Research-Based Clinical Training

Student Admissions, Outcomes and Other Data

The PhD in Clinical Psychology will provide you with the skills you need for a successful career in academia, research, or clinical practice. You will receive a complete education in clinical science with rigorous training in both research and applied clinical work.  Fully accredited by the American Psychological Association Committee on Accreditation since 1972, our doctoral program reflects the scientist-practitioner model of training.

We have a strong reputation for excellent clinical training in evidence-based therapies.  Admitting approximately four percent of applicants every year, our program is small and highly selective. This allows faculty to work closely with students and provide mentorship throughout the program. You will receive a graduate experience that is customized to fit your professional goals and will work in a collaborative laboratory atmosphere on a wide range of research projects. You will gain valuable hands-on experience through externships and an internship. With this combination of coursework, lab work, and clinical experience, you will graduate fully prepared for your career as a psychologist and a scientist.

Rigorous Training With Clinical Experience

The 72-credit PhD program is designed to provide students with a rigorous classroom education, innovative research opportunities, and exciting and diverse clinical experiences. Students engage in three year-long practicum experiences. In the first year, students learn humanistic and psychodynamic techniques in the American University Counseling Center. In year two, students learn and practice cognitive behavioral techniques in the department’s James J. Gray Psychotherapy Training Clinic. For the third practicum, students choose between an advanced CBT practicum with adults or with children. With faculty guidance and mentorship, students complete a master’s thesis, a doctoral dissertation, and one tool of research. Students complete multiple externships in DC area hospitals, mental health centers, and counseling centers and a one-year internship.

This program takes five to six years of full-time study to complete. Part-time study is not available. See all degree requirements.

Expert Psychologists And Cutting-Edge Research

At AU, you will work with a single research supervisor throughout the program. You and this faculty mentor will collaborate on research projects and design your master’s thesis and dissertation. Our faculty members maintain productive research labs and train graduate students in research design and methodology. They teach a broad range of topics, with a particular emphasis on cognitive behavioral theory, processes, and treatment. Faculty research interests include affective and motivational processes in depression, anxiety disorders, stress and emotion regulation, minority mental health, eating disorders, trichotillomania, cognitive assessment and therapy, smoking, borderline personality disorder, drug expectancies, treatment outcomes, sports psychology, and human services program evaluation. Faculty research programs offer a mix of applied and basic research opportunities.

Unlimited Opportunities In The Nation's Capital

Home to numerous world-class research and clinical institutions, the DC area offers access to an extraordinary array of professional and intellectual opportunities. American University’s strategic location allows students to take advantage of the countless resources in the DC area. Our department has close working relationships with a number of clinical institutions, giving you a variety of externship sites to choose from, including the DC and Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, National Institutes of Health, Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital, National Children’s Medical Center, private practices, and college counseling centers at nearby universities.

Consistently ranked as one of the best cities for job seekers, the nation’s capital is an excellent place to start your career. The lasting connections students make during the doctoral program often lead to post-doctoral employment in the DC area.

The PhD Is Your Path To Career Success

At AU, we have a record of placing our clinical psychology PhDs in successful careers at respected institutions. Our students graduate fully prepared for careers in academia, research, and clinical settings. Graduates of our program hold tenure-track positions at St. John’s University, Williams College, LaFayette College, the University of Cincinnati, and Goucher College.

We are proud of the research and clinical accomplishments of our students and alumni. AU PhDs conduct research in prominent departments of psychiatry, including Brown University, Ohio State University, and the University of Virginia. Our alumni work in a variety of clinical settings in the DC area and across the country: Johns Hopkins University, the National Institutes of Health, the New York Presbyterian-University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell, Chestnut Health System of Illinois, Children’s National Medical Center, and the District of Columbia VA Medical Center.

Recent Achievements

Falkenstein and students

Achievements ·

AU Grad Student Publishes Cutting-Edge Research

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Nicole Caporino receives her award from Katherine Baucom and Michelle Craske

Achievements ·

Professor Wins Award for Excellence in Psychology

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Gratitude issues

Research ·

Feeling Grateful? No, Thanks!

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Training in a variety of settings allowed me to hone my skills

Frances Rekrut’s research at AU focused on cognitive and social dimensions of social anxiety disorder. She externed at the Washington DC VA Medical Center, a private practice, Children’s National Medical Center, and the counseling centers at American and Catholic University. She is currently engaged in a post-doctoral fellowship at George Washington University’s Mental Health Services.


Faculty and staff are genuinely interested in supporting students' success.

Evelyn Meier's research focuses on the interplay of interpersonal and affective processes in couples and individuals with borderline personality disorder. In the Interpersonal Emotion Lab, she has taken on leadership roles and experienced the full arc of the research process. She polished her skills in Dialectical Behavior Therapy during a three-year externship with the Wake Kendall Group.