Doctorate (PhD) — Clinical Psychology

Program overview

Earn your clinical psychology PhD from Seattle Pacific University

This Clinical Psychology degree program lets you benefit from an APA accredited doctoral program. What will the PhD curriculum include? You’ll examine the interplay among biological, psychological, and social factors related to human adjustment. This biopsychosocial perspective infuses all aspects of the curriculum and training experiences in the context of a Christian university.

Study under dedicated faculty, benefit from research opportunities, and learn from individual instruction.

Dr. Amy Mezulis explains a chart to clinical psychology students


Program distinctives

This Clinical Psychology doctoral program includes coursework grounded in empirical literature that examines the interplay among biological, psychological, and social factors related to human adjustment. This biopsychosocial perspective infuses all aspects of the doctoral curriculum and training experiences.

Additional distinctives include:

  • Fully accredited by the American Psychological Association.
  • A full-time, five- to six-year integrated and organized sequence of studies and practice experiences.
  • Scientist-practitioner and local clinical-scientist training models featured.
  • Providing a biopsychosocial perspective grounded in empirical literature that examines interplay among biological, psychological, and social factors related to human adjustment.
  • Dedicated to holistic diversity, addressing individual or group differences and implications of diversity for ethical and effective practice of clinical psychology. We believe a full appreciation of diversity also includes spiritual and religious factors.
  • Faculty research teams ensuring our students can participate in real-life research beginning early in their academic careers.
  • Graduate faculty who invest in students’ lives with personal mentoring, research opportunities, and individual instruction.
  • A master’s of science in psychological science is earned en route to the doctorate.
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Training: Scientist Practitioner and Local Clinical Scientist Model

Under the LCS model, research and practice are not separate domains. Rather, they are integrated so that practice informs research questions, and research informs the practice of clinical psychology (Stricker, 1997, 2000); Trierweiler & Stricker, 1998).

Described in "The local clinical scientist: A bridge between science and practice" (American Psychologist, Stricker & Trierweiler, 1995) the LCS model extends the scientific and professional ideals in the original Boulder Scientist-Practitioner model of clinical psychology (Raimy, 1950).

Find out more about our clinical psychology training, including involvement with practicum, faculty clinical consult groups, and internships.

Note: You will be regularly evaluated with regard to your personal and interpersonal suitability for clinical competency and professional development. Review our evaluation standards (PDF).

Research: Scientist Practitioner and LCS Model

Local clinical scientists think like researchers in the practice of psychology and value the use of evidence-based treatment. To this end, our doctoral students are encouraged to produce, consume, and utilize research throughout their doctoral training and into their professional practice.

Our goal is to facilitate your research skills and positive attitude toward research so that you will continue to view research as an integral part of professional psychology.

Learn about your three major research-oriented opportunities in the doctoral program:

Degree completion

Our program offers a five- or six-year program plan option. You must complete all requirements for the doctoral degree within seven years from the quarter your first post-admission course was taken. Students who need more than seven years to complete the degree must file a time-extension petition with the director of doctoral studies.

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​Lynette Bikos

Associate Dean of Research, School of Psychology, Family, and Community; Chair and Professor of Clinical Psychology
PhD, University of Kansas-Lawrence

Phone: 206-281-2017
Office: Marston 133

Thane​ Erickson

Professor of Clinical Psychology; Director of CPY Internship
PhD, Pennsylvania State University

Phone: 206-281-2273
Office: Marston 115

Joel Jin

Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology; Director of Practicum
PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary

Phone: 206-281-2908
Office: Marston 107

Keyne Law

Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology; Director of CPY Research
PhD, University of Southern Mississippi

Phone: 206-281-2956
Office: Marston 128

Amy​ Mezulis

Professor of Clinical Psychology
PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Phone: 206-281-2820
Office: Marston 104

Beverly​ Wilson

Professor of Clinical Psychology; IRB Coordinator
PhD, University of Washington

Phone: 206-281-2832
Office: Marston 109

Jessie Todd

Clinical Psychology Program Manager

Phone: 206-281-2839
Office: Marston 125

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The Clinical Psychology doctoral program encompasses broad scientific concepts while integrating the art of clinical practice. It also includes the core competencies outlined by the National Council of Schools and Program of Professional Psychology (NCSPP).

The clinical training sequence requires students to complete two years of practicum and one year of internship, and to attend quarterly clinical supervision and consultation groups. These requirements are described below.

Clinical Supervision and Consultation Groups

Clinical Consult Groups (CCGs) are opportunities for small groups of students to consult with faculty members regarding applied clinical questions.

You are required to attend nine CCGs during each year of your practicum experience, and to be prepared to present one or more cases from your practicum position.

Each CCG will be organized around a particular clinical theme or method, and will frequently center on issues of professional development, ethics, and legal standards of practice.

Consultations are aimed at helping practicum students with case conceptualization and the learning of new clinical methodology, and to assist with better enacting a local clinical scientist model of practice. The CCG does not serve as a substitute for, extension of, or replacement for, onsite individual and group supervision provided by practicum site supervisors.


Practicum training involves 16–20 hours per week of experience in clinical settings throughout the Puget Sound region. SPU works with a variety of sites, including medical centers, community mental health clinics, correctional facilities, and university counseling centers. You may apply to sites based on your clinical interests.

Clinical Psychology practicum definitions

  • Clinical skill set. Practicum involves the acquisition of a clinical skill set through supervised clinical practice.
  • Varied experiences. Practicum usually includes experiences in psychological assessment, diagnosis, psychotherapy, and treatment evaluation.
  • Professional skills development. Practicum may also include program development, third-party consultation, and other professional skills.
  • Approved supervisors. Practicum falls within the curriculum of the doctoral program; clinical supervisors must be a director of clinical training approved through a formal practicum agreement with the training site.
  • Evaluations. Practicum students and their supervisors must provide written quarterly evaluations to the director of clinical training.
  • Supervisory responsibility. Practicum supervisors maintain full clinical responsibility for all patients (clients) seen by students.

Practicum training competencies

Each student is evaluated on the following competency objectives, which appear on the Quarterly Practicum Student Evaluation form. Each quarter, you must meet with your clinical supervisor(s) to review each of these competencies.

Our program works to train you to develop the following competencies:

  • Application of evidence-based assessment and intervention skills through client and patient-care experiences at clinical practicum sites.
  • Establishment of therapeutic relationships with clients and patients.
  • Diagnostic interviewing skills and accurate diagnosing skills using the The American Psychiatric Association’s (2000) Diagnostic Statistics Manual (4th ed., text revision) (DSM-IV-TR).
  • Selection, administration, scoring, and interpretation of psychological and neuropsychological assessment instruments.
  • Effective report-writing skills.
  • Evidence-based psychotherapy skills — the ability to conceptualize clinical cases from a local clinical scientist model.
  • Case formulation skills from a therapeutic orientation(s), using an integrative view.
  • Skills in formulating interventions based upon diagnosis and case formulation.
  • Skills in learning cultural competencies through our students’ practicum clinical experiences.
  • The application of ethical principles and code of conduct guidelines to client and patient care practicum experiences.
  • Timely and effective case management in clinical practicum experiences.


In the doctoral program you are required to complete a 12-month predoctoral psychology internship training experience. Each internship training site will have its own set of training expectations and objectives.

You will typically obtain internship training in medical centers or mental health settings. You are encouraged to apply to both regional and national training sites based on your clinical interests and professional goals.

The predoctoral clinical psychology internship application process at SPU follows the policies and procedures of the Association of Psychology Post-Doctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC). You are expected to seek an internship through the APPIC matching process.

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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.

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All tuition, fees, and other charges stated here are payable in U.S. dollars ($US).

In addition to direct instructional costs, Seattle Pacific University’s Clinical Psychology tuition covers academic and student support services. Other benefits include use of athletic facilities (e.g., gym, locker room, and fitness rooms), and the SPU Library.

Scholarships and financial aid

Scholarship and other financial aid is available to newly admitted and continuing students in the School of Psychology, Family, and Community. For more information, visit Graduate Students Resources in Student Financial Services.

Resources available to graduate students to offset costs may include:

  • Student loans. Includes amounts that exceed tuition and provide for living expenses.
  • Graduate research fellowships. Department and grant-funded research and administrative assistant positions are offered to a limited number of graduate students each year. Selection is based on established criteria within each graduate department.
  • Graduate teaching assistantships. Department-funded teaching assistantships are offered to a limited number of graduate students each year. Selection is based on established criteria and course need within each graduate department.
  • Merit scholarships. Offered by the University as an offset to tuition.
  • Department scholarship and awards. Selection is based on established criteria within each department. May not be distributed every year.

Student employment

For part-time student employment opportunities on or off campus, explore these options:

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Applying to the Clinical Psychology program

To be considered for admission into the Clinic Psychology program, you must apply online. Find the help you need with the admissions process of the program of your choice through Graduate Admissions

If you are an international student, also refer to International Graduate Students information about additional admission requirements. 

Learn about the School of Psychology, Family, and Community’s religious hiring compliance with the American Psychological Association.

Admission process

This program begins in Autumn Quarter and admits students once a year, with about 15 percent of those who apply offered admission annually.

  • Application deadline: December 15.
  • Preliminary screening: The admissions committee of the Department of Clinical Psychology will conduct a preliminary screening process of all applications.
  • Personal interviews: Finalists will be invited to a virtual Interview Day for personal interviews with the Department of Clinical Psychology faculty in late February.
  • Program section: Admission to the doctoral program depends upon recommendation by the CPY faculty and approval from the department chair.

Admission requirements

In additional to fulfilling general SPU graduate admission requirements, you must provide these items specific to admission to Clinical Psychology doctoral studies:

  • Online application and $75 processing fee
  • A bachelor’s degree
    • From a regionally accredited institution, with a minimum 3.0 grade-point average.
    • An undergraduate major in psychology is preferable.
    • If your bachelor’s degree is not in psychology, you may wish to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) Psychology Subject Test to demonstrate adequate knowledge of general psychology.
    • All applicants should have successfully completed a statistics or tests-and-measurements course, as well as at least five other psychology courses prior to application, from among the following: abnormal, developmental, experimental, physiological, social, learning, motivation, or personality.
  • Official transcripts
    • Official transcript(s) from any college or university that granted you a degree or degrees, and from any institution attended since that time.
  • Graduate record exam (GRE)
    • Submission of GRE scores are optional. We consider applications holistically, weighing academic preparedness, interpersonal skills, and research skills. If submitted, GRE scores will be considered as an additional item to all other application materials.
    • The Psychology Subject Test of the GRE (PGRE) is not required, but may be advantageous if your bachelor’s degree isn’t in psychology.
    • The recommended overall GRE score is a 300. 
  • Letters of recommendation
    • Three academic references from current or former professors/instructors are preferred, however you may substitute for one academic reference a professional reference from a person in a related field (e.g., clinical supervisor).
    • Academic and professional references should be sent on academic or professional letterhead, or you may use the standard form included in the online application and follow the instructions.
  • Personal statement
    • Three–four pages in length, typed.
    • Address your career objectives, rationale for seeking a degree in clinical psychology, and why you choose to attend SPU.
    • Mention professional and personal strengths as they apply to clinical psychology, related work experiences, research interests, personal values, religious ideals, and other information you deem appropriate.
    • Preference is shown to applicants who possess potential for both clinical and scientific work, as demonstrated by prior work or volunteer experiences.

Transfer of credit

If you have a master’s degree, or have taken other graduate coursework in psychology at a regionally accredited institution, you may be allowed to transfer up to 20 quarter units. You must submit syllabi of any courses for which you request transfer of credit.

Courses accepted for transfer must have been passed at a grade of “B” or higher and completed within seven years of transfer. A petition to transfer credits is submitted only after formal admission to the program.

Degree completion

You must complete all requirements for the doctoral degree within seven years from the quarter your first post-admission course was taken. Students who need more than seven years to complete the degree must file a time-extension petition with the director of doctoral studies.

International students

In addition to the SPU general and the Clinical Psychology program’s additional admission requirements, international students must also submit:

  • An official confidential affidavit of financial support covering the first year of intended enrollment. Without this document, SPU cannot issue an I-20 immigration form.
  • Students holding undergraduate or graduate degrees from colleges, universities, and/or seminaries located outside the U.S. are expected to have their transcripts evaluated by a professional credential agency. Such an evaluation is required before an application for admission to SPFC can be granted and before any graduate credits taken elsewhere can be applied to a SPFC degree.
  • If you earned an undergraduate degree in a country other than the United States, or your degree is in progress, an official course-by-course credential evaluation must be submitted from a NACES member-recognized credential service. Acceptable credential services include, but are not limited to, World Education Services (WES) and Foundation for International Services (FIS).
  • In addition to the evaluation report, we also require official transcripts and diplomas to be submitted, in English. International applicants are responsible for all costs associated with this service.
  • English language proficiency: If you do not speak English as your first language, you must also submit scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A minimum score of 600 on the TOEFL paper or 250 on the TOEFL-CBT, or 100 on the TOEFL-iBT is required. ACE scores will not be accepted.
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Career opportunities

What can you do with your PhD in Clinical Psychology? Because research and clinical practice are balanced in the curriculum at Seattle Pacific University, our graduates function in various roles after graduation, including: 

  • Health care clinicians
  • University scholars
  • Post-doctoral fellows
  • Psychologists
  • Behavioral medicine specialists
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Research professors
  • Pediatric psychologists
  • Research scientists

Outcome examples: 

Job leads

Supporting the careers of our CPY students and alumni is a high priority for the School of Psychology, Family, and Community. The following career resources are available:

  • The Center for Career and Calling has Resources for Current Graduate Students, which offers online vocational resources and résumé tips, workshops, and events. 
  • Job leads through SPU’s job posting board Handshake and Falcon Connect, the online community where you can engage and connect with the SPU network.
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Program Data

Student admissions, outcomes, and other data

View the program data here (PDF).

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Religious Affiliation

Religious Affiliation and APA Accreditation

Seattle Pacific University is a Christian educational institution affiliated with the Free Methodist Church of North America. SPU’s School of Psychology, Family, and Community (SPFC) welcomes all students regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, language, national origin, race, color, religion, culture, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Also, SPFC participates in extensive curriculum review to meet accrediting standards and requirements.

As a religious organization, Seattle Pacific University reserves the right to prefer employees or prospective employees on the basis of religion as permitted by law. The University welcomes faculty and staff from the range of theologically orthodox Christianity who affirm the University’s Statement of Faith. While SPU does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability, SPU does have religious-based conduct expectations for faculty and staff as written in its Employee Handbook, including expectations to refrain from illegal and unethical acts, from use of alcohol or tobacco products on campus, and from sexual behavior that is inconsistent with biblical standards (see the University’s Statement on Human Sexuality).

SPFC is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion across different cultural identities in all of its activities. Moreover, SPFC is fully committed to supporting LGBTQIA+ students through inclusive mentorship, scholarship, and curricula in accordance with APA standards. For more information about particular diversity activities and resources for SPFC students, see SPFC’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion webpage or speak with a member of the SPFC Diversity Committee listed on the webpage. SPU acknowledges that diverse views exist within various faith communities regarding human sexuality, including within our own. The importance and complexity of this issue will continue to inform conversations as we strive to respect and care for all members of our community.

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