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Program Overview

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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.

Faculty work closely with students in a mentorship model. We help to tailor each student's experiences to their professional goals. In their time at AU, students work in collaborative lab atmospheres on a wide range of research projects. We have a strong reputation for excellent clinical training in evidence-based therapies. With this combination of coursework, lab work, and clinical experience, you will graduate fully prepared for your career as a clinical psychologist.

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, stress and emotion regulation, 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.

Darian Weaver

Learn about PhD student Darian Weaver's experience in her summer internship at NIH assessing alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Training in a variety of settings allowed me to hone my skills

Frances Rekrut’s research at AU focused on cognitive and social dimensions of social anxiety disorder. She externed at the Washington DC VA Medical Center, a private practice, Children’s National Medical Center, and the counseling centers at American and Catholic University. She is currently engaged in a post-doctoral fellowship at George Washington University’s Mental Health Services.


Faculty and staff are genuinely interested in supporting students' success.

Evelyn Meier's research focuses on the interplay of interpersonal and affective processes in couples and individuals with borderline personality disorder. In the Interpersonal Emotion Lab, she has taken on leadership roles and experienced the full arc of the research process. She polished her skills in Dialectical Behavior Therapy during a three-year externship with the Wake Kendall Group.