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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. Coursework 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-MA 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–BA track. These students apply to the PhD 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–BA 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–BA track is six years, although actual completion times will vary depending on student needs and career goals.

The mission of the counseling psychology PhD 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 PhD 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 PhD program are eligible for licensure to practice psychology. Licensure requirements differ by state, and currently most states require additional supervised practice post-PhD. 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.


Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

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 exclusively in English, must provide an English proficiency test score earned within two years of the anticipated term of enrollment. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Requirements for Admission policy:
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Many students who apply to and are enrolled in the PhD program have earned a master's degree (post-MA in counseling or a related field).  However, we also offer a “Post-BA” track within our PhD 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 PhD program. Having a "Post-BA" track allows us to accept qualified applicants to the PhD 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. Admission to the program is highly competitive.  Applicants are responsible for collecting, assembling, and submitting all the pieces of the application by the deadline. Applicants must upload materials to the online application.  

Several informational meetings are hosted each fall by the department.  A schedule of meetings and other information can be found on the Information for Prospective PhD Applicants page.

Questions can be directed to the Student Services Coordinator. See the People tab for contact information.

Applicants without a Master's Degree in Counseling or Related Field

The program accepts applications from applicants without a master's degree in counseling. An undergraduate degree in Psychology is recommended. Applicants without a Psychology degree but with substantial undergraduate coursework in introductory psychology and statistics may be considered.

Information and application instructions are found on the program website.


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 restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

Incoming PhD students will be guaranteed five years of funding. For post-MA students, the fifth year may be covered by the funding students receive through their predoctoral internship, which is administered by a different institution. Funding is through a combination of fellowships and graduate assistantships, usually either teaching or research (usually termed "project" assistantships) -- either in the Department of Counseling Psychology or in other university departments. Assistantship appointments are at the 50% level (equating to 20 hours per week) for the 9-month academic year. Summer funding is available but not guaranteed.

Department assistantships are assigned through a competitive application process each spring. Admitted students (non-fellows) are included in the process the spring before they start in the program. Students are encouraged to also apply for graduate 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.

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


  • 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 health care benefits, the program strives to assist our fellows with first-year transition, community building, and professional development opportunities. 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.
  • Racial and ethnic minority students are encouraged to apply for the American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship Program. Information is available on their website.

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. Questions can be directed to the Student Services Coordinator. See the People tab for contact information.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

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

Major Requirements

Mode of Instruction

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

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.

Curricular Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement Post–MA: 77 credits

Post–BA: 89 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement Post–MA: 51 credits

Post–BA: 63 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework must be graduate-level coursework. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement policy:
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Refer to the Graduate School: Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirement policy:
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.
Graduate School Breadth Requirement Optionally, PhD students in the Department of Counseling Psychology may elect to complete a doctoral minor and/or a graduate/professional certificate. Students are expected to consult with their advisors concerning the breadth requirement.

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–MA Pathway1:

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 (1 semester) 22
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 Supervision4
COUN PSY 890 Advanced Assessment Techniques in Counseling Psychology3
Other Courses
COUN PSY 990 Research or Thesis (Up to 4 semesters)3-12
or COUN PSY/​ED PSYCH/​PSYCH/​RP & SE  995 Predoctoral Internship
COUN PSY 904 Counseling Psychology Externship (optional) 31-3
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
Introduction to Qualitative Research
Seminar on Meta-Analysis
Test Construction
Structural Equation Modeling
Hierarchical Linear Modeling
Design & Analysis of Quasi-Experiments for Causal Inference
Total Credits75-89

These pathways are internal to the program and represent different curricular paths a student can follow to earn this degree. Pathway names do not appear in the Graduate School admissions application, and they will not appear on the transcript.


Students must take at least 1 semester of COUN PSY 810 Professional Development and Clinical Practice for 2 credits.


Students may take 2 semesters of COUN PSY 904 Counseling Psychology Externship for a total of 2-6 credits.

Post–BA Pathway1:

Post-BA track students start the program alongside the incoming master's student cohort. In their first academic year, post-BA track students will complete a course load similar to their master's student counterparts. In their second academic year, students will complete their "first Year Experience" while beginning their PhD coursework. Post-BA 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 requirements for our master's program.

Must complete all courses listed for the Post–MA pathway 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

These pathways are internal to the program and represent different curricular paths a student can follow to earn this degree. Pathway names do not appear in the Graduate School admissions application, and they will not appear on the transcript.

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

Prior Coursework

Graduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to transfer 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.

Undergraduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions or UW-Madison

No credits from an other institution or UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to transfer toward the degree.

Credits Earned as a Professional Student at UW-Madison (Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Veterinary careers)

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.

Credits Earned as a University Special Student at UW–Madison

With program approval, students are allowed to transfer 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.

Advisor / Committee

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 PhD 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.

Credits Per Term Allowed

15 credits

Time Limits

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 timelines for completion of degree requirements) or denied reentry.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

School of Education Grievance Policy and Procedures

The following School of Education Student Grievance Policy and associated procedures are designed for use in response to individual student grievances regarding faculty or staff in the School of Education.

Any individual student who feels they have been treated unfairly by a School of Education faculty or staff member has the right to file a grievance about the treatment and receive a timely response addressing their concerns. Any student, undergraduate or graduate, may use these grievance procedures, except employees whose complaints are covered under other campus policies. The grievance may concern classroom treatment, mentoring or advising, program admission or continuation, course grades (study abroad grade complaints are handled through International Academic Programs), or issues not covered by other campus policies or grievance procedures. 

For grievances regarding discrimination based on protected bases (i.e., race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, etc.), contact the Office of Compliance (

For grievances or concerns regarding sexual harassment or sexual violence (including sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, stalking, and sexual exploitation), contact the Sexual Misconduct Resource and Response Program within the Office of Compliance.

For grievances that involve the behavior of a student, contact the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards in the Dean of Students Office at

For grievances about, or directed at, faculty or staff in a School of Education department, unit, or program, students should follow these steps:

  1. Students are strongly encouraged to first talk with the person against whom the concern is directed. Many issues can be settled informally at this level. If students are unable to resolve concerns directly or without additional support, step 2 or 3 should be pursued.
  2. If unresolved after taking or considering step 1:
    1. If the concern is directed against a teaching assistant (TA), and the student is not satisfied, the student should contact the TA's supervisor, who is usually the course professor. The course professor will attempt to resolve the concern informally.
    2. If the concern involves a non-TA instructor, staff member, professor, academic department, or School of Education office or unit, the student should contact the chair of the department or the director of the office or unit, or their designee. The chair or director, or their designee, will attempt to resolve the concern informally. If the concern is about the department chair or office/unit director, the student should consult the School of Education Senior Associate Dean for guidance.
  3. If the concern remains unresolved after step 2, the student may submit a formal grievance to the chair or director in writing within 30 business days1 of the alleged unfair treatment. To the fullest extent possible, a formal written grievance shall contain a clear and concise statement of the issue(s) involved and the relief sought.  
  4. On receipt of a written grievance, the chair or director will notify the person at whom the grievance is directed with a copy of the written grievance. The person at whom the complaint is directed may submit a written response, which would be shared with the student.
  5. On receipt of a written grievance, the chair or director will refer the matter to a department, office, or unit committee comprised of at least two members. The committee may be an existing committee or one constituted for this purpose. The committee, or delegates from the committee, may meet with the parties involved and/or review any material either party shares with the committee.  
  6. The committee will provide a written description of the facts of the grievance and communicate recommendations to the department chair or office/unit head regarding how the grievance should be handled.
  7. The chair or director will offer to meet with the student who made the grievance and also will provide a written decision to the student, including a description of any related action taken by the committee, within 30 business days of receiving the formal grievance.

    For the purpose of this policy, business days refers to those days when the University Offices are open and shall not include weekends, university holidays, spring recess, or the period from the last day of exams of fall semester instruction to the first day of spring semester instruction. All time limits may be modified by mutual consent of the parties involved.

If the grievance concerns an undergraduate course grade, the decision of the department chair after reviewing the committee’s recommendations is final. 

Other types of grievances may be appealed using the following procedures:

  1. Both the student who filed the grievance or the person at whom the grievance was directed, if unsatisfied with the decision of the department, office or unit, have five (5) business days from receipt of the decision to contact the Senior Associate Dean, indicating the intention to appeal.   
  2. A written appeal must be filed with the Senior Associate Dean within 10 business days of the time the appealing party was notified of the initial resolution of the complaint.
  3. On receipt of a written appeal, the Senior Associate Dean will convene a sub-committee of the School of Education’s Academic Planning Council. This subcommittee may ask for additional information from the parties involved and/or may hold a meeting at which both parties will be asked to speak separately (i.e., not in the room at the same time).
  4. The subcommittee will then make a written recommendation to the Dean of the School of Education, or their designee, who will render a decision. The dean or designee’s written decision shall be made within 30 business days from the date when the written appeal was filed with the Senior Associate Dean.  For undergraduate students, the dean or designee’s decision is final.

Further appealing a School of Education decision – graduate students only

Graduate students have the option to appeal decisions by the School of Education dean or designee by using the process detailed on the Graduate School’s website.

Questions about these procedures can be directed to the School of Education Dean's Office, 377 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-1763.




Professional Development

Graduate School Resources

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

Learning Outcomes

  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 Thompson (Chair), Gloria, and Quintana; Associate Professors Budge, Goldberg, and Wright; Assistant Professors Frost and Kim; Faculty Associate Lotta; Clinical Associate Professor Graham; Clinical Assistant Professors Ramirez Stege and Her.

Graduate Program Manager: Andrea Burdick.
Department Administrator: Nancy Jaeckle


American Psychological Association

Accreditation status: Accredited. Next accreditation review: 2029.


Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology

Year of Exam UW-Madison Graduates: First Attempt National: First Attempt  
2015-2017 81.82% 80.81%
2017-2019 76.00% 80.33%
2020-2022 86.67% 76.29%

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.

Professional Certification/Licensure Disclosure (NC-SARA)

The United States Department of Education (via 34 CFR Part 668) requires institutions that provide distance education to disclose information for programs leading to professional certification or licensure. The expectation is that institutions will determine whether each applicable academic program meets state professional licensure requirements and provide a general disclosure of such on an official university website.

Professional licensure requirements vary from state-to-state and can change year-to-year; they are established in a variety of state statutes, regulations, rules, and policies; and they center on a range of educational requirements, including degree type, specialized accreditation, total credits, specific courses, and examinations.  

UW-Madison has taken reasonable efforts to determine whether this program satisfies the educational requirements for certification/licensure in states where prospective and enrolled students are located and is disclosing that information as follows.

Disclaimer: This information is based on the most recent annual review of state agency certification/licensure data and is subject to change. All students are strongly encouraged to consult with the individual/office listed in the Contact Information box on this page and with the applicable state agency for specific information.

The requirements of this program meet certification/licensure requirements in the following states:


The requirements of this program do not meet certification/licensure requirements in the following states:

Not applicable

Updated: 1 June 2024