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Nature of Program

The Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program emphasizes the integration of research and clinical practice, and follows the Clinical Scientist training model. The program prepares clinical psychologists who are well versed in the scientific method of inquiry and skilled in the development, implementation, and dissemination of empirically supported treatments to remediate psychological problems. We aim to train clinical scientists to be (a) competent in the knowledge of both general psychology and clinical science (b) competent in conducting research on a wide variety of psychological problems across the lifespan, and (c) competent in the practice of empirically-based assessments and interventions across diverse settings. The program seeks to achieve these goals through relevant coursework, research training, and clinical experiences offered to our students through the program’s in-house training clinic, affiliated clinics and hospitals, external practica, and research programs. There is a strong expectation throughout the program for students to be active in research. 
 

Our program is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS); graduates of the program are eligible for certification and licensing examinations as psychologists. See this Table for information about how UMD Clinical Psychology Doctoral program satisfies the educational requirements of each state.

In addition, the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) developed Consumer Information Disclosures that detail licensing requirements for each state. Please click here for licensure requirements by state.

A unique aspect of the Clinical Program is our proximity and affiliation with a range of extraordinary clinical and research facilities in Washington D.C. and Baltimore, MD including the National Institutes of Health; Children’s National Medical Center; Psychology and Psychiatry Departments at local Universities including the University of Maryland-Baltimore, Howard University and Johns Hopkins University; the Harbor Light Residential Substance Use Treatment Center; the University of Maryland Addiction Treatment Center; the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center; public schools in DC and Baltimore, MD; and the VA Capitol Health Care Network Mental Illness Research Education Clinical Center. These sites offer exciting research and diverse clinical training experiences.
 

Curriculum

Our curriculum provides an integration of training in general and clinical psychology, research, and clinical practice. Students are expected to enroll full-time in the program. Most students also carry a 10-20 hour per week assistantship (e.g., teaching assistantship, graduate research assistantship) during the academic year. Our program does include summer courses (i.e., clinical practica) for our graduate students through our in-house Psychology Clinic. Throughout the program, students move towards the completion of two major research projects: the Master’s Thesis and the Doctoral Dissertation. The thesis and dissertation are both empirical projects which demonstrate the student’s ability to conceptualize, design and carry out an empirical project which addresses an important issue in clinical psychology. The projects are completed independently by the student under the supervision of their faculty mentor. Between these two milestones, students also must pass the Transition to Independence (TIE) Project, usually completed during year three. The TIE Project is a research project (e.g., manuscript, grant) that serves as a training mechanism that facilitates the transition from the role of a trainee who requires substantial guidance and supervision from their mentor(s), to the role of an independent investigator capable of designing, executing, and defending a dissertation project. Formal coursework typically takes three to four years. Students often use their fourth year to complete their TIE project and begin work on their dissertation and to finish any remaining classes. Most students complete their dissertation during the fifth year and go on internship in the sixth year. There is a strong expectation throughout the program for students to be active in research.

The curriculum is a set of courses and experiences oriented toward understanding individual differences in human behavior and the development of strategies to foster adaptation. In recognition of the diversity of program members, the curriculum is arranged for students to develop a variety of competencies in scholarship, teaching, research, and clinical practice. Our curriculum allows students to tailor their coursework, research, and clinical training experiences to match their unique training goals.

Our curriculum in general psychology includes coursework in affective, biological, cognitive, developmental and social aspects of behavior, as well as the history and systems of psychology. The Clinical Core Courses include courses in child and adult psychopathology, child and adult interventions, assessment, clinical research methods, ethics and diversity, and didactic practica in our in-house Psychology Clinic. Students are required to take clinical practica in assessment, child/adolescent psychotherapy, adult psychotherapy, supervision and consultation, and multicultural clinical training. Finally, all students complete a sequence of research and statistics courses.

During the first two years, all students who have not completed an approved master’s research thesis from a prior graduate program must complete a thesis to demonstrate their mastery of basic research skills. A previously completed master’s thesis must be reviewed by a committee of three faculty to be approved for research competence. Students who enter the program having completed graduate coursework elsewhere may petition to waive some course requirements.

Following the completion of the TIE Project and course work, students must complete their dissertation proposal prior to applying for an internship. An internship is typically completed on a full-time one-year basis. At the time the student is eligible for applying for internships, the student consults with their advisor and the Director of Clinical Training (DCT) to identify qualified internship agencies appropriate to student interests. Our program provides strong preparation for internships in academic medical centers, substance use treatment centers, pediatric psychology, Veteran’s Affairs hospitals, and community mental health centers.

The dissertation represents the student’s major research contribution during the graduate program. It must be a piece of original research pertinent to clinical psychology. A doctoral degree (Ph.D.) is awarded only upon completion of all of the program requirements including the dissertation and internship.

 

Research Training

Throughout their graduate career at Maryland, students are involved in the conceptualization, design, implementation, and interpretation of studies designed to examine issues related to the nature and treatment of psychiatric problems. There is a strong emphasis on the publication of scientific and clinical findings and in the use of research findings to further our understanding of clinical phenomena and for the development of clinical interventions. Research training is based on a mentorship model where students work closely with faculty, initially becoming involved in ongoing faculty research activities.

At Maryland, graduate student research is not limited to a master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation. Students are expected to be engaged in ongoing research activity throughout their graduate career (e.g., Transition to Independence Project). Our graduate students present their research at national scientific conferences and publish in peer-reviewed journals. The clinical program enjoys an active array of research including a number of projects that are supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health in the areas of ADHD, addiction, depression and mood dysregulation, HIV risk, psychosis, and minority health and health disparities. Our research is conducted both locally in Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD, as well as globally (e.g., South Africa). Students benefit from this rich environment for their research training and productivity.

 

Clinical Training

Clinical training for graduate students at Maryland includes practicum, externship, and internship. Practicum (formally known as clinical laboratory) is an on-site experience that provides supervised training in the delivery of interventions to a broad range of client populations. Throughout the first three years, students complete practicum in the on-campus Psychology Clinic, under the supervision of program faculty.

Beginning in the fourth year, students may choose to continue their training on-campus or apply to participate in an externship which is an external placement throughout the Greater Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area. Externships are chosen to match student interest and program training goals and provide important depth and breadth of clinical experience. Most students complete at least one externship placement in order to gain additional clinical experience in a content area or with client population in line with their career goals.

Common external practicum placements include the following:

Child Placements:

  • Children’s National Medical Center
  • Kennedy Krieger institute
  • Independent private practices
  • School systems

Adult Placements:

  • Baltimore VA
  • DC VA
  • Harbor Light Salvation Army
  • University of Maryland Baltimore School of Medicine

The internship is the final clinical training requirement. Consistent with the broader program priorities, the program makes an effort to ensure that students obtain internships consistent with the program goals (i.e., APA accredited internships). The internship usually occurs during the sixth year.

 

Evaluation of Students’ Achievement of Program Objectives

Students’ progress is evaluated yearly with written reports prepared by the research advisor and Director of Clinical Training (DCT), copies of which are provided to students. During the first three years, the primary evaluation is in terms of the satisfactory completion of courses, involvement in research, and didactic clinical practica, each of which is separately evaluated by the course instructor, research advisors, or clinical supervisor. Students are considered in good standing when they complete their courses on schedule with grades of “B” or better in graded courses (courses with grades lower than “B” are retaken) and a Satisfactory (S) in all didactic clinical practica. Research advisors also complete a yearly evaluation; students are considered in good standing if they meet expectations consistent with their developmental level in the program. Each of these evaluative methods is used to generate the written yearly report.

By the middle of their fourth semester, to remain in good standing, students must have either a committee-approved master’s thesis from a previous institution or a committee-approved master’s thesis proposal, if they entered without a thesis.

Satisfactory completion of the master’s thesis, Transition to Independence (TIE) project, and dissertation proposal, along with the satisfactory completion of the required didactic practica, at least a “B” average in all required course work, and demonstration of research competence are the basis for the final pre-internship evaluation of a student. The student’s master’s thesis and TIE Project committees evaluate the student’s thesis and TIE project, respectively. Final evaluation of students is based on completion of a dissertation and an internship. The student’s dissertation committee evaluates the student’s dissertation. The internship supervisor(s) or training director provides evaluations at the midpoint and at the completion of the internship. 

 

Qualifications of Applicants and Placements of Graduates

We aim to accept between 3-7 new students each year from over 250 applicants to maintain our small student-faculty ratio. This ratio allows for high quality supervision of both research and professional training. Please refer to our program’s Technical Standards, which describe qualifications the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program considers essential for successful completion of its curriculum. Students need not necessarily have an undergraduate degree in psychology, although students typically have a background in general psychology or related fields. We believe a diverse student body enhances our training environment, and entering cohorts of new graduate students to our program include students who vary in gender, age, culture, race, sexual orientation, educational background, and geographic background.

The great majority of students entering the program in recent years have successfully completed their doctoral studies. Our most recent graduates have taken positions in the following types of settings: academic departments, academic medical centers, hospitals, VAs, community mental health centers, and private practice.

 

Student Funding

Clinical students have access to a multitude of funding opportunities. Students are guaranteed to receive department stipends for the first five years of the program, which include stipend and tuition support. Departmental stipends are sourced by teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and department-sponsored fellowships.

 

Multiple students in the Clinical Program have obtained competitive fellowships from the University and from external sources such as NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA), National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Programs, American Psychological Association (APA) Minority Fellowship Programs, APA Scholarships, Grants and Awards, and APA Science Directorate Student Travel Award.

 

Aspirational Multicultural Statement

The Clinical Psychology Program is committed to creating a multicultural training environment, which is broadly defined as a place where individuals from various cultures and opinions are respected, and the unique gifts of individuals are applied to train exceptional clinical psychologists. We recognize the changing demographics in the United States and the need for both relevant research and mental health services to address the concerns of people around the world. Thus, we strive to create a training environment that promotes multicultural self-awareness, humility, knowledge, skills, and experiences that enable our graduates to develop and share knowledge regarding multicultural issues as well as to provide culturally sensitive services to a variety of individuals in our society and abroad.

 

Diversity of Faculty and Student Body

Our program prioritizes the diversification of our student body and faculty, and we are making efforts to increase our diversity. Our view of diversity includes (but is not limited to) the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious orientation, disability status, age, and socioeconomic status. We believe that a multicultural training environment includes individuals from demographic groups that historically have been underrepresented in clinical psychology training programs or marginalized in society. We welcome a diverse student body and faculty.

We include multicultural training in our curriculum and didactic practica experiences, and we plan to add more training experiences in the years to come. Our current clinical training includes opportunities for students and supervisors to have open conversations about how their identities and lived experiences inform their work with specific clients.  Many of our faculty conduct research in minority health and health disparities, and we encourage students to ask research questions using a multicultural lens.

 

Student Recruitment and Selection

We are committed to actively recruiting students representing visible racial and ethnic groups that historically have been underrepresented in psychology training programs or marginalized in our society. Our selection process reflects this commitment and strives to select exceptional students using evaluative criteria that are relevant for predicting success in graduate school and beyond. Our program no longer uses the GRE as a metric of evaluation. 

 

Retention and Graduation

Alongside successful recruitment and admissions, we work to retain our talented and diverse student body. Thus, our program seeks to develop a welcoming environment that embraces differences among individuals and puts these differences to work to improve our understanding of multicultural issues, particularly those related to psychological research and practice. We also support individual students in pursuing funding, training experiences, and other opportunities that are aligned with their values, interests, and goals. Furthermore, we are committed to retaining the students with whom we work and facilitating their graduation from our program in a timely manner. Advisors are viewed as critical in assisting students to achieve academic and vocational success as well as to welcome new professionals to clinical psychology.

The Graduate Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science (NACS), which includes a number of our faculty from Psychology, compiled a list of resources (here) to support individuals historically excluded from scientific or academic opportunities on the basis of their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, first-generation, and/or disability status. See specific resources for graduate students, undergraduate students, postdocs, and/or faculty.  

 

Climate

Our program strives to foster a climate of support and promote open discourse on all issues, including each student’s unique professional goals and development and those related to multiculturalism. We value students’ input about the program and continuously strive to improve our program as the field of clinical science and society evolve. Diversity of opinion is embraced, and discussions regarding multiculturalism are encouraged. Other aspects of our program reflect our commitment to multiculturalism (e.g., research of our faculty, curriculum, clinical workshops, written materials, physical environment).

Moreover, we recognize that clinical psychology graduate students have unique academic demands that can lead to increased student stress and burnout. We try to maintain an open dialogue with our students about their workload and wellbeing so they can achieve their goals while also maintaining self-care.