Fielding Graduate University


Degree Requirements

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Earning a doctorate in Clinical Psychology includes online and in-person seminars and residential sessions, as well as research and clinical training experiences. Find out more about the following aspects of the degree process:

  • New Student Orientation
  • Courses
  • Psychological Assessment
  • Clinical Practicum
  • Internship Qualification Evaluation
  • Clinical Internship
  • Research Practicum
  • Dissertation

New Student Orientation (NSO)

Your program begins with our orientation process, which is made up of a month-long online orientation followed by a face-to-face orientation, and ongoing mentoring throughout your first year.


You begin with a set of online activities giving you an overview of our program requirements, library resources, and online learning environment. The activities include an overview of the professional conduct expected of you, and how you will be assessed.

NSO-Santa Barbara (NSO-SB)

After successfully completing the NSO-Online, you are invited to a 5-day orientation in Santa Barbara, CA. Working with several faculty and advanced students in a small group format, you will become familiar with the academic, research, and clinical components of the program and explore how your academic background, previous training, and interests can be best used during your graduate studies.

NSO-First Year:

Both the NSO-Online and the NSO-SB must be successfully completed in order to become a fully matriculated student.  During your first year in the program your progress is routinely monitored to ensure that you meet standards and make sufficient progress. This final step gives you the needed structure and support to help you succeed in the program.


Program course work falls into three main categories: Academic, Research, and Clinical Training. The knowledge foundations of clinical psychology provide you with the broad foundations of behavioral science as well as clinical practice, including empirically supported assessment and treatment. The Research courses and related training components prepare you to be able to understand and critique research and create your own scholarship. Most academic and research coursework is completed through a combination of online and virtual or in-person activities. Clinical training courses always include an in person training component. There is usually some online work to introduce you to the knowledge base of the given area followed by face to face experience where you learning about and practice first hand assessment procedures and intervention strategies.

All core courses have syllabi that define the learning objectives and competencies that you are expected to master through the assigned readings, papers, and discussions. At the end of the course, the faculty member will provide a written evaluation of your learning along with a document indicating the objectives and competencies you have achieved.

Clinical Training

Psychological Assessment. Through a combination of course work and hands-on skills development, you will learn how to administer and interpret psychological assessment instruments:

  • Psychodiagnosis
  • Evaluation of clinical problems
  • Intelligence testing
  • Personality assessment
  • Projective assessment
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • Clinical interviewing
  • Report writing
Psychotherapy Training and Clinical Practicum. At the second year of the program, you will pick from one of three theoretical orientations (cognitive-behavioral, psychodynamic, humanistic-systems) which will serve as the focus of your clinical course sequence known as the Practicum Case Seminar. Here you will learn about your selected orientation and discuss your work from the clinical practicum. Your clinical practicum provides the place to apply what you are learning about assessment and psychotherapy. The clinical practicum usually occurs in your local community and involves intensive, formally-supervised training in the provision of psychological services. The practicum, which begins in your second year, is the means to, develop pre-internship level competencies to enable you to apply to a high-quality internship.

Your primary practicum supervisor is a licensed, doctoral level psychologist. Our Director of Practicum Training works with you to locate appropriate clinical practicum placements. Click for a listing of current clinical practicum placements.

Internship Qualification Evaluation

To demonstrate that your course work and practicum experiences have prepared you for internship, you must submit an integrative test report and complete an Internship Qualification Evaluation. This evaluation occurs in two parts at the end of your second and third years. The first part focuses on your theoretical orientation while the second part is more clinical in nature and involves a theoretically framed case conceptualization and annotated therapy session.

Clinical Internship

Application for internship cannot occur until successful completion of the Internship Qualifying Evaluation and dissertation proposal (see below). Students usually apply for internship in the Fall of their 4th or 5th year and begin internship the following summer. The clinical internship consists of a planned, integrated sequence of closely supervised clinical and educational experiences that prepare you to perform responsibly as a clinical psychologist after you have completed the program. The internship is a 1-year, full-time experience. There are a few internships that are half time that can be completed in 2 consecutive years.

All students apply for internships through APPIC Match which includes internship settings accredited by the American Psychological Association or by the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC). Students in California have the option of applying to internships accredited by CAPIC. Those who are not geographically mobile must apply to at least seven APA, APPIC or CAPIC sites that are within 100 (driving) miles of their place of residence and for which they are eligible.

Research Training

Research Practicum. To complement your courses in research methods and statistics and to better prepare you for the dissertation, you complete a 200-hour applied research practicum. You complete the hours through working with experienced researchers in qualitative and/or quantitative research projects. These researchers may be Fielding faculty members or researchers in your local community (e.g., hospital, university).When possible, we encourage students to present or publish the work they do on their practicum.

Dissertation. The doctoral dissertation is the culmination of the PhD program. Your dissertation topic is not limited in scope to a faculty members’ research area. Our program encourages and supports your pursuing your area of interest. We strongly encourage our students to explore topics that advance social and ecological justice. You write your dissertation with the support of a dissertation committee composed of a faculty chair, second reader, and External Examiner who is a content expert. Each committee is assigned a method expert who consults on the study’s design and statistics. When completed, you present your dissertation to Fielding’s psychology community.
Britteny Otruba

What are people saying?

"It was the proper choice to continue working full time while still pursuing my dream to become a psychologist. Eventually I want to go into private practice. "

-Britteny Otruba, Student

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