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
- Somatic Psychology
- Research Methods in Psychology
Marilyn Schlitz, Ph.D. Chair of PhD in Transpersonal Psychology Programs
As the Chair of this Program, Dr. Schlitz is inspired to be leading a new generation of transpersonal psychologists. This is an amazing environment that encourages deep learning, multiple ways of knowing, creativity, discernment, and transformation. She is working with faculty members to create 21 century learning programs that combine wisdom and intellect for a global student body, deep in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Death Makes Life Possible Co-Authors Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. Marilyn Schlitz
Course Name: Multiple Epistemologies of Death and the Afterlife and their Personal and Social Implications
Can the fear of death be transformed into an inspiration for living?
Professors Marilyn Schlitz, PhD and Deepak Chopra, MD consider a wealth of teachings and practical guidance within the field of transpersonal psychology and trans disciplinary science on how to turn this taboo topic into a source of peace, hope, connection, and compassion. Working with the documentary film and book, Death Makes Life Possible and other related multi-media materials, we will consider insights and reflections by eminent psychologists, scientists, scholars, spiritual leaders, devout skeptics, health practitioners, and people from all walks of life, to understand myriad ways that we grow and change by expanding our perspectives and ways of knowing about the ultimate mystery facing each one of us.
Students will be invited to consider their own and others’ worldviews on death and the afterlife, and engage in an epistemological examination of how we know what we know about these core existential issues. All masters and doctoral level students are invited to attend!
Psychology of Anomalous Experiences by Dr. Stanley Skippner
Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and experience. Anomalous experiences are rare and/or poorly understood experiences that typically impact human behavior or that result from that behavior. Over the millennia, these experiences have intrigued scientists, artists, and others, having had a profound effect upon them and their social groups. They have resulted in Nobel Prizes, artistic awards, and creative breakthroughs – as well as violent and anti-social behavior. Many of these experiences are transpersonal in nature because they appear to transcend one's socially constructed identity, and to challenge or contradict common sense constructions of reality, as well as mainstream science's descriptions of time, space, and energy. Anomalous dreams include those that appear to foretell future events, ... Join Sofia to find more!
Psychology of Extraordinary Dreams by Dr. Stanley Skippner
Course Learning Objectives
After completing this course, the student will be able to discuss:
- A dozen different types of extraordinary dreams and how to work with them;
- The neurobiology of the dreaming process as well as its disorders;
- Various ways to recall and work with dreams as a contemplative practice;
- A number of theoretical stances regarding extraordinary dreams;
- The role of extraordinary dreams in transpersonal psychology and other transpersonal studies.
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.
Elfers, John, Ph.D. (Dissertation Chair) email@example.com
- 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
Haefner, Carol, Ph.D., Assistant Professor; Director of the Writing Lab; Director of the Dissertation Office firstname.lastname@example.org
- Interests: Therapeutic application of yoga; consciousness studies; sexuality, especially asexuality.
- Methods: Qualitative, grounded theory, narrative
- 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.
Take 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.
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: email@example.com or 650-493-4430
Curriculum – Year 3, 4, and 5 (Candidates with Master’s Degree)
- 5 Required Core = 15 units
- 3 Minimum Seminars = 3 units
- 13 Elective courses = 39
- 3 units of internship = 3 (May be waived upon Program Chair’s recommendation)
- 6 Dissertation courses= 18 units
Core Required Courses: (15 units)
- Introduction to Transpersonal Psychology
- Creativity & Critical Reflection
- Neurological Correlates of Experience
- Qualitative Research Methods
- Quantitative Research Methods and Statistics
- Somatic Psychology
- Cultural Psychology
Consciousness and Creativity Studies (18 units)
- Creativity & Critical Reflection
- Introduction to Transpersonal Studies: Images & Ideas
- Introduction to Creative Expression
- Theories of Self-Transformation
- Topics in Consciousness Studies
- Critical Hermeneutic Thinking
Behavioral Science (18 units)
- Neurological Correlates of Experience
- Neurophenomenology and Philosophy of Mind
- Cognitive and Affective Psychology
- Natural Basis of Learning and Memory
- Biological Dimensions of Neuropsychology
- Neuroscience of Brain Enhancement
Ecopsychology (18 units)
- Introduction to Ecopsychology
- Psychology of Wilderness Experience
- Life Transitions and Rites of Passage
- Classics of Ecopychology: Naess, Roszak, Snyder
- Wilderness Therapy
- Ecopsychology, Community, and Sustainability
Research Methods in Psychology
- PHD 6103 – Qualitative Research Methods
- PHD 6104 – Quantitative Research Methods and Statistics
- PHD 6701 – Critical Hermeneutic Participatory Research (MBA 3011)
- PHD 6702 - Using Quantitative Data Analysis Software JMP / SPSS / R and SAS Software (MBA 3043)
- PHD 6703 – Mixed Modeling
- PHD 6704 – Phenomenological Research Methods
- PHD 8507 – Research Lab (Only under approved supervision)
Somatic Psychology (18 units)
- Somatic Psychology
- Transformative Ritual Practices
- Somatic Therapies
- Phenomenology of Perception and Embodiment
- Anatomy & Psychophysiology
- Biofeedback and Neurofeedback
Elective Courses (39 units)
- Introduction to Research Methods and Research Design
- History & Systems of Psychology
- Introduction to Transpersonal Theory
- Introduction to Transpersonal Therapies
- Critical Thinking and Scholarly Writing
- Transpersonal Finance
- Psychology of Cognition & Emotion
- Classics in Psychology, James, Freud, Jung
- Biological Dimension of Neuropsychology
- The Entrepreneurial Imagination
- Psychology of Dreams
- Individuation & Wholeness Across the Lifespan
- Psychology of Health and Well-Being
- Altered States of Consciousness
- Psychology of Meditation & Mindfulness
- Professional Research Ethics
- Advanced Seminar in Transpersonal Theory
- Psychopathology and Diagnosis
- The Principles and History of Psychedelic Science
- Self, Culture & Contemporary Psychology
- Topics in Media Literacy
- Topics in Life Narrative Studies
- Advanced Seminar in Research Methods
- Cultural Psychology and Religion
Craft of Writing Courses (12 units)* Students need to take these courses upon the recommendations of faculty or chair within the first two quarters.
- Critical Thinking & Scholarly Writing in Transpersonal Psychology
- Research and Academic Writing
- Bibliographic Research and the Composition of Literature Reviews
- Writing for Scholarly Publication
Seminars – (3 units)
Internship – (3 units) May be waived upon Program Chair’s Approval
Dissertation – (18 units)
- Seminar in Dissertation Research & Writing
- Dissertation Research & Writing (For at least 5 quarters)
Three-year program total units: 75
Consciousness and Creativity Studies
Philosophers and scientists have explored the concept of consciousness for millennia, but only now do we know enough about the brain to make scientific progress on even the most basic questions. Of course much remains mysterious and probably always will. At the same time, everyone is familiar with the experience of heightened or expanded awareness and the concomitant feeling of greater connection with oneself and the wider world. Our Consciousness and Creativity Studies concentration is designed to provide a space for doctoral students to explore consciousness in its various dimensions while experimenting with spiritual technologies and creative processes that produce and are nurtured by it. Our exploration is rooted in academic inquiry, contemplative practices, entheogenic integration, and intersubjective encounters with members of our learning community.
The Behavioral Science concentration focuses on neuroscientific, behavioral, and cognitive psychology. In addition to these traditional topics, students are introduced to more innovative post-graduate disciplines such as neurotheology, neurophenomenology, and bioethics in the broader context of consciousness studies. Questions concerning neurological correlates of spiritual and religious experience and problems surrounding enhancement of the human brain through transformative technologies are also part of this concentration.
The Sofia Difference
What makes the Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology through Sofia University Different?
The block tuition structure enables students enrolled in this program the flexibility to explore courses in four concentrations: Consciousness and Creativity Studies; Behavioral Science; Ecopsychology; and Somatic Psychology. Course electives are taught by faculty members in fields as diverse as arts-based therapy, psychedelic research, art and social change, spiritual emergence, and neurophenomenology and philosophy of mind.
Finally, the residential setting of the program provides students interested in engaging deeply in classroom settings group and one-on-one opportunities for mentorship from faculty. This close contact with faculty offers doctoral students sustained mentoring at the dissertation phase. Community events including the Creative Expression Sunday Series, departmental retreats, and visiting lecturers and performers are regular on-campus occurrences.