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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Science
October 22, 2016
Canadian Excellence

Community Psychology Doctoral (Ph.D.) Program

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The scientist-practitioner model of training forms the basis of the PhD program in community psychology. The objectives of the PhD program are for doctoral students to develop: 1) critical thinking, knowledge, and ethical sensitivity in relation to social systems analysis and intervention, community research and evaluation, and human service policy, programs, and practice, and 2) skills for catalyzing social action and social policy initiatives related to community psychology, for conducting community research and evaluation, and for providing education and training both in university settings and in the community. Students typically work with one faculty member as their dissertation supervisor and mentor. In addition, they work with at least two other faculty members on other research projects. Students will gain teaching experience either by serving as teaching assistants or by being an instructor or co-instructor for a course. Unlike the MA program, the PhD program is geared to prepare graduates as scholars in universities, as policy researchers/analysts in governmental and non-governmental settings, as community researchers and program evaluators, and as managers of human service organizations.



"Having worked for more than a decade in communities as a health promoter and community developer, the field of Community Psychology is a wonderful way to deepen my knowledge of community and research, while, at the same time, strengthen my practical skills. I also thoroughly enjoy studying at a relatively small university like Wilfrid Laurier, because it means a small and personable faculty."

– Felix Munger, Ph.D. Student

Admissions Information

Admission is contingent upon successful completion of a Masters degree program. If a student applies with a MA or MSc degree from another university, she/he may be admitted to the PhD program; some make-up course work may be required depending on the courses completed at the Masters level. It is expected that the applicants will have substantial experience in community practice. Applicants to the Community Psychology PhD program are evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Research qualifications, including publications, manuscripts in preparation, and conference posters and presentations. A history of external funding is also an advantage.
  • Letters of reference, one of which should be from the student's Masters thesis advisor. Reference letters should speak to several aspects of the student's potential for a successful academic career: analytical skills, writing skills, methodological skills, work ethic, initiative and independence, quality and originality of research ideas, ability to work with faculty, peers, and undergraduates, motivation for our community psychology graduate program, etc.
  • The personal statement. Personal statements should be well-written, and should describe the applicant's research interests (including past work and ideas for future research with specific Laurier faculty) and the expressed fit with the values, mission, and goals of community psychology. Candidates applying for the Ph.D. program with a Masters degree from another university are encouraged to contact potential faculty supervisors to find out if they will be accepting students in the current year.
  • Academic performance, as indicated by undergraduate and graduate GPA. The GRE is recommended but not required.
  • Community Experience, through paid employment or volunteer work (we recommend submitting at least one letter of reference from a supervisor or employer from a community setting).

For general information about applying to graduate programs in psychology at Laurier, or to apply now, click here. Students who wish to apply to the Doctoral program in Community Psychology should indicate “Ph.D. program in Community Psychology” when they complete their on-line application.

Ph.D. Curriculum

Training at the doctoral level is based on a research apprenticeship model, in which students work closely with faculty supervisors conducting research. It is expected that students participate actively in the intellectual community of our program by serving on program committees, attending program and research team meetings and presentations by peers, faculty, and guests. Doctoral students are encouraged to teach a course as part of their program experience.

For more information on the PhD curriculum see the Graduate Calendar


Admitted PhD students are guaranteed a minimum of $19,000 funding per year for three years. This money typically comes from a variety of sources, including teaching assistantships, Laurier graduate scholarships, and faculty research grant money. Students in the Community Psychology Ph.D. program may be supplemented by additional funds paid directly by faculty members from their research grants. During their studies, PhD students may also apply for travel awards from the department and from graduate studies.

Students who receive a major external scholarship, such as an OGS or SSHRC award, become eligible for "top-up" scholarship funds from Laurier. The amount of these top-up scholarships varies by year, depending on the availability of funds.


Dr. Manuel Riemer
519-884-0710, ext. 2982