Applied clinical experience, which includes practica and the pre-doctoral internship, is a cornerstone of the PsyD program. Students entering with a bachelor's degree have the option of completing an introductory practicum or a thesis prior to beginning their doctoral practica. Students may begin their introductory practicum after they have completed eight courses (24 semester hours). These courses must include two semesters of Psychopathology, Basic Clinical Skills, either two semesters of Cognitive Behavioral Therapies or Psychodynamic Therapies, Intellectual Assessment and Personality Assessment. Students register for and attend the MA Practicum Seminar (for six credits) during their introductory practicum.
Following completion of the introductory practicum or thesis, students must complete at least two doctoral practica. During their practica, students typically spend 16-24 hours per week at their clinical training site and attend a weekly doctoral practicum seminar. Each practicum seminar is 3 credit hours per semester, for 2 semesters each practicum (plus 0 credits for Y registration for practica that continue into the summer). Most practicum site placements are for 9 to 12 months, for approximately 20 hours per week. The focus of training depends on the student's needs, interests, and experience. Students with little clinical experience (e.g., those who have elected to complete a thesis and who have had no other clinical experience) or who have problems in training may be counseled to take a third practicum. Students may also take a third practicum for specialized training experiences and to increase their competitiveness for internship placement. The third practicum seminar credits may be used to fulfill elective requirements.
Students may transfer up to 2 semesters of clinical practicum credit from other doctoral programs. If students are entering with an MA, they may need to provide a practicum evaluation or letter from their practicum supervisor documenting that they have adequate basic clinical skills. Students entering without an MA may not transfer this course from another institution because of the critical nature of these skills for clinical practica.
Although students may receive elective credit hours for practicum (or “externship“) experiences they have taken as part of a master's degree, they must still take four semesters of clinical practicum seminars at the doctoral level. The PsyD student handbook and the clinical training manual have more details on requirements for practica and internship. Note that because the selection process for practicum placements begins early, students should begin preparation for an introductory or doctoral practicum a year before their anticipated start.
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