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Welcome to the program!

Now that you are a graduate student in the USF Clinical Psychology program, you probably have a lot of questions. Good news: We have answers! The links below will direct you to information that will guide you all the way from selecting classes during your first year to applying for internship and completing your dissertation.

The graduate student handbook contains information about policies and procedures for all aspects of the program. This should be the first place you look to find answers to any questions that arise.

Looking for a form? Visit Policies & Procedures for Students for all student-related clinical area and general department forms.

Want to know more about current clinical psychology students? View Current Graduate Students page for the list.

See below for quick answers to some frequently asked questions:

What classes do I need to take?

Clinical Core: Fundamental

  • Psychopathology and its Development (3 credits--Fall of 1st year)
  • Psych Assessment: Either Adult OR Child— includes behavioral, IQ, cognitive, clinical assessment (3 credits)
  • Clinical Psychology Interventions: Either Specific Disorders OR General/Nonspecific Factors (3 credits)

Clinical Core: Specialization/Advanced

  • Four additional courses either from list of Fundamental Clinical Core above, or from list of Advanced Seminars and Specialization Topics Related to Psychological Assessment, Intervention, and Psychopathology/ Dysfunctional Behavior (At least 3 of the 4 must be within the clinical area).
  • Clinical brown bag attendance for 30 hours and a 1-hour presentation can count as one of the advanced courses.

Clinical Core: Other

  • Introduction to clinical psychology: Includes cultural diversity, history and systems, human development, professional development, and the thesis process (1 credit in Fall, 2 credits in Spring)
  • Ethics and Professional Problems (2 credits: Spring of 1st year)

Clinical Practicum and Skills Training

  • Summer of First Year: Assessment Skills Training Series "Boot Camp" (no registration for credit necessary).
  • Fall of Second Year: Intervention Skills class (2 credits)
  • Clinical Practicum: Assessment and psychotherapy in the Psychological Services Center (PSC); Case-load of two clients during years 2-5. For every year that students are in the PSC, they must register for one credit of PSY 6946 in Fall and in Spring with every supervision group that they attend. PSY 6946 is now Pass/Fail.

Research Methods

  • Regression & Lab (4 credits)
  • Multivariate Stats (4 credits)
  • Psychometrics (4 credits)
  • One Additional Methods Course (3 credits)

Breadth/Core Course (Courses cannot be double counted)

  • Biological aspects of behavior (3 credits)
  • Social aspects of behavior (3 credits)
  • Cognitive/affective aspects of behavior (3 credits)

Outside of the Department

  • PSY 6217/SOP 6266 Clinical Psychometrics
  • EDF 7484 Statistical Analysis in Education Research III (4 credits)
  • EDF 7437 in Education Measurement
  • Advanced Educational Measurement I (3 credits)
  • Advanced Educational Measurement II (3 credits)
  • GEY 6403 Multivariate Statistics Aging (3 credits)
  • EDF7486 Structural Equation Modeling (3 credits)
  • EDF 7437 Psychometrics I (3 credits)
  • Medical Family Therapy (3 credits)
  • Marital Therapy, Theory, & Technique (3 credits)
  • RCS6930/22245 Family Therapy, Theory, & Techniques (3 credits)
  • SPS 6101 Behavior Disorders in Children and Adolescents
  • EDF 7138 Adolescent Development
  • Neuropharmacology (3 credits)

Other Requirements

  • Research product in spring of first year (present at poster session at end of spring semester)
  • Comprehensive exams (General/Integrative and Research Area/Specific) or Major Area Paper
  • Thesis (6 thesis credits, 2 of which are during semester degree is granted)
  • Dissertation (12 dissertation credits, 2 of which are during semester degree is granted)
  • A minimum of four years of full-time academic training on-site, this includes a minimum of 90 credit hours.
  • Internship (One year, APA accredited; or in unusual circumstances, a student in good standing can petition to the clinical faculty to be allowed to apply to an internship that is accredited by APPIC (but not accredited by APA).

What is the Typical Curricular Plan?

Note: The below plan is just an example. You do not need to strictly following this plan.

Year I

Semester 1

Psychological Assessment (either in 1st Fall or Spring): CLP 6438 (3)
ANOVA/Regression and lab: PSY 6217 (4)
Psychopathology: CLP 6166 (3)
Intro to Clinical Psychology: CLP 6937 (1)

Total Credit Hours: 11

Semester 2

Choice of Breadth (either Fall or Spring): (3)
Psychometrics: (3)
Ethics: PSY 7931 (2)
Intro to Clinical Psychology CLP: 6937 (2)
Thesis: PSY 6971 (2)

Total Credit Hours: 12

Early in the first summer after the first year, students must take the Psychological Assessment Skills Training Seminar in the Psychological Services Center (no registration for credit required). We suggest that students take at least one required course (e.g., a breadth course, if available) and work on their master’s theses during their first summer.

Year II

Semester 1

Psychological Interventions (either in 1st Spring or 2nd Fall): CLP 7188 (3)
Multivariate: EDF 7484 (4)
Intervention Skills: PSY 6946 (2)
Clinical Practicum: PSY 6946 (1)

Total Credit Hours: 10

Semester 2

Choice of Breadth (either in Fall or Spring) (3)
Choice of Clinical Didactic (3)
Clinical Practicum: PSY6946 (1)
Thesis: PSY 6971 (2)

Total Credit Hours: 9

Year III

Semester 1

Choice of Breadth (3)
Choice of Clinical Didactic (3)
Clinical Practicum: PSY6946 (1)
Thesis: PSY 6971 (2)

Total Credit Hours: 9

Semester 2

Choice of Methods (3)
Choice of Clinical Didactic (3)
Clinical Practicum: PSY6946 (1)
Thesis: PSY 6971 (2)

Total Credit Hours: 9

Years IV and above

Semester 1

Dissertation: PSY 7980 (5)
Choice of Clinical Didactic (3)
Clinical Practicum: PSY6946 (1)

Total Credit Hours: 9

Semester 2

Dissertation: PSY 7980 (5)
Clinical Practicum: PSY6946 (1)
Optional Elective (3)

Total Credit Hours: 9

Additional Information

Students in the second year and above must register for one hour of clinical practicum (PSY 6946) per term in the Fall and Spring for the remainder of their involvement in the clinic for every supervision group that they attend. Students working on a dissertation must enroll for a minimum of two (2) hours of dissertation every semester (including summer) starting with the semester following Admission to Doctoral Candidacy.

Comprehensive exams and the Major Area Paper (the General/Integrative section and the Research Area/Specific section) are taken after the core course work and Masters thesis is completed. Students may take either the comprehesive exams or complete a major area paper.

The dissertation can be proposed before or after comprehensive exams or MAP, but students are only admitted to doctoral candidacy after they have passed either comprehensive exams or their Major Area Paper defense and had their dissertation committee approved by the Graduate Program Committee. Dissertations must be proposed before applying to internships. Students usually try to apply for an APA-accredited internship in their fourth or fifth year so that they can attend an internship in their fifth or sixth year.

What is the clinical timeline?


Task Aspirational Goal Probation Deadline Final Termination Deadline
Propose M.A. thesis Spring, First Year or
Fall, Second Year
End of Third Year End of Fourth Year
Defend final M.A. thesis Spring, Second Year
or Fall, Third Year
End of Fourth Year End of Fifth Year
Comps or MAP Spring, Third Year Fall of Fifth Year Fall of Sixth Year
Propose dissertation Spring, Third Year or
Fall, Fourth Year
End of Fifth Year End of Sixth Year
Defend dissertation Spring, Fourth Year or Spring, Fifth Year Fall of Sixth Year End of Seventh Year
Attend / complete internship Fifth or Sixth Year End of Seventh Year End of Eighth Year

Goals are meant to keep students on track. However, students and their major professor should aspire to exceed the goals in order to maximize the student’s academic training while at USF (e.g., to enhance their CV with additional publications before they go on the job market, to master a new research methodology, etc.).

Probation deadlines are the last possible time that students can complete each milestone and remain in good-standing. Students who fail to meet a deadline will be placed on probation (usually for a one-year period). In conjunction with the major professor and with the approval of the clinical faculty, the Director of Clinical Training will write a letter to the student (filed with the college and graduate school) that outlines the nature of the deficiency and the required remedy. Failure to meet the terms of the probation will be grounds to recommend dismissal of the student from the program.

In extraordinary circumstances (e.g., student’s serious health problem, massive problems with data collection that are not the fault of the student, such as the new HIPAA regulations) the clinical faculty can allow a student to exceed these established deadlines without penalty.

How do comprehensive exams and the major area paper option work?

Comprehensive Exams

Comprehensive examinations (Comps) consist of two sections, each of which will have two questions: General/Integrative (G/I) and Research Area/Specific (RAS). The GI section covers an integration of the following topics: Psychometrics, assessment, psychopathology, ethics, therapy/interventions, clinical research methods, diversity, development, and history and systems. These questions are written and graded by the Clinical Area Comps Committee, which has at least four clinical faculty members. The RAS section is based on the student's area of research interest. These questions are written and graded by the three clinical faculty members of the student's dissertation committee. For both sections, exams are completed at home during a specified period of time and are submitted electronically. Faculty grade the answers and give written feedback. Students are allowed to revise their answers once if needed based on the committee's feedback.

Comprehensive exams in the clinical area are given twice a year. Fall G/I comps are given on the first Friday of October and Spring G/I comps are given on the Friday of Spring Break.

Requirements to take Comps

Students must have completed their core course work and their thesis before sitting for comps. Exceptions to the course work requirement are as follows: (1) You may have one Research Methods course remaining, and (2) Three advanced graduate courses/seminars may remain (as long as you are enrolled in at least two of the three).

Students must defend the Master's thesis successfully one full month prior to the first day of exams and be approved by their major professor to sit for exams. An application form will apply. Please note that this does not mean that the student must have the final revisions of the thesis completed and accepted by the graduate school. However, if considerable changes are required by the thesis committee, the student's major advisor has the option of requiring that all revisions be completed prior to granting approval to take the Comprehensive Exams.

Major Area Paper Option (MAP)

Students who are in good standing in the program have the option of requesting to write a Major Area Paper in lieu of the comprehensive examination.

Approval. Approval must be granted by the student's major professor and doctoral committee. The major professor should first contact each dissertation committee member (before the student does) to discuss whether the student would be an appropriate candidate for the MAP option. The student will provide the committee with a written proposal for the Major Area Paper. The proposal should include an outline, elaboration on the scope and depth of the paper, and list of references. This written proposal will be discussed in the proposal meeting with the committee. The committee will then help the student develop a plan of action to complete the Major Area Paper.

The student may discuss with the major professor and any other faculty only conceptual issues related to the major area paper and the outline of the paper. The major professor and other faculty may not discuss or coach the student on issues surrounding the actual writing of the major area paper. The major professor should not see a written product until submitted to the committee.

Scope and Goals of the MAP. The MAP should represent a critical review of one or more areas of psychology that has not been reviewed in the last three years. It must fill a gap in the literature. A sophisticated, critical analysis of the literature is expected. The review should integrate information from within the particular subject area, incorporate material from other relevant areas, and establish implications for the field. The manuscript should reflect a synthesis – not merely a list or description of studies, but a perspective that is greater, more meaningful, and more parsimonious than the sum of its parts. Use of meta-analytic methods is legitimate and may be a desirable option. Both the manuscript and oral presentation should demonstrate the student’s expertise, an advanced awareness of the pertinent theoretical and methodological issues. We recommend that students closely examine various high quality review journals for examples of successful papers; e.g., Psychological Bulletin, Psychological Review, Clinical Psychology Review, Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice. Students should also ask committee members for good examples of review papers written by others in the program.

Evaluation. The committee’s evaluation goal should not be simply to decide whether the paper meets a minimal "satisfactory" level of performance. Rather, the committee’s approach and evaluative responses should be modeled after the journal review process. Outcomes may also take a similar form; i.e., ranging from "accept" "accept with minor revisions," "revise and resubmit," to "reject." If the committee concludes that the student is unable to produce an acceptable revision, they may recommend that the student take comprehensive exams. It is anticipated that the project will take between six and twelve months. However, the committee in consultation with the student will decide the actual time for completion of the work.

Student Choice. The MAP option is an excellent, highly recommended choice for select students who want the opportunity and have the ability to pursue an in-depth analysis of a particular topic of interest. It should not be viewed as simply a requirement that is interchangeable with comprehensive exams. Students must realize that more than one post-proposal meeting to incorporate the committee’s recommendations is possible.

What are the policies for placements while I am at USF and for applying to internship?

Clinical Student Placements

Because of the importance of appropriate clinical training, a Clinical Placement Committee exists to monitor the paid and volunteer clinical, research, and teaching activities of clinical graduate students. Each year, students receive a document that reviews the Placement policies in depth. Students should read this document carefully. The following policies, in particular, should be kept in mind:

  1. Work funded by a mentor’s grant is not considered a “placement.”
  2. Students are discouraged from working more than a total of 24 hours per week across paid or unpaid positions, and require approval to do so. Complete adherence to this policy, including full reporting of all work hours, paid or unpaid, is expected of our students. This includes paid and unpaid research, clinical, and teaching activities that are outside the student’s primary laboratory (please note, for the purposes of this policy, a .50 FTE appointment is defined as 16 hours/week). Paid and unpaid research positions not involving direct clinical services (e.g., data analyst, position conducting literature reviews) are still reported as hours worked. For example, formal positions outside your primary mentor’s laboratory such as clinical intake assessor, primary therapist (on a clinical trial), data analyst, or project director should be reported if takes you over 24 hours per week of total work. Therefore, all formal clinical and research positions (paid or unpaid) outside a student’s primary laboratory are considered working hours as defined in the extra working hours policy below.

    Exceptions: Extra hours within your research lab or associated with informal research collaborations across laboratories (e.g., data analysis and manuscript write-ups, co-investigators on a research project) do not require reporting. Also, engaging in support hours or extra activities at the PSC, up to 4 hours (e.g., PSC 4-hour externship), are exempted from this policy. However, students must still discuss these activities at the PSC with research advisors.

    Requests to work above 24 hours (i.e., funding source + 8 hours of externship) will be denied by the faculty in the absence of very strong justification by the student. If students have strong justifications for working above 24 hours (paid and unpaid), students can submit an Extra Hours Request Form (see Clinical Placements Policy and Procedures on our program website). It is extremely important that students seek clinical faculty approval prior to accepting any positions above a 24 hour workload. Upon completion of this form, the following steps should be taken: 1. Meet with major professor to discuss the extra hour request and receive approval. 2. Email completed form with major advisor approval to the DCT (with major professor cc’ed). The request will be evaluated by the faculty, and the major professor will have to attend and present the student’s request during the next clinical faculty meeting for further discussion. The decision to approve such requests is made by the whole clinical faculty, not just the DCT or major professor, and is made based on the specific case of the student progress and training goals. As noted, these requests are rarely approved. Note: See the Departmental Assistantships section of this handbook for the Psychology Department policy regarding number of work and paid hours per week. The clinical program does not have authority over this policy. Students can use the Extra Hours Request Form to first obtain approval from the clinical faculty and then to seek departmental approval for paid work over 20 hours per week.
  1. If students hear about potential paid placements, they should have the supervisor at the potential placement contact the chair of the Placement Committee. Please have the site complete the Placement Information from online ( The placement committee will review and consult with the faculty.
  2. Note that students have to inform the faculty regarding any work or appointment to which they intend to apply outside of the department or not sponsored by the area (i.e., not part of our externship/placement system) including during the summer. The faculty have vetted the supervisors and placement sites that are currently sponsored by the program, to ensure the best possible training of our students consistent with our clinical scientist values. When new opportunities come up for students, and the above Placement Information form is not appropriate (e.g., summer camp, FBI), students should complete the OUTSIDE WORK REQUEST FORM about this outside opportunity and send the request to the DCT, who is responsible for sharing with the rest of the faculty for approval.
  3. Students are required to carry malpractice insurance throughout their clinical training ( A copy of the malpractice verification should be submitted to Tatyana Truax each year.

Placement Committee

The clinical program has a Placement Committee that serves to integrate external training opportunities with our Program. The Committee oversees all clinical, research, and teaching positions, both paid and unpaid. In addition, the placement committee obtains formal evaluations of placement sites by students, and placement supervisors provide written evaluations of student performance. The purposes of the placement committee are to ensure that:

  1. Students’ training experiences and supervision are appropriate for their level of training and consistent with our program’s philosophy and values.
  2. The process of obtaining placements is fair to all students.
  3. Students receive diverse training experiences.

See the PSC and Clinical Placements and Externship opportunities for more information.

Internship Requirement

Each student in the Clinical Program is required to complete a one-year, full-time APA-approved internship in a training facility approved by the Program area. Students on internship are allowed to register for a zero-credit course (CST 6990) while on internship.

Students must have proposed their dissertation successfully before the end of the spring semester in the year of their internship application before applying for an internship. However, it is recommended that students propose their dissertation before submitting the internship applications. Exceptions may be allowed only if the major professor, clinical faculty, and student guarantee that the student will propose their dissertation successfully on or before August 31st of that year.