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Psychology | Clinical PhD Program

Comprehensive Exams

Clinical students must pass four comprehensives: two parts of the general written comprehensive exam, one specialty comprehensive, and one other. For students admitted Fall 2000 or later the dissertation orals cannot count as a comprehensive.

General Written Comprehensive
Please see the General Information section at the end of the graduate student handbook for details of the scheduling, content, format, and grading of the general written comprehensive exam.


Specialty Comprehensive
The format for the required specialty comprehensive exam for clinical doctoral students will be modeled on the colloquia presented by faculty job candidates as follows: The student will prepare a presentation of approximately 45 minutes demonstrating advanced, specialized competence in clinical practice. A committee of two faculty members, one of whom must be full-time (not on reduced load) in the department, will conduct a 2 hour oral exam, starting with the student's 45-minute presentation and proceeding with questions from the faculty. A written product (e.g., detailed outline of the presentation, psychotherapy report, testing report, and other supporting materials, or data etc.) must be made available to the committee at the time of the oral. The presentation might also include an audio or videotape of a therapy session, as well as slides or transparencies.


"Other" Comprehensive
There are many ways to fulfill the last comprehensive requirement. The idea is to encourage students to engage in the types of activities required of professional psychologists. Two faculty members will serve as readers. One must be from within the AU psychology department; the second may be from outside the department. The comprehensive will be evaluated as satisfactory (pass) or unsatisfactory (not pass).

Possible formats include:

  • Literature review paper (a la Psychological Bulletin) not using the same topic as thesis or dissertation
  • writeup of an existing data set
  • grant proposal submission
  • cost effectiveness analysis (consult Dr. Yates for specifications)
  • convention symposium or poster presentation or journal article submission (readers must verify that the work was done well and is not overlapping thesis or dissertation)


Ethics Exam

Clinical PhD students must pass the Ethics examination. The examination will be given two times a year-during spring semester and during the summer. The reading list is available in the department office. Changes in the reading list take effect one year after they are made. Questions will be designed from the content of course-related ethics issues and the reading list. Students will answer six of seven possible exam questions. To pass, a student's overall grade must be B-, with no grade on any individual question lower than a C.

Students in the Clinical Program can also fulfill the ethics requirement by taking a course in ethics at another APA accredited clinical program and receiving a grade of B or better. The syllabus for the course must be approved by the GCC. Matters of ethics will be covered in courses such as psychopathology, psychological assessment I, psychotherapy, psychological research, assessment of intellectual function and personality, and the clinical practica.