Research / Dissertation

The Psy.D. Program faculty and students take the Practitioner-Scholar model seriously and therefore are engaged in scholarship even while being active practitioners. Here we provide an overview of our research and scholrship. Many of the presentations and publications mentioned below are in one or more of the Program’s four focus areas. To see a listing of those projects, please look at the Program Emphases page. We encourage potential applicants to contact faculty and students to ask about current research efforts, scholarship expectations, and dissertation projects.

Faculty Research and Scholarship

            Psy.D. faculty have been active scholars even as we have been building the program, supervising students, and teaching numerous courses. Complete vitae of core faculty can be found on the Faculty and Staff page. Here is a summary of the combined productivity.

  • 28 journal publications since 2007
  •  1 Special journal issue of the Journal of Lesbian Studies co-edited on “Rural Lesbians” published in 2011
  •  1 “Major Contribution” for The Counseling Psychologist on Rural Issues has been submitted (the proposal was accepted and the articles were invited)
  •  33 book chapters since 2007
  •  5 books since 2007
  •  78 presentations at regional, national, or international conferences since 2007
  •  17 grants received, totaling almost $170,000 since 2007, several others pending

Student Research and Scholarship

            When the APA site visit team talked with students and looked over documents, they were impressed by how active the students had been in their research and other scholarship, especially given that we are a Psy.D. program. Students are required to complete an empirical dissertation (see below), submit a paper for presentation, and submit a manuscript for publication before they graduate but do not have to participate in other research. Faculty members help students meet the paper and manuscript requirements through courses and the dissertation process. However, students are often excited by opportunities associated with the work their advisors and other faculty members are doing and therefore participate in additional activities. Below is a summary of their accomplishments thus far.

  •   14 publications by 7 different students
  •   All students who were then on-campus presented at the 2012 American Psychological Association Annual Convention in Orlando; all but 1 on-campus student presented at the 2011 APA Annual Convention in Washington, DC
  •   67 total presentations at conferences
  •  All students have presented at least twice at state-level or regional or national conferences
  •  Many students have assisted agencies or faculty with grant work, including writing grants, and three students have written and received grants to help fund their dissertation research


Psy.D. students are required to complete an empirical dissertation. The process is explained in detail in the Psy.D. Program Handbook, which is available on the Program Documents page. The dissertation study can be performed using quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods. Samples so far have included adolescents, university students, community members, and professionals. Most studies to this point have been qualitative and have focused on non-students.

            The timing of the project is important. It is the faculty’s collective experience, and the experience of nearly every psychologist with whom we have talked, that it is best to complete the dissertation before internship or at least be done by the time the internship is complete. In addition, we have been told that in order to be maximally competitive when applying for internship, students should have proposed their dissertations. Thus, the program has a requirement that in order to apply for internship, a student must have successfully proposed her or his dissertation. Basically, this means that by November 1 of the third year, a student must have worked with her or his advisor and dissertation committee to come up with a project and then get the committee to sign off on the proposal. We have designed our sequence of research courses to allow students to develop their proposal as part of the courses in order to meet this deadline.

            In terms of completing the dissertation, it will be best for the student to be done as quickly as possible. We have found and been told that it is very difficult to make progress on the dissertation while on internship – and we anticipate this will be true for students in the Radford program because of the types of projects we anticipate students will be conducting (e.g., community-based and involving qualitative methods as opposed to large-scale quantitative studies involving college students where participants can fill out forms on a computer). Thus, our goal is for the student to be completely finished with the dissertation or at least done with data analysis before internship starts. So far, as we show below, of the six students in the first two cohorts who have gone on to internship, three have defended their completed dissertation before starting internship, which is the ideal situation; the others ran into unanticipated difficulties related primarily to finding participants.

            One of the other issues we have noticed with dissertations is that students (and faculty, especially advisors) put a lot of time and energy into writing the proposal and then the final document but are overwhelmed by the possibility of doing anything else with the material. In order to help students share their work and findings with a wider audience, we have modified the traditional dissertation structure so that Chapter 1 of the proposal and of the defended document are written as manuscripts to be submitted for publication. So far, this has resulted in three articles for students and other manuscripts are being revised for submission.