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Clinical & Research Training

The overarching goal of the Clinical Psychology PhD program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is to educate and train students to become competitive for clinical and research positions in academic medical centers and related healthcare settings. To this end, we provide a truly equal balance of research and clinical training.

Clinical Training

Students receive intensive and in-depth clinical training during at least three yearlong clinical practica, as well as a fulltime clinical internship. We offer a wide range of clinical training opportunities that are consistent with the Major Areas of Study offered within the program:

  • Behavioral Medicine or Health Psychology
  • Clinical Adult Psychology
  • Clinical Child Psychology
  • Clinical Neuropsychology
  • Forensic Psychology

In addition to our Major Area of Study in Behavioral Medicine, we have a certified Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program. The Behavioral Sleep Medicine (BSM) Training Program at Northwestern University is accredited by the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine to provide training in preparation for Board Certification in Behavioral Sleep Medicine (Diplomate in Behavioral Sleep Medicine). Graduate and postdoctoral students who complete the BSM Training program will qualify under the Standard Track as part of the eligibility requirements, which is considerably more efficient than the qualifying under the alternative track. Please visit the Board of Behavioral Sleep Medicine for more information.

Clinical Timeline

First Year

PhD students spend their first year in the program taking core clinical courses, such as psychopathology, psychological assessment, and introduction to psychological interventions. Students begin their clinical practica training in the summer of their first year. The first year of clinical training is conducted within Northwestern Medicine and Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.

Second, Third, and Fourth Years

PhD student complete three years of clinical practica, both within Northwestern and its affiliates, as well as with many of our clinical partners in Chicago (e.g., Depression and Anxiety Specialty Clinics of Chicago, Hines VA Medical Center, Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Metropolitan Correctional Complex, Rush University Medical Center, Shriner's Hospital for Children, University of Chicago Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center).

Fifth Year

PhD students complete their full-time, 12-month clinical internship during the fifth year in the PhD program. Clinical internships are completed at an academic medical center, children's hospital, VA medical center or other clinical facility outside of the program. For students that extend their education and training an additional year (e.g., conducting their F31 research), they will engage in an additional practicum during their fifth year and complete their clinical internship in their sixth year.

 Second Year

Clinical training begins in the second year in the form of intensive practicum placements. Unlike many clinical psychology programs, students do not have to compete with other clinical psychology students for most practicum positions. Depending on their MAS, second-year students are typically placed at:

  • Northwestern Medical Group's Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Outpatient Clinic
  • Northwestern Medical Group's Neuropsychology Clinic
  • Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Diagnostic/Neuropsychological Testing Service

 Third Year and Beyond

Depending on their MAS, advanced students are typically placed at:

  • University of Chicago Medicine
  • University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center
  • Hines VA
  • Jesse Brown VA
  • Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Psychiatry Outpatient Services
  • Shriners Hospital for Children
  • Illinois Masonic Medical Center (Advocate)
  • Depression and Anxiety Specialty Clinic of Chicago
  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Inpatient Neuropsychological Consultation Service
  • The Neurobehavior and Memory Clinic of the Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Northwestern Behavioral Medicine Practicum
  • Shirley Ryan AbilityLab
  • Metropolitan Correctional Center

 Internship Placement

Our students successfully compete for internship positions in the most competitive institutions nationally and locally. The doctoral program has the highest 10-year match rate out of all 18 clinical psychological doctoral programs in the state of Illinois. By the end of the third year in the program, students complete the Clinical Qualifying Exam, which is designed to demonstrate competence in fundamental clinical skills, theory and judgment.

View a sample list of recent student internships.

Research Training

Students receive intensive research training throughout the course of the program. In addition to coursework and other educational opportunities, students complete research apprenticeships within their primary mentor's lab. Students contribute 20-30 hours a week to a research lab for at least four (4) years, with additional opportunities available depending on funding and the award of training grants. In addition to actively contributing to their primary mentor's research, students are required to complete a master's thesis and doctoral dissertation, as well as submit for a competitive internal or external research grant (e.g., T32, F31). Students are also expected to directly contribute to scientific progress through presentations at national and international conferences, and by authoring and co-authoring publications in scientific journals.

Research Timeline

First Year

PhD students spend their first year in the program as a research apprentice in the ongoing investigative work of a faculty member within that MAS.

Second and Third Years

During the second and third years, the student begins to develop their Research Qualifying Paper (RQP), which is an original empirical study that is modest in scope, often uses existing data within the research lab and is conducted with substantial support from the student’s research mentor. A modified version of the RQP can be used to obtain a master’s degree in clinical psychology on the way to obtaining the doctorate.

Fourth Year

The fourth year of training is focused on completion of the final research milestone, the dissertation. The dissertation is an original empirical study that is more ambitious in scope and requires a greater level of independent functioning than the RQP.

Our primary mentors and their research labs are organized to reflect the Major Areas of Study offered within the program (see Faculty Mentors page).

The PhD Program also offers a research focus area in Policy.

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