Apr 13, 2024  
2014-2015 Graduate Catalog 
2014-2015 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Psychology, Clinical Health Psychology PhD

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►   Graduate School Rules  apply to this program

Objectives of the Program

A primary focus of clinical health psychology is the development of effective disease prevention behavioral interventions for populations at high risk for medical problems. A second focus of clinical health psychology is the development of strategies to help individuals who are already ill to manage their disease, increase their ability to collaborate with medical professionals and improve their coping skills.  A clinical health psychologist combines expertise in research on health psychology with training in clinical psychology.  Students in this program will be trained to work within the community to use clinical psychological tools and techniques to diagnose and treat mental health conditions, promote health and prevent illness, apply behavioral interventions in the treatment of illness, and improve the health care system. In addition to course work, students acquire expertise in research by completing both a master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation.  They demonstrate competence in clinical assessment and intervention through several applied practicum experiences, successful passage of the Comprehensive Clinical Competency Examination and successfully completing a pre-doctoral internship. Students can complete the program in five years and have up to eight years to complete the program according to Graduate School Rules .


The application deadline is December 15 for the following fall. You are responsible for making sure all materials are in on time. We do not consider late applications. International students should be sure to submit all materials at least two weeks before this deadline (by December 1) so that they arrive at our department on time. Below is condensed information; see http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/CLAS/Departments/psychology/Pages/Psychology.aspx for complete information.

Admission Requirements:

  • BA or BS from an accredited college or university, with a minimum GPA of 3.5 based on all college course work.
  • Undergraduate courses in: introductory psychology, psychological statistics, research methods and abnormal psychology. Additional courses in psychology are highly desirable; our admissions committee will also look favorably upon courses in the biological and physical sciences.
  • Two official transcripts from each college and university attended.
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE): The GRE General Test (verbal, quantitative, analytical writing) is required. Most students in the program had a combined verbal and quantitative score of at least 1100 on the old GRE scoring system. The GRE should be taken at least six weeks before the December 15 deadline so that the scores arrive on time.
  • Three letters of recommendation, at least two of which must be academic references. Applicants provide contact information for their references in the online application. Those individuals are automatically contacted electronically and asked to to upload their recommendations directly to your application file.
  • The online Graduate Application, including your resume/vita and personal statement.
  • Application fee of $50 ($75 for international students).

Financial Information

The University of Colorado Denver administers various forms of financial aid for graduate students: fellowships, scholarships and a number of awards from outside agencies. See the Office of Financial Aid  for further information. Additionally, the psychology department offers teaching assistantships each year in such courses as introductory psychology, statistics, research methods and human development. Although we do not guarantee TA positions, we have been able to offer positions to our interested students.

Contingent upon the availability of grant money, faculty may also offer part-time research assistantships to qualified students. The typical RA position involves data collection and analysis, library research, etc. Some computer and statistical skills are usually required. RA positions are less available than TA positions, and they may arise on very short notice.

In-state tuition waivers and additional stipend monies may be available for doctoral students. We do guarantee to pay a full stipend, usually in the form of an assistantship, plus tuition for the first year. We will make every effort to do so for four years.

Note: Neither teaching nor research assistantships confer in-state tuition status.

Degree Requirements

Course Work:
The program requires approximately eight semesters of full-time course work and clinical practica, followed by a year-long internship. Students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average, and no grade below a B will count toward the requirements. Students must complete their doctoral dissertations prior to beginning their internship in the 5th year. Students can complete the program in five years and have up to eight years to complete the program, according to Graduate School Rules .

Master’s Thesis:
The program has a provision for achieving a master’s degree en route to obtaining the PhD. In addition to taking PSYC 8200, Teaching Skills Seminar, an MA is required for students to independently teach a course.  During their time in the program, students’ funding will likely require them to independently teach a course. Students must complete a master’s thesis, an empirical research project that makes a significant contribution to the field. Although the thesis must address the student’s own original question, the use of archival data and pilot studies is encouraged for this project. 

Clinical Practica:
A minimum of 500 face-to-face intervention and assessment hours and 1200 total practicum hours [face-to-face intervention and assessment hours, plus supervision, plus support hours as defined by the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC)] are expected in preparation for application to pre-doctoral internships. Approximately 50% of required practica are conducted in medical settings.  Sites for practica training, include the department’s own Psychological Services Center and external facilities such as outpatient diabetes clinics, cancer clinics, OB/GYN, HIV/AIDS, end-stage renal disease, pain, and cardiovascular clinics, and in-patient psychiatric facilities. Students are able to select practica based on their personal and professional interests. All field placements are approved in advance by the Coordinator of Clinical Training. 

Demonstration of Clinical Competency:
During the second semester of their third year in the program students must demonstrate their clinical competency by completing the Comprehensive Clinical Competency Evaluation (CCCE). The CCCE is designed to facilitate student demonstration of clinical competence at the developmental level of readiness for application to clinical internship. This evaluation is designed to assess the developmentally appropriate broad and general clinical competencies in clinical psychology, and does not necessarily evaluate clinical health psychology competencies per se. The CCCE comprises three sequential components conducted in phases: 

  1. Applied clinical diagnosis, conceptualization and assessment/treatment plan for a standardized patient.
  2. Intervention therapy session with a standardized patient.
  3. Oral defense with faculty committee.

Students must complete a dissertation that involves original empirical work and is distinct from other research projects and publications. The dissertation proposal must be completed and defended prior to making application for the pre-doctoral internship. Students must have a dissertation committee composed of four members of the graduate faculty. When the dissertation is completed to the satisfaction of the primary advisor, the student must orally defend the dissertation to the committee.

Students must complete a 12-month, full-time pre-doctoral clinical internship, preferably at an APA-accredited site. This internship is required of all clinical psychologists and is the capstone of clinical training in the doctoral program.   

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