Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology

APU’s Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology is a professional doctorate that identifies as a practitioner-scholar program. The curriculum provides the courses and training necessary to meet the educational requirements in the state of California for licensure as a psychologist.

Mission Statement

The Doctor of Psychology program educates, prepares, and trains students to become practitioner-scholars in psychology with professional competencies in relationship, research, assessment, intervention, diversity, integration of faith and practice, and family psychology.

Program Goal

The Psy.D. program at Azusa Pacific University has developed a unifying goal to guide the mission of the program: Cultivate culturally competent practitioner-scholars who are equipped to serve a wide range of clients with a special emphasis in systems thinking, diversity, and the integration of faith/spirituality and practice.

APU’s Psy.D. program utilizes a competency-based training model consistent with the 2009 revision of the APA Commission on Accreditation’s Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation of Programs in Professional Psychology. The National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology has identified seven core objectives/competencies:

  1. Relationship
  2. Assessment
  3. Intervention
  4. Research
  5. Diversity
  6. Consultation
  7. Supervision

The Seven Core Objectives/Competencies of the Psy.D. Program1

The curriculum for the Psy.D. program is competency based. Such a curriculum recognizes that it is essential to identify core competency areas in psychology as the primary organizing principle for a professional degree. Successful degree completion requires the achievement of the competencies necessary to function well in the field of psychology. The curriculum reflects concern for the development of seven core competencies in psychology: research and evaluation, relationship, assessment, intervention, diversity, consultation and education, and management and supervision. The seven professional competency areas are defined briefly:

Objective 1: Develop the capacity to maintain a constructive working alliance with clients. Relationship is informed by psychological knowledge of self and others. In the development of the relationship objective/competencies, special attention should be given to the diversity of persons encountered in clinical practice. Curriculum design includes education and training in attitudes essential for the development of the relationship competency, such as intellectual curiosity and flexibility, open-mindedness, belief in the capacity to change, appreciation of individual and cultural diversity, personal integrity and honesty, and a value of self-awareness. Experiential learning with self-reflection, direct observation, and feedback by peers and experts is essential in the development of the relationship objective/competencies.

  • Competency/student learning objective 1a: Ability to form therapeutic relationships with client
  • Competency/student learning objective 1b: Ability to demonstrate empathy, genuineness, and nonpossessive warmth
  • Competency/student learning objective 1c: Ability to maintain appropriate boundaries and awareness of countertransference

Objective 2: Acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to conduct effective psychological assessments. Assessment is an ongoing, interactive, and inclusive process that serves to describe, conceptualize, and predict relevant aspects of a client. Assessment is a fundamental process that is interwoven with all other aspects of professional practice. As currently defined, assessment involves a comprehensive approach addressing a wide range of client functions. Assessment takes into account sociocultural context and focuses not only on limitations and dysfunctions but also on competencies, strengths, and effectiveness. Assessment increasingly addresses the relationship between the individual and his or her systemic context. The assessment curriculum is not limited to courses but involves a pattern of experiences covering general principles as well as specific techniques. Supervised skill training is an essential component of the assessment curriculum.

  • Competency/student learning objective 2a: Knowledge of standardized psychological tests
  • Competency/student learning outcome 2b: Knowledge of legal and ethical principles and guidelines involved in assessment and knowledge of potential courses of action
  • Competency/student learning outcome 2c: Ability to write an integrated report and give feedback 

Objective 3: Acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to conduct effective psychotherapy. Intervention involves activities that promote, restore, sustain, or enhance positive functioning and a sense of well-being in clients through preventive, developmental, or remedial services. The intervention competency is based on the knowledge of theories of individual and systemic change, theories of intervention, methods of evaluation, quality assurance, professional ethical principles, and standards of practice. Effective training for intervention includes knowledge of a broad diversity of clients and teaching materials, practicum client populations, teachers, and supervisors. Service systems reflect diversity. The issues of power and authority are particularly relevant to this competency.

  • Competency/student learning outcome 3a: Knowledge of theory and its application in personality, psychopathology, change processes, and the interaction and influences of social, environmental, cultural, and physiological factors
  • Competency/student learning outcome 3b: Awareness of and compliance with legal requirements of practice (e.g., mandated reporting, confidentiality rules) and the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct
  • Competency/student learning outcome 3c: Ability to use diagnostic nomenclature in diagnosis and formulation of treatment plans
  • Competency/student learning outcome 3d: Ability to relate to clients of different ethnic, racial, cultural, religious, or sexual orientations from him/herself
  • Competency/student learning outcome 3e: Understanding of the therapeutic process within a given theoretical orientation
  • Competency/student learning outcome 3f: Flexibility in the use of intervention techniques appropriate to needs of client

Objective 4: Demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate research and conduct research in applied settings. Research and evaluation comprise a systematic mode of inquiry involving problem identification and the acquisition, organization, and interpretation of information pertaining to psychological phenomena. Psychologists have learned to think critically and engage in rigorous, careful, and disciplined scientific inquiry. Education and training in the epistemological foundations of research, the design and use of qualitative and quantitative methods, the analysis of data, the application of research conclusions, and sensitivity to philosophical and ethical concerns is needed for psychologists to develop in this area.

  • Competency/student learning objective 4a: Ability to critically evaluate clinical research
  • Competency/student learning objective 4b: Evaluate, conduct, and use clinical research in compliance with ethics guidelines 

Objective 5: Provide psychological services that integrate a deep understanding of individual and cultural differences and issues of power, privilege, and oppression. Diversity refers to an affirmation of the richness of human differences, ideas, and beliefs. An inclusive definition of diversity includes but is not limited to age, color, disability and health, ethnicity, gender, language, national origin, race, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status, as well as the intersection of these multiple identities and multiple statuses. Exploration of power differentials, power dynamics, and privilege is at the core of understanding diversity issues and their impact on social structures and institutionalized forms of discrimination. Training of psychologists includes opportunities to develop understanding, respect, and value for cultural and individual differences. A strong commitment to the development of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that support high regard for human diversity is integrated throughout the professional psychology training program and its organizational culture.

  • Competency/student learning outcome 5a: Knowledge of theory and its application of the following concepts: multiple identities; power, oppression and privilege; and individual and cultural differences
  • Competency/student learning outcome 5b: Provide culturally competent services, and understand and implement ethical issues pertinent to individual and cultural differences
  • Competency/student learning outcome 5c:  Knowledge and awareness of self with respect to personal cultural identity and impact of this on clinical practice 

Objective 6: Demonstrate the knowledge and abilities necessary to engage in consultation and education services. Consultation is a planned, collaborative interaction that is an explicit intervention process based on principles and procedures found within psychology and related disciplines in which the professional psychologist does not have direct control of the actual change process. Education is the directed facilitation by the professional psychologist for the growth of knowledge, skills, and attitudes in the learner. Students are required to complete experiential tasks in consultation and education as part of their coursework or internship.

  • Competency/student learning outcome 6a: Knowledge of evidence-based theories, models, and interventions related to consultation and education
  • Competency/student learning outcome 6b: Ability to develop consultative and educational relationships

Objective 7: Acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to engage in management and supervision. Management consists of those activities that direct, organize, or control the services of psychologists and others as offered or rendered to the public. Supervision is a form of management blended with teaching in the context of relationship directed toward the enhancement of competence in the supervisee. This competency is informed by the knowledge of professional ethics and standards, theories of individual and systemic functioning and change, dysfunctional behavior and psychopathology, cultural bases of behavior, theoretical models of supervision, and awareness of diversity. Self-management processes and structures are provided for students. Demonstrated competence in supervision includes the development of receptivity to supervision and the acquisition of skills in providing supervision.


Adapted from Bent, R. (1992). The professional core competency areas. In R.L. Peterson, et al. (Eds.) The Core Curriculum in Professional Psychology (pp. 77-81). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Psy.D. Program’s Special Emphases

In addition to the seven core objectives/competencies developed by NCSPP, the Psy.D. program at APU has identified three areas of special emphasis:

  1. Diversity
  2. Systems Thinking
  3. Integration of Faith/Spirituality and Practice


The Psy.D. program has a strong commitment to individual and cultural diversity and is committed to creating an inclusive and positive environment for diverse students and faculty, and the development of competency in serving diverse populations. Diversity competence is interwoven throughout every course; additionally, there are specific courses that focus on developing diversity competency. In addition to coursework, the Psy.D. program sponsors a student-run diversity committee that is focused on addressing diversity issues in the program through forums, guest speakers, and trainings.

Systems Thinking: The Discipline of Family Psychology

Based on systems theory, the discipline of family psychology recognizes the dynamic interaction between persons and environments without detracting from an awareness of individual, intrapsychic issues. The Psy.D. program’s emphasis in family psychology incorporates numerous elements from several disciplines within psychology (e.g., clinical psychology, developmental psychology, personality theory, environmental psychology, neuropsychology, psychobiology, and social psychology). All the disciplines are related by the theoretical understanding of the dynamic, reciprocal relationship between these factors as they impact human behavior. This theoretical foundation undergirds the program courses at APU. In courses that have traditionally had an individual focus, systemic aspects relevant to the content area are incorporated. The Psy.D. program strives to equip students to think systemically and apply systemic analysis to clinical situations.

Integration of Faith/Spirituality and Practice: Interdisciplinary Integration

Azusa Pacific University has a strong Christian heritage and commitment to integrating evangelical Christian thought into university programs. The Psy.D. expresses this heritage and commitment through an emphasis on the integration of psychology with ethics, theology, and spiritual formation. Students are encouraged to explore the role and importance of moral and spiritual identity formation in the process of psychotherapy. The Psy.D. program also has a strong commitment to open enrollment. As such, individuals from any religious or nonreligious tradition may be admitted to the Psy.D. program. However, it is important for prospective students to recognize that coursework and training are structured using Christian values and principles. Students are asked to learn and thoughtfully interact with the content of courses that house the emphasis, as well as to reflect on their own beliefs and values as they relate to preparation for professional practice. In addition to providing students with an interdisciplinary framework from which to understand psychological theory and practice, the emphasis also facilitates and enhances the development of competency with respect to addressing religious and spiritual diversity in clinical practice.


APU graduate admission and program acceptance requirements must be met before an application is complete (see the Graduate Admission to the University section of this catalog). Learn more about program-specific application requirements.

Application Deadline

The application deadline is January 15. Students who apply prior to this date will be given priority consideration for admission.

Interview Process, Acceptance, and Deposit

Upon invitation, Psy.D. applicants complete an interview with at least one member of the Psy.D. faculty. The purpose of the interview is to determine the applicant’s potential for success in the Psy.D. program. Applicants who are accepted into the Psy.D. program are notified after the interview process. Upon notification of admission, applicants must confirm intent to attend in writing to the department by April 15. A $500 deposit is also required by April 15. Please note that 100 percent of the deposit is applied toward tuition.

Psy.D. Doctoral Assistantships

Funds are allocated to provide four teaching-research assistantships (TRAs) for each academic cohort. Students may apply for the assistantship during the first year of their Psy.D. program. TRAs receive 25 percent tuition remission plus an annual stipend of $3,125. TRAs must provide 8 hours of service per week in the Department of Clinical Psychology during September through June of the academic year. The department chair (or designee) determines the roles and responsibilities of the TRAs. Preference is given to applicants who evidence strong academic credentials (high GPA and GRE scores, in particular) and financial need. Cultural knowledge and language skills that facilitate the provision of psychological services in an underserved community and commitment to provide psychological services in an underserved community following graduation are also taken into consideration. Applications for the assistantships and criteria for evaluation of applications are available in the department. 

TRAs will be reviewed annually and must meet minimum standards to continue the assistantship. This review is intended to guarantee that persons awarded an assistantship will continue to evidence the qualities that led to their original selection. Minimum standards for continuation include maintaining good standing throughout all aspects of the program, including maintenance of a 3.5 GPA, sufficient progress on dissertation, positive evaluations from clinical training sites, willingness to receive constructive criticism regarding performance of tasks, demonstrated remediation of performance deficits that have been formally identified to the student by the directors of the Psy.D. program and M.A. program, department chair, and/or the designated supervisor, and continued ability to be available on a schedule that meets the needs of the department.

Any student who has been awarded an assistantship and who has received tuition remission is responsible to repay the amount equal to the tuition remission if the student withdraws from the Psy.D. program prior to graduation. Such students may work with Student Financial Services to arrange a repayment plan for the loan balance. The annual stipend is exempt from this repayment requirement (it is considered remuneration for service).


The Psy.D. curriculum is designed to meet the requirements of the APA for professional education in psychology. Courses stress the importance of critical thinking in the discipline of psychology, and the curriculum provides a breadth of knowledge regarding scientific psychology. Since this is a professional degree, clinical education and application of scientific knowledge to clinical domains are stressed throughout the curriculum, as well as in the clinical practicum experience. Cultural and individual diversity perspectives are woven into courses across the curriculum. In addition, all of the courses incorporate a systemic perspective on psychology. The coursework also includes interdisciplinary courses that integrate ethics, theology, and psychology—issues relevant to Christian faith—where appropriate.

The Psy.D. curriculum is composed of 125 units of required courses plus 8 units of elective courses for a total of 133 units. Psy.D. students may apply for a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology en route to the Psy.D., after completing 57 units in the Psy.D. and attendance at a child abuse workshop. Note: The Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology is a nonlicensable degree. 

Certain courses or mandatory seminars may be scheduled for Saturdays. Attendance at these courses or seminars is required to fulfill degree requirements.

PPSY 700BMoral Identity Formation and Psychotherapy3
PPSY 700CPsychopathology3
PPSY 700DIntroduction to Clinical Practice: Basic Skills3
PPSY 700EAdvanced Developmental Psychology I2
PPSY 700FDiversity I: Multiculturally Responsive Attitudes and Knowledge3
PPSY 700GChristian Spiritual Formation and Psychotherapy3
PPSY 700HAssessment I3
PPSY 700ISystems II: Family Therapy3
PPSY 700JIntroduction to Clinical Skills: Advanced Skills3
PPSY 700KInterdisciplinary Integration and Psychotherapy3
PPSY 701Introduction to Clinical Practicum and Professional Practice2
PPSY 702Legal and Ethical Competence for Psychologists3
PPSY 703Psychological Theories: Psychoanalytic/Psychodynamic 2
PPSY 704Psychological Theories: Cognitive and Behavioral 2
PPSY 705Psychological Theories: Group2
PPSY 706Psychological Theories: Postmodern2
PPSY 711Psychology and Systems Theory3
PPSY 714Assessment III: Cognitive Assessment4
PPSY 716Family Psychology3
PPSY 718History and Systems of Psychology3
PPSY 719Social Psychology2
PPSY 720Clinical Consultation (One unit course taken seven times)1
PPSY 722Research Design I3
PPSY 723Research Design II3
PPSY 724Systems IV: Couples Theory and Therapy3
PPSY 730Cognition2
PPSY 731Dissertation Development1
PPSY 732Child and Adolescent Psychology3
PPSY 734Gerontology2
PPSY 736Social Ethics and Psychotherapy3
PPSY 739Psychobiology3
PPSY 740Consultation in Clinical Psychology2
PPSY 742Diversity II: Historical and Current Causes of Systemic Differences and Oppression3
PPSY 743Diversity IV: Global Psychology3
PPSY 744Supervision in Clinical Psychology2
PPSY 745Dissertation I1
PPSY 746Dissertation II1
PPSY 747Dissertation III1
PPSY 748Dissertation IV1
PPSY 749Health Psychology2
PPSY 750Predoctoral Internship (Full-time, Predoctoral Internship: 2 semesters/1 unit each)1
PPSY 752Predoctoral Internship (required to take 3 times)0
PPSY 753Moral and Spiritual Identity Formation in the Family3
PPSY 755Dissertation V1
PPSY 756Dissertation VI1
PPSY 757Psychopharmacology2
PPSY 774Assessment II: Personality3
PPSY 775Assessment IV: Integrated Report Writing3
PPSY 788Diversity III: Diversity Responsiveness in Clinical Practice3
Students must take two of the four Clinical Intervention courses4
Clinical Interventions: Psychodynamic
Clinical Interventions: CBT
Clinical Interventions: Group
Clinical Interventions: Postmodern
Take four two-unit elective courses8
Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy I
Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy II
Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy III
Consultation IV: Interventional Strategies
Introduction to Forensic Psychology
Forensic Assessment
Family Forensic Psychology I
Family Forensic Psychology II
Interpersonal Theory and Psychotherapy
Advanced Supervision
Global Psychology
Adolescent Psychology
Special Topics
Dissertation Courses 10
Dissertation Continuation
Dissertation Continuation
Dissertation Continuation
Total Units133

PPSY 787, 796, and 797 are required if a student has not successfully defended their dissertation by the beginning of the 4th year in the program.  Continuous enrollment is required from that point until the student has successfully defended their dissertation.

See below for more information regarding the five-year academic plan versus the six-year academic plan.

Academic Probation and Disqualification

Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 throughout the period of their enrollment. Students will be placed on academic probation if a cumulative 3.0 grade-point average is not maintained, or when they obtain a grade below a B- in their coursework. Students may be disqualified from further graduate work if a cumulative 3.0 GPA is not maintained or if they obtain a total of two grades below a B- in their coursework.


Students are required to take four elective courses in residency. Students may take miscellaneous electives in psychotherapy, integration, or assessment; other courses related to clinical psychology; or they may complete one of the elective concentrations described below.

Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy Concentration

The psychodynamic systems of psychotherapy elective concentration provides an opportunity for students to learn a comprehensive model of personality, psychopathology, and psychotherapy that reflects the systemic epistemology of the doctoral program. This course sequence provides a historical overview of major psychodynamic systems of theory and therapy (from origins to the present). Each course focuses on key theorists, theoretical constructs, conceptualization and treatment planning, supporting research, and clinical demonstration and application. Students seeking a Certificate of Proficiency in Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy must complete the three-course sequence of electives and a yearlong clinical practicum placement where students are permitted to provide psychodynamic psychotherapy to clients:

PPSY 763Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy I2
PPSY 764Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy II2
PPSY 765Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy III2

For more-detailed information, contact Theresa Clement Tisdale, Ph.D., at

Family Forensic Psychology Concentration

The family forensic psychology elective concentration provides an opportunity for students to pursue more-focused training in the specialty area of forensic psychology. This concentration strives to prepare graduate students for competitive forensic psychology internships and postdoctoral training experiences. While completion of the certificate program does not guarantee placement in supervised training sites, it enhances the student’s educational foundation in preparation for advanced training in forensic psychology. Students seeking the Certificate of Proficiency in Family Forensic Psychology must complete the four-course sequence of electives:

PPSY 770Introduction to Forensic Psychology2
PPSY 771Forensic Assessment2
PPSY 772Family Forensic Psychology I2
PPSY 773Family Forensic Psychology II2

For more-detailed information, contact Marjorie Graham-Howard, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Clinical Psychology, at

Students may focus their elective choices on other specialty areas such as Consulting Psychology. See an advisor for more information. 

Academic Advising

In addition to the advisement by the program director and the directors of clinical training, each student selects a dissertation committee chair during his or her first year in the program who also serves as the student’s academic advisor.

Progress Review and Annual Evaluation

An annual student progress evaluation is conducted in July, following the summer term. All aspects of student progress in the program are reviewed and a letter is sent to students informing them of the results of the review, noting strengths or completion of particular requirements and areas for improvement or remediation needed in order to remain current in the program.

The program evaluates multiple domains of student training beyond that of academic success. Other areas of evaluation that are expected competencies of professional psychologists include intrapersonal, interpersonal, and professional development and functioning as articulated in the Comprehensive Evaluation of Student-Trainee Competence in Professional Psychology Programs, produced by the Student Competence Task Force of the Council of Chairs of Training Councils (CCTC). In addition to policies outlined in the catalog, other sources of program policy include the clinical training manual, the program manual, and the dissertation manual.

Five- and Six-Year Academic Plans and Time to Degree Completion

Five-Year Program

Participation in the full-time plan requires attending classes during the day or evening at least two days per week, plus occasional Saturday courses (usually four Saturdays in a year). An additional 15-20 hours per week minimum for practicum is required throughout the program.

Six-Year Program

Participation in the reduced-load-per-semester, six-year plan requires attending classes during the day or evening at least two days per week plus occasional Saturday courses (usually four Saturdays in a year). An additional 15-20 hours per week minimum for practicum is required in the first three years of the program or more, depending upon student progress.

Time to Degree Completion

Psy.D. students are permitted 8 years from the date of initial enrollment to complete all requirements. Extensions beyond the 8-year limit may be granted for students experiencing unusual circumstances, at the discretion of the department with approval from the dean of the School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences. 

Other Degree Requirements for the Psy.D. program

Clinical Training

Clinical training is central to the practitioner-scholar (Psy.D.) model for educating clinical psychologists. Azusa Pacific’s program is committed to assisting students in developing the essential knowledge base, attitudes, and therapeutic skills necessary to function as a clinical psychologist. In their clinical placements, students gain experience in a variety of clinical settings including inpatient/residential, child, outpatient, brief/managed care, and settings utilizing psychological assessment. Supervision is provided by the field placement sites as well as psychologists on the APU faculty. 

Clinical training at the doctoral level involves three years of practicum and a full-time, yearlong internship (a limited number of two-year, half-time internships are available in some settings). Students entering the program with existing clinical training or licensure must still complete the program’s clinical training sequence. Concurrent with their supervised external practicum, students participate in a one-unit Clinical Consultation course that provides input from faculty on the students clinical and professional development. Students complete a minimum of 1,500 hours of clinical training, including supervision, direct client contact, and an assessment practicum. 

For those students who are licensed or registered in mental health professions other than psychology, the Department of Graduate Psychology requires that all practicum training in the Psy.D. program be entirely separate from any practice under such existing license or registration. For purposes of predoctoral training in psychology, all students are to be identified exclusively as psychology trainees, psychology students, or psychology interns. Practicum students are not allowed to make known in any manner any other status they may hold in other mental health professions. Practicum hours from training in psychology may not be “double counted” toward training required for other mental health professions. If a student conducts a clinical practice or performs mental health services under an existing nonpsychology mental health license while he or she is a student in the Psy.D. program, the Department of Graduate Psychology officially recommends that these students consider the impact of their education and training in psychology on such practice and that they seek supervision for any services that may be deemed to be part of the profession of psychology.

To facilitate the identification of students with the profession of psychology, all students are required to join the American Psychological Association as student members upon acceptance into the program. APA membership provides many benefits, including subscriptions to the Monitor on Psychology and American Psychologist.


The program requires a predoctoral internship in a one-year, full-time or two-year, half-time (1,800 hours minimum) setting. Students are encouraged to complete the clinical dissertation prior to the internship, which allows the student to focus on the internship as the capstone of the clinical training sequence. All students are strongly encouraged to apply for APA-accredited or APPIC-recognized internship sites. The department understands that some students may be unable to relocate due to family and occupational responsibilities and therefore may also choose to apply to CAPIC sites as well. All internship sites must meet APPIC standards.

Quality Assurance in Clinical Placements

The director of clinical training (DCT) and the Clinical Training Committee have an ongoing responsibility to ensure that the program’s clinical training standards meet all state licensing and APA requirements. All clinical training is intended to be consistent with the requirements stated in the California Board of Psychology Laws and Regulations. Modifications in state law shall be reflected in program changes to ensure training consistent with the current practice of psychology. Additionally, the clinical training required by the Psy.D. program is consistent with APA ethical and professional standards and training guidelines.

Evaluation of Clinical Training

The clinical training goals and objectives are integrated into the clinical practicum sequence and coordinated with the clinical courses in the program. Outcomes in the clinical sequence are measured throughout the program and include regular presentations of audio- or videotaped work of students, classroom demonstrations and role plays, assessment reports presented in class, minicompetency exams, supervisor evaluations, integration paper, Clinical Competency Exam, intern acceptance and level, and licensure acquisition.

Formative Evaluation

Formative evaluation consists of feedback given to students by their clinical supervisors, the directors of clinical training and program director, and the faculty. Although primarily verbal and situational, this kind of evaluation is of great importance due to its immediacy to clinical interventions and the issues arising during the students’ clinical placements.

Summative Evaluation

Summative evaluation occurs at the end of each semester of clinical placement. Students are evaluated by their field site supervisor as well as by all faculty members. The site supervisor evaluation is discussed with students prior to its being sent to the DCT and becoming part of the students’ clinical files. Students receiving inadequate evaluations are placed on probation, counseled by their faculty advisor, and, should their clinical performance fail to meet expected standards, dismissed from the program. The Clinical Training Committee (CTC) may require students to complete remediation assignments to meet competency standards. As noted above, students are evaluated at the end of each semester for the achievement of competency in key clinical areas. This helps prepare the student for the Clinical Competency Exam, a cumulative evaluation of readiness for the predoctoral internship.

Students also evaluate their site experience and site supervisor at the end of each semester. These evaluations are submitted to the DCT and are used to ensure the quality of placement sites and on-campus supervision groups.

Clinical Competency Examination

As a final evaluation measure, each student must pass a Clinical Competency Exam. To prepare for the exam, students must complete required coursework, seminars, and clinical training. Upon completion of the above, students may apply to take the Clinical Competency Exam.

A student submits an example of his or her clinical work (case presentation, assessment, treatment plan, and a videotape of a psychotherapy session including process comments), along with his or her clinical portfolio (including supervisor evaluation, verification of practicum hours, list of assessments performed, curriculum vita, and conference presentations or published works), to a two-member faculty committee. The student presents a client case in which he or she has performed the initial assessment and course of therapy; an analysis of the client’s psychological testing, if available; and a case summary, including theoretical orientation, legal and ethical issues in the case, treatment planning, empirically supported interventions, case management, and diversity issues. In addition, the student must respond to case vignettes illustrating various clinical issues. The purpose of this exam is to ensure that the student has developed the clinical competencies and requisite skills to begin an internship. Therefore, successful completion of the exam is required before applying to internship.


The Psy.D. program requires the successful proposing, conducting, and defending of a dissertation. Further details are provided in the Psy.D. Dissertation Handbook. Students are required to take the following courses as part of the dissertation process: PPSY 722 Research Design I; PPSY 723 Research Design II; PPSY 731 Dissertation Development, and six 1-unit dissertation courses (PPSY 745, 746, 747, 748, 755, 756). If, upon completion of these dissertation courses, a student has not yet defended their dissertation, they must enroll in a dissertation continuation course every semester until they successfully defend their dissertation and submit it to the APU Libraries for binding and publication.  

Students are required to consult the APU Doctoral Programs Handbook for Style and Format Requirements for the year of their dissertation defense to determine specific deadlines for May graduation.

Minimum Levels of Acceptable Achievement (MLAs)

In order to successfully complete the Psy.D. program, the following minimum levels of acceptable achievement are required:

  • Obtaining a grade of B- or better in all coursework (see academic probation policy for process if a grade below a B- is obtained in any class)
  • Completing a minimum of three years of clinical practicum (see clinical training manual for details) and obtaining an overall score of 3 or better on summative supervision evaluations (see clinical training manual for process if the overall score on summative evaluations is below a 3)
  • Successfully passing Parts I-IV of the Clinical Competency Exam (CCE)
  • Successfully proposing a dissertation (see dissertation manual for process if the dissertation is not successfully proposed)
  • Successfully defending a dissertation and submitting it for binding through APU Libraries (see dissertation manual for process if the dissertation is not successfully defended)
  • Completing a minimum of 1,800 hours of a predoctoral internship (see clinical training manual for further details)

Personal Psychotherapy Required

All Psy.D. students must complete 30 hours of psychotherapy with a licensed psychologist of their choice. Additional individual psychotherapy may be recommended or required by the program as part of the degree requirements if deemed necessary by department faculty.

Degree Posting

The doctoral degree is posted after the student has met all program requirements, including verification of the following:

  • Completion of all required coursework (prior to commencing internship)
  • Passing of Clinical Competency Exam
  • Successful dissertation defense
  • Submission of dissertation for binding
  • Verification of completion of personal psychotherapy hours (see above)
  • Verification of completion of the predoctoral internship

Note: Doctoral degree posting dates conform to those published in the Graduate and Professional Catalog.

Academic Psychology Licensure

The APU Psy.D. program fulfills the graduate education requirements in the state of California for licensure as a psychologist. Students seeking licensure in California may obtain information regarding requirements by contacting:

California Board of Psychology
1625 N. Market Blvd., Ste. N-215
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 574-7720

Students seeking licensure in another state should contact the appropriate examining board in that state.