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Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Program

Curriculum Requirements

The clinical program is designed to provide sufficient structure to meet APA guidelines for the training of clinical psychologists and existing state licensure requirements and to provide the flexibility to accommodate the variability in interests of individual students. The curriculum satisfies all American Psychological Association accreditation requirements and those necessary for licensure as a psychologist at the independent level of practice.

The Psychology Department requires a total of 90 credits for the Ph.D. degree. Specific departmental and program requirements are as follows:

General Requirements of the Department of Psychology

The Department of Psychology requires preparation in three basic areas. These requirements must be met by all doctoral students, regardless of their area of concentration (i.e., clinical, experimental or school psychology). These requirements are in addition to the specific Clinical program requirements listed below (although the foundations of psychology requirement overlaps with some clinical program requirements).
  1. Foundations of psychology
  2. Research methodology and data analysis
  3. Demonstration of research proficiency.

All requirements must be met by successful completion of the designated courses unless transfer credit is approved for equivalent courses taken at another institution.

Foundations of psychology (This requirement overlaps with the Foundations of Clinical psychology requirement—see below) All students must take four core courses from the following list:

  • PSY600—Multicultural Issues in psychology
  • PSY601—Physiological psychology
  • PSY602—Learning and Motivation
  • PSY603—Development
  • PSY604—Cognitive psychology
  • PSY605—Personality
  • PSY606—Social psychology
  • PSY607—Advanced psychopathology
  • PSY608—Theories and Systems
  • PSY609—Perception

Research and Methodology (9 credits)

  • PSY532—Experimental Design
  • PSY533—Advanced Quantitative Methods
  • PSY611—Methods of psychological Research and Experimental Design

Research Proficiency (18 or 24 credits)

  • Master's Thesis
    • Students entering the program without a Master's degree: Students entering without a master's degree must complete a master's thesis. In order to do this, the student must form a program committee and enroll in 6 credits of Masters Thesis research (PSY 599).
    • Students entering the program with a Master's degree: If the Master's program did not include a thesis, a research competency must be completed. This involves conducting a research study similar in scope to a Master's thesis that is acceptable to the student's program committee. If the Master's program was in psychology and included a thesis, the student has no further research proficiency requirements at the Master's level. If the Master's degree was not in psychology, the student will be required to complete a research competency in psychology.
  • Doctoral Dissertation
    • All students are required to complete a doctoral dissertation and take a minimum of 18 dissertation credits. The same program committee that was formed for the Master's thesis may continue for the dissertation.
    • The Department of psychology requires that all students include a section in their thesis/dissertation proposals which articulates how the issue of multiculturalism has been considered with respect to the choice of topic, methodological approach, participants, measures, procedures, and the interpretation of the research. This is not intended to limit the student's choice of topic, subjects or methods, but to assure that the student express the ways in which their choices are made and the implications of these choices for their subsequent interpretations of the results.
    • It is a requirement of the Department of psychology that all student thesis/dissertation proposals and defenses be conducted during the academic year and not during the summer. There is an option for appealing this rule, but in general circumstances must be extraordinary in order to have summer meetings approved.

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Clinical Program Requirements

In addition to the above, all students enrolled in the clinical psychology program must meet the following course and other requirements. Click here for a sample course sequence.

  1. Foundations of Clinical Psychology (21 cr.): Clinical students must take one course in each of the areas listed below. Note: core courses taken to satisfy the departmental foundation requirement may be counted toward this requirement. Also, there may be special topics seminars (e.g., PSY 690 courses) in addition to those listed below which may count as meeting the Clinical psychology foundations requirements.
    1. Biological Bases of Behavior (3 cr.): PSY601—Physiological psychology
    2. Cognitive-Affective Bases (3 cr.):
      • PSY602—Cognitive psychology
      • PSY602—Learning & Motivation
      • PSY609—Perception
    3. Multicultural Bases (3 cr.) All students will fulfill one of the following requirements:
      • PSY600—Multicultural psychology
      • Complete another graduate course that the student's committee or the Psychology Department's Graduate Curriculum committee has approved as dealing primarily with issues in multicultural psychology, or
      • Complete a didactic learning experience in multicultural psychology in the context of an independent study
    4. Social Bases of Behavior (3 cr.):
      • PSY600—Multicultural Issues in psychology
      • PSY606—Social psychology
      • PSY505—Community psychology, or PSY625—Seminar in Social psychology (depending on seminar topic)
    5. Professional Ethics & Standards (3 cr.): PSY666—Ethical and Legal Issues in psychology
    6. Individual Differences (9 cr.):
      • PSY605—Personality
      • PSY603—Development
      • PSY607—Advanced psychopathology
    7. History and Systems (3 cr): PSY608—Theories and systems
  2. Diagnosis, Assessment & psychological Measurement (9 cr.):
    • PSY660—Clinical Assessment and Decision Making
    • PSY661—Administration and Interpretation of Cognitive Tests

    Students who have not had an advanced undergraduate course in psychological measurement/testing or its equivalent, which covers issues of testconstruction, reliability, validity and related topics, are required to demonstrate knowledge of this area before enrolling in PSY 660. This can be demonstrated either by passing a course in tests and measurements before matriculating, or by passing an entrance exam once here. Study guide materials are available for preparation for this entrance exam.

  3. Therapy Intervention (6 cr.):
    • PSY641—Introduction to Psychotherapy
    • PSY642—Introduction to Psychotherapy Practice

  4. Practicum (15 cr.)
  5. Electives (3 cr.)
    • Practicum Electives:
      • Clinical Practices: PSY674—Therapy. Students who provide psychological services for PCC clients outside the context of a PCC team should enroll in PSY674. This is often done when therapy continues after the end of the team, or when the student desires additional clinical experience. Supervision must be arranged through the Director of the PCC. One credit of PSY674 should be taken for each hour of supervision a student receives per week.
      • Field Experience in psychological Services: PSY670C—Clinical. Students who wish to complete practica off campus must enroll in at least one credit of PSY670C during each semester of practicum. These practica must be arranged by the student and his or her major professor or other faculty and approved by the DCT (see further discussion under Off Campus Practica). Each semester a PSY670C instructor will be assigned who will hold group supervision meetings for all students taking off campus practica.
    • Focus area electives:
      • All students must designate an area of focus from the following areas: health psychology, multicultural issues, child/family, neuropsychology, and applied methodology. Students are strongly encouraged to take electives or mesh program requirements with their focus area so that they can complete a three or four course sequence in a designated interest area. This should be determined in conjunction with their program committee.
  6. Internship: (1-2 cr.)
    • Students are required to complete a year-long predoctoral internship in an approved setting. While on internship, students enroll in PSY670 for 1 credit in the spring semester of internship is required, but one credit may also be taken in the fall semester.
  7. Non-credit requirements
    • PCC Colloquium: All Clinical students who serve as therapists in the PCC are required to attend the weekly PCC staff meetings. All first and second year students are required to attend the PCC Colloquium which is designed to address clinical topics that may not be covered in coursework and to help prepare students for internship application.
    • Case Presentations: Each second year student is required to make two 20 minutes case presentation during the PCC Colloquium. The presentation will be observed by at least two faculty who will evaluate the presentation on a pass/fail basis and provide feedback. If the presentation is failed it must be redone. Each third year student is required to make a half hour case presentation during the PCC colloquium which will be evaluated in the manner described above.
    • Ph.D. Qualifying Examination: A Ph.D. qualifying examination is required by the graduate school for all doctoral students entering without a master's degree. This requirement is met by completing any four courses from PSY 532, 533, 611 and those numbered 600-609 with a grade of B or better. These courses are usually completed prior to the earning of 24-30 credits.
    • Comprehensive Examination: Following or near completion of course work, students must pass a written and oral comprehensive examination. These exams are offered once each semester (Fall and Spring) and timeframes for scheduling exams are announced at the beginning of the academic year. The written examination is compiled by the student's program committee in consultation with the student. Questions may be submitted by any member of the faculty. The exam consists of four questions: one in each of the areas of statistics and research methodology; assessment; intervention; and in an area of special interest to the student.

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Sample Course Sequence

Year 1
3PSY532Quantitative Methods3PSY533Multivariate
3PSY600Clinical Decision Making3PSY661Cognitive Assessment
3PSY607Psychopathology3PSY642Intro to psychotherapy Practice
3PSY641Intro to psychotherapy3PSY666Ethics
1PSY615DColloquium3PSY672Intake Practicum
13  15  
Year 2
3PSY662Personality Assess3PSY672Assessment Practicum
3PSY611Experimental Design3Core coursee.g., Cognitive
3Core coursee.g., Physio3PSY599MS Thesis Research
3PSY599MS Thesis Research3Core Coursee.g., Theories & Systems
15  15  
Year 3
3Core coursee.g., Develop.3Core coursee.g., Multicultural
3PSY699Dissertation Research3PSY699Dissertation Research
13  13  
Year 4
6PSY699Dissertation Research6PSY699Dissertation Research
10  10  
Year 5
10  10  

Total credits=106. Note: The above sample course sequence goes above the required minimum in order to incorporate electives that will make up a focus area.

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Completion of Degree Requirements

The following table shows a recommended sequence for completing program requirements within the expected 5 years. An alternate sequence would involve proposing the dissertation in the spring of the third year and taking the Comprehensive Exam in fall of the fourth year. The deadline for defense of the master's thesis is the end of the fall semester of the third year. If the thesis has not been defended by this time, the student is subject to program sanctions.

First YearMA Program of studies dueDevelop thesis proposal
Second YearPropose thesisDefend thesis
Third YearPlan comprehensive exam
Doctoral Program of Studies due
Take comprehensive exam
Plan dissertation proposal
Fourth YearPropose dissertation
Apply for internship
Defend dissertation
Fifth YearInternshipInternship
Petition to graduate

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It is expected that students will graduate from the program in 5 years. University policy requires all students to graduate within 7 years. Students who do not complete within this time period must petition the graduate school to continue and may be required to retake courses and other degree requirements. Procedures are specified in the Graduate Student Manual.

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Overview of Practicum and Internship Training

Students begin clinical training by attending PCC staff meetings and observing therapy sessions conducted by advanced graduate students and faculty. Beginning in the second semester, clinical training is provided in required practicum courses taken for academic credit in the PCC, the on-campus training clinic of the Psychology Department. Students are required to take five on-campus practica.

The amount and type of clinical exposure is determined by the prior training and experience of each student and is provided within the guidelines of client welfare and professional ethics. Students may receive additional training through externship placements at mental health facilities in Rhode Island, nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut. In order to facilitate the scientist-practitioner goals of the program, students are restricted from engaging in more than 20 hours per week of clinical practica (PCC plus externship combined).

  1. All students (unless exempted by the DCT and PCC Director) are required to take the Intake Practicum (PSY 672K). This is typically taken in the spring semester of the first year.
  2. All students (unless exempted by the DCT) are required to take the Assessment Practicum. This is typically taken the semester after PSY662, Personality Assessment.
  3. In addition, students are required to complete three practica numbered PSY672 or PSY615F. While the available practica vary depending on the semester, these typically include: Individual Adult Psychotherapy (PSY672E), Child Psychotherapy (PSY672A), Family Therapy (PSY672B), Couples Therapy (PSY672C), Health Psychology, (PSY 615F), etc.
  4. All students are required to take one 3-credit practicum focused on a diverse clinical population and in which training in multicultural treatment issues is included.
  5. All students should be exposed to at least three therapy modalities across the five practica.

The URI program places particular emphasis on the importance of well-developed clinical skills and is widely known and respected for the quality of the pre-internship clinical training of its students. For the past several years, we have had interns at the following APA approved internship sites:

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Boston) Judge Baker Children's Center/The Children's Hospital (Boston)
Brown University Internship Consortium Leahy Medical Center, MA
Chicago VA, West Side Division Cincinnati VA Medical Center
Medical University of South Carolina Martinez Northern California, VA
Connecticut Valley Hospital Univ. of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey
North Central Bronx Hospital Cornell University Medical College—New York Hospital
South Florida VA South Shore (Mass.) Mental Health Center
Danbury (Conn.) Hospital St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Washington DC
Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, NH Univ. of Mississippi Medical Center
River Valley Services, Edith Nourse Rogers MEM VA Medical Center, Bedford MA Connecticut Valley psychology Internship
Grand Valley State Univ. Counseling Center, Grand Rapids, Michigan Univ. of Rochester Medical School
Hennepin Medical Center, Minnesota Village for Children and Families, West Haven VA
Worcester (MA) Youth Guidance Clinic Worcester State Hospital
Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven  

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Student Role in Program Governance

The following opportunities exist for students to be involved in program governance.

  • Quality of Clinical Training Committee: This group serves as a liaison between faculty and graduate students in the clinical program. The Director of Clinical Training serves as the chair, and the PCC Director is a standing member. This is an open meeting, so any student who wishes may attend.
  • Representation at the Clinical Faculty meetings: The Clinical Faculty meet on the second Monday of each month unless otherwise specified in the Department of psychology Calendar.
  • Representation at the Psychology Department Faculty meetings: These meetings are held on the first Monday of each month, unless otherwise specified in the Department of psychology calendar.
  • Representation on the Task Force for Multiculturalism and Diversity: In 1996 the Department of psychology elected the first Task Force on Multiculturalism and Diversity. The Task Force makes recommendations to the Department of psychology in the areas of curriculum, conflict resolution, evaluation of departmental multicultural climate, and development of the focus area in multicultural psychology. Department-wide elections determine faculty and graduate student representatives from each graduate program. Undergraduate students and staff are also represented when possible.
  • Clinical psychology Graduate Student Organization: The Clinical psychology graduate students have an organization and a leader elected annually. Students meet once a month during the PCC Colloquium time. Concurrently faculty supervisors hold their monthly meeting. The student leader acts as a liaison to the DCT. Students use this meeting actively and typically have a written agenda, adopt goals, and keep minutes.

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Evaluation of Students

Student evaluations are conducted annually by the program. Student progress in the program is assessed in two ways:
  1. through formal yearly evaluations by the clinical program faculty, and
  2. by an annual review by the student's program committee.

The clinical faculty evaluation consists of reviewing the student's completed annual evaluation information form, course grades, practicum evaluations, other clinical evaluations, research evaluation, teaching or other assistantship evaluations, and departmental/program service. The faculty discuss this information and complete a written evaluation form which is returned to the student. Students have the opportunity to discuss the evaluation with either the DCT or their major professor. The student, DCT, and major professor sign the form acknowledging receipt of the information. A copy of the evaluation is kept in each student's file.The annual evaluation form indicates whether a student's progress is outstanding, good, satisfactory, or unsatisfactory.

For students whose progress is less than satisfactory, specific program requirements which are to be completed and deadline dates for completion are indicated, as well as consequences for noncompliance. A remediation plan may be instituted including guidance regarding specific steps necessary to address identified problems. Feedback is provided as to whether the student has successfully met the goals of the remediation plan. If remediation has not been successful, a possible consequence is a recommendation to the graduate school that the student be terminated from the program. In addition to the above procedures, the graduate school requires annual status reports of student progress to be submitted by the student's major professor and program committee. Additional information is contained in Section 10 of the Graduate Student Manual on scholastic standing.

To facilitate the evaluation process we require that students submit an annual evaluation form and copy of their curriculum vita for the year. The evaluation form is designed to update us about activities during the past year. This form will be distributed by email during the spring semester.

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