Admission Requirements and Procedure
In evaluating students for admission to the program, we require both an academic background showing distinction in psychology and personal attributes indicative of a likelihood of success as a professional psychologist. Compassion, commitment, empathy and integrity, while difficult to measure and evaluate, are essential characteristics we look for in our students. Students from the social sciences and humanities who have the requisite course work in psychology are encouraged to apply.
The Clinical Psychology Program requires the following for admission:
- A completed application for Graduate Admission at http://www.smcvt.edu/graduate/admission.
- Official transcripts of all prior undergraduate and graduate work (have all transcripts sent to you in a sealed envelope to be included in your packet);
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited American college or university, or its foreign university equivalent, with a concentration in psychology or related discipline. (Please note that the program director may require that foreign academic credentials be evaluated by a third party.)
While a psychology concentration is preferred we strongly encourage applications from individuals with backgrounds in the humanities and social sciences. The following courses are prerequisites for all applicants.
○ General Psychology
○ Developmental Psychology (or Child Psychology)
○ Abnormal Psychology
○ Statistics and Research Methods (year-long, 6-credit course)
(Physiological Psychology and Social Psychology are not required but are highly recommended)
- A 3.0 GPA on undergraduate course work and a minimum of 3.25 GPA on any post-graduate courses taken (Please note that program directors may require that foreign academic credentials be evaluated by a third party.);
- A minimum of 250 hours of supervised work experience in mental health or a closely related human services position (paid or volunteer); The Master’s Program in Clinical Psychology is a clinical practice oriented program as opposed to a strictly research oriented program. We cannot waive the requirement for the 250 hours of internship or work experience in a clinical setting; however, if you have paid or volunteer work in human services of any kind that involved individuals who are struggling with social-emotional problems we may be able to count that work. For example, some people have used experience working at a summer camp program for disadvantaged children or youth. There are four critical features we look for in this internship/work experience:
- Did you do direct service work with the population in need of support?
- Were the individuals you work with evaluated in terms of specific social-emotional needs, and programs offered that addressed those needs?
- Were you directly or indirectly supervised by an individual with a master’s degree in a mental health discipline who can also serve as a reference?
- Were there regular team meetings where the progress of the program and its participants was discussed and the program fine-tuned to the individual’s needs?
- Two reference forms with accompanying letters that address your academic and professional potential.
- One letter of reference by a professor of your academic potential.
- And the other letter of reference resulting from work experiences in human services that demonstrates your effectiveness working with people in a helping capacity; preferably in a mental health/counseling setting, but if not, in a human services or educational setting. This letter must include verification of 250 hours of work supplied by a clinical supervisor with a master’s degree or higher.
- International applicants and applicants for whom English is not a native language should consult the International Applicants page and complete the international applicant section of the Graduate Admission Application.
- A 4-5 page (double-spaced) autobiographical essay describing how you became interested in a career in professional psychology, including those pivotal experiences as a student, intern, patient, or observer of the mental health system. This essay serves not only as a writing sample, but also to convey who you are as a person and how you see our program as compatible with your personal and professional goals.
- An interview with the Director of the program (all application materials must be submitted and the file complete).
- Application for admission to Saint Michael’s is not complete until all of the above information is received along with a non-refundable application fee.
You will be informed of the admission decision by letter. Admission decisions are made by the program director in consultation with faculty and staff in the program. Meeting minimum application requirements and following admission procedures does not guarantee acceptance into the program. In order to provide personalized and high quality graduate training in clinical psychology, it is necessary to limit the size of the program; therefore, the admission process is competitive. Applicants are notified of the admission decision after all requirements of the admission process have been satisfied, including the interview.
A letter of interest is needed with the application if a student wants to be considered for the graduate assistantship which is available to a first-year full-time graduate student. The letter is due by July 1st.
The Clinical Psychology Program offers one assistantship each year. Qualifications for the position are the following:
• Full-time admission into the Graduate Clinical Psychology Program for the fall semester
• Must be able to work independently
• Highly skilled computer use
• Must not be employed elsewhere
A student should apply for Candidacy after completing a minimum of twelve credit hours and a maximum of thirty credit hours in the GPS program, including at least one year-long clinical course sequence (such as: GPS 507-508, or GPS 515-516, or GPS 525-526) and six credits of general core courses (such as: GPS 505, 510-511, 513, or 520). Students submit a Candidacy form indicating the various courses or areas of study that will constitute their degree program. This evaluation will emphasize both the academic and personal characteristics consistent with the requirements of a professional psychologist. In the event that deficiencies are identified, students will be notified in writing, and a meeting will be scheduled with the Director to discuss the student’s performance. Whenever possible, a plan will be developed with the student to address the difficulties. However, in some cases students may be asked to leave the program at this juncture.
Clinical Psychology Courses
Other Course Requirements
Due to recent changes in the liability insurance industry, it is required that all students in the graduate Practicum and Internship courses in the Graduate Psychology Program obtain their own individual trainee malpractice insurance. This may be purchased, for a nominal fee, through a number of organizations including NAMP or the APA Insurance Trust.
Students are required to take nine credits of elective courses, which may be selected from the following:
This course provides supervision, clinical training and support for students in their first applied clinical psychology training experience. The course includes a minimum of 8 hours per week of clinical experience over the fall semester. In addition, there are 42.5 hours of in-class group supervision. The total applied clinical psychology training experience for the semester is 192.5 hours.
The course continues in the spring as GPS 609 (3cr.)
This course is a continuation of Practicum I. Practicum II provides supervision, clinical training and support for students in their continuing applied clinical psychology training experience. The course includes 10 hours per week of clinical experience over the spring semester. In addition, there are 42.5 hours of in-class group supervision. The total applied clinical psychology training experience for the semester is 192.5 hours.
Internship, Ethics and Professional Affairs I
The Internship is designed to give students a well-supervised, intensive, first-hand experience functioning as a professional psychologist. The course will be graded on a Pass-Fail basis and will be determined by the instructor in consultation with the clinical supervisor.
Its objective is twofold: 1) an in-depth review of the ethical principles of psychologists and of relevant legal and policy issues in the profession; and 2) a forum for the discussion of specific clinical issues arising from the varied internship settings. Internship class provides supervision from a professional psychologist on clinical and ethical practice decision making for students doing half-time internships (20 hours per week). Class time = 42.5 hours of group supervision for the semester and site internship hours are 300 hours of supervised practice for the semester. The total internship hours for the semester are 342.5 hours.
In the internship, the student will have the opportunity to gain experience in assessment and clinical intervention in a setting that brings him/her in contact with a wide variety of clients and other mental health professionals. Involvement in administration, mental health consultation, and applied research is encouraged but not required of interns.
The course continues in the spring as GPS 611.
Internship, Ethics and Professional Affairs II
This course is a continuation of GPS 610. This seminar is only for students completing their internship. Its objective is twofold: 1) an in-depth review of the ethical principles of psychologists and of relevant legal and policy issues in the profession; and 2) a forum for the discussion of specific clinical issues arising from the varied internship settings. Internship class provides group supervision on clinical and ethical practice decision making for students doing half-time internships (20 hours per week). Class time = 42.5 hours of group supervision per semester, and site internship hours are 300 hours of supervised practice; total internship hours for the semester are 342.5 hours.
Final Projects (three options)
Students enroll in GPS 689 Research Seminar in the Fall semester for all three options. This 3 credit course meets every other week for the fall semester and monthly from January through July in the second semester and summer. Students only register for the course in the fall, even though they attend through July.
Option 1: Traditional Literature Review (TLR)
The Traditional Literature Review is an in-depth critical review of the theoretical, empirical, and clinical literature relevant to an issue or question in the field of clinical psychology. Articles in Psychological Bulletin serve as a model for this type of paper. The TLR is to be carried out under the direction of the Research Seminar instructor. In addition to the instructor, two other members of the program faculty are selected to serve on the committee to review the paper and conduct an oral examination. Exceptions to this policy may be made with permission of the instructor. The length of the TLR varies but is generally thirty to forty-five pages, and written to conform to the format guidelines in the APA Publication Manual.
Through the Traditional Literature Review students demonstrate their command of the conceptual and methodological bases of clinical psychology and the ability to communicate the same at a professional level. Emphasis should be on the student’s own analysis, synthesis, integration, and reasoned evaluation of literature. One might expect to work six to eight months on this requirement. (The TLR was previously referred to as the Major Paper in prior publications.)
After the oral defense, the student is required to submit three copies of the TLR to be bound. Two copies will be placed in the Saint Michael’s College Library, one will be kept for the program, and the student may order personal copies, as desired.
Option 2: Case Study Literature Review
The Case Study Literature Review (CSLR) is an in-depth critical review of published case studies related to a specific clinical problem, population, or treatment setting. The CSLR is to be carried out under the direction of the Research Seminar instructor. In addition to the instructor, the committee will consist of one other faculty member from the Master’s Program and the clinical internship site supervisor who will review the paper and conduct the oral examination. The length of the CSLR varies, but is generally 30-45 pages in length and written to conform to format guidelines of the APA Publication Manual.
In the fall semester, students first write a critical literature review of case studies relevant to their internship/practice site setting, population, and clinical services in which they will be participating. The literature review summarizes the cases found, and compares, contrasts and evaluates the quality of the clinical accounts that have been identified.
As the year progresses, the student will then also report on at least three actual cases from their own clinical work in their internship, and the extent to which their work with these cases do or do not support the findings in the published cases studies. This critical analysis of one’s own work and how it relates to the literature is a central aspect of the case-study based major paper.
Each of these three case-reports should be a vignettes of 5-7 pages and must be based on at least one full session. Depending on circumstances they may have longer periods of contact. In such case reports, the identity of the clients must be thoroughly disguised, and their permission for inclusion in the paper received wherever possible. The case supervisor must sign-off on whether the identity and confidentiality of the clients have been sufficiently protected.
Through the Case Study Literature Review students demonstrate their command of the conceptual and methodological bases of the practice of clinical psychology in psychotherapeutic and mental health settings, and their ability to communicate the same at a professional level. Emphasis should be on the student’s own analysis, synthesis, integration and reasoned evaluation of the literature and their own case vignettes. One might expect to work six to eight months on this requirement.
Option 3: Thesis
The master’s thesis is an original effort that demonstrates the student’s ability to contribute to the empirical knowledge base of clinical psychology. Research may be experimental, qualitative, correlational, or an applied demonstration project with appropriate evaluation methods. The student is expected to produce a written work that is up to or exceeds the standard of research in the particular area in question. It is anticipated that work on the thesis will span a twelve to sixteen-month period. The length of the thesis varies, but generally is in the thirty to forty-five page ranges for quantitative studies. Qualitative studies range between forty to sixty pages and is written to conform to the format guidelines in the APA Publication Manual. Students must register for three credits (GPS 690 Thesis) in the Spring semester in addition to three credits (GPS 689 Research Seminar) in the previous Fall semester.
The thesis is to be carried out under the direction of an advisor in consultation with the Research Seminar instructor who will both be a part of the committee. The advisor should be a program faculty member who has an interest in the specific topic of the thesis. The advisor and student then recruits one additional member of the thesis committee from among the full-time or part-time faculty or a field supervisor.
The student will formulate a specific research hypothesis and methodology and present a written proposal for the thesis to the committee. The committee will meet at least once to approve the thesis proposal, which is required in order to proceed with the study.
Once the Chair has approved the completed thesis the committee will meet again to conduct the oral examination of the student’s thesis. After the oral defense the student is required to submit three copies of the thesis to be bound. Two copies will be placed in the Saint Michael’s College library’s collection, one will be kept for the program, and the student may order personal copies, as desired.
TIMELINE and XT (Extended Time) POLICY
GPS 689 Research Seminar
Students have 12 months (fall and spring semesters and the following summer) to complete the final project. Should the student not complete their project during this allotted time period, a continuation XT fee equivalent to a one-credit charge will be billed. The XT will be charged a maximum of four semesters after which the student will be requested to retake Research Seminar. The purpose of the fee is to cover the costs for supervision, use of the library, maintenance of school records, and to provide an incentive to complete the project in a timely manner. It is the student’s responsibility and the program’s expectation that the student will work steadily on the project until it is completed.
GPS 690 Thesis
Students have 16 months (fall and spring semesters, the following summer, and one additional semester) to complete the thesis. Although registration for this class is in the spring, the allotted 16 months begin in the previous fall with GPS 689 Research Seminar. Should the student not complete their project during this allotted time period, a continuation XT fee equivalent to a one-credit charge will be billed. Unless the student requests a leave of absence from the program, the XT will be charged a maximum of four semesters after which the student will be requested to retake Research Seminar. The purpose of the fee is to cover the costs for supervision, use of the library, maintenance of school records, and to provide an incentive to complete the project in a timely manner. It is the student’s responsibility and the program’s expectation that the student will work steadily on the project until it is completed.