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
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'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.
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.
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'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'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'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'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'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
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.
Ohio State University's Clinical Psychology program is designed to be completed in six years. The first year is spent on core curriculum and a first-year project. The core curriculum includes courses in Lifespan Developmental Psychopathology, Psychometrics, and Quantitative Methods.
Students continue following the core curriculum in their second year, in addition to commencing clinical training and completing the program's master's portion. The third year includes a candidacy exam, while the fourth and fifth include advanced practice, research activities, and completion of a dissertation. During the sixth and final year of the program, graduates complete an external internship.
Purdue University's Clinical Psychology doctoral program builds a clinical psychology foundation through didactic courses and seminars. Courses include Adult Behavior Disorders, Developmental Psychopathology, and Intellectual Assessment. Research skills are cultivated through a preliminary exam, first-year project, clinical science research apprenticeship, master's thesis, and dissertation.
Students gain hands-on clinical experience through internal and external practice. They are expected to engage in ongoing programs on a supervised research team continuously. Individual faculty members determine who is admitted to their research labs, so students should identify a potential major professor on their application. The program capstone is a required year-long clinical internship.
Saint Louis University's Clinical Psychology program offers the following specializations: clinical child psychology, clinical neuropsychology, health psychology, trauma psychology, and sports psychology. Each area of study requires two to three years of coursework and practice, along with a dissertation or research project.
Required courses include Human Diversity, Memory & Cognition, and Neuroscience. Students must also take research methods and statistics courses. Doctoral students publicly present and defend their dissertation, and must also complete a clinical psychology internship. The program generally takes four full-time years to complete, including summer terms. The fourth and final year is spent solely on the internship and dissertation research.
The doctoral Clinical Psychology program at St. John's University offers a general clinical psychology track or a specialized track in clinical child psychology. Course offerings include Behavior Therapy, Cultural Diversity in Psychological Services, and Objective Personality Tests. The degree program requires four years of full-time study and practicum experience.
At the university's training clinic, students build skills in diagnostic interviewing, psychological assessment, and psychological intervention. Students go on to complete clinical externships in the New York metropolitan area. Students must also complete a clinical internship, comprehensive exam, dissertation, and master's thesis.
Stanford University's Clinical Psychology doctoral program designed around six core competencies. These competencies include Ethics and Legal Matters, Individual and Cultural Diversity, and Scholarly Inquiry. Didactic course offerings include Grand Rounds in Psychiatry and Professional Issues Workshop.
Students can complete one of two training programs: Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology or Clinical Psychology, aka the Adult Program. In either program, fellows spend approximately 20 hours per week on patient care. The Adult Program Fellowship lasts one year, while the Child Psychology Fellowship has a research component and takes two years to complete.
Stony Brook University's doctoral program in Clinical Psychology is best suited to students interested in pursuing academic or research-based careers. Each student must complete two research projects by the end of their third year. Almost every student presents papers at professional conferences and publishes at least one article in an academic journal. During their second year, students gain clinical training at the university's Krasner Psychological Center. Many students complete externships and work as teaching assessments. Students are also required to complete at least two semesters of undergraduate instruction. Most complete the degree program, including a year of internship, in six years.
The admission process for Temple University's doctoral Clinical Psychology program involves on-campus interviews. Though 400 to 500 applications are submitted each year, only eight to 10 students are accepted for each incoming class. Core required courses include Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies; Multicultural Issues in Clinical Psychology; and Social, Cognitive, and Developmental Aspects of Behavior. Students also take two Psychological Assessment courses, four Clinical Practica, an Assessment Practicum, and a Ph.D. Internship Course. An internship is required, as well as a preliminary exam by the end of the third year of study. The program typically takes six full-time years to complete.
Texas Tech University's Department of Psychological Sciences building houses the university's Psychology Clinic, where students gain practicum training. Students can also seek clinical training at sites such as the Children's Advocacy Center of the South Plains and StarCare.
The program curriculum includes courses in Biological Bases of Psychological Function, Multicultural Counseling, and Social Psychology and Function. Students complete a second-year research project. They begin doctoral dissertation work during the program's fourth year and complete an internship in its sixth and final year.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers an interdisciplinary Medical/Clinical Psychology program. Students have opportunities to spend time in interdisciplinary centers and departments, such as the Center for Aging, the Civitan International Research Center, and the Consortium for Substance Abuse Research and Training. Clinical training begins in the summer of the program's first year and continues until the culminating internship begins. Course requirements include Brain and Cognition, Personality Assessment, and Principles of Scientific Integrity. The program requires a master's thesis and doctoral dissertation. Students are also expected to complete projects and papers for presentation and publication.
Students complete the bulk of their applied clinical training during their second and third years of the program. Additional program requirements include a first-year research proposal, masters-level research, graduate student instruction, and a dissertation. Students spend four to six years in residence plus one year at a clinical internship site.
The University of California, Los Angeles' Clinical Psychology program aims to train graduates to "[reduce] the burden of mental illness and problems in living." Through faculty expertise and practicum resources, students can specialize in areas such as assessment and intervention with distressed couples; family processes; and stress and coping. Course offerings include Emotion, Healthy Aging, and Fear and Anxiety: Etiology, Course, and Treatment.
Throughout the program, students complete clinical casework on campus or in external sites. They also engage in ongoing research activity leading to the doctoral dissertation. The program takes six full-time years to complete, including at least four years in residence and one year in a clinical internship.
The University of Connecticut's Clinical Psychology program is a competitive program to which only six to nine students are permitted each year. The program uses a mentor model, and applicants must nominate a faculty advisor on their application. The Clinical Psychology program of study incorporates courses in Foundations of Neuropsychology, Methods of Child and Family Psychotherapy, and The Psychology of Ethnic Minorities. The degree requires a doctoral dissertation, master's thesis, written a comprehensive exam, and a year-long internship. The program can be completed in five full-time years, plus the year of internship.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides a Child-Community Psychology doctoral training program. In their first year of study, students take foundational courses in behavior and intervention. First-year students are also encouraged to participate in research activities. Second-year students must take an assessment course, and typically engage in a year-long practicum and continuing research.
Students design the remainder of their plan of study with an academic advisor. Throughout the program, students are encouraged to participate in weekly diversity and research presentation meetings. Graduates complete the program with at least one semester of teaching experience, a clinical internship, and masters and doctoral theses.
The Doctoral of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology from the University of Miami provides clinical training with an emphasis on adults, children, pediatrics, and health. Course requirements and electives cover clinical areas such as assessment, intervention, and psychopathology. Students can expect to read and review course literature from a scientific perspective.
Each student in the program spends at least two semesters on an evidence-based clinical practicum. Graduates also complete a master's thesis, dissertation, and grant-funded research activities. Examples of past dissertation topics have included stress management among breast cancer patients and the relationship between peer victimization and adolescent depression.
The University of Mississippi's Clinical Program typically takes five to six years to complete beyond the bachelor's degree. In other words, students earn a master's degree during the program period. Hands-on opportunities in the program include work as research assistants and on clinical supervision teams, later followed by clinical practice with clients and community practicum experiences. The first two years of the program involve foundational psychology courses and clinical research activities. The third and fourth years emphasize electives, practica, and research. The final year of the program is spent completing a clinical internship.
The University of Missouri - St. Louis offers the lowest tuition and fees of all programs on this list. Its Clinical Psychology program allows students to select specialized research topics and work closely with faculty experts. Course offerings include Existential Issues in Clinical Psychology; Gender, Sexuality, and Mental Health; and Psychopharmacology.
The program also leaves room for students to pursue independent research activities such as conference presentations and journal publications. Students participate in practica through the university's Community Psychological Service. They also complete a clinical clerkship in the St. Louis community.
The University of Nevada, Reno offers a Clinical Psychology program with a strong emphasis on behaviorism. The research-oriented program involves students in research projects throughout, including a master's thesis or project and a doctoral dissertation. The typical curriculum includes courses in Diversity, Ethics and Professional Issues, and Learning Theory. Students also go through practical training in assessment, case formulation, and diagnostic interviewing. They then go on to work with clients at the university's Psychological Service Center. Students can choose to sit on specialized casework teams such as the Depression and Anxiety Team or the Domestic Violence Treatment Program.
The University of New Mexico's doctoral Clinical Psychology program offers program emphases in Diversity/Multicultural Psychology, Health Psychology, and Quantitative Methods. The core requirements are the same for all UNM doctoral psychology programs. Clinical psychology students take additional courses including Cognitive and Neuropsychological Evaluation, Diversity/Multicultural Issues, and Personality Assessment.
The program offers various practicum experience options in sites such as correctional facilities, private practices, and research institutes. The UNM Psychology program research strengths' lie in areas such as addictions and drug abuse, eating disorders, and sexual victimization.
The Clinical Psychology program at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro is structured to be completed in five or six years, plus a required year of internship. During their first year, students take foundational courses in adult and child intervention and psychopathology, integrative psychology areas, and research methods and statistics.
During the second year, students generally take an ethics course and practicum training and complete their master's thesis. The third year of the program may include practica, seminars, and independent research. The remaining two or three years are spent on an examination, remaining coursework and seminars, client contact hours, advanced practice, and an internship.
Doctoral Clinical Psychology students at the University of North Dakota study topics including behavior pathology, experimental design, and professional issues and ethics. Course offerings include Advanced Therapeutic Interventions, Cognitive Psychology, and Theories of Learning. Coursework in research design and statistics is also required.
Students complete up to four years of supervised practicum training followed by a year-long internship and completion of a master's thesis, dissertation, and comprehensive exam. Students also have opportunities to earn stipends working as part-time graduate teaching assistants. The degree program is generally completed in four to six years.
The University of Virginia offers research-based specialized training in clinical psychology and school psychology. Students can follow a general clinical or clinical-school track. The program is intended as applied professional psychology training rather than academic psychology. Course requirements include Exceptional Children, Individual Psychotherapy, and Social Basis of Behavior. Students in the program are awarded a "Licensed Clinical Psychologist" credential along with the doctoral degree. Students entering with a bachelor's degree must complete five full-time years of study, including an internship. Students who hold a master's degree must complete four full-time years, with a minimum of three years in residency.
The University of Washington's Clinical Psychology doctoral program takes an "Apprentice-style" approach to instruction. Students in the program gain specialized training by working with faculty in specialty areas. These areas include brain-behavior relations, community interventions, and neuropsychology. The Clinical Psychology program offers two tracks: General Clinical and Child Clinical.
The curriculum includes courses in Anxiety Disorders, Assessment of Intelligence, and Methods in Suicide and Crisis Intervention. Students can choose to pursue independent studies in Affective Science, Behavioral Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, or Lifespan Development. Students can also expect to complete multiple clinical practica, directed psychological research, a master's thesis, and a doctoral dissertation. The program generally takes six to seven years to complete.
The University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee designed its Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology program to provide a broad, general psychology training. However, the program's research and clinical interests lie primarily in the areas of behavior therapy, neuroscience and neuropsychology, and pediatric and health psychology. Students, therefore, tend to leave the program with a focus in at least one of these areas. The program uses a mentor model, so each student has a specialized research supervisor. The curriculum includes courses in Developmental Psychology, Empirically Supported Interventions, and Experimental Design. The program takes six years to complete, including practica, an internship, and a dissertation.
Wayne State University's doctoral psychology program offers concentrations in child clinical psychology, community psychology, health psychology, and neuropsychology. The program's course series includes Ethical Issues in Clinical Psychology, Practicum in Therapeutic Interventions, and Psychopathology.
The year-round intensive program often requires 60 or more hours of students' time per week and, overall, requires three years of full-time study and an internship. Most students spend five years on a resident study before embarking on an internship for the duration of their sixth year. Students can also expect to complete a formal master's thesis or dissertation project.
Western Michigan University's doctor Clinical Psychology program is designed to be completed in six years, with a doctoral internship as the sixth year. Program requirements include courses in Analysis of Abnormal Behavior and Cross-Cultural Psychology, plus electives such as Family Therapy and Skinner's Behaviorism.
Students earn a master's degree in the process of obtaining their Ph.D. The Ph.D. program incorporates advanced coursework, a comprehensive exam, a dissertation, an internship, practica, and a thesis. The 750-hour pre-masters practicum is to be completed at the university's Psychology Clinic. Students will also complete a 500-hour post-masters practicum. The 2000-hour pre-doctoral internship must take place in a healthcare setting.
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