Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology

Clinical Psychology Program Information

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 download the Blue Book.

The Clinical Psychology Program is clinical science program that is cognitive-behavioral in orientation with a strong emphasis on behaviorism. Training begins with behaviorism as a coherent theoretical foundation to develop critical thinking and analytical skills that are then generalized in consideration of other perspectives.

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 individuals targeted and the environments in which they live, but also the healthcare systems and organizations in which interventions are delivered, as well as the state and federal policies that effect provision and access of these interventions.

In developing these bridges, the development and dissemination of 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 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 but also 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 the clinical faculty during the first three years. Faculty and staff feel that strong clinical training is essential for students to have a real feel for the needs in the field and to advance the discipline of clinical psychology as a whole. As such, a fair amount of student's time is on 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 faculty value empirical and behavioral approaches, the program addresses a very broad set of clinical problems and encourages students to think critically about the principles of change rather than the techniques.

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, 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 the dedicated practicum for first-year students focused 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).

They begin providing direct services in their first year 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 teams, typically carrying one or two cases with close supervision. Through their third year, students are required to sit on three specialized teams, while doing practicum work in the PSC. This practicum involves trainees for about 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.

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 incest victims, agoraphobia, depression, couple and family problems, chronically suicidal adults, gerontological problems, substance abuse, victims of domestic violence and interpersonal difficulties.

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, residential and community-based retardation facilities, the student counseling center and several other agencies. 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. Nevada students always have been extremely competitive at the top internship sites.

Typical Curriculum

Fall semester

  • PSY 608 History/Philosophy (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 771 Ethics and Professional Issues (3 credit)
  • 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)

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)

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)

Fall semester:

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

Spring semester:

  • PSY 774 Internship (1 credit)
  • PSY 799 Dissertation (2 credit)
  • Psychological trauma
  • Mindfulness
  • Couple and family therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Coping with chronic medical conditions
  • Evolution, Psychotherapy and behavior change
  • 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

Admissions

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 (a.k.a., the Blue Book) 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 predominately a behavioral/cognitive behavioral/empirical focus. Does this mean you have to be a radical behaviorist to enjoy your time at the University? No. Many students will (and should) change the way they view the field as they learn more and the field evolves. If you are a 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.
  • There is no absolute minimum GRE cutoff score though the likelihood of admission decreases sharply with scores less than the 75th percentile.
  • 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.
  • 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. Some part of the admissions process examines how well a student's specified interests distribute across faculty with available capacity.

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.

Entrance Requirements/ Undergraduate Pre-requisites Course Requirements

Applicants seeking admission into the Clinical Psychology PhD program at UNR must demonstrate that that have completed advanced undergraduate or graduate courses in (1) Affective Aspects of Behavior, (2) Biological Aspects of Behavior, (3) Cognitive Aspects of Behavior, and (4) Social Aspects of Behavior, as prerequisites for admission. 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." 

Exceptions can be made for exceptional candidates to make up course deficits in these areas at the University or another institution after an admission offer is been made. But a plan to fulfill these requirements must be in place before admission. It would strengthen a candidate's application if this could be addressed in a few lines at the end of the personal statement.

In addition to these prerequisites, 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 others. The University are 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 of 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.

Disabilities

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 and apply to both:

  1. The Graduate School
  2. The Clinical Psychology Program

Graduate School Admissions Requirements

  • Completed application for Graduate School Admission
  • Nonrefundable application fee
  • Official transcripts from all universities and/or colleges attended
  • Official GRE scores (subject portion recommended but not required)
  • Transcripts and GRE scores are mailed directly to the Grad School at:

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

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 an on-site 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.



Related Degrees and Programs

Contact Department of Psychology

Phone (775) 784-6828
Fax (775) 784-1126
Location Mack Social Science
Address University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557