USC PhD In Clinical Psychology

Last Updated on December 13, 2022 by Omoyeni Adeniyi

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The Ph.D. program in Clinical Science at the University of Southern California is dedicated to the integration of science and application. Clinical science is viewed as an ideology, a perspective taking, that values critical thinking and evidence in informing one’s professional activities. Our goal is to prepare graduates to create new knowledge with the potential to advance the field in whatever setting they choose to work — academia, research centers, medical centers, applied settings, or private industry.

Clinical Science > Department of Psychology > USC Dana and David Dornsife  College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Our program has been accredited by the American Psychological Association as a doctoral program in clinical psychology since 1948, and in 2018, we received a full ten-year renewal of our accreditation status. Our next site visit is scheduled for 2027. In addition, in 2010 we became one of ten clinical science programs receiving accreditation from the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS). PCSAS provides an objective, empirically-based accreditation of Ph.D programs that meet the goal of promoting science-centered education and training in clinical psychology, increasing the quality and quantity of clinical scientists contributing to the advancement of public health, and generating a new knowledge base for mental and behavioral health care. PCSAS accreditation serves the public interest by indicating to prospective students, mental health care consumers, and policy makers that graduates of this program have received a high quality science-oriented education. The USC Clinical Science Program also is a charter member of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science.

Our program and education model have several defining features:

  • We offer one of the few programs nationwide that takes a life-span approach to both research and clinical work. Research interests of faculty and clinical training span the developmental spectrum from children and adolescents to older adults.
  • Consistent with the life-span approach we offer sub-specialties in clinical-aging and child/family. We are developing a sub-specialty in neuropsychology that will be grounded in current developments in neuroscience.
  • Situated between downtown and South Los Angeles, our program offers considerable opportunities to conduct research and clinical work with persons from a wide range of economic, cultural, and racial backgrounds.
  • Clinical Science faculty conduct research on psychosocial issues associated with significant societal problems including alcohol abuse, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, early identification of psychosis, family environments and risk and resilience in youth, bullying and peer victimization, hate crimes, family and community violence, and the reintegration of juvenile offenders. Many of these research programs attend to cultural and ethnic factors.
  • Clinical Science faculty conduct highly visible international research including studies on peer relations in China, dementia in Swedish twins, and the duration of untreated psychosis in Mexico.

FORMAL REQUIREMENTS

Doctoral students are trained through a mentorship model, working closely with faculty on research. Students are expected to engage in research activities and scholarship throughout their graduate training, leading up to and culminating in the doctoral dissertation. Expertise is also acquired by participating in courses, seminars, and colloquia. Most students also gain experience with teaching through guest lectures and teaching assistantships.

Applicants should identify faculty members who most closely match their research interests. For administrative purposes the department is organized into five areas:

  • Brain and Cognitive Science
  • Clinical Science
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Quantitative Methods and Computational Psychology
  • Social Psychology

However, this division does not reflect our approach to research questions. Many of our faculty are affiliated with more than one area or collaborate across areas. Many students work with multiple faculty members during their doctoral studies.

USC's 2019 graduation ceremony is a celebration of achievement, and a push  to 'fight on' – Daily News

PREREQUISITES FOR ADMISSION

The Admissions page describes how to apply and the background needed for a competitive application.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS

The following is a brief outline of requirements. Details of requirements for doctoral students in the USC Graduate School can be found at General Requirements for graduate degrees. Additional information about Psychology department requirements is provided in the Handbook for Graduate Students. Additional information about the Clinical Science Program can be found in the Clinical Science Handbook.

RESIDENCY AND TIME LIMITS

The doctoral program is designed with the expectation that a student can complete all requirements within five years, except for the clinical area, wherein a requirement for internship training extends the period by one year.

Student progress is monitored through annual reviews and formal evaluations that occur at the first-year screening, second-year project, qualifying examination, and dissertation.

  1. First-Year Screening: Students are evaluated based on performance in courses and progress in research, as judged by the faculty of the student’s specialty area.
  2. Second-Year Project: Master’s thesis or a research report of comparable scope and quality. The student’s performance in planning, conducting, and reporting the study is evaluated by a committee of three faculty members.
  3. Qualifying Exam: During the fourth year of residence, students are expected to pass a Qualifying Exam. This has two components; the dissertation proposal and a written examination or review paper. These are evaluated by a guidance committee that consists of faculty members from two or more areas within Psychology, and a faculty member from outside the Psychology department.
  4. Dissertation: By the end of the fifth year, the student should submit and defend a dissertation that describes the research that was done, with analysis of the findings in relation to the relevant literature. If this is judged to be acceptable by the guidance committee and the Graduate School, the degree of Doctor of Philosophy is conferred

ADMISSION

THE APPLICATION FOR 2022-2023 ADMISSION WILL OPEN SEPTEMBER 1, 2021

APPLICATION PROCEDURE

Apply here: USC Office of Graduate Admission

The following items must be submitted online to the Office of Graduate Admission (unless otherwise indicated):

+ Graduate Application Admission
  • The application is open from September 1st to December 1st
  • Applications submitted after the December 1st deadline are not considered
+ Personal Statement
+ Letters of Recommendation
+ Official Transcripts 
+ Resume and Scores
+ Application Fees

ADMISSION FAQS

  • Queries about Transcripts, Financial Aid (other than department support), Official GRE reports, Bachelor degree (four-year requirement)Please direct all questions to the Office of Graduate Admissions “Ask USC” portal (under Graduate Admission). You may also submit a question (see Ask Us link at top of page) if your question is not answered.
  • Queries about faculty:If you have specific questions about our faculty and their research, you are welcome to review their profiles by area here and email them.

If you have any additional questions or need assistance, please email [email protected]

DATA FOR CLINICAL SCIENCE PSYCHOLOGY APPLICANTS

GRE and GPA data for entering clinical science classes can be found here in compliance with APA Implementing Regulation C-20.

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