Future Students in the Doctoral Program in Counseling Psychology

Do you want to work as a Doctoral-level Counseling Psychologist?

If yes, please consider our training program in Counseling Psychology.



Link to Current Students webpage here

Mission, Aims, and Training Philosophy

The mission of the doctoral program in Counseling Psychology at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) is to offer “broad and general doctoral education and training that includes preparation in health service psychology (HSP)” (APA, 2018).

Counseling psychology program
The program is under the administration of the UCA Department of Psychology and Counseling (http://uca.edu/psychology/) which is in turn under the administration of the UCA College of Health and Behavioral Sciences (http://uca.edu/chbs/).

The aims of the program are that its students –

  • Develop a counseling psychology identity based upon a commitment to serving others through positive interpersonal relationships and professional competence.
  • Acquire skills as generalists in the practice of psychology in diverse settings while being mindful of the contextual and multicultural aspects of human existence.
  • Develop skills as scientifically-minded professionals who engage in evidence-based practice and as researchers capable of contributing to the knowledge-base of the field.

Graduates in the Counseling Psychology Program (CPP) are prepared to act as counseling psychologists who are competent to practice in healthcare systems and related settings appropriate to their training, such as academia. Graduates respect and encourage diversity and are trained as generalists able to integrate the worlds of science and practice in promoting health while serving the whole person in a variety of clinical community contexts.

The Integration of Science and Practice

The program is designed to foster the integration of science and practice in all aspects of professional behavior. The theoretical perspectives of the core faculty are similar regarding the necessity of evidence-based decision making in practice and research. While students are exposed to a variety of theoretical perspectives within the department, the over-riding theme is that our professional behavior should be informed by research. Further, specific course work, a required dissertation, and required research and practical experiences that integrate theory, practice, and research ensure the synthesis of science and practice.

Training is Sequential, Cumulative, and Graded in Complexity

Our 5-year curriculum (see course sequence below) shows how to progression of courses is sequential, cumulative, graded in complexity, and designed to prepare students for further organized training.

The Program is Committed to a Respect For and Understanding of Cultural and Individual Differences

The program values diversity and multiculturalism, as indicated by its commitment: “The program values cultural and individual diversity, which includes personal and demographic characteristics, as well as including (but not limited to) age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, language, national origin, race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, and social economic status. The program considers these aspects as valuable in recruitment and hiring, in teaching and training, and in providing practicum and internship experiences. At the core of these values lies respect for the person, and we are dedicated to insuring that the program supports this approach. For more details, follow this link to Institutional Diversity at UCA.”

Need for Psychologists

The need for quality counseling psychological services has been strongly felt throughout the state of Arkansas, the United States, and beyond. The doctoral emphasis in counseling psychology responds to this need in a pragmatic manner by preparing graduates to competently perform a variety of counseling psychology functions.


The philosophy of the doctoral program in Counseling Psychology is operationalized through the following specific values.  In turn, it is hoped that graduates will adopt and incorporate these values.  The Counseling Psychology Emphasis values:

  1. Respect for each person.
  2. A community of individuals.
  3. Strength in diversity.
  4. Service to others.
  5. A science-practitioner foundation.
  6. Giving back to the profession.
  7. Giving back to the community.

APA Accreditation

The doctoral program in Counseling Psychology began in 2008 and is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).

  • 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 / Email: apaaccred@apa.org / Web: www.apa.org/ed/accreditation

Consumer Information Disclosure

  • The Counseling Psychology doctoral program is designed to meet program eligibility requirements for licensure as a psychologist in Arkansas. The program has not determined whether graduates would meet licensure requirements for any other state.



Please see Transfer of Graduate Credit (below) under “To Apply to the Program.”



“How to Apply” video. ♦

Admissions Requirements

All applicants for the doctoral program in Counseling Psychology must meet the general requirements of the Graduate School and specific requirements of the doctoral program. In order to be considered for Fall admission into the program, all completed application materials must be submitted to the UCA Graduate School office by January 15. 

  • An Online Graduate School Admission application (Graduate School Admissions)
  • Official transcripts of all completed college course work to the Graduate School office
  • Official Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores on the General Section to the Graduate School office
  • Three letters of recommendation from former college professors or individuals otherwise qualified to comment on the applicant’s professional and academic potential.
  • Essay: Statement of Career Path and Aspirations – a 500-word essay focusing on your career aspirations as a counseling psychologist and research interests. This may include: a) significant people or events that have led you to pursue a career in psychology, b) strengthens and limitations and c) impact you would like to make (for others, the field, etc).
  • Current resume’ or vita.

In addition to the above, please be aware that the following are also required by January 15:

  • Background check: Before the application can be processed, the applicant must submit a background check at the following link:
  • Twelve semester hours of psychology coursework. Any outstanding prerequisite coursework must be completed before the student begins taking classes during the fall semester of the first year of study. Acceptance of a graduate course from another program as a prerequisite does not guarantee the course will be accepted for graduate transfer credit.
    • Psychological Statistics
    • Research Methods/Experimental Psychology
    • Theories of Personality
    • Abnormal Psychology

It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all materials are received by the admissions deadline.

Transfer of Graduate Credit

For students who have completed some graduate work at other universities, the Counseling Psychology Program may allow the transfer of some graduate credit applicable to the student’s doctoral work at UCA. Requests for transfer of credit must be made in writing by the student and his/her faculty advisor to the Counseling Psychology Director of Training as soon as possible. The student must provide the syllabi of courses that they intend to transfer. Working closely with the instructors who regularly teaches the courses at DPC, the Counseling Psychology Committee will make sure these courses include assignments and activities that are equivalent to those included in the DPC courses that meet the Professional Wide Competencies (PWCs) and Discipline Specific Knowledge (DSKs). All course transfers must be approved by the CP Committee and the Department Chair.

Residency Requirement

Students entering the program with no prior graduate work will be required to complete four academic years at the university and a one-year internship, including at least one year of full-time residency or the equivalency thereof at UCA. Those entering the program with a previous master’s degree or those with transfer graduate credit will be required to spend at least three academic years at UCA (one of those three years must be in full-time residency at UCA or equivalence thereof), plus a one-year internship. Full-time Enrollment. The Counseling Psychology Program is a full-time program of study. If a student is unable to enroll full-time, a written request for part-time enrollment must be made in writing by the student to the Counseling Psychology Director of Training and Department Chair.

Selection Criteria

Financial Considerations

Application Links



The following are the Goals and Objectives of our program, and should give the current or prospective student a better idea of the types of things you will learn and the approach of the program. It is anticipated that graduates will exhibit the following knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors:


  • Demonstrate the substantially independent ability to formulate research or other scholarly activities (e.g., critical literature reviews, dissertation, efficacy studies, clinical case studies, theoretical papers, program evaluation projects, program development projects) that are of sufficient quality and rigor to have the potential to contribute to the scientific, psychological, or professional knowledge base.
  • Conduct research or other scholarly activities.
  • Critically evaluate and disseminate research or other scholarly activity via professional publication and presentation at the local (including the host institution), regional, or national level.

 (Ethical and legal standards.)

  • Be knowledgeable of and act in accordance with each of the following: (a) the current version of the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct; (b) relevant laws, regulations, rules, and policies governing health service psychology at the organizational, local, state, regional, and federal levels; and (c) Relevant professional standards and guidelines.
  • Recognize ethical dilemmas as they arise, and apply ethical decision-making processes in order to resolve the dilemmas.
  • Conduct self in an ethical manner in all professional activities.

(Individual and cultural diversity.)

  • An understanding of how their own personal/cultural history, attitudes, and biases may affect how they understand and interact with people different from themselves.
  • Knowledge of the current theoretical and empirical knowledge base as it relates to addressing diversity in all professional activities including research, training, supervision/consultation, and service.
  • The ability to integrate awareness and knowledge of individual and cultural differences in the conduct of professional roles (e.g., research, services, and other professional activities). This includes the ability apply a framework for working effectively with areas of individual and cultural diversity not previously encountered over the course of their careers. Also included is the ability to work effectively with individuals whose group membership, demographic characteristics, or worldviews create conflict with their own.
  • Demonstrate the requisite knowledge base, ability to articulate an approach to working effectively with diverse individuals and groups, and apply this approach effectively in their professional work.

(Professional values, attitudes, and behaviors.)

  • Behave in ways that reflect the values and attitudes of psychology, including integrity, deportment, professional identity, accountability, lifelong learning, and concern for the welfare of others
  • Engage in self-reflection regarding one’s personal and professional functioning; engage in activities to maintain and improve performance, well-being, and professional effectiveness.
  • Actively seek and demonstrate openness and responsiveness to feedback and supervision.
  • Respond professionally in increasingly complex situations with a greater degree of independence as they progress across levels of training.

(Communications and interpersonal skills.)

  • Develop and maintain effective relationships with a wide range of individuals, including colleagues, communities, organizations, supervisors, supervisees, and those receiving professional services.
  • Produce and comprehend oral, nonverbal, and written communications that are informative and well-integrated; demonstrate a thorough grasp of professional language and concepts.
  • Demonstrate effective interpersonal skills and the ability to manage difficult communication well.


  • Demonstrate current knowledge of diagnostic classification systems, functional and dysfunctional behaviors, including consideration of client strengths and psychopathology.
  • Demonstrate understanding of human behavior within its context (e.g., family, social, societal and cultural).
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply the knowledge of functional and dysfunctional behaviors including context to the assessment and/or diagnostic process.
  • Select and apply assessment methods that draw from the best available empirical literature and that reflect the science of measurement and psychometrics; collect relevant data using multiple sources and methods appropriate to the identified goals and questions of the assessment as well as relevant diversity characteristics of the service recipient.
  • Interpret assessment results, following current research and professional standards and guidelines, to inform case conceptualization, classification, and recommendations, while guarding against decision-making biases, distinguishing the aspects of assessment that are subjective from those that are objective.
  • Communicate orally and in written documents the findings and implications of the assessment in an accurate and effective manner sensitive to a range of audiences.


  • Establish and maintain effective relationships with the recipients of psychological services.
  • Develop evidence-based intervention plans specific to the service delivery goals.
  • Implement interventions informed by the current scientific literature, assessment findings, diversity characteristics, and contextual variables.
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply the relevant research literature to clinical decision making.
  • Modify and adapt evidence-based approaches effectively when a clear evidence-base is lacking.
  • Evaluate intervention effectiveness, and adapt intervention goals and methods consistent with ongoing evaluation.


  • Demonstrate knowledge of supervision models and practices.

 (Consultation and interprofessional/interdisciplinary skills.)

  • Demonstrate knowledge and respect for the roles and perspectives of other professions.
  • Demonstrates knowledge of consultation models and practices.

Distal Student Learning Outcomes

Other more distal outcomes include:

  1. Graduates will be able to demonstrate having met core requirements necessary to be licensed in Arkansas as a psychologist.
  2. Graduates will be able to demonstrate successful entrance into the mental health profession by obtaining employment.


Highlights of the program include:

  • Scientist-practitioner training in evidence-based treatments and conducting applied mental health research
  • APA Accredited
  • Close working relationships with active Counseling Psychology faculty
  • Research Associate positions for competitive applicants
  • Learning environment that encourages scholarship and innovation
  • Funding for conference travel to present research
  • 3-4 new students admitted each year

Courses, Practica, and Internships

The program of study is typically five years (120 credit hours). Four years are spent in full-time coursework at UCA, and the fifth year is a full-time professional psychology internship. Graduates will be prepared to provide evidence-based assessment and treatment services and to conduct research in clinical and university settings.

Research requirement

Students are expected to join on-going core Counseling Psychology faculty research programs and labs:

Core Counseling Psychology Program Faculty

  • Femina Varghese (Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, Texas Tech University). Offender employment and ethnicity, Director of Training.
  • Elson M. Bihm (Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, Texas Tech University). Counseling psychology, developmental disorders, philosophical psychology.
  • J. Arthur Gillaspy, Jr. (Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, Texas A & M University). Addictions.
  • Christina Jeffrey (Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, Texas A & M University). Counseling supervision, multiculturalism.

Other Psychology Faculty

Counseling Psychology Students 2015-16

Counseling Psychology Students 2015-16

To provide feedback about this web site, or for information about the program not addressed in this web site, please email Dr. Femina Varghese, Director of Training.