Clinical Ph.D.

Accreditation information

Clinical Psychology Program Information

The following faculty will be reviewing applications in order to admit new students for the 2021-2022 academic year: Professors Benuto, Weierich, O'Donohue and Lancaster. The remaining clinical faculty will not be accepting new students this next year.

The clinical psychology program at the University of Nevada, Reno has been accredited by the American Psychological Association since 1972 and is a charter member of the Academy of Clinical Science.

For information on program policies and procedures, please review the Blue Book.

Blue Book

The Clinical Psychology Program is a clinical science program that is cognitive-behavioral in orientation. Training begins with helping students develop critical thinking and analytical skills through courses in ethics, philosophy of science, and research methodology.

A main focus of the program is the integration of science and practice in service delivery. The work in this area seeks to bridge traditional health models of treatment development and practice in both research and training. This entails consideration of multiple units of analysis including the individuals targeted, the environments in which they live, the healthcare systems and organizations in which interventions are delivered, and the state and federal policies that affect provision and access of these interventions.

In developing these bridges, the development and dissemination of cognitive behavioral interventions is a major interest of the faculty. This work at the University has a strong emphasis on the links between efficacy and effectiveness research, prevention, dissemination and implementation science, program evaluation, and social policy. The training and research ranges from development of interventions including assessment of outcomes and mechanisms of change, to assessment of effectiveness of these interventions both at the individual outcome level and at the program level in multiple healthcare organizations, to policy making and advocacy promoting empirically based practices in social policy at the state level.

An integrative clinical science model

While the program focuses on developing clinical scientists, training includes a strong focus on clinical training. Unlike many programs, clinical supervision is done directly by a subset of the clinical faculty during the first two  years. Faculty feel that strong clinical training is essential for students to gain perspective of the needs in the field and to advance the discipline of clinical psychology as a whole. As such, students spend a significant amount of time engaged in clinical training in addition to a significant portion of time spent in training and practice of clinical science.

  • Collegiality: The relationship between faculty and students is friendly and respectful. The program is small and intimate, and students are regarded as junior colleagues.
  • Intellectual atmosphere: The program is research-oriented. The faculty is interested in developing students who are critical thinkers, skilled clinicians, and creators of new knowledge dealing with fundamental issues in psychology and its application. The program emphasizes the importance of theory and philosophy and the link to clinical intervention more than most programs.
  • Theoretical orientation: The predominant orientation is behavioral/cognitive behavioral with a particular appreciation of understanding that behavior occurs in a context. Though the program encourages students to think critically about the mechanisms of change when researching and implementing psychotherapy.

Basic requirements

The program includes:

  • Training in basic psychology
  • Research training
  • Didactic training in clinical psychology
  • Practicum training

Basic psychology training: Training in basic psychology is designed to maximize flexibility, while at the same time meet APA requirements for breadth of training. Two other areas exist in the department: cognitive and brain sciences and behavior analysis. The department also participates in an interdisciplinary program in social psychology.

Research training: Students affiliate with one or more faculty for research training beginning in their first semester. Students are involved in research throughout their tenure in the program. Most students exceed the minimum number of research projects required, namely, a Master of Arts thesis (or alternative predoctoral project) and the doctoral dissertation. In order to help students engage the research process, first and second-year students sign up for research credits.

Didactic clinical training: Didactic clinical training includes coursework covering ethics, assessment, psychopathology, interventions, case conceptualization, supervision and consultation, program evaluation, cultural diversity, issues with treatment delivery and related courses.

Practical training: Students begin practical training in the first semester of graduate training by sitting on a clinical team and focus on learning basic interviewing and diagnostic skills, case formulation, testing and functional assessment while working with clients presenting for services at the Psychological Service Center (PSC).

There are opportunities for students in their first year to provide direct services by helping more advanced students doing intakes and evaluations in the Psychological Service Center. Typically in the second year, students begin to provide psychotherapy by choosing to sit on two specialized clinical teams, typically carrying one or two cases with close supervision. Through their third year, students are required to sit on two specialized teams, while doing practicum work in the PSC. This practicum involves trainees for approximately 10 hours per week and includes direct service hours (about three clients per week), supervision (two to four hours per week), paperwork, and both formal and informal training. Students in their third year may also be placed in externship sites in the community.

The PSC is an in-house, community-oriented clinic serving the greater Reno community. Training and treatment are provided by service teams, all supervised by clinical faculty. Currently, the PSC houses training teams that cover the treatment of anxiety, depression, interpersonal difficulties , and posttraumatic stress disorder. Service teams also provide services for survivors of incest, sexual assault, and domestic violence, which includes, but is not limited to, PTSD treatment. Services are offered in both English and Spanish.

In their third and/or fourth year, students work half-time in a community externship agency. Externship placements are available at community mental health centers, residential psychiatric facilities,  the student counseling center, and several other agencies. Some students work in the department teaching undergraduate courses. There also are opportunities for students to meet this program requirement by working on ongoing applied projects being conducted in the clinical program itself.

In their fifth year, students complete an APA-approved internship. UNR students always have been extremely competitive at the top internship sites.

Typical Curriculum

Year 1 (at least 26 credits, cumulative)

Fall semester

  • PSY 771 History/Philosophy/Ethics (3 credits)
  • PSY 724 Research Methods (3 credits)
  • PSY 758 Psychopathology (3 credits)
  • PSY 706 Stats 1 (3 credits)
  • PSY 752 Graduate research OR PSY 797 Master's Thesis (1 credit)

Spring semester

  • PSY 707 Stats 2 (3 credits)
  • PSY 750 Learning Theory (3 credits)
  • PSY 756 Assessment (3 credits)
  • PSY 752 Graduate Research OR PSY 797 Master's Thesis (1 credit)

Year 2 (at least 52 credits, cumulative)

Fall semester

  • PSY 743 Diversity (3 credits)
  • PSY 757 Introduction to Clinical Intervention (3 credits)
  • Clinical Research Methods (3 credits)
  • PSY 714 Clinical Practicum (3 credits)
  • PSY 752 Graduate research (1cr) OR PSY 797 Master's Thesis (2 credits)

Spring semester

  • Stats 3 (SEM, Mixed modeling, 3 credits)
  • PSY 761 Lifespan (3 credits)
  • TBD Domain Specific Knowledge (cognitive, affective, biological or social) course, OR a Clinical seminar (PSY 750/751), OR PSY 761 integrated Care, OR Out of Program Elective, OR Advanced Topic (3 credits)
  • PSY 715 Clinical Practicum (3 credits)
  • PSY 752 Graduate research (1 credit) OR PSY 797 Master's Thesis (2 credit)

Fall semester

  • PSY 773 Externship (1 credit)
  • PSY 716 Clinical Practicum (3 credit)
  • TBD Domain Specific Knowledge (cognitive, affective, biological or social) course, OR a Clinical seminar (PSY 750/751), OR PSY 761 integrated Care, OR Out of Program Elective, OR Advanced Topic (3 credit)
  • TBD Domain Specific Knowledge (cognitive, affective, biological or social) course, OR a Clinical seminar (PSY 750/751), OR PSY 761 integrated Care, OR Out of Program Elective, OR Advanced Topic (3 credit)

Spring semester:

  • PSY 773 Externship (2 credit)
  • PSY 717 Clinical Practicum (3 credit)
  • PSY 795 Comprehensive Examination (1 credit)
  • TBD Domain Specific Knowledge (cognitive, affective, biological or social) course, OR a Clinical seminar (PSY 750/751), OR PSY 761 integrated Care, OR Out of Program Elective, OR Advanced Topic (3 credit)

Year 4 (at least 89 credits, cumulative)

Fall semester:

  • TBD Domain Specific Knowledge (cognitive, affective, biological or social) course, OR a Clinical seminar (PSY 750/751), OR PSY 761 integrated Care, OR Out of Program Elective, OR Advanced Topic (3 credit)
  • PSY 799 Dissertation (4 credit)
  • PSY 772 Advanced Supervision and Clinical Practicum (1 credit)
  • PSY 773 Externship (1 credit)

Spring semester:

  • TBD Domain Specific Knowledge (cognitive, affective, biological or social) course, OR a Clinical seminar (PSY 750/751), OR PSY 761 integrated Care, OR Out of Program Elective, OR Advanced Topic (3 credit)
  • PSY 799 Dissertation (4 credit)
  • PSY 772 Advanced Supervision and Clinical Practicum (1 credit)
  • PSY 773 Externship (1 credit)

Year 5 (at least 95 credits, cumulative)

Fall semester:

  • PSY 774 Internship (1 credit)
  • PSY 799 Dissertation (2 credit)

Spring semester:

  • PSY 774 Internship (1 credit)
  • PSY 799 Dissertation (2 credit)

Clinical seminars

  • Psychological trauma
  • Mindfulness
  • Couple and family therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Coping with chronic medical conditions
  • Evolution, Psychotherapy and behavior change

Domain Specific Knowledge and Elective Courses

  • Physiological psychology
  • Evolution, cognition, behavior and culture in emotion
  • Social influence
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Social cognition/social cultural psychology
  • Radical behaviorism
  • Philosophical psychology
  • Health policy and administration
  • Social Epidemiology
  • Economics of health care and health policy


Before You Apply

Deciding where to go to graduate school to earn your doctorate might well be the most important intellectual, and perhaps personal, decision you will make by this point in your life. You are deciding to whom to entrust your intellectual development in clinical psychology. This is an individual decision, but here are some issues to consider before applying to the clinical program at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Read the Policies and Procedures Manual carefully. Pay special attention to section 3 - the admissions policies.

This is a clinical science program. The program does train its students in psychotherapy very well. However, that is a byproduct of the fact that many of the faculty do treatment development, dissemination and evaluation research. The key word is "research." For you to enjoy the years that you will spend earning your doctorate, you must value research. There are many other types of programs to consider if you do not enjoy research, and if that is the case, you should investigate these other types of programs. Some of the program's graduates do go on to deliver one-on-one therapy. In so doing, the faculty expects that such practice is informed by the psychological science literature and values of clinical science.

The program has predominantly a behavioral or cognitive-behavioral focus. If you are a behaviorally oriented or cognitive behaviorally oriented student who values empirical science, this program will be an excellent choice. If you are unsure about your philosophy of science, this program might still be an excellent choice. It is up to the faculty to challenge your thinking. However, if you know this is not where your passion is, then do not apply to this (or any) program that fundamentally differs from your values just to be able to get into graduate school.

Admission Policy

Admissions is a complex process to which we cannot apply a straightforward formula. Here are the factors we consider:

  • Minimum standards for admission are a 3.0 (out of 4.0 possible) GPA as an undergraduate.
  • GRE scores are not required nor will be considered in the admissions decisions for admissions in 2020-2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic .
  • Letters (3) demonstrating that the applicant has experience working in a research environment are required. Typically these letters come from professors in the student's department.
  • If the student is applying from a master's program, the student is expected not only to have a high GPA but also a history of engaging in scholarly activities (conference presentations, research or publications).
  • A personal statement that evidences good communication skills, a logical reason for their strategy for applying to graduate programs, an appreciation of the role of research in the discipline, and an openness to a clinical science paradigm. In addition, it is advisable for the applicant to make a strong case for wanting to work with one or more of the current faculty--perhaps by discussing a publication of that faculty member and/or overlapping areas of research interest.
  • Students meet the pre-requisite course requirements for applicants as (see "Entrance Requirements/ Undergraduate Pre-requisites Course Requirements" below).
  • TOEFL 550-paper based (PB) or 79-internet based (iBT) or IELTS-composite score of 7 (no subject area below 6). (FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS ONLY)

There are many more qualified candidates than the program can admit, support, and mentor properly. Part of the calculus that goes into the admissions process is apparent program fit and the distribution of the present students across faculty. While some faculty members prefer small numbers of students to mentor at any point, others may be willing to have larger labs.

That said, one other issue that is considered during the admissions process is whether there is a general program fit. Our program is a science-based program with cognitive behavior to behaviorally oriented faculty primarily. Openness to that perspective makes graduate school much more enjoyable. While lab fit is a factor, we presume the possibility that once students arrive at the program and learn more about the field and faculty, interests may shift. Therefore, we prefer students who may find multiple aspects of the program interesting.

Discipline-Specific Knowledge Requirements

Applicants seeking admission into the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program at the University of Nevada, Reno should consider that they will need to demonstrate a foundational knowledge base in the following basic content areas in scientific psychology: (1) Biological Aspects of Behavior, (2) Cognitive Aspects of Behavior, (3) Social Aspects of Behavior, and (4) Developmental Aspects of Behavior covering the lifespan. GRE psychology subject test scores at or above the 75th percentile for each of these content areas are accepted as evidence of this foundational knowledge base. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that each applicant take the GRE psychology subject test before applying for admission. In the absence of qualifying GRE psychology subject test scores, advanced undergraduate or graduate coursework in these areas may be used to meet foundational knowledge requirements instead. Otherwise, candidates will be required to make up deficits in these content areas with additional coursework once they are enrolled in the program. In addition, graduate level knowledge for all these content areas will be provided within the graduate program curriculum. Both foundational knowledge and graduate level knowledge for the final basic content area in scientific psychology, Affective Aspects of Behavior, will be provided within the graduate program curriculum as well. What constitutes classwork in this area is defined in APA's the Implementing Regulations "Section C: IRs Related to the Standards of Accreditation" under the subheading "C-7 D. Discipline-Specific Knowledge." 

In addition, courses covering the following topics provide a useful foundation for entering students:

  1. Learning, behavioral principles, or behavior analysis
  2. Statistics/data analysis
  3. Research methods/experimental design
  4. History of psychology
  5. Individual differences
  6. Human development
  7. Abnormal behavior/psychopathology
  8. Cultural and individual diversity

Commitment to Diversity

The Clinical Psychology Program at the University of Nevada, Reno is strongly committed to promoting diversity with respect to culture, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, among other dimensions. The University is committed to maintaining a diverse student population and minority students are especially encouraged to apply for the doctoral program.

The program is committed to foster an atmosphere that promotes open dialogue about cultural issues, to prepare students to be sensitive to issues of diversity and individual differences in all work, and to produce culturally competent practitioners and researchers.

To this end, the Clinical Psychology program is dedicated to the active recruitment of a diverse group of students and faculty. It supports the University's core values encouraging diversity and equal educational and employment opportunities throughout our community.

These values are articulated in the University's Non-Discrimination Policy and by the Office of Diversity.


The program is committed to ensuring that students with disabilities have equal access to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from all aspects of the program. Students with special needs are encouraged to work with their adviser and the DCT to develop a plan that provides appropriate assistance. We have an excellent Disability Resource Center (DRC) that can provide assistance.

Transfer credits

The Clinical Training Committee approves course substitutions for transfer students on a course-by-course basis. The student should first meet with his or her adviser, to confer on which courses to petition for transfer. A transfer request form should be completed. The student should then present a syllabus to the instructor for each course for which transfer credit is proposed, for feedback on the acceptability of the transfer. Finally, the student must submit through their adviser to the CTC a final list of the courses proposed for transfer, containing the following for each course: a detailed description of the course, a syllabus, a description of the level of the course and any prerequisites (copies of school catalog pages are helpful), reading lists, and information regarding the faculty member responsible for the course.

Approval of courses is normally done once a year, and the deadline for proposal submission is Nov. 15. These should be done in the first year of admission just after program entry.

The maximum number of transfer credits allowed by the Graduate School for doctoral students is 24 semester hours. Courses taken while a graduate special student are considered transfer credits and count toward the 24 credit limit. If a student leaves the program at the master's level, a maximum of nine credits could be transferred toward that degree. See graduate catalogue for Credit Transfer Evaluation Request. It is extremely rare that core clinical courses are approved for transfer.

Housing Options

Students can opt to live on or off-campus. Students find off-campus housing throughout the greater Reno area, but most live in the Midtown and Northwest sections of the city. For students interested in living in graduate housing on campus, please visit Ponderosa Village website.

How to Apply

Your complete application must be received by Dec. 1. To be considered for admission to the University of Nevada, Reno Clinical Psychology Program, interested applicants must meet the requirements:

Graduate School Admissions Requirements

  • Completed application for Graduate School Admission
  • Nonrefundable application fee
  • Official transcripts from all universities and/or colleges attended
  • GRE Scores are not required this year--but are optional.
  • Transcripts are mailed directly to the Grad School at:

Graduate School
Mail Stop 0326
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557

Program Admission Requirements

Online applications, which includes

  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A brief statement of purpose
  • A curriculum vitae (CV)

From among all the applicants, about 20 will be invited to a virtual interview during a Saturday usually in early to mid-February. Six to seven students are admitted each year, most with funding. Members of all racial and cultural groups are encouraged to apply.