Inside CAS

College of Arts and Sciences

News and Notes

Psychology Ph.D. Program Will Begin Fall 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Written by Ally Weethee ’17

UNCW announced in 2015 that two new doctoral programs, Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology and Doctor of Nursing Practice, were being added to the university's academic offerings, bringing the university's total number of doctoral programs to four. The psychology Ph.D. program will start this fall.

The Ph.D. program in psychology will address critical behavioral health needs of the citizens of North Carolina by reducing the shortage of psychologists in the state. This new program will train students to provide services in areas such as substance abuse treatment, developmental disabilities, dementia, and psychological services in the correctional system.

Aswani Volety, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, believes the addition of the psychology program is important for UNCW. He says, “UNCW has grown from what was predominantly a teaching institution to a comprehensive Masters institution with select high-quality graduate programs. We have an excellent Masters program in psychology with emphases in substance abuse and applied behavioral analyses programs. We wanted to build on our existing strengths and create a trained workforce to meet regional needs in the psychological sciences and therefore, a Ph.D. in psychology is a natural step in our evolution.”

Volety also states, “In addition to attracting high-quality graduate students, a Ph.D. program will attract high-quality faculty who can contribute significantly, not only in the classroom, but also outside the classroom, through mentoring students in their research laboratories or clinical practice. This provides students with significant experiential learning in real-world settings. The addition of doctoral programs helps elevate the profile of the college and university, and becoming a research-intensive university also brings in additional resources and funds through state funding to support student learning.”

The clinical psychology program will prepare students for licensure as doctoral-level psychologists in health-service fields. One of the main features of this program is to train honorable and competent professionals to work with diverse and underserved populations through moral and practical experiences to promote cultural capability. Students will gain competency in research skills, assessment, and evidence-based practices to prepare for more advanced supervisory, consultation, and organizational leadership roles in health-care delivery systems.

Professor and Graduate Coordinator for the Department of Psychology, Dr. Christine Hughes, says the addition of the program will benefit UNCW. “It elevates the stature of the university by having another Ph.D. program, especially in psychology, because of the need for it in the state. There is such a need for clinical psychologists, especially in the areas of our concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis and Substance Abuse.” 

Hughes said the program will only be accepting five students this fall since they will only receive support for this many graduates. This will ensure that the program only has competitive and goal-driven students. They are looking for students who have practical and research experience, and have worked with individuals from diverse populations.

Hughes hopes to get more advertising for the Psychology program since it is so new and hopes to get help from campus. The program is advertised on social media and at conferences with brochures and posters. Hughes said, “We went to the North Carolina Psychological Association for undergraduates and met with a lot of students. We have actually had more non-UNCW students apply to the program. Partly I think because we have two specialized concentrations which will probably mean we will have a more select group of applicants.”

Hughes believes this program stands out because, “We are the only clinical Ph.D. Psychology program in the state that offers these two concentrations. We are one of only two that offers Applied Behavioral Analysis. We have eight faculty members in Applied Behavioral Analysis.” With the Substance Abuse concentration, Dr. Hughes says internship programs in the Wilmington area are excited to be gaining students with experience and knowledge in this specialty.