2015-2016 Graduate Academic Catalogue 
    May 20, 2024  
2015-2016 Graduate Academic Catalogue [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Pastoral Counseling, Ph.D.

Ph.D. Candidates

Applicants for a Ph.D. in Pastoral Counseling must have a master's degree in counseling or closely related field from an accredited college or university. The program accepts candidates who give clear evidence of the ability to apply theoretical constructs, develop advanced level clinical skills, and integrate the above within the context of a religious and/or pastoral identity.

The doctoral curriculum assumes that the candidate has laid the foundation in theoretical knowledge and clinical skill through prior education and training comparable to the Loyola master's program in pastoral counseling. Candidates without such background may wish to apply for admission to the M.S.-Ph.D. sequence. If an applicant with a master's degree from another institution is judged to be qualified for admission to the Ph.D. program but is lacking in specific areas of preparation, an assessment of prerequisites will be made at the time of admission. An applicant may be required to take up to 12 credits of foundation courses.

The Ph.D. in Pastoral Counseling is a unique education experience designed for those who wish to further their graduate-level training as clinicians, supervisors, educators, and researchers. By interrelating the theory and techniques of the helping professions with the insights of theology, spirituality, and faith, the program encourages students to develop their own holistic paradigms of professional and personal integration for the purpose of helping others and furthering the counselor education profession.

The doctoral program seeks to prepare graduates to make quantitative and qualitative research contributions to the helping professions through the integration of psycho-theological issues with counselor education's interdisciplinary models which embrace subjects like ethics, prevention, diversity, education, efficacy, and treatment of psychopathology. The program emphasizes supervisory training; clinical expertise; theological, spiritual, and religious understanding; teaching skills; and research acumen while preparing candidates for teaching and supervisory positions in the counselor education field.

Doctoral programs accept as primary obligations:

  1. To extend the knowledge base of the counseling profession in a climate of scholarly inquiry.
  2. To support faculty and students in publishing and/or presenting the results of scholarly inquiry.
  3. To prepare students to contribute to the conversations that inform professional practice by generating new knowledge for the profession through dissertation research focusing on areas relevant to counseling practice, counselor education, and/or supervision.
  4. To prepare students to assume positions of leadership in the profession, their area(s) of specialization, or both.

The fulfillment of these obligations take into account the societal changes of the twenty-first century and prepare graduates to be leaders and advocates for change.

Throughout the course of study, candidates are challenged to integrate their theological and religious perspectives with clinical theory and practice and to articulate their personal, vocational, and pastoral identity. In keeping with the goals of the program, the Ph.D. curricular requirements involve five major areas: theory and practice of counseling; statistics and research design; clinical case conferences; training in supervision and education; and spiritual studies and integrative seminars. In addition to traditional academic courses, the Ph.D. program involves a clinical internship experience that includes on-site clinical experience and supervision in one or several agencies. The internship is supplemented by Loyola-based individual supervision, clinical mentoring, clinical case conferences, and supervisory seminars. Ph.D. students also receive supervised training in counselor education and supervision.

The dissertation process at Loyola emphasizes faculty support of the candidate as an emerging peer and colleague in research. Candidates are encouraged to choose a project which is meaningful to them and will enhance their personal preparation for their chosen work after the Ph.D.

Learning Aims

As a result of successfully completing the program, students will be able to:

  • function as advanced-level clinicians with the ability to form clinical relationships with a variety of clients using advanced-level skills of psychological assessment, accurate multilevel diagnoses, and precise client-centered treatment planning utilizing a variety of the theoretical approaches;
  • work in advanced-level areas of the counselor education field (pastoral integration, supervision, teaching, and research) by demonstrating the ability to be effective teachers, researchers, and supervisors of masters-level counselors;
  • demonstrate an advanced-level of ability to identify spiritual issues as they present themselves, accept others' points of view concerning religious, spiritual, and faith issues, and assist clients to explore their own issues in a safe place;
  • demonstrate advanced-level self-reflection through seeking opportunities to learn and grow in situations that require contemplation and deliberation of current behavior, thoughts, emotions, and beliefs, especially as these areas intersect with multicultural differences;
  • demonstrate ethical behavior as clinicians, teachers, researchers, and supervisors;
  • demonstrate leadership skills as evidenced by becoming leaders in the counseling field, especially in areas related to pastoral counseling and the integration of religion and spirituality into clinical practice.

Degree Requirements

Degree requirements and course offerings are detailed in the following sections. For additional information on a specific degree, please contact the Pastoral Counseling Department.

Program of Study

The typical program of study consists of four years (eight semesters) of coursework and clinical training. The following coursework is required of all doctoral candidates.

Academic (9 credits)

The following coursework is required of all doctoral candidates.

Theology/Spirituality (9 credits)


Candidates are to obtain no less than 1,100 total hours of clinical experience, with no less than 350 being client contact hours. These doctoral hours are above and beyond the required 800 clinical hours (which includes 280 client contact hours) gained at the master's level. Four consecutive semesters of doctoral clinical internship are typically needed to meet this requirement, and all clinical work must be completed in compliance with satisfactory academic progress. Candidates who use their work setting as their clinical placement will also need to participate in PC 943  and PC 944 . Students who have not completed the necessary hours by the end of PC 953  will be required to continue (a minimum of one additional semester) in doctoral clinical until the hour requirements are met.

Electives (3 credits)

Ph.D. Qualifying Process

Before advancing to doctoral candidacy, Ph.D. students must demonstrate competency in five core areas: clinical, counselor education, supervision, research, and integration. In each area, students will be assessed for their mastery of core content, capacity for critically synthesizing aspects of this knowledge, and readiness to undertake independent scholarship of doctoral caliber. A qualifying exam will be offered once at the midpoint of each semester, and students must register their intent to take the exam with the director of the Ph.D. program at the beginning of that semester. Students are eligible to take the exam in the third-to-last semester of their program of study (excluding dissertation).

Students are provided a set of prospective questions for each core area when they enter the program. These questions are edited each year, with changes to take effect in the following year. For the exam, the Ph.D. program director or a designee selects two questions from each core area (three in the case of research) for each student to answer. These questions are distributed electronically at the beginning of the exam period. Students have a two week period to complete their responses and submit them electronically.

Grading is completed by a faculty committee within two weeks of submission and determines whether the response in each section is satisfactory to proceed to the oral defense. Oral defenses are held before a committee of three pastoral counseling faculty members who vote on the outcome for each section. Based upon these outcomes, students may move on to doctoral candidacy once they have completed coursework, be required to re-take a portion or the entirety of the exam, or be dismissed from the program.


In addition to successfully completing the qualifying exam, the doctoral program requires that students earn a B or better in all courses. If a grade of B or better is not achieved in each course, additional work will be required in the subject area needing remediation before a student will be granted permission to begin the doctoral dissertation.

Candidates officially begin work on the dissertation when Dissertation Guidance (PC 960  or PC 990 ) is taken, during which they complete and defend the dissertation proposal, perform data analysis, and prepare a dissertation defense. The earliest a proposal defense can be scheduled is the semester immediately following that in which all coursework has been completed and the qualifying exam has been passed. Candidates are admitted into "All but Dissertation" (ABD) status when they have completed all of their academic, clinical, and research courses and have passed the qualifying exam.