Learning Goals and Objectives

The Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program trains psychologists to use scientific methods and evidence to inform the assessment, understanding, treatment and prevention of human problems in behavior, affect, cognition or health. 


The Clinical Psychology PhD Program follows a clinical science model, as defined by the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science. Our educational philosophy embodies a strong commitment to empirical approaches to evaluating the validity and utility of testable hypotheses and to advancing knowledge by this method. Clinical science is defined as "a psychological science directed at the promotion of adaptive functioning; at the assessment, understanding, amelioration and prevention of human problems in behavior, affect, cognition or health; and at the application of knowledge in ways consistent with scientific evidence." We expect our students to contribute to the science of clinical psychology, and to learn to infuse their clinical work with empirical findings and theoretical concepts. Finally, through training, we expect students to gain an understanding of professional issues, including ethical, legal and quality assurance principles. 

The program’s training model is sequential, cumulative, increasingly complex as students advance, and designed to prepare students for further training, including the life-long education required to be a successful clinical scientist. The education and training objectives derived from our model are addressed through an interrelated program of academic course work, research experiences and clinical practica. Students are involved in clinical research continuously from the time of their arrival at the program. Program unity is achieved through core experiences required of all clinical students. Diversity is also encouraged and available through specialty training, electives, and diverse clinical and research activities. Students also participate in other less structured activities, including colloquia, community projects, professional association activities, paper presentations, interdisciplinary campus events, departmental governance, and peer advising. Thus, our students not only complete a rigorous academic program but also become members of the psychological community interacting with faculty, staff, other professionals and each other on a scholarly level. 

Specific Goals and Objectives for PhD Students in Cognitive Psychology

Goal 1: Students will acquire and demonstrate knowledge and skill necessary to plan, conduct, evaluate and disseminate research in areas relevant to clinical psychology. 

Objective 1-A: All students will demonstrate skill in critical review and evaluation of the current corpus of knowledge available on the problem of interest.  

Expected Competencies: This will be evidenced by: (1) successful completion of courses that involve literature review activities, (2) successful completion of a Second Year Project, a Third Year Project, and PhD dissertation proposals and final products that demonstrate accurate and effective review of relevant literature, and (3) participation in manuscript preparation activities. 

Objective 1-B: Students will exhibit competence in statistics and research methods.

Expected Competencies: Competence in this arena will be evidenced by successful completion of two required courses in statistics and of two qualifying projects, a pre-dissertation project, and a PhD dissertation project involving sound research methods and data-analysis procedures.  

Objective 1-C: All students will demonstrate skill in planning and conducting increasingly independent theoretical and empirical research. This research will be of high quality and completed in a timely manner.

Expected Competencies: Evidence of competence in meeting this objective includes students' successful completion of: (1) the two qualifying projects by the end of the 4th semester of graduate study, (2) the pre-dissertation project by the end of the 6th semester, (3) the PhD dissertation proposal, and (4) the PhD dissertation defense. 

Objective 1-D: Students are encouraged to collaborate with clinical and non-clinical faculty on other research beyond the  Second and Third Year Projects and PhD dissertation. 

Expected Competencies: This participation may include paid research assistant positions or unpaid work as an assistant or collaborator. Students are expected to show evidence of research activities including helping plan, execute, supervise, and/or analyze research, and preparing research publications and presentations.  

Objective 1-E: Students are encouraged to disseminate the results of their theoretical and empirical work to the profession and broader community.

Expected Competencies: Students can display competencies related to this objective in a variety of ways, including student presentations at regional and national conferences, publication in professional outlets, presentation of workshops, and preparation of technical reports. In addition, all students are required to present (typically in their third year) their Second Year Project at a Clinical Brown Bag attended by students and faculty. 

Objective 1-F: All students will demonstrate an appreciation of the importance of diversity issues in research. 

Expected Competencies: Competencies for this objective are evidenced by (1) successful completion of courses that incorporate information and discussion on diversity, (2) student sensitivity to these issues in their theoretical and empirical research, and (3) attention to issues of diversity in the student’s Third Year Clinical Case Presentation.  

Objective 1-G: All students will demonstrate an understanding of ethical issues in research. 

Expected Competencies: Students are expected to increase their knowledge of, and sensitivity to issues surrounding the responsible conduct of research with human subjects, improve their ability to make ethical and legal choices in the face of conflicts involving scientific research with human subjects, to become knowledgeable about the regulations, policies, statutes, and guidelines that govern the conduct of research with human subjects, and gain an understanding and knowledge of the federal regulations and guidelines that apply to clinical research. 

Goal 2: Students will acquire and demonstrate knowledge and skills relevant to the theory and practice of clinical psychology, emphasizing theory-based, empirically supported approaches to understanding, evaluating, and intervening with clinical disorders.

Objective 2-A: All students will demonstrate knowledge of modern scientific approaches to psychopathology, assessment, and intervention.

Expected Competencies: Students will perform successfully in required courses in these areas and will demonstrate understanding of the scientific foundations of clinical practice in clinical activities. 

Objective 2-B: All students will demonstrate knowledge of specialized areas of clinical psychology. 

Expected Competencies: Students will successfully complete at least one clinical elective, and they will attend research presentations, workshops, and seminars relevant to clinical psychology.  

Objective 2-C: All students will demonstrate understanding of ethics and professional issues.

Expected Competencies: Students will successfully complete the required clinical courses into which these issues are integrated and will have satisfactory evaluations of professional and ethical conduct by practicum supervisors. 

Objective 2-D: All students will display competence in effective and ethical clinical practice. 

Expected Competencies: Students must complete both a required 4-semester practicum sequence at the Psychological Services Center (PSC) and the Third Year Clinical Case Presentation.  

Objective 2-E: All students will demonstrate sensitivity to and experience in diversity issues, broadly defined, in clinical practice.

Expected Competencies: Specific competencies relevant to this objective are evidenced by (1) successful completion of core clinical courses addressing these issues, (2) students addressing issues of diversity in their Third Year Clinical Case Presentation, (3) attendance at relevant presentations on campus and in the community, and (4) clinical experience with diverse populations, as reported on internship evaluations. 

Objective 2-F: All students will complete a pre-doctoral internship approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) or the clinical program.

Expected Competencies: The specific competencies required of students are set by the APA-approved internship programs.  

Goal 3: Students will acquire and demonstrate broad knowledge of psychology, and demonstrate ability to integrate these areas with clinical psychology.

Objective 3-A: All students will document knowledge of diverse areas of psychology.

Expected Competencies:  These competencies are evidenced by successful completion of departmental distribution requirements that entail completion of courses in each of the areas of the department, namely, behavioral neuroscience, cognitive psychology, social-personality, and clinical, and by successful completion of a graduate course in the history and systems of psychology.  

Objective 3-B: Students' PhD dissertation projects will reflect appreciation of diverse areas of psychology.

Expected Competencies: Students’ PhD dissertation proposals, oral defenses and written projects will include satisfactory coverage of the areas of psychological sciences that are relevant to the research topic addressed by the dissertation. 

Goal 4: Students will acquire knowledge and skills necessary to conduct themselves professionally and to prepare for careers in clinical science. In addition to the above activities, in which students are socialized into academic clinical psychology, they are expected to behave in a professional manner.

Objective 4-A: All students and faculty will attend a Clinical Brown Bag on Current Issues in Clinical Psychology.

Expected Competencies: Attendance at the Clinical Brown Bag is mandatory for students.  

Objective 4-B: Students' progress through the program will reflect active participation, timely progress, and satisfactory performance in all aspects of the clinical program. 

Expected Competencies: Specific rates of progress will reflect students' individual training needs, although the program is structured to allow completion in six to seven years (including the internship).  

Objective 4-C: Students are expected to participate in professional activities at the Department, University, community, and profession levels.  

Expected Competencies: Competencies for this objective include involvement in professional organizations; membership on Department, University, or professional organization committees; participation in review activities; presentations; publications; grant writing; and teaching.