Clinical Psychology PhD Program Overview
The Clinical Psychology doctoral program at Brigham Young University is a well-established, nationally visible program. We are committed to excellence and have a training model and the resources necessary for us to reach our goal. Our program has enjoyed continuous accreditation1 by the American Psychological Association (APA) since 1971. We are confident that our program’s emerging national reputation will continue to grow in prestige, thanks to quality resources and a commitment to excellence. Cognitive-behavioral and behavioral approaches are well-represented, in addition to interpersonal, family systems, compassion-focused and mindfulness-based orientations, so that students are exposed to a diversity of clinical approaches and populations. Training focuses on academic and research competence and gives students both the theoretical and the practical experience necessary to develop strong clinical skills. Candidates with various backgrounds who have strong academic and clinical promise are recruited. Adhering to the scientist-practitioner training philosophy, our goal is to prepare students with the knowledge and skills to be excellent clinical psychologists, equipped to pursue academic, research, or clinical careers. Although many of our graduates pursue professional careers, academic and research competencies are also central to the goals of the program. Students may elect optional Emphasis Areas in (1) Child, Adolescent, and Family Clinical Psychology, (2) Clinical Neuropsychology, (3) Clinical Research, or (4) Clinical Health Psychology.
The program is designed to take five years, with four years of coursework, research, and clinical training, followed by a one-year full-time paid internship at an approved site, generally outside of Utah. Throughout the four years in residence, as coursework becomes lighter, research and clinical fieldwork constitute a larger portion of the students’ commitment. The focus is on developing the broad set of competencies expected of clinical psychologists, and program activities are designed to develop those skills.
Students take didactic courses primarily on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursday afternoons, while Thursday mornings are generally reserved for practicum supervision and case conference. This leaves Tuesdays and Fridays completely open for research and clinical work, along with portions of the other days of the week. Coursework includes classes in psychopathology, ethics, diversity, intelligence and personality assessment (2 courses), and psychotherapy (4 courses), along with general core classes needed for licensure (e.g., social, developmental, cognitive, and biological psychology).
Clinical skills training begins in the first year with students completing assessments in BYU’s Comprehensive Clinic, and it continues in the second and third years as students see therapy cases in the clinic with continued work in assessment. After the first year, students also have the opportunity to pursue unpaid clerkships and paid externships in over 20 clinics, hospitals, and universities in the area; this experience provides exposure to varied clientele under the supervision of licensed psychologists.
In keeping with the scientist-practitioner model, our students undergo rigorous training in statistics, research design, and methodology. A master’s thesis is defended during the second year in the program, and an M.S. is awarded. (The M.S. is embedded within the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program and is not a terminal degree.) The primary focus of the fourth year is the completion of the dissertation and engagement in advanced clinical and research opportunities. Thus we expect our students to have completed all their academic requirements prior to leaving for an internship in the fifth year.
The training program prepares students to compete successfully for some of the top internships throughout the nation, such as Baylor University Medical School, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, DuPont Hospital for Children, Oregon Health and Science University, Ann Arbor VA Health System, University of Washington Medical School, and the Alpert Medical School at Brown University. Similarly, graduates compete successfully for clinical, research, and academic positions across the country. Graduates from the program are found in many geographic regions and in a variety of settings. While the majority, about 80%, work in clinical settings, a number are employed in academic positions. The curriculum has been designed to prepare students for licensure.
The University is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is the largest private church related university in the country. As a religion sponsored institution, issues of values and faith commitments are considered as integral parts of both treatment philosophies and personal ecologies. Whereas a number of our students each year are LDS, students of other faiths are welcome and considered without bias. Similarly, while the faculty are mainly LDS, there are several professors in psychology who are of other faiths. Many of the major denominations are represented on campus and in the community, and those of other faiths are an important part of the diversity that we welcome.
The University expects that all students, regardless of religion, will maintain the behavioral standards of the school, including the Honor Code. These include high standards of honesty, integrity, chastity, morality, and dress and grooming, in addition to abstinence from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse. The Honor Code Statement is found here.
Notes: Information on accreditation can be obtained from the Commission on Accreditation, 202-336-5979, or Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation, American Psychological Association, 750 First Street, NE Washington, DC 20002-4242, or at www.apa.org/ed/accreditation.