The dissertation represents scholarly work that demonstrates a student's ability to assess, critically evaluate, and integrate knowledge gained from research, theoretical, and clinical sources regarding a topic in counseling psychology.
Each student, under the direction of a faculty committee, investigates a problem of practical concern to practitioners in counseling psychology and presents the results of this investigation in the dissertation. As "skeptical observers," this process requires students to immerse themselves in relevant literature, develop expertise in a given topic area, and approach the topic with a critical orientation.
All dissertations consist of three major sections. Section I consists of an introduction to the topic explicating the significance of the issue to the professional practice of counseling psychology, Section II entails a critical review of scholarly literature on the chosen topic, and Section III requires selection from two investigatory approaches, 1) original contribution to practice or 2) empirical investigation.
Note that our doctoral dissertation differs from a traditional doctoral dissertation that has a consistent chapter structure and requires an empirical investigation. Dissertations involve either an empirical investigation or a contribution to practice that results from a review of scholarly literature. This product is consistent with the program's practitioner-scholar training model.