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Critical Psychology Doctoral Degree

Ph.D. in Critical Psychology

Offered on campus

Challenging the Status Quo by Reconceptualizing Psychology

Point Park’s Ph.D. in Critical Psychology blends essential elements of critical theory and psychology to address an increasing need for psychologists to be well-versed in both the theoretical and socio-political demands of their practice. With forward-thinking faculty working in the field, the University is the first to offer a terminal degree in this transformative discipline. 

Critical psychology aims to examine the historical, political, economic and cultural underpinnings of mainstream psychology, as well as its role in issues, such as power and oppression through a focus on critical reflexivity. It goes beyond critique to generate possibilities for progressive psychologies that emphasize social justice, liberation, dignity and equality to facilitate the well-being of individuals, communities and societies.

Critical psychology uses qualitative methodologies and methods such as:

  • Phenomenology
  • Hermeneutics
  • Discourse analysis
  • Grounded theory
  • Intersectionality
  • Advocate ethnography
  • Emergent strategies
  • Narrative approaches

Our program embodies an academic-activist approach, combining theoretical rigor with instruction on practical skills pertaining to professional development in the fields of academia and mental health.

Why Should I Choose Point Park for Critical Psychology?

  • Increasing workforce demand — According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for psychologists is expected to grow 3 percent by 2029. Employment for social scientists and related workers is expected to grow 4 percent. Employment in postsecondary education is projected to increase by 9 percent by 2029 with the need for psychology teachers reflecting that increase. Nonprofit professionals with skills in development are in high demand, and this filed is projected to grow about 9 percent by 2024.
  • A call for change — The American Public Health Association published a report detailing the barriers to health as a result of systemic racism and have included challenging racist structures and practices in their Generation Public Health Movement. The American Psychological Association has expressed a similar concern about the mental health of those affected by systemic bias and oppression and has asked psychologists to consider how to address such concerns through the field. Our faculty anticipate a call for interventions at different levels of society and through many institutions that can adequately consider and address these concerns.
  • A variety of applications — Our program will prepare you to work within the field of psychology in an array of contexts with the goal of infusing the discipline with critical reflectivity and a concern for the sociopolitical situatedness of the human subject. The program stresses an approach to scholarship and community engagement that is ethically informed by recognition of human dignity of persons and their fundamental relatedness to others and situatedness within communal and social structures. Students will develop the skills to work within nonprofit organizations, as well as pursue employment in mental health organizations and academia.

Program Goals

Upon successful completion of the Ph.D. in Critical Psychology, a student will be able to:

  • Understand and apply the psychological foundations of critical psychology
  • Apply critical psychology to action plans to facilitate well-being at the individual, community, and societal levels
  • Employ research skills to explore questions and help solve problems in psychology through a critical psychology lens
  • Demonstrate, evaluate and apply understanding of ethics and values of the field of critical psychology
  • Demonstrate appreciation of individual and cultural diversity 

Meet Our Faculty

Career Options

A Ph.D. in Critical Psychology will prepare you for various impactful careers, including:

  • Administering or directing community programs in human services, mental health, prevention, community education, health promotion and community development
  • Organizational training and development with nonprofit groups or businesses
  • University teaching and/or research on social and community issues
  • Government or philanthropic foundation research or administration on social and community issues
  • Administering or directing community agencies or organizations
  • Policy advocacy for legal and social change efforts

Note: This Ph.D. program does not prepare you for clinical licensure in psychology. 

Admission Requirements

To apply for admission into Point Park’s Critical Psychology Ph.D. program, applicants must:

  • Complete the admission application.
  • Hold an undergraduate or graduate degree with a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.25 or higher.
  • Request official copies of all college and university transcripts be sent directly from the institution to Point Park.
  • Submit three professional or college-related letters of recommendation addressing the applicant’s motivation and seriousness of purpose for graduate work;
  • Submit a typewritten statement of purpose that demonstrates how the applicant understands psychology’s relationship to oppression and liberation;
  • Receive a faculty evaluation based on interviews with faculty members;
  • Submit a writing sample at time of interviews.
  • Psychology, social science or philosophy background is preferred.

Learn More

For additional information, contact Nicholas Poprocky, assistant director, Office of Graduate and Online Admissions, at or 412-392-3807.