The best schools for doctorate degree in clinical psychology

HomePsychologyThe best doctoral degrees in clinical psychology

Introduction to clinical psychology

If you’ve completed a bachelor’s  or master’s degree in psychology and aim to become a licensed clinical psychologist, then your next step is to apply for a doctorate program. The Ph.D. in clinical psychology program teaches students how to diagnose and treat different mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. It prepares students to apply what they’ve learned in a real-world setting. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 14% increase in demand for psychologists between 2016-2026.

A clinical psychology doctorate is a practical degree that attracts students with specific career goals such as becoming a practicing clinical psychologist, or working in the field as a researcher or postsecondary teacher.  Depending on the institution you attend, you will be offered the option to study either a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) or a Psy.D (Doctor of Psychology). A Ph.D. trains students utilizing a scientist-practitioner model that emphasizes research, whereas a Psy.D. has a greater focus on clinical work.

The Psy.D. is sometimes taken as an alternative to the competitive and selective Ph.D. The Psy.D. has higher admissions rates and can take less time to complete than a Ph.D. however, there are rarely funding opportunities for Psy.D. students. More selective, Ph.D. programs also receive more funding and typically afford graduates a higher salary after graduation.

The general requirements for admission are:

  • bachelor’s degree
  • official transcripts
  • GRE scores
  • resume
  • personal essay
  • letters of recommendation

Working toward a doctorate in clinical psychology is generally a commitment for 5-6 years of full-time study. Read on and explore the best doctorate programs in clinical psychology to prepare you for your next step in your career.

School listings

  • Stanford University

    Stanford University Palo Alto, California
    Stanford University

    This joint venture has formed an all-star team of researchers who favor evidence-based practice. And, while the university offers a syllabus similar to many of the upcoming entries on our list, this Psy.D. course has the weight of one of the most prestigious colleges in the U.S. behind it. Around half of all Stanford post-grad students are doctoral candidates. Each year, the school consistently awards more Ph.D. qualifications than many other mainland universities. However, with just a 4.3% acceptance rate, it’s an exclusive club.
     

    Program NamePGSP – Standford Psy.D. Consortium
    AccreditationAPA
    State, CityCalifornia, Stanford, Palo Alto
    Cost$19,555 per quarter. Tuition is waived for Ph.D students who have teaching or research assistantships.
    Program FormatOn campus, full time
    Course Length5 years
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  • Harvard University

    Harvard University Cambridge, Massachusetts
    Harvard University

    Massachusetts’ main claim to fame, Harvard University, doesn’t need an introduction. Research at Harvard is centered on the diagnosis and treatment of severe psychopathology and its biological influences. This Ph.D. course meets all the criteria for licensure in the state. Harvard offers students a guaranteed income of $30,560 in the third and fourth years with additional travel and research grants also available. Harvard maintains a near-100% success rate with regard to placing students on internship programs.
     

    Program NameClinical Psychology, Ph.D
    AccreditationPsychological Clinical Science Accreditation System and by the APA
    State, CityMassachussets, Cambridge
    CostThe tuition cost is $47,600 per year. Tuition is waived for Ph.D. students who have teaching or research assistantships.
    Program FormatOn campus, full time
    Course Length5 years
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  • Yale University

    Yale University New Haven, Connecticut
    Yale University

    Yale prizes its faculty so much that a lists their names at the top of the clinical psychology course materials. With an acceptance rate of just 12%, these members of staff are considered leaders in their fields. Yale pairs students with faculty members to encourage collaboration, and its students have a particular familiarity with the pages of scientific journals, with many successfully publishing articles and securing research funding from external businesses. 
     

    Program NameClinical Psychology, Ph.D
    Accreditation APA
    State, CityNew Haven, Connecticut
    CostThe tuition cost is $44,500 per year. Tuition is waived for Ph.D. students who have teaching or research assistantships and receive a stipend of $32,700 per year. 
    Program FormatOn campus, full time
    Course Length5 years
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  • University of Massachusetts Amherst

    University of Massachusetts Amherst Amherst, Massachusetts
    University of Massachusetts Amherst

    While it might sound counterintuitive, the University of Massachusetts Amherst dissuades graduates who are not interested in a research-orientated career. Studies at this school focus on family and child psychology so other areas, such as criminal justice, don’t receive as much attention. The Rudd Adoption Research Program is based at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This college has an acceptance rate of 61%.

    Program NameClinical Psychology, Ph.D
    Accreditation APA
    State, CityAmherst, Massachussets
    CostThe tuition cost in-state is $2,081.50 per credit and out-of-state is $4,043.00. Tuition is waived for Ph.D. students who have teaching or research assistantships. 
    Program FormatOn campus, full time
    Course Length5 years
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  • University of Southern California

    University of Southern California Los Angeles, California
    University of Southern California

    USC Dornsife is notable for expanding its research programs into other countries, including Sweden and China. The school’s College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, from which the Ph.D. in clinical science is offered, provides opportunities to study abroad in 28 countries and publishes internationally relevant research on topics such as psychosis in Mexico and relationships among Chinese people. The school’s whole-life approach to psychology is rare in the U.S., however, it means that the doctorate in clinical science program is suitable for students of care for all ages from juveniles to the geriatric population. 

    Program NameClinical Science, Ph.D
    AccreditationAPA
    State, CityLos Angeles, California
    CostThe tuition cost is $59,260 for 15-18 units. Dissertation is charged at $7,980 per semester. Tuition is waived for Ph.D. students who have teaching or research assistantships.
    Program FormatOn campus, full time
    Course Length5 years
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  • Duke University

    Duke University Durham, North Carolina
    Duke University

    The exclusive and extremely small yearly intake of around 5 students at Duke University creates a personal research environment with students working closely with faculty. With coursework in cardiovascular disorders, this program provides an opportunity for biology-minded individuals to discover interests outside the traditional bounds of clinical psychology. Second-year students have the opportunity to work as teaching assistants on campus, as well.
     

    Program NameClinical Psychology, Ph.D
    Accreditation APA
    State, CityDurham, North Carolina
    CostThe tuition cost is $28,950 for years 1-3 and $4,000 for each extra year. Tuition is waived for Ph.D. students who have teaching or research assistantships.  
    Program FormatOn campus, full time
    Course Length5 years
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  • University of Pennsylvania

    University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    University of Pennsylvania

    This clinical training program aims to find solutions to mental health problems by delving into study areas like neuroendocrinology, psychopharmacology, and memory. It’s a strong choice for psychology students who enjoy scientific endeavors. The University of Pennsylvania supports candidates who wish to attend workshops or academic conferences with a grant scheme. However, due to its course structure, it’s unlikely to be the best choice for people with a limited interest in research.

    Program NameClinical Training Program, Ph.D
    Accreditation APA
    State, CityPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
    CostTuition is waived for Ph.D. students who have teaching or research assistantships, and a stipend of $32,000 is given to Penn doctoral students per year. 
    Program FormatOn campus, full time
    Course Length5-7 years
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  • University of California, Los Angeles

    University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles, California
    University of California, Los Angeles

    UCLA claims that its doctoral qualification is one of the most powerful with regard to creating future thought leaders. The college’s per-semester intake is low, with just 40 new students from 857 applicants in 2020. UCLA is reportedly in the top 5 psychology schools in the U.S. and number one in California. Applicants must match their research interests to UCLA’s faculty to improve their chances of admission.
     

    Program NameClinical Psychology, Ph.D
    Accreditation APA
    State, CityLos Angeles, California
    CostThe tuition cost is $17,486 per year in-state and $32,588 out-of-state. Tuition is waived for Ph.D. students who have teaching or research assistantships. 
    Program FormatOn campus, full time
    Course Length6 years
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  • University of Illinois, Chicago

    University of Illinois, Chicago Chicago, Illinois
    University of Illinois, Chicago

    The doctorate in clinical psychology program at the University of Illinois is offered by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The program is enhanced by the university outpatient clinic, the Office of Applied Psychological Services (OAPS), which is a treatment facility where students gain supervised experience in psychological assessments, and participate in research. In addition, the program encourages collaborative research with other faculties to broaden the knowledge and approach students can develop before graduating. The University of Illinois, Chicago ranks well for social mobility, meaning that it’s a popular choice for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
     

    Program NameClinical Psychology, Ph.D
    Accreditation APA
    State, CityChicago, Illinois
    CostThe tuition cost is $17,121 in-state and $27,036 out-of-state. Tuition is waived for Ph.D. students who have teaching or research assistantships, who receive an annual stipend of $14,000. 
    Program FormatOn campus, full time
    Course Length5 years
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  • University of Wisconsin

    University of Wisconsin Madison, Wisconsin
    University of Wisconsin

    This clinical psychology program leans on empirical science to detect and alleviate mental health concerns in the community. This doctorate program works on a mentor model, where students are accepted based on compatible research interests with faculty members. As a result the program admitted just 26 students between 2009 and 2017.  Students follow a generalist training model and from third year begin a clinical practicum that sees them gaining experience with children and adults presenting with various symptoms and from diverse backgrounds.
     

    Program NameClinical Psychology, Ph.D
    Accreditation APA
    State, CityMadison, Wisconsin
    CostThe tuition cost is $12,220 in Wisconsin, $19,052 in Minnesota, and $25,548 out-of-state. Tuition is waived for Ph.D. students who have teaching or research assistantships. 
    Program FormatOn campus, full time
    Course Length5-7 years
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Financial support

Begin your quest for financial aid at the finance office at your chosen school. Next, visit the Federal Student Aid website for general information on financial aid options and to complete the FAFSA form that assesses your eligibility for aid.  Finally the APA has a list of financial aid options open specifically to psychology students that is worth reading.