Skip to main content

Combined Clinical/Counseling PhD Program

Program Model and Philosophy

The Combined Clinical/Counseling PhD Program at USU emphasizes integrating and blending the science and practice of psychology at the doctoral level. Based on this philosophy of training, professional psychologists are encouraged to:

  • conduct research on issues relevant to the field of psychology
  • ensure that professional practice is based on an evidence-based practice framework, considering the best research evidence, one's clinical expertise, and the client's characteristics, values, and context
  • be culturally competent and ethical in all professional activities
  • engage in self-reflection and critical thinking at all times, with awareness of issues related to power and privilege

During doctoral training, students are required to engage in both the science and practice of psychology. The blend of science and practice is an ever-present underlying theme that guides our program model and permeates our program planning. The program is organized to emphasize general preparation in:

  • the scientific bases of psychology
  • theory and methods of the professional practice of psychology
  • sensitivity to the unique needs of minority populations and individual differences (including, but not limited to those indigenous to the Rocky Mountain region i.e., American Indian, Latino).
  • and the internalization of professional ethics and the value of life-long learning.

Completion of the Combined Program qualifies graduates for a variety of health service psychology positions including (but not limited to): universities, medical centers, private clinics, mental health and community centers, VA/hospitals, research settings, and university counseling centers. Graduates of this PhD program meet requirements to be eligible for licensure as a psychologist in Utah and most other states.

Training and Exposure to Clinical and Counseling Philosophies, Traditions, and Practice

Throughout the program, students are expected to gain essential skills in each of the two areas of the Combined Program. All doctoral students are expected to take foundational courses that provide awareness, knowledge, and skills common to clinical and counseling psychology. Many students eventually identify as either a clinical or counseling psychologist (or other specialized areas of practice such as health psychology) but benefit from multiple perspectives.

Specialized Training Available

Beyond entry-level awareness, knowledge, and skill base taught in the foundational courses, students receive the opportunity for specialized training in the following areas:

  • adult psychology 
    • health psychology/neuropsychology
    • contextual behavioral science 
  • child and adolescent psychology
  • rural/multicultural psychology 

Training in these emphasis areas consists of elective courses in a given area (e.g. child clinical, health psychology, rural psychology), clinical work in settings related to these areas, and specialized research opportunities.

Program Values

The Combined Program maintains that graduate training is about more than gaining knowledge and discrete skills; we believe that training should include how to be a professional psychologist. As such, ethics and self-care are emphasized and modeled throughout training. Faculty encourage students to stay in touch with their values, their support systems, and get out in the great outdoors for which Utah is famous!

Furthermore, our program is collegial. Students are viewed as junior colleagues by faculty, and students are supportive of one another. Finally, students are encouraged to follow their own unique academic paths. The program trains clinical and counseling psychologists, academics, researchers, clinicians, teachers, and well-rounded humans.

Combined students at the USU Polynesian Student Union Luau

Combined students at the USU Polynesian Student Union Luau