The core professional competency areas defined in the National Council of Schools of Professional Psychology (NCSPP) model provide the framework for the goals and objectives of the PsyD program. While these competency areas are articulated individually, they are highly interdependent. The Doctoral Project serves as the culminating evidence of competence in research and evaluation. Students in the PsyD program primarily conduct critical reviews of the scientific literature for their doctoral project, but other kinds of doctoral project types are possible for adequately qualified students.
For all types of culminating Doctoral Projects, Forest Institute uses the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed within the following three domains to guide it in documenting student competence. The domains focus on (1) critical evaluation of epistemologies and the existing research literature, (2) executing and using research in applied settings, and (3) ethical conduct in performing as a local clinical scientist. The experience of conducting a culminating project is intended to contribute to the development of a scientific attitude. Such an attitude is of great benefit to professional practitioners, who are expected to consistently apply scientific knowledge and critical thinking to inform practice. The project also promotes systematic integration and application of academic knowledge. As students apply the results of their research to significant questions, they advance knowledge in the field while also learning to become critical consumers of empirical research and "skeptical scientific observers” (Trierweiler & Stricker, 1992, p. 104).
Through the Doctoral Project process, students are expected to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of an area relevant to the professional practice of psychology as well as the ability to think critically, integrate, and evaluate research and theory, work independently and clearly communicate ideas to members of the profession. Ultimately, the final product is expected to demonstrate a student's readiness for entry-level practice in the competency domain of Research and Evaluation.
Some Doctoral Projects support not only a readiness for research and evaluation, but emphasize the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to act as entry-level consultants and educators. For example, a project that involves the design, execution, and analysis of a community mental health educational program requires the skills of research as well as consultation.
The student is expected to find a topic, identify a faculty member to serve as Chairperson, identify eligible Voting Committee Member(s) and complete any required paperwork or forms (including goals for each semester in which the student is registered for Doctoral Project credit) in a timely manner. Specific requirements, policies, and procedures related to the project may be found in the Doctoral Project Guidebook.
Upon completion of the Master’s Thesis (or demonstration that this requirement has previously been met), completion of the program’s Residency Requirement and completion and submission of the Doctoral Project Agreement form to the Registrar, PsyD candidates are required to enroll in a minimum of three (3) credit hours of Doctoral Project over three consecutive semesters prior to enrollment in a full-time pre-Doctoral internship.