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Clinical Psychology Program Graduate Programs

James G. Murphy
Director of Clinical Training

The doctoral program in clinical psychology has been APA* accredited continuously since 1972. The program is guided by the scientist/practitioner model and places a particularly strong emphasis on research. Although diversity exists among the clinical faculty with respect to methods of inquiry and areas of study, there is unanimity in promoting scientific inquiry as the foundation of clinical psychology. Students with strong current research interests and corresponding career goals present the best fit with the clinical faculty and the educational opportunities available in our department.

The emphasis on scientific inquiry is indicated by the clinical program's membership in the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science, which is an alliance of leading scientifically oriented doctoral training programs and internships in clinical and health psychology in the United States and Canada. Academy membership is open to doctoral programs with strong commitments to, and established records of, successful clinical science training.

Our program offers three broad areas of research focus within clinical psychology: Child and Family Studies, Clinical Health Psychology, and Psychotherapy Research. As you explore the web sites of our faculty members, you will see how their research and clinical interests tend to fit in these areas. Each of our students declares an alliance with one of these areas or establishes a blended program tailored to their needs, with faculty approval. To promote student growth and collaboration, students in each area complete specific coursework consistent with their interests. Please see our web site to learn more about our research areas.

To be accepted into the clinical program, students must apply for full-time studies. Students enter our program from a variety of career paths: Some have recently completed their undergraduate degrees, whereas others have spent time working after finishing their undergraduate training. Still others have already earned a Master’s degree.

Consistent with our strong scientific emphasis, students are usually supported with a research assistantship during their first year of graduate training. In addition, students complete a second research assistantship in their area of interest during their second or third year in residence. Our mentorship model allows students to receive hands-on guidance from basic research training through their mastery of highly complex scientific skills.

Clinical training also begins in the first year, when students typically complete their core classes in clinical psychology. This first year is highly structured with required clinical and general psychology courses; subsequently, the content of study is more flexible and determined by each student’s research area and interests.

After completing their first year, students see patients during years 2 through 4 in our training clinic, the Psychological Services Center (PSC), under the close supervision of clinical faculty. Clinical orientations among our faculty include cognitive behavior therapy, family systems approaches, and motivation interviewing, among other methods. The orientation of all faculty members is empirical, emphasizing the relations between research evidence and practical clinical applications. Students are encouraged to develop their own conceptual synthesis.

In addition to their training in the PSC, students complete at least one year of clinical assistantship, working in one of a variety of diagnostic and treatment facilities within the community. Memphis provides a range of outstanding training sites, including a multidisciplinary diagnostic center for developmental disabilities, a local psychiatric hospital, our student health clinic, a federal prison, and the world famous St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In addition, our students often engage in short-term training on a volunteer basis at the Memphis VA Medical Center and a number of other community agencies.

Assistantship support is provided for a minimum of four years, at a rate of $13,000 for students without Master’s degrees and $14,000 for students with their Master’s. Tuition is waived for students in good standing on assistantship support. Academic and financial counseling for clinical students is available within the department and is also offered through the Center for Student Development on campus. Students can receive reduced-fee personal counseling from community professionals.

Once a student is accepted into the Clinical Program, every effort is made to provide an environment conducive to his or her successful completion of the program. We try to prevent attrition as much as possible through early detection of problems, either academic or personal, and through providing early counseling and constructive feedback.

Students typically receive their doctorate after an average of 5.7 years of study, including their year of internship training. In other words, our students usually complete their pre-internship training in 4 to 5 years. A recent study of our students indicated that they have an average of 3 publications and over 10 conference presentations and posters by their fifth year. In addition, they have typically assessed and treated a wide range of clients. Thus, our students are highly competitive for internship programs.

Our program graduates work in a variety of settings. Recent data indicate that the most common work environments for our alums are medical centers (23%) and academic settings (22%). In addition, 11% are employed by VA Medical Centers, and about 9% are in private practice. Smaller numbers of graduates are employed in diverse settings such as correctional facilities, private general hospitals, university counseling clinics, and military medical centers. We are extremely proud of the multiple honors our former students have won for their professional service.

*Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association
Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
750 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
Phone: 202-336-5979
TDD/TTY: 202-336-6123

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Last Updated: 10/7/14