Clinical Training Program

Program Philosophy

The clinical training program, nested in the Psychology Department, is a clinical science program intended to provide preparation for research/academic careers in Clinical Psychology. Clinical training (in assessment, diagnosis, and psychotherapy) is seen as an integral part of the education of highly qualified, creative clinical scientists. Nevertheless, the principal goal of Penn clinical students is to become expert psychological scientists, not simply expert clinicians, and the program is designed to support that goal. An analysis of the programs for training clinical psychology faculty determined Penn to be the third-ranked program in this regard (Ilardi & Roberts, 2002, Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice). Moreover, our core clinical psychology faculty ranked first in an analysis of the eminence of faculty members at 157 university-based, APA-accredited clinical psychology programs (Matson et al., 2005, Research in Developmental Disabilities). 

We are committed to training clinical scientists who can ease the burden of mental illness and promote well-being in society through research, treatment development, training, supervision, and clinical practice. Our training opportunities emphasize continuity and interdependence across laboratory, clinical, and community contexts. We value a flexible and integrative approach to pedagogy that bridges the many content areas, approaches, and methodologies relevant to clinical science.  

Since the clinical training program is fully integrated into the department, clinical students have the opportunity to take courses in Cognitive Neuroscience, Behavioral Neuroscience, Neuroendocrinology and Psychopharmacology, Human Memory, Judgment and Decision Making, Social Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Language, and Perception. The core of knowledge gained in these areas gives clinical students a solid foundation of basic psychological science and research methodology from which to launch their clinical training and research. Click here to link to our general graduate program homepage, which includes information about the program and instructions for applicants.

Consistent with Penn's basic scientific orientation, the clinical training opportunities at Penn focus on empirically supported treatments. Practicum opportunities are heavily weighted towards cognitive-behavioral interventions, with opportunities to learn dialectical behavior therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and other empirically supported variants available to more advanced students as well. Experience with a variety of patient populations, clinical problems, and practice settings helps graduate students identify limitations of existing knowledge and methods. This, in turn, enables students to hone their own research questions, generate new hypotheses, and maximize the ecological validity and generalizability of their research. While practical clinical training can be gratifying in its own right, the clinical scientist model implies that research and clinical work are inextricably entwined, each in the service of the other. Thus, Penn graduates are not expected to pursue careers purely in clinical practice. Anyone committed to such a career track would not be a good fit for our program.

As Ph.D.-level clinical psychologists, Penn graduates can be expected to advance the frontiers of basic science and contribute to our understanding of the etiology, prevention, and treatment of psychopathology as well as the advancement of well-being. In addition, the Penn education prepares its graduates to participate in the development, validation, and dissemination and implementation of effective new treatment and prevention programs. It is the combination of basic scientific knowledge, excellence in research, clinical acumen, and experience that prepares individuals for careers of such scope and impact.

Admission to the Clinical Program

Ordinarily, students apply for admission to the clinical program when 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, students request clinical training after they have begun the graduate program. In such cases, the Clinical Program Committee reviews the request and will accept the student if (a) the student is judged to be suitable for participation in clinical practica and (b) there are sufficient resources available.


Our program is accredited by the American Psychological Association. Information on our program's APA status may be confirmed by contacting the Commission on Accreditation, American Psychological Association, 750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242; telephone: (202) 336-5979; e-mail:; website:

Our program is also a member of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science (, a coalition of doctoral training programs that emphasize the scientific basis of clinical psychology, and is accredited by the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System. Our membership in the Academy indicates our commitment to empirical research as the basis of theory, assessment, and intervention, and our PCSAS accreditation attests to our success in training clinical scientists. Questions about PCSAS accreditation can be addressed to Joe Steinmetz, Executive Director, PCSAS, by mail: Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Indiana University, 1101 E. 10th St., Bloomington, IN 47405-7007; telephone: (479) 301-8008; e-mail:; website:

The tenets and expectations of PCSAS are highly consistent with our training goals and methods, and we plan to maintain PCSAS accreditation indefinitely. We are actively promoting efforts to ensure that, in the future, graduates of programs accredited by PCSAS are given the same access to licensure opportunities as are graduates of programs accredited by APA. Once this is achieved, it is likely that we will no longer maintain APA accreditation.