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Clinical Research

Research plays a significant role in the development of doctoral psychologists. In the Clinical Psychology doctoral program, you will have three major research-oriented opportunities.

Research methods and statistics

The Clinical Psychology doctoral program requires all students to take a rigorous, comprehensive course sequence in statistics and psychometric theory. This sequence begins with basic statistical and data analysis skills, and progresses to more complex modeling.

  • CPY 7020 “Statistical Methods”
  • CPY 7031 “Research Methods and Statistics I”
  • CPY 7032 “Research Methods and Statistics II”
  • CPY 7033 “Research Methods and Statistics III: Master’s Research Project”
  • CPY 7010 “Psychometric Theory and Test Construction”

Research vertical teams (RVTs)

All SPU Clinical Psychology doctoral students participate in research vertical teams (RVT), which are ongoing programs of research. RVTs are led by core faculty members and include students from all years.

You will meet with your RVT weekly or biweekly to work with your faculty advisor on your program of research. You will be involved in theory development, “operationalization,” data collection, analysis, and/or write-ups of empirical research for presentation at professional conferences and publication in peer-reviewed journals.

As an advanced student, you will get to the point where you independently direct an aspect of your faculty advisor’s research, while training or mentoring newer members of the RVT.

Dissertation preparation and defense

The dissertation is your masterpiece. It shows that you know in depth an area of research in the field of psychology — at a level of understanding to make an independent contribution to the field, evaluate an old problem in a new way, or identify a new problem or area of concern in the field.

The dissertation is a learning process, a major component in doctoral training, and an important demonstration of independent and creative thinking. The dissertation from start to finish is your project, and at the end of the process you will have become an independent contributor to the advancement of the field of clinical psychology.

Three primary stages of the dissertation

  • You will choose your dissertation committee. Throughout the program sequence, you will enroll in dissertation credits and work in a mentoring relationship with your dissertation committees to prepare your dissertation.
  • You will prepare a research proposal that includes both the theoretical framework for your proposed study and the proposed research methodology. Following the proposal, you must obtain Institutional Review Board approval to begin data collection.
  • Once data has been collected, you will prepare for your final defense by analyzing your data, writing your results section, and preparing a comprehensive discussion of those results.

Your dissertation committee must approve your work at the proposal and at the final defense.

John Thoburn

Why I Teach at SPU

John Thoburn, Professor of Clinical Psychology

“The Clinical Psychology program is a true scientist-practitioner model emphasizing a reciprocal relationship between science and art, research and practice, content and process.”

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