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Counseling Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742

Last Updated: September 2019

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Department of  Psychology                                                                                                                   


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. Our curriculum provides an integration of training in general psychology, research, and counseling. 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. Below we describe the major components of the curriculum, but, for more detail, click here for examples of typical year-by-year programs of study.

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.

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.

Students take comprehensive exams after completing coursework and the required thesis project. The comprehensives are typically taken at least one full year before the internship begins. These exams constitute the major assessment of students' acquisition of the scientific and professional bases of counseling psychology, as well as the integration of these bases.

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.