Ph.D. in Counseling & Personnel Services (College Student Personnel)

The Doctor of Philosophy program in Counseling and Personnel Services (CPS) with a specialization in College Student Personnel (CSP) requires a minimum of 93 semester hours beyond the bachelor's degree and is organized in four areas: professional specialty, research and statistics, counseling and foundations, core and internship.

Each student's program is specifically designed to include previous graduate coursework and research interests. Credit hours from an approved CSP or related program may be used to fulfill a portion of the 93 hours. Students with master's degrees in an unrelated field must complete the prerequisite coursework in the CSP program while enrolled as doctoral students.

Residency Requirement

Doctoral students are required to be in residence for 18 credit hours (i.e. complete 18 hours of coursework) within a given period of twelve months. The residency requirement can be completed any time during the degree program prior to the dissertation. Residency provides students the opportunity to use educational facilities and to participate more fully in the intellectual life and research atmosphere of the University.

Internship Requirement

As part of the program coursework, the student must register for ECPY 782, Doctoral Internship, which features a complete field experience of no less than 200 hours in a selected site which will offer the student a practical, comprehensive opportunity to engage in professional student personnel activities related to the student's personal interest area.

Comprehensive Written Examinations

After the coursework is completed, doctoral students must take written comprehensive exams to demonstrate their knowledge of college student development theory and application, statistics/research methods, assessment in higher education, and the student's cognate (specialty) area. Generally, the exam is taken over 5 days from home and includes 4 questions. The exams are usually offered once in the fall, spring and summer terms. Students must pass all questions before they can move on to the dissertation stage.

Doctoral Dissertation and Final Examination

A dissertation is required of all candidates for the degree of Ph.D. It is to be a scholarly achievement in basic or applied research in education and/or college student personnel administration that demonstrates a thorough understanding of research techniques in education and the ability to conduct independent research.

After completing the dissertation, the student is required to pass a final oral examination before completing the doctoral degree. The oral examination is a defense of the dissertation and a demonstration of the candidate's master of a specific field of study.


For details about program curriculum, visit the Graduate Catalog.

Admission Requirements

Prospective students must submit an online application for admission to the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies.

  • A master's degree or its equivalent in college student personnel or related field (i.e. mental health counseling, counseling psychology, school counseling and higher education administration). Applicants are required to submit all official transcripts as verification of coursework and degree(s). Undergraduate GPA must be greater than 2.75 and the graduate GPA must be greater than 3.5.
  • Three letters of recommendation on letterhead from individuals who can speak to the applicant's academic and/or professional capabilities and potential along with the completed School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies recommendation form [PDF].
  • Each student's application will be evaluated to determine the strength of all components in their application package (GRE, undergraduate and graduate GPAs, letters of recommendation, professional goal statement, and work experience) as predictors of successful completion of the program and GRE scores are required as one part of the application for the PhD in CPS with CSP.
    Please note: when submitting GRE scores through ETS, have scores sent to the general University of Louisville code, 1838.
    Need help preparing for the GRE? Sign up for a GRE Information Session.
  • The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required of all foreign students from countries in which English is not the native language. Students holding a baccalaureate or advanced degree from an accredited institution in the United States are exempt from this requirement.
  • A statement of professional goals appropriate to pursuing a Ph.D. in CPS with a specialization in College Student Personnel from the University of Louisville.

An applicant who does not meet one of the above criteria and wishes to be considered for admission should include, in his/her application package, a written rationale for why the doctoral admissions committee should consider the application.

Applicants ranked highest by the doctoral admissions committee based on their application package will be interviewed on campus or by telephone.

Visit the Doctoral Student Handbook to learn more about the admission process. If you have questions about the program, e-mail

Application Deadlines

Spring Term Admission: October 15 only

Fall Term Admission: January 15 (if requesting financial assistance) or March 1 (if no assistance is needed and positions are available).

Note: If spaces are available in the program after the March 1 deadline, fall applications will be considered until May 31. Please check with the department prior to applying.


Amy Hirschy
Department of Counseling and Human Development
College of Education & Human Development
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY 40292

Program Faculty

Opportunities for Graduates

This program is designed to prepare prospective professionals for upper-level positions in student affairs administration in institutions of higher education, and faculty positions in graduate professional preparation programs.

In addition to the financial aid opportunities offered by the University, the College of Education & Human Development also has information about financial aid.

Other financial aid opportunities available include graduate assistantships.