Clinical Training Program

Program Philosophy

The clinical training program, nested in the Department, is intended to provide preparation for research/academic careers in Clinical Psychology, Psychopathology or Personality. 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 psychologists, not simply expert clinicians, and the program is designed to support that goal. A recent analysis of the programs for training clinical psychology faculty determined Penn to be the third-ranked program in this regard in the years 1968-1997 (Ilardi & Roberts, Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 2002). Moreover, our core clinical psychology faculty ranked first in a recent analysis of the eminence of faculty members at 157 university-based, APA-accredited clinical psychology programs (Matson et al., Research in Developmental Disabilities, 2005). Our program is 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 Alan G. Kraut, Executive Director, PCSAS, by mail: 1800 Massachusetts Ave NW, Suite 402, Washington, DC 20036-1218, by phone: 301-455-8046, or via email:  The program is also 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: 

We are committed to training clinical scientistis 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 contnet areas, approaches, and methodologies relevant to clinical science.  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, programs accredited by PCSAS are given the same access to internship and licensure opportunities as are programs accredited by APA.  Once this is achieved, it is likely that we will no longer maintain APA accreditation.

Since the clinical training program is fully integrated into the Department, clinical students have the opportunity to take courses in Cognitive Neuroscience, Behavioral Neuroscience, Human Memory, Decision Making, Social Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Language and Perception. The core of knowledge gained in these areas is expected to give 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 application information, program requirements and so on. Graduate Program Homepage

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. Experience with a variety of patient populations, diagnostic groups, and clinical supervisors helps the graduate students 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 the practice of clinical psychology. Anyone committed to such a career track would be well advised to apply elsewhere.

As Ph.D. level clinical psychologists, Penn graduates can be expected to advance the frontiers of basic science and to contribute to our understanding of the etiology, prevention, and treatment of psychopathology, and to the advancement of well-being. In addition, the Penn education prepares its graduates to participate in the development and validation of new, effective 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.

Specific goals of the program include the following:

Goal #1:  To train clinical scientists whose research is informed by clinical practice and a broad knowledge of psychology, such that they integrate theory, research and practice.

Objective 1A.  Students will acquire breadth of knowledge in psychological science, theory and history.

Objective 1B.  Students will acquire knowledge of the substantive field of clinical psychology.

Objective 1C.  Students will develop competence in evaluating, designing, carrying out, and disseminating ethical empirical research relevant to clinical psychology, including research on the efficacy and effectiveness of interventions.

Objective 1D.  Students will acquire knowledge of individual differences and issues of diversity as pertinent to clinical science.

Objective 1E.  Students will adopt the orientation that their education in science and practice must be life-long and involve the study of emerging findings.


Goal #2:  To train clinicians whose practice is guided by clinical science and who have the knowledge and skills requisite for clinical internship.  In the following, we will describe the level of performance a student should achieve prior to the predoctoral internship as entry-level skills.

Objective 2A.  Students will develop entry-level skills in evidence-based psychological assessment and diagnostic interviewing.

Objective 2B.  Students will develop knowledge of and entry-level competence in empirically supported psychological interventions.

Objective 2C.  Students will engage in ethical practice and carry out their responsibilities professionally.

Objective 2D.  Students will have exposure to the clinical psychologist's roles as consultant and supervisor.


Commitment to Diversity

Diversity makes us stronger, wiser, and more effective.

The clinical training program at Penn is committed to training clinical scientists who are positioned to serve the needs of a diverse public, including, but not limited to, individuals from tradtionally underserved or marginalizaed groups.  We recognize that celebrating and supporting the unique experiences and backgrounds of all our trainees is a central part of that mission.  Our differences - of age, race, gender, religion, ethnicity, ability status, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, skills, ideas, experience and more - enrich our perspectives, inform our clinical work and enhance our ability to achieve clinical psychology's core missions of public service, teaching and research.  We welcome applicants from all backgrounds and pledge to do our best to provide a safe, welcoming and affirming environment to every trainee throughout their time here.  In pursuit of that goal, we have formed a Diversity Committee, will be conducting ongoing Diversity Climate surveys, and hope to continually evaluate and improve a culture of inclusion in our program and in the Department of Psychology more generally.

"The dynamism of any diverse community depends not only on the diversity itself but on promoting a sense of belonging among those who formerly would have been considered and felt themselves outsiders.

-Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.