Students in the EWP PhD program complete 36 units of coursework and write a dissertation. The program of study consists of a foundational course, research methods courses, research colloquia, two advanced seminars, an optional student-designed area of specialization, one comprehensive exam, and a dissertation. Students focus on a specific area of study and develop methodological skills. They work closely with their advisors to design an individualized curriculum and participate in research colloquia to articulate their dissertation research project.

Please go to East-West Psychology PhD curriculum for an outline and sample schedule.

PhD Program Learning Goals and Objectives

Upon completion of the PhD in East-West Psychology, and in addition to M.A. goals and objectives, graduates will be able to:

  • Goal 1. Produce original scholarly works in the field of East-West psychology and spirituality.
    • Objective 1. Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and expertise in a selected area of specialization within East-West studies.
    • Objective 2. Produce work that creatively and critically interprets, compares, integrates, applies, and/or evaluates knowledge from a variety of Eastern, Western, and indigenous psychological and spiritual traditions.
    • Objective 3. Apply critical thinking in relation to basic and complex issues of East-West cross-cultural hermeneutics, such as orientalism, ethnocentrism, critical pluralism, insider/outsider perspectives, relativism, and/or incommensurability.
  • Goal 2. Carry out scholarly research with a methodology appropriate to their research interests.
    • Objective 1. Design cogent, feasible, and methodologically rigorous research projects.
    • Objective 2. Apply several qualitative and theoretical research methods (e.g., phenomenological, hermeneutic, heuristic, narrative, comparative) to their research interests.
    • Objective 3. Carry out a complete research project that demonstrates professional methodological knowledge and skills.
  • Goal 3. Be competent in a variety of pedagogical, writing, and inquiry skills and be prepared to work professionally as university and college teachers, scholars, and writers.
    • Objective 1. Present verbally their scholarly works and research projects with professionalism, clarity, precision, and creativity.
    • Objective 2. Write original research papers and books according to professional scholarly standards.
    • Objective 3. Incorporate somatic, vital, emotional, imaginal, and spiritual experience and knowledge into scholarly practices, such as research and writing.

Combined PhD/Spiritual Counseling

Students entering the EWP PhD program with a license and mental health practice, or pastoral counsling training, may apply for the East-West Spiritual Counseling Certificate (see About Certificate). Spiritual counseling becomes the area of specialization for such a doctoral student. Visit East-West Psychology PhD Curriculum to see a Combined PhD/Certificate Program sample schedule.

Comprehensive Examinations

During the final year of coursework, doctoral students enroll in two advanced seminars, the second of which they will use their fianl paper as a comprehensive examination designed to demonstrate their knowledge in the program area. In the advanced seminars, students need to show mastery of their area of specialization through an oral presentation and a research paper. 

Teaching/Research Assistantships

A limited number of paid teaching and research assistantships are available every semester. Possible responsibilities for teaching assistants includes facilitation of experiential learning, teaching portions of the class, working with students outside the classroom on projects, miscellaneous administrative and logistic tasks, providing feedback to the faculty member on student learning and perceptions, and reading student papers and giving feedback (but not as the only reader). Research assistants assist faculty in specific research areas in tasks such as annotated bibliographies, scholarly networking, maintaining scholarly databases, etc.

EWP Internships

An internship is an opportunity to integrate career-related experience into an academic education through on-the-job training rather than merely employment. Internships are typically a means for students to gain practical experience in their chosen field in a supervised professional work environment. The department provides students with a list of associated organizations in which internships are available: East-West Psychology Department Internship Opportunities, Internships can be carried out as fieldwork up to a maximum of 6 units.


Applicants must meet the general admission requirements of the Institute, as well as have an MA in EWP or its equivalent (for example, a background in Humanistic, Jungian, or transpersonal psychology; psychology of religion, or religious studies). For those who do not have a background in East-West Psychology, up to 12 units of courses drawn from the EWP core requirements and directed electives will be required, minus equivalencies (equivalency for graduate courses previously taken is determined by the EWP Admissions Committee on an individual basis). In addition to the Institute's general admission requirements, two letters of recommendation are required from individuals familiar with the applicant's academic work and their preparation for graduate work. Applicants should also submit a sample of their writing (i.e., an outstanding essay, article, or selection from their M.A. thesis).

Successful candidates for admission into the EWP PhD program typically have the following qualifications: a vision that is compatible with the program's mission and interdisciplinary nature; a path of personal and/or spiritual growth; sufficient maturity and stability to pursue independent inquiry; competence of communication and dialectical skills; demonstration of respect for a diversity of viewpoints; an openness to multiple ways of knowing and whole-person learning; the ability to clearly articulate educational, professional, and research goals; outstanding scholarly writing skills; the ability to clearly articulate their educational and professional goals; and the capability to identify a prospective area of specialization and/or dissertation topic that is consistent with the program's mission and resources.

Related Links

Questions about admissions or EWP?

Admissions Counselor:
Richard Wormstall
(415) 575-6156

EWP Program Manager & Adjunct Faculty Member:
Stephen Julich, PhD
(415) 575-6189

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