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Clinical Psychology Program

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. Our program also provides outstanding clinical training opportunities, including careful supervision by our faculty in our Psychological Services Center and a variety of paid clinical training opportunities in the Memphis Community.

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 has the following training goals and objectives:

  1. Students will become competent in general knowledge of psychology as a science and the breadth of the field's foundations.

    • Students will demonstrate competency in the history of psychology, its development as a field, and its relations with other scientific disciplines.
    • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental areas of psychology.
    • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the science-based nature of clinical psychology.

  2. Students will demonstrate a thorough understanding and appreciation of scientific methodology and the ability to apply this methodology to issues in clinical psychology.

    • Students will be knowledgeable concerning basic research methodology and statistics.
    • Students will be able to apply their research and statistical skills to evaluate the efficacy of various clinical treatments.
    • Students will demonstrate an understanding of how clinical measurement instruments should be developed and validated.
    • Students will produce competent scientific products.e. Students will value their role as scientist-practitioners.

  3. Students will be competent at diagnosis and case conceptualization.
    • Students will be knowledgeable regarding the presentation and range of normal and abnormal behavior.
    • Students will be knowledgeable of the purposes, models, and procedures for clinical interviewing and cognitive assessment.
    • Students will be able to integrate findings from interview and assessment to generate a case conceptualization and initial plan for treatment, if applicable.
    • Students will integrate into case conceptualization issues such as social forces, ethnic background, and physical health, among other issues.

  4. Students will demonstrate competent skills as therapists, with intervention procedures driven by empirical findings and a theoretical foundation.
    • Students will demonstrate the "common factors" that underlie effective therapeutic relationships.
    • Students will demonstrate an awareness of a variety of psychotherapeutic interventions and evidence-based practices.
    • Students will be able to design an intervention program with an appreciation for sequencing skill development for the client, choosing intervention strategies appropriate for the client, and developing appropriate therapeutic goals.
    • Students will be able to implement treatment programs, adjusting the intervention in order to address diversity issues.

  5. Students will integrate ethical guidelines into their approach to research and practice and show an understanding of the intersection of psychology and law.

    • Students will display ethical attitudes and values.
    • Students will develop ethical self-awareness.

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 websites of our faculty members, you will see how their research and clinical interests tend to fit in these areas. Each of our students identifies a research area and completes the specific coursework and requirements of that area. Alternatively, with faculty approval, students may create a more personalized research area that blends two or more research areas or integrates another emphasis (e.g., quantitative methods, public health). Please see our website to learn more about our research areas.

To be accepted into the clinical program, students must apply for full-time studies for the entire duration of graduate studies (approximately 5-6 years). All competitive applicants will have outstanding undergraduate academic records, including the completion or core coursework in psychology and psychology research experiences. About a third of our admitted students apply during their senior year of undergraduate studies, but many applicants will have also completed 1-2 years of post-baccalaureate research experience (e.g., working as a research assistant), and others may have already earned a master's degree in psychology.

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 begin 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. The orientation of all faculty members is empirical, emphasizing the relations between research evidence and practical clinical applications.

Students also complete at least one year of clinical assistantship. This might include working in a clinical setting in the community, on campus in the PSC, or conducting assessment and/or therapy in a clinical research lab. Memphis provides a range of outstanding training sites, including a multidisciplinary diagnostic center for developmental disabilities, an adult residential setting for individuals with developmental disabilities, an inpatient psychiatric hospital, Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, a private psychological practice, 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 $14,000 for students without master's degrees and $15,000 for students with their master's. Tuition is waived for students in good standing on assistantship support. Students also receive generous travel awards to attend professional conferences each year. 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 often 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 6 years of study, including their year of internship training. In other words, our students who enter with a masters degree (and empirical thesis) usually complete their pre-internship training in 4 years, and students who enter with a bachelors typically complete their pre-internship training in 5 years. Consistent with the scientist-practitioner training model, all of our students are actively involved in research, irrespective of their ultimate career goals. Our students average 3-4 conference presentations per year and approximately 5 publications by graduation. Although the specific clinical experiences vary by individual, our students gain strong skills in evidence-based practice and typically accrue over 800 clinical hours prior to internship. Thus, our students are highly competitive for internship programs. Over the past four years, our match rate for APA Accredited internships is 100%, compared to a nationwide rate of under 80%. All 34 of our intern applicants during this period have matched during Phase 1 of the APPIC Match to paid APA-Accredited Internships. Below please find a comprehensive list of internships our students have attended over the past 10 years.

Internship Sites


  • Alpert Medical School of Brown University / Providence, RI
  • Baylor College of Medicine / Houston, TX
  • Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System / Little Rock, AR
  • Charleston Consortium Internship / Charleston, SC
  • Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center / Dallas, TX
  • Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center-Salem / Salem, VA
  • Duke University School of Medicine / Durham, NC
  • Federal Correctional Complex - Butner / Butner, NC
  • Federal Medical Center – Carswell / Fort Worth, TX
  • Franciscan's Children's Hospital and Rehabilitation Center / Boston, MA
  • Indiana University School of Medicine Psychology Internship Consortium / Indianapolis, IN
  • James H. Quillen Veterans Affairs Medical Center / Mountain Home, TN
  • James A. Haley Veterans Hospital / Tampa, FL
  • Kennedy Krieger/Johns Hopkins University / Baltimore, MD
  • Lewisville Independent School District / Flower Mound, TX
  • Long Island Jewish Medical Center / Glen Oaks, NY
  • LSU Health Sciences Center / New Orleans, LA
  • Lucille Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford and the Children's Health Council Consortium / Palo Alto, CA
  • Medical College of Georgia / Augusta, GA
  • Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center / Memphis, TN
  • Metropolitan State Hospital / Norwalk, CA
  • Nebraska Internship Consortium in Professional Psychology / Omaha, NE
  • North Suburban Special Education District / Highland Park, IL
  • Southwest Consortium Psychology Internship / Albuquerque, NM
  • The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia / Philadelphia, PA
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center / San Antonio, TX
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham / Birmingham, AL
  • University of California-San Diego/Veterans Affairs Internship Consortium / San Diego, California
  • University of Chicago / Chicago, IL
  • University of Florida Health Science Center / Gainesville, FL
  • University of Illinois-Chicago / Chicago, IL
  • University of Mississippi Medical Center / Jackson, MS
  • University of North Carolina School of Medicine / Chapel Hill, NC
  • University of Oklahoma Health Science Center / Oklahoma City, OK
  • University of Tennessee – Knoxville / Knoxville, TN
  • University of Tennessee Health Science Center Professional Psychology Internship Consortium / Memphis, TN
  • University of Washington School of Medicine / Seattle, WA
  • University of Wisconsin Center for Health Sciences / Madison, WI
  • US Medical Center for Federal Prisoners - Springfield / Springfield, MO
  • Veterans Affairs Medical Center-Lexington / Lexington, KY
  • Veterans Affairs Western New York Healthcare System / Buffalo, NY
  • Vanderbilt University/Veterans Affairs Internship Consortium / Nashville, TN
  • Veterans Affairs Medical Center – DC / Washington, DC
  • Veterans Affairs Medical Center – Denver / Denver, CO
  • Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System / Palo Alto, CA

In addition, our graduates are well-poised for competitive post-doctoral fellowships and jobs, with most engaging in a combination of research, clinical work, teaching, and administrative duties. Recent data indicate that the most common work environments for our alums are universities and academic medical centers, other medical settings such as VA hospitals, and a variety of clinical settings (e.g., private practice, correctional facilities, private general hospitals, university counseling clinics, and military medical centers). Our students have been highly competitive in winning awards including NIH loan repayment grants and other federal research funding, and assuming clinical and administrative leadership positions.

*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