Description of Program
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program was designed in response to the growing interest in psychology as a discipline of study and the need for advanced studies, including research beyond the master’s level. This degree program emphasizes theory, research, and scholarship, culminating in a dissertation.
- Appraise theories and principles in psychology to inform professional contexts
- Evaluate research methods and data analysis in psychology
- Select psychological principles and research for application to personal, social, and organizational issues
- Evaluate ethical principles of psychology in academic and professional issues
- Critique diversity issues in professional contexts
- Design clear and effective communication for fellow professionals and the public
Basis for Admissions
In order to enter the Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology, applicants must have a conferred master’s degree from a regionally or nationally accredited academic institution. There are two options for entering the doctoral program in psychology:
- Direct Entry – Individuals with a previously completed master’s degree in any area of Psychology, Mental Health Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy, or Social Work may immediately begin the 60-credit PhD program.
- Evaluation Track – Individuals who have previously completed a master’s degree in an area other than one listed above must have their transcripts evaluated to determine if previous coursework meets some or all of the Standard Curriculum requirements. Students in the Evaluation Track will begin their degree plan with PSY-7101 and PSY-7102 . They will then be required to complete the Standard Curriculum courses prior to taking the remaining courses in their degree plan.
Standard Curriculum - Up to 12 credit hours determined based on formal evaluation. These courses are in addition to the 60 credits listed below.
The PhD in Psychology degree requires a minimum of 60 credit hours at the graduate level beyond the master’s degree.
The University may accept a maximum of 12 semester credit hours in transfer toward the doctoral degree for graduate coursework completed at an accredited college or university while enrolled in a doctoral program with a grade of “B” or better.
The PhD degree programs in psychology have the following graduation requirements:
- A minimum of 48 credit hours of graduate instruction must be completed through NCU
- Grade Point Average of 3.0 (letter grade of “B”) or higher
- Satisfactory completion of a Comprehensive Exam
- University approval of dissertation manuscript and successful completion of the dissertation defense
- Submission of the approved final dissertation manuscript to the University Registrar, including the original unbound dissertation manuscript and an electronic copy
- Official documents on file for basis of admission: a conferred master’s degree from an accredited academic institution
- Official transcripts on file for all transfer credit hours accepted by the University
- All financial obligations to the University paid in full
Dissertation Completion Pathway
The NCU mission is dedicated to assisting students in achieving their academic aspirations and helping them become valuable contributors to their community and profession. To support our mission, NCU now offers a dissertation completion pathway for students who have successfully completed their doctoral coursework and achieved doctoral candidacy at a previous institution but were unable to complete their dissertation. NCU’s Dissertation Completion Pathway (DCP) offers a unique opportunity for students to complete their doctorate in one of the doctoral programs offered at NCU (excluding the PhD in MFT, DMFT, and DHA). Students successfully meeting the entrance and application requirements will complete a minimum of 23 credit hours to earn their doctorate.
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Time to Completion
NCU allows seven years to complete doctoral programs of 60 credits or less.
Students who are unable to complete a degree program within the stated time limit are dismissed. Students who believe they have extenuating circumstances may document the circumstances in a request for special consideration to their respective School Dean or designee. Exceptions to this policy are determined on a case-by-case basis and are granted only once.
Normal time to completion for this program is 84 months.
Time to completion varies depending upon the pace in which a student completes courses and the number of transfer credits accepted. As most NCU students are working adults balancing educational, professional, and personal commitments, our academic advisors will work with you to develop a program schedule that works best for your needs.
The normal time disclosed above reflects the experience of students who may have entered under different program requirements. In the quest for continuous improvement, academic leadership has revised the program to optimize curriculum and pace, facilitate student learning, and improve chances for success. Therefore, the program is now designed for students enrolling today to take advantage of these revised course structures, lengths, and schedules. New students following the preferred schedule designed by the Dean for this program, and applying no transfer credits, can expect to finish in as little as 48 months.
Faculty assists each NCU Doctoral student to reach this high goal through a systematic process leading to a high-quality completed dissertation. A PhD dissertation is a scholarly documentation of research that makes an original contribution to the field of study. This process requires care in choosing a topic, documenting its importance, planning the methodology, and conducting the research. These activities lead smoothly into the writing and oral presentation of the dissertation.
A doctoral candidate must be continuously enrolled throughout the series of dissertation courses. Dissertation courses are automatically scheduled and accepted without a break in scheduling to ensure that students remain in continuous enrollment throughout the dissertation course sequence. If additional time is required to complete any of the dissertation courses, students must re-enroll and pay the tuition for that course. Continuous enrollment will only be permitted when students demonstrate progress toward completing dissertation requirements. The Dissertation Committee determines progress.
The PhD program may be completed in 60 credits (not including required Standard Curriculum courses) but may require additional credit hours, depending on the time required to complete the dissertation research. If granted, additional courses will be added to the student degree program in alignment with the SAP and Academic Maximum Time to Completion policies. Students who do not complete their program in accordance with these policies may be dismissed.
*The Elective course in the PhD in Psychology degree can be satisfied by any 8000 level course in the Department of Psychology.