Clinical Psychology doctoral program

Training generations of clinical scientists since 1972.

Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Handbook

Please note: This represents the program handbook for the current academic year (2023-2024) only. For an archived version of a previous year's handbook, please contact Paul Kwon at


Program description

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.

The program uses a clinical science model, which means that training in the research and science of clinical psychology is a centerpiece of our program. Prospective students are matched with research mentors from the beginning of their first year in the program. To facilitate hands-on research experience, a grant proposal and a research paper (empirical, chapter, or review) constitute our students’ comprehensive exams. This is followed by a master’s (or master’s-equivalent) project and a dissertation. These program requirements were carefully designed to provide students with the strong foundational skills they need to become independent clinical scientists.

While the program focuses on developing clinical scientists, we also include a strong focus on clinical training. A relatively unique aspect of our program is that clinical supervision is conducted directly by a subset of the clinical faculty during the first three years at our in-house Psychological Services Center. Strong clinical training is essential for students to gain perspective of the needs in the field and to advance the discipline of clinical science. The clinical training we offer at the PSC is informed by research and focuses primarily on behavioral and cognitive-behavioral models, with some opportunities for mindfulness-based intervention and training. In addition to in-house training, students provide services at partnering agencies in the Reno community. These community placements span from inpatient to outpatient settings, and have included opportunities to practice psychological assessment, CBT, DBT, and ACT. This array of clinical experiences, alongside rigorous clinical science, positions our student to be highly competitive for internship.

In accordance with the guidelines from the APA Commission on Accreditation, students may contact the Commission at the Education Directorate, American Psychological Association:

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
American Psychological Association
750 1st Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
Phone: (202) 336-5979
APA accreditation webpage

Student learning outcomes

Goal #1: Graduates will demonstrate a thorough grounding in research, scholarly activities and skills to develop and utilize scientific knowledge

Objectives for Goal #1:

  1. Students value scientific evidence as a primary way of learning
  2. Students will participate in research throughout their training
  3. Students will demonstrate scholarship in their activities in the program 
  4. Students will become competent in the basic tools of clinical science and reasoning

Goal #2: Graduates will have a well-developed repertoire of professional competencies and applied skills based on empirically-supported treatments and principle-based knowledge for entry into the practice of professional psychology

Objectives for Goal #2:

  1. Students will be proficient at psychological assessment and case conceptualization
  2. Students will be proficient in knowledge of ethical principles of professional psychology
  3. Students will be proficient in empirically-supported and principle-based treatments
  4. Students will be prepared for and complete internships accredited by the American Psychological Association

Goal #3 Students conduct themselves in accordance with APA and federal ethical standards in clinical and research activities

Objectives for Goal #3:

  1. Students will develop clinical behaviors consistent with current APA ethical standards
  2. Students will conduct research consistent with institutional standards


There is one track in our program – the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. There is no terminal master’s track.

Contact information

Paul Kwon
Director of Clinical Training
EMM 331
(775) 682-9819

Mandy Brendel
Administrative Assistant
EMM 318
(775) 682-8701


Degree requirements

Total credits needed

A minimum of 60 credits are required.

Required courses

To review the list of required courses, visit the current year's catalog.

All first-year students should also enroll for GRAD 701S in the fall semester. This is a zero credit course that meets one time for three hours. This TA training is required for all students who may be a TA at some point.

Students with prior graduate work may apply to transfer prior courses to fulfill program requirements. Generally, the program will not transfer prior work for core clinical courses. Students should consult with their advisor and the DCT and complete a course transfer form available from the DCT. After an internal review of your request, any approved transfer credits must be also approved by the Graduate School. Students are to complete the Graduate Credit Transfer Evaluation Request form available here.

A maximum of 24 credits may be transferred. Undergraduate work may not be used to fulfill graduate requirements.

Clinical work

Psychological Services Center (PSC):

  • PSY 714 Clinical Practicum (2 credits for primary team, 1 credit for secondary team)
    • Please consult clinical program administrative assistant so that you can enroll in two sections of 714 in one semester.


  • PSY 773 Externship (1-5 credits for flexibility)

Dissertation credits

Students should register for PSY 799 while working on their dissertation. You are eligible to register for PSY 799 as soon as you begin the program. The Graduate School requires 12 dissertation credits for graduation. If necessary, you should take additional PSY 799 credits to reach the 60 credit minimum.

In addition, students can consider enrolling in PSY 799 credits as needed to ensure that they meet the minimum credit hour requirements to obtain a master’s degree and the residency requirements for a doctoral degree. See program of study requirements.

Thesis credits

Students completing a Master’s degree with a thesis are required to enroll in 6 to 10 PSY 797 thesis credits (see Graduate School requirements section below). Students completing a non-thesis Master’s degree are not required to enroll in thesis hours (but see Research Credits).

Comprehensive exams

Students should sign up for PSY 795 (1 credit) the semester after they successfully pass both comprehensive exams.


Students must register for PSY 774 while on internship for at least one credit hour per semester. The PSY 774 Internship course has a 1-5 credit hour range to allow flexibility. Please note that the graduate school requires a minimum of three graduate credits each fall and spring semester for continuous enrollment. There is an exception for the semester that you are graduating – you can ask the Clinical Program Administrative Assistant to file an Exception to Policy request for you to take 1 credit.

Avoid paying excess tuition fees

If you are taking more than 9 credits in any semester, please inform the Clinical Program Administrative Assistant so that an Exception to Policy memo can be submitted on your behalf. Tuition waivers typically cover only 9 credits. This memo will prevent you from having to pay excess tuition fees. This Exception to Policy memo must be submitted before, or at the very beginning, of the semester in which you are taking more than 9 credits.

Make sure to establish in-state residency as soon as possible after your first year by reading this information page and filling out Option 3 on this application form. You only need to complete this form once during your graduate studies. This will not make a difference while you are funded on graduate assistantship, but it will make a big difference when you are paying for credits during your internship year.

Non-U.S. citizens

International students are unable to establish in-state residency and therefore will be charged substantially higher tuition during their full-time internship year. You will also be charged a non-resident fee per credit. Currently, DACA and undocumented students are not able to establish in-state residency and are therefore subject to these costs as well. We are actively seeking a remedy to this issue with our university, but cannot guarantee a successful resolution to our efforts. The University Financial Aid office may be of help to you as well.

Full-time enrollment

Please consult the following websites for information regarding what constitutes being a full-time graduate student: full-time student definition and full-time definition for graduate assistants.

Graduate School requirements

In completing the above, you will fulfill the Graduate School’s minimum credit hours for a doctoral degree. Please review the additional procedural requirements for a degree.

The program follows the Graduate School Academic Standing and Dismissal Policy. Please review all seven sections of this policy. Please note that the “professional or ethical standards” referenced in Section 2 is the American Psychological Association Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct.


Timeline for degree completion

Recommended milestones

End of summer of Year 1:

  • Complete 1st comprehensive exam
  • Complete pre-proposal and identify second reader for the predoctoral project

Fall of Year 2:

Spring of Year 2:

Summer of Year 2:

  • Complete 2nd comprehensive exam
  • Complete predoctoral project

Early fall of Year 3:

  • Submit predoctoral project for publication

Spring of Year 3:

Summer of Year 3:

  • Complete dissertation proposal

Early October of Year 4:

  • Defend dissertation proposal

End of Year 5:


Clinical training

Students acquire clinical training in a variety of ways, including seeing clients and receiving supervision through in-house practica teams and community externships. 

The Psychological Services Center

The Psychological Services Center (PSC) is the in-house training clinic for doctoral students in the Clinical Psychology Program. The clinic accommodates a wide range of clientele with diverse psychological problems. Its primary mission is to provide training for students in the program. An additional significant function of the clinic is to provide outreach to the Northern Nevada Community providing psychological services to citizens of Nevada, independent of their ability to pay. The clinic is equipped with individual and group therapy rooms and audio-visual equipment. Please refer to the Psychological Services Center website for more information.

The practicum sequence is organized around vertically integrated supervision teams that are supervised by our core clinical faculty. Teams may be organized around a theoretical approach, a specific population, or a specific theme or issue. First-year students sit on the teams generally with no expectation that they will see clients, but rather to integrate the material that they learn in their ethics and intervention courses. Occasionally some first-year students who have prior clinical training begin to see clients in the second semester, although that is the exception rather than the norm. Advanced students continue on teams and may either see more complex cases and/or participate in the supervision process as peer supervisors. The vertically integrated nature of the practicum sequence ensures sequential learning and greater responsibility over time.

In the second year, students are required to attend a primary team and a secondary team. Students are required to carry three to four clients per semester. Over the course of a semester students are expected to accumulate approximately 40 hours of client contact. In general, teams are considered to be an 8-10 hour/week involvement (including client contact, supervision, note writing, and session preparation), equivalent to three credits per semester for students.

The program has adopted a 20-hour cap on clinical training hours to allow adequate time for research activities, consistent with our clinical science model of training. These hours include client contact, supervision, note-writing, and session preparation; for instance, it will be assumed that a 20-hour externship consists of 20 clinical training hours. Thus, for example, if a student in their third year obtains a 15-hour or 20-hour externship placement, they are not permitted to attend team in the PSC. Any requests to exceed the 20-hour cap must be approved by the CTC.

Students attending PSC teams in both their second and third years must attend at least three different supervision teams across those two years. This involves two years on a primary team, and one year each on two different secondary clinical teams.

Summer Practicum

Summer practicum is optional. If you wish to see clients during the summer, you should check with your supervisor. Any end date to your involvement on a PSC team should be incorporated into treatment planning with all affected clients. You must register for one credit of PSY 714 during the summer if you see any clients in the PSC.


During their third, fourth and fifth (if in residence) years, students often complete an externship in an approved applied clinical or research setting. Externship training sites that are not part of the University have contractual agreements with the University that are renewed each year. Students are paid through assistantship contracts that are processed through the Graduate School. These assistantships exempt the student from paying tuition. Regardless of the exact nature of the externship, supervision must be provided by a licensed clinical psychologist.

In the spring, the faculty member in charge of coordinating externship matching compiles a list of students seeking externship placement for the following year, and distributes a list of available sites. Students contact the indicated persons at the agencies and arrange for interviews; they must interview at enough sites to rank at least three as acceptable. Meanwhile, agencies submit their rankings of interviewed students to the Director of Clinical Training. After both sets of rankings are received, the Clinical Training Committee makes externship assignments, taking into account student and agency preferences, students’ training needs, and agency and program needs. The program will make every effort to place students in one of their top two slots.

Due to the need for cultivating and maintaining viable training settings, the Clinical Training Committee maintains final control of externship placements. In this regard, students should not accept an offer from an externship site, accept employment beyond the externship experience at an established site, or develop new placement sites without the approval of the Clinical Training Committee.

Non-contracted clinical positions

Some students obtain employment at mental health agencies that do not have contracts with the University. Students must notify the Director prior to taking any paid or volunteer position in the mental health field, and such work is also subject to approval by the Clinical Training Committee. Approval of the proposed employment will be based on whether the position will be beneficial in terms of career development, as well as how it will affect the student’s academic progress. Normally, students taking non-internship positions should not work more than 20 hours per week (including externship placements), and the program may review the amount of outside work undertaken by students. If the student is receiving any university funding, the CTC or DCT must approve any funded activities in excess of 20 hours per week.

Students are strongly encouraged to approach any agency with which they are considering employment about entering into a contract with the University. The contractual arrangement gives the student the protection of an official connection between the student’s employment and the Clinical Training Program, and also maintains the student’s exemption from paying out-of-state tuition.

If a student is given approval to accept a non-contracted clinical position, the student must be supervised by a licensed psychologist, and the student should be explicitly listed on the agency’s malpractice insurance policy.

It is also important that the student does not misrepresent his or her degree in any way, nor present himself or herself as a psychologist, nor bill clients directly for services. Students should be aware that neither the program nor the University provides any shelter from any legal liability that may occur in the context of non-university contracted positions.

Clinical internship

Finally, the program requires each student to complete an APA-accredited predoctoral internship. The internship constitutes the final phase of the student’s training and should follow or coincide with completion of the doctoral dissertation.

Materials describing the internship application and the matching process are available through APPIC MATCH NEWS.

Applications for internship are generally due during the months of November and December for internships beginning the following summer or fall. A certification by the DCT that the student is ready and approved to apply for internships must accompany each application. In order to obtain such certification:

  1. All comprehensive exams, coursework, and the predoc/master’s thesis must be completed
  2. A dissertation prospectus must be distributed to committee members
  3. You must be in good standing (e.g., not currently on probation)

Materials required for DCT certification must be provided to the DCT no later than October 15.

Professional responsibilities throughout clinical training

Under NO circumstance are students permitted to treat clients or engage in psychology-related, quasi-psychological or quasi-therapeutic activities on or off campus without supervision. Further, under no circumstances are students permitted to treat clients or engage in psychology-related, quasi-psychological or quasi-therapeutic activities on or off campus under the supervision of an individual who has not been approved to provide supervision by the CTC. 

We also strongly recommend that you purchase your own liability insurance throughout your clinical training (example: The Trust). Purchasing your own liability insurance adds a helpful layer of protection for you with any form of clinical work.

Students MUST be enrolled in the appropriate practicum courses whenever seeing clients in the PSC or externship sites.

Students must have clinical supervisors for all clinical work they do.  Students should seek clarification from the DCT whenever there are questions about whether paid or volunteer activities on or off campus might be construed as clinical work.


Research training

Students are expected to participate in research from their first semester, usually on joint projects with faculty. It is our intention that students will have strong scholarly interests and immerse themselves in research throughout their academic career.

No later than your third semester, please complete a Declaration of Advisor form. Important note: some forms have been hyperlinked in this document, but they are all available on the Graduate School Forms and Policies for Students website.

Predoctoral research project

The program requires that a predoctoral research project be completed. Collaborative research projects with faculty are encouraged. The following steps should be followed:

  • In consultation with your advisor, select a second reader from the clinical faculty.
  • When your advisor approves your paper, send it to the second reader and the Clinical Program Administrative Assistant.
  • Both readers must email the Clinical Program Administrative Assistant their approval of your project.

Earning a non-thesis master's degree

Although you are not required to, you should obtain a non-thesis master’s degree since you will complete the requirements for one. A master’s degree may also broaden your options in terms of externship sites. In addition to completing your predoctoral project, you must complete the requirements for a non-thesis master’s degree listed on the Program of Study Requirements for the Graduate School webpage (click on the plus sign next to “Master’s program requirements”). You may elect a thesis master’s degree option, but we advise against this because of the additional requirements regarding registering for thesis credits and other administrative requirements for completing a formal thesis. Please refer to the Graduate School website for deadlines published as to when paperwork must be submitted for graduation.

A master's degree earned while enrolling in our doctoral program is not intended to be a terminal degree and is not designed to meet requirements for licensure for clinical practice at the master level.


A significant, original contribution is required for the dissertation.


The dissertation committee must be assembled by the end of the 4th semester by completing the Advisory-Examining Committee/Program of Study form. Any committee changes after this point require the submission of a Change of Advisory Committee form to the Graduate School. The committee’s role is to advise the student on the dissertation project and to evaluate the project when it is defended.

The advisory-examining committee consists of at least five Graduate Faculty members. The committee is composed of the chair, two additional faculty members from the student’s major department, at least one faculty member from a department in a field related to the student’s major, and at least one Graduate School representative from a different department. The chairperson has the major responsibility for supervision of the doctoral student and is almost always the graduate advisor.

The student MUST ensure that the members of the committee are part of the Graduate Faculty – not all University faculty are. Please go to this link to confirm that your committee members are on the Graduate Faculty list. If you would like a faculty member to be added to this list, please speak with your advisor.

Plan to schedule committee meetings with considerable lead time as it often is difficult to find a time that everyone can meet. Other considerations include the time of the year. Summers are a particularly difficult time to schedule a meeting as faculty may not be on campus. It may also be difficult to schedule meetings at the beginning and end of semesters.

Prospectus meeting

Before dissertation research may be commenced, the prospectus must be approved by the student’s dissertation committee. The prospectus document must first be approved by the committee chairperson, and subsequently submitted to committee members at least two weeks prior to the meeting. Plan on multiple iterations of edits and comments with your committee chair before you will be able to submit it to your committee.

The prospectus defense meeting should be scheduled for 2 hours.  Most of the time, students are asked to prepare an oral presentation that lasts approximately 30 minutes, followed by an hour or so of oral examination by the committee about the project execution, write up, conceptualization, contributions, implications of the field, etc.  The student and the committee members should determine whether questioning will occur during the student’s presentation or after. Either way, at the end of the oral examination, the student is excused from the room and the committee discusses the student’s performance and decides if the student passed. The minimum threshold for acceptance of the proposal will be the committee’s unanimous judgment that the project passes. This indicates that the quality and scope of the proposed work is likely to make an original contribution to the field, is commensurate with obtaining a Ph.D., and sufficiently links the proposed work to the existing empirical and theoretical literature.

Typically, the dissertation proposal would be defended by the end of the 7th semester or within the first several weeks of the 8th semester. The final deadline without going on academic probation is the final day of classes of your 10th semester.

Considerations in completing your dissertation project

It is strongly recommended that the student collect dissertation data and make as much progress as possible on the dissertation before leaving for internship. Ideally, the student actually defends the completed dissertation before leaving for internship, or at least is well into analyzing and writing up the dissertation.  Students generally find it difficult to make significant progress on the dissertation during the internship year.  It is worth noting that internship directors look carefully at dissertation progress in ranking applicants and many job opportunities and postdoctoral fellowships are contingent upon having completely defended and submitted the dissertation.

Writing up your dissertation

Generally, the committee will require the dissertation to be written up as an extended journal article, typically with a 40-page limit. That is, the dissertation is written in a form that would be suitable for a major publication. Pertinent background is cited and discussed as would be the case for a substantial journal article. Once students have defended, they are encouraged to submit the article for publication before they leave for internship if possible.

As with the proposal document, the dissertation document must submitted to the committee members at least 2 weeks before a scheduled defense date. The document cannot be submitted to the committee members without the faculty advisor/chair’s approval. Plan on multiple iterations of edits and comments before you will be able to submit it to your committee. Both the dissertation document and the oral defense must have unanimous approval by the dissertation committee for satisfactory completion of the dissertation requirement.

Oral defense

As with the prospectus defense, dissertation defense meetings are scheduled for two hours. The format is also similar. Most of the time, students are asked prepare an oral presentation the last approximately 30 minutes. This is followed by an hour or so of oral examination by the committee about the project execution, write up, conceptualization, contributions, implications of the field, etc.  The student and the committee members should determine whether questioning will occur during the student’s presentation or after. Either way, at the end of the oral examination, the student is excused from the room and then the committee discusses the student’s performance and decides if the student passed. The minimum threshold for acceptance of the proposal will be the committee’s unanimous judgment that the project passes. This indicates that the quality and scope of the proposed work is likely to make an original contribution to the field, is commensurate with obtaining a Ph.D., and sufficiently links the proposed work to the existing empirical and theoretical literature.

It is the University’s policy that all doctoral programs that require a dissertation are now required to hold a public defense of dissertation. The public defense must be announced in the University events calendar. The student or student’s committee chair/major advisor must submit details of the dissertation defense, including, student name, dissertation title, date/time, defense location and major advisor name/email address to the Graduate School via an online submission form (Dissertation Defense Calendar Event at Graduate School Forms and Policies for Students) at least 10 business days prior to the holding of the defense. The public defense consists of the presentation by the student, followed by a private question and answer period with the committee and the student.

Paperwork that must be completed

Please refer to all of the Doctoral student forms on the Graduate School Forms and Policies for Students website.

Please follow the dissertation filing guidelines. When your dissertation is completed, complete a dissertation final review approval form.

Please refer to the Graduate School website for deadlines published as to when paperwork must be submitted for graduation.

Filing your dissertation

You must submit your dissertation to ProQuest/UMI Dissertation Publishing. You own and retain the copyright to your manuscript. The Graduate School collects the manuscript via electronic submissions only. All manuscripts are made available through ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database (PQDT), in ProQuest/UMI’s Dissertation Abstracts International, and through UNR’s institutional repository, ScholarWorks. See the information on the graduate school website for Doctoral Dissertation Filing Guidelines.

Research with human subjects

Subject pool

The Psychology Department provides a subject pool that department members can use to obtain participants for their research. The Subject Pool Coordinator administers it; see the Psychology SONA page for more information.

The pool consists of students enrolled in PSY 101 who are required to serve as a participant in research as part of their educational experience in psychology. In addition, students in some 200- and 300-level courses also have the option of participating in research for extra course credit. Department faculty members, postdoctoral fellows/trainees, and graduate students may request subject hours from the Subject Pool.

Protection of human subjects

No research can be conducted until after it has been approved by the campus Human Subjects and Institutional Review Board (IRB). For information and consultation about how to submit a research application and trainings required before submission, go to the University Research Integrity page. Documentation of IRB approval must be on file with the Subject Pool Coordinator before any studies can be scheduled using the Subject Pool. Please be aware that research involving secondary use of data (e.g., archived de-identified data sets) must also be submitted to the IRB.

Student researchers and faculty mentors/chairs must complete and pass the requisite CITI modules before initiating any research project.

Research ethics

As part of the research community, you are expected to comply with ethical policies of both the University and APA. All graduate students should take the IRB-required online CITI Human Subjects education course within a few weeks after arriving on campus.  This course is required prior to conducting any work with human subjects. HIPAA educational training also is required for any investigators using protected health information, that is, any identifiable health information relating to an individual's past, present or future physical or mental health condition.

Procedures for the ethical conduct of research are specified on the University Ethical Standards in the Conduct of Research webpage. This policy sets out ethical aspirations as well as minimum requirements that define grounds for discipline (e.g., falsification of data, plagiarism or abuse of confidentiality, improprieties of authorship, administrative and financial responsibility, violation of federal, state, or university research rules, and inappropriate behavior in the relationship of misconduct).

In addition, APA Ethical Principles Sections 6.02 through 6.26 are pertinent to conducting research and disseminating findings.

Comprehensive examinations

Students are required to successfully complete a comprehensive examination requirement, which is used to encourage the development of major interest areas.

The structure of the comprehensive exams is intended to assess your ability to engage in high quality, professionally relevant behavior that can contribute the scientific literature or research base of our discipline. In addition, successfully completed portions of the process should have the potential to be published and build your Curriculum Vitae.

Two comps are required:

  1. A grant proposal. Such a proposal should include a major substantive review of the area and justification of the research proposed. The scope should be similar to that expected of major research grants submitted to NIMH, NSF, or NIH. Short grants such as one might submit in response to a foundation or state block grant would not meet this requirement (but are useful in themselves to secure funding) unless the student creates supplements as detailed below. Specifically, students may choose to write and submit a short grant if they create supplements (to be submitted as part of the comp only) that along with the short grant proposal would be similar in nature to major research grants submitted to NIH. For instructions for each section, go to the Department of Health & Human Services Instructions for Grant Applications site.

Specifically, all grant proposals should include:

  1. Project summary/abstract
  2. Specific aims
  3. A research strategy/plan that details the significance and innovation of the project as well as a detailed approach
  4. Detailed budget with budget justification (see the National Institutes of Health: Develop Your Budget site for instructions).
  5. Protection of Human Subjects section (see the National Institutes of Health: Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information).
  6. Resources and environment
  7. Bibliography & references cited

It is recommended that one submit the grant as early in one’s graduate career as possible so that it can be revised and resubmitted to support your research. The grant proposal cannot direct funds toward a private business, as university and state policies prohibit the use of university resources for private financial interests.

Plus either:

2a. A scholarly review of theoretical and empirical literature in an area of clinical psychology (this could include a chapter). This review should be in the style of a manuscript for a major review outlet such as Psychological Bulletin, Clinical Psychology Review, Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, Annual Review of Psychology, or Psychological Review. Submissions should be no more than 50 pages including all tables and references. Supplemental tables may be included if absolutely necessary. The paper should be submitted for publication. The comps should address a question that is relevant to students’ research and/or clinical interests. This may involve a traditional literature review of research literature or a “progress review” of the current state of the evidence on a specific assessment or intervention approach.


2b. A first author publication submitted to a peer reviewed journal. This should be based on an empirical project separate from and in addition to the second-year project.


2c. A project similar in scope to Option 2a. or 2b. (e.g., state policy consultation). Proposals for substitutions must be submitted to the CTC for approval and must include enough information for the CTC to evaluate the scope of work being proposed.

Joint paper or grant proposal with faculty member or adjunct professor

Students may elect to complete the above papers by writing a paper or grant proposal in collaboration with a faculty member or adjunct professor. If this option is chosen, the student should submit a proposal that carefully delineates the work each person will be responsible for, including conceptual material, library work, and actual writing. If the student is not the first author (a situation that should occur rarely except perhaps in the case of grants) the entire CTC will serve as readers for the exam (see below under Evaluation).

Comp proposal submission and approval

Each comp proposal must be detailed and complete. In addition to the content of the proposal, and a suggested bibliography, the proposal should include a timeline (e.g., when a literature search will be completed, when a first draft is due, etc.) and an anticipated date of completion (no more than six months from the date of proposal).

  • Make your advisor the first point of contact regarding your proposal.  Review your proposal with your advisor before submission and make sure that it fits the goals and requirements above
  • Obtain a Comprehensive Exam Proposal Cover Sheet from the Clinical Program Administrative Assistant, complete it, and return to the Clinical Program Administrative Assistant
  • There are no formal dates for comprehensive exam approvals; they will be reviewed as they arrive
  • If the proposal is approved, a two-person faculty committee will be appointed to serve as an advisory and examining committee for each submission. Possible committee members may be proposed by the student, but the final decision on committee membership will be made by the Clinical Training Committee
  • The DCT will let the Clinical Program Administrative Assistant know of the decision. The Clinical Program Administrative Assistant will then record it and let the student know the outcome

Proposal and completion deadlines

A comp should be completed no later than six months after the proposal has been approved, with the exception of comps that are due over the summer months; these are due on the date when fall classes begin, end of August. If the comp is not completed by the due date, the student must resubmit the proposal along with a request for an extension and an explanation for why the extension is needed. Re-approval is not automatic.

Completed comp exam procedures and evaluation

When you have completed your comprehensive exam, email the document to the Clinical Program Administrative Assistant who will log the submission and forward it to the two appointed faculty graders. Faculty thus should expect to receive completed comps to be graded only from Clinical Program Administrative Assistant. If a faculty member receives a completed comp for grading directly from the student, they are asked to give a heads up to the student about the proper submission.

Graders will have 4 weeks to grade the paper (not counting holidays). Summer grading is not required for faculty on 9-month contracts and this deadline does not apply during that time period.

The Clinical Program Administrative Assistant will provide a reminder to the faculty when the grading period has passed, and this will be discussed at the next CTC meeting.

Graders will inform the Clinical Program Administrative Assistant of their decision by email. The paper is graded on a five-point scale. A 3 of 5 constitutes a passing grade. Both raters must pass the paper in order for the comps paper to be deemed a pass. Raters should typically provide preliminary feedback and requested revisions to the student prior to any failing grade. There is no limit to the number of rounds of revision that are offered to the student. Each revision must be graded within 30 days of resubmission. Two failures of a comp may lead to probation or dismissal from the program.

A student may request a new reader for comps to replace either member of the two-person comps examining committee. This request must come before any grading has occurred by that member. If the CTC approves the request, the student would complete a revised comps proposal for consideration by the CTC. IRB issues that arise from any use of a dataset from a prior research lab must be addressed satisfactorily if a student changes mentors on a comps project. As always, if a comps paper goes ahead for publication, all parties must abide by the APA ethical guidelines for publication.


Graduate assistantships

Our students have a history of receiving funding throughout their graduate career. For first and year students, this funding usually takes the form of a Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) position, a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) position, or a fellowship. Beginning in the third year, most students will receive part or all of their funding through an externship position (see relevant section) along with fellowship funding (most typically in the third year). Some GTA, GRA, or externship funding positions continue through the summer. Students also have the option of applying to teach courses over the summer to maintain summer funding, and are generally successful at procuring teaching positions.

Included with a 20-hour assistantship (GTA, GRA, or externship), is a partial tuition waiver and a waiver of out-of-state enrollment fee for the first year (students can then apply for in-state status), and health insurance fees. However, students are required to pay each semester the remaining fees: registration, technology, and the university mandatory fees. Please see Graduate tuition and fees for the most current fee information.

All support is contingent upon being a student in good standing the program, i.e., maintaining at least the minimum enrollment in coursework and maintaining academic standards. In addition, continuance of support as a research assistant or teaching assistant is contingent upon professional and competent performance in those positions. Please also note that a Level C violation of the academic dishonesty policy will, without exception, lead to a loss of funding in subsequent years.

To be eligible for an assistantship, students must be admitted to a degree-granting program and be in good academic standing. The student must have an overall GPA of at least 3.0 and must be continuously enrolled in at least 6 graduate level credits (600-700) throughout the duration of the assistantship.

State-funded assistantships (GTA/GRA) may be held for a maximum of 5 years for doctoral degree students.

Please familiarize yourself with the General information page for graduate assistantships and the Graduate Assistantship handbook.


Health insurance

All domestic degree-seeking graduate students, who are enrolled in six or more credits (regardless of the course level) in a semester, will be automatically enrolled and billed for the university-sponsored health insurance for each term they are eligible (fall & spring/summer). If a student has other comparable coverage and would like to waive out of the student health insurance, it is the student’s responsibility to complete the University online waiver form prior to the deadline. If approved, a health insurance waiver is good for the current academic year only. A new waiver must be submitted each academic year. All international graduate students are required to carry student health insurance, and the cost will be automatically added to your student account. Any international graduate students with insurance questions must contact the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) directly.

If you receive insurance coverage through your internship site and need to enroll in six or more credits (which should not normally happen), you may want to consider waiving out of University student health insurance following the above procedure.


Leave of absence

Continuous Enrollment

To maintain “good standing” all graduate students are required to enroll in a minimum of three (3) graduate credits each fall and spring semester until they graduate. International students may be required to enroll in nine graduate credits each fall and spring semester depending on the requirements of their visa. All students holding assistantships (whether teaching or research assistantships) are required to enroll in a minimum of six (6) graduate credits each semester they hold the assistantship.

Leave of Absence

Students in good standing may request a leave of absence by completing a Leave of Absence form during which time they are not required to maintain continuous registration. Usually, a leave of absence is approved for one or two semesters. The leave of absence request may be extended by the student filing an additional leave of absence form. Students applying for a leave of absence should not have any “incomplete” grades which could be changed to “F” and have a detrimental impact on their cumulative GPA. Requests for leave of absences must be received by the Graduate School no later than the last day of enrollment for the semester the leave is to begin.


When a student has been absent for one semester or more without an approved leave of absence, he or she may request reinstatement via the reinstatement form. This form allows the program the option to recommend the student be re-admitted to their graduate program based on their previous admission OR require the student to re-apply for admission which would require students to submit a new application for admission and pay the application fee. The Notice of Reinstatement to Graduate Standing must be received by the Graduate School no later than the last day of enrollment for the semester the reinstatement is to begin.


Graduate Student Association

The Graduate Student Association represents all graduate students and promotes the welfare and interests of the graduate students at the University of Nevada, Reno. The GSA works closely with appropriate university administrative offices, including the Graduate School and Student Services and reports to the President of the University. The GSA government functions through the Council of Representatives, Executive Council and established committees.


Feedback on progress

Academic advisor

When students enter the program, they select one of the core clinical faculty members to serve as their academic advisor. Student and advisor should work out a tentative program, including previous graduate courses that may transfer and procedures for petitioning the Clinical Training Committee for course waivers.

The academic advisor also serves as the liaison between the Clinical Training Committee and the student during the annual evaluation and provides the student with specific feedback from the Committee. If at any time the student needs counseling, tutoring, etc., the academic advisor is the official person to help him or her make the appropriate arrangements. Students may select a new advisor at any time. The role of advisor is normally assumed by the student’s research supervisor as these interests develop. The student may, of course, approach someone other than their academic advisor to talk to about their program and any problems they may be experiencing.

Annual evaluation

The annual evaluation provides a structured basis for assessing each student’s progress. Once a year, students are evaluated and given feedback on the four areas of general functioning listed below. In each of these four areas the clinical faculty members first decide if a student’s performance is satisfactory or unsatisfactory, and if unsatisfactory, if dismissal or a formal remedial plan is needed. In the case of recommendation for a remediation plan, a written evaluation report is then produced for each student by the DCT with input from the student’s advisor, the CTC, and clinical supervisors (if relevant), with comments in each of the four areas. Students should discuss the report with their advisor and file a signed copy with the Clinical Program Administrative Assistant. The signature indicates merely that the input has been received —it does not indicate agreement.

Each externship/internship site provides feedback on student performance. All externship facilities provide written feedback from the supervisors at the end of the experience or the end of each year, whichever comes first. Internship evaluations are obtained in accordance with APPIC policies.

Students must satisfactorily meet the requirements of externship/internship sites. It is the students’ responsibility to discuss these requirements at the beginning of their placement.

Academic performance

The academic performance area consists of all courses. A B- grade or higher is required to fulfill any program requirement.

Scholarly/research activities

Scholarly and research activities include the quality and timeliness of the predoc research project, comps projects, doctoral dissertation, and individual research/scholarly projects.

Applied knowledge and skills

Applied activities include psychotherapy, psychological evaluations and assessment, program evaluation, program development, and related skills. Both knowledge and skills are evaluated.

Clinical supervision feedback is given on a weekly basis to individual students as they do clinical work in their clinical practicum assignments. The most common form of feedback occurs during supervision. In addition, clinical supervisors provide feedback via the STUDENT PRACTICUM EVALUATION Form on a semester by semester basis and to the annual evaluation report, where students receive written and oral feedback indicating specific strengths and weaknesses in the clinical area. If students have questions or concerns about the feedback, they may request an opportunity to discuss their evaluation in a meeting with the Clinical Training Committee.

Students may be asked to have further supervised clinical experiences at any time before proceeding to the next phase of the program. If a student is judged by the CTC to be unable to function adequately in clinical settings, graduation may be delayed until the CTC is satisfied with the student’s clinical skills. In rare instances, a student may be asked to leave the doctoral program, in which case he/she would be counseled into a profession more appropriate to his/her personal attributes and abilities.

Professional development and comportment, ethics and academic integrity

Annual evaluations also entail evaluation of ethical conduct, academic integrity, and professional comportment.

Completion deadlines

There are two layers of deadlines. The Clinical Psychology Program requires that all work towards a doctoral degree must be completed within seven years immediately preceding the granting of the degree. UNR requires that all degree requirements must be done within eight years.

All requests for extensions must be funneled through the Clinical Training Committee who will consider the circumstances/likelihood of expedient completion in deciding whether to recommend that the student continue in the program. These requests must come from the major advisor with the agreement of the DCT. In the rare case of students needing to go beyond 7 years, requests for extensions ultimately go to the UNR Graduate School, should the CTC approve this step. Even if the CTC approves this, Graduate School approval should not be assumed, and students who go beyond 8 years are often at a risk of having to redo coursework.


The program follows the Graduate School Academic Standing and Dismissal Policy. Please review all seven sections of this policy. Please note that the program has established a B- as the minimum grade for a course to fulfill any program requirement. Please also note that the “professional or ethical standards” referenced in Section 2 is the American Psychological Association Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. When a student is identified as falling below standards according to Graduate School policy, the advisor and the rest of the Clinical Training Committee (CTC) will meet and develop a behaviorally specific plan for remediation or to recommend to the Graduate School that the student be dismissed. A remediation plan will, to the greatest extent possible, specify goals, benchmarks, and a timeline to meet the enumerated goals. If such a plan is warranted, that signals that the student is on probation and failure to meet those goals will be grounds for termination from the program. The advisor and Director of Clinical Training (DCT) will meet with the student to clarify either the basis for the remediation or the assessment of whether the goals have been met. In most cases the remediation will need to occur by the end of the next semester possible (e.g., if a statistics class is not satisfactorily completed and not offered until the following year, the remediation time table would reflect that fact). In any case, regular (at a minimum, after each semester) written feedback will be provided to the student regarding progress on the remediation plan. The student may request a meeting with the entire Clinical Training Committee to seek clarification or present facts he or she believes is relevant to the CTC’s actions.


Faculty-student relations

We aim for collegial, mutually respectful relationships between faculty and students in the clinical psychology program.  This applies among faculty and among students as well.  Our program is known for its non-competitiveness and mutually supportive environment.  Maintaining this context requires a high level of professionalism and integrity on the part of everyone. All faculty and students must comply with the American Psychological Association Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. All students must comply with the University Student Code of Conduct.

Collaborative relationships

In collaborative research: (a) faculty and student should discuss ownership of data and authorship on presentations/publications early enough in the process so that each is aware of his/her role; and (b) faculty and student should publicly acknowledge one another’s contributions at conferences, in written work, etc. APA guidelines about authorship and authorship order should be followed.

Dual relationships

A dual relationship between a faculty member and student exists when the individuals fill roles beyond what is typical in faculty-student relationships and/or the relationship is exclusionary from other faculty-student relationships.  Examples of dual relationships include, but are not limited to, romantic/sexual involvements, financial partnerships, long-time personal friendships, family relations, etc.  The effects of the dual relationship are not limited to the two individuals involved but potentially affect many persons in the program.  Ideally, dual relationships should be avoided.  In the event that a dual relationship arises, however, it is important that the dual relationship become known to others in the program rather than kept a secret.

One example of a dual relationship that can occur in the program is if a student is employed by a faculty member though a business relationship. the faculty member must disclose this relationship immediately to Michele Dondanville,, at Research & Innovation.

Psychotherapeutic relations between faculty and students must be avoided altogether.

Should a dual relationship exist, the guidelines are as follows: a faculty member involved in a dual relationship should not be: (a) instructing or supervising that student; (b) participating in the research or clinical guidance of the student; or (c) participating in the evaluation process of the student.  Depending upon the nature of the dual relationship, these guidelines may also be applied even if the dual relationship is terminated.

Coercion or discrimination in relationships

There is no place for coercive or exploitative relationships in any professional activities or work in our program.  Coercive relationships take a number of different forms.  The university has explicit policies against discrimination and sexual harassment.  Complaints related to discrimination or sexual harassment should be directed to the Equal Opportunity and Title IX Office.

Coercive relationships additionally would be defined as taking advantage of the faulty-student relationship by requesting work unrelated to academic development, inhibiting a student’s progress in order to benefit from the student’s proficiencies, or demands on the student unrelated to the student’s professional development.

It is the responsibility of each faculty member to create an atmosphere conducive to the student’s learning and professional development. Faculty are to commit themselves to impartially evaluate student performance and avoid discriminating based on irrelevant personal or demographic characteristics (including the student’s race, sex, age, sexual orientation, religious faith or lack thereof, or national origin).

Student feedback to professors

Students provide feedback on the instructional quality of the program through course evaluations, which are filled out every semester.  Students are encouraged to write comments to give specific and detailed feedback to their instructors.  Instructional issues that arise during a course should be discussed with the course instructor. A further option would be to talk to the DCT if further discussion could be useful.


Professional development

Professional organizations

Students are encouraged to join professional organizations in psychology and/or in their specialty and to establish at least one membership by the end of the first year. Student membership provides the benefits of regular membership (e.g. journals, newsletters, notices of meetings, reduced registration at meetings). Please consult with faculty, particularly your mentor, for recommendations.

Some professional organizations offer scholarships. Please consult your advisor for any leads that they may have. Also, consider creating an account on Pivot, which will allow you to search for grant and scholarship opportunities that are relevant to your research interests.

Professional conferences and workshops

Students are encouraged to attend professional conferences and workshops to supplement the material presented in classes, to become active members of the psychology community, to develop habitual ways of updating and refining knowledge, and to meet other professionals in the field. Attending conferences is a great way to learn about the most recent developments in specific fields of interest, as well as to expand into new interests. There are many conferences locally, as well as nationally.

Presenting research at professional conferences is an excellent way to get feedback from others in the field, to move research to completion, and to become known in broader professional circles. Students typically practice presentations or show early versions of their posters to colleagues in their lab or in the department.

GSA's travel award program

The GSA provides limited support for graduate student travel to professional conferences. Grants of up to $500 (domestic) or $750 (international) are provided to help students present papers and posters, participate in panel discussions, and attend conferences, lectures, and seminars that contribute to the enhancement of their programs of study. GSA Travel Grants may be applied to travel expenses only, and not to conference registration or organizational membership fees. You may receive only one travel award per academic year. For more information, please visit the Graduate Student Association Travel Award Program webpage.

Other travel awards

Please look out for additional travel awards that are made available by national organizations, the Nevada Psychological Association, and foundations.

Clinical science speakers/colloquia/job talks/brown bags

Every effort should be made to attend all clinical area, departmental, and university (e.g., School of Medicine) colloquia and presentations.  Each year there are several colloquia presented in our department.  The clinical area also runs the McReynolds Workshops every year. These colloquia and presentations provide special learning opportunities.  Plus, observing others is your best training for learning how to present your own work.  It is expected that students attend all Program Meetings and associated brown bags.  If this is not possible, the student should inform the DCT of her/his absence.

Student involvement and input also are encouraged when we are conducting faculty recruitment in the clinical area. Students are expected to attend job talks. In addition, all faculty applicants will have time set aside in their interview schedules to talk, in private, with students. Following a candidate’s visit, we will ask the student representatives to poll students as to their opinions, and present the students’ feedback at a faculty meeting. Formal discussion among faculty, however, and the final vote will be taken without students present.

Personal therapy

A common way of dealing with personal problems and high levels of stress or sorting out reactions to seeing clients (beyond what is dealt with in supervision) is to enter into therapy as a client oneself. This is not a requirement of our program; however, we do see value in students’ decisions to experience the treatment relationship as a client if they choose to do so.

Periodically, a database containing clinicians in the state who are willing to see graduate students, often at a reduced rate, is distributed to all students. Your work with a clinician would be confidential to the same degree as any other client in psychotherapy. The faculty would have no involvement or contact with your therapist except in the improbable circumstance where such contact would be allowed by law and mandated by duties of care, such as if your therapist had good cause to fear for your immediate safety and felt compelled to contact someone at the University in order to locate you. Such a circumstance would be extremely unlikely, however, and you can and should seek professional care if you feel it is needed or would benefit you, and be confident that such a decision, on balance, would indeed most likely benefit your career.

Personal problems and their interference with clinical work

It occasionally happens that personal problems interfere with one’s ability to function as a psychologist. The important issue, however, is how to deal with such problems. In line with Standard 1.13 of the APA Guidelines, it is the student’s responsibility to be alert for and to recognize if personal problems are interfering with effectiveness in clinical work. It is the student’s responsibility to refrain from activities if her/his performance is impaired and patients/colleagues/students may be harmed. As a trainee, a first step would be to discuss the possible impact of personal problems with a clinical supervisor and/or academic advisor. There are a variety of avenues to explore, including obtaining assistance with personal problems, suspending/postponing training in direct service, or taking a leave of absence from the program. A student can elect to refrain from clinical work for a semester or two but that decision can affect competitiveness for an internship and may require taking on higher clinical load during another year.

We (faculty and students) collectively share a responsibility to take action if we believe that a student’s personal problems may be harmful to clients. The appropriate action would be to bring concerns to the attention of the trainee whom you believe to be impaired. If that does not result in a corrective response and you still perceive a risk, it would be appropriate to consult with a member of the faculty.

If there is sufficient evidence supporting a student’s impairment due to an emotional, neuropsychological, or substance abuse condition, the faculty may recommend or require that: (a) the student take a leave of absence until the student no longer is impaired or (b) the student discontinue the program.  Examples of behaviors that would elicit a recommendation for a leave from the program include irresponsible or erratic behavior with clients or more generally (e.g., being late for sessions, poor record keeping, flirtatious or belligerent behavior with a client, repeatedly acting in a manner that is detrimental to the client even after receiving supervision about the behavior).

If the plan is for a temporary leave from client-related work or from the program more generally, that decision should be made in consultation between the student, the faculty advisor, and the DCT. The goal will be to generate a specific plan that includes actions for amelioration or rehabilitation.  Returning from the leave will be conditional on demonstrating that the plan has been enacted and has had the intended effect.  Prior to taking the leave, the student’s advisor and the DCT will create a written statement that documents: (a) length and reason for leave; (b) plans for remediation; and (c) how it will be determined that the student is fit to return; and (d) plans for monitoring the student after returning.

In compliance with the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the University offers equal access to its degree programs to academically qualified applicants with physical, psychological or learning disabilities. The Disability Resource Center offers excellent support for students and is dedicated to maintaining an environment that ensures all students with documented disabilities equal access to its educational programs, activities and facilities. Accommodations are designed to level the playing field for students with disabilities, while maintaining the integrity and standards of our academic program. For more information, please visit the University Disability Resource Center webpage.


Academic integrity

We assume that all members of our clinical area function with the highest regard for academic integrity. The following, however, is provided as a means of avoiding incidents that may reflect unfavorably upon the student, the program, and the university.

Academic integrity violations are spelled out in detail in the University Student Code of Conduct as well as in the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct.

These include, but are not limited to: (a) fabrication of data; (b) plagiarism; (c) the acquisition of papers or other assignments and representing them as one’s own; and (d) cheating on an examination.

Additional issues that raise questions of academic integrity include: (a) submitting a paper in fulfillment of a class or research requirement if that paper, or one similar to it, was submitted in fulfillment of any other requirement; and (b) duplicate publication or republishing data. If you are uncertain about the boundaries of these issues, be sure to seek advice and consultation from your research advisor and other faculty members.


Documentation of program experiences

The CTC strongly suggests that you make use of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards credentials banking service. You can use this service before you are licensed and it will greatly facilitate the process of moving your license should that be necessary.

Most, but not all states accept APA accreditation as an automatic benchmark for quality doctoral training. You may wish to consult the ASPPB list of licensure requirements in every state.

Please keep all course syllabi in the unlikely but possible event that you need to apply to a state in the future that requires you to submit course syllabi for licensure.