Master of Arts in East-West Psychology


Program Description

The East-West Psychology program offers a global approach to the exploration and study of psychology and spirituality. Students are encouraged to become thought leaders in cross-cultural relations that are rooted in ancient spiritual traditions. Graduates create positive and sustainable paradigms in global and personal change. Our program offers the following paths of study:

  • Ph.D. in East-West Psychology
  • M.A. in East-West Psychology
  • Accelerated Tracks: BA to MA and MA to PhD
  • Add-on certificates in East-West Spiritual Counseling and in Eco-Resilience Leadership

Courses are cross-disciplinary and include academic inquiry of systems, spiritual traditions, and psychological teachings. Our program explores the interface of psychology and spirituality, including:

  • Transpersonal and integral psychology
  • Asian psychologies
  • Modern consciousness studies
  • Participatory spirituality
  • Depth psychology (Jungian, archetypal, and psychoanalytic)
  • Contemplative psychology
  • Religious comparative studies
  • Shamanic studies
  • Ecopsychology

Our program actively explores the convergence of Eastern, Western, and indigenous psychologies and spiritualities in the spirit of pluralism, dialogue, and integral inquiry. We are eager to explore the meaning of this convergence for our diverse and multicultural world.

Our program is guided by and dedicated to the following educational ideals:

  • To offer an integral education that honors intellectual excellence and the voice and wisdom of the somatic, vital, emotional, imaginal, and spiritual dimensions of our students.
  • To create a learning community that fosters the psycho-spiritual development of our students and supports their individual gifts and potentials.
  • To bring spirituality into academia and to explore transformative elements of inquiry, learning, and writing.


About the Program

The MA in East-West Psychology is a two-year program requiring 36 units of study. The program is designed to provide the flexibility that allows students to focus on specific areas of study and to explore a variety of western, eastern, and indigenous approaches to psychology and spirituality. With the guidance of academic advisors, students design their own individualized curriculum, a possible area of specialization, and a psycho-spiritual approach.

All students are required to take four core courses:

  • Introduction to East-West Psychology 
  • Conscious Diversity: Inner and Outer—A Diversity Process Class 
  • Community Retreat
  • Knowledge, Work, and the Academy
  • MA Integrative Seminar

Students also choose among three courses that follow East-West and other psychological approaches:

  • Depth Psychology
  • Integral and Transpersonal Psychology
  • East-West Spiritual Counseling
  • Eco-Psychology
  • Culture and Psychology

All students choose two of three courses in foundational spiritual traditions, with the option to take another course in another program.

  • Eastern Theories of Self, Mind, and Nature
  • Western Mystical Traditions
  • Indigenous and Shamanic Traditions

Students have required coursework in psycho-spiritual practice, including eastern, western, indigenous, contemporary participatory spirituality, and socially engaged practices and service-learning.

Students may optionally use elective units to gain either depth through an area of specialization or breadth in different areas of interest.

Teaching/Research Assistantships

Our program offers a limited number of paid teaching and research assistantships each semester. Possible responsibilities for teaching assistants include the facilitation of experiential learning, teaching portions of the class, working with students outside the classroom on projects, miscellaneous administrative and logistic tasks, providing feedback to the faculty member on student learning and perceptions, and reading student papers, and giving feedback (but not as the only reader). Research assistants assist faculty in specific research areas in tasks such as annotated bibliographies, scholarly networking, and maintaining scholarly databases.


Internships allow students to integrate the career-related experience into academic education and to gain practical experience in their chosen field in a supervised professional work environment. Our program provides a list of associated organizations in which internships are available. Internships can be carried out as fieldwork up to a maximum of 6 units.

Accelerated M.A. to Ph.D.

Completing an M.A. then a Ph.D. in our program would require 72 units of coursework plus a dissertation. However, we offer the option of a 54-unit M.A./Ph.D. to students deemed capable of advanced and accelerated academic work. The 18 units of pre-dissertation coursework required for this option focus primarily on research courses, allowing fewer electives than the usual 36-unit program.

Students who wish to apply for the accelerated M.A./Ph.D. track must first apply for and be accepted into the MA program. After the first full-time year of coursework, students interested in the accelerated track should contact their advisor. The advisor must provide a recommendation to the core faculty, and writing and/or research samples will be required as part of this program review. Applicants must have demonstrated the consistent capacity for PhD-level writing and research skills, superior self-direction, sufficient psychological maturity for Ph.D. work, and outstanding grades and evaluations from their professors. They must have a focused dissertation topic, a workable plan for the research, and academically sound, well-defined goals for the practical application of the EWP doctoral degree to their future scholarly and professional work in the world.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet the general admission requirements of CIIS and submit an outstanding academic writing sample. Applicants need not have an undergraduate major in psychology, but a strong interest in psychology and an interdisciplinary orientation are assumed.

Students with insufficient background in psychology may be required by the EWP Admission Committee to take additional courses as prerequisites to the MA. These courses are drawn from the EWP programs or other Institute programs.

Successful candidates for admission into the East-West Psychology MA program typically have the following qualifications:

  • A vision that is compatible with the program's mission
  • A path of personal and/or spiritual growth
  • Sufficient maturity and stability to pursue independent inquiry
  • Respect for a diversity of viewpoints
  • The ability to clearly articulate their educational and professional goals
  • Basic scholarly writing skills
  • The ability to identify a prospective specialization that is consistent with the program's mission and resources.

Application Requirements

  • Online Admissions Application
    Begin the application process by submitting an online graduate application at the link below and submitting the non-refundable $65 application fee payment.
  • Degree Requirement
    An undergraduate degree (BA, BS, or the equivalent) from an accredited college or university.
  • Minimum GPA
    A GPA of 3.0 or higher in previous coursework is required. However, a GPA below 3.0 does not automatically disqualify an applicant and CIIS will consider a prospective student whose GPA is between 2.0 and 3.0. These individuals are required to submit a GPA Statement and are encouraged to contact the Office of Admissions to discuss their options.
  • Transcripts
    Official transcripts from all accredited academic institutions attended where 7 or more credits have been earned. If transcripts are being mailed to CIIS, they must arrive in their official, sealed envelopes. Transcripts from institutions outside the US or Canada require a foreign credit evaluation through World Education Services (WES) or CIIS will also accept foreign credential evaluations that are in a comprehensive course-by-course format from the current members of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).
  • Autobiographical Statement
    A four-to-six page (typed, double-spaced) introspective autobiographical statement discussing your values, emotional and spiritual insights, aspirations, and life experiences that have led to your decision to apply.
  • Goal Statement
    A one-page (typed, double-spaced) statement of your educational and professional objectives.
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
    Letters of recommendation will be accepted from academic advisors, professors, professional supervisors, or someone able to attest to your ability to undertake the work required for your program. Recommenders should use standard business format and include full contact information-name, email, phone number, and mailing address.
  • Academic Writing Sample
    A writing sample of eight to ten pages (typed, double-spaced) that demonstrates your capacity to think critically and reflectively and demonstrates graduate-level writing abilities. A sample that uses outside sources must include proper citations. You may submit copies of previous work, such as a recent academic paper, article, or report that reflects scholarly abilities.

International Students

Please note: International students and individuals who have studied at institutions outside the US and Canada have additional requirements.

Last updated Nov 2020

About the School

California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) is an innovative, forward-thinking university based in San Francisco, California.

California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) is an innovative, forward-thinking university based in San Francisco, California. Read less
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