Jun 10, 2023  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Psychology-Clinical Psychology Specialization (M.A., Ph.D.)

Program Overview

USD offers the state’s most comprehensive psychology program with graduate training leading to a Ph.D. degree with specializations in clinical psychology or human factors. Clinical psychologists who provide clinical or counseling services assess and treat mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. They use the science of psychology to treat complex human problems and promote change. They also promote resilience and help people discover their strengths. USD’s Clinical Psychology program focuses on rural communities, Native Americans mental health, disaster mental health, psychological first aid, trauma and substance abuse. The clinical psychology program has been fully accredited by APA since 1971. Learn more at usd.edu/psychology

DELIVERY: On campus

Master of Arts, Plan A only (thesis) *

M.A. Degree Requirements - 37 Credit Hours

 *Note: The M.A. in Psychology-specialization in Clinical Psychology is not offered as a terminal degree. It is earned in the process of completing the Ph.D. degree requirements in the two specialty areas.

  • Psychology core 12 credit hours
  • Thesis 6 credit hours
  • Clinical Psychology core 19 credit hours

Thesis: 6 credit hours minimum

Additional required courses for M.A. in Psychology with Specialization in Clinical Psychology: 19 credit hours

M.A. Oral Examination

The master’s thesis must be defended in a final oral examination administered by the student’s advisory committee.

Concurrent Master’s Program with Juris Doctor

Students who are already enrolled in the School of Law at the University of South Dakota and who have sufficient background in psychology may qualify for this Board of Regents authorized concurrent-degree program leading to the M.A. in Psychology.  Individuals with an interest in this program should consult with the department chairperson.

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Areas of Ph.D. Specialization:

Clinical Psychology
           Specialization within Clinical Psychology: Clinical/Disaster Psychology

Each student’s specific program of study will be determined in consultation with the academic advisory committee and the faculty of the respective graduate specialty program. Students in the Clinical Psychology program are required to complete one year pre-doctoral clinical psychology internship at an approved site.

Clinical students are required to complete an Oral Clinical Examination prior to internship and preliminary to admission to doctoral candidacy. This examination provides an opportunity for clinical students to demonstrate competencies in assessment and intervention, professional ethics, and the integration of science and practice.

Completion and oral defense of an original dissertation represent the capstone requirements for the degree. Successful completion of the final oral examination is required of all students recommended for the Ph.D. degree in Psychology.

For specific requirements regarding the doctoral programs’ oral exams, please contact the Psychology Department.

Ph.D. Requirements for Specialization in Clinical Psychology: 96 credit hours (111 credit hours if simultaneously completing the Specialization in Clinical/Disaster Psychology)

  • Master’s courses and thesis 37 credit hours
  • Clinical psychology core 44 credit hours minimum includes the following:
    • Additional stats/methods course 3 credit hours
    • Predoctoral Clinical Psychology Internship 3 credit hours
    • Electives 3 credit hours*
  • Dissertation 15 credit hours minimum

* must include PSYC 509 unless student has an approved undergraduate course in History and Systems of Psychology

Clinical Psychology core course work (Ph.D.): 44 credit hours

Dissertation 15 credit hours minimum

Specialization in Clinical/Disaster Psychology: 15 credit hours

The Doctoral Specialization in Clinical/Disaster Psychology requires completion of the above Clinical Psychology PhD coursework plus 15 credit hours of disaster psychology coursework as listed.

Clinical/Disaster Psychology elective course work: 3 credit hours from the following:

Note: could be taken as elective in Ph.D. requirements-double count


PSYC 780 – Rural Community Psychology is a required core course for the Specializations in Clinical Psychology and Clinical/Disaster Psychology. Therefore, if a clinical student pursuing the Clinical/Disaster Specialization chooses all six of his/her elective credits from the Disaster Psychology courses listed above, he/she only need to take 12 hours beyond the minimum credits required for completion of the Clinical Psychology doctoral degree.

Additional requirements for the Clinical/Disaster Specialization:

Doctoral students pursuing this specialty track are required to complete a thesis and/or a dissertation on a trauma or disaster-related field of psychology and must complete a disaster response simulation as a capstone measure.

General Application Requirements

  1. Completed application
  2. $35 application fee
  3. Official transcripts*
  4. Letters of recommendation*
  5. Statement of purpose
  6. Resume/CV*

*Requirements for admission vary by program and may require different documentation and have different deadlines. This list is not all-inclusive, to view specific program requirements and submission deadlines, visit the program page: link.usd.edu/grad-catalog

Courses or Programs Leading to Professional Licensure or Certification

The educational curriculum for your academic program may or may not meet educational prerequisites for professional licensure or certification in states other than South Dakota. If you are planning to apply for licensure/certification in a state other than South Dakota after completion of your program, please review that state and your program on USD’s Licensure-Track Programs webpage. Licensure-Track Programs

If your learning placement course (internship, externship, clinical, rotation, practicum, independent study, study away, etc.) or your online course will be taken outside South Dakota, please reference USD’s State Authorization webpage.

State Authorization


Department of Psychology
605-658-3700 | psychology@usd.eduusd.edu/psychology

Graduate Admissions
605-658-6140 | gradadmissions@usd.edu  | usd.edu/grad