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The Psy.D. curriculum has been designed to meet the requirements of the APA for professional education in psychology. Courses stress the importance of critical thinking in the discipline of psychology, and the curriculum provides a breadth of knowledge regarding scientific psychology. Cultural and individual diversity perspectives are woven into courses across the curriculum. Since this is a professional degree, clinical education and application of scientific knowledge to clinical domains are stressed throughout the curriculum, as well as in the clinical practicum experience.

The APU Psy.D. embodies an emphasis in family psychology. All the courses in the curriculum incorporate a systemic perspective on psychology which includes an awareness of the dynamic interaction between individuals, interpersonal relationships, and the environment.

In addition to the interdisciplinary courses that integrate ethics, theology, and psychology, issues relevant to Christian faith are addressed in the curriculum where appropriate.

Course Requirements

Required Courses100 units
Theories of Personality and Psychotherapy
Moral Identity Formation and Psychotherapy
Introduction to Clinical Practice: Basic Skills
Advanced Developmental Psychology
Psychotherapy and Cultural Diversity
Theological Foundations, Spiritual Formation, and Psychotherapy
Assessment I
Family Therapy
Clinical Practicum
Interdisciplinary Integration and Psychotherapy
PPSY 701
Clinical Practicum I: Professional Practice and an Introduction to Case Conceptualization
PPSY 702
Clinical Practicum II: Legal and Ethical Competence
PPSY 711
Psychology and Systems Theory
PPSY 712
Theories of Change and Evidence-Based Treatment
PPSY 713
Assessment II: Personality
PPSY 714
Assessment III: Intelligence and Academics
PPSY 715
Adult Psychology
PPSY 716
Family Psychology
PPSY 717
Child Psychology
- or -
PPSY 735
Adolescent Psychology
PPSY 718
History and Systems of Psychology
PPSY 719
Social Psychology
PPSY 721
Addictive Behaviors
PPSY 722
Research Design I
PPSY 723
Research Design II
PPSY 724
Couples Theory and Therapy
PPSY 726
Biblical Ethics and Psychotherapy
PPSY 727
Clinical Practicum III: Diversity Competency
PPSY 728
Clinical Practicum IV: Domestic Violence and Case Conceptualization
PPSY 729
Treatment Planning
PPSY 730
PPSY 731
Dissertation Development
PPSY 734
PPSY 736
Social Ethics and Psychotherapy
PPSY 737
Clinical Practicum V: Interdisciplinary Integration
PPSY 738
Clinical Practicum VI: The Future Psychologist—Management, Private Practice, and Advocacy
PPSY 739
PPSY 740
Consultation in Clinical Psychology
PPSY 744
Supervision in Clinical Psychology
PPSY 745
Dissertation I
PPSY 746
Dissertation II
PPSY 747
Dissertation III
PPSY 748
Dissertation IV
PPSY 750
Predoctoral Internship
(Full-time, Predoctoral Internship: 2 semesters/1 unit each)
PPSY 753
Moral and Spiritual Identity Formation in the Family
PPSY 754
Assessment IV: Projectives
PPSY 755
Dissertation V
PPSY 756
Dissertation VI
PPSY 757
Techniques of Change: Cognitive-behavioral Interventions
PPSY 759B not found in course database
PPSY 760
Techniques of Change: Psychodynamic Interventions
PPSY 798
[Multiple Courses]
As part of the Psy.D. curriculum, students are required to take four elective courses in residency. Students may take miscellaneous electives in psychotherapy, integration, assessment, or other courses related to clinical psychology, or they may complete one of the elective concentrations described hereafter.

Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy

The psychodynamic systems of psychotherapy elective concentration provides an opportunity for students to learn a comprehensive model of personality, psychopathology, and psychotherapy that reflects the systemic epistemology of the doctoral program. This course sequence provides a historical overview of major psychodynamic systems of theory and therapy (from origins to the present). Each course focuses on key theorists, theoretical constructs, conceptualization and treatment planning, supporting research, and clinical demonstration and application. Students seeking a Certificate of Proficiency in Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy must complete the three-course sequence of electives and a yearlong clinical practicum placement where students are permitted to provide psychodynamic psychotherapy to clients:

PPSY 763
Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy I
PPSY 764
Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy II
PPSY 765
Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy III

For more information, contact Theresa Clement Tisdale, Ph.D.,

Family Forensic Psychology Concentration

The family forensic psychology elective concentration provides an opportunity for students to pursue more focused training in the specialty area of forensic psychology. The elective concentration in family forensic psychology strives to prepare graduate students for competitive forensic psychology internships and postdoctoral training experiences. While completion of the certificate program does not guarantee placement in supervised training sites, it enhances the student’s educational foundation in preparation for advanced training in forensic psychology.

Students seeking the Certificate of Proficiency in Family Forensic Psychology must complete the four-course sequence of electives:

PPSY 770
Introduction to Forensic Psychology
PPSY 771
Forensic Assessment
PPSY 772
Family Forensic Psychology I
PPSY 773
Family Forensic Psychology II

The American Psychological Association recognizes forensic psychology as a specialty discipline in the field of psychology. According to the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists (Committee on Ethical Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists, 1991), professionals practice forensic psychology, “within any subdiscipline of psychology (e.g. clinical, developmental, social, experimental), when they are engaged regularly as experts and represent themselves as such, in an activity primarily intended to provide professional psychological expertise to the judicial system” (p. 656). Simply stated, forensic psychology is the pragmatic intersection of two complex disciplines: law and psychology.

The practice of clinical forensic psychology provides opportunities for diverse practice, including employment through the adult or juvenile correctional system; working as a consultant to criminal or civil courts in the role of forensic examiner; testifying as an expert in an area of research related to court proceedings; serving as a trial behavior or litigation consultant; or working with law enforcement agencies. Because of the diverse practice opportunities in forensic psychology, it is one of the fastest growing areas of clinical practice.

For more information on the Family Forensic Psychology Concentration, contact Marjorie Graham-Howard, Ph.D., director of the Psy.D. program, or visit the Psy.D. program website at

Psy.D. Five- and Six-Year Academic Plans

These courses have been arranged in two tracks (five- and six-year studies) to allow students flexibility in choosing the academic load most appropriate for their lifestyle.

Five-Year Program

Participation in the full-time, five-year plan requires attending classes during the day or evening at least two days per week plus Saturday courses (usually six Saturdays in a year). An additional 16–20 hours per week minimum for practicum is required throughout the program.

Six-Year Program

Participation in the reduced-load per semester, six-year plan requires attending classes during the day or evening at least two days per week plus occasional Saturday courses (usually four Saturdays in a year). An additional 16–20 hours per week minimum for practicum is required in the first three years of the program or more depending on student progress.

Students take electives during the program and their choice of child psychology or adolescent psychology. (Electives may be taken in semesters other than where indicated. Students are encouraged to consider how best to balance each semester.)

Adherence to Five- and Six-Year Track

Students are admitted to the Psy.D. based on their stated intent to adhere to one of the two course sequence tracks created for the program. The five-year track requires greater weekly time commitment and more units per semester. The six-year track is somewhat less intense in weekly time demands and semester unit load.

Once admitted, students must adhere to the selected track unless special permission is granted by the director of the Psy.D. Program. The Psy.D. faculty believes that participation in a cohort of peers throughout the program is an important factor in academic and professional development.

Certain courses or mandatory seminars may be scheduled on Saturday. Saturday attendance may be necessary to fulfill degree requirements.

Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation

Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation of Programs in Professional Psychology (G&P) requires that doctoral graduate programs provide potential students, current students and the public with accurate information on the program and with program expectations. For more information on the G&P requirements, Psy.D. Guidelines Accreditation Report (PDF).

Additional Information

Personal Psychotherapy Required

All Psy.D. students must complete 30 hours of psychotherapy with a licensed psychologist of their choice. Additional individual psychotherapy may be recommended or required by the program as part of the degree requirements if deemed necessary by the faculty of the Department of Graduate Psychology.

Identification of Students
With the Profession of Psychology

In order to facilitate the identification of students with the profession of psychology, all students are required to join the American Psychological Association as student members upon acceptance into the Psy.D. Program. Membership in APA provides many benefits, including subscriptions to the Monitor and American Psychologist.

Student Disclosure of Personal Information

Faculty of the Department of Graduate Psychology may ask students to disclose personal information regarding sexual history, history of abuse and neglect, psychological treatment, and relationships with parents, peers, and spouses or significant others, if the information is necessary to evaluate or obtain assistance for students whose personal problems could reasonably be judged to be preventing them from performing their training or professionally related activities in a competent manner or posing a threat to the students or others. In some courses or clinical training situations, students may be required to participate in experiential groups or consulting projects.

Progress Review and Annual Evaluation

An annual student progress evaluation is conducted in July, following the summer term. All aspects of student progress in the program are reviewed and a letter is sent to students informing them of the results of the review, noting strengths or completion of particular requirements and areas for improvement or remediation needed in order to remain current in the program.

The Psy.D. program evaluates multiple domains of student training beyond that of academic success. Other areas of evaluation that are expected competencies of professional psychologists include evaluation of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and professional development and functioning as articulated in the Comprehensive Evaluation of Student-Trainee Competence in Professional Psychology Programs produced by the Student Competence Task Force of the Council of Chairs of Training Councils (CCTC). In addition to policies outlined in the catalog, other sources of program policy include the Clinical Training Manual and the Dissertation Manual.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many units do I take each semester?

Students take six to eight units per semester, depending on their academic plan.

How long is a semester?

Fall and spring semesters are 15 weeks; the summer term is 8 weeks.

How many hours does each class session require?

The full-time, five-year program requires evening classes twice a week, plus Saturdays (about six per semester), and 16–20 hours per week for practicum during the first two years. The reduced-load, six-year program requires evening classes once or twice a week, plus Saturdays (about six per semester), and 16–20 hours per week for practicum during the first two years.

How many evenings per week do I attend classes?

Students meet one to two nights a week for nine weeks, plus Saturdays.

Note: This information is current for the 2013-14 academic year; however, all stated academic information is subject to change. Please refer to the current Academic Catalog for more information.