The APA-accredited doctoral program in counseling psychology is based on the scientist/practitioner model of professional psychology and integrates counseling and psychological theory, scientific inquiry, and supervised practice. Counseling psychology is a psycho-educational specialty in which practitioners help others to improve their well-being, alleviate their distress, resolve their crises, and increase their ability to solve problems and make decisions. Counseling psychologists apply systematic, research-based approaches to help themselves and others understand and develop solutions to problems that are educational, vocational, emotional, social, cultural, health-related, or developmental in nature.

The UW–Madison program places special emphasis on multicultural competence and social justice, integration of research and practice, and preparation for ethical and professional conduct as either a researcher, teacher, or practitioner. The theoretical orientation of the program is best described as eclectic. Course work emphasizes the research base of counseling psychology and students are expected to involve themselves in faculty research. All students complete a one-year, full-time pre-doctoral internship as a culminating training experience. The planned length of the program for students entering with a master's degree (post-M.A. track) is five years, although students may opt to take additional time depending on academic background and career objectives.

The department also admits a small number of students to a post–B.A. track. These students apply to the Ph.D. program at the completion of their undergraduate degree, and are required to integrate coursework and professional practice training at the master's level, as well as introductory doctoral coursework, during the first two years of study. Students admitted to the post–B.A. track typically have excellent academic records and experiences that demonstrate high levels of both helping skills and research skills prior to admissions. The planned length of the post–B.A. track is six years, although actual completion times will vary depending on student needs and career goals.

The mission of the counseling psychology Ph.D. program is to train health service psychologists who are skillful in research and intervention with diverse populations, who integrate science and practice into their professional roles, and who uphold high ethical and professional standards as psychologists. Program graduates are broadly prepared for a number of professional roles, including direct service, research, teaching, clinical supervision, and program design and evaluation. 

The Ph.D. program is accredited by the American Psychological Association. For further information on accreditation, contact APA's Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242; 202-336-5979;

Licensure as a Psychologist

Graduates of the Ph.D. program are eligible for licensure to practice psychology. Licensure requirements differ by state, and currently most states require additional supervised practice post-Ph.D. All states require passage of the national licensure examination (the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology or EPPP), and most states also have state-specific written and oral examinations. Links to descriptions of licensure requirements by state may be obtained from the website of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.

Fall Deadline December 1
Spring Deadline The program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Admission to the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program is highly competitive. The Department of Counseling Psychology accepts applications for fall enrollment between early September and December 1 for the Ph.D. program in Counseling Psychology. There is no option for spring or summer initial enrollment in the department. The applicant is responsible for collecting, assembling, and submitting all the pieces of the application by the December 1 deadline.  Applicants should submit their materials in electronic form.

Post-BA And Post-MA Tracks

Most students who apply to and are enrolled in the Ph.D. program have earned a master's degree (post-M.A. in counseling or a related field).  However, in fall 2010, we began offering a “post-B.A.” track within our Ph.D. program for highly qualified students who have not yet earned a master's degree in a counseling-related field and wish to apply directly to a Ph.D. program. Having a post-BA track allows us to accept qualified applicants to the Ph.D. program who may have work, volunteer, or research experience in counseling or a related profession, have exhibited a passion for helping others, and/or possess a master's degree in a non-counseling field. If you are unsure which option is right for you, review the information in the "Ph.D. Information and Instructions for Fall Applicants" link, found on our website at Information for Prospective Ph.D. Applicants.

Unlike students in our regular “post-M.A.” track (i.e., those who enter with a Master's degree), post-B.A. track students start the program alongside the incoming Master's student cohort. In their first academic year, post-B.A. track students will complete a course load similar to their Master's student counterparts. In their second academic year, post-B.A. track students will complete their "first Year Experience" while beginning their Ph.D. coursework. Post-B.A. track students are not currently required to complete a Master's thesis or the Professional Integration Exercise, but will also not receive a Master's degree unless they choose to meet all requirement's for our masters program.

Informational Meetings

A number of informational meetings are held each fall by our department.  A list of these meetings can be found on our Information for Prospective Ph.D. Applicants page.

Application Procedure

Up-to-date information and requirements regarding applying to our Ph.D. program can be found on our Information for Prospective Ph.D. Applicants page

Questions can be directed to the Student Services Coordinator, Andrea Guptill (

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Program Resources

Although the program cannot guarantee funding to students admitted to the Ph.D. program, it is usual for these students to be supported by a combination of graduate assistantships and fellowships while they are completing course work in the program. The predoctoral internship is a paid appointment, with benefits, as well.


  • Students may be eligible for an Ed-GRS fellowship.  Ed-GRS is a community of first generation students and ethnically underrepresented students who are receiving an Advanced Opportunity Fellowship (AOF) in the School of Education. In addition to tuition remission, monthly stipend, and heath care benefits, the program strives to assist our fellows with first year transition, community building, and professional development opportunities.  To be eligible for AOF, a student must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. Permanent Resident, and be admitted to or enrolled in a graduate department.  Preference is given to Wisconsin residents; and students also must identify with one of the following groups: African American; Native American; Hispanic: Mexican Americans, Chicano/as, Puerto Ricans;  Southeast Asians: Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian, and  Vietnamese; OR McNair Students (students who participated in a McNair Program) OR Wisconsin residents who are first generation to complete a Bachelors degree and who participated in a TRIO Program (Upward Bound, Talent Search, or Educational). The Graduate School administers this fellowship through Graduate Research Scholar Communities (GRS). AOF stipends were approximately $15,000 for the 2016-2017 academic year (9 mos.) with remission of tuition (Fall and Spring semesters) and health insurance.  Both M.S. and Ph.D. applicants are eligible for the AOF.  The department nominates top eligible candidates for Ed-GRS automatically - no additional application materials are needed from the applicant.  More information about AOFs can be found on their website.
  • Students interested in becoming a Residence Hall House Fellow should view the information available on their website
  • Racial and ethnic minority students are encouraged to apply for the American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship Program. Information is available on their website.


Department assistantships are assigned through a competitive application process each spring. Admitted students are included in the process the spring before they start in the program. Students are strongly encouraged to also apply for teaching or project assistantships outside the department, and most obtain at least some of their support in other departments or units on campus during their time in the program. Positions are posted on the university jobs site.

Currently, all graduate assistantships and fellowships include tuition remission and health benefits. 

Financial Aid

Information and application materials for financial aid, loans, scholarships, and student employment may be obtained by contacting the Office of Student Financial Aid at 333 East Campus Mall, Room 9701, Madison, WI 53706, 608-262-3060. International applicants are encouraged to seek other forms of financial assistance as international students are not eligible for loans and scholarships.

Additional information about funding is available on the Counseling Psychology website.  You may also email questions to the student services coordinator, Andrea Guptill,

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement Post–M.A.: 75 credits

Post–B.A.: 87 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement Post–M.A.: 51 credits

Post–B.A.: 63 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements Students are required to attain a minimum course grade of B for all required courses.
Assessments and Examinations Satisfactory progress is demonstrated by earning a minimum grade of B in all required courses, demonstration of competency on routine evaluation milestones, responsible professional conduct in employment and practicum settings, and timely progress on independent work. A comprehensive formative review of student performance, encompassing academic and clinical training, research involvement, and other roles such as employment and departmental activities, is conducted annually.

The doctoral preliminary examination includes three components, all of which include both written and oral presentations. The clinical case study (PE-1) is an in-depth reflection on a single counseling case, and serves as an exemplar of clinical competencies in the role of counselor. The supervision case study (PE-2) is an in-depth reflection on a relationship with one supervisee, and serves as an exemplar of clinical competencies in the role of supervisor. The dissertation proposal (PE–3) includes a literature review and method section for a proposed dissertation project, and serves as an exemplar of academic and scientific proficiency.
Language Requirements No language requirements.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements Ph.D. students in the Department of Counseling Psychology may elect to develop a minor area of concentration. This minor is optional. Students who wish to complete a cohesive body of work outside the major may wish to obtain a doctoral minor. Students are expected to consult with their advisors concerning minor/breadth requirements.

Required Courses

There are two primary curriculum domains of the doctoral program. Required coursework and practicum experiences contribute to each student’s competency in these areas. The core curriculum areas are:

  1. Discipline-Specific Knowledge

    1. History and Systems of Psychology

    2. Basic Psychology Content Areas (i.e., Affective Aspects of Behavior, Biological Aspects of Behavior, Cognitive Aspects of Behavior, Developmental Aspects of Behavior, and Social Aspects of Behavior)

    3. Research, Quantitative Methods, and Psychometrics

    4. Advanced Integrative Knowledge in Scientific Psychology

  2. Profession-Wide Competencies

    1. Integration of Science and Practice

    2. Ethical and Legal Standards

    3. Individual and Cultural Diversity

    4. Professional Values and Attitudes

    5. Communication and Interpersonal Skills

    6. Assessment

    7. Intervention

    8. Supervision

    9. Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skills Required coursework (i.e., major core coursework) includes courses in each of these areas.

In accordance with the Standards of Accreditation (SoA) for Health Service Psychology, all students are required to document mastery of broad and general content knowledge in each of these psychological foundations areas during their doctoral studies.

Post–M.A. track1:

Discipline-Specific Knowledge Courses
History and Systems3
Seminar in History and Systems of Psychology
Basic Psychology12
Advanced Social Psychology
The Biological Basis of Behavior
Theory and Issues in Human Development
Thinking, Feeling, & Learning
Advanced Integrative Knowledge6-9
Seminar in Psychology of Individual Differences
Abnormal Behavior and Psychopathology (if not taken in previous coursework)
Seminar in Ethical and Professional Issues in Counseling Psychology
Research, Quantitative Methods, and Psychometrics12
Research Practicum in Counseling Psychology (2 semesters)
Research Methods in Counseling Psychology
Research Methods in Counseling Psychology, II
Profession-Wide Competencies-Related Required Coursework
Core Courses9
Counseling Psychology Research in Individual Intervention
Seminar: Research in Vocational Psychology and Career Development
Mental Health Consultation in Health Service Psychology
Clinical Training Sequence
COUN PSY 810 Professional Development and Clinical Practice (2 semesters)2-12
COUN PSY 900 Counseling Psychology Practicum--Foundational (2 semesters)6
COUN PSY 903 Counseling Psychology Practicum--Advanced (2 semesters)6
COUN PSY 902 Counseling Psychology Practicum in Supervision3
COUN PSY 890 Advanced Assessment Techniques in Counseling Psychology3
Other Courses
COUN PSY 990 Research or Thesis3-12
COUN PSY 904 Counseling Psychology Externship (optional - 2 semesters)2-6
COUN PSY 908 Pre-Doctoral Internship in Health Service Psychology Preparation Seminar2
Data Analytic Methods - 2 additional courses; at least one must address quantitative data analysis. Examples could include:6
Seminar on Meta-Analysis
Cognitive Assessment of Children in the Schools
Structural Equation Modeling
Hierarchical Linear Modeling
Design & Analysis of Quasi-Experiments for Causal Inference

Post–B.A. track1:

Must complete all courses listed for the Post–MA track and

COUN PSY 800 Theories of Counseling3
COUN PSY 802 Group Dynamics Processing and Counseling3
COUN PSY 805 Helping Relationships and Techniques3
COUN PSY 806 Supervised Practicum in Counseling3

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 21 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned four or more years prior to admission to the doctoral program is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. Coursework earned four or more years prior to admission to the doctoral program is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


Placement on probation indicates a very serious faculty concern about a student's performance. Students are placed on probation, as opposed to being dismissed from the program, when the faculty determines that the student likely will be able to address the difficulty that led to the probation if appropriate remediation is provided. If a recommendation for probation and remediation is adopted by the faculty, the student and advisor work with the Doctoral Training Committee (or a subset of this committee) to formulate a remediation plan including explicit goals and deadlines for evaluation of their attainment.

Students on probation cannot be approved as ready for the next level of clinical training (i.e., for foundational practicum; for internship) until they have successfully remediated the identified concern(s). This can have a substantial impact on time to degree, as practicum applications begin in the fall semester for the following academic year.


Upon admission to the doctoral program, all students are assigned a faculty advisor. The doctoral student may select a major professor from the Department of Counseling Psychology who is not the original faculty advisor. In view of the important role that the major professor plays in the student's dissertation research, students are advised to allow themselves sufficient time to get acquainted with all faculty, so that they can select a major professor with whom they share similar research interests, career goals, or other interests. The doctoral student's faculty advisor plays an important role in monitoring and assisting the student with program planning.

Reviews of student progress are an agenda item for departmental faculty meeting in November (1st-year students only) and in April or May (all active Ph.D. students). All students are required to conduct a yearly progress report meeting with their advisor. Student perspectives are taken into account in these reviews, and all students complete the Doctoral Student Report on Progress, in conjunction with their advisors.


15 credits

Time Constraints

Students have eight years from the date of admission to complete all of the necessary courses. Courses that are more than eight years old will not fulfill program completion requirements for admission to candidacy. Admission to candidacy occurs when students successfully complete all required coursework and pass their doctoral preliminary examinations. Students must be admitted to candidacy within ten years of admission to the department. Once admitted to candidacy (dissertator status) the student has five years to complete the dissertation and pass the final oral examination.

Once students are admitted they are expected to maintain continuous enrollment and make satisfactory progress toward their degree. Failure to maintain continuous enrollment may result in lengthy reentry process or possible termination from the program.

Prior to reentry into the program, the student should contact the department and petition the faculty for reentry. The full faculty will determine whether the student is granted reentry without conditions, granted reentry conditionally (e.g., require additional coursework or adherence to time lines for completion of degree requirements) or denied reentry.


The vast majority of Ph.D. students are funded for their years on campus through a combination of in-department and out-of-department assistantships and fellowships. Graduate assistantships and fellowships typically pay a monthly stipend, often carry a full tuition waiver, and provide an excellent benefits package.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Prepare for role as professional psychologist.
  2. Apply professional standards and conduct.
  3. Demonstrate scientific foundations.
  4. Acquire knowledge and skill in psychological practice.
  5. Acquire knowledge and skills in clinical supervision.
  6. Develop relational skills.
  7. Gain an understanding of the scientific basis for practice.
  8. Acquire knowledge of research methods.
  9. Apply research findings to psychological practice.
  10. Apply scientific thinking to practice.
  11. Develop a multicultural competence and social justice orientation.
  12. Acquire cultural and scientific knowledge relevant to diverse and underrepresented groups.
  13. Develop awareness of self as a cultural being.
  14. Develop skill in application of knowledge of self, culture, and context to clinical work.

Faculty: Professors Quintana (chair), Hoyt, Gloria, Uttal; Associate Professors Thompson, Budge; Assistant Professors Wright, Frost, Goldberg; Faculty Associate Lotta; Clinical Associate Professor Graham; Clinical Assistant Professor Tamkin


American Psychological Association

Accreditation status: Accredited. Next accreditation review: 2019.


Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology

Year of Exam UW-Madison Graduates: First Attempt National: First Attempt  
2015-2017 81.82% 80.81%

Note: Because of the relatively small size of many doctoral programs, EPPP pass rates are reported only in terms of the three-year moving average.