PhD students complete 36 units of coursework and one comprehensive exam; they then write a dissertation. Students work closely with their advisors to design an individualized curriculum and participate in research colloquia to articulate their dissertation research project.

Course of Study

All students complete five units of core requirements:

  • East–West Psychology Community Retreat
  • Introduction to East–West Psychology
  • Conscious Diversity: Inner and Outer—A Diversity Process Class

All students also complete 10-11 units of research courses. The first four courses listed here are required; students then choose at least one elective:

  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Theoretical Research Methods
  • Research Colloquium (A)
  • Research Colloquium (B)
  • Narrative Research
  • Phenomenological and Heuristic Research and Case Study
  • Methodologies in the Study of Spiritual Traditions
  • Women's Spirituality Research Methodologies
  • Integral Methodology: Integral Methodological Pluralism

Students take two of the following advanced PhD seminars, one of which completes the comprehensive exam requirement:

  • Transformational Practices: Eastern, Western, and Indigenous
  • Principles of Healing
  • Contemporary Transpersonal Theory
  • Spiritual Counseling
  • Jung
  • Comparative Mysticism

Students have 14-15 units of electives in their area of specialization. Possible courses include:

  • Depth Psychology
  • Transpersonal Psychology
  • East–West Spiritual Counseling
  • Eco-Psychology
  • Shamanic Studies
  • Consciousness Studies

The dissertation proposal and dissertation seminar classes are each 0 units and are charged at a flat rate.

Read the course descriptions here.

Teaching/Research Assistantships

A limited number of paid teaching and research assistantships are available every semester. Possible responsibilities for teaching assistants include facilitation of experiential learning; teaching portions of a class; working with students outside the classroom on projects; miscellaneous administrative and logistical 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, and maintaining scholarly databases.


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 CIIS, and must have an MA in East–West Psychology or its equivalent. An equivalent might be, for example, a background in Humanistic, Jungian, or transpersonal psychology; or a background in psychology of religion or in religious studies. Applicants who do not have a background in East–West Psychology will be asked to complete up to 12 units of courses drawn from the East–West Psychology core requirements and directed electives, minus equivalencies, which will be decided by the admission committee on an individual basis.

Successful candidates for admission to the 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 a dissertation topic that is consistent with the program's mission and resources.

Combined PhD/Spiritual Counseling

Students entering the PhD program with a license and mental health practice, or pastoral counseling training, may apply for the East–West Spiritual Counseling Certificate. Spiritual counseling becomes the area of specialization for such a doctoral student.

Questions about admissions or our program?

Admissions Counselor:
Richard Wormstall
(415) 575-6156|

Program Manager:
Stephen Julich, PhD
(415) 575-6189|

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