Preparing practitioners, researchers, and leaders who make a difference

PhD in Clinical Psychology

At the Forefront in Clinical Psychology

It takes a unique mindset to be a clinical psychologist. Students at PAU are taught to be science-minded while appreciating the broader role of psychology in alleviating suffering in the world.

If you are a curious student dedicated to using psychology to improve lives, pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology at PAU is your next step towards effecting change in the world.

The PhD in Clinical Psychology Program at Palo Alto University is deeply committed to educating well-rounded clinical psychologists capable and competent as both researchers and clinicians.

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Rigorous Evidence-Based Curriculum

The PhD program at PAU includes intensive study in five areas: Basic theoretical concepts in psychology, research, psychological evaluation, psychotherapy theory and process, and clinical foundations and field experience.

You will learn to value evidence-based clinical models while maintaining the responsibilities psychologists have to their community, society, and profession.

The goals and key themes of our program:

  • To produce students and graduates who are critically reflective and informed consumers and producers of psychological knowledge and associated clinical sciences
  • To produce clinicians with the requisite clinical knowledge, skills, and attitudes to successfully practice as entry PhD-level clinical psychologists in a variety of clinical settings and with a variety of clinical problems.
  • To produce researchers with the requisite scientific knowledge, skills, and attitudes to both consume and generate research.
  • To produce culturally competent clinical psychologists.
  • To produce clinical psychologists whose conduct exemplifies excellence in professionalism and ethics.

Every PhD candidate at PAU takes pride in their capability and competence as both researcher and clinician. If you are ready to focus on your future, connect with PAU today.

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What Can You Do with a PhD in Clinical Psychology?

PAU alumni go on to have successful and rewarding careers as clinical psychologists or in research-focused academics. Still others find their calling in the corporate and nonprofit sectors.

  • With a PhD in Clinical Psychology, you can work in various settings, such as in hospitals and medical centers, community mental health clinics, private practice, and universities.
  • With balanced training for competency as a clinician and as a researcher, you will have the training for clinical work, research, or teaching – or even a combination of all three.
  • PAU areas of emphases enable our students to be board-certified in specialized psychology careers, including Neuropsychology and Forensic Psychology.

Fully Accredited Training

The program of study for the PhD is informed by the American Psychological Association’s (APA’s) guidelines for doctoral education in clinical psychology and emphasizes the integration of scientific research and clinical practices.

The PAU PhD in Clinical Psychology program has been accredited by the American Psychological Association since 1988.

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation:

American Psychological Association
750 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242

Learn more about Licensing and Accreditation @ PAU

APA IRC-26 Student Admissions, Outcomes, and Other Data

Palo Alto Expert Faculty Graphic
Expert Faulty

The PhD Clinical Psychology program faculty is a talented and highly distinguished group of psychologists from across the globe, with wide-ranging clinical and research specialties.

PhD Area of Emphasis

Your core PhD training at PAU provides broad and general preparation through the integration of scholarship, professional experience, and research with our practitioner-scientist training model.

We also offer optional specialized training in seven key emphasis areas – all in high demand and focused on building additional knowledge and experience within a focused field of clinical psychology.

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Diversity and Community Mental Health

The Diversity and Community Mental Health (DCMH) area of emphasis at PAU gives you specialized knowledge and clinical training to provide psychological services for the public mental health sector.

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Forensic Psychology

The PhD emphasis in Forensic Psychology at PAU trains specialists in the clinical application of psychology to the legal system.

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Health Psychology

PAU’s Health Psychology Area of Emphasis will prepare students with foundational knowledge and skills to conduct cutting-edge assessment, treatment, and consultation in interprofessional care environments.

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LGBTQ Psychology

At Palo Alto University, we are committed to ensuring that the next generation of clinical psychologists is competent in clinical practice and research with diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) populations.

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Meditation and Psychology

The Meditation and Psychology Emphasis in the PhD Clinical Psychology program involves clinical and research training concerning the interplay of mind-body factors in health and well-being.

PhD Image for Neuropsychology Program

The impact of brain function on human behavior is endlessly fascinating – and it’s a great career path for science-minded psychology students.

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Pediatric Behavioral Health Care

Why choose pediatric behavioral health? It’s life-changing work – and the demand for highly-trained specialists continues to grow.

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Combat veterans. Mass casualty events. Domestic violence. Child abuse. The potential long-term – and immediate – psychological costs of trauma exposure can be catastrophic.

Opportunities for PhD in Clinical Psychology Students

As a student at PAU, you will have access to specialized research groups and clinical training opportunities through the Gronowski Center, a community-based psychology training clinic and treatment center dedicated to providing high quality, evidence-based, clinical services to adults, older adults, adolescents, children, and families in the community.


Visit The Gronowski Training Clinic Learn More about our Research Labs

Admission and Graduation Requirements


The PhD Program is a full-time program and requires a minimum of three years in residence. The program is structured to be completed in five years: three years for academic coursework, one year for the dissertation and one year for internship.

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Graduation Requirements

The PhD in Clinical Psychology program takes an average of five years to complete and is open to individuals who hold a bachelor's or master's degree and have completed the required prerequisites prior to applying for admission.

The PhD in Clinical Psychology program at PAU requires that candidates complete 150 units of required coursework and 18 elective units for a total of 168 units, which typically takes three years for full-time attendees.

During their final two years of full-time enrollment, students complete other graduation requirements.

Publication and Presentation: Students must make a significant contribution to a peer-reviewed journal article, book chapter, or literary contribution to another scholarly publication.

Milestones: In addition to the Oral Clinical Competency Exam, three written exams on research competency, clinical competency, and assessment competency must be taken. Additionally, students are required to complete a dissertation of 30 minimum units, a 12-unit internship, and at least two years of practicums

View Graduation Requirements
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Clinical Training

Students enrolled in the PhD in Clinical Psychology program are required to complete clinical practicum training.

PhD Clinical Training Faculty

Provides mentoring and clinical placement services to the PhD Clinical Psychology program students.

PhD Clinical Training Faculty provide:
Close faculty advising for students applying to practicum and internship
Mentoring and intensive professional development advising throughout clinical training.
Review of practicum sites for quality assurance

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Research Labs

All students in the PhD Clinical Psychology Program are required to participate in faculty-led research groups during their second and third years in the program – for 6 consecutive quarters.

View Our Research Labs


You won’t spend all your time in the classroom – you’ll gain direct experience providing supervised therapy while working in a practicum or internship setting.

All About Internships All About Practicum

Student Admissions, Outcomes, and Other Data

Each year, the PAU psychology faculty participate in a thorough strategic review of our curriculum, processes, student learning, and student and program outcomes.

View Program Data

Frequently Asked Questions

Enrolling in a PhD program is a significant life choice – Palo Alto University faculty and staff will answer all your questions before you apply and after you are accepted.

1. Where can I find information on first year student orientation? 

You will receive an email from the PhD program office during the summer before Fall Quarter begins. You may contact for additional information regarding orientation. 

2. Where can I find the academic calendar?

The Academic Calendar can be found on the Registrar’s office page.

3. How do I get my PAU email address and access to the PAU Intranet ( (Access email at  From the IT Helpdesk. Contact with any questions.

4. Where are the classrooms?

At the PAU Allen Calvin Main Campus, Classrooms 1 and 3, and the computer lab, are located on the top floor of Building Three. Classroom 2 is located on the middle floor of Building Three.

At the PAU Los Altos/Gronowski Center Campus, rooms D11A and D11B are on the first floor of the Kurt and Barbara Gronowski Psychology Clinic located at 5150 El Camino Real, Suite 22, Bldg C, Los Altos, California 94022

5. Where do I park for classes?

PAU encourages students to carpool to class as parking availability at the Los Altos/Gronowski and PAU Main Allen Calvin Campus is very limited. Directions to PAU campuses are available on the Locations, Transportation & Parking web page.

The PhD program at Palo Alto University operates on two main campuses: The Allen Calvin Campus at 1791 Arastradero Road in Palo Alto and the Gronowski Center Campus at 1172 Castro Street, Mountain View  

Detailed Driving Directions:

At the Allen Calvin/Main Campus, drive through the gates and up the hilly driveway. There are several different areas for parking, including lower, middle, and upper level areas. You are welcome to park in any of these spaces. On days when there are campus events, parking may be limited. You may also park at the bottom of the driveway or at the nearby Alpine Inn parking lot, but be aware that those areas are not part of the campus and therefore not secure. The campus is in a remote area and there is no public transportation. Please carpool whenever possible.

If you ride a bicycle as your primary mode of transportation, please be extremely cautious when riding on Page Mill Road and Arastradero Road. There are sharp, blind turns, which may be especially dangerous at night or during heavy traffic hours. If you do travel at night, wear reflective clothing and use a light on the front and back of your bicycle. For your safety, always wear a helmet. Please lock and secure your bicycle at the upper parking level, near the cul-de-sac and Building One.

6. What if I have questions?

Please feel free to contact the PhD program or PAU staff should you have questions.

April House - PhD Program Manager (

7. Where can I access basic information about the PhD program?

Please visit the PhD Program Website. Your most important resource is the PhD Student Handbook. The website also provides links to PhD program forms, information on competency exams, dissertations, important contacts, course schedule archives, grievance procedures, additional program handbooks, and information on TA opportunities.

Other important links related to the PhD program include the PAU Office of Professional Development and Advising and the PAU Institutional Review Board. All of these websites are accessible via the PAU portal.

8. Who can I talk to about academic support at PAU, curriculum requirements, and program expectations to advance to candidacy?

The PAU Academic Advising Center (PAAC) is a space where PhD students can make appointments to talk to advanced students when they are unsure about any aspect of academic progress at PAU. PAAC aims to support students in thriving academically and professionally throughout the PhD Program. These advanced students assist first year students in many ways, including:

  • Reviewing research group application materials
  • Providing a general overview of the PhD program curriculum
  • Answering questions about academics and research
  • Offering advice on surviving and thriving in grad school

PAAC hours shift each academic quarter. Please visit the website for the most-up-to-date hours.

9. How long will it take to earn my PhD at PAU?

Although the PhD program is designed to be completed within five years of coursework and practica, many students choose to take an additional year to complete their degree. Students must complete their degree within 7 years. The number of years it takes to complete the PhD program will depend on your individual needs and professional goals:

  • Post-graduate career goals
  • Competitiveness of clinical and research training sites
  • Internship asirations and restrictions
  • Practicum placements and performance
  • Research opportunities, dissertation progress, publications and presentations
  • Satisfactory academic progress

The PhD program is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) and follows their Benchmark Evaluation System to assess whether a student has met the competency benchmarks in professional psychology. 

10. How do I register for classes? How do I change my schedule?

For the first year of the PhD program, you are pre-registered for all of your courses based upon the required first-year coursework in the PhD curriculum. Information about registration can be found at the Registrar’s Office on the Portal, including downloadable course schedules, and academic calendars.

In subsequent years of the program, you will use the portal for online registration. If you would like to change your schedule, you will need to email the registrar Nora Marquez ( for further instruction. For additional questions about registration, including wait-listing, sequences, and other concerns, see the PhD Program Handbook. 

11. How do I obtain a copy of my course schedule?

You may always access your current course schedule on the portal. Additionally, students can request a hard copy in-person from the Registrar’s Office at the PAU Allen Calvin Campus. 

12. Why am I required to attend 8 hours of therapy? Is the cost covered by PAU? How do I find a good therapist on a graduate student budget?

According to the PhD Student Handbook, all PhD students are required to complete 8 hours of individual psychotherapy with a doctoral-level licensed psychologist (PhD, ED, PsyD) or board-eligible psychiatrist prior to registration for the Oral Clinical Competency Exam (which typically occurs in the third year of the program). It is the perspective of PAU that the personal experience of psychotherapy is critical to the ability to work therapeutically with others. The cost of psychotherapy is not covered by PAU and is not part of the financial aid package.

Additional information about this requirement can be located in the PhD Student Handbook. There is an aggregate list of recommended low cost and sliding scale therapists noted under Student Resources on the portal. You may also want to consult websites such as Psychology Today to select the right therapist.

13. How early do I have to decide if I want to complete a PhD area of emphasis

The first quarter of the first year is a good time to meet with a faculty advisor, as well as other PAU faculty and advanced students, to determine whether an area of emphasis will fit long term professional goals. As the year proceeds, students will have a better idea of their interests and the requirements for completing each area of emphasis. If you are still unsure, schedule an appointment with the PAU Academic Advising Center (PAAC).

14. When are financial aid refund disbursements available?

To receive the status of your financial aid, please visit the portal or email

PAU Alumni Amanda Harris
PAU Alumna Advocates for Survivors of Domestic Violence

PAU alumna Amanda Harris (née Feldman), JD, PhD, a psychologist and attorney representing domestic violence survivors.

Research Labs

All students in the PhD Clinical Psychology Program are required to participate in faculty-led research groups during their second and third years in the program – for 6 consecutive quarters.

Learn More about all PAU's Research Labs
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