The University of South Alabama will soon offer Alabama’s first Ph.D. in combined clinical and counseling psychology following the Alabama Commission on Higher Education’s unanimous approval on March 28.
Students in the innovative program will take classes in both the USA College of Arts and Sciences as well as the College of Education. The Ph.D. will be granted jointly by both colleges. Eligible applicants must have at least a master’ s degree in psychology, counseling, or a closely-related field that meets a prescribed set of studies including relevant research and clinical experiences. Eight students will be selected for the first classes in fall 2009. The program will require four years of full-time study.
“We will seek accreditation from the American Psychological Association, which recognizes the value of combined programs,” said Dr. G. David Johnson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “These programs are attractive to students and employers because graduates receive particularly broad training. Our graduates will receive an outstanding education that will prepare them to work in a wide variety of settings.”
Previously, the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Auburn University were the only schools in the state to offer doctorates in psychology. USA’s doctoral program will be unique, offering both clinical and counseling psychology using a unified approach to doctoral-level training.
“The combined program in clinical and counseling psychology will integrate training across a spectrum of professional programs in psychology as it prepares psychologists capable of working in a variety of mental health care settings,” said Dr. Richard L. Hayes, dean of the College of Education. “This intentionally collaborative approach will complement the wide range of USA’s health education and health-care programs and facilities with courses, clinical experiences, and research focused on health and illness.”
The program will require a minimum of 60 credit hours at the doctoral level at USA as well as a 12-month internship and a scholarly dissertation. It will prepare graduates to work in a variety of mental health settings, such as hospitals, prisons or private practice. Graduates may also work alongside physicians to treat patients suffering from health problems with psychological components, such as stress.
“These Ph.D. graduates will be a tremendous benefit to the region because it is presently underserved in the mental health areas,” said Dr. Larry Christensen, chair of the psychology department at USA.
The number of psychologists in Mobile and Baldwin counties is well below the national average. Christensen said there is an additional need for psychologists in the Mobile area as well as the entire Gulf Coast region, especially after Hurricane Katrina, as residents continue to recover almost three years after the storm.
For more information on the new Ph.D. in combined clinical and counseling psychology, call the psychology department at (251) 460-6371 or visit the Web site at http://southalabama.edu/psychology.
Currently, USA’s College of Arts and Sciences enrolls 3,691 students and has awarded 14,567 degrees. The College of Education currently enrolls 2,205 students and has awarded 16,065 degrees.