Program Requirements

Students who participate in the clinical training program are subject to the same general academic and research requirements as other graduate students in the department, but must in addition fulfill requirements specific to the clinical program, which are described below. APA requires specific coursework to cover the broad domains of discipline-specific knowledge and profession-wide competencies in psychology. Fortunately, almost every course a student would take to satisfy a departmental requirement will also count toward a clinical program requirement, and vice versa. We go to great lengths to offer clinical students flexibility in choosing courses that are of interest to them and that inform their developing program of research, while still ensuring that students acquire broad and general training in psychological science.  

Coursework Requirements

Biological Aspects of Behavior: 1 CU of proseminars (6000-level courses) in the department's "Brain" sector. Examples include Biological Bases of Behavior, Behavioral Neuroscience, Neuroendocrinology, and Cognitive Neuroscience.

Cognitive Aspects of Behavior: 1 CU of proseminars in the department's "Mind" sector. Examples include Language, Human Memory, and Judgment and Decision Making.

Developmental Aspects of Behavior: 1 CU of proseminars covering both social/emotional and cognitive development.

Social Aspects of Behavior: 0.5 CU proseminar in social psychology.

Advanced Integrative Knowledge: At least one course integrating two or more major domains of knowledge. Examples include Affective Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Social Behavior and Biology.

Psychopathology: 1 CU proseminar in psychopathology. 

Research Methods: 1 CU course in Research Methods (PSYC 7040).

Statistical Analysis: 2 CU of statistics courses, typically Introduction to Regression and ANOVA (PSYC 6110) plus another advanced quantitative methods course.

Assessment and Consultation: 3 CU total of Introduction to Assessment (PSYC 8100), Introduction to Diagnostic Interviewing (PSYC 8110), and Introductory Practicum in Assessment and Consultation (PSYC 8150).

Intervention: 1 CU of Empirically Supported Treatments (PSYC 7090) and 1 CU of Advanced Practicum (PSYC 8200).

Ethics and Professional Standards: 0.5 CU course in ethics and professional standards (PSYC 7090). Note that students must take this course for credit once during their tenure in the program, but are expected to attend at least some course meetings two years later to update their knowledge and contribute to the discussion for less experienced students.

Clinical Seminars: 2 CU of clinical seminars (PSYC 7090) beyond Empirically Supported Treatments and Ethics. Offerings vary from year to year, and may include relevant coursework in other departments and schools (e.g., School of Social Policy and Practice, Graduate School of Education, School of Nursing).

APA requires two additional important areas of competence that students are expected to develop during their graduate training: History and Systems of Psychology and Multicultural Competence. Both of these topic areas are integrated fully into the curriculum throughout all coursework, rather than being segregated in single, specific courses. Every 6000-level proseminar reviews the development of the subfield over time. In addition, 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, Introduction to Assessment, and Introduction to Diagnostic Interviewing all review the empirical basis of how race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and socioeconomic status affect the development, expression, assessment, conceptualization, and treatment of psychopathology.

Other Program Requirements

Training in Supervision: All students complete a Supervised Supervision experience, typically in the year prior to Internship. In this non-credit mini-course, advanced trainees review theoretical readings on supervision, provide supervised supervision to a junior trainee in the Introductory Assessment and Consultation Practicum, and receive 360-degree feedback from both their supervisor and their supervisee.

Pan Clinical Seminar: During all of their years in the program, clinical students are expected to attend the Pan Clinical Seminar, a non-credit meeting of the clinical faculty and students held approximately once per month each semester. The seminar involves presentations and discussions addressing important issues in clinical psychology. Guest speakers present new research advances at the forefront of the field, discuss the application and evidence base of emerging clinical techniques, address topics related to multicultural competence and working with diverse populations, and share insights relevant to the professional development of early-career clinical scientists. A subset of meetings provide a forum for exchanging information and ideas about the clinical program itself (e.g., hiring, admissions, practica, the curriculum).

Research Productivity: Given our program's emphasis on training productive clinical scientists, it is expected that students will begin disseminating their research while they are enrolled in the program. Specifically, students are expected to have at least one presentation at a professional conference (in poster or talk format) and at least one publication in a peer-reviewed journal accepted before graduation.

Residency Requirement: Clinical students are required to be in residence in our program for a minimum of three years prior to Internship. This is the minimum time necessary to fulfill departmental course requirements and to complete both the Introductory and Advanced Practica. In reality, the vast majority of students spend five years in residence (five years in residence prior to Internship is the mean, the median, and the modal number of years for the last two decades of the program). Unless the student arrives with a master’s degree and significant prior clinical experience, three years will be insufficient to accrue sufficient clinical experience to be well-trained or to be competitive for Internship application. 

Internship: In order to complete the clinical training program, trainees must complete a full-time clinical Internship in their final year. 

Conferral of Degree: The doctoral degree in clinical psychology is not conferred until trainees have met all requirements for completion of the clinical training program, including the Internship. Occassionally, a student will decide to withdraw from clinical training in order to pursue a career in purely experimental psychology, and will elect not to complete the Internship. Such students will have the Ph.D. conferred upon successful defense of their dissertation, but the degree that is awarded will be in Experimental Psychology, not in Clinical Psychology.


As an APA- and PCSAS-accredited clinical training program, it is our intention to train students to be both excellent scientists and excellent clinicians. It is our expectation that the vast majority of our graduates will obtain professional licensure as clinical psychologists, enabling them to engage in clinical practice and supervise trainees. However, given that licensure is controlled by individual governmental bodies in all 50 U.S. states (typically State Boards of Psychology under the Division of Occupational Affairs in State Governments) and that each jurisdiction may impose its own unique requirements, we cannot guarantee that the specific training we provide will meet the criteria for licensure in any individual state. That said, we are typically quite successful at advocating for our students, and all graduates from the last 20 years who have pursued licensure have been able to obtain it.

Retention in the Clinical Program

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

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 and from the student's clinical supervisors and Advisory Committee. When students are asked to suspend clinical training solely because of personal impairment or inadequate progress in practicum, their standing in the doctoral program will not otherwise be affected.

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 here. Academic grievances concern only matters pertaining to students' performance and progress in their 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 Code of Academic Integrity. Furthermore, the clinical program subscribes to the professional ethics of the American Psychological Association (2016) and recommends that every student acquire a copy of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, which may be downloaded here. Students should also familiarize themselves with Pennsylvania state licensing and practice laws and the PA Code of Ethics

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.

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 individuals 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 ombuds 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, nor retain any documents or materials. The ombuds will keep no formal record of your visit.

More information about the Office of the Ombuds can be found here.