The Catholic University of America

Clinical Psychology at CUA Frequently Asked Questions

How many people apply to your program? What are the GREs and GPAs of students who enroll? See Student Admissions, Outcomes, and Other Data.

Can I start the program in January? No, we only admit students for fall enrollment.

How can I get more information on faculty research interests? Faculty have web pages with their interests and recent publications.  You can also explore the Research web page.

How important is research experience in psychology? We consider prior research experience to be extremely important. Almost everyone we interview has had research experience in psychology.

The other schools I'm applying to do not require the Psychology GRE Subject test; must I take it for CUA? Although it is not required, we do strongly recommend that you submit Psychology GRE Subject test scores. 

Lots of programs say they are balanced between science and practice. Is your program really balanced? Yes, we emphasize both high-quality scholarly training and high-quality clinical training. The balance is reflected in the interests of the faculty: all of the faculty who are clinical psychologists have cutting-edge research programs and do clinical practice. The model of our program is the integration of science and practice. We strive to educate students to think like a clinical psychologist regardless of what activity they are currently engaged in, and simultaneously to be clinically sophisticated and to take a hypothesis-testing approach in all of their professional activities.

What financial aid do you offer? A variety of scholarships and assistantships are available to our students, including full-tuition scholarships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships. All students in recent years have received a financial aid package totaling at least full tuition in the first 3 years of the program, which is when students are taking courses that incur full tuition, and more than 80% have also received a stipend. Everyone who is invited to interview is given a handout on the complete financial aid picture for students in the program in the current year. No promises can be made from this summary for future years, but it gives the interviewee a good picture of the current level of aid. We give each applicant who is accepted information on the financial aid we can offer that person as soon as it becomes available, always before a decision must be made.

The application for admission constitutes an application as well for all forms of financial aid except loans and work-study. The latter two forms of aid require the federal FAFSA form. See Graduate Financial Aid for further information on loans and filing the FAFSA.

Can I get an appointment in the fall to tell you about myself (or ask questions)? Unfortunately, because of time constraints, we can only interview the applicants whose applications indicate that they are the most promising for our program. We interview in January and February. Before that, you can email any questions you still have after reading our materials to the Director of Clinical Training or to the faculty member whose work most interests you.

How important is the interview? We find the interview invaluable for both the applicant and the program. Applicants have a chance on the interview to meet two faculty and multiple students, plus the opportunity to have more informal interaction with students. The interviews and informal contact provide rich information for both applicants and the program, particularly about the match of the applicant to the program and vice versa. Faculty have a chance to describe their current research in detail, and applicants have a chance to find out more about clinical and research opportunities. Applicants frequently tell us they are even more excited about our program after meeting our faculty and students than prior to the interview. Factors they often cite are the satisfaction with the program expressed by our students, the interesting work being done by the faculty with their students, and the collaborative, supportive atmosphere. Some of these factors are conveyed far better in person than on paper.

How successful are students in the CUA clinical psychology program in obtaining an internship?  Almost all of the students in our program have been successful in obtaining an internship in the first year they apply, despite the increasingly competitive internship market nationally. In many cases, students are matched to their first choice of internship. Although we cannot predict future internship success, our students are clearly competitive for good internships.

What about other indicators of the quality of your program?  See internship and graduation statistics in Student Admissions, Outcomes, and Other Data. Our program is highly successful in meeting its goals.

What do graduates of your program do? Graduates of our program engage in a wide variety of activities in psychology. Our most recent survey shows that the majority take positions in Veterans Affairs and other, medical centers, independent practice, or university counseling centers.

I have a master's in psychology (or graduate credits); will my credits transfer? We have one policy for required courses and another for elective courses. For required courses, the faculty member who teaches that course evaluates the comparability of the prior course to the one taught at CUA, and makes a recommendation to the Clinical Director of our program (the DCT) as to whether it satisfies the requirement. The DCT—in consultation with the full clinical faculty if necessary—then considers the adequacy of the course in light of program goals and requirements, and makes a decision on whether the student may transfer the course and be exempt from taking the comparable course at CUA. In the case of elective courses, students may transfer up to two courses from a previous institution, if the course fits within our elective requirements (although it need not be a course we offer), was a course that doctoral students at the previous institution could and did take, and was passed with at least a B. Decisions on approval and transfer of credit are handled through a similar process to that used for required courses, and cannot be undertaken until the student has been admitted to the program. For more details, please see the Clinical Student Handbook, and read the section of the “Course Requirements” chapter with the heading: “Transferring Credits.”

Note that even if a student transfers courses, it may not shorten the time to the Ph.D. A substantial number of clinical practicum hours are required for a competitive internship application both in the Washington, DC area and nationally. Generally our students obtain enough clinical experience to be competitive for internship applications by their fourth year of the program (in other words, they do internship in their fifth year). Thus, even if a student finishes course work early, he or she still needs enough clinical practicum hours that applying for internship usually isn't practical until the fourth year.

How can I obtain further information on the program? Faculty have web pages that provide information on their specific interests, research programs, and recent publications. There is also a Research web page that describes the research programs within the Department.  The Admissions Process web page details the application procedures.  We supply information on our program to two important publications: the American Psychological Association's Guide to graduate study, and Sayette, Mayne, and Norcross' Insider's guide to graduate study in clinical and counseling psychology (Guilford Press).

These publications plus APA's website (www.apa.org) can give applicants general information as well, such as the difference between the Ph.D. and Psy.D. degree, and the job outlook in psychology.