Doctor of Psychology in Counseling Psychology

The Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Counseling Psychology program provides training for the professional practice of psychology. 

The Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Psy.D. program is student-centered and attentive to the needs of the adult learner, preparing students for careers as licensed professional psychologists. In addition to foundation courses, the curriculum allows students to focus their studies in areas consistent with their interests and professional goals. The program emphasizes and integrates ethical practice, service to diverse and underserved communities, and evidence-based practices. There is a strong emphasis on individualized mentoring throughout the program.

Program Aims

The Saint Mary’s University Psy.D. in Counseling Psychology program is based on a practitioner-scholar model and has two primary aims:

Aim 1: Develop professionally competent graduates prepared to demonstrate commitment to the pursuit of social justice and promote well-being across the lifespan.
Aim 2: Produce counseling psychologists who engage in ethical practice with cultural humility and self-reflection.


The Psy.D. in Counseling Psychology program at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). 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, DC 20002

Phone: (202) 336-5979
TDD/TTY: (202) 336-6123

Student Admissions, Outcomes, and Other Data (PDF)

Frequently Asked Questions

Psy.D. programs place more emphasis on clinical training and applying knowledge gained from psychology research through the use of empirically based treatment/services. Ph.D. programs place more emphasis on producing scientific research and gaining experience in teaching.

Both degrees focus on clinical training and research methods, and both degrees prepare students to be licensed psychologists.

Clinical psychology doctoral programs tend to focus more on disturbances in mental health and psychopathology training, whereas counseling doctoral programs tend to focus more on overall well-being throughout the lifespan and emphasize multicultural training and a holistic education. 

Graduates from both programs tend to work in the same settings and conduct similar kinds of research.

Yes. Consult with your advisor, but typically students complete the integration paper and the oral exam (final M.A. degree requirements) at the end of year 2 in the Psy.D. program. Connect with the M.A. faculty to set up an appropriate timeline and stay informed about any changes in that program’s procedures.

The program is designed to be completed in no less than 5 years. Students must complete the required coursework in a sequential order and certain degree requirements (e.g. practicum, qualifying exam, dissertation proposal, individualized mentorship, clinical case presentation, dissertation) have prerequisites which hinder completion of the degree in fewer than 5 years.

Psychologist licenses in Minnesota are granted by the MN Board of Psychology, and current licensing requirements can be found on the Board website.

The first step toward licensure is completion of the doctoral degree. Once all degree requirements have been met, students can work toward licensure as a psychologist in Minnesota.

Current licensure requires applicants to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) Part 1 (and soon Part 2), complete one year of practice under the supervision of a licensed psychologist, and pass the Minnesota Professional Responsibility Exam.

Many students choose to work while they are in the program. Students take the most credits during the first two years of the program and also spend 15-24 hours per week at practicum sites during years two and three, so it is important to consider these time commitments when deciding if, and how much, to work while in the program.

Classes are scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons and evenings, so students must make sure their employment and practicum placements will not conflict with these times.

The program does not offer any formal areas of specialization, however students are able to choose amongst a variety of elective courses in three areas: diverse settings, diverse populations, and advanced practice. 

Students are also able to focus on areas of interest when applying to practicum sites and setting up their individualized mentorship. The mentorship is a unique opportunity to focus on a special area of psychology that students were not exposed to in their courses or during their practicum experiences. Deciding which internship sites one will apply to is another method of focusing one’s doctoral training experiences.

87 semester credits are required to complete the program. $920 per credit is the current tuition cost for the 2020-21 academic year.

As part of the school mission to make education more accessible, tuition is kept low. The cost per credit may increase over time and students must also pay a few fees for special program requirements (e.g. clinical case presentation, qualifying exam) and pay for textbooks. In addition, there are expenses associated with applying for internship, due to application fees and travel to sites for interviews. Students are encouraged to apply for financial aid to help offset the cost of the program. 

Students should plan to budget $250 to $500 per semester for textbooks. The cost per semester varies and students are encouraged to consider renting vs. purchasing, purchasing used textbooks, and borrowing textbooks from students who have already completed courses as long as the edition of the textbook is still appropriate. Consult with the instructor about possible options.

The program does not offer paid research assistantships. There has been a Graduate Assistant position with infrequent hours assisting on projects as needed, and one or two of the assessment courses have had supplemental coaching/instruction from a Teaching Assistant position (this position offers feedback and instruction but does not grade student work; all grading is done by the faculty member).

Frequently psychologists in the community and practicum sites will contact the program with paid opportunities for students (e.g. psychometrist positions, research opportunities, part-time psychotherapy positions) which are then posted on the Psy.D. program page on Blackboard. Current students can check the Blackboard page for opportunities.

Faculty in the program conduct research projects from time to time and often opportunities are available for students to participate, but there is not usually funding for payment. Opportunities in research could include gaining experience with conducting portions of the research study, such as collecting data, analyzing data, writing up results or literature reviews, presenting at professional conferences, and submitting manuscripts for publication. 

Students are made aware of various training opportunities available, including in-person and virtual/web-based trainings, and free trainings. Also, from time to time the program and the Psy.D. Student Association (PSA) sponsor speakers to come in and share research and/or discuss various psychological topics.

Students are encouraged to become members of the Minnesota Psychological Association and American Psychological Association, and as members students can get substantial discounts on training opportunities and resources. 

Students can design independent study courses to cover material which is not otherwise offered in the curriculum. Independent study courses are generally used to meet advanced elective requirements.

Independent study is done in conjunction with a faculty member, and a syllabus must be developed which is approved by the student, faculty member, and Program Director. Once enrolled in the program, students cannot take courses in other doctoral programs and transfer the credits to the Saint Mary’s program to be used toward completion of the degree.

Most courses are being delivered virtually due to COVID-19, but all courses are typically taught in person on the Twin Cities Campus.

Land Acknowledgement for Twin Cities Campus

We respectfully acknowledge that the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus is on the ancestral and contemporary land of the Wahpekute (Eastern Dakota/Santee), a band of the Očeti Šakówiŋ (Dakota) nation, and the Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ (in Minnesota, the Ojibwe) who are part of the Anishinaabe nation.1

This land was taken from them in a series of illegitimate treaties with the United States government, and the 1863 Dakota Expulsion Act specifically and forcefully removed the Očeti Šakówiŋ.2 Mni Sota Makoce (Minnesota in the Dakota language) is the homeland of the Očeti Šakówiŋ, and Bdote, just 8 miles from this location, is their sacred birthplace.3,4

This land we gather on also has deep historical and spiritual significance to the Ojibwe who arrived in 900 CE.5 For thousands of years, the waterways near here provided transportation, food, and trade relationships.6 We recognize the Wahpekute and the Anishinabewaki as the first and ongoing people of this land upon which we teach and learn.

  1. Native Land
  2. Minnesota Treaty Interactive. The US-Dakota War of 1862. Minnesota Historical Society
  3. Native Governance Center
  4. The Land, Water, and Language of the Dakota, Minnesota’s First People
  5. The Ojibwe: Our Historical Role in Influencing Contemporary Minnesota
  6. Native Americans. Minnesota Historical Society

In addition to the references above, these resources provide a good starting place to learn more:

Connect With Us

Daniel Lawrence

Enrollment Counselor

Admission - SGPP

LaSalle Hall - TC Campus, LSH 116

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 238-4529

Connect with Daniel for programs offered by the School of Health and Human Services.

Daniel Lawrence


Ashley Sovereign, Psy.D.

Program Director

Psy.D. in Counseling Psychology

Core Professor

Brother Louis Hall, BLH 137

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 238-4557

Areas of Expertise: Psychotherapy and Counseling

Meet Ashley Sovereign
Daniel Bucknam, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Psychology and Social Sciences

Aquinas Hall, AH 337C

Campus Box: # 1449

(507) 457-6948

Daniel Bucknam Ph.D.
Bill Handschin, Ph.D.

Course-Contracted Associate Professor

M.A. in Counseling and Psychological Services

Bill Handschin Ph.D.
Daniel Holland, Ph.D.

Core Professor

Doctor of Psychology

Brother Louis Hall, BLH 232

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 728-5163

Meet Daniel Holland
Andrew John, Psy.D.

Practicum Training Coordinator

Psy.D. in Counseling Psychology

Core Professor

Brother Louis Hall, BLH 136

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 728-5164

Meet Andrew John
Kathryn LaBore, Ph.D.

Core Assistant Professor

Psy.D. in Counseling Psychology

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 238-4510

Kathryn LaBore Ph.D.
Robin McLeod, Ph.D.

Course-Contracted Assistant Professor

Psy.D. in Counseling Psychology

Aimee Murray, Psy.D.

Course-Contracted Assistant Professor

M.A. in Counseling and Psychological Services

Signe Nestingen, Psy.D.

Core Professor

Psy.D. in Counseling Psychology

Director of Clinical Training

Brother Louis Hall, BLH 138

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 238-4571

Areas of Expertise: Social Justice and Mental Health Care

Meet Signe Nestingen
Marina Rosenthal, Ph.D.

Core Assistant Professor

Psy.D. in Counseling Psychology

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 238-4511

Meet Marina Rosenthal
Ann Schissel, Ph.D.

Core Assistant Professor

Psy.D. in Counseling Psychology

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 728-5185

Meet Ann Schissel
Jerome Shih, Ph.D.

Core Associate Professor

Psy.D. in Counseling Psychology

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 746-8542

Meet Jerome Shih
Kenneth Solberg, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

Psy.D. in Counseling Psychology

Brother Louis Hall, BLH 232

Campus Box: # 28

Meet Kenneth Solberg
Professor smiling with students

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