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Research Philosophy

The mission of the program is to prepare practitioners of health service psychology who can ethically deliver evidence-based psychological services to diverse populations in both clinical and school settings, and who can integrate the science and practice of psychology with principles of the Christian faith.

This focus on preparing students for the practice of health service psychology with diverse populations is reflected in our practice-based research model. The program seeks to bridge the gap between research and clinical practice, teaching students to value research-based clinical practice, to be effective consumers of psychological research, and to become evidence-based practitioners.

The research sequence and dissertation requirements were designed to promote the utilization of research in addressing applied problems relevant for the professional practice of clinical/school psychology. Applied research projects have pragmatic goals of addressing practical problems with insights drawn from psychological science. The focus on using research to inform and improve services to vulnerable populations is entirely consistent with the Christian heritage and mission of our program.

Thus, the dissertation requires the completion of a project related to the applied practice of clinical/school psychology and the demonstration of the ability to bridge the gap between research and practice. The projects will have a heavy focus on making an impact on the practice of clinical or school psychology. A variety of types of projects can be acceptable, including intervention projects, program evaluation, survey projects, systematic investigation of a problem, program or service development project, etc. Applied research projects may utilize a variety of research designs, including qualitative, quantitative or mixed method paradigms.

Clinical or School Research

Our goal is to help students not only demonstrate their competency in research, but also to develop a personal valuing of the use of research to inform the professional practice of psychology.

The dissertation occurs simultaneously with the School Psychology Internship, and many students will choose to focus on a research issue relating to their school setting. The program has developed partnerships with large, diverse school districts who welcome the opportunity to have doctoral students engage in practice as interns and conduct research in their school district.

Other students may wish to develop research ideas relating to experiences in clinical placement sites. The issue or problem of focus for the project will be identified by the student in consultation with program faculty, and with input from internship site administrators as appropriate.  Initial steps in the dissertation process will be supported by two research methods classes to provide structure and feedback.

Competencies Demonstrated

The research and dissertation sequence is designed to systematically develop the following competencies:


  • Quality and rigor to have the potential to contribute to the scientific, psychological, or professional knowledge base.
  • Conduct research or other scholarly activities.
  • Critically evaluate and disseminate research or other scholarly activity via professional publication and presentation at the local (including the host institution), regional, or national level.


  • Demonstrate the ability to evaluate and use research methods, statistics, and program evaluations to gather data about school systems, programs, and classroom environments.
  • Demonstrate the ability to understand current research in the field that is directly applicable to her/his functioning as a professional School Psychologist.
  • Demonstrate the ability to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and prevention practices.

Faculty Mentorship

Once a student has submitted a draft of their concept paper to the instructor of DPSY 6010, a faculty member in the doctoral program will be appointed to serve as their dissertation committee Chair. This appointment will be based on the interests, expertise, and availability of faculty. The committee member(s) are selected because they have expertise and interest in the topic or methodology. The reader works with the dissertation chair to mentor the student and ensure the quality of the research.

Writing the dissertation manuscript and the defense of that manuscript is typically done during the student’s final year in the program. A dissertation is not complete until the Roberts Wesleyan University Golisano Library accepts it for publication.

Further details about the process are reviewable in the Roberts Wesleyan University PsyD Clinical Dissertation Manual.

​For a complete listing of published dissertations, click here.

Related Majors

School Psychology, M.S. - Our Masters in School Psychology program prepares students to evaluate, diagnose, and treat children and adolescents, in consultation with parents and teachers.
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