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The clinical psychology doctoral program at American University aims to prepare students for licensure in many states. Graduating from an American Psychological Association (APA) accredited institution with a doctoral degree is often one of the main requirements for licensure in most states, and our program has been fully and continuously accredited by the APA since 1972. However, most states have other requirements for licensure (e.g., predoctoral internship, postdoctoral fellowship, particular scores on the EPPP licensing exam). This disclosure focuses solely on predoctoral courses needed to qualify for licensure as a psychologist. Graduates of AU’s clinical psychology program have successfully obtained licensure in many states.

The Clinical Psychology PhD program is committed to educating students in clinical science with rigorous training in both research and applied clinical work. Our program will provide you with the skills you need for a successful career in academia, research, or clinical practice. Fully accredited by the American Psychological Association Committee on Accreditation since 1972, our doctoral program reflects the scientist-practitioner model of training.


Washington, DC

Excellence in research and clinical training

The 72-credit PhD program is designed to provide students with a rigorous classroom education, innovative research opportunities, and exciting and diverse clinical experiences. With faculty guidance and mentorship, students complete a master's thesis, a doctoral dissertation, and one tool of research. Students engage in three year-long practicum experiences. In the first year, students learn humanistic and psychodynamic techniques in the American University Counseling Center. In year two, students learn and practice cognitive behavioral techniques in the department's James J. Gray Psychotherapy Training Clinic. For the third practicum, students choose between an advanced CBT practicum with adults or with children. Additionally, students complete multiple externships in DC area hospitals, mental health centers, and counseling centers and a one-year internship.

This program takes five to six years of full-time study to complete. Part-time study is not available. See all degree requirements.

At AU, a mentorship model of training will allow you to work closely with a research supervisor throughout the program. You and this faculty mentor will collaborate on research projects and design your master's thesis and dissertation project. Our faculty members maintain productive research labs and mentor graduate students in research design and methodology. Faculty research interests include affective and motivational processes in depression, anxiety disorders (in children and adults), stress and emotion regulation, parenting, minority mental health, trichotillomania, cognitive assessment and therapy, smoking, borderline personality disorder, drug expectancies, treatment outcomes, and human services program evaluation. Faculty research programs offer a mix of applied and basic research opportunities.

Diverse Opportunities In The Nation's Capital

Home to numerous world-class research and clinical institutions, the DC area offers access to an extraordinary array of professional and intellectual opportunities. The clinical program at AU has fostered connections at a wide range of externship sites including the DC and Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, National Institute of Health, Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital, National Children’s Medical Center, private practices, and college counseling centers at nearby universities. Many of our students make lasting connections in the DC area, and are well positioned to find post-doctoral employment in or around the city. There is a rich diversity in DC, so students work with individuals and families from many different backgrounds.

The PhD is your path to career success

At AU, we have a record of placing our clinical psychology PhDs in successful careers at respected institutions. Our students graduate fully prepared for careers in academia, research, and clinical settings. For example, graduates of our program hold tenure-track positions at St. John's University, Williams College, LaFayette College, the University of Cincinnati, and Goucher College.

We are proud of the research and clinical accomplishments of our students and alumni. AU PhDs have conducted research in prominent departments of psychiatry, including Brown University, Ohio State University, and the University of Virginia. Our alumni work in a variety of clinical settings in the DC area and across the country, including Johns Hopkins University, the National Institutes of Health, the New York Presbyterian-University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell, Chestnut Health System of Illinois, Children's National Medical Center, and the District of Columbia VA Medical Center.

News & Notes

  • Diana CoxCongratulations to Diana Cox, who was named the Student Spotlight Award winner for August 2024 by the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science. This award aims to “highlight students who are doing important work in the CBS community whether for research, clinical, and/or volunteer-humanitarian efforts.”
  • Alice Coyne was named the 2024 recipient of the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy Early Career Award in recognition of “accomplishment and achievement related to psychotherapy theory, practice, research, or training.”
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Alum Spotlight

I benefitted from being encouraged to pursue my goals — and work/life balance.

Mentored by Dr. David Haaga on treatment development and outcomes for trichotillomania, Martha externed at the DC VA, NIMH Psychiatry Consultation-Liason Service, the Behavior Therapy Center, and Johns Hopkins Medical Center. After a Southwest Consortium Doctoral Internship and post-doc at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School, she now serves as Director of Research at the OCD Institute, supported by an NIMH Career Development Award. 


AU’s quality of education prepared me well for the challenges of clinical work

Diana Cox’s research focuses on how experiences of stress affect physical and mental health outcomes, particularly in LGBTQ+ populations. As a member of the Stress and Emotion Lab, she has had the opportunity to design her own research studies and collaborate with other students on lab projects. She refined her clinical skills through externships at the Washington DC VA Medical Center, Neuropsychology Associates of Fairfax, and True North Therapy.