Graduate Program in Clinical Psychology


The doctoral program in clinical psychology at Northern Illinois University is based on the scientist-practitioner model of training. The faculty believes clinical psychologists trained in this model are uniquely able to bring a scientific approach to professional practice and a clinical perspective to research. We also believe the scientist-practitioner model prepares today’s students to guide the future course of the profession by providing them with a strong foundation in experimental and clinical psychology; research skills to conduct scientific studies and evaluate clinical practice; clinical skills for entry into the practice of clinical psychology; flexibility in attitude and approach; and a commitment to life-long learning.

In accordance with the scientist-practitioner model, students are continuously encouraged to integrate research and practice in their professional conduct.  Because our program attracts students with a variety of career aspirations in practice, teaching, and research, the scientist-practitioner model allows our students to obtain broad training while maintaining a high degree of individual focus consistent with their chosen roles in the profession. Moreover, the diversity of student career paths facilitates the integration of science and practice in the daily activities of the training program.

The clinical area’s dedication to a diverse multicultural environment is reflected at every level of the program including the recruitment and retention of students and faculty, coursework, research, mentoring, and clinical training. The faculty tries to meet, in a sensitive manner, the needs of all students, including those who bring diversity to our program through their ethnicity, language, or other characteristics.

While the doctoral program in psychology is structured with respect to course content and sequence, the specific courses and training experiences are shaped by on-going program evaluation. To promote student input in this process, students are actively involved in decision-making concerning the clinical area and have representation at clinical faculty meetings.  Students are involved in recruiting and orienting incoming clinical students, evaluating candidates for positions on the clinical faculty, and providing input to the clinical faculty regarding area revisions.

The clinical psychology program at NIU first received full APA accreditation in 1972. We completed our most recent accreditation cycle in 2011, receiving full accreditation, and our next accreditation site-visit will occur in 2018.  Any questions on the accreditation of the program should be addressed to the Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation of the American Psychological Association; Address: 750 First St. NE, Washington DC 20002-4242; Phone: 202-336-5979.

The goals and objectives of our training program are listed below.

Goal 1: To produce graduates who apply scientific knowledge and principles in academic, clinical, and research settings.

Objective 1: Graduates will have broad knowledge of psychological theory and research; and extensive knowledge of research methods, research ethics, and statistical techniques that can be applied across content areas.

Competency 1: Students will develop an understanding of the biological aspects of behavior, the cognitive and affective bases of behavior, the social aspects of behavior, and developmental factors that affect behavior.

Competency 2: Students will develop proficiency in applying principles of psychological measurement, research methodology, research ethics, and techniques of data analysis.

Competency 3: Students will develop the ability to place current developments in research and practice in a historical perspective.

Objective 2: Graduates will be able to apply scientific methods to answer theoretical and applied questions.

Competency 4: Students will learn to design, conduct, and evaluate research studies which appropriately test theoretically or clinically relevant hypotheses.

Competency 5: Students will become proficient in conducting original research studies which have the potential to make a substantial contribution to the field of psychology; this will enable them to use their research skills to conduct program evaluations and/or other research that leads to publications or presentations.

Goal 2: To produce graduates who are prepared for entry in the practice of clinical psychology.

Objective 3: Graduates will have the requisite knowledge of the science required for the practice of clinical psychology.

Competency 6: Students will acquire knowledge of the scientific and theoretical foundations of practice in the area of dysfunctional behavior by developing the ability to describe and evaluate the assumptions and content of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Students will also acquire knowledge of the biological and cognitive models of psychopathology, and the role of individual differences and diversity in each area.

Competency 7: Students will acquire knowledge in professional ethics by learning to be proficient in discussing the ethical principles of psychologists, legal issues in the practice of clinical psychology, and the process of ethical decision-making.

Competency 8: Students will acquire knowledge in psychological assessment and diagnosis and become proficient in describing and evaluating methods of assessment, including tests, observations, and interviews for a range of client problems in diverse populations.

Competency 9: Students will acquire knowledge of effective interventions by learning to describe and evaluate interventions, including those based on cognitive-behavioral, behavioral, and interpersonal perspectives, for a range of client problems in diverse populations.

Competency 10: Students will acquire knowledge of supervision and consultation models.

Objective 4: Graduates will have the requisite clinical skills for entrance into the practice of clinical psychology.

Competency 11: Students will be proficient in conceptualizing cases based on assessment information and communicating clinically useful information from the assessment on possible causal and maintaining factors and appropriate interventions for a range of problems in diverse populations..

Competency 12: Students will document and evaluate client progress as part of their clinical practice.

Competency 13: Students will apply ethical principles in everyday practice and recognize and take appropriate actions when potential legal and ethical problems occur.

Competency 14: Students will conduct clinical assessments in which they conduct interviews and select, administer, and score appropriate assessment measures to identify problem behaviors and symptoms and derive DSM diagnoses for a range of problems in diverse populations.

Competency 15: Students will be proficient in selecting appropriate interventions, formulating treatment plans and goals, and implementing interventions based on cognitive-behavioral, behavioral, and/or interpersonal models of treatment for a range of problems in diverse populations.

Competency 16: Students will appreciate the value of science in the practice of psychology and consult the theoretical and empirical literature as part of their practice.

Goal 3: To prepare graduates to contribute to the field of psychology in the scientist-practitioner tradition.

Objective 5: To produce graduates who identify with the community of psychologists and contribute to the profession of psychology.

Competency 17: Graduates will be proficient in the skills required for obtaining and retaining professional positions.

Competency 18: Graduates will appropriately contribute to the development of the field of psychology beyond entry level activities.

Competency 19: Graduates will recognize the value of membership in professional organizations for the development of their roles as practitioners, scientists, and teachers.

Objective 6: To produce graduates who retain their curiosity and interest in the field of psychology and value life-long learning.

Competency 20: Graduates will appreciate the value of continued professional development and will be motivated to remain current in their selected areas of expertise in order to meet professional standards in practice, research, and teaching.