Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
Program Description: Combined Clinical and School Psychology
The Curry Program in Clinical and School Psychology offers training in both clinical psychology and school psychology. The program is one of only 10 APA-accredited combined programs, and one of three that integrates training in clinical and school psychology. The combination of clinical and school psychology means that the doctoral training offered in the program is unique in at least two ways.
- Youth in context. The program embraces a contextual understanding of the well-being and mental health of children, youth, and young adults. In particular, we recognize that maximizing mental health requires psychologists to integrate mental health services across multiple settings (e.g., family, community, school). In particular, school experiences play a significant role in shaping youth development – children, as early as age three, are spending five days per week in a classroom, youth in public school spend the majority of their waking time in school, and 70% of young adults end up enrolled in colleges or universities. However, many children, especially those from underrepresented communities (e.g., racial, socioeconomic, LGBTQ+), do not have equal access to educational experiences that promote social, psychological, and academic success. Therefore, it is critical that psychologists working with children and young adults have an understanding of the intersection between mental health, developmental science, and education to maximize well-being.
- Youth strengths. The program has an explicit emphasis on a strength-based approach to understanding youth. This means that we not only focus on psychopathology and risk but also on positive youth development and resilience. In addition, we emphasize early identification and preventive interventions that incorporate individual, contextual, and cultural strengths of those with whom we work. In other words, we adhere to a broad conceptualization of clinical and school practice that values the diverse experiences of youth and is aligned with the Institute of Medicine’s intervention spectrum (i.e., promotion, prevention, treatment, and maintenance).
The program is fully accredited by the American Psychological Association as a combined program in clinical and school psychology. This accreditation status was granted in the Fall of 2013. The next APA accreditation review of the program is scheduled for 2020. The program also is fully approved as a doctoral level School Psychology program by the National Association of School Psychologists through 2020. This dual status reflects the program’s commitment to integrating didactic and experiential training in both clinical and school psychology. The curriculum is designed to provide graduates a strong foundation in both clinical and school psychology so that by the end of the program students are eligible for either licensure/certification in clinical and school psychology, or clinical psychology alone.
Our program considers research and clinical skills equally vital to the success of psychologists in the profession today. This is reflected in our commitment to having students participate in active research labs and engage in our state-of-the-art outpatient clinic from the first semester they arrive in the program.
Applied research. Research training includes on-the-ground work within a faculty member’s research lab, either focused on secondary data analysis of existing data or active data collection and management within current projects. All students begin working on a manuscript in their first year that is submitted to a peer review journal by the end of their second year, and many of our students graduate having authored one or more publications. A hallmark of the program is its emphasis on applied research in real world settings, such as studying bullying and school climate via statewide surveys of middle and high schoolers, improving implementation of behavioral practices through video-based coaching models for teachers, establishing a state-wide school readiness assessment to inform data-driven decision-making, developing and testing evidence-based mentoring models, improving outcome assessment for children with autism, evaluating a school-wide health and wellness curriculum, and more.
Clinical training. Clinically, our students receive extensive training in the assessment and treatment of children, adolescents, and young adults through course work and intensive one-on-one supervision of casework in schools, an outpatient clinic, and other clinical settings. Our core faculty work clinically from a variety of perspectives, including Behavioral, Cognitive-Behavioral, Interpersonal, Psychodynamic, and Family Systems. Experience with additional clinical orientations and therapeutic approaches are available on practicum through supervision with community practitioners, including contexts like juvenile detention centers, schools, inpatient psychiatric units, behavior health clinics, family medicine, and more. After a yearlong internship, our graduates seek careers in clinical and academic settings, including universities, schools, medical centers, and mental health agencies. Given our strong commitment to a scientist-practitioner model, we seek applicants who desire to a career that integrates both research and applied work. Any student whose exclusive interest is in the private practice of clinical or school psychology is not encouraged to apply.
Information for Prospective Graduate Students
Our program attracts a competitive and highly skilled pool of students, with diverse background experiences. We typically accept five to seven students each year. For the 2014-2015 academic year, the program consists of 31 students, five of whom are currently on internship. Our program has a strong commitment to diversity in all forms. Among current students, 36% are members of ethnic minority groups. Fourteen percent entered the program with a Master’s degree. All of our students are admitted into the Ph.D. program regardless of whether or not they have a master’s degree. After the first year of course work, our students are awarded an M.Ed. degree. For an in-depth summary of admission statistics and program outcomes over the past five years please visit our program Student Admissions, Outcomes, and Other Data page.
Prospective students often ask what aspects of the application are given most weight when considered for acceptance into the program. Each application is looked at as a whole; relatively weak GRE scores, for instance, might be balanced by strongly positive recommendation letters. One factor that is consistently important is the Statement of Professional Goals. This reflection is the best way to get a feel for who you are and how you would fit into the program.
Applicants also inquire about the differences between our program and the clinical psychology program offered by UVA’s department of Psychology. Both our program and the psychology department’s program are APA-accredited doctoral programs designed to train clinical psychologists who can combine scientific inquiry with clinical practice. We encourage you to learn about the clinical psychology program in the Department of Psychology directly from their website and admissions materials. Generally speaking, our program provides many opportunities for research and practice related to children and families, and we have special interests in work with schools. We also offer training for work with adult and forensic populations. Most (62%) of our graduates seek leadership careers in a diverse set of mental health service organizations including schools, hospitals, medical centers, and primary health care practices, working with children, adolescents, and adults. While applying to both programs is possible, prospective students are encouraged to carefully consider career goals and interests when choosing a program to attend.
The following faculty will be considering admission of new Ph.D. students for the 2020-2021 academic year:
For more information on student experience and to contact program doctoral students directly, please visit our Current Students page.
*Questions related to the program's accredited status should be directed to the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association at:
Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
American Psychological Association
750 1st Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
Our Success Is Your Success
of graduates become licensed psychologists
- Online application
- Unofficial transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate work are accepted; however, once admitted official transcripts will be required
- Unofficial Graduate Record Examination Scores; however, once admitted official scores will be required
- Statement of professional goals (typically 1 to 2 pages)
- Two letters of recommendation
- A nonrefundable $75 application fee
- A writing sample is not required
Selected candidates will be interviewed in Charlottesville on January 24 and January 31, 2020.
Note: Invitations for interviews are issued via email in late January. In recent years between 150-200 applications have been processed and approximately 30 students are invited to interview each year.
*On the application form select "Clinical" from the list of Ph.D. application options. All of our students in clinical and school psychology are admitted into the Ph.D. degree programs regardless of whether or not they have a master’s degree.
Do not send materials directly to the Curry Program in Clinical and School Psychology. All applications are assembled and processed by the Curry School of Education Office of Admissions and only forwarded to us when they are certified to be complete, sending items to us directly may actually delay your application. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all required materials are submitted by the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be read and may be cancelled if left incomplete. Materials should be tracked using the checklist in the application.
GRADUATE RECORD EXAMINATION (GRE)
The Curry School of Education requires the GRE Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing tests for admission to all graduate programs (no exceptions). The psychology subject test is encouraged but not required. All GRE scores must be current (within five years of the date of application). Examinations should be taken as early as possible so that scores will be received prior to the application deadline.
Information on GREs may be obtained directly from the Educational Testing Service.
Institution code: 5820
All international students for whom English is not their native tongue must take and submit TOEFL scores. A score of 600 is generally considered minimal in the Curry School of Education.
All application materials and test scores must be received by the Admissions Office by December 1 of each calendar year for admission in the fall semester of the following academic year. Admissions decisions will be available by February 15th.
Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all required materials are submitted by the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be read and may be cancelled if left incomplete. Materials should be tracked using the checklist in the application.
Students entering with a bachelor's degree must enroll full time for five academic years, including internship. This includes enrollment for each summer. Those entering with a master's degree in psychology or a closely related area must enroll full time for four years. A minimum of three years must be in full time residency on grounds. Students must also complete a year-long internship prior to graduation.
Clinical Core (26 semester hours)
• Seminar in Clinical Psychology
• Cognitive Assessment
• Personality Assessment (2 semesters)
• Individual Psychotherapy (2 semesters)
• Family Therapy
• Psychological Intervention and Consultation in Schools
• Psychological Consultation
• Clinical Supervision
Basic Science of Psychology (30 semester hours)
• Statistics and Research Methods (3 courses)
• Educational Research Methods
• Physiological/Biological /Neurological Basis of Behavior
• Cognitive Basis of Behavior
• Individual Basis of Behavior (3 courses): Personality, Developmental Psychology, and Psychopathology
• Social Basis of Behavior
School Psychology (5 semester hours)
(Note: This coursework is not required for students electing the general clinical psychology track of study)
• Exceptional Children
• Curriculum/Teaching Methods
Open Electives (6 semester hours)
Students are involved in clinical practica each semester of the four years of residency in Charlottesville and the surrounding area.
• Year 1: First-year practicum seminar (fall semester). Students live-observe clinical cases through a one-way mirror, review videotapes of clinical sessions, and receive training in basic professional skills. Placement in a school setting (spring semester). Students observe a practicing school psychologist, conduct cognitive and educational evaluations, and participate in counseling individuals and groups.
• Year 2: Placement in the Center for Clinical Psychology Services, our on-site training facility. Students conduct several comprehensive psychological evaluations, see clients for individual therapy, and participate in weekly Center training sessions.
• Years 3 and 4: Placement at a regional mental health facility or school. Students serve as psychologists and undertake a wide range of responsibilities, including casework, assessment, group work, and consultation, under the supervision of licensed practitioners.
Clinical Psychology Internship
All students are required to complete a one-year internship in clinical psychology, typically in a major medical setting. Despite increasing national competition for a limited number of placements, for the past four years 80% of our students have received their first choice. In their annual evaluations, Directors of Internship Training consistently place our students in the top 15% compared to interns from other programs. The following is a sample of the internship sites of our students in the past several years.
• Children’s Hospital, Harvard University, Boston
• Yale Child Study Center, New Haven
• Rush University Medical Center, Chicago
• Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH
• Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
• NYU-Bellevue Hospital Center, New York
• Virginia Treatment Center for Children, Richmond
• Tulane University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans
• Institute of Living, Hartford, CT
• Mailman Center for Child Development, Miami
• Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, D.C.
• Saint John’s Child & Family Development Center, Santa Monica, CA
• Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
• Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore, MD
School Psychology Internship
Students in the clinical-school track must complete an internship of at least 1,500 hours, at least one-half of which must be in a school setting. We require that students in the clinical-school track complete a ½-time internship for 39 weeks in a local school system during their third or fourth year (780 hours). In addition, students complete a 12 month full time internship in an APA approved setting working extensively with children/adolescents. Alternately, a student may undertake a full-time internship in an APA-approved school psychology setting (e.g., the Virginia Beach City Schools, or the Memphis Consortium in the Schools). In this case the student is not required to complete the half-time school psychology internship prior to the APA-approved internship.
While on internship in the schools, interns will work under the supervision of an experienced, credentialed (i.e., licensed by Virginia Department of Education) school psychologist. All written work will be approved and co-signed by the supervisor. An average of two hours per week of supervision is required. The school division is expected to provide interns with office space, equipment and supplies, clerical support, and access to ongoing professional development opportunities consistent with those provided for full-time professional staff of the division. Interns are expected to become familiar with and to abide by school-division policies and procedures. They also are to be knowledgeable about and to conduct themselves in accordance with the standards of the National Association of School Psychologists and the APA. Ongoing interaction among the school division, the Curry Programs in Clinical and School Psychology, and the intern will ensure that students receive high-quality training experiences. Formal written evaluations of the intern’s performance will be submitted by the supervisor to Dr. Downer at least twice during the academic year. A written contract detailing rights and responsibilities of the parties will be signed by the intern, the program director (Dr. Downer), and the responsible official from the school division. During the school psychology internship year, students will have the opportunity to work with a broad and diverse range of students in both regular and special-education settings. Activities will include assessment, counseling, parent and teacher consultation, and behavior management.
All program students are eligible to receive a competitive financial aid package that includes tuition (both in-state and out of state) for the academic year, medical insurance, and a stipend to defray living expenses. Assuming satisfactory progress, students will be eligible to receive this level of support for the four years spent on Grounds in Charlottesville. For the 5th year, APA-approved internship, the host agency provides financial support. The specifics of financial aid offers are indicated when admission to the program is attained.
Some students are able to acquire additional monies through special Curry School and university awards, teaching assistantships, work on funded grant projects, and/or pay for clinical work beyond that required by the program. All Ph.D. applicants are automatically considered for the Dean's Fellowship Program, which provides top Ph.D. students with four full years of tuition and fees, health insurance, and $32,000 per year of study.
The typical length of study is five years, including a one-year clinical psychology internship.
Semester of Entry:
Fall. Students are not permitted to enter the Clinical and School Psychology program in the spring or summer semesters.
Full or Part Time:
Full-time. Students are not permitted to enroll part-time.
Students trained in the program at the University of Virginia are prepared to assume leadership roles in their professional careers, such as supervisory positions in schools, medical centers, and mental health agencies, as well as teaching and research positions in academic settings. The following is a sample of postdoctoral internships and job placements attained by graduates in recent years:
• Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Wake Forest University
• Attending psychologist in the Psychiatric ER/Crisis Clinic, Bellevue Hospital Center, New York City
• School psychologist, Judy Hoyer Family Learning Center
• Staff psychologist, Pediatric psychology, Children’s Memorial Hospital, Chicago, IL
• Associate Director, Curriculum development and program evaluation, School-Connect, Bethesda, MD
• Therapist, Office of Counseling and Human Development, Dartmouth College
• Postdoctoral fellow in Pediatric psychology, Children’s National Medical Center, Dept. of Psychology, Washington, D.C.
• NRSA Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Suicide research, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY
• Clinical psychology postdoctoral fellow, Child behavioral health, Baystate Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, West Springfield, MA
• Postdoctoral scholar, Multisystemic therapy (MST), Family Services Research Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
• Postdoctoral fellow, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, UCLA-Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior
• Adjunct Professor, Curry Programs in School and Clinical Psychology, University of Virginia
• Therapist, Augusta Correctional Center, VA
• Clinical Fellow, Learning and Emotional Assessment Program (LEAP), Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School
• Postdoctoral Fellow, Massachusetts General Hospital Children and Law Fellowship, Boston, MA
• Fellow in Clinical Psychology, Children’s Hospital Neighborhood Partnerships, Boston, MA
• Director, Child Psychology Training, Boston Medical Center/Boston University School of Medicine
• Postdoctoral Fellow, Outpatient Treatment Center, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago, IL
• Dr. John J.B. Morgan Clinical Research Fellow, Marital and family therapy, The Family Institute at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
• Assistant Professor, School psychology, child neuropsychology, Psychology Department, Radford University, VA
• Assessment, Forensic Evaluation
• A portion of our graduates also enter into private practice providing psychotherapy and assessment services for children, families, adults, couples and area schools.
The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at http://records.ureg.virginia.edu/index.php.