis must complete a thesis to demonstrate their mastery of basic research skills. A previously completed master’s thesis must be reviewed by a committee of three faculty from the Counseling Psychology Program to be approved for research competence. More than half of the empirical master’s theses completed elsewhere have been approved in the past. Students who enter the program having completed graduate coursework elsewhere may petition to waive some course requirements.
Following the completion of comprehensive exams and course work, students must complete their dissertation proposal prior to applying for an internship. An internship is typically completed on a full-time one-year basis. At the time the student is eligible for applying for internships, consultation with both an advisor and a program co-director assists the student in identifying qualified internship agencies appropriate to student interests. Our program provides strong preparation for internships in university counseling centers, and a majority of students pursues internship in this setting. However, a sizable minority of students complete internships in other settings, including Veteran’s Affairs hospitals and community mental health centers.
The dissertation represents the student’s major research contribution during the graduate program. It must be a piece of original research pertinent to counseling psychology. Topics of dissertations can be found on the program website. A doctoral degree (Ph.D.) is awarded only upon completion of all of the program requirements including the dissertation and internship.
Evaluation of Students’ Achievement of Program Objectives
Students’ progress is evaluated yearly with written reports, copies of which are provided to students. During the first three years, the primary evaluation is in terms of the satisfactory completion of courses and didactic practica, each of which is separately evaluated by the course instructor. Students are considered in good standing when they complete their courses on schedule with grades of “B” or better in graded courses (courses with grades lower than “B” are retaken) and a Satisfactory in all didactic practica.
By the middle of their fourth semester, to remain in good standing, students must have either a committee-approved thesis from a previous institution or a committee-approved thesis proposal, if they entered without a thesis.
Satisfactory completion of the comprehensive exams, along with the satisfactory completion of the four required didactic practica, at least a “B” average in all required course work, and demonstration of research competence are the basis for the final pre-internship evaluation of a student. Final evaluation of students is based on completion of an internship and a dissertation. The internship supervisor(s) or training director provides evaluations at the midpoint and at the completion of the internship. The student’s dissertation committee evaluates the student’s dissertation.
Qualifications of Applicants and Placements of Graduates
We accept a maximum of 10 new students (typically fewer than 10) each year from over 200 applicants to maintain our small student-faculty ratio. This ratio allows for high quality supervision of both research and professional training. Students need not necessarily have an undergraduate degree in psychology, although students need to have had courses in general psychology, introductory statistics, and at least three other psychology courses (at least 15 hours). We believe a diverse student body enhances our training environment, and entering classes often include students who vary in gender, age, culture, race, sexual orientation, educational background, and geographic background.
The great majority of students entering the program in recent years have successfully completed their doctoral studies. Our most recent graduates have taken positions in the following types of settings: academic departments, university counseling centers, hospitals, community mental health centers, and private practice.
Aspirational Multicultural Statement
The Counseling Psychology Program at the University of Maryland is committed to creating a multicultural training environment, which is broadly defined as a place where individuals from various cultures and opinions are respected, and the unique gifts of individuals are applied to train exceptional counseling psychologists. We recognize the changing demographics in the United States and the need for both relevant research and mental health services to address the concerns of people around the world. Thus, we strive to create a training environment that promotes multicultural self-awareness, knowledge, skills, and experiences that enable our graduates to develop and share knowledge regarding multicultural issues as well as to provide culturally sensitive services to a variety of individuals in our society and abroad.
Diversity of Faculty and Student Body
Our view of diversity includes (but is not limited to) the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious orientation, age, and socioeconomic status. We acknowledge that such diversity alone does not facilitate multiculturalism. However, we believe that a multicultural training environment includes individuals from demographic groups that historically have been underrepresented in counseling psychology training programs or marginalized in society. We welcome a diverse student body and faculty (including affiliate and adjunct faculty).
Student Recruitment and Selection
We are committed to actively recruiting students representing visible racial and ethnic groups that historically have been underrepresented in psychology training programs or marginalized in our society. Our selection process reflects this commitment and strives to select exceptional students using evaluative criteria that are relevant for predicting success in graduate school and beyond.
Retention and Graduation
We understand that recruitment and admissions efforts will be compromised by inattention to retention issues. Thus, our program seeks to develop a welcoming environment that embraces differences among individuals and puts these differences to work to improve our understanding of multicultural issues, particularly those related to psychological research and practice. Furthermore, we are committed to retaining the students with whom we work and facilitating their graduation from our program in a timely manner. Advisors are viewed as critical in assisting students to achieve academic and vocational success as well as to welcome new professionals to counseling psychology.
In our program, research related to multicultural issues is respected and encouraged. Several faculty are recognized nationally for their work in related areas, and students often complete theses and dissertations addressing critical questions related to multiculturalism. Faculty and students contribute to advancing knowledge through publication and presentation of their scholarly work.
Our program strives to promote open discourse on all issues, including those related to multiculturalism. Diversity of opinion is embraced, and discussions regarding multiculturalism are encouraged. People representing marginalized groups are present and represented in leadership positions in our program. Other aspects of our program reflect our commitment to multiculturalism (e.g., written materials, physical environment).