College of Education and Allied Professions

Clinical Psychology Graduate Program

Graduate student working in the Psychology clinic

 

The two-year Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology adheres to a scientist-practitioner model and is designed to prepare students for doctoral level training in clinical psychology or other applied disciplines. Students who do not wish to pursue further studies may be eligible for licensure in North Carolina as a Licensed Psychological Associate (LPA). The clinical program emphasizes coursework in assessment, research methods, evidence-based psychotherapy, psychopathology, and neuropsychology. All students are actively involved in research and are required to complete an empirical master's thesis under the supportive mentorship of our faculty. Excellent practicum experiences are available in our public-facing Psychology Clinic (McKee Clinic) and in a variety of other clinical settings.

Curriculum - Clinical Psychology Program Track 

Overview

The program requires a total of 53 hours of graduate level course work, including 44 credit hours and nine hours of electives. The program is designed for full-time students to graduate in two calendar years (Fall admission). Part-time students are not admitted to the program.

Required courses: 44 credit hours

Psy548 – Human Neuropsychology (3hrs)

Psy650 – Advanced General Psychology (3hrs)

Psy651 – Advanced Research Methods: Statistics (4hrs)

Psy652 – Advanced Research Methods: Design and Communication (3hrs)

Psy661 – Assessment I (4hrs)

Psy662 – Personality Assessment (3hrs)

Psy671 – Advanced Psychopathology (3 hrs)

Psy672 – Evidence-based Psychotherapy I (3 hrs)

Psy675 – Cognitive and Behavioral Interventions (3 hrs)

Psy677 – Group Psychotherapy (3 hrs)

Psy680 – Directed Study (3hrs) (requires Instructor permission to register)

Psy599 – Pre-thesis (3hrs) (requires Instructor permission to register)

Psy699 – Thesis (6 hrs) (requires Instructor permission to register)

Tentative Schedule of Classes

Fall 1st Year

PSY 651: Adv. Research Methods (4)

PSY 661: Assessment I (4)

PSY 671: Adv. Psychopathology (3)

PSY 680: Directed Study (3)

Spring 1st Year

PSY 652: Adv. Research Methods (3)

PSY 662: Personality Assessment (3)

PSY 672: Evidenced-Based Psychotherapy (3)

PSY 677: Group Psychotherapy (3)

PSY 599: Pre-Thesis (3)*

Fall 2nd Year

PSY 548: Human Neuropsychology (3)

PSY 675: Cognitive & Behavioral Interventions (3)

PSY 686: Practicum (3)

PSY 699: Thesis (3)

Spring 2nd Year

PSY 650: Adv. General Psychology (3)

PSY 686: Practicum (3)

PSY 699: Thesis (3)

Graduate Level Elective** (3)

Important Information

For those who will seek licensure, 6 credit hours of Practicum (PSY 686) should be used as electives (for students to acquire 500 hours total of Practicum). Please see handbook for description of Practicum experiences and requirements.

*Propose thesis in the Spring of the 1st Year - a successful thesis prospectus defense is required prior to the Second Year of the program. Please see the handbook for more information. 
**Electives must be at the graduate level to count toward the 53 credits needed.

Research and Clinic Opportunities

The clinical program offers one-on-one mentoring in research, experience with conference submissions and presentations, journal manuscript writing, as well as other professional development opportunities. Our faculty members are excited to involve students in a variety of research opportunities. Some areas of expertise among our faculty include stress and trauma, neuropsychology, child maltreatment, substance use problems, depression, anxiety, personality, gender and sexuality issues, social and emotional development across the life span (children, adolescents, adults), body image and eating disorders, emotion regulation and coping, and forensic psychology. Our students and faculty also have access to state-of-the art eye-tracking and EEG equipment. Opportunities for collaboration with faculty from disciplines other than clinical psychology (e.g., social/personality psychology, experimental psychology, education, criminology and criminal justice, and school psychology) are also available. Please feel free to contact any of the faculty members to hear more about their current research and ways to get involved.

Students in the Clinical Psychology graduate program, have completed practicum requirements in a variety of settings including:

  • WCU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) specializes in psychotherapy and counseling, primarily with emerging adults.
  • Jackson County Psychological Services (JCPS) serves a variety of needs in children, adolescents, and families, including the provision of comprehensive psychological assessment.
  • Charles George VA Medical Center, Asheville, NC (VAMC) provides comprehensive services for veterans, including diagnostic assessment, group therapy, and brief consultation.
  • Center for Research, Assessment, and Treatment Efficacy, Asheville, NC (CReATE) specializes in data-driven evaluation, comprehensive psychological assessment, and empirically-supported treatment of mood and anxiety disorders, behavioral disorders, ADHD, learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, nonverbal learning disorders, traumatic event exposure and related conditions, substance abuse/addiction and dual diagnosis.
  • TEACCH Autism Program (TEACCH) provides clinical services to individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families, such as diagnostic evaluations, parent training and parent support  groups, social play and recreation groups, individual counseling for  higher-functioning clients, and supported employment
  • Department of Corrections (DOC) offers an opportunity to work with incarcerated populations who are dealing with a variety of psychosocial issues, including depression, substance use disorders, post-traumatic stress, personality disorders, and anxiety.
  • The McKee Assessment and Psychological Services Clinic is our department's clinic, which serves children, adolescents, and adults with a primary focus on comprehensive psychological assessment and diagnosis, personality assessment, and assessment of cognitive abilities and learning disabilities. Opportunities to provide brief psychotherapy may also be available.

Faculty

L. Alvin Malesky, Jr., Ph.D., Department Head - Psychology
Research: Forensic psychology;expert witness testimony; sex offenders and internet usage

Kia Asberg, Ph.D., Director – Clinical Psychology
Research:Traumatic stress, child maltreatment, interpersonal violence, substance use, incarcerated women

David McCord, Ph.D.
Research: Five factor model of personality, MMPI-2-RF, evolutionary psychology, RDoC lab
 
Erin Myers, Ph.D.
Research: Status-signaling properties of self-esteem, fragile self-esteem, gender, and narcissism
 
Tom Ford, Ph.D., Director – Experimental Psychology
Research: Prejudice, disparaging humor and discrimination, humor and coping with stress
 
Nathan Roth, Ph.D., Director – McKee Assessment and Psychological Services Clinic
Research: Child and adolescent psychopathology, trauma, and animal assisted therapy
 
Ethan Schilling, Ph.D.
Research: Pediatric school psychology, students with chronic health difficulties, TBI in children

Ellen Sigler, Ed.D.
Research: Help-seeking behavior in college students, educational psychology, learning, eye-tracker technology

Cathy Grist, Ph.D.
Research: Social-emotional interventions for pre-school children, emotion regulation in children
 
Jamie Vaske, Ph.D.
Research: Biosocial criminology, corrections, gender and crime, quantitative methods
 
Al Kopak, Ph.D.
Research: Substance use among juvenile and adult offenders, substance use treatment

Clinical Psychology Program FAQ

What is the mission of the Clinical Program?

Our mission is to train well-rounded, competent, and ethically minded graduates using the scholar-practitioner model. Our training model is geared to prepare students for doctoral level study, although graduates of our program are also eligible for licensure in NC as a psychological associate (LPA).

What is the structure of the program?

Graduate students complete 53 credits of coursework over two years. Students who wish to be eligible for licensure upon graduation must complete six credits (a total of 500 hours) of clinical practicum. All students complete a thesis under the close mentorship of our excellent faculty. Coursework is completed in face-to-face settings. You will complete some courses with graduate students from the Experimental and School Psychology programs. Class sizes are kept small to maximize the learning experience. Our program is known for its attention to students’ individual needs and career goals.

When is the deadline for applications?

The deadline for applications is March 1st, but we encourage students to submit their application early. Approximately two weeks after the deadline, you will hear from us about interview day date(s).

How many applicants do you get and how many get in?

Each year, the Clinical Concentration of the Psychology MA program at WCU receives approximately 50-75 applications. Approximately 20-25 students are invited for an on-campus interview day, typically held during the third or fourth week of March. A phone interview may also be possible if you are unable to travel to the on-campus interview. Of the applicants invited for an interview, we accept between 6 and 10 students (the top 10-15% of the applicant pool). The clinical track only admits students for the Fall semester. Although we do our best to let students know as soon as we can after the interviews have been completed, we adhere to the April 15th deadline (American Psychological Association) for decisions.

What does your typical incoming class look like?

A typical incoming class will have an average GPA of 3.5 or better. The GRE scores (V+Q) of our students are generally in the 305 to 315 range. A majority of incoming students have experience with independent research as an undergraduate. Please know that all components of the application are taken into consideration, including interpersonal skills and professionalism (interview), personal statement, letters of recommendation, ability to articulate your reasons for pursuing graduate study in clinical psychology, and other relevant educational or clinical experiences. We do not accept students solely based on any one component of the application. If you have questions about how to best prepare your application and what experiences to pursue, please contact the training director, Dr. Kia Asberg (kasberg@wcu.edu).

What training experiences will I get if I am admitted to WCU’s clinical program?

  • Courses in Evidence-based Assessment (child and adult) and Psychotherapy (individual and group therapy), Psychopathology (DSM-5), Human Neuropsychology, Advanced General Psychology, Research Methods, Statistics, etc.
  • One-on-one mentoring in research, experience with conference submissions and presentations, journal manuscript writing, as well as other professional development opportunities.
  • Practicum experiences and clinical supervision through our Psychology Department McKee Assessment and Psychological Services Clinic (serving children and families in the community), and opportunities for placement with WCU Counseling and Psychological Services, the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, Jackson County Psychological Services, the Institute for Applied Neuroscience, Center for Research, Assessment, and Treatment Efficacy (CReATE), TEACCH Autism Program, and the Department of Corrections, etc. Note that placements are determined based on agency availability, faculty recommendations, and student fit (i.e., an interview may be required). Student preference is also taken into consideration, but the program director will oversee the placement process.

What research opportunities can I get involved with?

Our faculty members are excited to involve students in a variety of research opportunities. Some areas of expertise among our faculty include stress and trauma, neuropsychology, child maltreatment, substance use problems, depression, anxiety, personality, gender and sexuality issues, social and emotional development across the life span (children, adolescents, adults), body image and eating disorders, emotion regulation and coping, and forensic psychology. Our students and faculty also have access to state-of-the art eye-tracking and EEG equipment. Opportunities for collaboration with faculty from disciplines other than clinical psychology (e.g., social/personality psychology, experimental psychology, education, criminology and criminal justice, and school psychology) are also available. Please feel free to contact any of the faculty members to hear more about their current research and ways to get involved.

What types of financial support is available?

A majority of our incoming graduate students are awarded some form of Graduate Assistantship or stipend in return for valuable educational experience as a teaching or research assistant. Other financial support, including tuition remissions, is available on a competitive basis. Students who are admitted may apply for a variety of scholarships and awards (see the Graduate School website for more information).

Where do your graduates go after the program?

Many of our students (50-75%) go on to doctoral programs in clinical psychology or related field, while others get licensed (in NC). In recent years, 100% of our graduates have either been admitted to PhD/PsyD programs or had a job offer upon completion of our program. Getting in to a PhD program in clinical psychology is tremendously competitive, but we believe our curriculum and focus on research experiences will prepare students for the next level of training. Licensure in NC (LPA) is also an option.

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