Minimum Program Duration Coursework First Year Project Research Statement Clinical Advising Committee Clinical Training Practicum Preliminary Examination Psychology GRE Breadth Requirement Integrative Paper Requirement Dissertation Professional Ethics Clinical Program Handbooks and Manuals

Minimum Program Duration

The Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program requires a minimum of 5 full-time academic years of graduate study (or the equivalent thereof) and completion of an internship prior to awarding the doctoral degree (6 years total). All five full-time academic years of study must be completed at the University of Wisconsin, with virtually all of this time in residence, except in unusual circumstances by petition.  Student should be aware that 6 years is the minimum program duration.  Students pursuing research programs that required a high degree of methodological/analytic expertise or exceptionally transdisciplinary focus may need additional time to obtain these skills and complete the program.


Students must obtain a B or better in all required coursework described below.

Psychopathology series
Two courses in the psychopathology series are required. These courses focus on child, adolescent, and developmental psychopathology (740) and adult psychopathology (741).

Clinical training 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), 803 (Advanced Techniques in Psychotherapy), 811 (Theory of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), 808 (Culture & Diversity in Clinical Practice), 809 (Ethical & Legal Issues in Clinical Practice), 810 (Clinical Supervision, Consultation, & Community Psychology).

Methodology series 610 and 710
(General. Generalized, and Multi-level Models statistics series), 806 (Foundations of Research in Clinical Psychology), and 910 (Psychometrics).

Domain Specific Knowledge/Breadth Series
The following courses are required as part of formal training Domain specific knowledge in Psychology.  Students may occasionally petition to substitute a comparable course as part of their Ideal Curriculum Proposals.  711 (Affective Neuroscience; two half semesters w/Davidson or one full semester with Pollak), 720 (Essentials of Cognitive Neuroscience w/ Postle), 728 (Seminar in Social Psychology w/ Niedenthal),  and EP 725 (Theories and Issues in Human Development w/Brown in Educational Psychology).

Pro-seminar in Clinical Psychology
Students are required to participate in 704 every semester prior to internship. The pro-seminar requirement involves multiple activities throughout the semester as follows:

  • Attend 6x per semester lectures/brown bags in our or other departments or centers across campus (attendance reported to the Clinical Program Administrator via survey at end of each semester). This activity provides exposure to diverse perspectives and also opportunities to ask questions in public settings. As a guiding principle, this requirement should be satisfied by attendance at events that are not otherwise expected or planned if this requirement was not in place (e.g., lab meetings, conference attendance and similar activities can NOT be used to satisfy this requirement.) You can live stream or view recorded lectures to satisfy up to approximately half of these lectures if necessary or desirable.
  • Attend 1x per semester lab sponsored lecture. We rotate laboratories across the area for this requirement. The clinic may also be a sponsor of these events as well. The goal of this activity is to provide more opportunities to discuss etiology, assessment and intervention as a group, drawing on specific expertise from our various laboratories and the clinic.
  • Attend the fall town hall meeting with the co-DCTs and the spring Department Diversity Day events. The DCTs reserve the right to schedule 1-2 more required town hall meetings each year as needed for program-student communication or feedback. Please contact the DCTs to request a town hall if students feel additional meetings are desirable or issues need to be discussed.
  • Attend the Spring Research symposium. The cornerstone of this event is the required “4th year research talk”. Students are required to give one other talk between their 1st and 4th years at this symposium. Use of the symposium to give capstone “Job Talks” prior to graduation is encouraged. All students are encouraged to present as often as they like. This activity provides an opportunity to present student research and to ask/answer questions in public settings.
  • Schedule a public defense of the dissertation project. This activity provides an opportunity to present student research and to ask/answer questions in public settings.

Other Coursework Requirements
805 (Field Work in Clinical Psychology). Clinical graduate students must enroll in at least 1 credit of 805 in every semester in which they are actively involved in clinical practice in our department’s clinic and/or off-site clinical practice (i.e., starting in the second semester of their second year when enrolled in 807).

CP 737 (History and Systems of Psychology: Clinical Psychology).  This course is offered each summer in by the Department of Counseling Psychology.

990 (Research).  Clinical graduate students can add credits of 990 as needed to complete their schedule to the appropriate credit load. For reference, the Graduate School considers full time enrollment as 8-15 graduate level credits (no audit or pass/fail) during the academic year. Graduate level courses are defined as 300 level and above by the Graduate School. .

995 (Pre-doctoral Internship).  All clinical graduate students are required to complete a one year pre-doctoral clinical internship. Students will register for this 0 credit course during each semester of their internship year ONLY if they have defended their dissertation. Students will not be required to pay tuition in the semesters after they have defended their dissertation. Students who have not yet defended their dissertation must continue to register and pay tuition for 3 credits of 990 for fall and spring semesters (Research) while on internship and will NOT register for this course.

Summer Enrollment
Students holding an academic year (i.e., Fall/Spring semesters) TA, PA, or RA appointment or a UW Fellowship do not need to enroll in summer.

Students with a RA summer appointment must enroll in at least two graduate level credits in summer.

Trainees, and fellows (NRSA, NSF, etc.) that are being paid during the summer months must enroll in at least two graduate level credits in summer.

Dissertators must be enrolled in three credits during the summer if they are expecting to successfully defend their dissertation and graduate during the summer session Students holding spring TA, PA, or RA appointments are eligible for summer tuition remission, if necessary

Ideal Curriculum Proposals
Students are required to complete an ideal curriculum proposal by the end of their first semester in the program.  The clinical area group will review and approve this proposal.  This proposal then serves as a contract between the student and the area with respect to courses they will be required to complete as part of their training in Clinical Psychology.   Any changes to this proposal must be approved by the area group. 

Dissertator Credit Load
Clinical graduate students who are dissertators must register for exactly three credits per semester. These will typically include 1 credit each of 990, 805, 704.

First Year Project
Our Clinical program is committed to strong training in scientific psychology, and the First Year Project is designed to get you off to a flying start in research. You will gather data, run analyses, write a research report, and present your data to faculty and students at a symposium held in the fall of your second year. This experience gives you an early sense for the demands and satisfaction of psychological research. Most importantly, it provides a sense of accomplishment. It is an opportunity to synthesize newly learned skills, and it becomes a reference point for continued efforts.

The First Year Project proposal should be submitted to your mentoring committee as an NRSA style grant proposal (Specific Aims and Research Strategy sections only) to provide you training in grant writing.  You should also prepare a short presentation of the proposal to provide to your mentoring committee at this proposal meeting.  Your completed (or progressing) FYP will be presented to the entire department during the FYP Symposium in the Fall of your second year.  You will also submit a written paper for evaluation by your mentoring committee on the Friday before the FYP symposium.  You will discuss/defend this paper in a separate meeting with your mentoring committee within approximately two weeks of the FYP Symposium.

Research Statement
Students should submit a research statement to their mentoring committee each year as part of the review and mentoring process with your committee and mentor. This research statement should be modeled on what applicants would submit for a tenure track assistant professor position. Professors Gernsbacher and Devine from our department have written an excellent guide on how to prepare an impactful research statement.  We strongly suggest that you follow their recommendations on content, focus, and format.  This requirement encourages the student to think about and develop their conceptualization of their program of research as they advance through the program.

Clinical Mentoring Committee
A strong student-faculty mentor relationship is the cornerstone of our clinical program. However, the student may benefit from perspectives or information from other faculty as well. To promote such input the student must form and consult with a “clinical mentoring committee.”  This clinical advising committee builds on (and satisfies) the department’s required mentoring committee.

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.

All clinical students are expected to select a 5-6 person advising committee that would include their major professor, the Director or Asst. Director of the PRTC (Linnea Burk or Chris Gioia), 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 your dissertation proposal, your mentoring committee must contain at least one member from outside the Psychology Department.  We recommend that you add this member from the beginning for continuity in mentoring.  Prior to the meeting, students are expected to prepare a 1-2 page document that summarizes their accomplishments for the past year and their goals for the coming year.  Students should  also provide their committee with an updated Research Statement and CV prior to each meeting.

Students should request a meeting of their committee whenever they seek additional perspectives on their performance, goals, or other career or academic issues.  At the very least, departmental guidelines require that students meet with their clinical mentoring committee at least once per year.

Clinical Training Practicum
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.

Preliminary Examination
Students in the Clinical Area Group must demonstrate “breadth” as part of the area group degree requirements. Breadth is demonstrated in part on the preliminary examination through the design of an honor’s sections of an undergraduate course in a broad content area in Clinical Psychology such as Abnormal Psychology and through 3 papers on classic, current and future debates and/or issues in the field of clinical science broadly.

(A) Compose a syllabus for a semester-long honor’s section of an undergraduate lecture course in a broad content area in Clinical Psychology. Assume the semester has 15 weeks and that your class will meet twice a week. The syllabus should include: (A) the topic(s) that will be covered by each lecture; (B) brief description of the key concepts, themes, research findings, etc. that will be emphasized in that lecture, (C) details about required readings to support each lecture (e.g., “read pp. 135-150 of Chapter 9 of our textbook”); (D) basic information about how you will evaluate students’ performance in the course (e.g., a midterm and a final; final project). Note that you do not need to write the exams or the lectures for the course.

(B) Compose a syllabus for a once-a-week discussion or lab section to accompany the lecture component of the course. Assume that the goal of the section is to allow your students to engage more deeply with the lecture material and have the opportunity to discuss important findings (classic and/or modern) in the field. The syllabus should include the reading(s) (and activities, if relevant) for each section. Note that discussing a reading (or pair of readings) is an acceptable section activity.

(C) Write three papers (4 pages each; single spaced) on the following topics: (1) describe a classic debate in the field; (2) describe a current debate in the field; (3) describe where you think the field is going in the future. These issues may not be addressed well in the text and reading assignments the student chose for the course, but are topics that a course instructor should feel confident teaching and discussing. Students are encouraged to take an integrative approach to these topics and attempt to cut across historic domains within the literature.

(D) All documents (i.e., lecture syllabus; section syllabus; paper on classic debate; paper on current debate; paper on future direction) are due to the area group chair by September 1st. The defense must occur after the start of the fall semester but prior to October 1st. The defense committee will consist of three members of the area group (including affiliates) but will not include the student’s mentor. The student will be notified of the faculty that will serve on their defense committee when they turn in their materials. The student should come to the meeting prepared to describe and answer questions about your course, including your choice of topics, readings, and materials to be covered, as well as your three “big question” papers. As such, any topic related to Abnormal Psychology broadly defined could be discussed at the defense. Students may schedule an initial meeting with their committee before beginning their course design if desired; this is an opportunity to discuss the scope of the intended course and for faculty to provide specific suggestions or guidance to the student (if any are needed). We expect that the student’s course design will be her/his own work; as such, students should not consult other students who have done this assignment before nor seek feedback on the materials the student has compiled. During the preparation of the materials, students may seek out committee members if the need for clarification arises, but it is expected that students will work independently on the selection of topics, readings, and assignments for the syllabus, as well as in the preparation of the three papers.

This assignment is designed to allow students to achieve three goals through one process. First, this assignment will require students to review and engage with a wide range of topics in clinical psychology, including topics outside the specialty areas of our faculty. Second, this assignment will help students develop and receive feedback on teaching materials that could be useful to them in the future. Note that the purpose of the final meeting is not to evaluate students’ teaching methods and/or philosophy, although students may choose to discuss such topics with faculty after the defense if so interested. Third, this assignment will help the faculty assess the student’s mastery of the domain.

Integrative Paper Requirement
Clinical students demonstrate “depth” expertise in their own research areas via the Integrative Paper requirement. Students may satisfy this requirement by the end of their fourth year by writing a theoretical or review paper. The student can specify in advance the format/guidelines for the paper to match their proposed outlet for the paper. For example, they might adopt the guidelines (e.g., length, number of references, focus) for a review to be published in Psychological Review or Psychological Bulletin. However, they might instead indicate another outlet that accepts reviews in other (often shorter) formats (e.g., Neuropsychopharmacology, Biological Psychiatry). Alternatively, they might write a book chapter following guidelines from the editor for the book that they have been invited to submit.

Students will provide and defend this paper to a subset of their mentoring committee (the out of department member is not required to participate).  They should obtain approval of the option and topic from their committee prior to undertaking the project. Mentors can broadly advise their students during their completion of this project but should not formally review or contribute to the drafting process. A committee defense can be scheduled at any point between the 2nd and 4th years in the program. Of course, students can begin work on this project at any point after they have obtained committee approval. However, the stipulation that the start of the 2nd year is the earliest deadline for the paper defense reflects the clinical faculty’s belief that this integrative activity is probably best pursued after the student has a solid foundation in their field of study.

In general, there are no limitations on the sorts of research topics, research designs, or analytic strategies that may be used in dissertation research. The dissertation proposal should be submitted to the mentoring committee as an NRSA style grant proposal (Specific Aims and Research Strategy sections only) to provide the student with additional training in grant writing. Students also prepare a short presentation of the proposal that is delivered to their mentoring committee at the proposal meeting. The completed dissertation is presented to the entire department in a public defense. Students will discuss/defend their dissertation in a separate private meeting with the mentoring committee; typically this meeting is held immediately following the public presentation.

Professional Ethics
The Clinical Psychology Area Group requires that students demonstrate that they comprehend and adhere to the principles of professional conduct as contained in the APA publications, General Guidelines for Providers of Psychological Services, the Ethical Principles of psychologists, and the Casebook on Ethical Principles of Psychologists. These principles pertain to their conduct as students, teachers, therapists, and researchers. The student’s adherence to these criteria will be determined at student progress reviews and on an ad hoc basis by clinical faculty and staff.  Students must also complete the appropriate Human Subjects Protections Training given the nature of their research program.  Further detail is available here.

Clinical Program Handbooks and Manuals
A complete listing of all policies and procedures for the Clinical Psychology graduate program is available for download.  It contains all 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).