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Colleges with Clinical Psychology Degrees: How to Choose

Clinical psychology involves the assessment and treatment of a large variety of mental problems, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias and schizophrenia. Degree programs in this field of study can be highly competitive, with acceptance rates as low as three percent in some cases.

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How to Select Colleges for Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology programs are available at 4-year colleges and universities.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Accreditation
  • School facilities
  • Career goals

Accreditation

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree or another doctoral degree is usually required to be licensed and work as a clinical psychologist in independent practice (www.bls.gov). The recognized accrediting body for graduate programs in psychology is the American Psychological Association (APA). Accreditation by the APA is one of the most important factors to consider for students who are interested in clinical psychology.

School Facilities

Students may also take into account the on-site facilities available through a program. Studies in psychology typically involve a large research component as well as hands-on clinical work through internships and residencies. Some schools have on-site clinics, research labs and affiliations with local mental health facilities and organizations. Programs that offer cutting-edge facilities and opportunities for research and professional experience may prove to offer students the most benefit.

Career Goals

Students may also want to take into account any career goals or psychology-related interests they have. Some schools offer programs that enable students to specialize in particular areas, such as family and couples counseling, child and adult psychopathology, behavioral medicine, clinical assessment and cognitive-behavioral therapy, among others. Additionally, some programs emphasize scientific research, while others emphasize studies and real-life experience in clinical practice.

Career goals may also be a deciding factor in the level of degree a student may pursue. A master's degree typically will not enable a graduate to be licensed as a clinical psychologist, according to the BLS, but it may be enough to allow one to work in psychology-related areas in research, business and education or in health facilities or community organizations.

Clinical Psychology Program Overviews

Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology

Coursework covers fundamental and advanced elements of psychology, such as:

  • Cognition
  • Personality
  • Research methods
  • Diversity

Most programs also include courses in assessment and psychotherapy and require clinical internships or field experiences. Students have opportunities to participate in research as well.

Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology

Required coursework includes advanced classes in the biological, social, developmental and cognitive elements of psychology and psychopathology. In addition, programs also offer training in:

  • Assessment
  • Intervention
  • Ethics

Most programs follow a scientist-practitioner model that integrates research and practical clinical training and experience through required internships and residencies. Students must also complete a dissertation based on original research.

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