Clinical Psychology PHD

Program Purpose

The Clinical Psychology Program aims to: (a) prepare students for applied and academic careers in mental health delivery and research; (b) increase knowledge in this important area of human functioning; (c) bring this knowledge to the public through outreach and careers of service that alleviate human suffering; and (d) develop students in an atmosphere of rigorous scholarship, service, and values. Ours is a post-baccalaureate program consisting of four years of course work, skill development, and research, followed by a one-year, full-time internship.

Our program serves the small number of highly qualified students admitted each year, as well as the many people to whom our students provide services during their training and subsequent careers. Although the human problems addressed by our field impact all people, we especially seek to serve disadvantaged and underserved populations.

Our program trains students in mainstream skills found in most clinical psychology programs, including evaluation of human problems, skills in intervention, and research skills. We employ the scientist-practitioner model, emphasizing the intertwined nature of these two perspectives. We view competent practice as informed by science and consider effective research, whether basic or applied, as driven by real human needs. With respect to these two perspectives, we perhaps most vigorously teach and mentor the science portions of our discipline, always with an eye to how our students rely on them regardless of the professional area in which they find themselves. We emphasize competence, a scientific basis for action, and the highest ethical standards of our profession that promote the dignity and autonomy of the individual and the overall welfare of society. In this way, our program consistently endorses and reinforces the mission and aims of a BYU education.

Curricular Structure

The program is a logical, graduated sequence of structured and mentored activities based on national accreditation standards (Commission on Accreditation for professional psychology programs): A foundation in established psychological knowledge constitutes a significant portion of the required coursework, which focuses on major areas of psychology selected to achieve a breadth of understanding of scientific psychology:

A. Biological aspects of behavior

Psychology 585 (Human Neuropsychology / Biological Bases of Behavior)

B. Cognitive and affective bases of behavior

Psychology 575 (Cognitive Processes)

C. Social and cultural aspects of behavior (both courses required)

Psychology 550 (Theory and Research in Social Psychology)

Psychology 645 (Cultural Diversity and Gender Issues)

D. History and systems of psychology

Psychology 510 (History and Systems of Psychology)

E. Research methodology (both courses required)

Psychology 504 (Research Design)

Psychology 505 (Clinical Research)

F. Techniques of data analysis (both courses required)

Psychology 501 (Data Analysis in Psychological Research)

Psychology 502 (Data Analysis in Psychological Research)

In the more specific knowledge areas of clinical psychology, students must learn about individual differences, assessment principles and procedures, and theories of psychopathology and intervention, including:

G. Individual Differences (all required)

Psychology 520 (Advanced Developmental Psychology)

Psychology 611 (Psychopathology)

Psychology 645 (Cultural Diversity and Gender Issues)

H. Professional Standards and Ethics

Psychology 609 (Professional and Ethical Issues)

I. Psychological Assessment, Measurement, and Intervention (both required)

Psychology 622 (Assessment 1: Intelligence)

Psychology 623 (Assessment 2: Personality)

J. Individual and Group Therapy (all required)

Psychology 651 (Psychotherapy 1: Relationship and Psychodynamic)

Psychology 652 (Psychotherapy 2: Cognitive-Behavioral)

Psychology 653 (Psychotherapy 3: Child and Adolescent)

Psychology 654 (Psychotherapy 4: Group)

Building upon the knowledge and skill set established above, further development of clinical skills is a major part of student activities:

K. Supervised clinical activities

Psychology 740R (Case Conference, 6 semesters)

Psychology 741R (Integrative Practicum, 9 semesters)

Psychology 743R (Clerkship, 2 settings)

Psychology 700R (Externship, optional)

Psychology 745, 746, 747, 748 (Internship, one year)


A major portion of the program involves activities mentored by faculty, including the skill development activities mentioned above, as well as participating on research teams, the dissertation, participation in professional meetings, and other professional development and community service activities. The externship and clerkship programs, in which students provide services to the public under supervision and in community settings, are extensive and varied.


Graduate Catalog

Learning Outcomes

Professional and Ethical Practice

Be able to work within the clinical psychology profession with attitudes and behaviors that are ethical, driven by science and the welfare of affected individuals, respectful and tolerant of diversity, and critically self-evaluative.

Courses that Contribute: PSYCH 609 PSYCH 748
Linked to BYU Aims: Faith and testimony, Lifelong service
Critical Thinking and Effective Communication

Be able to demonstrate intellectual sophistication that exemplifies critical thought, analytical reasoning, a strong basis in psychological knowledge, and effective communication skills.

Courses that Contribute: PSYCH 510 PSYCH 540
Linked to BYU Aims: Think soundly, Communicate effectively
Psychology Fundamentals

Be able to demonstrate a strong foundation in the broader field of psychological knowledge.

Courses that Contribute: PSYCH 510 PSYCH 540
Linked to BYU Aims: Human knowledge, Competence
Clinical Skills and Area Competencies

Be able to demonstrate broad knowledge and clinical skill in the areas of psychopathology, psychological evaluation, and psychological intervention. (Our program documents articulate the most important competencies in this area that all students must attain.)

Courses that Contribute: PSYCH 700R PSYCH 745 PSYCH 746 PSYCH 748
Linked to BYU Aims: Communicate effectively, Competence
Research Skills and Analysis

Use research skills, including statistical skills, methodology, framing of psychological questions, and critical analysis, to evaluate published research.

Courses that Contribute: None
Linked to BYU Aims: Communicate effectively, Competence
Mental Health Research and Education

Be able to conduct important research, education, and mental health delivery.

Courses that Contribute: None
Linked to BYU Aims: Communicate effectively, Quantitative reasoning
Professional Development

Be able to continue the development of their profession by gaining licensure, securing employment, and participating in professional organizations.

Courses that Contribute: PSYCH 700R PSYCH 748
Linked to BYU Aims: Faith and testimony, Lifelong service

Evidence of Learning

Assessment Tools

The process of evaluating and improving the program is extensive and ongoing, incorporating a number of diverse activities and types of information:

1. Course evaluation is conducted in each course, including the usual breadth of quizzes, examinations, papers, and presentations. Students also evaluate each course in terms of the instructor's preparation, content, instructor knowledge, delivery, assessment, and outcomes.

2. Clinical work is, by the nature of supervision, continuously evaluated and monitored, with formal evaluation by supervisors occurring each semester. Formal evaluations assess student competence and development in critical skill areas determined by program goals. Students regularly evaluate externship and clerkship settings and supervisors.

3. Research skills are evaluated each year by faculty mentors. These evaluations assess student development and competence in critical skill areas determined by program goals.

4. Comprehensive examinations must be passed to be admitted to candidacy and to continue in the program. Examinations cover critical knowledge and skill areas.

5. The dissertation is a research activity closely monitored by the dissertation committee, with both the prospectus and the final dissertation requiring successful public defense.

6. Each student undergoes periodic review, briefly at the end of fall, and intensively each summer. Each area of the student's program is evaluated, and the student is given a formal rating. It appears in a letter to the student that recognizes achievement, development, areas for further improvement, and any required remediation.

7. Each cohort of students elects a representative, who meets regularly with and provides feedback to the faculty regarding student needs, assessment of program objectives, and recommendations.

8. Monthly program faculty meetings, in which the student representatives participate, include the review of program objectives and procedures. This allows considerable self-assessment by the faculty.

9. We have a program of ongoing collection of data regarding student outcomes, including employment and other achievements after graduation. The data are collected at least annually.

10. We engage in intense program review either in the form of periodic faculty retreats (about annually). A major program review is conducted in the form of an extensive self-study as part of our accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for the American Psychological Association.

11. We periodically bring in outside reviewers to assess our program (the most recent accreditation site visit was in 2011 and the department-initiated outside review in 2015).


Formal program assessment data are collected through the alumni survey and through program surveys of graduates (both occur annually), as well as through ongoing tracking of student progress. All of the data associated with program assessment are maintained by the Executive Assistant and stored on the Executive Assistant's office computer in 288 TLRB.


Analysis, Evaluation, and Improvement Process

Because of the intensive nature of this evaluation and program development process, it primarily occurs at our clinical psychology faculty retreats. Prior to retreats, data are summarized and submitted to the faculty, problem areas are highlighted, the faculty submit their personal recommendations, and these are distributed for consideration by all. As we consider developments in the field, accreditation guidelines, program goals, and student progress, including feedback from outside persons such as internship sites and employers, areas for improvement become evident. The retreats also allow us to identify areas for further study, with either the program director or ad hoc committees making presentations and recommendations to the program faculty at subsequent monthly faculty meetings. The program director is charged with implementing changes, reporting to the faculty on progress in implementation, and adapting assessment procedures to track new information. Most adjustments are minor and internal or primarily affect mentoring activities. Any time a change requires a new course, the rationale and formal proposal are submitted to the college curriculum committee.

Direct Measures

1. Annual and Semiannual review of each student

2. Ratings by clinical supervisors and/or research mentors

3. Class work

4. Comprehensive examinations

5. Dissertation and public defense

6. Student publications and presentations

7. National licensure exam

Indirect Measures

1. University alumni surveys

2. Program alumni surveys

3. APA accreditation surveys

Learning and Teaching Assessment and Improvement

Learning and Teaching Assessment and Improvement: As outlined above, the clinical psychology faculty retreats provide a nexus for the various data summaries on which we depend for our ongoing evaluation of the program and its effectiveness vis-à-vis the learning outcomes. Specific goals for improvement of the program are decided on at the retreats, and specific goal strategies and follow-up assignments are articulated there. The program director and ad hoc committees, comprised of clinical psychology faculty, share the responsibility for assuring the realization of the goals.