Your Tasks During the First Year

During your first year, you need to focus on four major tasks.

  • First, you need to demonstrate that you possess the personal stability, interpersonal sensitivity, time management skills and good judgment that are necessary prerequisites for functioning as a professional psychologist. These qualities are inferred from your clinical work observing in the clinic and in the psychological assessment course, your interactions with faculty and staff, how you appear to get along with your peers and how well you manage the multiple responsibilities that are part of graduate training.
  • Second, you need to begin honing your skills in psychological assessment.
  • Third, you should actively engage your major advisor to help guide you through the tasks associated with defining and executing your master’s thesis.
  • Fourth, you need to complete the required academic course sequence. An overview of the typical course sequence is provided in Appendix A. You will attend vertical team meetings and also register as an observer on a vertical team (V-Team) in the Fall semester, but not in the Spring semester of your first year. Appendix B provides information regarding APA distribution requirements and departmental breadth requirements. Appendix C is a form that we use to keep track of your progress. You will be checking off portions of this form each semester in consultation with your advisor.

It is also important to begin saving information about your education. In particular, you should plan to save course syllabi and reading lists. Also, begin recording your clinical activities, such as what tests you administer and score. Licensing boards sometimes use syllabi and reading lists to determine whether certain courses meet particular requirements. In addition, every internship site will want detailed information about your clinical activities (e.g., how many completed personality batteries administered, how many hours of direct psychotherapeutic contact with adults, children, etc.). In your first year, you will engage in clinical tasks such as clinical observation, assessments, and clinical interviews. You will be asked to register with a program, TimetoTrack (, to track your clinical hours and activities. The tracking program is required. This tracking program provides the Training Director with a record of your clinical activities each year and will be used as the basis for determining your readiness for internship and preparing your internship application.

During your first year, you will complete two courses in research design and statistical analysis, and courses in developmental psychopathology, adult psychopathology, personality theory, and empirically supported treatment (a didactic psychotherapy course that combines exposure to empirically supported treatment approaches with demonstrations and practical experiences). These didactic courses are complemented by a year-long sequence that provides supervised experience in clinical interviewing, intellectual assessment (first semester, first year), and personality assessment (second semester, first year). As soon as you demonstrate mastery of basic skills, you will administer, score and interpret intellectual and personality tests on varied populations of children and adults in the Psychological Services Clinic (PSC). A copy of the Assessment Competency Benchmarks is included in Appendix F. In addition, during the fall semester you will be assigned to “vertical clinical teams” (called “V-teams”) in which you will observe the psychotherapeutic activities of more advanced students. Finally, in years 1-3, you will be required to attend a weekly Research Seminar in Clinical Psychology (aka Brownbag) each Wednesday. In your second and third years, you will be expected to present your own ideas once yearly. These presentations need not be the final product of a research plan; instead, they are an opportunity for you to present your developing ideas to your peers and receive feedback. The Graduate School requires that you register for 9 credits of GRAD 5950 (Master’s Thesis Research) to document the research you conduct for your Master’s thesis and at least 15 credits of GRAD 6950 (Doctoral Dissertation Research) to document your dissertation research. It is recommended that you register for 3 credits of GRAD 5950 during each of your first 3 semesters and then 3 credits of GRAD 6950 each semester until you have completed at least the required 15 credits.

Many of the required courses during your first and second years provide the discipline- specific knowledge required by APA accreditation. The affective bases of behavior are covered in PSYC 5305 and PSYC 5141; the biological and cognitive bases of behavior are covered in PSYC 5141; material related to the developmental basis of behavior is covered in PSYC 5301, PSYC 5302, PSYC 5303 and PSYC 5305. Students who have completed a survey course in Social Psychology at the undergraduate level and earned a grade of B or above, or who have attained a score above the 70th percentile on the Social Psychology section of the Psychology GRE, may select from a variety of specialized Social Psychology courses to meet the social basis of behavior requirement. These include PSYC 5711, Social and Behavioral Processes of HIV/AIDS, PSYC 5750 Stigma: A Social Psychological Perspective, and others. Students who do not meet those requirements are required to take PSYC 5703, Advanced Social Psychology.