PhD Clinical Psychology: Neuropsychology Emphasis


An elective area of emphasis is offered to students at Palo Alto University (PAU). According to guidelines adopted by the Division of Clinical Neuropsychology (Division 40) of the American Psychological Association (APA), the basic education and training of a clinical neuropsychologist involves:

  • Successful completion of a doctoral level degree in psychology from a regionally accredited program. 
  • Successful completion of systematic didactic education (course work in neuropsychology and neuroscience).
  • Supervised experiential training (practica, internships) in clinical neuropsychology, including two or more years of supervised training (usually post-doctoral) applying neuropsychological services in a clinical setting.

Neuropsychology Area of Emphasis Webinar Recording


The courses required as prerequisites and offered in the Area of Emphasis fulfill the didactic education criteria listed above as approved by Division 40.  Successful completion of the Neuropsychology Area of Emphasis at PAU is only one component in the education and clinical training necessary to become a clinical neuropsychologist. Further specialty preparation is expected at the pre-doctoral internship and post-doctoral level. Learn more about APA Division 40 guidelines.

The required graduate-level courses in this area include the following prerequisites and specialized courses in neuropsychology.


The following prerequisite course work at PAU (or equivalent course work from another institution) must be completed with no grade in any prerequisite course below an “A-”. Students must take:

  • ASMT800 Psychopathology and Psychodiagnosis I
  • ASMT801 Psychopathology and Psychodiagnosis II
  • PSYS805 Psychological Science II: Biological Bases of Behavior I: Biological Psychology
  • ASMT810 Psychometric Theory
  • ASMT804 Intellectual Assessment
  • ASMT825 Assessment of Personality and Psychopathology
  • ASMT807 Integrated Test Batteries*

Students may take these courses after applying to the Area of Emphasis; however, low grades in these courses may be grounds for probation status and/or dismissal from the Area of Emphasis.

Course Requirements

The following courses encompass the program and must be taken in the order listed. Students may not register for these classes until they have been accepted into the Neuropsychology track, typically Winter of their second year. All neuropsychology track classes are held on Tuesdays.

Please note: It is recommended that students planning to apply to the Neuropsychology track schedule as few classes as possible during Spring quarter of their 2nd year, given the heavy workload of the first class in the track - ideally schedule only the required course Integrated Test Batteries and ASMT 860 Neuropsychological Assessment I

  • ASMT 860 Neuropsychological Assessment I (3 units - Spring 2nd Year) - Required
  • ASMT 861 Neuropsychological Assessment II (3 units - Summer 2nd Year) - Required
  • ASMT 862 Clinical Neuropsychology I (3 units - Fall 3rd Year) - Required
  • ASMT 863 Clinical Neuropsychology II (3 units - Winter 3rd Year) - Required
  • ASMT 864 Neuroanatomy and Neuroimaging (3 units - Spring 3rd Year) - Required
  • ASMT 865 Cognitive Rehabilitation (3 units - Summer 3rd Year) - Optional

The first five classes of the Neuropsychology sequence are required. The sixth class is optional, and may be substituted with a related elective (e.g., a class in Forensic Psychology, Health Psychology, Child and Family Assessment, Trauma, etc.). Approval of substituted elective classes by the director is required.

In addition to these courses, students in the Neuropsychology Area of Emphasis are expected to engage in other professional activities to advance their knowledge in the field. This includes membership in the Association for Neuropsychology Students in Training as well as other professional organizations (e.g., APA Division 40) and attendance at PAU Neuropsychology Grand Rounds.

Ph.D. students who plan to take the Neuropsychology Area of Emphasis need to plan their schedules carefully in order to be positioned to take the complete sequence during their time on campus; two summers of study are required.  A complete offering of this sequence begins every spring.

Students can apply to the Neuropsychology Area of Emphasis each fall to begin the curriculum the following spring. Applications are available here and are due on the last day of fall quarter. No late applications will be accepted. Grades (both overall and in the prerequisite courses), instructor evaluations, references, curriculum vitae, and overall fit with the program will be considerations in decisions to accept students.

Once admitted to the program, students must complete the full sequence of courses to complete the Area of Emphasis. Progress in the curriculum will be evaluated on an ongoing basis and any grade below a A- in a class within the Neuropsychology or Assessment curriculum will result in a placement on probation status. A grade below a A- in a Neuropsychology or Assessment course while on probation status may be grounds for dismissal from the Area of Emphasis.

Neuropsychological Testing Class Requirement

Students are required to administer neuropsychological test batteries to one or two subjects per quarter for each of the Assessment “ASMT” courses. It is often difficult for students to locate subjects on short notice if they attempt to do so on a quarter-by-quarter basis.  Therefore, students need to plan ahead to secure volunteers or set up a placement site (or more than one site) where they can test subjects. If the subjects are volunteers, no clinical supervisor will be needed since no report will be issued to a clinical agency or patient.  If the subjects are actual clinical cases at an agency, then the student must arrange for supervision/co-signing of clinical assessment reports by a licensed psychologist other than the course instructor. Contact the Director of the Neuropsychology Area of Emphasis for further information.

Neuropsychology Practicum Requirement

Students must complete an official practicum placement (one year of full or supplemental) in a setting that provides clinical neuropsychological experience in their 3rd or 4th year.  

Neuropsychology Dissertation Requirement

Students in the Neuropsychology Area of Emphasis must complete a dissertation that makes a scientific contribution to the field of neuropsychology.

Completion of the Area of Emphasis

Completion of the Neuropsychology Area of Emphasis will be granted following the completion of all coursework requirements, completion or securement of a neuropsychology practicum, and approval of the dissertation proposal by the dissertation committee.


If you are a graduate student at PAU, in at least your second year of the program, please use this link to complete your application to the Neuropsychology Area of Emphasis. Applications should be submitted to Dr. Hirst and are accepted starting in the middle of the Fall Quarter of your Second Year, with a Due Date of the Last Day of Fall Quarter.

Contact for further information:

Rayna Hirst, PhD  
Director, Neuropsychology Program

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