Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Program Overview
The Ph.D. Program in Clinical Psychology is fully accredited by the American Psychological Association* and the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System, and it is a member of
the Academy of
Psychological Clinical Sciences. Our program is firmly committed to training
students to advance scientific knowledge and foster the application of scientifically
validated procedures to human psychological problems. Adopting a clinical scientist
model of training, students receive vigorous academic and research preparation.
Students are carefully selected from a large pool of applicants based on their promise
as future leaders and innovators in the evolving field of clinical psychology.
Students work closely with a major advisor in a research apprentice training model.
Major advisors and students are matched at the time an offer of admission is made
based on shared research interests. However, these relationships may change if a
student’s interests change. In this training model, the majority of students
graduate with publications and conference presentations co-authored with their major
The training goals of the Clinical Psychology Program are:
- To provide a thorough grasp and understanding of the scientific foundations in general
- To insure a sound understanding of research methodology and the necessary skills
of data analysis.
- To provide a broad spectrum of training in clinical and professional skills.
Students must successfully complete a curriculum balanced with required clinical-core
courses, courses in substantive areas of psychology outside the clinical area, and
a selection of advanced seminars chosen from a variety of special topics (e.g.,
Health Psychology, Substance Use and Abuse, Psychopharmacology, Neuropsychology,
Law and Psychology, Depression). In addition, students enroll in supervised clinical
practica each semester.
The Clinical Psychology Program is fortunate to have a unique cluster of campus
and community training facilities available for student placement. These facilities
provide opportunities for both clinical training and research experience. Besides
the Departmental Psychological Services Center, other campus training sites include
the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental
Health Institute; the Moffitt Cancer Center
and Research Institute; and the University
Counseling Center for Human Development. Off campus training facilities
include the Tampa V.A. Hospital,
located across the street from the College of Medicine; Hillsborough County School
System; and various community mental health agencies in the Tampa Bay area (e.g.,
Rothman Center for Pediatric Neuropsychiatry). It is worth noting that three of these sites (Tampa
VA, Florida Mental Health Institute, University Counseling Center) also function
as APA-approved internships. Another APA-approved internship site, the Bay Pines
VA Hospital, is located about an hour’s drive from campus.
Principles & Philosophy
The field of clinical psychology is very young. It began a little more than 100
years ago, in 1896. At that time, Dr. Lightener Witmer established the first psychological
clinic, named the field "clinical psychology," and created the first clinical
psychology journal called the Psychological Clinic. At the dawn of the
20th Century the American Psychological Association, which began in 1892, had fewer
than 100 members. The first doctoral programs in clinical psychology appeared in
1948, little more than 50 years ago.
Although the field of clinical psychology has made major strides since 1896, many
questions remain unanswered as we strive to help those who suffer from a wide array
of human psychological problems. We believe that clinical psychologists have a unique
role, obligation, and opportunity in this endeavor. Clinical psychologists are the
only mental health professionals rigorously trained to apply scientific methods
to the identification, understanding, and treatment of mental health problems. The
world desperately needs highly trained professionals who can advance the field by
generating new findings and by fostering the application of empirically based knowledge
to psychological problems. Our goal in accepting graduate students is to identify
and recruit individuals who wish to join us as we strive to improve the psychological
well-being of society by applying the tools of science.
Our program is firmly committed to a clinical scientist training model. Students
receive a thorough grounding in the scientific foundations of general psychology,
are taught the most up-to-date concepts in research methodology and data analysis,
and are trained comprehensively in clinical and professional skills. Clinical course
work and practica emphasize the integration of scientific principles and the use
of empirical evidence and validated theoretical models in guiding clinical practice.
The objective of our program is to provide comprehensive training in psychology
as a basic mission, and broad-based training in clinical psychology as a specialty.
We intend for our students to be sufficiently trained so that a variety of career
options are possible for them. Beyond this basic objective, however, we hope to
provide training that will enable our students to make an impact on the field in
whatever specialty niche they pursue. The field of clinical psychology has been
in flux since its inception. Merely training students in current practices does
not sufficiently prepare them for changes that will occur in the field, nor does
it prepare them to become innovators in the field. Our training program’s
primary goal is to produce graduates who will participate in the discourse that
occurs among scholars and practitioners at the highest levels of psychology throughout
their careers and who will have a significant impact on the field. To achieve
this goal, students must receive balanced training in the science and the scientific
practice of psychology. We believe that those individuals who have a firm appreciation
for the problems encountered in clinical practice can make the most meaningful contributions
to scientific knowledge; similarly we believe that it is only by gaining a true
appreciation for the science of psychology that one can provide informed and competent
service. The Department of Psychology’s
Mission Statement provides additional information about our Program’s
Principles and Philosophy.
PCSAS and the Academy of Psychological Clinical Sciences
As noted above, the Clinical Program is accredited by the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS). As noted on its website, “PCSAS was created to promote superior science-centered education and training in clinical psychology, to increase the quality and quantity of clinical scientists contributing to the advancement of public health, and to enhance the scientific knowledge base for mental and behavioral health care.” PCSAS requires documentation that the program is dedicated to training clinical scientists, and that the majority of its graduates are indeed functioning as active clinical scientists. USF received accreditation for a term of 10 years beginning in 2011. The PCSAS application abstract from the February, 2011 summarizes how the program met the accreditation criteria at that time.
Similarly, the program is a member of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science, which is a coalition of doctoral training programs that share a common goal of producing and applying scientific knowledge to the assessment, understanding, and amelioration of human problems. Membership in the Academy is granted only after a thorough peer review process. Membership in the Academy reflects our Program’s commitment to excellence in scientific training, and to using clinical science as the foundation for designing, implementing, and evaluating assessment and intervention procedures.
Curriculum, Sequence of Training, and Other Requirements
Please read the Department Graduate
Student Handbook for details.
* APA Commission on Accreditation: 750 First Street, NE - Washington, DC 20002 - (202) 336-5979