The Ph.D. program in Psychology is focused on the study of Consciousness and Society. It is grounded in the Department's approach to psychology as a distinctively human science. It will educate future scholars and practitioners at the highest level of the discipline to make original contributions to theory and knowledge. Our graduates will serve as researchers, consultants, leaders, and teachers who can creatively facilitate transformations in a global society.

PhD Program in Psychology: Consciousness and Society


The program will reflect three theoretical approaches to analyze the intersection of consciousness and society: Humanistic, Critical, & Transpersonal. These approaches will serve as reflexive and reflective anchors to the scholarly trajectory of our students in developing their own research interests. The doctoral program draws on the humanistic-existential foundations that addresses the phenomenological grounding of consciousness and interrogates relevant research in psychology and other disciplines, from philosophy to the neurosciences. This entails drawing upon the classical texts in the discipline and studies emerging in transpersonal psychologies, with their interest in mind/body questions, and current interdisciplinary work in embodiment and mind/body. The program’s study of consciousness will also be informed by critical traditions that examine the historical position of the discipline as well as cultural representations and practices in order to understand the constitution of consciousness and the subject within institutional and social contexts. Our commitment to praxis entails a commitment to engaged forms of research such as those consonant with the Social Justice movement in psychology.

Values and Commitments

All of the theoretical perspectives that inform the curriculum indicate a fundamental value of the program, to privilege the question of one’s subjective accounting of an event, either in experiential or discursive terms. Whether in terms of reflexivity or awareness, this value links each of these traditions to more qualitative approaches to which the Departmental teaching is also committed. It is assumed that a truly ethical approach cannot hide behind generated knowledge but reflects values and an understanding of the historical and cultural place of the discipline and one’s own place and desires as a researcher.

In all of our classes and projects, the Psychology Department will offer a more integrative and nuanced approach toward consciousness and society, including an awareness of the less explored spiritual dimensions that inform individual and community life. This promise is made good in our foundation in transpersonal psychologies with their articulation of the wisdom traditions. Our broad based sense of the place of community life for the individual translates into our support of social justice and ecological and integrative thinking. It dovetails with our effort to continually creatively address the relationship between theory and praxis through more ethically informed and engaged modalities of research.

University of West Georgia's New Ph.D. in Psychology: Consciousness & Society

In 2007, The Department of Psychology at the University of West Georgia was granted a Psychology Doctorate (PsyD) program. The Department had originally petitioned the Georgia Board of Regents for a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), but was excited about getting a new doctorate to go along with their long standing and internationally known Master’s program. With the help of many in the University system, the Department’s Ph.D. aspirations were eventually realized. The psychology department now offers a PhD with dedicated focus on “Consciousness and Society” to replace its original PsyD program in “Personal, Organizational & Community Transformation”. The PsyD program began with only four candidates and now four years later as a Ph.D. program engages approximately thirty students in its rigorous course of study and research.

Beyond the continental United States, these doctoral candidates have come to study from many places: Argentina, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Trinidad, Turkey, and the Virgin Islands. Some notable universities attended by these students during their undergraduate and master degrees include Brigham Young University, Catholic University, Emory University, Harvard University, University of California, University of Georgia, University of Miami, University of Oregon, Shorter College and University of Tennessee.

For several decades, the Department of Psychology at the University of West Georgia has drawn international attention for its unique set of programs reclaiming psychology as the holistic study of human experience. Historically grounded in humanistic and transpersonal psychology, the department has integrated these traditions with critical and psychodynamic perspectives. The result is an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates literature, history, art, sociology, anthropology, religious studies, global studies, neuroscience, and Western and Asian philosophy.

The faculty and department chair hold the belief that in order to understand psychology effectively and help others, a holistic approach is essential. Classes in integrative health and eco-psychology are examples of such an approach. Within the courses offered, an emphasis is made toward what has been called "psychology as a human science" which encourages students to explore human experiences as primary sources of psychological data. The additional dimension of social and cultural research has lead into study that more closely examines the intersection of the collective and the individual and thinks deeply about social representations and practices, a must in today’s media saturated climate. Students are even required to think through the history of psychology itself: the aim is the crafting of a new kind of psychologist.

Beyond traditional classes in psychological theory and research, students are exposed to a variety of experiences that foster rigorous and creative scholarship alongside social engagement and transformation. The program’s strong humanistic, cultural/critical, and transpersonal foundations mean that scholarship is linked to social engagement. Faculty encourage and guide PhD students to submit articles to national and peer reviewed journals as well as a variety of national publications for professional development. Each semester students receive opportunities to present papers and posters at regional and national conferences that represent their areas of interest and further advance the goals of evolving perspectives in psychology, human science, discursive psychology and qualitative research.

The University’s stated aim is to foster "educational excellence in a personal environment,” and this program is doing just that. The program prizes theoretical dexterity, judicious employment of psychological concepts in everyday life, attention to the ways culture and history shape the discipline and its practitioners, personal awareness of one’s subjective position, identity, values, and vocational inclinations, and knowledge of the major career areas in psychology. Students are using their skills in the community which wholly supports the University's emphasis on scholarship, critical thinking, vocational discernment, personal growth, and creativity.


PhD Student Travel

Students in the Ph.D. Program are encouraged to engage in academic and research activities that might include presenting in both local and national conferences. In order to receive financial assistance from the department, you must follow Department Travel Policies and Procedures.

Before Travel:

Once you are accepted at a conference, you may wish to apply for student travel funding assistance. In order to be considered, you must first be authorized by the department. In order to be authorized, you must fill out the Non-Employee Travel Authorization form and the Cost Effective Transportation form and bring them to Ms. Victoria Yang prior to making travel commitments.

Travel Authorization forms need to be turned in 90 days prior to traveling. The sooner you get in your request for funding the better. Currently, there can be no travel for students between May 1 and August 1, of any year. Until we make further arrangements; please aim for conferences earlier in the semester. We are working to change this. If there are left-over funds, the directors will try and alert students to apply for funding.

You will be funded according to whether you are presenting a paper, a poster, or are a discussant, etc. This is somewhat discretionary but the first priority is given to paper presentations. The maximum amount given to any student for each academic year is currently $500. The fund from which these monies come is limited and we have to allot funding as fairly and intelligently as possible. Our aim is to fund as many students as possible in a meaningful way. Please carefully choose your conferences.


During Travel:

Once you have been authorized to receive funding, then you can make the commitments to travel.

You need to make sure that you retail ALL of the receipts from your trip:

  • Which include airline itinerary (itemized, showing the credit card used to purchase the flight), boarding passes for all flights, hotel receipts (showing credit card information), conference registration receipts, taxi receipts, food receipts, parking receipts, rental car receipts, gas receipts, and miscellaneous receipts for presentation materials.
  • If a receipt is missing, that item will not be reimbursed.
  • All receipts MUST show proof of payment, otherwise credit card or banking statements must be supplied with reimbursement requests.
  • Receipts submitted for travel reimbursement must be itemized to include room rate, taxes, parking, meals, etc.
  • A receipt showing a total amount paid, which is not itemized, is not acceptable and likely will NOT be reimbursed. While it may be more work and cost us more as well, the easiest thing to do to insure you will be reimbursed is to deal with the hotels and airlines directly (i.e. do NOT use Expedia, Orbitz, or other websites, as they do not provide the kind of itemized receipts that the university requires for reimbursement).
  • Also, remember to ask for the government rate, if applicable.
  • You must also provide a copy of the conference program itinerary that lists your presentation and name.
  • Record mileage information if you drive your own vehicle. You must provide a rental car comparison to get a full mileage reimbursement. If the business office deems your travel should have been done via rental car, they will reimburse the lowest mileage rate to you for using your own vehicle.


After Travel:

In order to successfully receive the travel funding that you were authorized for, you must submit the Non-Employee Travel Expense Statement. After you return from your trip, bring this form along with your receipts to Ms. Victoria Yang.

Please feel free to contact Ms. Victoria Yang in the Psychology Department if you have any further questions about travel authorization.

If you are interested in viewing university policies, visit the UWG Office of Controller Institutional Guidelines and Procedures.


Qualities we look for in PhD Candidates
  • A student with background in research and strong writing skills (or demonstrated potential).
  • Someone with psychological interests outside of mainstream Psychology, but who is able to dialogue with the traditional assumptions of the discipline
  • Professionals who wish to deepen their theoretical background and re-engage with new forms of knowledge and research skills and to cultivate a different orientation toward their work.
  • We invite those interested in integrative traditions, from those inspired by William James to those following the works of Western and Eastern spiritual traditions as well as those working within significant continental traditions, including phenomenology, discourse studies, and current cultural studies.
  • Those with an interest in combining social justice with psychological work, e.g. feminist and participatory action research.
  • Those seeking to learn and integrate humanistic, critical, and transpersonal traditions from a broader contextual and more integral approach.

Because we are seeking students that can develop an innovative edge to their thinking, we do consider applicants without a psychology degree although they may be asked to take some additional coursework in the discipline. The coursework required is decided according to their transcript(s) and faculty discretion. Because the GRE scores are most predictive when used in combination with other indicators, we do not have an absolute cut-off, but weigh the GRE scores alongside other aspects of the full applicant portfolio, including an interview for a chosen set of applicants, the letters of recommendation, and the two samples of writing that we ask you to submit.

If your GPA is lower than 3.5 (GPA) or your GRE scores are lower than 140 on Verbal and Math, and 3.5 on the analytic writing, please provide a short explanation in your cover letter. Applicants with a Master’s degree are strongly preferred. Only exceptional students with a B.A. or B.S. will be considered and are rarely accepted.
You should find all materials clearly delineated in the checklist. Please click the checklist link below and use the guide to apply.

Financial aid is available. The exact amount, however, is dependent upon University funding and will include tuition waivers (some fees will still need to be paid) and research and teaching assistantships. Such determinations will be made after acceptance into the program.

Instructions on How to Apply to the PhD in Psychology: Consciousness & Society
  • Students are accepted for the Fall of each academic year. The application deadline is always January 10.
  • Visit the UWG Graduate School website for step-by-step instructions that will help you submit your application package.
The Doctoral Program and Its Invitation to Others

We invite applicants to join us in blending alternative perspectives into a new pluralistic vision. Bringing together the deep commitments and methodological traditions founded in humanistic psychology, we take seriously the contributions of those who would integrate the psychological and spiritual, the mind and the body, and the social and the subjective. Our doctoral program is committed to challenging the binaries that plague psychology through a rigorous dialectic of practice and reflection. If this is part of your passion, you will be interested in our program. We invite applicants with strong theoretical backgrounds and social justice interests to engage in human science research under the guidance of our nationally known and diverse faculty.