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Becoming a Golden Hawk means more than just cheering on our (really good) varsity teams – it means being a student who cares about your community, who works hard in the classroom, and who takes advantage of all the learning opportunities that can happen outside the classroom, too.

Human Relationships (PhD)


The PhD in Human Relationships builds on your professional experience in the fields of pastoral leadership, and spiritual care and psychotherapy through advanced scholarship and a dissertation. You will be well prepared to make contributions in fields such as ministry, psychotherapy, spiritual care, and higher education.

For our PhD in Human Relationships program, you choose to focus in one of two fields: Pastoral Leadership or Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy.

Pastoral Leadership

The Pastoral Leadership field is designed for those who serve the spiritual and social needs of religious congregations, and faith based and community organizations. In this field, you will undertake disciplined reflection and extensive research in your area of ministry.

The program elements and courses are designed to support your progress toward the final completion of a PhD dissertation. Your dissertation makes a significant contribution to the existing knowledge in the field and assists and challenges your denomination or community to better understand and undertake its mission.

Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy

The Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy field is intended to build upon existing competencies in spiritual care and psychotherapy, and related disciplines. In this field, you will undertake advanced studies and training in the theoretical and theological foundations of spiritual care and psychotherapy. You will also have the opportunity to expand your experience with a post-practicum clinical education in the practice of individual, couple and family therapy or spiritual care.

The program elements and courses will support your progress toward the final completion of a PhD dissertation. The student’s dissertation makes a significant contribution to the existing knowledge in the field of spiritual care and psychotherapy.

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Info for Current Students

Human Relationships (PhD)


  • A bursary valued at more than $1,500 a year is automatically applied to full-time student accounts each term.
  • In addition to the full-time bursary, annual bursaries to a maximum of $1,500 are available based on financial need (typically applied to accounts in the fall term).

Program Highlights

  • Enjoy the best of all worlds: the close-knit social community of a small college, the rich diversity of a dynamic city, and all the amenities of a world-class university (Waterloo Lutheran Seminary is the federated college of Wilfrid Laurier University).
  • Our ecumenical, multifaith and inclusive practice creates a diverse and vibrant community. Students from all backgrounds and faiths are welcome to apply.
  • We have the most extensive selection of courses in spiritual care, counselling and psychotherapy of any school in Canada.


  • Master of Divinity degree or equivalent with a minimum average of B+.
  • Preference will be given to those who have demonstrated experience in service or ministry for three years. The program is open to students from all faith traditions. Interviews may be requested.


Pastoral Leadership careers:

  • ministry leadership and administration

Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy careers:

  • registered psychotherapist
  • university or college professor
  • hospital or high school chaplain
  • social service worker
  • addictions counsellor
  • certified play therapist
  • mental health worker

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