35 Best PhDs in Clinical Psychology in 2021

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Updated June 25, 2021

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Doctoral programs in Clinical Psychology build advanced skills and a strong scientific background in a broad scope of behavioral, developmental, and mental health problems. Areas include but are not limited to: behavior psychology, child psychology, diagnostic interviewing, ethics, interventions, and statistics.

Some programs emphasize applied clinical psychology science through clinical practica and hands-on psychology casework. Others focus more on clinical science, theory, and research. In any case, most programs require completion of ongoing investigation through theses and dissertations, and hands-on application through clinical internships and externships. Many programs follow a mentor model, meaning each student works closely with a faculty expert on specialized or general research.

Depending on their goals, doctoral clinical psychology degree holders may go on to work in research-based or directly client-serving roles. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the May 2017 median pay for psychologists was $77,030 annually. The field is experiencing a faster-than-average 14 percent growth rate.

35 Best PhD Programs in Clinical Psychology in 2021

  • Bowling Green State University

    Bowling Green, OH



    The first year of Bowling Green State University's doctoral Clinical Psychology program is spent on general clinical course requirements and practica. All students must complete a graduate-level research project, a postgraduate research project or research specialization exam, and a doctoral dissertation. A year-long internship is also required, typically during the fifth and final year of the program.

    The program provides three concentrations, which includes Clinical Child Psychology, Clinical Community Psychology, and Health Psychology. It also offers a specialization in Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. Once they choose a concentration in their later years, students can engage in concentration-specific electives, practica, and research experiences.

  • California Lutheran University

    Thousand Oaks, CA



    California Lutheran University's doctoral Clinical Psychology curriculum consists of a research course sequence, practicum experience, and a field internship. Course requirements include Biological Aspects of Behavior, History of Psychology, and Personality and Dissociative Disorders. Students can also choose from electives such as Intimate Partner Violence, Methods in Suicide Risk Assessment & Management, and Neuropsychoanalysis.

    Through Case Conference courses, students present information from their clinical practice to peers and supervisors. The degree program takes five years to complete. It culminates in a clinical competency exam, doctoral dissertation, independent study, and internship experience.

  • Catholic University of America

    Washington, DC



    The Catholic University of America's doctoral clinical psychology program has an elective focus in Children, Families, and Cultures. Each focus emphasizes the welfare of children and families in a multicultural society. The Clinical Psychology curriculum includes courses in Biological and Cognitive Aspects of Behavior, Cultural Issues in Clinical Psychology, and Social Aspects of Behavior.

    During their second year, students engage in a psychotherapy practicum involving work at the university's Counseling Center. They then complete part-time externships and a culminating year-long internship. Students must also complete a research apprenticeship, comprehensive exam, and dissertation project.

  • Duke University

    Durham, NC



    Grad School Hub's top Clinical Psychology program, offered by Duke University, is firmly rooted in both the science and practice of clinical psychology. The curriculum includes courses in Adult Psychopathology, Applied Correlation & Regression, and Personality Assessment. The Duke Psychology Clinic serves as a training center for doctoral students. Through the clinic, students may train in areas including anxiety, eating concerns, and hyperactivity. All accepted students are granted full tuition and guaranteed stipend support. Stipends may be given based on fellowships, research support, or teaching assistant positions. Students must also complete a preliminary examination, empirical research paper, clinical internship, dissertation, and a final exam.

  • East Tennessee State University

    Johnson City, TN



    East Tennessee State University's Department of Psychology offers a doctoral Clinical Concentration. The program aims to provide clinical psychology for rural behavioral health. Students shadow psychologists and health care practitioners in health care settings. Students can also expect to participate in clinical activities including case management and diagnostic interviewing. Students are given work placements in the university's Behavioral Health and Wellness Clinic.

    The curriculum includes courses in Clinical Interviewing Techniques, Grant Writing in the Psychological Sciences, and Personality and Psychotherapy Models. Students also complete clinical clerkships, internships, externships, practica, preceptorships, and topical seminars. Coursework includes a doctoral preliminary examination project and doctoral dissertation.

  • Fairleigh Dickinson University

    Teaneck, NJ



    Fairleigh Dickinson University's doctoral Clinical Psychology program requires four years of full-time study, plus an internship. Degree requirements include courses in Personality Assessment, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, and Psychopharmacology. Faculty members conduct annual evaluations of student performance based on instructor-submitted reports.

    All students participate in clinical and research in their first, second, and third years of study. Practica involve supervised ongoing projects such as published psychological articles and professional meeting presentations. Students can also expect to spend the last year of research on their doctoral dissertation. A comprehensive test completes the degree program.

  • Harvard University

    Cambridge, MA



    Harvard University's Clinical Psychology program emphasizes research, particularly in severe psychopathology. The curriculum meets requirements for Massachusetts clinical psychology licensure. Required courses include Contemporary Topics in Psychopathology; Cultural, Racial, and Ethnic Bases of Behavior; and Psychometric Theory. Essential coursework consists of a first-year project, a second-year project, a general exam, and a thesis prospectus and defense.

    Students also engage in clinical practice in psychological assessment and treatment and a Developmental Pathology seminar. The program also holds a fortnightly clinical psychology speaker series. The program culminates in a year-long clinical internship. The degree typically takes five years to complete.

  • Idaho State University

    Pocatello, ID



    Idaho State University's Clinical Psychology program requires four full-time years of coursework, research, and practice on campus. Students can choose either specialized research mentored by one faculty member, or various research exposure mentored by multiple faculty members.

    Coursework is required in all areas of human function, including biological, cognitive-affective, behavioral, and developmental differences. Students must also complete statistics, methodological, and clinical coursework. The plan of study includes courses in Advanced Ethics, Cultural Diversity/History, and Psychodiagnostics. The fifth year of the program is spent in a clinical internship. A thesis and dissertation are required for completion of the degree.

  • Louisiana State University

    Baton Rouge, LA



    Louisiana State University's doctoral Clinical Psychology program offers tracks in clinical child psychology and neuropsychology. Students can earn a minor in an area such as Applied Behavior Analysis as well. Course requirements include Developmental Disorders and Psychopathology of Behavior Therapy and Professional Considerations in Psychology.

    Students must attend practicum meetings and shadow senior graduate student therapists. Once they complete at least 24 credit hours of practicum experience, students can move on to their one-year culminating internship. The degree program is to be completed on a full-time basis within seven years with a master's thesis and doctoral dissertation.

  • Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

    Evanston, IL



    Northwestern University offers a doctoral Clinical Psychology program through its Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL. Required courses include Behavior Neuroscience, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and Diversity in Psychological Science and Practice. The degree program also provides research lab participation, clinical practice, and a culminating full-time year-long clinical internship.

    Coursework milestones include a Research Qualifying Paper, Clinical Qualifying Examination, and the doctoral dissertation. Students typically complete the program within six years. Since Fall 2018, the program has been fully funded, meaning all students admitted receive 100 percent tuition remission, health insurance, and monthly payment.

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