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
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.
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.