Program Information

The principal goal of the UW-Madison Clinical Psychological Science Ph.D. Program is to train clinical psychological scientists who will: 1) generate new and significant knowledge about the factors that influence mental health and illness, 2) develop more effective methods for treating mental illness and promoting mental health, and 3) deliver evidence based, cost effective, clinical care to treat psychopathology and improve mental health.

Our program uses a mentor model for research training; applicants are admitted to the program based in part on how closely their research interests are aligned with those of the current faculty. The close working relationship between the faculty mentor and the graduate student is one of the mechanisms supporting the integration of theory and research with applied training. Students’ coursework and clinical practicum experiences comprise the other mechanisms that foster the integration of science and practice. Virtually all clinical graduate students have received financial support while in residence in the graduate program.

Throughout the program clinical graduate students complete a sequence of core courses covering the etiology and treatment of psychopathology, the theory and application of clinical assessment, clinical research methods, statistics/methodology courses, as well as other coursework in nonclinical areas both in and outside of the department (see Degree Requirements). The coursework typically requires three years to complete.  However, it may take six or more years to complete all training in the program (e.g., clinical practicum, masters and dissertation research, internship).

Our Clinical Psychological Science Ph.D. program does not adhere to a “one-size fits all” clinical training model. For example, while many (if not, most) clinical students may follow a traditional clinical psychology training path (i.e., match at an internship, obtain licensure, etc.), some students may decide during the course of their training – after sufficient exposure to clinical experiences and coursework – that clinical practice may no longer be in their futures. For these students, having to complete a full clinical training curriculum (i.e., APA breadth and other clinical course and practica requirements, a 1-year internship) may restrict them from being able to gain other experiences or skills that may be more suitable for their career aspirations in clinical science (e.g., in academia, industry, public service, etc.).

To enhance the flexibility of our training program while also maintaining our high standards for training the next generation of clinical psychological scientists, beginning in Fall 2024 all clinical students will be expected to complete the Foundations in Clinical Psychological Science series within the first two years of their matriculation. However, after the successful completion of the Foundations in Clinical Science series, students may choose between two training paths:

  1. Complete the requirements under the Advanced Clinical Psychological Science series, to fulfill the Clinical Science degree expectations consistent with our PCSAS accreditation. This path expects that students will complete a 1-year APA/CPA approved internship and be license eligible***.  Students must also decide whether they want to fulfill APA breadth and other recruitments for expanded licensure and internship eligibility, depending on internship site and state in which they wish to become licensed in, respectively. However, completion of APA breadth courses is not required.
  2. Opt out of continued clinical training and complete their degrees as Individual Graduate Majors (IGM)/Clinical Research Specialization. IGM/Clinical research specialization students can tailor their remaining years in the program on taking courses more suitable to their research interests (e.g., grad courses outside of psychology, such as in neuroscience, genetics, population health, statistics), conducting clinical science research, and seeking relevant (i.e., non-clinical or applied) training opportunities.  Students electing to opt out of the applied path will still be strongly encouraged to consider how they can leverage their scientific and clinical skills to benefit the field of clinical psychological science.

**Important note***. The specific requirements for licensure and internship placements vary by jurisdiction and institution and are subject to change. As of September 2023, about a quarter of the states recognize PCSAS explicitly and two-thirds recognize APA explicitly in their policies. Wisconsin does NOT currently recognize PCSAS accreditation for licensure (under the “Education and Experience” section of the State Legislature, Psy 2.09). Students wanting to be licensed in the state of Wisconsin must complete the additional APA breadth requirements listed below.  The remaining states either do not have language about an accreditation requirement or they do not require accreditation from a program-level accreditor like PCSAS or APA. Students should always thoroughly research the requirements and preferences of the relevant licensing boards and internship sites in their chosen area of practice. Please visit for up-to-date information on organizations that recognize PCSAS accreditation.

Foundations in Clinical Psychological Science Series (Years 1-2)

Psychopathology series. The following courses are required to establish student foundations in the science of psychopathology:

    • 740 (Developmental Psychopathology)
    • 741 (Adult Psychopathology)

Methodology series. The following courses are required to establish student foundations in statistical methods:

    • 610 and 710 (General, Generalized, and Multi-level Modeling Statistics)
    • 806 (Foundations of Research in Clinical Psychology)
    • 910 (Psychometrics)

Clinical series. The following courses are required as part of formal training in assessment, diagnosis, and psychotherapy:

    • 800 (Cognitive and Neuropsychological Assessment for Diagnosis)
    • 802 (Assessment of Psychopathology and Personality)
    • 807 (Introduction to Conducting Psychotherapy)
    • 811 (Theory of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)

PRTC clinical training. Beginning in the second semester of their second year. students are expected to complete two semesters (spring and summer) of clinical training in the in-house clinic:

    • 805 (Psychology Research and Training Clinic)

Pro-seminars. The following seminars are required of all clinical students:

    • 704 (Pro-seminar in Clinical Psychology: “Lunch and Learn”). These meetings involve presentations by faculty and students.  Some meetings also focus on program requirements and program evaluation.
    • 621 (“Meet the Faculty”). Required for all Psychology Ph.D. students. These meetings involve presentations by faculty from the Department.

First Year Project (FYP). During the first year in the program, students will work on a research project under the direction of the advisor. The content of the project and nature of data analysis should be determined in close collaboration with the research advisor and the student’s Mentoring Committee. The scope of the project will be determined by the advisor according to the skill level of the student and the requirements of the research. The students’ FYP is typically presented at the First Year Project symposium in 2nd year, with the paper (APA style, 10-15 pages) due one week prior to the symposium.

Advanced Clinical Psychological Science Series (Years 3-6)

Clinical series. The following courses are required as part of advanced training in assessment, diagnosis, and psychotherapy:

    • 803 (Advanced Techniques in Psychotherapy)
    • 808 (Culture & Diversity in Clinical Practice)
    • 809 (Ethical & Legal Issues in Clinical Practice)
    • 810 (Clinical Supervision, Consultation, & Community Psychology)

APA breadth series (OPTIONAL). The following courses are optional for clinical students wishing to fulfill additional APA licensure requirements (required for licensure eligibility in Wisconsin):

    • 711 (Affective Neuroscience)
    • 720 (Cognitive Neuroscience)
    • EP725 (Theories and Issues in Human Development
    • 728 (Social Psychology)
    • CP737 (History and Systems of Psychology)

PRTC clinical training. Students are required to continue in the PRTC during the fall and spring semesters of their third year in the program.

    • 805 (Psychology Research and Training Clinic)

External practicum. During the fourth year in the program, students are expected to apply to a clinical practicum at one of several local mental health agencies or hospitals. Practicum placements may include experiences in traditional outpatient therapy, partial hospitalization / day treatment, health psychology, primary care psychology, neuropsychological assessment, inpatient psychiatric services, substance use / dependence treatment, and other specialty areas.

    • 805 (External Practicum)

Internship. All clinical students are expected to complete a one-year, full-time clinical internship at an approved APA/CPA internship site. Historically, our students match at internships at top training centers around the country. However, it should be emphasized that this program is a “best fit” for the student who is deeply committed to research and scholarship and less appropriate for the student planning on a primarily practice-oriented career.

    • 995 (Predoctoral internship)

Research and presentations. All clinical students are expected to fulfill the following expectations during the advanced years of their training:

    • Lunch and Learn presentation (can be done any time before the 5th year)
    • Fourth year capstone presentation (during the Spring semester of the 4th year)
    • Dissertation (by the end of the 5th year of the program, before internship)

A strong student-faculty mentor relationship is the cornerstone of our clinical program. However, students also benefit from perspectives and information from individuals outside of their primary mentor’s lab. The purpose of the clinical advising committee is to assist students in (a) setting appropriate goals, (b) anticipating and successfully completing program requirements, (c) integrating research and clinical training experiences, (d) considering career options and other professional issues, and (e) evaluating their progress toward their professional goals. It is expected that the committees will address all of these issues during the advising sessions.  This clinical mentoring committee builds on (and satisfies) the department’s required mentoring committee.

All clinical students are expected to select a 5 person (minimum) advising committee that would include their major professor and other members of their choosing. All committees must have  at least one faculty member who is a core clinical faculty (Core clinical faculty are clinical area group faculty members whose tenure home is the Department of Psychology).  Additional committee members may be added as appropriate and useful. At the point of the dissertation proposal, the mentoring committee must contain at least one member from outside the Psychology Department. We recommend that this individual is a committee member from the beginning to ensure continuity in mentoring. Finally, students should include either the Director (Burk) or Assistant Director (Gioia) of the PRTC in mentoring committee meetings starting in their second year and beyond. This will facilitate discussions about the integration of research and clinical training and goals. Drs. Burk or Gioia count among the 5 (minimum) members.

Prior to the meeting, students are expected to distribute the current version of their clinical portfolio to their committee for review. Their portfolio is expected to provide a framework for the committee to advise the student on their training progress and future goals. This portfolio will serve only as a guide for advising and discussion until the end of year 4, where it is evaluated to advance to dissertator status.

In addition to the once annual meeting required by the department, students are encouraged to request a meeting of their committee whenever they desire additional perspectives on their performance, goals, or other career or academic issues.

Students typically begin their clinical practicum in the Psychology Department Research and Training Clinic (PRTC) during the second semester of their second year in the context of their coursework: Introduction to Conducting Psychotherapy (807). Students are trained following a generalist model and gain clinical experience working with adults, adolescents, and children from diverse backgrounds and with varied diagnoses. Following the successful completion of two semesters in the PRTC during their third year in the program, students typically apply to a clinical practicum at one of several local mental health agencies or hospitals. Practicum placements may include experiences in traditional outpatient therapy, partial hospitalization / day treatment, health psychology, primary care psychology, neuropsychological assessment, inpatient psychiatric services, substance use / dependence treatment, and other specialty areas. In addition to community practicum, most students continue to provide therapy and assessment services at the PRTC throughout the remainder of their graduate careers. Finally, all clinical students complete a one-year, full-time clinical experience at an approved APA/CPA accredited internship facility. Historically our students obtain internships at top training centers around the country. However, it should be emphasized that this program is a “best fit” for the student who is deeply committed to research and scholarship and less appropriate for the student planning on a primarily practice-oriented career.

Clinical psychology graduate students are required to complete a minimum of 500 hours of direct client contact hours (intervention and assessment combined) and at least 75 hours of formally scheduled supervision.  Many internship site also maintain minimum requirements specifically for direct assessment hours but substantial variation exists across sites. Therefore, we recommend that you review all requirements for internship sites you may find attractive early in your clinical training.

Clinical practicum students must register for at least one credit of 805 each semester. Clinical students’ practicum experience begins with enrollment in 807 (Introduction to Conducting Psychotherapy) during the second semester of their second year. In order to complete the practicum requirement satisfactorily, students must be judged by clinical faculty and staff to have met standards of clinical competence.

After six semesters of practicum, students who have not prepared a satisfactory dissertation proposal will not register for additional elective practicum until they have met this requirement. Typically, students will have taken six semesters of practicum after their fifth year of graduate study.

Students’ clinical competence is objectively evaluated and documented by two methods.

  1. Self- and Clinical Supervisor Evaluations
    • At the end of each semester of clinical practicum student performance is evaluated by their clinical supervisor(s) and by themselves. Students are asked to identify their clinical strengths and weaknesses, the training goals that were met during the current semester, and new goals for the upcoming semester. The student self-evaluation is used to stimulate an ongoing discussion with the clinical supervisor to facilitate individual achievement.
    • Supervisors assign ratings ranging from 0 to 100 points in six areas of clinical competency (0 = skill not demonstrated, 50 = adequate for stage of development, 100 = greatly exceeds expectations). Supervisors are provided with a “ratings codebook” containing detailed definitions of rating anchor points. Areas of competency include: assessment, intervention, consultation, supervision, management, and advocacy.
    • If a student receives multiple supervisor ratings below a “50% – meets expectations,” a formal remediation plan may be developed to address deficiencies. Plans could include, but are not limited to: additional practicum training or movement to a different practicum site; a change in supervisor, the use of multiple supervisors, and/or additional supervisory contact; additional coursework or training workshops; and/or referrals to other professional services for the student. Such plans will be time limited and include clear goals/benchmarks that the student will be required to meet in order to continue with the clinical training program.
  2. The Cognitive Therapy Rating Scale (CTRS)
    • The primary therapeutic model followed by the clinical training program is cognitive behavior therapy. As part of the initial practicum experience students will be trained to use the Cognitive Therapy Rating Scale (CTRS) to assess how well student-led therapy sessions exemplify this model. Most research and accrediting bodies use a minimum total score of 40 to represent therapeutic competence in CBT. In January of the student’s first practicum year in the training clinic a sample of 3 to 5 recorded therapy sessions will be rated by clinical supervisors using the CTRS. It is expected that at least one of these sessions will have a total score of 40 or above before the student applies for off-site clinical practicum experiences (applications are typically made in February and March). A score of 40 on the CTRS indicates that the majority of individual item level scores are “2 – evidence of competence, but numerous problems and lack of consistency” and “3 – competent, but some problems and/or inconsistencies” or higher. Identified areas of weakness will be addressed during the student’s second semester in the training clinic. Students with CTRS total scores lower than 40 will have a limited choice of practicum experiences and may be required to remain in the training clinic for another year. By the time of internship application, the student is expected to have had three additional psychotherapy sessions representing their current work rated at 40 or higher on the CTRS. The sessions chosen for rating can be from a client seen in the training clinic or from a client seen at an external practicum site. If the sessions are recorded at an external site, the graduate clinician must obtain written consent from the client and clinical supervisor for program supervisors to watch and rate the session.

The clinical portfolio is evaluated by the student’s mentoring committee.  The clinical portfolio will be developed over the first four years in the program and serves as the students’ formal preliminary examination (i.e., “prelims”) as required in the Department.  Students will submit their developing portfolios to their full mentoring committee each year during their yearly mentor committee meetings.  The personal statement and other components of the portfolio can be used to guide the discussion at these meetings about professional goals, progress, accomplishments, future plans, and obstacles or other challenges.  The full committee can provide feedback on draft materials as they are included in the portfolio each year.

The final portfolio must be submitted to the mentoring committee for evaluation by the end of the fourth year in the program (i.e., prior to the start of the fall academic semester of their fifth year). The student must also meet with their mentoring committee to discuss the final portfolio.  This meeting should happen in the summer of the fourth year by August 15th at the latest.  This final portfolio will be evaluated as satisfactory or unsatisfactory.  An evaluation of satisfaction is required to become obtain dissertator status.  Although all members of the mentoring committee will be included in this discussion/meeting, the final decision regarding satisfactory or unsatisfactory is determined by only the clinical faculty members of the committee.  If the mentoring committee does not include at least three clinical faculty (including Linnea or Chris), the DCT will add additional clinical faculty to attend the meeting where this final evaluation will occur.

Components of the Clinical Portfolio (“Prelims”)

The following four major components are required:

  1. Personal statement: Students should provide a brief (up to approximately 500 words) personal statement.  This statement should include a narrative of their career goals to provide a context for the materials provided in their portfolio.  The statement can also provide details regarding current accomplishments and expertise, anticipated accomplishments and/or expertise to be gained in the program and plans to acquire it, obstacles experienced or anticipated, or any other relevant information to contextualize their portfolio or establish themselves as an emerging clinical scientist.
  1. Research experiences, training, and products: All students must include the required research products below.  Depending on their career goals and professional aspirations, students should submit additional research products as available.  Examples of additional (not required) research experiences and/or products are provided below.  However, this list should not be considered exhaustive.   For all published or submitted papers, students should report their relative contributions to the conceptualization, design, analysis, and writing in percentages.

Required research products

    • Clinical Lunch and Learn presentations: Provide title, abstract, date.  At least one is required.
    • Fourth year capstone presentation: Provide title, abstract, date.
    • Research statement: Provide in format of tenure portfolio research statement or internship research statement (i.e., Please describe your research experience and interests in 500 words).  See appendix on writing a research statement at the end of this document for more details.
    • Significant research products: Students must include at least one significant research product. These products should be led by the student (i.e., the student would be listed as first author if submitted).
      • A published (or submitted) version of the first-year project.
      • A published (or submitted) substantive review or theory paper
      • Completion of an additional “meaningful” empirical study beyond the first-year project. Students should provide sufficient detail about the project’s aims, methods, findings, and implications to allow the committee to evaluate the contribution made by the project.  In contrast to the other significant products listed above, this project can be included in the portfolio prior to submitting a manuscript for publication.  However, if the project has been submitted or published, the manuscript should be included.

Additional research products

    • Empirical papers: Can include co-authored papers submitted or published.
    • Theory or review papers: Can include co-authored papers submitted or published.
    • Methods papers: Can include first-authored or co-authored papers submitted or published.
    • Perspectives papers or letters: Can include first-authored or co-authored papers submitted or published.
    • NRSA or other grants: Include grant and any summary statements or other evaluations.
    • Presentations or posters at scientific meetings: Provide title, abstract, and date. If possible, a pdf of the poster or related handout should also be included.  These can include presentations/posters at local meetings.
    • Meaningful blogs or other online contributions
    • Research collaborations, consulting, or fellowships in industry
    • Workshops attended or led: Provide title, workshop summary, and date
  1. Clinical experiences, training, and products: All students must include the required clinical products below.  Depending on their career goals and professional aspirations, students should submit additional clinical experiences and/or products as available.  Examples of additional (not required) clinical experiences and/or products are provided below.  However, this list should not be considered exhaustive.

Required clinical products

    • Descriptions of clinical practicum experiences: Brief description should include the name and dates for the practicum, brief description of the client population and other relevant details (e.g., interventions, modalities). This should include documentation of clinical hours (per internship categories) and available/completed supervisor evaluations.
    • Internship clinical orientation statement: Please describe your theoretical orientation and how this influences your approach to case conceptualization and intervention. You may use de-identified case material to illustrate your points if you choose. 500 word limit
    • Certification by clinic director of developmentally appropriate clinical expertise

Additional clinical products

    • Assessment report(s): Provide integrative or other assessment reports after appropriate de-identification. Do not include raw data from assessments.
  1. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) experiences, training, and products: All students must include the required diversity statement described below.  However, they may also include and/or describe additional experiences, training, and products that demonstrate their training and commitment to DEI practices, broadly construed.  Examples of additional (not required) DEI experiences and/or products are provided below.  However, this list should not be considered exhaustive.   It should also be noted that many of the products that you might include in this section could be “cross-listed” in another category of the portfolio.  For example, if you develop a case conceptualization and treatment plan for a patient from an under-represented group, it could be cross-listed in both the clinical and DEI categories.

Required diversity products

    • Diversity statement: Describe your experiences, training, and practices regarding research, clinical practice, and teaching/mentoring (if applicable) with diverse populations. Diversity is construed broadly in this context by design. You may wish to reflect on your engagement with a myriad of populations, from those who have historically been marginalized and understudied in psychology, to at-risk and vulnerable populations traditionally subject to systematic discrimination in social science research and society more generally. Suggested length: 500 words.

Additional diversity products

    • Case conceptualization and/or treatment planning for a patient from an under-represented or marginalized group.
    • Syllabus or course design that attend to issues of DEI
    • Description of mentorship experiences of students from under-represented groups
    • Translations of research instruments into other languages to increase accessibility
    • Development of protocols for research/lab practices to address DEI issues
    • Descriptions of workshops or consultation with experts on DEI practices in research, clinical practice, or teaching

Unless otherwise stated, additional components of the clinical portfolio should also include:

  1. CV
  2. Unofficial graduate transcript: to confirm that the student has completed all required coursework at the time of the evaluation.
  3. Teaching and mentoring experiences, training, and products (Optional). There are no required teaching experiences, training, or products.   However, students who plan to pursue a career that involves teaching should consider pursuing formal experiences in teaching during their time in our program.  Examples of experiences and/or products that you can consider including in your portfolio to document these experiences are listed below.  This list should not be considered exhaustive.

Teaching products (not required)

    • Teaching statement: Provide a statement that describes your teaching philosophy and indicate how you strive to achieve and ensure excellence in teaching and mentoring. Suggested length: Up to 500 words.
    • Description of courses TAed or taught: Include course evaluation summary statistics and raw evaluations if available.
    • Description of courses developed and materials: Include course materials such as syllabus, required reading, sample exams, course website)
    • Description of mentorship experiences


The clinical student handbook contains the information provided on this website as well as additional policies and procedures dictated by the Psychology Department and the UW-Madison Graduate School. The policies and procedures manual for the Psychology Research and Training Clinic is also available (please contact the clinic director).

CAG student handbook 2019-20

CAG student handbook 2020-21

CAG student handbook 2021-22

CAG student handbook 2022-23

CAG student handbook 2023-24