The PhD Program

Do you train psychologists to go into private practice?

If private practice is your sole goal, this program may not be the right fit for you. We are looking for students interested in pursuing a career in academic/research clinical work. If you have little interest in teaching or research, you might want to consider other programs.

How many students are admitted each year?

Admission to the program is extremely competitive.  About 1-4% of applicants are admitted.  Please see here for more applicant data.

Do you have a Master's program?

No, the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience does not offer terminal Master's Degrees. All students are admitted with the expectation that they will work toward the PhD degree. Many students fulfill the requirements for and receive a Master of Arts degree in the course of working toward the PhD.

How long does the program take?

The minimum time needed to complete the program is five years, broken down as follows:

  • Year 1 — Coursework and research practicum.
  • Year 2 — Coursework, research practicum, and clinical practicum.
  • Year 3 — Coursework, clinical practicum, and dissertation hours.
  • Year 4 — Any remaining coursework, clinical practicum, and dissertation hours.
  • Year 5 — Internship

However, many students complete the program in six or seven years.  

How do I learn more about the program?

Please see the Clinical Student Handbook for more information on the program.  If you have additional questions after studying the website, please email

If I already have a Master's degree in Psychology, how much of it will transfer?

Transfer credit is evaluated on a case-by-case basis after you have been admitted to the program. To expedite this process, make sure you hang on to the syllabi from any courses you'd like to have evaluated. The program director will not approve a course based on the title alone, and it is very unlikely that the catalog description will contain enough information.

The Graduate School limits the number of transfer credits that can be applied toward a degree from CU:

What types of research are the faculty conducting?

Brief descriptions of each faculty member's research interests are listed on the Faculty page. For more information, view their web pages or try a citation search.

What clinical facilities do you have?

The Clinical Psychology Program operates several clinics, which provide effective assessment for adults, children, and adolescents. In the second year of training, graduate students see clients in the Raimy Clinic, located in the Muenzinger Psychology Building.

My interests overlap with Cognitive/Social/Behavioral Neuroscience/Behavioral Genetics. Can I take courses from the other areas if I'm a Clinical major?

Definitely, and we strongly encourage students to do so. The APA requires Clinical PhD students to take one course each in the cognitive-affective bases of behavior, the biological bases of behavior, and the social bases of behavior. In addition, it is possible to expand one's research experience by working with a faculty member in another area.

Clinical PhD students may concurrently complete the requirements for a PhD in Neuroscience.  Detailed information about the program can be found at Neuroscience Program.

Clinical PhD students may also complete the requirements for a Certificate in Behavioral Genetics.

The Application Process

What GPA is considered competitive?

A 3.5 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) is considered competitive.  

Would getting a Master's degree help me get into a PhD program?

Possibly, but not necessarily. The students who might be most helped by pursuing a terminal Master's degree before applying to a PhD program are those whose undergraduate qualifications are good, but not strong enough to get into a PhD program straight out of college. In those cases, a Master's degree would demonstrate a dedication to the field and the ability to successfully complete graduate-level work. It might also provide the student with the opportunity to gain needed experience in both research and clinical work.

How can I increase my chances of getting accepted?

In addition to a competitive GPA and GRE scores, you need to demonstrate dedication to the field of psychology by going above and beyond the basic undergraduate curriculum: Write an honors thesis; work in your favorite professor's research lab; volunteer with the suicide prevention hotline or at your local community mental health center; do anything that will get you out of the classroom and allow you to put all that good information from class in to practice.

Research the faculty members you are most interested in working with as a graduate student.  Look up the abstracts for the papers they've published in the last few years. Outline at least two original research projects you could do based on their work. List every reason you can think of as to why you would be the perfect person to work in their lab.

Having done all of the above, you should now be ready to write your personal statement. Show it to your advisor and ask if s/he would take you as a grad student based on what you've written. Double and triple-check the application materials to make sure you've included all necessary information in the proper format.

Well in advance of the deadline, request letters of recommendation from your volunteer supervisor, your honors thesis advisor, the professor you've been doing research with, and/or any other professors who have gotten to know you particularly well.

Is financial aid available?

Yes. Students who submit a complete application for admission to graduate study in psychology will automatically be considered for all university scholarships and fellowships for which they are eligible, as well as for teaching assistantships. In addition, if students complete a financial aid application, they will be considered for other need-based monies. A number of different types of financial aid are administered by the Graduate School. These include University of Colorado fellowships, scholarships, and loans.

We provide our students with a tuition waiver and a stipend, generally funded by teaching or research assistantships, for the first four years of the program. These assistantships provide a monthly stipend, tuition waiver, and cover part of the student health insurance. The student is responsible for the remaining health insurance costs and student fees.

Are interviews required?

Yes, an interview is mandatory for acceptance into the program. The top 15-20 candidates are invited to come to Boulder for one interview weekend (typically in January or February) to meet with the faculty, staff, and students in the Clinical Program. If an invited applicant is unable to come to the Interview weekend, s/he must make arrangements to interview at another time in order to be considered for admission.

How do I apply?

Consult the Graduate Program Info, the Department Guidelines, and the Graduate School Guidelines.  Then Apply Online.

All materials for your application must be received by November 15.

I'm going to be in Boulder for a few days. Can I meet with some of the faculty?

Due to the large number of requests we receive of this nature, the faculty have decided not to grant individual meetings with potential applicants.