Trauma Studies Graduate Programs

Graduate programs in trauma studies are generally offered as a concentration area in master's or doctoral degree programs in clinical mental health counseling or clinical psychology, but students can also find graduate certificates in the field. These programs are usually only offered on-campus and involve a lot of hands-on experience, requiring over 1,000 hours of field experience in some cases. Find out more about these programs and their requirements.

Information on Graduate Degrees in Trauma Studies

Students in master's and doctoral degree programs with a concentration in trauma studies are typically required to complete fieldwork through clinicals, practicums and/or internships. Doctoral students complete research and a dissertation as well. Some of these programs may allow students to further specialize in adult trauma or child, adolescent and family trauma, but here we discuss some of the more common courses for these programs.

Research Methods

Graduate programs in trauma studies typically require students to take a research methods course to learn the quantitative and qualitative methods specific to the field of psychology. Students learn about statistical analysis, how to critically evaluate research literature and how to design research projects. Students also discuss the ethics and practices of the field and some of these courses may include a laboratory section for hands-on learning.


Courses in psychopathology help students familiarize themselves with the DSM and its categories of psychopathology. Students learn the language of psychodiagnosis and how to diagnose adult or child psychopathology. Students also examine the relationship between diagnosis and treatment.

Trauma in Children

These courses are usually designed for students wishing to work specifically with children and adolescents. Coursework focuses on the necessary psychological assessments and treatments used with this population. Students in these courses discuss trauma issues like neglect, school violence, physical abuse, medical trauma, war zone trauma and more. Students explore techniques in screening interviews, play therapy, family therapy, group counseling and community interventions.

Adult Trauma

Similar to courses in trauma in children, courses in adult trauma explore the trauma assessments and post-trauma therapy used for adults. Students may use readings and discussions to explore Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, ethical issues and treatment methods and current controversies in the field. Students may also discuss some of the positive, in addition to the negative, psychological consequences of trauma.


Students in these programs typically take a course in psychotherapy that examines the theories and scientific methodology in counseling and psychotherapy. Students learn how to effectively evaluate treatments and look at the relationship between human development and counseling. These courses enforce clinical standards and American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines.

Common Entrance Requirements

It is common for graduate degree programs in trauma studies to require applicants to submit their official transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, a personal statement and/or a resume with their application. It is fairly common for these programs to require students to complete an interview process as well. Some graduate certificate programs that offer a concentration in trauma studies may require students to hold a master's degree. Doctoral degree programs in clinical psychology with a concentration in trauma studies may require applicants to meet prerequisites in psychology and statistics.

Students can specialize in trauma studies while pursuing a graduate certificate, master's or doctoral degree in psychology or mental health counseling. These degree programs typically involve a lot of clinical work and coursework that covers a wide range of trauma-related topics.

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