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Psychology | Clinical PhD Program: FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the program APA accredited?

Yes, the Clinical Psychology Program at AU has been accredited by the American Psychological Association's Committee on Accreditation (CoA) since 1972. CoA is part of the Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation (OPCA). For more details, the OPCA's contact information is as follows:

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
American Psychological Association
750 1st Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002
202-336-5979 /


How do I apply?

The most convenient way is to apply online. Visit CAS Graduate Admissions How to Apply page for additional information about the application process and for a paper application. 


What is the deadline for application?

The application deadline is December 1. All application materials (including the application itself, the essay, relevant official transcripts, score reports from the General (required) and Advanced Psychology (optional) GREs, and three letters of recommendation) must be received by this date.


Approximately how many apply and what percentage of applicants are accepted per academic year?

Typically, the Clinical Psychology Program receives between 200-300 applications and approximately 4% (10 applicants) are admitted per year. In 2011, the program received 249 applications and 9 students were accepted.


On what criteria are applications reviewed?

Applications are reviewed on a number of criteria, including previous academic performance, test scores, and letters of recommendation. Based on these criteria, 40-50 applicants are invited to campus for a formal interview, and the interview is considered in final admissions decisions as well.  


Is there a minimum GPA required?

The university does require certain minimum standards for graduate admissions, including a 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours (90 quarter hours) of undergraduate work or a cumulative 3.0 GPA in all relevant graduate work. Typically, students admitted to the Clinical Psychology Program have GPAs higher than these stated minimums – the average undergraduate GPA of members of the last few entering cohorts has been between 3.65 and 3.7. 


Is the GRE required? Is there a minimum score requirement?

Yes, the General GRE is required. The Advanced Psychology GRE is not required but is recommended. There is no minimum score requirement.


Can I apply to the PhD  program if I have not received an MA?

Yes, you can; in fact, the majority of students admitted to the program have not yet completed a master's degree.

Can I transfer credits earned from another graduate program to the Clinical Psychology PhD program at American?

Students may transfer up to 6 credits into the program for courses taken prior to first enrollment at AU and at accredited institutions outside of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington metropolitan area, if the following conditions are met:

a. Before the end of the first semester of participation in their AU degree program,students must petition, in writing, the GCC for consideration of transfer credits.This petition should attach relevant syllabi and an official copy of all transcript showing courses requested for transfer.

b. Students' petitions must be approved and countersigned by their advisors and by their degree program director prior to submission to the GCC. Petitions not approved by advisors will be returned to students. All transfer of courses also must be approved by the GCC.

c. Courses taken at other universities must have a grade of at least B (3.0) in order to be transferred into the graduate program. B- is not acceptable.d. Courses transferred from other schools must not have been taken more than 5years prior to admission to AU.e. The courses proposed for transfer were not used as credits toward a completed undergraduate or graduate degree in a similar field, including any area of psychology or public health. [University requirement being revised, however.]f. The following courses cannot be transferred: Independent Study.g. Course transfers approved by the advisor, program director, and GCC must be forwarded to the Dean and Provost for final approval.

Does the Clinical Program hold formal interviews?

Yes, the Clinical Psychology Program does hold formal interviews. Typically, students are invited to interview on one of two formal interview days in February. These interview days are usually held on Monday or Friday, to make it easier for applicants who are traveling greater distances to the interview. We try to accommodate applicants' availability for these interviews as best we can, but applicants who do not attend a formal interview will not be considered for admission.


Can I schedule a personal interview with the program?

If you are selected for invitation to the formal interviews, we will contact you in mid- to late January. If you have specific questions for an individual professor with whom you are interested in working, feel free to contact him or her directly. Otherwise, the only personal interviews scheduled will be those invited for the formal interview days.


What is the availability of financial aid and/or scholarships?

Historically, 4 to 5 of the applicants admitted each year are funded by the department, meaning that they receive tuition remission as well as a stipend.


Is this a good program for me if my interests strongly favor clinical practice over research?

The Clinical Psychology PhD Program at American University is structured as a scientist-practitioner model, with both clinical and research training receiving significant emphasis. There is some flexibility within the program to tailor your experience to your interests, and students go on to internships that vary widely in terms of how much of their time is spent in delivery of direct clinical services versus research activities. However, completion of both an original master's thesis and an original doctoral dissertation are required for completion of the PhD. 


How is clinical training structured at AU?

Students participate in year-long practicum experiences beginning in their first year of the program. During years one and two, these practica are housed in the American University Counseling Center and are based on humanistic and psychodynamic techniques, respectively. In year three, the practicum is housed in the Department's James J. Gray Psychotherapy Training Clinic and students use cognitive behavioral techniques. In year four, students obtain externships at a variety of sites in the Washington, DC area, including VA hospitals, community mental health centers, psychiatric hospitals, university counseling centers, private practices, etc. See also: Clinical Training.


How is research training structured at AU?

Students complete required coursework in research design, methodology, and assessment as well as in statistics. Furthermore, students are accepted to work with a faculty mentor who serves as their research supervisor for the duration of their graduate career at AU. Together, the students and their mentors design the master's thesis and the dissertation. Often, they collaborate on additional research projects as well. See also: Clinical Research Training.


Do I need an undergraduate degree in psychology?

The completion of a substantial amount of coursework in psychology is required for admission to the program. Typically, students admitted do have an undergraduate degree in psychology; if not, they have completed post-baccalaureate work or a master's degree in psychology. 


Do you have a terminal master's program?

Yes, we do offer a separate terminal master's degree to which prospective students can apply directly. If master's students wish to pursue a PhD at AU upon completion of their master's degrees, they must submit an application to the doctoral program. They will be considered along with the other applicants to the program and evaluated according to the criteria stated above.


How long does it take to complete the PhD?

The minimum time it takes to complete the PhD when entering the program with a bachelor's degree is 5 years; however, the median time to completion for the Clinical Psychology Program is 6 years.


Can I pursue doctoral training part-time or while I have a job?

If you receive an offer with funding (which is renewable for the duration of your first four years enrolled in the program), you are prohibited from holding a full-time job within or outside the university and you are discouraged from holding a part-time job (defined as 20 hours per week or less). If you are not funded by the department, you are permitted to maintain employment within or outside the university. However, all students in the doctoral program must be enrolled full-time.


Is it possible to take courses on a nonmatriculated basis?

No, to register for graduate-level psychology courses, one must be a matriculated student in either the master's or doctoral programs.

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