Dec 05, 2023  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Counseling Psychology, PsyD

College Social and Behavioral Science
Academic Award Doctor of Psychology
Credits Required 119 semester credits
Faculty Lead Elizabeth Irwin
CIP Code 42.2803

The Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in Counseling Psychology program is designed to prepare individuals to become licensed counseling psychologists in the state of Washington. At the completion of the program, the successful PsyD student will be equipped professionally in the following ways: 

  1. Research 
    1. 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 development and/or evaluation projects) of sufficient quality and rigor to have the potential to contribute to the scientific, psychological, or professional knowledge base.
    2. Conduct research or other scholarly activities.
    3. Critically evaluate and disseminate research or other scholarly activity via professional publication and presentation at the local (including Northwest University), regional, or national level.
  2. Ethical and legal standards
    1. Be knowledgeable of and act in accordance with each of the following:
      1. The current APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct;
      2. Relevant laws, regulations, rules, and policies governing health service psychology at the organizational, local, state, regional, and federal levels; and,
      3. Relevant professional standards and guidelines.
    2. Recognize ethical dilemmas as they arise and apply ethical decision-making processes in order to resolve the dilemmas.
    3. Conduct self in an ethical manner in all professional activities.
  3. Individual and cultural diversity
    1. Demonstrate an understanding of how their own personal/cultural history, attitudes, and biases may affect how they understand and interact with people different from themselves.
    2. Display 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.
    3. Show 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), including (a) the ability to apply a framework for working effectively with areas of individual and cultural diversity not previously encountered, and (b) the ability to work effectively with individuals whose group membership, demographic characteristics, or worldviews create conflict with their own.
    4. 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.
  4. Professional values and attitudes
    1. 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.
    2. Engage in (a) self-reflection regarding one’s personal and professional functioning, and (b) activities to maintain and improve performance, well-being, and professional effectiveness.
    3. Actively seek and demonstrate openness and responsiveness to feedback and supervision.
    4. Respond professionally in increasingly complex situations with a greater degree of independence as they progress across levels of training.
  5. Communication and interpersonal skills
    1. Develop and maintain effective relationships with a wide range of individuals, including colleagues, communities, organizations, supervisors, supervisees, and those receiving professional services.
    2. Produce and comprehend oral, nonverbal and written communications that are informative and well-integrated, demonstrating a thorough grasp of professional language and concepts.
    3. Demonstrate effective interpersonal skills and the ability to manage difficult communication well.
  6. Assessment
    1. Demonstrate current knowledge of diagnostic classification systems, functional and dysfunctional behaviors, including consideration of client strengths and psychopathology.
    2. Demonstrate understanding of human behavior within its context (e.g., family, social, societal and cultural).
    3. Demonstrate the ability to apply knowledge of functional and dysfunctional behaviors including context to the assessment and/or diagnostic process.
    4. Select and apply assessment methods that draw from the best available empirical literature and that reflect the science of measurement and psychometrics, collecting 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
  7. Intervention
    1. Establish and maintain effective relationships with recipients of psychological services.
    2. Develop evidence-based intervention plans specific to the service delivery goals.
    3. Implement interventions informed by the current scientific literature, assessment findings, diversity characteristics, and contextual variables.
    4. Demonstrate the ability to apply the relevant research literature to clinical decision making.
    5. Modify and adapt evidence-based approaches effectively when a clear evidence-base is lacking.
    6. Evaluate intervention effectiveness, and adapt intervention goals and methods consistent with ongoing evaluation.
  8. Supervision
    1. Demonstrate knowledge of supervision models and practices.
    2. Apply this knowledge in simulated practice with psychology trainees or other health trainees or professionals.
  9. Consultation and interprofessional/interdisciplinary skills
    1. Demonstrate knowledge and respect for the roles and perspectives of other professions.
    2. Demonstrate knowledge of consultation models and practices.

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor of Arts or Science (or an equivalent) degree from a regionally accredited college or university. It is preferred that students have a major in psychology.
  • Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (out of 4.0) in last earned degree. Applicants who do not have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in their last degree program will be placed on probation if successfully admitted.
  • If an applicant does not have previous degree in psychology, he or she must of have completed: (a) General Psychology, (b) Theories of Personality or Theories of Psychotherapy, (c) Abnormal Psychology or Psychopathology, (d) Developmental or Lifespan Psychology, (e) History and Systems, and (f) Statistics. (In addition, a Research Methods course is preferred.)
  • Online application including references.
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test.
  • An interview with program faculty. 
  • A national background check and Washington State Patrol criminal background check are required upon matriculation.
  • For details about the application process, see the PsyD program webpage

State Licensure as a Psychologist

Because licensure requirements differ slightly from state to state, the required course sequence may not fulfill all educational licensure requirements for every state. See the PsyD program website for a table that outlines the licensure requirements for each U.S. state and territory and respective alignment of with the PsyD program. 

Program Curriculum


The PsyD degree is a five-year post-bachelor’s program designed to prepare the doctoral student to serve in diverse community settings as a counseling psychologist. The program focuses on theoretical and applied evidence-based scholarly literature and research. Emphasis is placed on international, multicultural, and social justice issues. Students build on their critical thinking skills and their understanding of diversity while acquiring, refining, and demonstrating doctorate-level skills as practitioners, researchers, and academics. 

The program is organized as a year-round cohort system, with 119 credits required for graduation. Classroom instruction is the focus of the first three years, along with a requirement for cultural immersion and a practicum. Clinical training is the focus of the last two years. The fourth covers fewer courses, dissertation work and advanced practicum or a pre-internship. The fifth year is a yearlong internship. 

To aid in the development of students’ professional identities, students are encouraged to gain exposure to professional psychology during the first two years of the program. This may be accomplished by shadowing and interviewing licensed psychologists, conducting research, and volunteering or working part-time within the field.

Research Policy 

Consistent with the practitioner-scholar model on which our training is based, the PsyD program attaches a high value to scholarship that contributes to the field of psychology. In particular, we strive to carry out original, empirical research that extends the knowledge base of psychological science. We also pursue testing of innovative therapeutic approaches that address a variety of human needs. Moreover, we value the exploration of how individuals conduct making sense of their world, experiences and culture.

Our scholarship is driven by the pursuit of truth, that is, to expand psychological science as an authority source of knowledge about the world. However, we also recognize additional sources that offer facets of truth from alternate lenses. Brown’s (2004) resonance model asserts five domains of authority: experience, traditions, rationality, scripture, and science. These authority sources are viewed as bodies of information that together offer greater resonance of truth, by complementing what is offered through a single source. Understanding of a phenomenon is therefore fine-tuned through information from multiple domains, with more harmonious resonance suggestive of a closer intersection toward truth.

Viewing science through the resonance model aligns well with our Judeo-Christian heritage. Whereas research is a critical endeavor in the pursuit of truth, it does not preclude the importance of sacred authority that the biblical text holds for us. Our reasoning, logic, and ethical decision-making are essential tools for evaluating truth. Furthermore, human traditions and experience are greatly valued as truths for individuals, communities, and cultures.

The PsyD program, faculty, and student researchers are afforded a measure of academic freedom to conduct research that meets the expectations of rigor and ethics of psychological science. Yet as our pursuit of scholarship occurs within an institutional context, Northwest University’s mission serves as an important guiding principle that eclipses individual academic freedom (Ostrander, 2018). Our research is designed to contribute to engaging with human need while remaining grounded in the Christian beliefs that define who we are as a university—a body of Christ-followers joined in a learning community to seek truth and yield the next generation of citizens, professionals, and contributors to our society.

Credit Transfer Procedure for New Incoming PsyD Students

After receiving notification of acceptance into the PsyD program, incoming PsyD students may submit a written request to the Director of PsyD Student Services to transfer up to 20 credits from an APA-accredited doctoral program. Only courses in which the student earned a B or higher will be considered for transfer.

Transfer credit is not allowed toward practicum or internship requirements. Credits may be transferred into the PsyD program at the sole discretion of the Director of the PsyD Program and the Director of PsyD Student Services. To be eligible for transfer, a course must match the Northwest University PsyD course in content and credit number. The process for transferring credits is as follows:

Step 1. The accepted student submits a written request to the Director of PsyD Student Services proposing that previous credit(s) earned from another institution be substituted for required course(s).

Step 2. The student must obtain an official transcript and a copy of course(s) descriptions and syllabi obtained from the other school’s published catalog and submit all items to the Director of PsyD Student Services.

Step 3. The Director of PsyD Student Services will cross-check the proposal and submit a completed proposal form to the Director of the PsyD Program.

Step 4. The Director of PsyD Student Services and the Director of the PsyD Program will audit the proposal. A list of accepted credit substitutions will be marked on the proposal form and returned to the Director of PsyD Student Services.

Step 5. The Director of PsyD Student Services will inform the student of the accepted credit substitutions.

Step 6. The student will accept or deny the accepted proposal, at which time the student will inform the Director of PsyD Student Services whether he or she plans to pursue enrollment at NU.

Step 7. If the student agrees to the accepted substitution of credits, then the Director of PsyD Student Services submits a Degree Requirement Substitution / Waiver form to the Registrar’s office.

APA Proficiency Requirement

Before enrolling into PSYC 7000-level courses, students must show APA writing proficiency by passing an APA assessment test which will be provided to incoming students before they begin the program. 

Professional Standards

The student’s academic progress, clinical competency, emotional stability, interpersonal skills, maturity, and ethical conduct will be evaluated annually by PsyD Program faculty. Faculty reserve the right to request a student to engage in psychotherapeutic counseling (at the student’s own expense) and may require counseling as a condition for remediation or readmittance in the program. Students are expected to adhere to:

  • American Psychological Association (APA) Ethics Codes: (
  • Laws of the Washington State Board of Examiners of Psychologists: (

The student’s academic and/or professional conduct failings will be considered by a committee of program administrators and faculty of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Failure to adhere to the above standards may be cause for dismissal from the program at any time (see Dismissal from the Program).


Probation serves as a warning that improvement is needed for continuation in the program. Program administrators and faculty will continue to provide guidance and support in helping the student to assume responsibility for his or her academic success and professional growth. Documentation of the student’s probationary status and progress monitoring will be placed in his or her file.

A student may be placed on probation for one of the following reasons:

  1. The student’s academic history prior to entry into the PsyD Program reflects a GPA below a 3.000 (“B” level), yet the application review board deemed him or her a worthy candidate for admission into the program.
  2. A student fails to maintain a grade of B- or higher in all courses and/or a minimum 3.000 cumulative GPA. In addition, the student must retake the course with less than a B- within a time period determined by the Program Director.
  3. A student fails to meet the criteria of professional behavioral standards, including, but not limited to: emotional stability, interpersonal skills, maturity, and professional and ethical conduct.
  4. If a student is placed on probation a second time, the student may be dismissed from the program.

A student will be taken off of probation when:

  1. A grade of B- or higher in all courses the following semester and a minimum of a 3.000 cumulative GPA are achieved. 
  2. The student meets the criteria of professional behavioral standards, including, but not limited to: emotional stability, interpersonal skills, maturity, and professional and ethical conduct after a predetermined period of time as assessed by faculty.

Dismissal from the Program

A student may be dismissed from the PsyD Program due to any one of the following factors:

  • Continual Poor Performance in the classroom or in applied settings. Should the student be unable to achieve a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.000 and/or earn a grade of B- or higher in all courses the semester following being placed on probation, the student may be dismissed from the program. Furthermore, if a student fails to retake the course within a time period determined by the Program Director, he or she may be dismissed from the program.
  • In addition, if a student is placed on probation more than once throughout the course of the program, he or she may be dismissed from the program.
  • Professional Conduct. Students are expected to comply with the behavioral standards of Northwest University, the ethical code of the American Psychological Association and laws established by Washington State or local government bodies. Should a student fail to meet the criteria of professional behavioral standards (including, but not limited to emotional stability, interpersonal skills, maturity, and professional and ethical conduct), the student may be dismissed from the program.

Students dismissed from the PsyD Program by the program leadership may appeal the decision to the Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and further appeal could be made to the Provost of the university. The reviewing personnel will be provided with all relevant information regarding the student’s academic performance and professional and ethical conduct.

MA in Counseling Psychology en Route to PsyD

Students have the option of applying for a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology (MACP) degree en route to the PsyD degree after completing the third year of the program, including passing both the written and clinical comprehensive examinations. Students must submit a completed application to the PsyD Program Coordinator at the beginning of the fourth year. The Coordinator will then present the application to a committee of PsyD faculty and staff for review. In order to qualify, the student must have successfully completed all requirements and courses for the first three years of the program, have passed both comprehensive exams, and be in good standing in the program. 

Process of Submitting/Disseminating Doctoral Dissertation

As a requirement of the PsyD Program, each student will complete and disseminate a doctoral dissertation. The dissertation is intended to provide the student with the opportunity to produce a significant piece of scholarly work that represents the culmination of both the student’s acquisition of knowledge in the field of psychology as well as his or her professional development and area of specialization. In addition, the student is required to have the dissertation bound and published through an online database as specified by the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Lastly, the student must successfully defend and disseminate his or her dissertation.

PsyD Candidacy Status

A PsyD student achieves candidacy after completing all academic course work (with the exception of internship courses), passing the qualifying exams, and successfully defending his or her dissertation proposal. The term PsyD candidate is strictly an academic status and must not be used in association with clinical work.

Program Timeframe

Students are required to complete the PsyD Program requirements of 119 semester credit hours of the prescribed coursework, an original dissertation, an organized, sequential and coordinated practicum, pre-internship, and internship within seven years of beginning the program. Extra fees related to additional dissertation credits, practicum, pre-internship and/or internship credits and program continuation fees may be applied within the fourth through seventh year.

  • Students are expected to be continuously registered during continuation; however, should a student not register for a semester (or more), when the student chooses to register once again, he or she will be assessed the full tuition he or she should have paid during the previous semesters that he or she was not registered. For example, if a student does not register for Fall or Spring continuation, but does register in Summer semester, the student would be charged tuition for all three semesters, Fall, Spring and Summer during the Summer term.
  • Students would need to complete the university re-admittance form to re-enroll after a leave of absence (form processed by CSBS).
  • Students are responsible for managing and paying back loans if loans come due while students are not registered.
  • If students request to register half-way through a semester, students will not be given permission to register until the following semester thus eliminating the need for the Registrar’s Office to manually enroll these students.

Primary Requirements for the PsyD Degree:

  1. 119 semester hours of prescribed coursework.
  2. At their own expense, PsyD students are required to participate in 10 hours of individual psychotherapy with a licensed psychologist within the first year of the doctoral program. Written verification of completion from the student’s psychotherapist must be provided to the program (see current PsyD Student Handbook for specific requirements).
  3. Doctoral Student Progress Assessment – Obtain minimal levels of achievement on all program competencies. Assessment includes annual reviews at the end of Years One, Two, and Three.
  4. Cultural Immersion Experience, as part of PSYC 7662 International Field Study – during Year One. 
  5. Qualifying Examination – Year Three.
  6. Doctoral Dissertation – Year Four (and further, if needed). The dissertation is comprised of faculty-guided research. The process will include: a dissertation proposal, proposal defense, and dissertation defense to the respective dissertation committee. Dissemination of the dissertation is also required (e.g., publication, speaking engagement, formal report to a clinic or other agency).
  7. An approved Doctoral Practicum that meets Washington State and program requirements.
  8. An approved Pre-Internship or an Advanced Practicum that meets Washington State and program requirements.
  9. An approved Internship that meets Washington State and program requirements.
  10. In order to graduate and participate in the Northwest University Spring Commencement Ceremony, the student must complete all requirements as noted in the PsyD Student Handbook. The student will receive the diploma at the next regularly scheduled graduation period. (May, August, and December) 

PsyD Research Policy  

Year Five – Fall Semester: 2

Year Five – Spring Semester: 2

Year Five – Summer Semester: 2

Total: 119-131 Semester Credits