The SMU Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program focuses on training students to conduct research designed to advance psychological clinical science. Research training takes place primarily in research labs via active collaboration with a faculty research mentor. When students are admitted to the SMU Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program, they are assigned a faculty research mentor, and the specific area of psychological clinical science in which students receive research training is determined primarily by their faculty research mentor.
Research training is also provided through coursework and completion of student-directed research. Coursework includes research methods, quantitative methods, and the foundations of clinical, developmental, social, biological, cognitive, and affective science. Student-directed research includes three major benchmarks: a master’s thesis, a review paper, and a dissertation. A fourth benchmark is the publication of at least two manuscripts in peer-reviewed outlets, at any level of authorship, prior to graduation. Students are expected to attend departmental colloquia, which are also conceptualized to be part of the research training, and to participate regularly in professional conferences. The ultimate goal of the research training is to produce psychological clinical scientists who can eventually lead a research team that advances clinical science.
Clinical training focuses on evidence-based practice and is integrated with research training. Students master evidence-based practice in a variety of intervention and assessment domains so that they may provide the highest quality psychological services and promote the awareness and use of evidence-based practice in their future careers. Coursework addresses theory and research on clinical problems, assessment and intervention techniques, and methods for evaluating clinical outcomes. Students provide psychological services through the SMU Psychology Clinic and external practicum experiences throughout the Dallas/Fort-Worth community, all closely supervised by licensed psychologists with the goal of providing students exposure to a diversity of patient populations and evidence-based interventions. Clinical training also takes part in several research labs through studies of clinical phenomena and evaluation of specific assessment and intervention techniques.
Training in teaching initially takes place by serving as a teaching assistant (observing experienced instructors, delivering lectures, assisting with course syllabus and test preparation, grading) and eventually by gaining experience as a course instructor. During the latter, doctoral students work closely with seasoned faculty members in preparing and offering an undergraduate course. The department’s faculty members consider teaching to be an integral part of the graduate educational experience.