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Colleges with Clinical Psychology Degrees: How to Choose

Clinical psychology involves the assessment and treatment of a large variety of mental problems, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias and schizophrenia. Degree programs in this field of study can be highly competitive, with acceptance rates as low as three percent in some cases.

Graduate programs in clinical psychology enable students to specialize in particular areas, such as family and couples counseling or behavioral medicine. Additionally, studies in psychology typically involve a large research component as well as hands-on clinical work through internships and residencies.

Top 10 Clinical Psychology Schools

The following list includes the 2016 top-ranked clinical psychology programs in the country according to U.S. News & World Report:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
University of California-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Public Doctoral In-state: $11,220; Out-of-state: $26,322
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, Public Doctoral In-state: $11,220; Out-of-state: $26,322
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC 4-year, Public Doctoral In-state: $9,143; Out-of-state: $26,354
Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY 4-year, Public Doctoral In-state: $10,870; Out-of-state: $22,210
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN 4-year, Public Doctoral In-state: $15,844; Out-of-state: $24,508
University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI 4-year, Public Doctoral In-state: $10,728; Out-of-state: $24,054
Yale University New Haven, CT 4-year, Private Doctoral $38,700
University of Texas - Austin Austin, TX 4-year, Public Doctoral In-state: $10,934; Out-of-state: $20,762
University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA 4-year, Public Doctoral In-state: $14,518; Out-of-state: $24,316
University of Washington Seattle, WA 4-year, Public Doctoral In-state: $15,207; Out-of-state: $27,255

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Many schools have on-site clinics, research labs and affiliations with local mental health facilities and organizations, which allows students opportunities for real world experience. Here are a few important considerations to contemplate when choosing a clinical psychology school:

  • One of the most important factors to consider is if the chosen clinical psychology program is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).
  • Programs that offer cutting-edge facilities and opportunities for research and professional experience may prove to offer students the most benefit.
  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree or another doctoral degree is usually required to be licensed and work as a clinical psychologist in independent practice (www.bls.gov).
  • Clinical psychology programs are highly selective and competitive, so students whose interests and goals align with those of a program's faculty will have an edge in the selection process.

Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology

Most programs also include courses in assessment and psychotherapy and require clinical internships or field experiences. Students have opportunities to participate in research as well.

Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology

Most programs follow a scientist-practitioner model that integrates research and practical clinical training and experience through required internships and residencies. Students must also complete a dissertation based on original research.

Graduate degree programs in clinical psychology are most commonly offered by 4-year colleges and universities at the doctoral level, and most programs require internships and research components, such as a dissertation. Students should look for programs that are accredited by the APA and have state-of-the-art facilities.

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