PhD in Clinical Psychology

Suffolk’s PhD in Clinical Psychology program involves systematic and cumulative training in both psychological research and practice in order to prepare students for careers in practice, research, or academic settings. Our curriculum will help you examine the brain, the person, and the cultural context of individual development—all within a career-oriented program.

Whether working in one of our research labs or with one of our esteemed faculty members, you’ll be able to expand your expertise into a variety of areas, such as emotion, body image, bullying, anxiety disorders, and mindfulness.

Our PhD in Clinical Psychology program seeks to prepare students to be competent clinical psychologists who function with ethical and cultural awareness in academic, research, clinical, or community settings. Suffolk students are taught the processes underlying adaptation and maladaptation within a cultural and biopsychosocial frame. Throughout all aspects of training, the program encourages an awareness of and respect for diversity.

Our faculty approach intervention and psychotherapy from a variety of perspectives, including developmental, psychodynamic, systemic, behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, humanistic, and integrative/eclectic. Our intent is to enable students to take a creative, empirical, and ethical approach to diagnostic and therapeutic problems among diverse populations.

Program Information

Please see our Admission and Aid page for more details.

Starting in Fall 2019, Suffolk University's doctoral programs are fully funded. In addition, the department offers small grants for independent research pursuant to your degree.

Application Deadlines

Fall Semester: December 1

Application Materials

  • Completed online application
  • $50 application fee
  • Resume
  • Goal statement (essay)
  • Two letters of recommendation (Learn more)
  • Official GRE scores
  • Official TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE-Academic scores (international students only)
  • Official Transcripts from all post-secondary work
  • Interview by invitation
  • PhD In Clinical Psychology Supplemental Application

The Program in Clinical Psychology was initially accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association in 2000. In 2010 the CoA conferred seven-year full accreditation status to the doctoral program. Our next accreditation site visit is scheduled for 2017. Questions related to the program’s accredited status should be directed to the Commission on Accreditation: Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation American Psychological Association, 750 1st Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002. They can be reached by phone at 202-336-5979 or by email. You can also visit their webpage.

This program meets the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards/National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology “Guidelines for Defining ‘Doctoral Degree in Psychology.'” Further, we have made every attempt to design the program to comply with all the regulations of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Psychologists at the time of program admission so that, with completion of sufficient clinical hours, students may sit for the state licensing examination in clinical psychology. Therefore, graduates of this designated program who decide to apply for licensing as a psychologist typically will meet the educational requirements for licensing. Our courses are consistent with Massachusetts licensing requirements (please see Appendix C for the list). However, in each jurisdiction there may be additional requirements that must be satisfied. Furthermore, requirements for licensing do change over time. For exact information about current requirements, please contact the state or provincial licensing board in the jurisdiction in which you plan to apply early in your first year of study, and work with the DCT or Director of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies to tailor your coursework accordingly.

With licensure, graduates are eligible to apply for credentialing as a Health Service Provider in Psychology. Graduation from a designated program ensures that the completed program meets the educational requirements for listing in the National Register. However, there are additional requirements that must be satisfied prior to being listed in the National Register of Health Services Providers in Psychology. For further information, consult the National Register’s website. Students may wish to consider the issue of mobility between states. ASPPB provides a credentials bank service to help psychologists become licensed in new states.

Please visit the Academic Catalog to view Program Aims.

Please visit the Academic Catalog to view Program Requirements.

Degree Requirements

There are 24 (3-credit) courses and two required labs to be completed within the first three years of the program for full-time students. A full-time course load is 12 credits, and students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 (B). To successfully complete required classes a minimum grade of B- or a pass for pass/fail is also required. Students who transfer credit for previous coursework may need to complete up to 78 credits of coursework to maintain full-time status throughout the first three years of study.

Two years of practicum experience are required of our doctoral students beginning in their second academic year; a third year is optional, but recommended. Students receive weekly supervision by professionals at their practicum sites and attend a weekly practicum seminar at Suffolk where they are able to integrate their practical experiences and educational training within the program. Students receive extensive individual supervision that is consistent with the student’s level of training, contact hours, and case load.

The curriculum requires all students to participate as Teaching Apprentices (TAPS) for the first two semesters of their graduate study with an option to continue on in their second year. TAPS are paired with advanced graduate student lecturers and professors to receive mentorship and experience in a broad-range of teaching-related skills. Students are not paid to serve as TAPS; the responsibilities associated with the position are designed to prepare students for potential careers as instructors/professors or other forms of scholarship. In addition, there are orientation and teacher training seminars offered during the first semester of graduate studies which all TAPS must attend. The seminars are designed to provide instrumental and interpersonal support for students as they build teaching, public speaking, and presentation skills.

Students are not admitted into the Clinical Psychology Program for a terminal master’s degree. A master’s degree is granted, however, usually after the second year, once the student has completed 48 credits of course work and the Early Research Project. This project provides students with an opportunity to apply the knowledge gained in their research and statistics courses by pursuing research under the supervision of a faculty member who serves as the research mentor; on the recommendation of this mentor, students will deliver an oral presentation to the department and submit a written report on their research project. These typically occur at the end of the second year.

Students’ attainment of clinical competencies are systematically evaluated through coursework and a Clinical Portfolio. The systematic evaluation of clinical competencies and resulting clinical competencies portfolio are intended to ensure that students clinical work is based on a sound foundation of 1) ethical reasoning, 2) judgment and understanding, and 3) skills, in relation to diagnostics, case conceptualization, therapy, and assessment. This evaluation involves students completing a minimum number of assessment reports, case conceptualizations, treatment plans, oral case presentations, therapy write-ups, and peer consultations through planned, developmentally appropriate course assignments in their first three years of graduate training. The systematic evaluation also includes activities related to applying for the Pre-Doctoral Clinical Internship (i.e., submitting a mentor-approved draft of the Theoretical Orientation essay when submitting the Intent to Apply for Internship form and completing a mock-interview with a member of the Clinical Program Doctoral Faculty).

The dissertation is conceptualized as an original empirical project that makes a substantive contribution to the knowledge base of clinical psychology. Dissertation committees, which must include at least three members, supervise the dissertation. Two committee members must be members of the Doctoral Program faculty, with one serving as the chair and primary mentor of the student. The third member of the dissertation committee will be either a member of the Doctoral Program faculty, a tenured or tenure-track member of the Psychology Department faculty who is not affiliated with the Doctoral Program, or someone external to the Psychology Department with demonstrated expertise in domains relevant to the proposed research. The committee is responsible for approving the proposal, overseeing data collection and analysis, and reviewing the final written draft. The doctoral committee must approve the formal dissertation and a departmental oral defense must also be completed. The oral proposal meeting must be successfully completed and the proposal document must be approved by the doctoral committee for students to receive permission to apply for internship.

Doctoral students shall complete an APA and APPIC approved pre-doctoral internship. These are typically one year of full time training (at least 1600 hours). In order to apply for a pre-doctoral internship, students must have successfully completed the Early Research Project, submitted the dissertation literature review, passed the clinical comprehensive examination, and successfully completed the dissertation proposal. Additionally, a minimum of 72 credits must have been completed before the student may apply for a pre-doctoral internship, including:

PSYCH-705 Assessment I

PSYCH-706 Assessment II

PSYCH-711 Scientific Writing for the Psychological Sciences

PSYCH-716 Adult Psychopathology

PSYCH-718 Research Methods and Ethics

PSYCH-719 History & Systems of Psychology

PSYCH-721 Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology

PSYCH-722 Graduate Statistics in Psychology I

PSYCH-723 Graduate Statistics in Psychology II

PSYCH-732 Social Bases of Behavior and Experience

PSYCH-738 Clinical Practicum & Ethics IA

PSYCH-739 Clinical Practicum & Ethics IB

PSYCH-740 Clinical Practicum IIA

PSYCH-741 Clinical Practicum IIb

PSYCH-743 Clinical Supervision and Consultation in Psychology

PSYCH-749 Lifespan Development

PSYCH-764 Cognitive and Experimental Approaches to Emotion

PSYCH-792 Introduction to Neuropsychology

as well as the additional intervention and diversity requirements. The pre-doctoral internship may take place at an APA-approved site or at a site that has written approval of the director of clinical training and meets all of the requirements as defined in the Program Manual.

 

Focus Your Experience

The graduate psychology program at Suffolk University offers an elective Clinical Child experience within its APA-accredited doctoral program in clinical psychology. Child-relevant training experiences occur in the context of primary mentoring relationships, coursework, clinical training/practicum experiences, and opportunities for research collaboration with members of the core faculty. Core courses and clinical electives provide exposure to several different frameworks for understanding clinical child psychology. Through our advanced clinical courses, diverse practicum placements in child and pediatric settings, as well as careful research mentorship by faculty in the areas of child and adolescent psychology, students are afforded opportunities to explore content areas of interest in greater depth. These training experiences are designed to provide a solid foundation in child psychopathology, assessment, and intervention with the goal of developing strong candidacy for child-relevant internship programs in which to further refine student expertise.

Clinical Child Psychology

To establish a career as a clinical child psychologist, it is beneficial to gain research and clinical experience during graduate school that provides exposure to relevant theories and methodologies. Typically, research expertise develops within the context of a constructive relation with a research mentor, collaborating on research (e.g., dissertation, presentations, publications), and working with relevant populations. Clinical expertise develops during practicum training, the predoctoral internship, or a postdoctoral fellowship. 

Clinical Practica

Newton Public Schools

2-4 students are placed at elementary or middle schools within the Newton Public School System. Students provide services to school-aged children with behavioral and emotional issues, issues related to academic performance, autism-spectrum disorders as well as children in need of assessment for learning disabilities. Depending on the site, students conduct some mix of individual assessment, individual psychotherapy and/or implement group/classroom intervention and prevention programs aimed at topics such as relational and physical aggression and acceptance of diversity.

Center for Anxiety Related Disorders

2-3 practicum students are an integrated part of this training clinic run by the doctoral program at Boston University. Trainees conduct diagnostic interviews and provide individual and group therapy. Trainees also attend didactic seminars and case conferences. Individual supervision is provided by Suffolk faculty.

The Manville School at Judge Baker Children’s Center

2-3 students are placed at this therapeutic day school that is part of a larger, interdisciplinary, integrative Center that works with children and families. Students work with children ages 5-16 with emotional, neurological or learning difficulties that have impacted their ability to succeed in other school settings. Trainees provide direct therapy interventions and are the case manager for each student in their caseload. The case manager coordinates the service planning and service delivery of a student’s interdisciplinary Manville team. The case manager also facilitates communication between Manville staff and any outside providers working with the child and family.

Research

To establish a career as a clinical child psychologist, it is beneficial to gain research and clinical experience during graduate school that provides exposure to relevant theories and methodologies. Typically, research expertise develops within the context of a constructive relation with a research mentor, collaborating on research (e.g., dissertation, presentations, publications), and working with relevant populations. Clinical expertise develops during practicum training, the predoctoral internship, or a postdoctoral fellowship.

Affiliated Faculty

Dr. Rosemarie DiBiase
Dr. Gary Fireman
Dr. Amy Marks
Dr. Sarah Schwartz
Dr. David Langer 

 

Curriculum

PSYCH 705 - Assessment I
The seminar aims to introduce you to the theory and practice of evidence-based social, emotional and behavioral assessment. To this end, specific issues we will cover include psychometric theory, cognitive abilities/intelligence testing, some classic assessment controversies, strengths and weaknesses of various assessment approaches, ethical and cultural issues, and the psychological assessment of children.
PSYCH 748 - Developmental Psychopathology

Examines child and adolescent psychopathology from an empirically-based developmental perspective. Reviews major developmental theories to elucidate the role of development in understanding the etiology and diagnosis of DSM-IV-TR disorders. Also focuses on theoretical and empirical literature in developmental psychopathology. Changes in the incidence rates of internalizing (e.g., depression, anxiety) and externalizing disorders (e.g., conduct disorder, attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder) are addressed. Disorders affecting both behavioral and mental functioning (e.g., autism) are included. Family, peer, and contextual/environmental influences are also covered.

PSYCH 749 - Lifespan Development

Examines development across the lifespan, including biological, cognitive, social, and emotional development, with attention to the role of culture and context. Reviews major theories of development and how such theories provide conceptual frameworks for understanding the development adaptive and maladaptive behaviors and trajectories. Also addresses implications for treatment and prevention. Normally offered yearly.

Links

APA's Division 7: Developmental Psychology
APA's Division 53: Society of clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Mitch Prinstein's Advice for Applying to Graduate School in Child Clinical and Adolescent Psychology

The graduate program at Suffolk University offers a neuropsychology experience within its APA-accredited doctoral program in clinical psychology. The neuropsychology experience offers elements of the Houston conference guidelines for training students in neuropsychology. It also contributes to course requirements for board certification in clinical neuropsychology (i.e., ABPP-CN).

Clinical Neuropsychology 

Clinical neuropsychology is the science of brain-behavior relationships, and clinical neuropsychologists specialize in the assessment and treatment of individuals of all ages with dysfunction of the central nervous system. Biological bases of behavior is one of the most productive research areas with applications in education, vocational, rehabilitation, medical, psychiatric, and forensic settings.

Clinical Practica in Neuropsychology

Neuropsychology Division, Edith Nourse Rogers, Memorial VAMC

1-2 students are placed in the neuropsychology division of the Veteran’s Administration Hospital. Students work with veterans who present with suspected memory disorders. Students learn to administer and interpret the results of a wide variety of neuropsychological instruments over the course of the year. The neuropsychology service utilizes a flexible battery approach and, as such, students have the opportunity to learn which instruments are appropriate for answering a variety of referral questions. Students will also participate in patient feedback with the aid of their supervisor.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Department of Neurology

Students are placed in the Department of Neurology at this Boston teaching hospital. Students are involved in the neuropsychological evaluation of adult patients with a variety of neurological problems including learning and attention disorders, head injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and neurodegenerative disorders. The practicum students will gain skills in all areas of neuropsychological evaluation, including interviewing, testing, scoring, report writing, and feedback to patients. Additional experience may be obtained in running cognitive remediation groups, presenting patients at weekly rounds, and participation in didactic seminars.

Butler Hospital, Departments of Psychology and Neuropsychology

Options to work in inpatient units and/or outpatient clinics with children, adolescents and/or adults. On the Adolescent, Child, and Intensive Child Units, work with the psychological and neuropsychological consultation service for the multi-disciplinary team, working with children and adolescents who suffer from acute psychological problems, including anxiety and depression, suicidal behavior, aggression, and substance abuse. For outpatient work, primarily with children, adolescents, and young to middle-aged adults, students have the opportunity to work through a private practice based at Butler hospital, providing comprehensive evaluations for patients with cognitive and psychological problems that range from learning and attention disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, pervasive developmental disorders, traumatic brain injury, and memory disorders. In addition, the memory clinic at Butler Hospital offers opportunities for geriatric neuropsychological evaluation. Through the practicum training, students will gain exposure to a range of psychopathology and its intersection with cognitive development throughout the lifespan, and develop skills in all areas of neuropsychological evaluation, including interviewing, testing, scoring, report writing and providing feedback to patients and family members. Additional experience includes grand rounds, memory rounds and group case conferences.

Research

All students in the doctoral program at Suffolk University are required to complete both an Early Research Project (similar to a master's thesis) and doctoral dissertation. For those students in the neuropsychology concentration, both thesis and dissertation are expected to be on a topic in neuropsychology under the mentorship of one of the two Suffolk neuropsychology faculty. For a description of the diverse research interests of the two neuropsychology faculty at Suffolk, click on the following links:

David Gansler, Ph.D., ABPP/ABCN

Association of Neuropsychology Students in Training (ANST) Official Suffolk Chapter

ANST was created [by students at the University of Florida] in response to the prevalent concern expressed by students that they need more discussion of training and professional issues, particularly the training trajectory of neuropsychology. ANST chapters will serve a number of functions:

1) Assist the committee in disseminating important information about training and professional issues relevant to the field of Neuropsychology, as well as to provide a concrete mechanism for feedback between students and the governing bodies of Division 40 and ANST.

2) Ensure that students at all levels of training in neuropsychology are well informed of education and career opportunities.

3) Provide a regular forum for students to discuss, debate, and provide feedback on a variety of issues that can be shared with students across the country. We will facilitate discussion through monthly topical seminars at local universities, while also providing interactive links and forums on the ANST web site that will allow students to dialogue about professional issues with each other and professionals on both the local and national level.

4) Serve as a vehicle for soliciting candidates to run for ANST elections and to submit nominations for our planned Award Program (e.g. Awards in recognition of superior Mentorship, Professional Contribution to the field, Research Award, Neuropsychology Program of the Year, etc.).

This material was quoted directly from the ANST website. For more information on ANST, visit their website directly.

Curriculum

PSYCH 706 - Assessment II

The goal of this course is to serve as a foundation for clinical practice and research activity in the important area of clinical neuropsychological assessment and psychological assessment. It serves to introduce the student to the techniques, methods and theories relevant to the practice of neuropsychological and psychological assessment.

PSYCH 792 - Introduction to Neuropsychology

Basic introduction to the specialty of neuropsychology. The scope of neuropsychology, the difference between neuropsychology and related difference and subspecialties, different historical and theoretical approaches to neuropsychology, as well as credential requirements for the practice of neuropsychology. Introduction to research techniques used to investigate brain-behavior relationships, ethical issues, and the role of the neuropsychologist in clinical and rehabilitation settings. By the end of the course, students will demonstrate a basic knowledge of the nervous system, the role of neurotransmitters, brain structures and associated functions, an understanding of how different instruments are used to assess those functions, and how neuropsychological interventions are formulated and implemented.

Electives

Students may also have the opportunity to take elective classes in neuropsychology, neurobiology, and cognitive neuroscience. However, it is important to note that these classes may not be offered on a regular basis. Further, these courses may not be covered under the 50% tuition reduction program.  A listing of the courses that may be available to Suffolk students through the Behavioral Neuroscience program at BU can be found here.

Useful Links in Neuropsychology

Neuropsychology Central
APA Division 40 (Clinical Neuropsychology)
International Neuropsychological Society (INS)
National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN)
Massachusetts Neuropsychological Society (MNS)
Houston Guidelines for Eligibility for Special Certification in Clinical Neuropsychology

Courses & Requirements

Learn more about the classes, requirements, and different options available to complete the program.

Clinical Psychology
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