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Clinical Psychology

Degree Types: MA, PhD

The PhD Program in Clinical Psychology is one of only a handful of programs in the United States based in an academic medical center and housed in a psychiatry department. This unique setting provides opportunities for translational research and practice that span molecular to social models of disease, and epidemiologic to clinical and neuroimaging methodologies.

This scientist-practitioner program effectively balances clinical and research training to produce graduates who are competent in the science and practice of clinical psychology. Training is provided through core and emphasis-specific curricula, intensive research mentoring, and exceptional clinical practica. Major milestones include a research qualifying paper, a clinical qualifying exam, an empirical dissertation with original research, and an APA-accredited clinical internship.

Our mentor-based program prepares students to be competitive for careers as clinical psychologists in academic health centers and related medical facilities.

The Clinical Psychology Master of Arts (MA) Program within the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is intended for students interested in pursuing a career in academic clinical psychology. The MA program is designed to provide a foundation in academic clinical psychology at the graduate level, while also allowing students to gain educational and research exposure to major areas of study within clinical psychology, including Adult Psychopathology and Treatment, Health Psychology/Behavioral Medicine, Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, and Clinical Neuropsychology and Behavioral Neuroscience. 

The goals of the MA Program in Clinical Psychology are to:

  1. Develop foundational competencies in research design, analytics, and ethics within academic clinical psychology.
  2. Explore major areas of study within academic clinical psychology.
  3. Understand educational and career opportunities within academic clinical psychology.

Note: the MA Program in Clinical Psychology does not include clinical training and is not intended to prepare students for clinical practice. Given the academic and research focus of the MA Program, the degree will not lead to licensure for independent practice. For those interested in master's level programs that prepare students for licensure and practice, please visit the MA in Counseling website, the MS in Marriage and Family Therapy website and The Family Institute website

The MA Program in Clinical Psychology was designed for a variety of students, including students who:

  1. Are not yet ready to apply to a PhD program, but are considering doing so in the future.
  2. Wish to improve their competitiveness for a PhD program.
  3. Are interested in exploring a career in academic clinical psychology.
  4. With interests in related fields for which a background in academic clinical psychology may be of value.

The MA Program is embedded in the Clinical Psychology PhD Program, with coursework and lab work completed alongside PhD students. Although students in the MA Program are welcome to apply to the PhD Program in Clinical Psychology, the MA Program is not intended to be a "gateway" into the PhD Program in Clinical Psychology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Additional resources:

Program Contact

Contact Cleo Powell
Administrative Assistant

Degree Requirements

The following requirements are in addition to, or further elaborate upon, those requirements outlined in The Graduate School Policy Guide.

MA Degree Requirements

Total Units Required: 17

The MA program requires at least 17 units for graduation. Students are required to take the Research Core, including Research Methods/Statistics (3 units), Advanced Research Methodology (1 unit), and Scientific and Professional Ethics in Psychology (1 unit). In addition to these required courses, students are expected to select between five to eight elective courses across the Fall, Winter, Spring, and/or Summer II quarters. Elective courses can include courses at the Foundational, Bases of Behavior, or Clinical level, as well as courses in one or more of the emphases or Major Areas of Study. 

In addition to the Research Core and Elective courses, all MA students participate in the weekly Career Development Proseminar for the first four quarters of the MA Program. The Proseminar orients students to the MA program, introduces students to various mentors and labs across Northwestern, explores career options in academic clinical psychology, refines interests in academic clinical psychology, and prepares students for the next steps in their careers (e.g., developing applications for PhD programs; preparing for interviews). 

Other MA Degree Requirements

  • Research/Projects: In addition to completion of the coursework requirements, students engage in a Research Lab Experience for at least 10 hours a week.
  • Master's Thesis: Optional (see below)
  • Master’s Culminating Academic Experience: Through the Research Lab Experience, the student will work with her or his research mentor to complete a Capstone Project. The Capstone Project is the culmination of the Research Lab Experience provided by the research mentor, providing the final evaluation of the student’s research competencies. Examples of capstone projects include: Substantial participation (i.e., authorship level) on one or more empirical studies submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. First author submission of one or more peer-reviewed poster/oral presentations at regional, national, or international conferences. A comprehensive review paper that is submitted to and graded by the research mentor. A grant proposal (e.g., F31 style) that is submitted to and graded by the research mentor.  

Last Updated: September 16, 2022

Degree Requirements

The following requirements are in addition to, or further elaborate upon, those requirements outlined in The Graduate School Policy Guide.

PhD Degree Requirements

Total Units Required: 30

Course Title
CLIN_PSY 402-0Psychological Assessment I
CLIN_PSY 403-0Psychological Assessment II
CLIN_PSY 404-0Psychological Assessment III
CLIN_PSY 411-0History and Systems of Psychology
CLIN_PSY 412-1Cognitive Psychology
CLIN_PSY 413-0Advanced Social Psychology
CLIN_PSY 414-0Diversity in Psychological Science and Practice
CLIN_PSY 415-1Scientific and Professional Ethics in Psychology
CLIN_PSY 416-0Psychopathology
CLIN_PSY 408-0Psychopathology Laboratory
CLIN_PSY 426-0Research Methods I
CLIN_PSY 427-0Research Methods II
CLIN_PSY 428-0Research Methods III
CLIN_PSY 429-0Advanced Research Methodology
CLIN_PSY 441-0Introduction to Psychotherapy
CLIN_PSY 444-0Cognitive-Behavior Therapies
CLIN_PSY 417-0Behavioral Neuroscience
CLIN_PSY 487-0Life-Span Developmental Psychology
Electives (14 units), including:
CLIN_PSY 498-0
Special Topics in Clinical Psychology
CLIN_PSY 499-0
Independent Study
CLIN_PSY 590-0

Other PhD Degree Requirements

  • Examinations: defense of a research paper and a clinical qualifying project serving as examination for admission to candidacy
  • Research/Projects: independent, empirical research study completed in fulfillment of the research qualifying paper
  • PhD Dissertation: original research following third year of coursework
  • Final Evaluations: oral defense of dissertation

Last Updated: September 16, 2022