Program Overview & Training Model

Ph.D. Clinical Psychology
Overview & Training Model


Clinical Science Model of Training

Our program follows a clinical science model of training. Central to our definition of clinical science is the belief that clinical research and application are reciprocally related: The best clinical skills are grounded in empirical and theoretical knowledge and clinical application continuously informs the evolution of clinical theory and research. Regardless of the setting in which they work, we expect our graduates to have productive careers in which science and practice are well integrated. 

As such, we expect our graduates to:

  • Contribute to the body of knowledge in psychological science
  • Develop and test new, science-based assessment and intervention procedures
  • Disseminate their work through professional publications and presentations
  • Participate in the psychological community through memberships and leadership roles in professional organizations and contributions to mental health policy decisions
  • Competently apply science-based assessments and interventions
  • Keep abreast of current scientific literature in a way that informs their clinical practice
  • Train future generations of students, therapists, and community-based administrators

Program Goals & Objectives

In sum, our general training mission is for students to become competent clinical scientists, who engage in significant ongoing generation of new knowledge and/or significant widespread dissemination of clinical science. The program thus prepares students to conduct research relevant to the assessment, prevention, treatment, and understanding of health and mental health disorders; but also to use scientific methods and evidence in designing, developing, selecting, evaluating, implementing, delivering, supervising, and disseminating empirically-based assessments, interventions, and prevention programs.

These goals translate to measurable objectives, where we expect the majority of our graduates to:

  1. Hold academic research and/or teaching positions
  2. Disseminate their work through journals, books, conference presentations and other professional outlets–or, if working at primarily teaching-oriented colleges, to emphasize up-to-date scientific knowledge in their instructional materials and play an active role developing curricula materials consistent with a clinical science model
  3. We expect graduates working in clinical settings to regularly apply and train others to apply empirically-supported treatments, develop and test new assessment and intervention methods, provide supervision or workshop training in science-based clinical knowledge, and/or engage in program evaluation.

Our faculty views students as junior colleagues and collaborators and strives to treat them with dignity, courtesy, and respect.

Curriculum Overview

The University of Arizona Clinical Program offers opportunities for professional development and the integration of science with practice. Throughout the curriculum, we emphasize the empirical basis of intervention and assessment methods and encourage students to practice critical thinking in processing all materials. In addition to formal courses in statistics and research methodology, we see training in research as an ongoing activity at the core of the graduate student's life and try to make sure that the students have time to engage in hands-on research. Two mechanisms help us to achieve this goal. First, we have designed a flexible curriculum (See Domain Specific Knowledge section below) that trains students in the basics, yet does not structure all their time. Second, we encourage students to get involved in individual faculty research laboratories as early as possible.

Our curriculum is sequential, cumulative, graded in complexity, and designed to prepare students for a future conducting clinical science, disseminating knowledge in a generalizable way, and the application of clinical science through interventions and assessments with individual clients or patients. The curriculum includes various requirements that satisfy departmental and clinical area requirements necessary for obtaining a PhD in Clinical Psychology as well as requirements set by the APA’s Commission on Accreditation (CoA) and Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology (CUDCP). Specific program requirements are outlined in the Department's Graduate Program Handbook.

    In addition to the departmental required coursework for a major area of study, as outlined in the Graduate Program Handbook, additional coursework is required for Clinical Psychology graduate students to learn to work effectively as a health service psychologist; obtain domain specific foundational knowledge (e.g., breadth in affective, biological, cognitive, developmental, and social psychology); and obtain advanced integrative knowledge (e.g., depth across affective, biological, cognitive, developmental, and/or social psychology). Required coursework includes the following: 

    • Ethics
    • Advanced Psychopathology
    • Clinical Research Methods
    • Clinical Assessment Methods
    • Psychosocial Interventions (e.g., CBT, ACT) 
    • Consultation & Supervision

    Additional coursework to obtain necessary domain specific knowledge and advanced integrative knowledge will be unique to each student based on their unique graduate training plans, areas of interests, and past educational experiences as outlined in the Graduate Program Handbook. Coursework may include a combination of the following:

    • Advanced Social Psychology
    • Human Brain and Behavior Relationships
    • Clinical Neuropsychology Practice: Evaluation of the Older Adult
    • Foundations in Health Psychology
    • Foundations of Cognitive Psychology
    • Lifespan Developmental Psychopathology;
    • Behavioral Medicine Interventions
    • Cognitive/Affective Bases of Behavior
    • Psychoneuroimmunology
    • Cognition and Development in Education

    The program offers a considerable range of clinical research training and research opportunities. While all students undergo a broad and general training, there are optional (and not mutually exclusive) areas of specialization in Clinical Neuropsychology, Clinical Health Psychology, Psychophysiology and Intervention research.

    In all of these areas we encourage students to think critically about current research and practice and to contribute to scientific dialogue through publications, conference presentations, and other formats of professional exchange. This is facilitated by faculty mentorship tailored to individual students’ interests, strengths, and stage of professional development. We also encourage students to appreciate the benefits of collaboration and interdisciplinary work, and emphasize the importance of translational research that cuts across basic and applied areas.

    Specific research training requirements are outlined in the Graduate Program Handbook and include:

    • An empirical Master's project/thesis
    • Written and oral comprehensive examinations
    • An empirical Doctoral dissertation

    In addition to the required clinical coursework, clinical psychology graduate students receive applied clinical training in the provision of assessment and intervention in the following ways:

    In addition to the required clinical coursework, clinical psychology graduate students receive applied clinical training in the provision of assessment and intervention as outlined in the Graduate Program Handbook and include: 

    • Two year-long Practicums: Clinical work completed in the on campus Behavioral Health Clinic in clinical assessment & interventions
    • Externships Experiences: Clinical work completed outside the department in university and community agencies or advanced clinical work within the onsite Behavioral Health Clinic.
    • Predoctoral Internship: Full-time, 12-month clinical training experience at a  CoA and APPIC-accredited setting.

    The Clinical Program implements an infusion model to train and educate our students in multicultural competencies broadly, as well as in diversity science and intervention more specifically. We integrate diversity training throughout our curriculum, thus infusing multicultural perspectives into all aspects of training through readings, class activities, and lectures. Training and education in multicultural competencies are addressed in the students’ clinical training, coursework, research, training to be a teacher, and training in supervision and consultation.

    Additionally, we strive to make our program a safe space for each person’s individual multicultural development. Our broad goal is to build on their integrated awareness, knowledge and skills related to multiculturalism. Consistent with research and best practice recommendations in multicultural training, we incorporate a range of pedagogical approaches incorporating research, and experiential components: Diversity training is included through both specific readings assigned, through in-class activities and discussion, and through lectures; through their research training, students work with faculty to answer questions related to diversity and study a diverse range of populations; and, multicultural competency is prioritized in students’ clinical training as well.

    Minors are required as part of the Psychology Department requirements for a PhD. Students can select to complete a pre-defined minor within psychology, a pre-defined minor in a department other than psychology, or create an individualized, and possibly cross-departmental, option. Minors that have been frequently chosen include clinical neuropsychology, clinical health psychology, statistics, family psychology, child clinical psychology, and college teaching.