Master's & PhD Combined Programs in Clinical Psychology

Jul 19, 2019

If you desire to earn your PhD in clinical psychology but you haven't yet earned a master's, there are options available to you! Combined master's and PhD programs in clinical psychology allow you to earn both degrees during the course of one program. While the coursework for the master's portion will depend on the type of degree, there is some common coursework for the PhD portion.

An advanced degree in clinical psychology will prepare you for a career as a clinical psychologist where you will diagnosis and treat people with mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders, disabilities, or conditions. In a combined clinical psychology program, you may be able to earn a master's degree in any one of several options including psychology, public health, women's studies, or human sexual studies and a PhD in clinical psychology.

PhD Coursework

On your way to earning your PhD in clinical psychology, you will be required to take a range of courses that will give you a thorough background in psychology as well as practical clinical skills. Although exact coursework varies by program, there are some common types of courses that you could be expected to take in your combined masters and PhD in clinical psychology. Some of these courses are highlighted below.

History of Psychology

One type of course you may take in your PhD combined program is one that covers the history of psychology. These types of courses will delve into the many schools of thoughts and philosophies of psychology. Usually, they will include topics on western and eastern philosophies, existential psychology, functionalism, structuralism, and psychoanalysis.


Psychopathology is the study of mental disorders, and this will most likely be one of the core courses you take in your combined program. Courses on psychopathology will give you a foundation on how to observe symptoms and make correct diagnoses. You will also learn about different mental health disorders and how to treat them through various means.

Counseling & Psychotherapy

Another type of core course you will take is that of counseling and psychotherapy with the exact name of the course varying by program. Yet the common topics in this kind of class will include different kinds of therapy theories and practices such as behavior therapy, reality therapy, and psychoanalytic therapy. You will also learn how to apply these kinds of therapies to a clinical setting.

Methods of Assessment and Diagnosis

You will also need to take a course that centers on assessing and diagnosing mental disorders. These types of courses will cover different psychological tests and assessment methods such as personality tests, work aptitude tests, and intellectual ability tests. You will also learn how to use these assessments in a clinical setting.

Lifespan Development

Lifespan development, or developmental psychology, is another type of core course you will take. These courses will focus on the way that humans develop over the span of their lives. This wide-ranging course will cover the physical, social, and cognitive changes that one goes through during a lifetime and how different psychology theories and practices apply to them.

Master's Degree Coursework

As every combined program offers a different kind of master's degree, your coursework for the master's will depend on the specific program that you choose. For example, if you choose a combined master's of public health and PhD in clinical psychology program, your master's-level classes will include topics such as public health policy, health care systems, and epidemiology. Another type of combined program earns you a master's in women studies along with your PhD in clinical psychology. For this program, your master's coursework will involve topics on feminist theories and perspectives.

Common Entrance Requirements

Each combined master's and PhD program has some common entrance requirements that you must meet. First, you should already hold a bachelor's degree. A master's isn't a requirement as you will be earning both a master's and PhD in the program. You will also need to submit an application, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, a resume, and an essay or a personal statement. Some programs might also require an interview.

Combined PhD programs will have some common coursework you must take; however, the master's coursework you will take will be determined by the degree type you are earning. These types of programs allow you to add to your body of knowledge in clinical psychology by adding on a master's in public health, women's studies, or another type of related field.

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