Clinical Psychology Ph.D.

working on research


Pre-Mental Health Pathway – Clinical Psychology (PhD)


  • Trained to understand, research, and treat mental illness across the lifespan
  • Clinical psychologists address problems ranging from minor adjustment issues (e.g., stress) to serious mental illness (e.g., schizophrenia and psychosis) for individuals, couples, and families
  • Primary differences from a Clinical Psychology PsyD are 1) much more emphasis on research and 2) PhD programs are less expensive and often include free tuition in exchange for teaching and/or research assistantships 

Program Length

  • A Clinical Psychology PhD takes on average 7 years to complete, including the last year of full-time clinical internship completed at another clinical setting (hospital, clinic, etc.)
  • After the PhD, a 1-2 year postdoctoral fellowship is completed to accrue additional clinical hours required for licensure


  • Depending on the state, candidates must accrue between 1,500 to 6,000 supervised clinical hours; these include ~2000 accrued during clinical internship, and ~2000 postdoctoral hours. California for example requires 3,000 total hours with 1500 of those hours accrued post-doctorally
  • Pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
  • Pass the state-specific jurisprudence exam, e.g., California Psychology Law and Ethics Exam (CPLEE)

For more requirements, see the board website

Program Specialization Examples

  • Child clinical psychology – focus on treatment for children’s mental health, e.g., autism, behavioral problems, children with physical illnesses, child depression
  • Neuropsychology – focus on assessments such as developmental delay, intelligence testing
  • Geropsychology – focus on treatment for older adults 


  • Clinical Psychology PhD programs are often fully funded through tuition remission and teaching assistantships or research assistantships where you receive a stipend

Work Settings

  • Clinical psychologists may work in academics as university faculty
  • Licensed Clinical Psychologists may conduct clinical work in medical hospitals, psychiatric wards, psychiatric institutions, forensic settings, community mental health clinics, and outpatient private practice

Graduate admissions requirements (in addition to general requirements)

  • The Clinical Psychology PhD degree (like all PhDs) is fundamentally a research degree and programs fall under clinical scientist (most research-heavy), scientist practitioner, and practitioner scientist models (least research-heavy)
  • Research experience and alignment with the lab Principal Investigator faculty member is critical, thus your personal statement will need to be well developed and include clear future research directions and commitment to research
  • Some programs may have specific course requirements (e.g., research methods, statistics, abnormal psychology, lifespan development); it will be important to look closely at each program’s admission requirements

Example Programs:

UC Berkeley's Clinical Science Program

UCLA's Clinical Science Program