Residential PHD Program: Research Your Passions!

This on-campus doctoral program provides the container for you to be a part of a diverse learning community and combines experiential learning with serious academic inquiry into the kind of research that inspires you. Most doctoral programs require you to follow a professor and complete research based on their interests, but Sofia University believes that the best outcomes stem from what you are most curious about researching. Finding resonance with your research creates the kind of relevance that leads to a completed dissertation and success!

Our distinctive balance of scholarly study, experiential learning, and professional development supports the work of bringing transformational concepts and practices into the world in a manner that promotes personal growth, social change, and healing in a variety of settings.

Are You a Match?

The residential doctoral student seems to fit a certain model. Does this sound like you?

  • self-motivated learner
  • seeks to make positive change in the world
  • able to work independently
  • capable of handling complex information

Our Program Coursework Offers:

  • intensive inquiry in transpersonal philosophy, theory and research
  • a research methods sequence that prepares students for dissertation work
  • integrative and transformational educational experiences of community-building and applied learning
  • twice yearly retreats in Northern California
  • an optional community praxis sequence.

Choose from one of five concentrations:

  • Consciousness and Creativity Studies
  • Behavioral Science
  • Ecopsychology
  • Somatic Psychology
  • Research Methods in Psychology

Faculty Research Interests

Members of our faculty publish in diverse areas of inquiry including exceptional human experiences, consciousness studies, creativity, comparative religions, and the interface of cultural studies and transpersonal psychology. Wondering about the research interests of our faculty? For a full list of interests, check out this link.

J Elfers Portrait Elfers, John, Ph.D(Dissertation Chair)

  • Interests: My research interests are broad and draw from my career in teaching and educational leadership. I have been involved in many action research projects, focusing on program development, staff training, academic development, educational psychology, and learning theory. My transpersonal interests reflect many years as a meditator, psychotherapist, and sex educator working with adolescents. These research topics include transcendent sexual experiences, mystical experiences, gratitude, adolescent emotional development and spirituality, mental health, meditation, and yoga.
  • Methods: Phenomenology, grounded theory, and other methods of qualitative inquiry; mixed methods, action research, school-based research, survey and scale development

Carol HaefnerHaefner, Carol, Ph.D., Assistant Professor; Director of the Writing Lab; Director of the Dissertation Office

  • Interests: Therapeutic application of yoga; consciousness studies; sexuality, especially asexuality.
  • Methods: Qualitative, grounded theory, narrative


JefferyMartinMartin, Jeffery A.Ph.D., Director of Transformative Technology

  • Interests:  personal transformation, non-symbolic consciousness (fundamental well-being, enlightenment, nonduality, mystical experience, etc.), rigorous empirical research and testing to transformational techniques and theories, cognitive science, neuroscience, and transformative studies.
    • Non-Symbolic Experience
    • Bio Stimulation and Feedback Technology
    • Augmented Consciousness
    • Interpersonal Technology
  • Methods: Quantitative.

What Can You Do with Your Doctorate in Transpersonal Psychology?

Students who complete their doctorate in transpersonal psychology go on to various professional endeavors.  Those with prior professional lives often incorporate transpersonal principles into an existing practice.  Along with a chosen specialization, many graduates develop a new calling after completion of the program including transpersonal scholars, transpersonally-oriented therapists and healers, transformative educators, and change agents in various social and organizational contexts.

untitled1Take for example Dr. Rosie Kuhn. She graduated from the Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology program at ITP/Sofia and is the author of the popular ‘Self-Empowerment 101.’ She is also founder of The Paradigm Shifts Coaching Group in Silicon Valley, and is the preeminent Thought Leader in the field of transformational coaching, coach training and leadership development. Rosie specializes in identifying and transforming belief systems that hold people back in business and in life. She empowers individuals, executives and organizations to fearlessly embrace transformation and realize previously untapped potential.

sam-249x300Sam Himelstein, Ph.D. is passionate about serving high-risk and incarcerated youth through the practice of mindfulness and other emotional intelligence skills.

He has found much success offering individual, group, and family-based counseling sessions in Downtown Oakland, speaking at conferences nationally, and training clinicians, teachers, and other healers how to effectively build authentic relationships with adolescents through his training institute, the Center for Adolescent Studies.

Sam pursued and received his PhD in Clinical Psychology in 2011 from ITP and is the author and co-author of two books,  A Mindfulness-Based Approach to Working with High-Risk Adolescents (Routledge, 2013), and Mindfulness-Based Substance Abuse Treatment for Adolescents: A 12-Session Curriculum (Routledge, 2015).

Just the Basics (Financial Aid Eligible)

  • Years to Complete: 3 years
  • Quarters per Year:  Fall, Winter and Spring (3)
  • Units Needed to Complete : 75 units
  • Units Allowed Under Block Tuition per Quarter: 6-10 units
  • Per Unit Cost: $1,150
  • Per Quarter Cost Block Tuition: $8,778
  • Cost per Year (Full Time/Block Tuition) :  $26,334
  • Cost for 3 years (Full Time/Block Tuition) : $80,357

Contact: or 650-493-4430