Psychology (Counseling) - Doctorate
Considering the Counseling Psychology PhD Program?
Counseling psychology has historically maintained a focus on psychological health and adaptive development including vocational issues, prevention and diversity. Our strengths include:
- High quality clinical training in evidence-based interventions supervised by faculty in our in-house training clinic and community training sites.
- Research team involvement enabling development of strong scientific skills investigating topics with real-world application. Publication and presentation opportunities available.
- Coursework delivered by experts allowing for interdisciplinary training opportunities with other psychology specialties.
We also offer a Counseling Psychology Master's program which is closely aligned with our doctoral program and a good option for applicants interested in practice-focused careers.
Why a Counseling Psychology PhD at Southern Miss?
Counseling psychology has been shaped by values that give priority to interventions which foster psychological health and adaptive development and has historically been driven by a focus on normative development, vocational issues, prevention and diversity. Graduates become licensed and go onto work in VA’s, University Counseling Centers, healthcare, academia, and in private practice. Our program specializes in:
- Evidence-based approaches to interventions focused on adults
- Scientific methodology which prepares graduates for both research and practice careers
- Professional behaviors including supervision, teaching, and mentorship
Class sizes are small to allow for more individualized training opportunities. Master's and doctoral coursework overlaps in the first 2 years, allowing for an integration of training across these two programs. A big advantage of being housed in a School of Psychology is that classes are taught by experts in each discipline and students have the opportunity to take classes with students in other Psychology disciplines. Counseling Psychology faculty provide integrated, discipline-specific training in counseling interventions, ethics, multicultural issues, diagnosis and assessment. As a scientist-practitioner training program, research and clinical opportunities are integrated throughout the curriculum.
Cohort sizes are small, allowing for high quality mentorship. Faculty members invest significant time to ensure doctoral graduates are well-prepared psychologists. This includes coursework taught by experts in the subject area, research mentorship provided through a research team model which includes graduate and undergraduate students who participate in publications and presentations, and often includes clinical supervision in the in-house training clinic. All faculty are licensed psychologists, and many provide weekly supervision of practicum and externship.
The Counseling Psychology programs are committed to diversity and social justice. Respect for diversity is a central value of counseling psychology training programs (Council of Counseling Psychology Training Programs et al., 2009) and the larger profession of psychology, as reflected in the American Psychological Association’s (2017) Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct and the Standards for Accreditation for Health Service Psychology and Accreditation Operating Procedures (APA, 2018). In addition, counseling psychologists and licensed professional counselors are called to advocate for social justice and work to prevent oppression in society (Fouad & Prince, 2012). These roles are vital given that we serve people from groups that have been devalued, viewed as deficient, or otherwise marginalized.
Our programs are committed to maintaining an equitable and inclusive training environment. As a diverse community, we seek to learn from one another in an atmosphere of respect, ongoing self-examination, and empowerment. Students are prepared to serve a diverse public and take up the call to advocate for social justice. Our commitment is reflected in coursework, research, practicum training, and professional service, as we infuse conversations about diversity into all aspects of training. These efforts are ongoing, and we aspire to maintain an environment that recognizes and respects the unique experiences and challenges faced by all students.
Ongoing Efforts in Support of Diversity and Social Justice
Students and faculty are involved in many ongoing efforts to support diversity and social justice. Examples include:
- The Counseling Psychology programs promote equity in graduate admissions by no longer requiring applicants to submit GRE scores and conducting our admission interviews virtually.
- The Go Gold Diversity Fellowship is awarded annually by the School of Psychology, following a competitive application process, to a newly admitted graduate student from a diverse backgrounds who has an interest in applying their training to improve the lives of diverse groups through research and/or practice.
- The USM Committee on Services and Resources for Women sponsors two award competitions each year for USM personnel, including graduate students, working on gender issues: the Peggy Jean Connor Research Award and the Kathanne W. Greene Paper Awards.
- The Counseling Psychology Diversity Committee includes faculty and student representatives from our doctoral and master’s programs who assist with improving our efforts to recruit and retain diverse students and faculty, as well as enhance training related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Many students have completed Southern Miss ALLIES training, which assists them in learning to be more affirming of persons who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transsexual orientation, and sexual orientation, and gender identity.
Opportunities to Work with Diverse Clients
Students in the Counseling Psychology programs work with clients from diverse backgrounds in every clinical setting. Most doctoral students begin their clinical training at the Center for Behavioral Health (CBH), a training clinic operated by the School of Psychology which is located next to our building. Students working at the CBH provide evidence-based psychological services to community adults and university students. As one of the more affordable options for mental health services in the greater Hattiesburg area, most CBH clients are uninsured or underinsured, and many travel from rural areas with unmet mental health needs. Doctoral students will later build on this training through placements in community agencies.
Additional information about clinical training can be found in the Practicum/Internship section of this page.
Examples of Relevant CPY Program Research
Many of our faculty members, as well as current and former students, conduct research with multicultural relevance. Some examples include:
- Social cognitive and mental health predictors of health disparities in harmful and safe alcohol and cannabis use among racial and sexual minority college students
- Predictors of relational aggression in women across adulthood
- Vocational factors influencing academic satisfaction for marginalized and majority students
- Examination of stigma and prejudice toward individuals with addiction
- Cultural impacts on parenting, including reliance on fictive kin networks with Black families
- The role of masculine identity in relational aggression among gay men
- Effects of Black Lives Matter on student career decision-making self-efficacy
- The mental health of LGBTQ+ graduate students: examining disparities in engagement in lifestyle factors
- Police violence, grief, and the Black maternal experience
Additional information about faculty research can be found on our Counseling Psychology Research Labs page.
Here are some links to relevant university resources:
- USM Office of Diversity and Inclusion
- Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement
- Center for Black Studies
- Center for American Indian Research and Studies
- PRISM: LGBTQIA+ Resource Center
- International Student and Scholar Services
- Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families
- Student Accessibility Services
- Student Organizations Emphasizing Diversity and Inclusion
Students are admitted directly to research teams supervised by a faculty member. Research teams meet regularly to collaborate on research initiatives, and to allow for supervision of thesis and dissertation projects, as well as individualized mentoring.
Graduate students engage in all aspects of the research process including presentations at national conventions and publications in top-ranked journals in the field. Applied research opportunities are available which demonstrate the benefits of the scientist-practitioner model.
Learn more about Counseling Psychology research by visiting our YouTube Channel.
Practicum experiences include both training opportunities in our in-house training clinic, as well as carefully arranged training opportunities in community sites. Practica in the in-house training clinic are closely supervised by licensed faculty members and provide a high quality training environment emphasizing evidenced-based interventions. Telehealth services assist students in learning valuable skills in technology and accessibility to overcome common barriers to treatment (e.g., limited access to quality care in rural areas, problems with transportation, or other difficulties accessing in-person services). Students learn how cultural perceptions of mental health care often vary across locations and social groups. Supervision coursework and supervised practica experience provided.
External training collaborations include sites such as:
Student Counseling Services provides students with opportunities to work with a diverse college student population in an affirming environment.
Substance use treatment facilities expose students to the challenges of substance use disorders across cultural contexts to promote an understanding of intersectionality and complex treatment needs. Students often lead groups in inpatient and residential treatment settings with persons who differ from them in many ways (e.g., cisgender men leading DBT-12 step groups for women).
Sex and love addiction treatment facilities allow students to work with adults from diverse cultural, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds, as well as sexualities and sexual identities. While learning specialized treatment approaches, students develop an understanding of how persons from different cultural backgrounds perceive sex addiction, sexuality, and sexual identity.
Hospitals and inpatient psychiatric units may involve work with children and adults experiencing a wide range of diagnoses. These placements help students learn how symptoms of mental disorders and receptivity to treatment can vary across cultures, ages, sexual orientations, and gender identities.
Specialized outpatient clinics and private practice settings allow students to work with a broad range of clients and presenting concerns, as well as provide experience working with specialized populations (e.g., professionals coping with substance use disorders).
Veterans Administration (VA) facilities enable students to work with Veterans from diverse backgrounds, gaining an understanding of the cultural complexities involved in military culture, honor, and the stigma often associated with seeking mental health services.
Over the last five years, 100% of our students have been placed at their top ranked internship sites, which exceeds the national average.
More information about clinical training opportunities can be found on our YouTube Channel.
Graduate Assistantships are generally available for all students throughout their four-year training program (students completing predoctoral internship in the 5th year are paid through the internship site). Graduate assistantships support students by providing both a full tuition scholarship, and a 9-12 month stipend. Graduate assistantships include teaching and research assistantships, and paid clinical externship positions in training sites throughout the area. Opportunities exist for undergraduate teaching.
Applications are due December 1. Application deadlines here differ from those posted by the Graduate School. Late applications are not accepted.
The School of Psychology is currently not requiring GRE scores for graduate applications.
A completed application will include the following:
- A standard graduate application
- 3 letters of recommendation from faculty familiar with your academic and scholarly potential
- Writing sample
- Personal Statement should answer the following questions (limit response to 1 page
per question; 3 pages max):
- Describe your professional goals and how this program will help you accomplish these.
- Describe your research interests and discuss how this program will allow you to pursue research in this area (tip: connect your response to a specific faculty member; also address flexibility in working with second choice faculty member).
- Describe your professional strengths and areas for growth.
Statements addressing professional goals and fit with the field of counseling psychology and USM are positively received.
Applicants are admitted to work with a specific faculty member. Please rank order your preferences on the form provided in the online application.
Application review will begin promptly following the application deadline. Incomplete applications will not be considered. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that all materials have been electronically submitted and received. You will be notified of the status of your application via email throughout the process. Please be sure to check your email regularly.
Applications are reviewed based on a number criteria including review of previous coursework, examination scores, letters of recommendation, resume and personal statement and fit. A committee of Counseling Psychology faculty reviews each component of the application and based on this review, a limited number of students are invited for an interview (format TBD). Those interviewed will be assessed for professionalism and program fit. Students will be notified in writing of the Program’s admission recommendation – a formal letter of acceptance comes from the Graduate School. Some students are placed on an alternate list. In conjunction with ethical standards, students should not hold more than one admission offer – therefore the Program faculty ask that you notify us immediately if your application should no longer be considered or if your graduate plans change.
Students considering both programs may opt to apply for the doctoral program and can reapply to the Master’s program should their application not receive further consideration in the doctoral admission process. There are no prerequisites for application to the programs; previous coursework in psychology is helpful but not required. Previous graduate coursework in counseling psychology may be considered particularly if the course is deemed comparable to current program standards in content and rigor. Such decisions are made after admission to the program and following a review of syllabi.
Please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page for more information about our program and how to apply.
The Counseling Psychology Student Government (CPSG) serves as the graduate student group for both the Master's and Doctoral programs in Counseling Psychology. CPSG serves to create a supportive environment for graduate students in the Counseling Psychology graduate programs, and facilitate professional development outside of required coursework and experiences. CPSG engages in several activities each year such as fundraising, hosting social activities, inviting speakers to campus, serving as a liaison between students and faculty, and providing peer mentors for newly admitted students.
Student Admissions, Outcomes and Other Data
Please review the Student Admissions, Outcomes, and Other Data for program admission and graduation rates and other important program outcome statistics.
The Counseling Psychology doctoral program has been continually accredited by the
American Psychological Association Commission on Accreditation since 1985. For information
about our accreditation status, you can contact the Commission on Accreditation of
the American Psychological Association at:
Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
750 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
Professional Licensure Disclosure
Our program is modeled after the psychology licensure requirements in the State of Mississippi. We cannot determine if our program meets the licensure requirements in other states. We recommend that students verify their program of study meets the desired state’s licensure requirements. For more information on licensure in other states, please visit www.asppb.net/page/psybook or contact Dr.%20Emily%20Yowell, Director of Training, with questions.
|Psychology (Counseling) PhD
- Veteran’s Administration Psychologist
- Licensed Psychologist, Private Practice
- University Counseling Center Psychologist
- Assistant Professor, Counseling Psychology
- Military Psychologist
- Research Fellow
- Dr. Greg Futral, 2010,
Licensed Psychologist and Director, Pine Grove Behavioral Health Systems, Forrest General Hospital
- Dr. Sarah McMurtry, 2013,
Licensed Psychologist and Director, Perspectives Psychological Resources
- Dr. Katie Bigalke, 2015,
Assistant Director/ Training Director, Georgia Southern University Statesboro Counseling Center
- Dr. Jeremy Noble, 2014,
Command Psychologist for 75th Ranger Regiment, U.S. Army
- Dr. Margo Hurlocker, 2016,
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Center for Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions
- Dr. Ryan Martin, 2004,
Professor, University of Wisconsin – Green Bay