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Grad Program: Clinical Psychology

Basic Information

Clinical Psychology is a division of the study and practice of psychology. As a discipline, its primary focus is on the practical application of psychological research and methods. Clinical Psychology is grounded in both theory and research. Psychologists seek to find methods of testing and understanding psychological conditions. Whether it’s helping to diagnose a mental disorder or conducting research, programs offer many opportunities for research and fieldwork.

Students learn critical theory in biological, cognitive and social behaviors. They also study developmental psychology, personality, and psychotherapy theories. Programs are strongly based around research methodology.

Research and practice provide invaluable experience for students. The integration of class work with clinical experience and research allows the student exposure to a variety of disorders and methods.

Some schools have recently offered students the option of having a concentration within the field of Clinical Psychology. The majority of students are still choosing to follow the traditional clinical track but schools have begun to offer specialized areas such as neuropsychology, psychopathology, psychodynamics, assessment (cognitive evaluation and projective testing), family therapy, group therapy, behavioral therapy, developmental psychology, and a variety of others. Most programs are at least four years in duration, much of which is spent in the clinic doing research.

Degree Information

There are several options for graduate degrees in Clinical Psychology. Students who wish for a practitioner-based degree, with less focus on research, can pursue the Psy.D. (Doctor of Psychology). Students with more research-focused interests can pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Both degrees take around 5 years to complete and are highly competitive. Students can also earn a terminal M.S. degree in Clinical Psychology, usually within two to three years.

Some students choose to pursue their Clinical Psychology interests by earning a Master’s in Social Work (M.S.W.). Students should think carefully about their interests and career goals before selecting a program.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program
  • What kinds of research are the faculty and students doing? What kinds of papers have they published?
  • What kind of research opportunities will be open to you?
  • Will you be required to choose a specialization?
  • Is your field of interest available?
  • What is the relationship between the program and the community? Are there opportunities for outreach, internships, paid work, or volunteer work?
  • How successful are the graduates in finding jobs? What kinds of jobs do they pursue?

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