Sofia University (California)

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Sofia University
Motto Transformative Transpersonal Education Since 1975
Established 1975
Type Private university
President Liz Li, PhD
Location Palo Alto, California, United States
37°25′51″N 122°06′33″W / 37.43075°N 122.10930°W / 37.43075; -122.10930

Sofia University, formerly known as the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (ITP) is a private, WASC accredited university. The university's academic emphasis is transpersonal psychology.

Sofia University comprises the Graduate School of Transpersonal Studies, the Graduate School of Clinical and Spiritual Psychology, and the School of Undergraduate Studies. The graduate school curricula, initially developed by co-founders Robert Frager and James Fadiman, focus on six areas of inquiry: the intellectual, emotional, spiritual, physical, social, and creative aspects of life. For further personal development, all students studying on-campus receive instruction in aikido, a Japanese martial art.

As of July 1, 2014, the president is Liz Li, Ph.D.

Degrees Offered[edit]

Pending the approval of The Accrediting Commission for Schools, WASC, Sofia is preparing to offer a Master of Science degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Business Administration. Both degree programs will combine technological development with transpersonal values and skills for the practicing professional.

Sofia University offers programs in a hybrid: face to face / online or on-campus formats so students can choose what best suits their needs and lifestyles.


Sofia University, formerly the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, was founded in 1975 by Dr. Robert Frager in response to the growing need for a shift in the pedagogy of higher learning. As a graduate from Harvard, Frager had experienced first-hand the conventional approach to the study of psychology and found it to be lacking and often fragmented.

In particular, Dr. Frager's educational ideal hearkened back to the ancient Greek system which held the belief that education should take into account all aspects of the human experience. With this ideal in mind, he set out to create a school of psychology that would fully prepare psychologists to understand human nature from an approach that transcends the pathological and encompasses the whole human being in the context of culture, physical health, mental health, and spiritual health. Today, Sofia University continues to add new programs to broaden its focus in becoming a university that applies transpersonal values to research and education.

What is transpersonal?[edit]

Sofia University has long explored the frontiers of psychology and spirituality for the betterment of humanity and the sustainability of the planet.

Transpersonal psychology is full-spectrum psychology that encompasses a continuum of human experience and behavior ranging from severe dysfunction, mental and emotional illness at one end, to what is generally considered "normal", healthy behavior at the other end and various degrees of normal and maladjustment in between – and then goes beyond it by adding a serious scholarly interest in the imminent and transcendent dimensions of human experience: exceptional human functioning, experiences, performances and achievements, true genius, the nature and meaning of deep religious and mystical experiences, non-ordinary states of consciousness, and how we might foster the fulfillment of our highest potentials as human beings.

Transpersonal psychologists work across disciplines and draw on insights from not only the various areas of psychology, but also the sciences of cognition, consciousness, and the paranormal; philosophy; social and cultural theory; integral health theories and practices; poetry, literature, and the arts; and, the world's spiritual and wisdom traditions.

Notable people[edit]

  • Robert Frager, Ph.D. (Co-founder of Sofia University, Harvard trained social psychologist)
  • Jim Fadiman, Ph.D. (Co-founder of Sofia University, PhD in Stanford psychologist and psychedelic researcher)
  • Charles Tart, Ph.D. (American psychologist and parapsychologist known for his psychological work on the nature of consciousness)
  • Judy Grahn, Ph.D. (American poet, professor, activist)
  • Fred Luskin, Ph.D. (Dr. Fred Luskin of Stanford University, and author of the book "Learning to Forgive")
  • Mark Gonnerman, Ph.D. (Mark created and convened the Mountains & Rivers Workshop at the Stanford Humanities Center)

Important Publications by Faculty and Faculty Emeritus[edit]

Braud, W., & Anderson, R. (1998). Transpersonal Research Methods for the Social Sciences: Honoring Human Experience. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Braud, W., & Anderson, R. (2011). Transforming Self and Others through Research. State University of New York Press.

Tart, C. (1969). Altered States of Consciousness: A Book of Readings. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Netzer, D. (2014). Awareness of spiritual freedom through imaginal response to mystical poetry: An intuitive inquiry. SAGE Research Methods Cases. DOI: Brooks, C. (2010). Embodied transcription: A creative method for using voice recognition software. The Qualitative Report, 15(5), 1227-1241

Singh, K. (2014). Beyond mind: The future of psychology as a science. In R. M. M. Cornellisen, G. Misra & S. Varma (Eds.), Foundations and applications of Indian psychology (pp. 40–52). Delhi, India: Pearson.

Herman, L. (2013). Playing with Auschwitz: A liminal inquiry into images of evil. In Poeisis: A Journal of the Arts and Education. Vol. 15. Toronto: EGS Press.

Ruth H. Judy. (2012). Where My Soul Lives: Being a Christian Outside the Lines. Haworth, NJ: St. Johann Press.

Rominger, R. (2013). Integration of spiritually transformative experiences: Models, methods and research. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 31(3), 135-150.

Grahn, J. (2012). A Simple Revolution: the Making of an Activist Poet (memoir), Aunt Lute Press.

Friedman, H., & Hartelius, G. (Eds.). (2013). The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of transpersonal psychology. Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons.


Sofia University is an accredited member of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).


WASC Statement of Accreditation status, Sofia University


External links[edit]