Residential Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Transpersonal Psychology

Check out these videos from our recent alumni to find out what makes our program so unique!

Residential PhD Video Testimonials

Transpersonal Learning

As the world’s first transpersonal university, Sofia has developed approaches to transformative teaching and learning that encourage personal growth; promote collaboration; honor epistemologies of both the heart and head; apply transpersonal principles to active service in the world; and celebrate the unique qualities and characteristics of transpersonal psychology as an academic research field.

As a transpersonal university, we are committed to moving humanity forward. To do this we explore the dynamics of part-whole relationships so that we might better participate in the integral and interdependent systems that support diverse worldviews and ways of being. We appreciate multiple ways of knowing and support each person’s effort to build on strengths while growing in areas that pose challenges. We approach what we are doing with an open-minded spirit of adventure.

Research Your Passions!

Drawing on more than four decades of educational success, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (ITP) at Sofia University 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. Unlike many doctoral programs that require you to follow a professor and complete research based on their interests, ITP at 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!

Are You a Match?

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

  • You're a self-motivated learner
  • You seek to make positive change in the world
  • You're able to work independently
  • You're capable of handling complex information

About the Programs

The PhD is offered through both onsite and online formats. 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. Unsure whether a doctor of psychology or a doctor of clinical psychology is right for you? Read more here.

The Doctoral 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.


Students enrolled in these programs have the flexibility to explore courses in five concentrations:

  • Transpersonal Education and Research
  • Applied Transpersonal Psychology
  • Whole Systems Approach to Health and Wellbeing
  • Consciousness and Creativity Studies
  • Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience

Just the Basics (Financial Aid Eligible)

Degree Program Prerequisites

  • Master’s degree in psychology or related field with a minimum 3.0 GPA from an accredited college or university.
  • Students are required to attend three (1 unit) in-person seminars in the Northern California. The 3 seminars must be completed before entering into the dissertation phase
  • 4 Quarters per Year
  • 75 units
  • Per Unit Cost: $950
  • Estimated total cost of tuition: $71,250

Contact: or 650-493-4430

Doctoral Faculty


Residential PHD Program

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. Download the Residential PhD CatalogPHDRes 2017-2018 Course Catalog

Doctoral Programs Curriculum Overview (75 units)

  • Core Courses - 29 units/32 units with Internship
  • Electives - 28 Units (without Internship)
  • Disseration Courses - 18 units

Notes - The following are included in the 75 unit total

  • Optional Program Concerntrations - 15 units per concentration from core and electives
  • Seminar - 3 units Learn more here.
  • Course Spotlights

    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?

    Professor Marilyn Schlitz considers a wealth of teachings and practical guidance within the field of transpersonal psychology and transdisciplinary 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

    Dr. Stanley Skrippner - Instructor. 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


    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. Read Rosie's article on spirituality and children.

    Sam 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).

    Anne-Marie Charest, Ph.D. conducted her research in mindfulness, embodied compassion, shamanic practices, and the art of transcendence. Her passion for the lived expression of spirituality as well as her shamanic practices has led her to solicit the re-introduction and revival of ancient shamanic rituals in Western culture. Through her organization, The Peaceful Soul Transitions, individuals are taught to explore the divine through daily embodied practices, mindfulness, and positive psychological approaches. In addition to her knowledge and studies in Somatic and Transpersonal Psychology, Anne-Marie was formally trained through the shamanic teachings of the Kalaalit Eskimo traditions of the far North, Greenland.

    Alumna Julie Gohman, graduated from the Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology program at Sofia University and became a professor of psychology and author of 10 Sacred Questions for Every Woman.

    Julie writes about women’s development, motherhood, spirituality, and the art of self-inquiry. Most of what Julie does, in both her personal and professional life, is dedicated to human growth and development, teaching and learning, and understanding the complex dimensions of human behavior. It’s her goal to be mindful and present, to be loving and kind, and to live with wisdom and grace. Julie also believes in the power of gratitude as a game-changer for everything in her life. Read more about Julie's book.

    Walker Karraa, Ph.D. is a provocative thought leader in the field of maternal mental health and leadership. She earned her Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology from Sofia in 2013. Her first book, Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women's Stories of Trauma and Growth, presents her research revealing the traumatic and transformative nature of postpartum depression. Her book’s been on the top ten for postpartum depression every week since publication.