Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program Counseling Psychology Ph.D.

Counseling psychology is an applied specialty within the field of psychology that has focused on (a) client strengths, (b) the interaction between the person and the environment, (c) facilitating career development, and (d) multiculturalism.

This APA approved doctoral program contributes to eligibility to become licensed and practice as a psychologist. The Ph.D. degree in counseling psychology is designed for students who want to pursue careers as university professors, researchers, psychotherapists or directors of psychological services.

Counseling psychologists provide developmental, preventative and remedial services to a wide variety of clients, including children and adolescents, couples, families, students, veterans, prisoners, medical patients, people with intellectual and physical disabilities and older adults.

Students also have the opportunity to work with an active research team and develop their writing and research skills.

Course description and classes

View the GSU Graduate Catalog 

Additional program information

Affiliations and research interest
Jeff Ashby, Ph.D., program coordinator - perfectionism, stress coping and religiosity/spirituality.
Greg Brack, Ph.D., crisis and trauma. Dual appointment with Counselor Education program.
Don Davis, Ph.D., humility and forgiveness. Dual appointment with Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
Cirleen DeBlaere, Ph.D., intersection of multiple minority identities and its impact on mental health.
Joseph Hill, Ph.D., Counseling Psychology program clinical coordinator. Contact regarding practicum opportunities and internship placement.
Joel Meyers, Ph.D., dual appointment with School Psychology program.
Ken Rice, Ph.D., stress management, coping and perfectionism. Matheny Endowed Chair.
Program emphasis

  1. We value applicants with previous research experience and research interests that are closely associated with those of our faculty.
  2. We are committed to increasing the levels of commitment to valuing multiculturalism and diversity among our doctoral students.
  3. Previous professional experience as a practitioner and experience in the work world are highly valued.
  4. Involvement with the American Psychological Association, especially Division 17 (Counseling Psychology), is highly desirable.

Application essay
Your essay should describe your match with our program, including:

  1. Why a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology is the best fit for your career goals
  2. How this program specifically will help you meet your career goals
  3. How your background matches characteristics that we seek in applicants
  4. Your research interests and how they relate to those of specific CPY faculty that you would like to work with

Preferences for interviews are given to applicants with:

  1. GRE scores at or above the 50th percentile (we evaluate scores in the context of culture, nation of origin, and language)
  2. Master’s degrees with high GPAs from rigorous Counseling Psychology/Counseling programs (or other applied programs)
  3. Previous journal publications, national presentations, theses, or comparable supervised research experiences
  4. Complex understandings of multiple cultural perspectives, experience working with diverse cultural populations, related research interests, and/or diverse cultural backgrounds
  5. Paid professional experience counseling clients
  6. Letters of recommendation providing evidence that you are a top candidate
  7. Initiative, self-direction, creativity, the ability to contribute to the field, etc.

Is a master’s degree required for admission?
No, we currently admit students with both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.

Can I be enrolled part-time?
No, students accepted into the program must be enrolled full-time.

Are student’s funded? If so, for how long? And, for how much?
Yes! Historically, all of our students have received funding for the duration of their studies. Students have been funded via departmental Graduate Research Assistantships (currently $12,000 stipend per year and tuition remission), Dean’s Fellowships ($27,000 stipend per year and tuition remission), and through external grants (at least $12,000 stipend per year and tuition remission).

Are there teaching opportunities?
Yes! Students are given the opportunity to teach in person and/or online. Students usually teach entry-level career development and diversity undergraduate courses.

How long does it take to get a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology at GSU?
Length of training varies on whether you have a prior Master’s degree in a counseling psychology-related field. The average student takes approximately four to five years post-Master’s degree and five to six years post-baccalaureate to complete the program. This includes a full year of pre-doctoral internship and completed dissertation.

What practicum opportunities are available for students?
Our students are sought after by local college counseling centers (e.g., Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory), local hospitals, and private practice groups who focus on psychological assessments.

Do I need prior clinical experience?
Prior clinical experience is not required.

How much prior research experience do I need?
We operate from a scientist-training model. Thus, students should demonstrate a commitment to research and scholarship. Having publications, presentation of research at local and national conferences, and being a member of research teams can help to demonstrate this commitment and will make your application more competitive. In our recent report to APA, we stated, “The Counseling Psychology program’s mission to produce Scientist-Practitioners of Counseling Psychology to work in academic, research, and applied settings, is consistent with the missions of the department, college, and university.”

What type of things are students doing after they complete the doctoral program?
Our students are employed in a variety of settings, including academic appointments, staff psychologist positions at college and university counseling centers, staff psychologist positions at VA hospitals, and positions in private practices.

How many students are usually accepted?
We tend to accept between 4 to 6 students each year. The number of students accepted varies by faculty needs and funding availability.

Where do students go for internship?
We have an excellent record of a 100% match rate since 2008! Our students have matched with a variety of APA-accredited internship sites, such as Emory University Counseling Center, Georgia Institute of Technology Counseling Center, Pennsylvania Hospital, Wilford Hall Air Force (United States Air force), and Trenton Psychiatric Hospital.

What’s the best thing about the CPY program at GSU?
A program is only as good as the faculty and students who make up the program, and we have great people in this program. Our faculty are passionate about their work and invested in strong mentorship. Our students not only represent an impressive diversity of identities and experiences, they are also actively involved in research, clinical work, and service to the department and community.

What are the characteristics of successful students in the program?
Our thriving students seem to share several characteristics. They are developing a clear sense of their professional goals and are self-motivated to achieve them. They are good citizens of the program, department, and profession. They work hard and enjoy being a part of a team, and have a strong interest in the science of psychology with an interest in contributing to the research base of counseling psychology. They apply steady energy to developing their identities as writers, researchers, and therapists.

How are admissions decisions made? What’s most important?
We look at a combination of prior educational performance, GRE scores, research, practical experience, and potential fit with faculty advisor. We have a very strong applicant pool and use a two phase admission process. Individual faculty have the initial primary responsibility over admission decisions for their research team, but final admission decisions are then made by the entire faculty.

How do I know if a faculty member is accepting a student?
We recommend emailing faculty directly to see if they will be accepting a student.

How can I learn more about a research team?
We recommend reviewing faculty profile webpages, research team webpages, and emailing students directly about their experiences on particular research teams.

Do you allow on-campus visits before formal interviews?|
Campus visits can occur, but would be at the faculty member’s discretion and generally faculty have discouraged such visits during the admissions process. The main reason for this hesitation is that we as a faculty want to be sensitive to financial disparities that may preclude some students from traveling to campus for more than the single visit associated with our invited interviews. There is considerable information available on the web about the program, students, and each of the individual faculty members, so potential applicants should make efficient use of all available technology. However, the Department of Counseling and Psychological Services does host regular information sessions on our doctoral programs of study (Email: 404-413-8200). Prospective students can also email the current President of the Counseling Psychology Student Organization (Email:

  • We have vibrant and productive faculty members who are experts in stress and resilience, trauma, multiculturalism, spirituality, positive psychology, and prevention of bullying. (links to faculty or lab pages as relevant here)
  • We provide a strong stipend (at least $12,000) with tuition remission.
  • Our department has a strong interdisciplinary, applied, and prevention focus, including doctoral programs in Counseling Psychology, School Psychology, and Counselor Education.
  • The University itself is one of the fastest-growing universities in the state of Georgia and ranked 14th most diverse university in the U.S.
  • GSU is deeply invested in the success of racial and ethnic minority students. In 2012, GSU was ranked as the #1 non-profit institution in the nation in graduating African American students! GSU is also ranked #1 in conferring undergraduate and graduate degrees to racial and ethnic minority students in the state of Georgia!
  • We have a strong track-record of placing students in both academic and clinical positions post-graduation.
  • Since 2004, 78% of our graduates have become licensed!
  • We are located in Atlanta, GA, a great affordable city for graduate students on a budget! And, some of the best entertainment and food in the Southeast
  • The greater-Atlanta area provides an array of training opportunities where students are able to achieve their training goals and gain expertise in working with diverse populations.
  • We have had a 100% internship match rate since 2008!

CPS students

  • CPY doctoral students often work as a research assistant to their advising professor during their first year, a 16-hour/week graduate assistantship that offsets tuition, provides a small stipend, and offers students an opportunity to learn research skills, develop mentoring relationships, and work with a research team.
  • CPY doctoral students complete a first-year practicum at the GSU Counseling Center, which offers training in feminist and psychodynamic approaches to trauma and an annual multicultural conference.
  • Many students continue in graduate assistantships after the first year and work at the Counseling Center or teach Master’s level or undergraduate courses (e.g., supervision of Master’s level counseling trainees).
  • CPY doctoral students are required to complete two research projects, a pre-dissertation and a dissertation, both of which are submitted to professional journals for publication. In addition, many students publish and present with faculty.
  • CPY doctoral students have the opportunity to take seminars on “hot” topics such as traumatology, consciousness, multicultural and social justice issues, facilitating adventure therapy, the psychology of women, etc.
  • Our department houses a student-run chapter of the Association of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Issues in Counseling (ALGBIC), which is a division of the American Counseling Association. CPS-AGLBIC offers an annual conference at which students may present their research and receive SAFE ZONE training. Other student organizations, such as Soujourners (international students) and African Americans in Counseling and Psychological Services also provide educational events.

The APA Accredited Counseling Psychology program at Georgia State University is conveniently located in downtown Atlanta, GA. Being located in Atlanta, GA is a great advantage for our students. Check out all the GREAT things that Atlanta has to offer!

  • There are five APA accredited pre-doctoral internship sites in the area where our students are sought for practicum training opportunities.
  • Atlanta is home to the world’s busiest airport making it easy to travel non-stop to many places around the world.
  • Atlanta is a very LGBTQ-affirming city with many LGBTQ-related activities happening every week!
  • Atlanta is home to many sports teams that play year round, check out the Brave’s, Falcons, and Hawks!
  • Atlanta is close to many outdoor activities such as lakes (Lake Lanier), wineries, mountains (Helen, GA), amusement parks (Six Flags) and is only a few hours from the coast.
  • Piedmont Park is situated at the heart of midtown with many facilities (e.g., botanical garden, dog parks, tennis courts, sand volleyball courts, and public pool) and it hosts many festivals year round (e.g., Music Midtown, LGBT Pride, Dogwood Festival).
  • Atlanta has a booming film industry where you can sign up to be an extra in many popular series such as The Walking Dead and movies like the Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Fast and Furious 7, and Anchorman two.
  • Atlanta is home to the Coca-Cola Factory, CNN Center, Georgia Aquarium, and Delta Airlines.
  • Atlanta is a foodie’s dream! You have access to every kind of food imaginable (traditional southern, dim sum, Caribbean, Thai, Italian – the list goes on and on)!!
  • Atlanta is a very affordable city for graduate students living on a budget!

You can expect to experience all four seasons!

Learn more about living and studying in Atlanta 

Program Contacts

Program Contacts Accreditation

CPS Admissions

Program coordinator

Jeff Ashby, Ph.D.


President of Counseling Psychology student organization

David Zelaya

The Doctorate of Philosophy with a major in School Psychology is accredited by the American Psychological Association. *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, D.C. 20002
Phone: 202-336-5979

Graduate Admissions Information

For information about application steps, requirements and deadlines for graduate school, visit our extensive Graduate Admissions Information page.