PhD in East-West Psychology

California Institute of Integral Studies

Program Description

PhD in East-West Psychology

California Institute of Integral Studies

Students complete 36 units of coursework and write a dissertation. The program of study consists of a foundational course, research methods courses, research colloquia, advanced seminars, a student-designed area of specialization, two comprehensive exams, and a dissertation. Students focus on a specific area of study and develop methodological skills. They work closely with their advisors to design an individualized curriculum and participate in research colloquia to articulate their dissertation research project.

Ph.D. Program Learning Goals and Objectives

Upon completion of the Ph.D. in East-West Psychology, and in addition to M.A. goals and objectives, graduates will be able to:

Goal 1. Produce original scholarly works in the field of East-West psychology and spirituality.

Objective 1. Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and expertise in a selected area of specialization within East-West studies.

Objective 2. Produce work that creatively and critically interprets, compares, integrates, applies, and/or evaluates knowledge from a variety of Eastern, Western, and indigenous psychological and spiritual traditions.

Objective 3. Apply critical thinking in relation to basic and complex issues of East-West cross-cultural hermeneutics, such as orientalism, ethnocentrism, critical pluralism, insider/outsider perspectives, relativism, and/or incommensurability.

Goal 2. Carry out scholarly research with a methodology appropriate to their research interests.

Objective 1. Design cogent, feasible, and methodologically rigorous research projects.

Objective 2. Apply several qualitative and theoretical research methods (e.g., phenomenological, hermeneutic, heuristic, narrative, comparative) to their research interests.

Objective 3. Carry out a complete research project that demonstrates professional methodological knowledge and skills.

Goal 3. Be competent in a variety of pedagogical, writing, and inquiry skills and be prepared to work professionally as university and college teachers, scholars, and writers.

Objective 1. Present verbally their scholarly works and research projects with professionalism, clarity, precision, and creativity.

Objective 2. Write original research papers and books according to professional scholarly standards.

Objective 3. Incorporate somatic, vital, emotional, imaginal, and spiritual experience and knowledge into scholarly practices, such as research and writing.

Dual Ph.D./Certificate Program

Courses taken for the East-West Spiritual Counseling Certificate (see About Certificate) can apply toward the East-West Psychology Ph.D. requirements. By enrolling in the certificate program, a doctoral student can fulfill all the units needed in the area of specialization. Visit East-West Psychology Ph.D. Curriculum to see a Dual Ph.D./Certificate Program sample schedule.

Comprehensive Examinations

During the final year of coursework, doctoral students enroll in two comprehensive examinations designed to demonstrate the student’s knowledge in the program area. For their first comprehensive examination, students take an Advanced Seminar where they need to show mastery of their area of specialization in both an oral presentation and a research paper. The second comprehensive examination takes place at the last Research Colloquia taken by the student and takes the form of a methodological reflection essay discussing the research method to be used in the dissertation.

Alternative Multi-Paper Dissertation Format

In addition to the standard format for doctoral dissertations, the department allows for the use of an alternative format that consists of three peer-reviewed papers (two of which must have been published or accepted for publication; the other is to be either published, accepted for publication, or under review) as the main basis for the dissertation.

Students wanting 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, and a dissertation defense is held according to existing policies.

Ph.D. Full-Time Sample Schedule

  • Duration: Two years of coursework plus dissertation.
  • Note: Students who do not have a background in East-West psychology are required to take up to 12 additional units of courses drawn from the EWP core courses and directed electives, minus equivalencies.
  • Sample: Emphasis on Ecopsychology/Transpersonal Psychology (plus 3 additional units from EWP core courses)

Teaching Assistantships

A limited number of paid teaching assistantships is available every semester. Possible responsibilities include facilitation of experiential learning, teaching portions of the class, working with students outside the classroom on projects, miscellaneous administrative and logistic 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).

EWP Internships

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.

EWP Scholarship Program

The department offers a scholarship program to support EWP students' presentation of their ongoing work at professional conferences. To be eligible to apply for the scholarships, candidates need to present an official notification that the conference's organizing committee has accepted their presentation.


Applicants must meet the general admission requirements of the Institute, as well as have an MA in EWP or its equivalent (for example, a background in Humanistic, Jungian, or transpersonal psychology; psychology of religion, or religious studies). For those who do not have a background in East-West Psychology, up to 12 units of courses drawn from the EWP core requirements and directed electives will be required, minus equivalencies (equivalency for graduate courses previously taken is determined by the EWP Admissions Committee on an individual basis). In addition to the Institute's general admission requirements, two letters of recommendation are required from individuals familiar with the applicant's academic work and their preparation for graduate work. Applicants should also submit a sample of their writing (i.e., an outstanding essay, article, or selection from their M.A. thesis).

Successful candidates for admission into the EWP Ph.D. 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 dissertation topic that is consistent with the program's mission and resources.

This school offers programs in:
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Last updated January 15, 2018
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2018
2 years
Part time
Full time
USA - San Francisco, California
Start date: Sept. 2018
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2018
USA - San Francisco, California
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info