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, fulfill requirements specific to the clinical program.  APA requires specific course work to cover the broad domains of discipline specific knowledge (DSK) in psychology.  Fortunately, almost every course a student would take to satisfy a departmental requirement will also count towards a clinical program requirement, and vice versa.  We go to great lengths to try to ensure that clinical students still have flexibility in choosing courses that are of interest to them, and inform their developing program of research, while still ensuring that they have broad and general training in psychological science.  

Coursework Requirements

Bioloigcal Aspects of Behavior:  1 CU of course work in the department's "Brain" sector.  Examples include graduate prosems such as Biological Bases of Behavior, Behavioral Neuroscience, Neuroendocrinology and/or Cognitive Neuroscience (e.g. 2 of these 3 courses).

Cognitive Aspects of Behavior:  1 CU of course work in the department's "Mind" sector.  Examples include graudate prosems such as Language, Human Memory, and/or Judgment and Decision making. (e.g. 2 of these 3 courses).

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

Social Aspects of Behavior: 1 CU of course work in social psychology.

Advanced Integrative Knowledge: At least 1 CU of course work integrating at least two major domains (e.g. Affective Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience, Social Behavior and Biology, etc.)

Research Methods:  1 CU of PSYC 704: Research Methods

Statistical Analysis:  2 CU of Statistics Courses, typically PSYC 611 and another advanced quantitative methods course.

Assessment and Consultation:  3 CU total of PSYC 810 (Introduction to Assessment), PSYC 811 (Introduction to Diagnostic Interviewing) and PSYCH 815 (Introductory Practicum in Assessment and Consultation)

Intervention:  1 CU in PSYC 709 (Empirically Supported Treatments) and 1 CU of PSYC 820 (Advanced Practicum)

Clinical Seminar:  2 CU in PSYC 709 (Clinical Seminar) beyond ESTs and Ethics.  Offerings vary from year to year, and may include relevant coursework in other departments and schools (e.g. Social Work, Graduate Education, Nursing).

Ethics and Professional Standards:  0.5 CU of PSYC 709 (Ethics and Professional Standards).  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.

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

  • History and Systems of Psychology
  • Multicultural Competence


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.

Supervision:  Non-credit Supervised Supervision experience, typically offered in the year prior to internship.

Pan-Clinical Seminar:  Attend these non-credit meetings of the clinical program throughout the year.  A few meetings focus on issues relevant to clinical program policies, procedures and so on.  For most meetings, either graduate group faculty or outside speakers address topics of relevance to clinical psychology (e.g. sleep medicine, implementation science) and dedicated time is often given to topics related to multicultural competence and diversity (e.g. refugee/asylum evaluations, trans and gender diverse populations).  Meetings typically occur 3-4 times a semester.

Presentation at Professional Meeting:  Students are expected to submit their research for presentation at professional meetings in poster or symposium format.  They should have at least one presentation accepted by graduation.

Publication:  Because of our programs' focus on research productivity, the expectation is that students will have, at minimum, one publication in a peer reviewed journal by the time they defend their dissertation.  

Residency RequirementClinical 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 mode for the last ten years of students.)  Unless the student comes with a master’s degree and significant prior clinical experience, 3 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 PhD conferred upon successful defense of their dissertation, but will not have been deemed to have completed a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.


As an APA and PCSAS Accredited Clinical Training Program, it is our intention to train students in all the particulars of health service psychology, such that they are equipped 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, and will be able to engage in clinical practice and supervise trainees.  However, given that licensure is controlled by individual governmental bodies in all 50 US states (typically State Boards of Psychology under the Division of Occupational Affairs in State Governments) and that every jurisdiction may impose their 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 no graduate from the last 20 years has been unable to obtain licensure if they have pursued it.

Retention in the Clinical Program

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 here.  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 (2016) and recommends that every student acquire a copy of the Ethical Principals of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. A copy 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 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 here.