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Doctor of East-West Psychology

Join a community of scholars integrating multiple ways of knowing as a catalyst for personal and societal change through our Ph.D. program.

Program Overview

Program Length

4 - 7 Years

Number of Units

39.2 - 40.6



Next Cohort


Our Approach

The mission of the Ph.D. in East-West Psychology at CIIS is to explore the convergence of Eastern, Western, and Indigenous psychologies and spiritualities in the spirit of dialogue and integral inquiry. Our students engage in research subjects that explore the meaning of this convergence for a diverse, multicultural, and peaceful world.

We encourage students to build bridges between disciplines or fields of research (e.g., psychoanalysis and Buddhism), research methodologies (e.g., theoretical, phenomenological, narrative, heuristic), approaches to knowledge e.g., (using first-, second-, and third-person standpoints), and epistemologies (e.g., Eastern contemplative and Western scientific).

East-West Psychology students contribute their expertise to the expansive field of integral philosophies through original research for their dissertation. Many students use their dissertation to contribute to growing bodies of research in areas such as mindfulness, somatic spirituality, eco-psychology, Indigenous and earth-based wisdom, community-building, restorative justice, integral yoga, and non-ordinary states of consciousness.

Career Paths

Upon graduation, students are prepared for a wide variety of careers. By utilizing integral approaches and the versatile skill set conferred by our rigorous academic training, graduates find success and fulfillment as:

  • Educators, researchers, and writers
  • Advocates, activists, and community organizers
  • Environmental stewards and eco-leaders
  • Entrepreneurs and consultants
  • Counselors and mental health para-professionals
  • Non-profit leaders


The Ph.D. in East-West Psychology at CIIS consists of 40 units of online or in-person coursework, including an introductory course with a retreat component, two comprehensive exams, proposal writing, and dissertation research. Students work closely with their advisors to design an individualized curriculum and participate in research classes designed to help articulate their dissertation research project.

Curriculum Highlights

EWP 9566 Comparative Mysticism (3 units) In the spirit of empathetic dialogue and inquiry, this doctoral seminar provides both an in-depth exploration of the field of comparative mysticism and a sustained examination of the nature of mystical phenomena. After discussing the various meanings of the term mysticism and the methodological foundations of the field of comparative mysticism research, the remainder of the class will be dedicated to reading and discussing selected mystical texts from around the world. As a part of the requirements for the course, students will present to the class on a topic within the field of comparative mysticism.

EWP-6043 Intro to Yoga Psychology (3 units) Yoga is a term with both a broad and a general meaning and a narrower and specialized meaning in the country of its origin. The West has its history of reception of the term, which has colored its meanings. In this course, we will look at the broader understanding of yoga as a pervasive Indic cosmo-psychology and an occult anatomy with its archive of practices, cultural expressions and goals related to life-choices. Taking a historical approach, we will explore the roots of yoga practice in the Indus Valley, the cosmological and psychological maps of the Vedas and Upanishads, the occult world of deities and supernaturals, the psychology of ritual, soul and reincarnation, the constitution of human nature, the psychology of knowledge, moksha and samadhi, the Gita's synthesis, the will and its uses, bhakti or devotion, the Tantric system of kundalini and the chakras; siddhis or paranormal powers, and cultural expressions influenced by these understandings. Finally, we will consider attempts at integrating these structures and processes and the utilities of yoga psychology to (post-)human potential.

EWP 6326 Chinese Body-Mind Healing Systems: An Interdisciplinary Approach (3 units) This course adopts an interdisciplinary approach drawing on Chinese philosophy and cultural history, anthropology, and psychology to the study of Chinese body-mind healing systems. We will study and analyze the basic concepts and theories of traditional Chinese medicine in its intellectual and cultural context. The course will emphasize the following components: (i) comprehensive study of fundamental concepts and theories of traditional body-mind healing systems, such as Qi, heart-mind, yin yang, five phrases, manifestations of internal organ systems, meridians, including original source materials in English translation; (ii) practice basic diagnostic skills and traditional Chinese health regimens; and (iii) critically assessing contemporary globalization and integration of traditional medicines in Western health system.

  • All classes 3 units unless otherwise specified.

    I. Core Requirements—6-7 Units
    EWP 6000 EWP Community Retreat (1 unit)
    EWP 6001 Introduction to East-West Psychology (2 units) 
    EWP 6330 Knowledge Work and the Modern Academy (1 unit)

    Select one of the following:
    EWP 6014 Civilizations in Transition: From Shadow to Soul
    EWP 6034 Modernity, Colonialism, and Transcultural Hermeneutics
    EWP 6114 Auroville: The City of Dawn: An Immersive Research Experience
    EWP 6329 Conscious Diversity: Inner and Outer - A Diversity Process Class (2 units)
    EWP 7011 Indigenous Traditions: Ancestral Consciousness and Healing
    EWP 6037 Ancestral Migrations

    II. Required Research Courses—3 Units 
    EWP 7035 Research Methods 1: Research Foundations

    III. Comprehensive Exams – 6 units (taken in last semester of course work)
    EWP 6145 Comprehensive Studies: Literature Review
    EWP 7036 Research Methods 2: Research Lab

    IV. Advanced Ph.D. Seminars—6 Units

    Students will take two of the following or any other advanced Ph.D. seminar that is offered:
    EWP 6024 Civilization in Transition - From Shadow to Soul
    EWP 6126 Jung and the Sacred
    EWP 9104 Principles of Healing
    EWP 9106 Contemplative Traditions and Practices
    EWP 9406 Jung’s Red Book
    EWP 9566 Comparative Mysticism
    EWP 9009 Integral Ecopsychology

    V. Optional Areas of Specialization Electives—14-15 Units
    Possibilities include:
    Asian Psychologies
    Depth Psychology
    Indigenous Studies
    Ecopsychology, Culture, and Psychology
    Integral and Transpersonal Psychology
    East-West Spiritual Counseling
    Psychospiritual Practices

    VI. Dissertation Seminar—3 units*
    EWP 9800 Thesis/Dissertation Proposal Completion (0.1 unit)*
    EWP 9900 Thesis/Dissertation Seminar (0.1 unit)*
    *This will add an additional fraction of units to the 36 units of coursework

Entry Requirements

  • Online Admissions Application: Begin the application process by submitting an online application and paying the non-refundable $65 application fee.

    Degree Requirement: A bachelor’s and master's degree in a discipline relevant to the program (e.g., religion, philosophy, psychology, and others) from an accredited school.

    Minimum GPA: A GPA of 3.0 or higher in previous coursework is required. However, a GPA below 3.0 does not automatically disqualify an applicant and CIIS will consider a prospective student whose GPA is between 2.0 and 3.0. These individuals are required to submit a GPA Statement and are encouraged to contact the Office of Admissions to discuss their options.

    Transcripts: Official transcripts from all accredited academic institutions attended where 7 or more credits have been earned. If transcripts are being mailed to CIIS, they must arrive in their official, sealed envelopes. Transcripts from institutions outside the U.S. or Canada require a foreign credit evaluation through World Education Services (WES). CIIS will also accept foreign credential evaluations that are in a comprehensive course-by-course format from the current members of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).

    Autobiographical Statement: A four-to-six page (typed, double-spaced) essay focused on the values, interests, life experiences, and spiritual insights that led to your decision to apply to this program. 

    Goal Statement: A one-page (typed, double-spaced) statement of your educational and professional objectives.

    Academic Writing Sample: A writing sample of eight-to-ten pages (typed, double-spaced) that demonstrates your capacity to think critically and reflectively and demonstrates graduate level writing abilities. A sample that uses outside sources must include proper citations. You may submit copies of previous work, such as a recent academic paper, article, or report that reflects scholarly abilities.

    Two Letters of Recommendation: Letters of recommendation should ideally be from professors who can attest to your scholarly writing and research abilities. If you are not able to obtain two letters from faculty, one of the letters can be from an academic advisor or professional supervisor. Recommenders should use standard business format and include full contact information (name, email, phone number, and mailing address).

Our Department in Action


Join us for an evening of contemplative conversation and enchanting music featuring world-renowned Dhrupad vocalist, Maestro Pandit Uday Bhawalkar and Sri Sukhad Munde on the Pakhawaj (two-headed drum).

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