Jul 06, 2022  
2021 - 2022 Adler Catalog 
2021 - 2022 Adler Catalog

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology, (Psy.D.)

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs of Study

Program Overview

The Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (PSYD) program prepares students for the general practice of professional clinical psychology with particular focus on socially responsible practice that includes education and training regarding the broader social and systemic factors that contribute to human dysfunction. Our PSYD program aligns with the core competencies outlined by the Mutual Recognition Agreement of the regulatory bodies for professional psychologists in Canada and the scholar-practitioner model of training and education developed by the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology to develop knowledge, skills, and values in seven core competency areas: relationship, assessment, intervention, research and evaluation, consultation and education, management and supervision, and individual and cultural diversity.

The Vancouver Campus program curriculum was initially designed to mirror the Chicago Campus PSYD curriculum, which has received accreditation from the American Psychological Association. The program curriculum has been specifically designed to meet the curricular requirements of most provincial and state licensing and registration bodies. Graduates of the parallel Chicago Campus PSYD program have been registered or licensed as psychologists in Canada and the United States. Applicants are encouraged to consult the registration/licensure requirements of the jurisdiction in which they hope to become registered/licensed to verify that the program meets their specific jurisdictions’ requirements. The program is structured for completion in five years of full-time study, which includes a full-year internship in the final year of the program.


The sequence of coursework is designed for full-time study over five years, including the full-year internship. Adherence to the recommended sequence assures that students are taking courses that are sequenced to be logical, cumulative, and graded in complexity.

In the first year, foundation courses help students develop knowledge and skills pertinent to relationship, diversity, and assessment competencies, as well as human development and health and dysfunction. Foundation courses also are taken in biological bases and cognitive/affective bases of behavior. In addition, students attend a professional development seminar to receive guidance on program requirements, an orientation to issues pertinent to professional psychology, and preparation for the Social Justice Practicum, the unique service-learning experience that reflects our doctoral program’s goal to educate socially responsible practitioners.

In years two and three of the curriculum, students build on foundational training to expand their knowledge and skills into additional areas of competency, including assessment, intervention, and research. A foundation course in socially responsible practice is devoted to reviewing theory and research on the roles of structural and systemic factors on human well-being. Students also complete two required clinical practica and begin their doctoral dissertation.

The fourth year of the curriculum is devoted to coursework on professional practice-oriented competencies such as supervision and consultation, as well as additional coursework in psychopharmacology and socially responsible practice. Students are encouraged to complete their doctoral dissertations prior to beginning their pre-doctoral internships.

To monitor and ensure achievement of course and program competencies, capstone tasks are sequenced such that students have appropriately timed opportunities to demonstrate acquisition of specific knowledge, skills, and attitudes. These consist of the Doctoral Clinical Qualifying Examinations to assess the assessment and intervention competencies at the completion of the assessment, and intervention practica and the doctoral dissertation. These capstone requirements enable faculty to establish that students have acquired the expected level of competency in targeted areas, as well as to assess the degree to which the curriculum is successfully preparing students for professional practice.

Clinical Training: Practica and Internship

The program requires a minimum of 600 hours of clinical practicum experience and a minimum of 300 hours of direct client contact. Students are to receive a minimum of one hour of supervision for every four hours of client contact by psychologists registered in the jurisdiction, as well as group consultation support from an appropriately credentialed University faculty member. In the fifth year of the program, students complete a minimum 1,600-hour internship at an approved site. In addition, the program requires a minimum 200-hour Social Justice Practicum that provides students with experiential learning on issues of diversity and social justice as they relate to individual and community mental health and well-being (this is a nonclinical practicum training).

Research Training and the Dissertation

The doctoral dissertation requires each student to design, prepare, and implement a research study examining an issue relevant to the practice of clinical psychology. It is designed to contribute to a student’s knowledge, skills, and expertise in scholarship and in the science and practice of professional psychology. The doctoral dissertation serves as an important capstone requirement for cumulative, sequential learning in research methodologies, and in evaluating the student’s ability to integrate research and practice.

Doctoral Clinical Qualifying Examinations

In addition to satisfying coursework, clinical and research training, and other program requirements, students must also pass the qualifying examination. Qualifying examinations are important tasks in the doctoral curriculum that provide students with the opportunity to integrate course material and practical training, reflect on the educational and training experiences, and apply their learning to clinical and social issues. The qualifying exams are milestone experiences allowing faculty to evaluate students’ readiness for internship and ability to proceed in the program. Receiving a failing grade on this exam indicates that students demonstrate significant problems in several areas measured by the exam. Students who fail the qualifying exam the first time will receive feedback about their exam performance and will, in most cases, have an opportunity to take the exam a second time. Students who fail a doctoral qualifying exam the second time will be referred to their Program Director, and a second failure may result in dismissal from the program.

Residency Requirement

Students are required to complete a minimum of three academic years of full-time, resident graduate study. Students should be able to complete their doctoral degree within seven years of first registration to the PSYD program; students are also expected to complete the program within two years of completing the internship (failure to do so may result in administrative withdrawal from the program).

Work Outside of Teaching or Research Assistantships

Students do not work more than an average of 20 hours per week in employment outside of the program.

Admission Criteria

Applicants to the program must have the following:

  • An honours baccalaureate degree in psychology or a substantial background in psychology (defined as 30 credits of coursework in psychology)

- Coursework must include the following prerequisites: abnormal psychology, research methods, statistics, and developmental psychology/life span development.

- Additional coursework (pending faculty approval) should include courses related to neuroscience, cognition, social psychology, developmental psychology, tests and measurement theory, personality, and learning.

  • A grade point average of 3.25 or higher on a 4.0 scale for all undergraduate or graduate coursework

- Exceptions may be made for applicants who demonstrate improved academic performance or academic ability in other ways (e.g., significant clinical or research experience, strong psychology grade point average, excellent GRE scores, or an improved grade point average over time). Applicant may be asked to provide additional supporting documentation for any extenuating circumstances.

  • Practicum or work experience in psychology or a related field is highly desirable and is considered in the evaluation of applicants.

Approved applicants will be evaluated through a writing sample and interview as the final step in the application process.

Students accepted for admission who have completed previous graduate-level coursework from Adler University or another graduate institution may apply to have their previous coursework considered for transfer credit. A maximum of 24 semester credits may be transferred into the PSYD program. It should be noted that in order to maintain the teaching and training standards required by regulatory bodies, requests for transfer credits are evaluated rigorously by a committee of subject matter experts. Transfer credits are only granted to courses that meet the content and instructional requirements of the PsyD program.

Adler does not grant credit for any curriculum requirements based on prior learning assessment.

Graduation Requirements

1. Satisfactory completion of all required credit hours, including all required courses as outlined in the curriculum

2. Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 600 hours of clinical practicum with a minimum of 300 hours of direct client contact

3. Satisfactory completion of the Social Justice Practicum

4. A cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher and meeting all school policy with regard to grades

5. Fulfillment of the residency requirement described above

6. Successful completion of all qualifying and comprehensive examinations

7. Successful completion of a doctoral dissertation

8. Satisfactory completion of an institution-approved pre-doctoral internship

9. Submission of completed Graduation Application and full payment of all outstanding tuition and fees

Degree Requirements

The following courses are required for this degree:

Total Credit Hours Required: 107

* Coursework from previous semesters must be completed prior to beginning practicum.

Note: Curriculum requirements may change in accordance with approval from the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education.

Curriculum Sequence

Students should take courses following the curriculum sequence described below in order to satisfy prerequisites for advanced courses, be approved to take qualifying examinations, and prepare for practicum placements. Not following the recommended course sequence may result in longer time to complete the degree.

Year One

Year Two

Year Three

Year Four

Term Credits = 3

Total Credit Hours = 107

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs of Study