California Baptist University is offering a doctorate in clinical psychology, attracting graduate students from all over Southern California.
Dr. Jacqueline Gustafson, dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, said the fundamental goal of the new program is to prepare students for careers as clinical psychologists primarily within the state of California, emphasizing Christian ideologies and worldview.
Each year, 15–20 students will be selected for the fall semester to give students the necessary attention and focus they need to excel in the clinical psychology field.
Dr. Elizabeth Morris, associate provost for Accreditation, Assessment and Curriculum, oversees the formation of new doctoral programs.
“This program took (about) three years to form,” Morris said. “Once we had enough interest, there was a lot of work that went into (building] the program, from budgeting to outlining the curriculum and syllabi, to hiring the right people to teach the courses.”
Any new program has to be approved by CBU’s Board of Trustees and then gets approval by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which confirms that schools meet high-quality standards. After that, it takes approximately one year before the degree is officially offered.
The new program takes five years to complete, with differing levels of student involvement, both on- and off-campus.
The first year is classroom- and coursework-oriented. The second year focuses on coursework and job experience within a clinic to train the doctoral students. During the third and fourth years, students branch out into the neighboring community for on-the-job training. Lastly, in the fifth-year students apply for internships on a national-level along with presenting their dissertations.
Gustafson said the emphasis on the Christian worldview and the professors who have had successful careers in Christian psychology make CBU stand out to applicants.
“Most Christian universities who offer a PsyD program start with psychology as their base and then add on Christian morals and ideologies,” Gustafson said. “Here, we start with a Christian base and add our field of study on top, which in this case is psychology.”
Brittney Campbell, CBU graduate and current PsyD doctoral student, said her experience at CBU is what made her want to return for her PsyD degree.
“I feel such a calling to serve and help others who are struggling or going through a challenging time,” Campbell said. “With the staff here being so supportive and the experience such a blessing, I had to be here.”
The Doctorate of Psychology degree is now one of four doctoral degrees offered at CBU, however, there are several still in the process and waiting for board approval.