Coursework and Degree Requirements
The following is a brief summary of the requirements for the clinical doctoral degree. Please consult the Clinical Handbook for more detailed information.
|First Semester||Second Semester|
|(#) Number of credits awarded for successful completion of course.
* You may not exceed 18 credits per semester. If you are registered for 18 credits (e.g., TF’s must register for PS 699 for 2.0 credits in addition to their 16 credits of coursework), you should register for PS 951 for no credit (NC).
Students are expected to engage in ongoing research throughout their academic careers. Many students start to develop clinical skills and learn how to integrate their academic knowledge with their practical experiences through research. Students will be paired with a faculty mentor beginning in their first year (although most students choose to work with the same faculty mentor throughout their tenure, some students do change mentors as their interests change and develop). Students are expected to produce a written product (in the format of a journal article suitable for publication) by the end of the second year. For either the dissertation or this second-year research project (and certainly both when possible) students are expected to collect original data. As a faculty, we believe that the experience of designing a research project and seeing it through—from initial IRB approval to data collection to completed results and analysis—is essential to earning a PhD.
Beginning in the second year, students start their formal clinical training, which takes place “in house” at the Psychological Services Center. Students are expected to contribute 10 hours (or one full day) of training per week for 11 months. With the advice and consent of the clinical faculty, students may request to do an outside placement if it fulfills a special need. Third-year clinical placements extend into the broader clinical community and are opportunities to strengthen burgeoning skills and pursue areas of clinical interest (e.g., working with specific populations, treatment modalities, etc.). These placements are two full days of clinical training for 11 months. In conjunction with their clinical training, students take a four-credit clinical practicum course that incorporates both didactic materials and supervision in the fall of the third year. Some students opt for additional clinical experiences after the third year. We encourage students to seek out opportunities specific to their interests and needs. However, as a program, we reserve the right to approve all outside clinical (and research) experiences to ensure that students are gaining quality experiences in a learning environment and are not at risk for any liability issues. To minimize conflict with students seeking required third-year placements, practicum placements after the third year of training must be coordinated by the practicum committee prior to submission of the application.
Students conclude their clinical training with an APA-approved internship during their fifth year. All students must be registered for the internship (Fall GRS PS 979 / Spring GRS PS 980). The Portfolio of Competencies and Qualifying Exam must be completed before the internship process can begin. Students are encouraged to look for internships that best meet their interests and training needs, regardless of location. Under new regulations adopted by the state of Massachusetts, individuals with doctoral degrees in psychology are no longer eligible for licensure without completing an APA internship or an internship program that currently meets all criteria to obtain APA approval. APA approved internships are typically full time but there are also a number of part-time internships offered across the country.
An independent research dissertation is the central element of the PhD in clinical psychology. An acceptable dissertation meets two standards: (1) it makes an original contribution to the knowledge base of clinical psychology; and (2) it has scientific merit. The basis of the dissertation is an independent empirical research project designed and conducted by the candidate. As used here, “independent” is not to be construed as discouraging collaboration by two or more candidates. Collaborative research—which includes independent components for each investigator—is encouraged. Often, the dissertation involves clinical samples with whom students work as research subjects, where findings may have immediate applied clinical value. The dissertation may also test clinical theories, which apply to normal as well as dysfunctional populations.
Portfolio of Competencies and Qualifying Examination
The qualifying examination makes use of a Portfolio of Competencies approach that requires students to demonstrate acquisition of necessary skills, knowledge and abilities in the following curriculum areas: Scientific Achievement, Professional Standards & Ethics, Methods of Assessment & Diagnosis, and Issues of Cultural & Individual Diversity. Students are required to (1) complete all coursework with at least a B, attend colloquia; (2) satisfactorily pass PSC practicum; (3) complete the second year research project (2YP) and (4) complete additional portfolio requirements. These additional requirements consist of participation in conference presentations, manuscript authorship, and participation in a “guest” lab. The portfolio is designed to be completed over time, with formal review of progress (items completed) by the primary mentor and with scheduled evaluations by members of a Qualifying Exam/Portfolio Committee. The Qualifying Exam is designed to be completed prior to the beginning of the third year of study, and must be approved prior to advancement to dissertation work (dissertation prospectus).