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Our mission is to prepare students for professional careers in a variety of settings where they engage in research, teaching, or clinical supervision; and who make contributions to clinical science by disseminating research findings and scholarship. Within this general mission of providing high-quality, science-based training, we strive to prepare a significant number of graduates who establish careers in academia and research institutes where they have primary responsibilities for conducting research that advances clinical science and for teaching new generations of clinical scientists. The PhD program in clinical psychology is:
Click here for instructions on how to apply to the Clinical Psychology doctoral program.
Our selection of new doctoral students is based on several factors:
In addition to significant research experience, successful applicants should have an undergraduate grade point average of B+ or better; strong performance on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE); and compelling letters of recommendation. Specific information about application procedures can be found on the doctoral admissions pages.
We also seek a balance of students who have interests in our three research emphases: child clinical, health, and community/prevention. It has been our experience that most of our students will choose one of the three specialty areas which represent domains of faculty interest as well as clinical or preventive specialties for which an employment demand now exists. However, specialization is not a program requirement. Some students might begin a particular emphasis but later decide to move in a different direction. Thus, the descriptions that follow are designed to give you an idea of the available curricular choices.
The child clinical area of emphasis provides training in the etiology, assessment, treatment and prevention of childhood disorders. A major focus is on the prevention of child mental health problems among children and families under stress.Thus, most of our child clinical faculty also participate in our community-prevention area of emphasis.Table of Child Clinical Faculty
Clinical students with interests centering on the interface of psychology and medicine may select Health Psychology as an area of emphasis. In our program, health psychology is broadly interpreted to encompass the theoretical, methodological, and/or procedural (treatment and prevention) contributions from contemporary psychology that bear upon the existing and emerging problems of modern medicine. Table of Health Psychology Faculty.
We define the Community/Preventive area of emphasis to include theory, research methods, and interventions that are designed to prevent the occurrence of mental health, substance use or other problems, and to promote healthy adaptation in a range of social environments. Students study theoretical issues such as the influence of stress and coping, family processes, acculturation and cross-cultural issues, neighborhood influences, and economic hardship on the development of mental health or substance abuse problems. Students also become involved in the development, implementation, and evaluation of preventive interventions to promote healthy adaptation for children in a range of high-risk situations. Foci of preventive interventions include children of divorce, inner-city ethnic minority children, bereaved children, and school-based programs. Table of Community/Prevention Clinical Faculty.
Additional Program Strengths
Research on ethnic minority adults and children. The culturally diversity of the Phoenix metropolitan area and the State of Arizona provide opportunities for our faculty and students to contribute to an understanding of ethnic minority children and adults. Across our emphases in child clinical, community/prevention, and health, our clinical faculty investigate factors that might influence the well-being of subcultural groups. Several of our research projects address health disparities by developing interventions and testing their effectiveness for Latinos and other ethnic/racial groups.
Quantitative Methods. Many clinical psychology students develop deep interests in quantitative methods and take advantage of the advanced coursework provided by the Department’s outstanding Quantitative Psychology doctoral program. This coursework and leading-edge research by the Department's quantitative faculty have direct application to psychological assessment; longitudinal research in developmental psychopathology; research on theoretical models; and the evaluation of psychotherapy and preventive interventions.
Substance Abuse. Students have opportunities to participate in a diverse set of projects related to substance use and abuse. Several faculty members share an interest in substance use, but operate from very different research paradigms: (a) longitudinal research that follows participants over several years or across multiple generations, (b) experimental laboratory research (including studies that use a simulated bar environment),(c) field-based, mixed methods research that combines qualitative and quantitative strategies, and d) prevention studies designed to reduce risk of alcohol-related harms in high risk populations. Studies include both child and adult participants, and several focus specifically on Latino populations.
Coursework for the doctoral clinical program is to some extent, determined by APA requirements. For more detailed information about the program's curriculum and milestones or to see a sample schedule, students should view the current Clinical Student Handbook. Once admitted, we require students to be continuously enrolled full-time, excluding summer sessions, until all degree requirements have been met.
Required Core Courses: Courses covering the scientific and technical foundations of clinical psychology, as well as clinical practica include:
Electives: Various courses, seminars, and practica of the students’ choosing are included in this category and are used to satisfy additional program requirements.
Other Course Requirements: Two ATM courses are required which involve integrated science-professional training and are taught by departmental faculty in timely and specific clinical and community modalities.
In order to satisfy requirements for program accreditation, students are also required to take at least one course each in:
*PSY 542 and PSY 591 can only be used to either fulfill the Affective Bases of behavior requirement OR to fulfill the Human Development requirement. PSY 541 can only be used to fulfill the Cognitive Bases of behavior requirement OR the Human Development requirement.
To maintain satisfactory standing, students should maintain a B average in courses; complete milestones in a timely fashion; and show good progress in the development of professional competencies. For additional information about doctoral program milestones and required forms, visit our Graduate Resources page.
Masters Thesis. The Master’s Thesis must be an empirical investigation and an oral defense is required. A three-person thesis committee is required including one person from outside the clinical training area or outside the topic area.
Supervised clinical placements. Beginning in the third year, students may engage in supervised clinical work with a community clinical service agency. Two years of quarter-time (10 hours per week) or one year of half-time (20 hours per week) of placement training are required.
Comprehensive Examination. Students are required to successfully pass a comprehensive examination prior to initiating dissertation research. To qualify for the comprehensive examination, students must complete a master's thesis, maintain a minimum of a B average in all required coursework, and have overall "satisfactory" ratings in their clinical/professional activities. Students write either a literature review of a substantive area of clinical psychology or a grant application similar to those that seek funding for dissertation research. The comprehensive exam includes an oral defense. For students who are admitted without a master's degree, comprehensive examination papers are submitted on the first day of the fall semester of the fourth year.
Dissertation Research. The dissertation must be an empirical investigation and includes an oral defense. A four-person thesis committee is required. One person must be from outside the clinical training area or outside the topic area.
Full-time Internship. An APA-approved internship is required for graduation in Clinical Psychology. Students must have an approved dissertation prospectus by October 1 of the fall semester in which they apply for an internship. It is expected that the student will have completed analysis of dissertation data prior to leaving on internship.
The timeline for students entering without a master’s degree or significant prior graduate work:
Master’s thesis prospectus: fall semester, second year
Master’s thesis data meeting: spring semester, second year
Master’s thesis defense: fall semester, third year
Comprehensive exam submission: first day of classes, fall semester, fourth year Dissertation prospectus: October 1, fifth year
Internship readiness: early October, fifth year
The clinical faculty work closely with students in the program and vigorously promote open, supportive, and collegial relationships. Thus, students’ progress through the program is tracked on an “informal” basis through numerous contacts with program faculty and any academic or clinical concerns can usually be addressed early. Satisfactory progress is evaluated in a more formal annual review by the clinical faculty and the student’s advisor for coursework, TA or RA assignments, research and all clinical work including practicum courses, clinical placements, and internships.
Students’ annual reviews by the clinical faculty coincide with the timeline shown above. Coursework, research, and professional training (clinical work and teaching) are evaluated during annual reviews. Students receive letters from the Director of Clinical Training that describe the results of annual evaluations.
Of the 45 or so clinical students enrolled in our program across all cohorts, six to eight advanced students are usually on their internships at APA-approved sites across the U.S. The remaining students are in full-time residence. If academic or professional problems do arise, the 3:1 student-to-faculty ratio makes it highly likely that counseling and cooperative problem solving efforts will be available. Family considerations or the reappraisal of career directions represent the most commonly stated reasons for student-initiated leaves of absence or withdrawals.
Graduate Student Mentoring
Entering students are each assigned to a clinical faculty member who, on the basis of the initial match of interests, serves as a temporary academic/research advisor. During the student’s first year, there are ample opportunities to get to know other faculty and their respective interests.
By year two, a student will have selected their master’s thesis committee and major advisor. The advisor serves as the student’s primary consultant in matters such as course selection, placement and internship choices, and general career development.
Laurie Chassin, PhD, Regents Professor and Director of Graduate Studies. Research Interests: Adolescent risk and resilience; and transitions from adolescence to adulthood. Longitudinal studies of the intergenerational transmission of substance use and cigarette smoking, and adolescents in high-risk families, desistance among serious juvenile offenders. Projects/Lab: Pathways of Risk and Resilience Lab.
William Corbin, PhD, Professor and Director of Clinical Training. Research Interests:The goals of Dr. Corbin's program of research are 1) to improve our understanding of factors that lead to the development of alcohol related problems; and 2) to develop effective programs for reducing alcohol-related harm. The first aim is met through a combination of a) longitudinal survey research on risk factors for heavy drinking, b) laboratory based research on the relation between subjective response to alcohol and risk for alcohol-related problems, and c) laboratory based research on the effects of alcohol on risk-taking. The second aim is met through prevention outcome studies targeting alcohol use and associated harms. Projects/Labs: Behavioral Alcohol Research for Clinical Advancement (BARCA) Laboratory.
Keith Crnic, PhD, Foundation Professor. Research Interests: Parent-child interaction, parenting, and family process predictions to emerging behavior problems in young children. The nature of stress in parent-child relationships and its influence on child and family functioning. Projects/Labs: Parent-Child Relations Lab.
Mary Davis, PhD, Professor. Research Interests: Situational, personality, and hormonal responses to stress and coronary heart disease in women. Projects/Labs: Emotion Regulation and Health.
Thomas Dishion, PhD, Professor. Research Interests: translational research on relationship dynamics associated with child, adolescent and young adult mental health and competence. His research focuses on peer, family and romantic relationship dynamics underlying the development of psychopathology and competence. His work uses various methods including longitudinal studies, observational and social neuroscience techniques such as high-density array EEG. His intervention research involves the design and testing of empirically supported interventions such as the Family Check-up, and identifying intervention strategies that are potentially iatrogenic to youth development. Projects/Labs: Relationships Dynamics Lab.
Nancy Gonzales, PhD, Women and Philanthropy Dean's Distinguished Professor. Research Interests: Cultural and contextual influences on adolescent mental health. Her work includes research on the role of neighborhood disadvantage and acculturation on children's mental health and on how these influences are mediated or moderated by family processes within Mexican American and African American families. She also is involved in the development and evaluation of culturally sensitive interventions for Mexican American and African American families.Areas include: Culture / Ethnic Issues in Prevention Research; Prevention of Mexican American School Dropout and Mental Health Problems; Acculturation and Enculturation of Mexican American Children and Families; Contextual Influences on Adolescent Development. Projects/Labs: Culture and Prevention Research Lab.
Paul Karoly, PhD, Professor. Research Interests: The development and use of a cognitive-motivational perspective applied to normal and abnormal adjustment and to physical health and physical illness. The model, called the goal, self-regulatory, automatized social systems perspective (GRASSP), seeks to understand humans as self-regulating systems organized around explicit and implicit goals. The model focuses not only on the functional capacities of human self-regulating systems (such as attention, memory, monitoring of self and environment, etc.) but on the content, structure, and operational dynamics of goals themselves. The conceptual model is currently being applied across a variety of domains including: health and clinical psychology, clinical assessment, personality, educational and vocational psychology. Projects/Labs: Star Gate Lab.
Linda Luecken, PhD, Professor. Research Interests: Health Psychology, Women's Health. Social, developmental, and personality predictors of cardiovascular and hormonal stress reactivity and vulnerability to stress-related illnesses. Projects/Labs: Postpartum Depression in low-income and ethnic minority women; Long-term physiological and health correlates of childhood adversity; and Health risk and protective factors associated with parental death or divorce. Health & Coping Lab, Resilience Solutions Group.
Suniya Luthar, PhD, Professor. Research Interests: Developmental psychopathology and resilience among children and families at risk; psychosocial risks and unacknowledged pressures for children of affluent, highly educated parents. Projects/Labs: Luthar Lab.
Madeline Meier, PhD, Assistant Professor. Research Interests: Developmental psychopathology of externalizing disorders; neuropsychological consequences of adolescent substance abuse; and cerebrovascular mechanisms linking substance abuse, neuropsychological impairment, and psychiatric disorder. Projects/Labs: Substance Use, Health, and Behavior Laboratory.
Marisol Perez, PhD, Associate Professor. Research Interests: Bulimia nervosa and the development/implementation of a cognitive dissonance eating disorder prevention program for college women; family-based needs assessment on adult and childhood obesity. Projects/Labs: Eating Pathology Lab.
Sharlene Wolchik, PhD, Professor. Research Interests: The primary goal of Dr. Wolchik’s research is to advance our understanding of vulnerability and resilience among at-risk youths. Over the last 25 years, she has conducted research to identify modifiable individual- and family-level processes that promote positive adaptation to parental divorce or parental death. She has developed empirically-based interventions to prevent the onset and/or exacerbation of problem outcomes for youths who experience these family disruptions. Randomized experimental trials have shown significant benefits of these programs on a wide array of mental and physical health outcomes. Short- and long-term follow-up studies have shown that these positive effects last up to 15 years after participation. Her program for divorced families, the New Beginnings Program, has been recognized as a model program by the National Registry of Effective Prevention Programs and Blueprints for Health Youth Development. Dr. Wolchik is committed to bringing these evidence-based programs into real-world settings so that more children and families can benefit. Projects/Labs: Prevention Programs for At-risk Youths.
Affiliated Clinical Faculty and Research Interests
Leah Doane, PhD, Associate Professor (Developmental/Clinical). Research Interests: Daily stress experiences in adolescence and young adulthood, ecological momentary assessment of emotions and physiological stress activity, social-emotional influences on trajectories of physical and mental health over the transition to adulthood. Projects/Labs: Adolescent Stress and Emotion Lab.
Kathy Lemery, PhD, Professor. Research Interests: Developmental behavior genetic approach, individual differences in appropriate and inappropriate emotional responding, risk and resiliency, parent and sibling influences, context effects, person-environment transactions, behavioral and biological measures. Projects/Labs: Child Emotion Center.
Armando Pina, PhD, Associate Professor (Clinical/Developmental). Research Interests: Intra-individual level risk factors in the development of anxiety disorders in youth and the evaluation of psychosocial preventive and treatment interventions for use with this population. Dr. Pina's work integrates ethnocultural and child-adolescent anxiety research and is aimed at developing empirically informed, culturally robust assessment and intervention strategies for culturally diverse youth.
Clark Presson, PhD, Professor. Research Interests: Development of spatial knowledge and reasoning, the use of spatial symbols, applications of cognitive development to child and adolescent health psychology, and processes of initiation of cigarette smoking.
Manuel Barrera, PhD, Professor. Research Interests: Prevention and behavioral treatment for type 2 diabetes, social support interventions, behavioral health interventions for Latino families.
Richard Lanyon, PhD, Professor. Research Interests: Psychological assessment in general and personality assessment in particular, focusing on areas that are relevant to psychology and law. Current projects involve the development and validation of methods to assess response distortions (“misrepresentation”) during assessments in various forensic contexts, such as personal injury claimants, major felons, divorce/custody situations, etc. Projects: Validity of the Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding and the Paulhus Deception Scales in forensic assessment; Development and validation of a measure of extreme virtue for the Multidimensional Health Profile Cognitive set; secondary gain, and progress in physical rehabilitation.