Our Educational Vision

The Integral and Transpersonal Psychology program seeks to ground academic excellence and the acquisition of professional skills in both the personal transformation of students and the cultivation of a spiritually informed scholarship.

Our curriculum provides context for multi-disciplinary exploration of the interface of psychology and spirituality, including integral and transpersonal psychology, Asian psychologies, modern consciousness studies, participatory spirituality, transpersonally informed therapies, depth psychology, contemplative psychology, religious comparative studies, shamanic and indigenous studies, eco-psychology, and more. Approaching the encounter among diverse worldviews in the spirit of dialogue, mutual transformation, and open inquiry, students in this program actively explore the practical implications and professional applications of this convergence for a diverse and multicultural world. This commitment also entails bridging psycho-spiritual growth with social, cultural, and ecological transformation.

Our program is guided by and dedicated to the following educational ideals:

  • To offer an integral education that honors not only intellectual excellence, but also the voice and wisdom of the somatic, vital, emotional, imaginal, and spiritual dimensions of the person.
  • To bring spirituality into academia and explore the transformative elements of inquiry, learning, and writing.
  • To foster the psycho-spiritual development of students, as well as their unique gifts and potentials.
  • To promote competence in diverse research methods and tools, with the goal of enabling students to participate in systematic, scientific knowledge building from the transformative and whole-person stances of integral and transpersonal psychology.

Students complete 36 units of coursework and write a dissertation. The degree is designed as a half-time online program 
with a research orientation. Students meet two times per year for a week-long residential seminar, with the remainder of coursework completed online. The program of study consists of core requirements, research courses, an area of focus that includes advanced seminars, two comprehensive exams, and a dissertation. Students may elect, with advisor approval, to 
add a second focus area to their program, thereby extending their program of study for an additional year. All courses in 
the our program are evaluated by letter grade; there is no pass/fail option.

Curriculum

The PhD in Integral and Transpersonal Psychology has 36 units of coursework plus a dissertation.

I. Core Requirements—12 units
Western/World Philosophies with History and Systems of Psychology
Critical Thinking with Integral/Transpersonal Psychologies
Scholarly Writing with Integral and Transpersonal Studies
Somatic Psychology with Exceptional Human Experiences

II. Research Courses—12 units
Qualitative Research Methods
Quantitative Research Methods with Neuroscience of Consciousness
Integral Research Methods with Creative Expression
Proposal Writing

III. Area of Focus—12 units
Possibilities include:
Integral and Transpersonal Psychology
Somatic Studies
Consciousness Studies and Contemplative Neuroscience
Course in Focus Area (3 units)
Course in Focus Area (3 units)
Course in Focus Area (3 units)
Course in Focus Area (3 units)

IV. Dissertation—0 units
Dissertation Proposal
Dissertation Seminar

Multi-Paper Dissertation

In addition to the standard format for doctoral dissertations, our program allows students to use an alternative format that consists of three peer-reviewed papers. Two of these papers are to have been published or accepted for publication; the other is to have been either published or accepted for publication, or under review. Students who would like to pursue the multi-paper dissertation format are assessed by the faculty program committee on a case-by-case basis. As with the traditional dissertation, a dissertation proposal is submitted, a committee of three members is formed, a dissertation is prepared using the text of the three articles as its central content,.

Program Learning Goals

Upon completion of the PhD in Integral and Transpersonal Psychology, students will be able to:

Goal 1. Demonstrate the ability to produce doctoral-level scholarly work in integral/transpersonal psychology

  • Exhibit doctoral-level scholarly writing and critical thinking skills.
  • Display expertise in a topic area within integral/transpersonal psychology.
  • Employ interdisciplinary scholarship in a careful and rigorous way.
  • Design and carry out scholarly research using an appropriate research method.
  • Integrate creativity and embodiment in the processes of scholarship.

Goal 2. Engage in communities of scholarship in a professional and collegial manner

  • Present scholarship effectively in a group setting.
  • Engage in respectful dialogue with scholars from other fields and backgrounds.
  • Employ integral and transpersonal psychology concepts in teaching contexts.
  • Practice inclusiveness with and appreciation of diverse and minority voices.

Goal 3. Demonstrate expertise in an area of integral and/or transpersonal psychology

  • Display a command of the literature in an area of scholarship related to integral/transpersonal psychology.
  • Participate in advancing scholarly research in the fields of integral and/or transpersonal psychology.

Course Descriptions

The majority of the courses in the Integral Transpersonal Psychology program are designed to pair a scholarly skill with a subject area of the student's choice. The degree is research oriented, and so it has a strong emphasis on critical thinking, scholarly writing, and research design and critique. These skills are presented in the context of content that orients the student to the transpersonal and integral fields.

Core Requirements (12 Units)

Western/World Philosophies with History and Systems of Psychology (3 units)
This course is designed to situate the fields of integral and transpersonal psychologies in global and historical context. The student will be invited to consider how the history and systems of psychology have been shaped by the context of Western philosophy. The course will pose the question of how psychology might be transformed in the context of other world philosophies such as Advaita Vedanta, integral yoga, Buddhism, shamanism, and integrative western philosophies that attempt to reflect values of interconnectedness. The course also introduces embodiment practices for use in the scholarly context.

Critical Thinking with Integral/Transpersonal Psychologies (3 units)
This course offers tools and processes of critical thinking in the context of an overview of integral and transpersonal approaches to psychology. Major concepts and theorists as well as developments of the transpersonal field will be considered. The student will have opportunity to learn and practice both intellectual discrimination and intuitive discernment in thinking about whole-person approaches to psychology.

Scholarly Writing with Integral and Transpersonal Studies (3 units) 
This course engages the student in processes of enhancing their scholarly writing skills in relationship to integral and transpersonal studies. The holistic, transformative lens of integral and transpersonal approaches has applications well beyond psychology, in such fields as anthropology, shamanism, parapsychology, spirituality, Black psychology, eco-psychology, sociology, social activism, feminism, sexual orientation and gender identity, ecology, medicine, leadership, literature, and the arts. A consideration of such applications will provide context for learning and applying scholarly writing skills.

Somatic Psychology with Exceptional Human Experiences (3 units)
Somatic psychology is an approach to understanding the human mind that is finely attuned to how people inhabit their bodies and their lives. This course offers an overview of research literature on somatic psychology and the field's underlying principles. The course also surveys research literature on exceptional human experiences, such as those associated with mysticism, spirituality, and psychic phenomena. While these latter have often been studied in association with transcendence, a whole person approach to psychology situates them firmly within the lived experience of the body. Both of these emerging fields are studied in a context that supports innovative thinking as well as critical analysis. 

Research Courses (12 Units)

Qualitative Research Methods (3 Units)
This course considers the strategies of qualitative research methods in the context of whole-person approaches to psychology. Qualitative research inquires into the qualities of lived experience as the data for constructing approaches to understanding the human mind. Students will gain familiarity in the application of grounded theory, narrative research, case studies, phenomenology, and ethnography, and will conduct a pilot study as an integral part of this course.

Quantitative Research Methods with Neuroscience of Consciousness (3 Units)
This course introduces quantitative methods of research in the context of neuroscientific approaches to the study of consciousness. Neuroscience seeks to understand aspects of the mind by measuring activity and change in various dimensions of the human nervous system, and quantitative methods are used to identify and describe potentially meaningful patterns in experimental results. The student will be invited to consider the value of quantitative approaches 
in whole-person approaches to psychology.

Integral Research Methods with Creative Expression (3 Units)
This course examines research methods that draw together various strategies in the context of creative-expression 
approaches to psychology. Integral methods include approaches such as grounded theory, mixed methods, theoretical research, and somatic phenomenology; further, creative expression considers artistic expressive activity as meaningful participation in the healing and revealing processes of transformation. The student will have opportunity to consider potentials for creative applications of integral research approaches through examining research in creative expression approaches to psychology.

Proposal Writing (3 Units)
This course provides the student with an opportunity to write, under faculty supervision, a preliminary research proposal. 
A completed preliminary research proposal will include well-crafted drafts of an introductory chapter, a literature review chapter, and a methods chapter, all in correct APA style. This this course, the student will have opportunity to demonstrate the skills and knowledge of critical thinking, scholarly writing, and research design and critique gained at earlier stages of the program.

Focus Area Coursework

A focus area consists of 12 units of coursework that is specifically oriented toward the student's area of study. There are three focus areas are available for our degree:

Integral and Transpersonal Psychology
The topic for this self-designed focus area including 12 elective units should be submitted for advisor approval no later than the start of the second year of coursework, and must include at least two courses from electives offered within the Integral and Transpersonal Psychology PhD. The student may add up to two program-approved doctoral-level courses from within other online doctoral programs at CIIS (Transformative Studies or Women's Spirituality), or online doctoral-level courses offered by East-West Psychology. If the student wishes to spend time in residence in the San Francisco Bay Area, coursework may also draw on residential offerings by doctoral programs at CIIS such as East-West Psychology. Prior to approval of the self-designed focus area by the advisor, the student must ensure that permission will be granted for admission to classes in these other programs, and that the classes will be offered in the semesters in which the student hopes to register for them.

Consciousness Studies and Contemplative Neuroscience
This focus area is designed to bring together consciousness studies, contemplative psychology, and neuroscience. If they are to be whole-person approaches, then fields such as integral and transpersonal psychology need to include neuroscience research within their scope of inquiry. In addition, engaging neuroscience is an important aspect of introducing the concepts and insights of transpersonal and integral approaches to a wider audience, both within psychology and to the wider public. What whole-person approaches bring to neuroscience is the ability to ask new and interesting questions that arise from the more holistic and systems perspectives of integral and transpersonal standpoints. The focus area will address issues of philosophical context through courses in consciousness studies that will be offered both within the our program and in cooperation with the Transformative Studies online PhD program. The neuroscience courses will provide conceptual orientation in neuroscience frameworks, as well as training in the use of neuroscience equipment, such as the EEG, in the study of contemplative and other non-ordinary states of consciousness.

Somatic Studies
The focus area in Somatic Studies is designed for students with experience or strong interest in body practices that might be called transformative. This might include one of the martial arts, a bodywork practice, a specific movement or dance practice, an advanced sport practice, or a gyrotonic, Pilates, or other similar practice. Coursework will consider the worldwide burgeoning of embodiment literature beginning in the mid-20th century and rapidly growing into the present, as well as its relevance to consciousness studies. In addition to advancing the student's understanding toward the development of a scholarly doctoral dissertation, this course of study supports the cultivation of the student's capacities for practice and teaching with an advanced understanding of the relevance of lived experience to addressing some of the major problems facing the world today.

Comprehensive Examinations

The purpose of comprehensive examinations is to demonstrate that the student is ready to proceed to the dissertation phase of their doctoral degree. This degree has two comprehensive examinations. The first of these is a written examination covering basic concepts, theories, and theorists of general psychology to ensure that students earning a doctoral degree in psychology demonstrate a working knowledge of the field. This requirement may be satisfied in one of three different ways. Students with a master’s level degree in counselling psychology or a degree with comparably comprehensive coverage of psychology in its coursework may waive this exam. Students without the required academic background in psychology may meet this requirement by taking the Graduate Record Examination Psychology Subject Test and passing with a score of 550 or above; the program provides self-study materials to aid in preparation for this exam. Students may also elect to satisfactorily pass a 3-unit General Psychology course offered by the program to their course of study in lieu of this requirement. For students who do not have a master's level background in counselling psychology, or for those wishing to review and prepare for this examination, self-study materials will be provided. The second exam consists of a 25 – 30 page paper, written at a doctoral level, on a topic relevant to the student's area of study.

Dissertation

The student will write a dissertation under the supervision of a core faculty member or dissertation-approved associated faculty member as committee chair, and two other qualified scholars, approved by the chair, one of whom must not be affiliated with CIIS.

Sample Schedule

Semester 1 (Year 1) Western/World Philosophies with History and Systems of Psychology (3 units)
Critical Thinking with Integral/Transpersonal Psychologies (3 units)
Semester 2 Scholarly Writing with Integral and Transpersonal Studies (3 units)
Somatic Psychology with Exceptional Human Experiences (3 units)
Semester 3 (Year 2) Qualitative Research Methods (3 units)
Focus Area Coursework (3 units)
Semester 4 Quantitative Research Methods with Neuroscience of Consciousness (3 units)
Focus Area Coursework (3 units)
Semester 5 (Year 3)

Integral Research Methods with Creative Expression (3 units)
Focus Area Coursework (3 units)

Semester 6

Proposal Writing (3 units)

Focus Area Coursework (3 units)

Semester 7 through Semester 12 (Years 4 & 5) Dissertation Research and Writing

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