Curriculum and Degree Information

Course requirements for the Ph.D. degree include a minimum of 90 academic credits. The curriculum prepares students broadly/generally in clinical psychology and additionally includes specialization in psychology and law. The curriculum emphasizes general clinical assessment, general clinical intervention, and evidence-based practice, all within a scientist-practitioner framework. As students advance, training includes a specific focus on psychology as applied to the law and legal settings. Courses move from general to more specialized, within a series of progressions that are each keyed to specific training outcomes.

Students must complete a minimum of three years of closely supervised practicum experiences, although students frequently choose to do additional placements to provide specialized expertise as they progress in the program. Practicum experiences occur in conjunction with coursework designed to synthesize didactic and practical learning.

In addition to the usual requirements of completing and defending the doctoral dissertation, there are two doctoral examinations. The First Doctoral Examination allows students to demonstrate proficiency in basic research skills. Students complete an empirical research project under the close supervision of their research advisor, produce a scholarly manuscript on the project, and orally defend their work. It is also possible to meet this requirement by conducting a critical literature review of publishable quality, although it is more common for students to choose to complete an empirical project. Students entering with a M.A. degree from another institution may meet this requirement through an oral defense of their M.A. thesis, providing the project was of sufficient empirical rigor as determined by the Program. Students are required to successfully pass this requirement by the end of their second year in the program.

The Second Doctoral Examination is an extensive written and oral presentation of the scientific literature in a particular area. The review frequently serves as the basis of the student’s dissertation proposal. The exam is graded pass or fail and the student must pass the examination for progress in the Program to continue.

Dissertations in the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology may consist of a broad range of topics and methods. Our commitment is to high-quality, empirical scholarship. Required course work and in-residence clinical training can be completed within four years. However, given the rigorous empirical work required by the Program, many students apply for internship in their fifth year. All students must complete a one-year internship.

Click here for the model curriculum 

Clinical Practicum

The practicum training available in New York City is unusual, compared to many doctoral training programs in the country. Numerous placements are available to students in the tri-state area (see for a listing of available placements in the New York City area). . The training directors of the majority of these placements are members of a longstanding and well-organized group that regularly meets with the Training Directors of practicum placements.

From this wide array of options, students select a small number of sites each year to which they will apply. Students complete general therapy/assessment placements first, before applying to specialized placements (e.g. forensic, neurological).

Sites are chosen collaboratively with the DCT and the Director of Practicum Training based upon the student’s level of progression through the program, and consistent with the student’s individualized training goals. There is a uniform timeline for applications, interviews, and acceptances. While on placement, students are supervised by the on-site supervisor. However, in order to ensure quality of sites and to provide our students with the best training experience possible, our students also receive supervision at John Jay from members of our clinical faculty. During their first practicum placement, students receive supervision with their cohort (approximately 5 students). In all subsequent years, students are supervised weekly by one of the core or associated clinical faculty with expertise related to their placement alone or with another student.

We have excellent relationships with a number of hospitals, college counseling centers, and community placements in New York City. Because of their training and reputation, our students consistently receive offers from these competitive sites each year. These include Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center (Assessment), Bellevue Hospital Center/New York University (Therapy & Assessment), and The New York Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University (Empirically Supported Therapy). In addition, our students have a wide range of forensic placements available to them that include sites that provide forensic services to children, adolescents and adults. Experiences available include assessment, treatment, and consultation with civil and criminal forensic populations and include sites such as the Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center, the Queens TASC Mental Health Diversion Program and the Bellevue Hospital's Forensic Unit, among others. Students wishing to pursue specialized neuropsychology training have a number of sites to choose from such as the New York University Comprehensive Epilepsy Center and the clinical neuropsychology service in the Neurology Department at Columbia University Medical Center.

New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world, affording students the opportunity to work with an incredibly diverse population of clients. This diversity, and the extensive array of high quality training sites available to students, make this a rich training ground. We assist students to negotiate the range of choices for placement through individualized consultation with the DCT and the Director of Practicum Training, as well as the provision of secondary supervision throughout the duration of their training experiences.

Learning Goals for Examinations

The First Doc is a written document that must be orally defended in front of a three-member faculty committee. The main objective of the First Doc is for the student to demonstrate depth of knowledge in an area of clinical psychology and to demonstrate an ability to conduct scientific research. An additional objective is the development of scholarly written and oral presentation skills. 

The Second Doc is a written document that must be defended in front of a three-member faculty committee. The purpose of the Second Doc is to evaluate the student’s indepth knowledge about a specific area in psychology. The exam focuses on students’ understanding of a topic as well as demonstration of critical thinking relevant to basic psychological theories, methodology, ethical/legal issues and standards, diversity considerations, and integration of research in the chosen topical area. The area selected by the student typically relates to the student’s dissertation research, but it can be on any topic of the student’s choosing based on individual’s research interests. Students must successfully complete the Second Doc before they can apply to a predoctoral internship. Please see Appendix D for the procedures related to completing the Second Doc (pp. D37-D38). 

The Doctoral Dissertation is the culmination of the students’ research training in psychology. The dissertation is defended orally before a committee of three faculty members and two external doctoral level psychologists. The committee must approve the topic and methodology before the student may begin data collection. Students must successfully defend their Dissertation proposal before they can apply for predoctoral internship. The Dissertation Defense/Third Doctoral Exam is an oral defense of the dissertation results as well as interpretation/discussion of the results. The expectation is that the idea for the research and its plan will be developed by the student, in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor. Students may, but are not required to, use the research topic from their Second Doc as a basis for the dissertation. All dissertations must be based on original research and must clearly demonstrate the candidate’s ability to work at the frontiers of the field.

Two students looking at a computer monitor

Student Handbook

Our handbook includes additional program information and is a resource for students.

Review the handbook