Grad Programs in Clinical/Counseling Psych of Religion

One of the most common questions I receive is from students who would like to become clinical or counseling psychologists and to use or study religion from that vantage point. I have resisted creating a page devoted to this question for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that listings of such programs are almost certainly incomplete and outdated moments after they are published. It also seems more like the kind of task that is suited to an organization than to an individual.

Still, I receive enough questions on the subject that I have added the following to my FAQ file. If you are reading this and note any glaring errors, please let me know so that students and prospective students have the information they need.

QUESTION: I would like to get a doctorate in clinical or counseling psychology, and to do it with a professor who studies religion. What schools offer this?

Getting into an applied psychology program is not easy, as most admit only a small percentage of their applicants. Adding a religious component to your search then limits the number of schools even further. This means that your task is not impossible, but it will require a combination of hard work and a strong application.

Your best option is probably to seek out a good clinical or counseling psych program that has one or more faculty members who are interested in religion. The names that come most quickly to mind are Bowling Green (Pargament); Pepperdine (Shafranske); Loyola-Baltimore (Piedmont); Connecticut (Park); Fuller (several); Regent (several); Brigham Young (several). Of course, several of those universities are religiously affiliated, so you may or may not feel personally able to agree to study there with the expectations that they have for students. Still, you should at least check in to each of these universities and consider just what type of fit they may provide you. I don't believe that any of those faculty study faith development themselves, but each of them do study the psychology of religion and would likely be open to studying faith development.

In all likelihood, I've left out some others who would be suitable, as this list is merely what comes to mind at the moment, but this will give you a start. I should also mention that I am replying to this question in February, 2008. If you are reading this in a few years, the answer almost certainly will have changed as university faculty retire or are hired, and as university curricula and degree programs change. For instance, the psychology department at my university has initiated a Psy.D., aimed at preparing students to practice clinical psychology in rural settings. There is no formal psychology of religion component, but students can do their dissertation on a variety of topics, including religion.

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