Graduate Manual

Penn Psychology Graduate Manual

Graduate Group in Psychology




  • Laboratory rotations (Psychology 698) 3 course units (3 c.u.), or supervised research (Psychology 699)
  • Three course units (3 c.u.) of Proseminars (Psychology 600)
  • Statistics (Psychology 611) 1 c.u.
  • Electives

First-Year Research (Psychology 698 or Psychology 699)

Each first-year student registers for either three c.u. of Psychology 698, Laboratory Rotations, or three c.u. of Psychology 699, Independent Research. Finalizing between these two options must take place no later than six weeks from the first day of classes in the fall semester. Both options are designed to introduce students to independent research, either by focusing on a single project in one lab (699) or by having three shorter research projects, each in a different lab (698). Advisors for the 699 project and the first two laboratory rotations must be members of Psychology Graduate Group. With approval of the graduate chair, the third rotation may be conducted in the laboratory of an appropriate researcher outside of the graduate group. Please note that only Graduate Group members may supervise doctoral dissertations.

For both options, students are evaluated on their research at the end of the spring semester. Evaluation consists of both written and oral components. In the case of Psychology 699, the student is required to write a paper based on the first-year activities, and to be examined on it orally by a committee consisting of the advisor and at least two other faculty members. The Graduate Group Chair (also referred to as the Director of Graduate Studies) chooses the additional faculty members for the committee based on suggestions from the advisor, who first consults with the student. Although the student writes the paper, the advisor should offer at least general recommendations regarding its form and content. The 699 papers are typically 5000 to 7500 words, excluding references, tables, and figures. This is a rough guideline, however, and students should discuss with their advisor the appropriate length, taking into consideration sub-disciplinary norms or requirements for the journals where they intend to submit the paper. At the oral, the student should be prepared to discuss the relevance of the chosen problem to the general area of research, and the reasons for attaching the problem in this particular manner. The student must submit one copy of the 699 paper to each committee member and an additional copy for the Department’s files. The Graduate Group Chair will establish the deadline for submission at the beginning of the fall semester and this deadline will be published in the Graduate Calendar. Individual faculty members may not grant extensions to this deadline. Students who do not submit the 699 paper by the deadline will not be in good standing (see Chapter 2).  At the end of the exam, the committee members should make every effort to reach agreement on a grade, but an average grade may be reported if necessary. Grades should be based primarily on the written paper and secondarily on the oral examination.

For Psychology 698, the student is to submit two rotation reports of 3,000 to 4,000 words each, at the same time that the 699 report is due. Students who do not submit the 698 reports by the deadline listed in the Graduate Calendar will not be in good standing and individual faculty members may not grant extensions to the deadline. Like the 699, there will also be an oral examination by a committee consisting of at least three faculty members, including the first two rotation advisors, a graduate group member who is not the student’s rotation advisor(s) and optionally, the third rotation advisor. The graduate group chair chooses the committee member who is not one of the rotation advisors. The oral component will focus on one of the two rotation projects. Only a written component is required for the third rotation and will be due no later than the third week after the start of the student's third semester. The third rotation advisor will evaluate the written component. The student must submit one copy of each rotation report to each committee member and an additional copy for the Department’s files. Students who choose the 698 option would determine, by mutual consent, the faculty with whom they would carry out their rotations. It is advisable to approach faculty about serving in this capacity as soon as possible. If a student cannot find three rotation supervisors by the end of this six-week period, they must do a 699.

For more information, please click the following link:

Guidelines for 698/699 and Major Area Exam Papers

Proseminars (Psychology 600)

A one-credit unit (1 c.u.) proseminar is a course that meets four hours each week during the entire semester. A one-half credit unit (0.5 c.u.) proseminar is a course that meets two hours each week during the entire semester, or four hours each week for one-half of the semester. No specific undergraduate courses or other proseminars are prerequisites for any of the proseminars. Proseminars have a significant evaluative component, culminating in a grade. This evaluation can take the form of an open or closed book examination, an oral examination, papers, or combination of these. A student who wishes to be reexamined must submit a written request to the Graduate Group Chair within one week of the distribution of grades for the proseminar. Students must take three c.u.'s of proseminars, ideally to be completed in the first year. However, the prosem requirement must be completed by the end of the student’s second year. Students must take one c.u. in each of the following broad areas: the Brain, the Individual and the Group, and the Mind.

Title CU
Cognitive Neuroscience 0.5 CU Brain
Biological Basis of Behavior 0.5 CU Brain
Behavioral Neuroscience 0.5 CU Brain
Memory and Learning 0.5 CU Brain
Neuroendocrinology 0.5 CU Brain
Social Behavior and Biology 0.5 CU Brain/Individual & Group
Social Psychology 0.5 CU Individual & Group
Psychopathology 1 CU Individual & Group
Social, Emotional Development 0.5 CU Individual & Group
Judgment and Decision 0.5 CU Individual & Group/Mind
Human Memory 0.5 CU Mind
Animal Behavior 0.5 CU Mind
Language 0.5 CU Mind
Cognitive Development 0.5 CU Mind
Perception 0.5 CU Mind

Quantitative Methods Requirement

Students will ordinarily take statistics (Psychology 611) in the fall semester of their first year, but the course must be passed by the end of the second year (B- or better). This is a basic course focusing on regression methods; students with a strong prior background in statistics may petition the graduate chair to substitute a more advanced course (e.g., econometrics). A second course in quantitative methods must be taken by the end of the second year. The second course should be chosen from a list of approved courses maintained by the Graduate Group Chair.


Deviations from the normal first-year program require the prior approval of the Graduate Group Chair. Students wishing to deviate from the normal program must write a letter stating their reasons in detail.

Rev. 8.22.2011



The standard letter grading system employed by the Graduate Division of Arts and Sciences will be used to evaluate performance in all graduate courses in psychology. The summary at the end of this section lists the verbal equivalents of these grades as they apply to our graduate program.


As noted in the next section, a student must be in good academic standing to remain in the graduate program. For a student to be in good standing at the end of the first year, the student must have a grade of A- or better for at least one proseminar (or proseminar equivalent) or on the student’s Independent Research (698 or 699) and have submitted the 698/699 report by the deadline listed in the Graduate Calendar. In addition, the student may have no more than one c.u. at a grade of B- or worse. However, at its spring meeting, the Graduate Group may vote to allow a student who is not in good standing to remain in the program on a provisional basis, subject to significant improvement in grades. The expectations for remaining in the program on this basis must be approved by the graduate group chair. In subsequent years, good academic standing means having: no more than 1/8 of all c.u. with grades of B- or worse, and no less than 1/8 of all c.u. with grades of A- or better. (Note: Our students generally take eight c.u.'s in their first year and six c.u.'s in both their second and third years. To remain in full-time standing, a student must take at least three c.u.'s in each semester that they are not on dissertation status.)

M.A. Degree

Although the Graduate Group does not have a Master's program, a student who has successfully completed the first year program, and 8 c.u.'s, may apply for an M.A. Degree. The paper associated with a 699 is viewed by the Graduate Group as being similar to a Master’s Thesis. Students taking the 698 (Rotation) would be expected to write a research paper based on one of the rotation projects to be considered for a M.A. This paper is expected to be written as if it were being submitted to a journal (e.g., APA style) and must be evaluated Pass/Fail by the rotation advisor. This additional paper is not required for a 698 unless the student wishes to apply for an M.A. Degree. If the Graduate Group asks a student to leave the graduate program, it also decides whether the student's performance to date merits the award of a terminal M.A. degree.

Summary of Grades and Grade Requirements

A+ Outstanding
A Excellent
A- Very Good
B+ Good
B Minimally Acceptable
B- Poor
C Failure

To be in good academic standing in our program, at least 1/8th of student's grades must be A- or better, and no more than 1/8th of student's grades may be B- or below.

Rev 8.22.2011


Proseminars and Quantitative Requirement

By the end of the second year, students are expected to have satisfactorily completed (grade of B- or better) the required proseminars (3 c.u.’s), statistics, and a second quantitative methods course (see Chapter 2 for specifics). For the proseminars, one c.u. must be in each of the three areas: the Brain, the Individual and Group, and the Mind. Once these requirements are met (and not before), a student may proceed to take their Qualifying Examination, as described below. A student who has not fulfilled these requirements by the end of the second year may be asked to leave the graduate program by the Graduate Group.

Total Number of Credit Units (C.U.'s) for the Ph.D.

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences does not have a minimum number of credits necessary for graduation. However, the Psychology Graduate Group typically specifies a minimum of 20 c.u.'s before a student enters "dissertation" status. Of these 20 c.u.'s, a total of 9 c.u.'s must come from coursework. Coursework c.u.'s include: the 3 c.u.'s of proseminars, 2 c.u.'s of quantitative analysis/statistics, and 3 c.u.'s of the first year research projects (psychology 698 or psychology 699), for a total of 8 c.u.'s. Thus, at least one additional c.u. of coursework is required, which can come from graduate seminars, additional proseminars or additional quantitative coursework. Psych 999 Independent Research does not count as coursework but does count toward the total of 20 c.u.'s expected as part of reaching dissertation status. It is possible for a student to complete their coursework and research in fewer than 20 c.u.'s. In this case, permission must be obtained from the student's advisory committee and the Graduate Group Chair. Credit may be transferred toward the Ph.D. from a master's degree or other work completed in a post-baccalaureate degree program, upon recommendation by the graduate chair and approval of the graduate dean. To remain in full-time status, a student must sign up for a minimum of three c.u.'s each semester. The University of Pennsylvania limits the amount of time a student may take to receive the Ph.D. to 10 years.


Students are expected to continue their research throughout their graduate careers. When a student takes research courses (Psychology 999), grades on these courses will be assigned by the advisor, with the advice of the student's committee, based on written or oral reports of the student's research.

Teaching Experience

Students supported by the School of Arts and Sciences are required to assist in the teaching of one undergraduate course per semester of support. This rule does not apply to students in their first year. Therefore, the maximum number of semesters any student is required to teach is seven. Students who are supported by external funds generally do not have to serve as a teaching assistant. However, all students, including those with external support for their entire academic career, must assist for at least two semesters. Students who are supported by external funds may choose which year they will serve as TAs. That is, a student may serve as a TA in a year he or she is supported with external funds in order to be excused from serving as a TA in another year (for instance, a student may not want to serve as a TA in the year of his or her major area exams). The Psychology Graduate Group may, from time to time, adjust these requirements. Students should refer to their offer letters to determine the TA policies in force when they matriculated. The two-semester minimum is intended to ensure that all graduate students acquire teaching experience. This typically includes examination construction and grading, consultation with individual undergraduates, and classroom teaching. Each teaching assistant is expected to work an average of 10 hours per week during the term, including class attendance, and to do no more than 40 hours grading any single exam. A doctoral student is expected to be able to learn (and assist in teaching) material covered in any of our undergraduate courses.

Graduate Seminars

Whereas the proseminar requirement is designed to provide students with broad exposure to the field of psychology, graduate seminars are designed to provide deep specialized knowledge in specific areas. Graduate seminars will be offered regularly on a variety of topics, and students are expected to participate in some of these seminars (See section above on total number of courses required for the Ph.D.).

The Qualifying Examination in Areas of High Competence

A Qualifying Examination, otherwise known as the Ph.D. preliminary exam, may be taken at any point during the first three years of residence. Ideally, the exam should be taken in the latter half of the second year or the beginning of the third year. However, the exam must be taken by the end of the sixth semester of residence. If a student fails to take the examination by this deadline, the student will be considered to have failed the examination, unless the Graduate Group decides to extend the deadline. If the student fails to retake the examination by the start of graduate classes at the beginning of the seventh semester in residence, the student will be placed on a mandatory leave of absence. The leave will extend until at least January 1, at which time the student may then return to the program by taking the examination. If one or more members of the student's committee is unavailable to grade the examination it is, nonetheless, the student's responsibility to submit whatever written documents are part of the examination by the deadline.

No later than six months before the examination is to be completed, the student must submit an initial examination proposal to his or her Advisory Committee, with a copy to the Graduate Chair. (See Chapter 4, on administrative details for a discussion of the general function and composition of the Advisory Committee.) After a period of consultation (with input from the Graduate Chair, if needed) which should not exceed four weeks, the student and committee will submit a final proposal to the Graduate Chair. The Advisory Committee and the Graduate Chair must approve the final plan, taking into account the student's preferences. The plan typically includes a list of readings for which the student is primarily responsible. All final proposals will be available (from the graduate chair) for reading by any faculty member or graduate student. The examination should be planned so that, over the course of the academic year, the student should be able to spend roughly as much time on research as on preparing for the examination.

The Advisory Committee chair must notify the Graduate Group Chair in writing whether the student has passed or failed this examination. A student has at most two opportunities to pass the Qualifying Examination. If a second examination is necessary, the student must submit a new proposal within two weeks of the failure of the first exam. A student who fails the qualifying exam for the second time will be asked to leave the graduate program. Passing requires unanimity of three committee members, or if the committee has more than three members, a majority (not a tie).

The purpose of the qualifying exam is to demonstrate competence as a specialist in an area of psychology. A student who passes the exam in a field should be qualified to teach courses in that field at all levels. Although students may have more than one field, the fields are usually related. An examination always has an oral component in which the committee asks questions. A short presentation may be helpful but is not required. Before the oral, the student may do the written component by taking a time-limited examination, by writing papers, or by a combination of papers and time-limited examination. For a time-limited examination, the committee makes up questions; it may choose questions from a larger set of possible questions submitted by the student. If the student writes only papers, the examination typically consists of two papers of journal article or grant proposal length.

While preparing for the written exam or writing the papers, the student should consult frequently with his or her advisor and with other committee members. Advisors and committee members may provide general comments on drafts, especially about literature that should be included in a review, but not close editing. Their involvement should not be so great as to warrant the status of co-author or co-principal-investigator. Because this is an examination, it must reflect the student's knowledge, some of which may be acquired from input while working on the exam.

Once students have successfully completed qualifying exams, they must submit a dissertation proposal to their committee. The dissertation proposal should briefly describe (a) the gap in knowledge the thesis research will fill, (b) the research question(s) that will be answered in the thesis work, (c) the study design(s) or research methods, and (d) the hypotheses the student plans to test (if appropriate to the study design). The proposal should also include an outline of the chapters that will be included in the dissertation. The proposal should be no longer than 2-4 pages, double-spaced. The dissertation proposal is not formally defended, but it should be discussed with the committee, and the committee's approval of the proposal should be communicated by the committee chair to the DGS. This discussion can occur in person or by email. The timeline for submission of the proposal is flexible. In some cases, the student might find it helpful to draft and discuss the proposal shortly after qualifying exams are completed to ensure that the committee is in agreement about the work the student will undertake. In other cases, the student might submit a proposal early in the 5th year once she or he has a better sense of some of the results. In this case, the proposal is meant to ensure that the student and committee members are in agreement that the work the student has completed and will include in each chapter is sufficient to constitute a dissertation. Regardless of when the student chooses to submit the proposal (i.e., before vs. after some or all of the data have been collected or studies have been completed), it is important that the student communicate in person or online with the committee about (1) what the thesis work will be and (2) how the thesis itself is shaping up and whether committee members still agree that the completed work will be adequate to earn a PhD from our graduate group. The first of these discussions would ideally happen early in the 4th year whereas the second of these discussions would ideally happen early in the 5th year.

For more information, please click the following link:

Guidelines for 698/699 and Major Area Exam Papers

The Thesis

The Ph.D. thesis is the single most important component of the graduate program. It is in most respects like a set of high quality publishable papers reporting the results of the student's research. The purpose of the Ph.D. thesis is to communicate the results of the student's doctoral research. The thesis is the place where the student demonstrates his or her competence in the conduct and communication of scientific research. It is not the place where the student proves that he or she has worked long and diligently on research by recounting all those activities that he or she thought at the time might be relevant. It is, in short, not a special literary form, unique in that it is written expressly not to be read.

A student's Advisory Committee will function as the dissertation committee. It will evaluate and approve the dissertation proposal. The student should present the completed thesis to the advisory committee no less than two weeks before the dissertation defense.

University rules limit the time for completing a dissertation. If the dissertation is not completed in time, the student must re-take the qualifying examination.

Dissertation Seminar

A dissertation seminar must be given by each student sometime prior to the final approval of the thesis, but after a substantial part of the research has been completed. This presentation will be open to all members of the Graduate Group; the student's Advisory Committee is expected to attend, as well as other interested faculty and students. The seminar will be scheduled wherever possible in the Wednesday or Friday afternoon "open slots" to maximize attendance. The student must supply the Graduate Group Chair no later than 10 days before the seminar is to take place with an abstract of the seminar (100-150 words).

Either a member of the advisory committee or the Graduate Group Chair will preside at the seminar. The student will be given a more or less uninterrupted hour to present the research, following which there will be substantive questions and discussion. There is no necessary connection between what transpires at the dissertation seminar and approval of the dissertation, which is still entirely in the hands of the Advisory Committee. However, before finally approving the dissertation, the Advisory Committee will be expected to give due consideration to points raised by the audience at the dissertation seminar.

Dissertation Defense

The Graduate Division of Arts and Sciences will be notified that a student's dissertation has been approved only when the following sequence of events has been completed: first, the Graduate Group Chair confirms the occurrence of the dissertation seminar; and second, the student's committee meets as a whole with the student to conduct a Dissertation Defense. At the conclusion of the Defense, the committee must decide to:

  • Accept the dissertation as submitted
  • Accept the dissertation with minor changes to be supervised by the advisor (possibly in consultation with other committee members)
  • Reject the dissertation

Acceptance, or acceptance with revision, requires unanimity of three committee members, or, if the committee has more than three members, a majority (not a tie). Committee chairs should send the Graduate Group Chair a note specifying when the committee met, who attended, and what decision the committee reached. If the committee rejects the Dissertation, then it must meet again after a new version has been submitted to the committee. Students are required to submit a final copy of the dissertation to the Psychology Library. This is in addition to the copies required by the University's Graduate Division Office. Students are also required to pay all bills owed to the Department.

Rev 3.28.2011


The Chair of the Graduate Group is responsible for the administration of the Graduate Program. In practice, the Graduate Group Chair works closely with the Department Chair.


Advisors, who must be members of the Graduate Group in Psychology, take primary responsibility for the research activities of their students, and advise them on other matters pertinent to their graduate careers. A student without a regular advisor becomes automatically the advisee of the Graduate Group Chair. In the course of a graduate career, there are two occasions when a student might be without a regular advisor:

  • At the beginning of the first year, a period of six weeks may elapse before the selection of the research supervisor for the 699 project or 698 rotations.
  • A period of less than one month during a change in field or switch from one advisor to another within the same field. Such short advisorless periods are of no significance.

The student or advisor may unilaterally terminate the advising relationship at any time, except during the second semester of the first year. When this occurs, the Graduate Group Chair should be immediately informed of this fact, with appropriate explanations. Following termination of an advising relationship, it is expected that the student will be able to make satisfactory arrangements for a new advisor within one month. During this one month period, the student and the Graduate Group Chair should work together to find a new advisor. If the student continues to be advisorless after this one-month period, the Graduate Group Chair may convene a meeting of the Graduate Group for the purpose of deciding if the student is to be allowed to continue in the graduate program. Such a meeting must be called within six months of the termination of the advising relationship.

Advisory Committees

Beginning with the second year in residence, every graduate student will have an Advisory Committee. The general function of the Advisory Committee is to oversee all aspects of the student's education after the first year. To that end, the committee as a group will meet with the student at least once each academic year in order to review progress, discuss problems, and approve plans for the coming year. It is the responsibility of the student and the Advisory Committee chair to see that such a meeting is scheduled. At the discretion of the committee chair, Advisory Committee meetings may take place more frequently.

After each meeting, the Advisory Committee chair will write a brief report summarizing the conclusions of the committee; a copy of this report will be sent to the Graduate Group Chair. It will be appropriate in such a report to comment on unusual achievements, or to discuss current deficiencies and potential problems.

In the student's third year, the Advisory Committee will set and evaluate the Qualifying Examination. After completion of this examination, the committee will evaluate the student's dissertation proposal and, eventually, the completed dissertation.

Each Advisory Committee will consist of at least three members of the Graduate Group. (Co-advisors count as one, not two.) Additional members of the committee need not be members of the Graduate Group or even of the standing faculty. The committee must have an advisor and a chair. The chair cannot be the advisor. The advisor and the chair must be faculty members in the Graduate Group. Except for the student's advisor, the Graduate Group Chair, who will be guided primarily by the recommendations of the student and the advisor, appoints all members of the Advisory Committee. In appointing Advisory Committees, the Graduate Group Chair will also make an effort to see to it that a number of different but relevant points of view are represented on the committee, and that committee assignments are distributed as evenly as possible across the faculty.

Duration of Financial Support

Beginning with students admitted in fall, 2009, the Department commits itself to support each graduate student for five years of work (the level of support for students admitted in prior years is as indicated in their offer letter). The Department expects full time effort in return for its support during the five years of the program. Thus, students may not engage in outside employment while on departmental support. In exceptional circumstances, such outside employment may be in the educational interest of the student. If the student believes this to be so, the student should apply in writing to the Graduate Group Chair for permission to take such outside employment. The student should explain why the employment is in his or her educational interest. The Graduate Group Chair will consult with the student, his or her advisor, and committee before deciding on the merits of the case. Note that employment within the department and the university (including teaching) is considered “outside employment.”

The Psychology Graduate Group may, from time to time, adjust these requirements. Students should refer to their offer letters to determine the TA policies in force when they matriculated.

Exceptional Circumstances

Under some circumstances, students may apply for a leave of absence. To do so, the student must consult Graduate Rules and Regulations of the university, and inform the graduate chair in writing if they pursue this course.


Students who have a disability and are in need of reasonable accommodations should contact the Office of Student Disability Services.

Nondiscrimination Statement

The University of Pennsylvania values diversity and seeks talented students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds. The University of Pennsylvania does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, age, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected class status in the administration of its admissions, financial aid, educational or athletic programs, or other University-administered programs or in its employment practices. Questions or complaints regarding this policy should be directed to the Executive Director of the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs, Sansom Place East, 3600 Chestnut Street, Suite 228, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6106; or (215) 898-6993 (Voice) or (215) 898-7803 (TDD).

Rev 3.28.2011


The clinical training program, nested in the Department, is intended to prepare students for research/academic careers in Clinical Psychology, Psychopathology, or Personality. The Clinical Program Committee oversees the program and monitors the progress of students who are receiving clinical training. This committee consists of the Director of the Clinical Program, the Associate Director of the Clinical Program, other members of the faculty with clinical interests who are appointed by the Department of Psychology Chair in consultation with the Director of the Clinical Program, and one faculty member from the Dept. of Psychology whose interests are not in the clinical area. In addition, there is a non-voting student representative to the committee who participates in discussions that are not focused on an individual student. The program is accredited by the American Psychological Association. Information on our program's status may be confirmed by contacting the Committee on Accreditation, American Psychological Association, 750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242, telephone: 202-336-5979, e-mail:, website:

Program Requirements

Students who participate in the clinical training program fall under the same general academic requirements as other graduate students in the Department, but must, in addition:

1. Complete Psychology 810 (Psychodiagnostic Testing) and 811 (Psychodiagnostic Interviewing). These courses are taught every year, and are taken by clinical students during the summer after their first year in the program.

2. Gain first-hand experience with the phenomena of psychopathology, through some combination of observational, research, therapeutic, and diagnostic interactions. Completion of Psychology 815 (Introductory Practicum) and Psychology 820 (Advanced Practicum) is required. Students may begin taking Psychology 815 upon completion of Psychology 810 and 811. This is a nine-month practicum in assessment and consultation that is usually completed during the student's second year in the program. Psychology 820 (Advanced Practicum) begins in the third year, and gives students the opportunity to provide ongoing psychotherapy in a closely supervised setting. Practica generally require a 10- to 15-hour a week commitment. It is typically expected that students continue to carry their cases over the summer following a practicum. Most students are expected to continue to participate in advanced clinical practica throughout their remaining tenure in residence in the program. Without these additional years of practicum training, few students will have sufficient clinical contact hours and expertise to support an internship application.

There are a number of existing channels for practica both within the department and at external sites in Psychiatry or through other institutions. In addition, a student, in conjunction with members of his or her Advisory Committee and the Associate Director, may arrange for specialized practica at other sites. All practicum experiences must be coordinated with the Associate Director of Clinical Training. Students should also discuss with the Associate Director and their Advisory Committee any plans to undertake clinical work outside of organized practica and internship. Such activities are not covered by university liability insurance and need to be carefully considered. This policy holds even if a student is on leave of absence.

Students must complete a minimum of 3 years of practicum and must accrue a minimum of 450 direct service hours (assessment and intervention combined) prior to November 1st of the year in which they plan to apply for internship.  Students must also obtain ratings of at least "3" (Good) on every item of the last practicum evaluation prior to applying for internship.  A student who receives a rating of less than 3 on one or more items may petition the DCT for the right to apply to internship.

3. Complete 2 semesters of electives in Psychology 709 (Clinical Psychology Seminar). Some 709 seminars may meet other program distribution requirements as well as 709 requirements. Clinical seminars cover a wide range of possible clinical topics. Note that child clinical students take only 1 elective 709, as they are required to take a course on psychological assessment of children in place of their other elective course.

4. Complete 1 semester of 709 Empirically Supported Treatments. Dr. Chambless will normally teach this seminar every 3 years. It will appear on the student’s transcript as 1 credit unit of Psychology 709, but is in addition to the 2 semester credits of elective 709 clinical seminars listed above (#3).

5. Complete a 0.5 credit unit 709 seminar in Ethics and Professional Standards. Dr. Hunt will normally teach this seminar, which is an APA requirement, every 2 years. It will appear on the student's transcript as 0.5 credits of Psychology 709, but is in addition to the 2 semester credits of regular 709 clinical seminars listed above (#3).

6. Attend the Pan Clinical Seminars throughout residence in the Program. Pan Clinical Seminars are regular meetings of faculty and students involved in the Clinical Program, which are held approximately three times per semester.

7. Complete APA's breadth of training, research, and clinical training requirements. APA has a list of general requirements some of which can be fulfilled by a variety of potential courses, and others of which must be fulfilled by a specific course. What follows is a list of courses that clinical students must complete during their tenure here to fulfill APA's requirements. Note that fulfilling APA's requirements is necessary for licensure in almost all states, but may not be sufficient in all states. Note also that many of these courses will also fulfill departmental distribution requirements.

699 Research Project (3 c.u.)
611 Statistics (or another comparable course)
Various Another, more advanced statistics course as approved by the Director of Graduate Studies
704 Research Methods
600 Psychopathology
600 Social Psychology
600 Developmental (0.5 c.u. in Social & Emotional Development or Cognitive Development)
600 One c.u. of proseminars from the Department’s Brain Sector
600 One c.u. of proseminars from the Department’s Mind Sector
810 Psychological Assessment
811 Diagnostic Interviewing
815 Introductory Practicum in Assessment and Consultation
820 Advanced Practicum in Psychotherapy
No Credit Supervision Workshop

Ethics and Professional Standards (0.5 c.u.)

709 Empirically Supported Treatments
709 Complete 2 addition Clinical Seminars (1.0 c.u. each)

The courses listed above fulfill APA’s breadth requirements in the following categories:

  • Biological Aspects of Behavior
  • Cognitive and Affective Aspects of Behavior
  • Social Aspects of Behavior
  • Psychological Measurement
  • Research Methodology
  • Techniques of Data Analysis
  • Individual Differences in Behavior
  • Human Development
  • Dysfunctional Behavior or Psychopathology
  • Theories and Methods of Assessment and Diagnosis
  • Consultation and Supervision
  • Effective Intervention
  • Evaluating the Efficacy of Interventions
  • Professional Standards and Ethics

APA has two additional important areas of competence that students are expected to develop during their graduate training:

  • History and Systems of Psychology
  • Issues of Cultural and Individual Diversity that are Relevant to All of the Above

Both of these topic areas are integrated fully into the curriculum throughout all coursework, rather than being segregated in single, specific classes. Every 600 level proseminar reviews the development of the subfield over time. Every course in which it is appropriate touches on ways in which cultural and individual diversity affect the specific content areas being discussed. For example, the proseminar on Language touches on pidgins, patois, bilingualism, and language in the deaf. Psychopathology, Assessment, and Diagnostic Interviewing all review the empirical basis of how race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, religion and socio-economic status affect the development, expression, assessment, conceptualization, and treatment of psychopathology.

Taken together these clinical program requirements add up to 16.5 CU and fulfill all departmental coursework requirements as well. Add the 2 extra required CU of Clinical Seminars (709) and 1.5 CU of dissertation research, and it is easy for clinical students to satisfy all departmental requirements for coursework and credits. For a detailed description of how clinical students are to demonstrate they have achieved all competencies in each area required by APA, go to the clinical program home page section on Program Requirements at  Because our department is fortunate to be part of a diverse academic community, students will sometimes wish to take courses offered in other departments. In many cases, such courses can be used to fulfill either departmental or clinical program requirements. Any student with an interest in such a course should consult with the Director of Clinical Training about whether such a course can count towards fulfilling a specific requirement.

The Director and the Associate Director of Clinical Training will review annually students' progress in meeting breadth of training requirements and will provide students with feedback via the student's annual evaluation letter from the Clinical Program. Because a given course will not be offered every year, students need to plan their curriculum carefully to meet all requirements.

8. The internship. To obtain a letter from the Director of the Clinical Training Program certifying that he or she has completed the APA-accredited clinical program, the student must have successfully completed the aforementioned requirements and have completed a 1-year, full-time (2000-hour) clinical internship before graduation. (Some internships permit a 2-year program at 1000 hours each year, and this is acceptable to the program.) Successful completion in the case of coursework, like that of other Psychology graduate students, is defined in Chapter 2 of this manual. In the case of practicum work and internship, the determination of successful completion is based on the evaluation of the clinical supervisor(s). Before the program will support the student's application for internship, he or she must have achieved a minimal rating of "Good" (at least a 3 on a 1-5 scale) on each of the items of the Clinical Trainee Evaluation Form as rated by his or her supervisor in the final year of practicum training before the internship application.  Students who fail to meet this criterion (i.e. receive a rating of 2 or below on one or more items) may petition the DCT to be allowed to apply if they feel they are otherwise well qualified and prepared for internship.  Students must also complete a minimum of 3 years of practicum before leaving for internship, and must have accrued a minimum of 450 direct service hours (assessment and intervention combined) prior to November 1st of the year in which they plan to apply for internship.

Should the student choose to graduate before completing the internship, the Director will not be able to certify completion of the clinical program. In such cases, the Director will provide a letter covering all aspects of clinical training other than the completion of a clinical internship. The student will then need to provide evidence of satisfactory completion of an internship directly to the organization or body requesting information about the student's training program. The internship must be accredited by the American Psychological Association or, in unusual circumstances, not so accredited but approved by the Clinical Program Committee.

Role of the Advisory Committee

Students in the clinical program would be well advised to arrange that at least one member of their Advisory Committee (see Chapter 4) is a member of the Graduate Group who has had a substantial amount of clinical experience. The student's Advisory Committee, in consultation with the student, will map out an academic and clinical training program appropriate to the interests of the student and the standards of the Graduate Group. This will include meeting the requirements mentioned above.

Because the principal focus of all students, including clinical students, is research, no student may enroll in Psychology 820 (Advanced Practicum) unless the student's Advisory Committee has informed the Director of Clinical Training that the student is making adequate progress in research. The same holds true for students who desire to undertake additional practicum training after 820 on a non-credit basis. The student is responsible for requesting that the chair of the Advisory Committee write the Director of Clinical Training indicating whether or not the student is approved to undertake a clinical practicum the following year by the beginning of the spring term of each year, as many external practicum sites begin interviewing prospective trainees as early as February.

For the same reason, the Clinical Program will not provide a letter of support for internship unless the student's Advisory Committee informs the Director of Clinical Training that it expects the student to complete a dissertation by the end of the internship. Thus, students should arrange for their Advisory Committees to meet early in the fall term in which they are submitting an internship application and should request a report to the Director of Clinical Training.

Admission to and Retention in the Clinical Program

Ordinarily students apply for admission to the clinical program at the same time they apply for admission to the graduate program; they do so by indicating their interest in clinical training at that time. Admission to the graduate program carries the presumption of admission to the clinical program for those students who have indicated such an interest on their application unless the applicant is specifically told otherwise. In some cases, however, students request clinical training after they have begun the graduate program. In such cases, the Clinical Program Committee will review the request and accept the student, if the student is judged to be suitable for participation in the practica, and if there are sufficient resources available.

Students may be asked to suspend clinical training, temporarily or permanently, on the basis of violation of ethical principles (see below), significant unprofessional behavior, personal impairment that would jeopardize their clinical work, or failure to make adequate progress in the applied or research aspects of the program. The Clinical Program Committee makes such decisions, with input solicited from the student's clinical supervisors and Advisory Committee and from the student. When students are asked to suspend clinical training solely because of inadequate progress in practicum or personal impairment, their standing in the doctoral program otherwise will not be affected.

Students are provided with annual written feedback concerning their progress in the program, including progress in clinical training. 

If students believe they have been treated unfairly in a matter of evaluation and have not been able to resolve this problem with the instructor, advisory committee, or program, they may file an academic grievance with the Graduate School. Procedures are described at the following web site:   Academic grievances concern only matters pertaining to a student’s performance and progress in his or her academic program, such as coursework, grading, evaluations, teaching and research responsibilities, examinations, dissertation, and time-to-degree.

Student Conduct & Ethical Responsibilities

Students in the clinical program, like all psychology students, are subject to the provisions of Penn's Code of Student Conduct ( and the Code of Academic Integrity ( ). Furthermore, the clinical Program subscribes to the professional ethics of the American Psychological Association (2002) and recommends that every student acquire a copy of the Ethical Principals of Psychologists and Code of Conduct.A copy may be downloaded from: Students should also familiarize themselves with Pennsylvania state licensing and practice laws. These are summarized by Knapp, VandeCreek, and Tepper (1998) in Pennsylvania Law and Psychology (3rd ed.), published by the Pennsylvania Psychological Association, 416 Forster St., Harrisburg, PA 17102-1714. Alternatively, see (a) Act 52 of 1986, State Board of Psychology, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and (b) Chapter 41 of Title 49, State Board of Psychology, Professional & Vocational Standards, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Should a student fail to abide by ethical and legal guidelines for psychologists, the Clinical Program Committee will review the seriousness of the violation. Possible consequences include requirements for additional training in ethics and professional practice or remediation of the violation, probation or termination from the program, and reports to state or national ethical committees.

Effective Dates for These Policies

The clinical program policies described here are considered to be in effect at the time at student starts the program and will apply to the student until graduation. If policies change and a student wishes to have a later policy apply to her or his training program, the student will need to petition his or her Advisory Committee and the Director of Clinical Training for such permission. In this event, the student would need to accept all policies in effect for the later year.

Office of the Ombuds

Students who are having interpersonal issues with advisors, faculty members, or other graduate students that they would like to discuss informally and confidentially are encouraged to contact the office of the Ombuds. The Office of the Ombuds is available to listen and inquire into issues or complaints; to explore options for informal resolution of conflicts; to mediate specific disputes; to clarify and examine university policies and procedures; and to connect you with appropriate resources within the University. They also advise and make recommendations to the administration about procedures or policies that need to be revisited, modified or clarified.

The ombudsman operates independently of the University hierarchy, reporting only to an executive officer in the President’s Center in order to avoid any real or perceived conflicts of interest.

The Office of the Ombuds conducts its business in accordance with principles of confidentiality, neutrality, and informality.  “Confidentiality” means that staff of the Office will not disclose any information you share with them, unless you have given them permission to do so. The exception to this confidentiality is if you disclose information that gives reasonable cause to believe that there is an imminent risk of serious harm to you or someone else. The Office of the Ombuds neither takes a side in a dispute, nor advocates for an individual, a particular point of view, office, school, center, department or any other party. They do not keep the names of individuals who visit the office, or any documents or materials. The Ombuds will keep no formal record of your visit.

More information about the Office of Ombuds can be found at