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Department of Psychology
University of Mississippi

Additional Information UM Clinical Psychology PhD Program

Students in the Ph.D. program earn the Master of Arts and complete a Master’s thesis as part of their degree requirements as they progress on completing the Ph.D. (We do not offer a terminal master’s degree.) Students entering with a Masters degree that required successful defense of a written data-based thesis are not typically required to complete another thesis. All students must take and pass comprehensive examinations before full admission to Ph.D. candidacy is granted and the dissertation can be started. The dissertation proposal must be approved before a student can apply to internship programs.


Clinical and Research Training

Clinical and research training begins in the first year. In addition to required topical courses, during the first semester, students attend weekly meetings during which faculty members discuss their research activities and interests. Thus, by the end of the first term, all students know what research is occurring in the department, and students are encouraged to attend meetings of any and all research teams that interest them. Many students sit on more than one research team and participate in research projects sponsored by more than one faculty member, as our faculty are a collaborative group.

Clinical work begins in the Psychological Services Center or PSC, which is the department’s in-house clinic. During the first year students merely sit it and observe supervision team meetings, but beginning the second year students begin seeing clients at the PSC and various clinical practicum placements. Supervision teams are led by members of the clinical faculty. Supervision teams are structured so that there is a mix of junior, intermediate, and more senior students in terms of their clinical experiences. This structure also provides opportunities for more experienced students to provide peer supervision for more junior clinicians. Students serve as direct providers of mental health services to clients, both assessment and therapy services. A specialty team staffs the Psychological Assessment Clinic, providing students with intensive supervised training in comprehensive psychological assessment and report-writing.

As students develop proficiency in their clinical work at the PSC, they are placed in practicum settings at increasing levels of independence under the supervision of agency professional staff members. We pride ourselves in offering students a large variety of real-world practicum opportunities with both child and adult populations. During the past two years, students have been placed at the world-famous St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis (research and pediatric clinical work), residential facilities for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities (Baddour Center; North Mississippi Regional Center), therapy intensive community mental health centers (Communicare), a residential drug and alcohol treatment center (Haven House), private practice settings focused on psychotherapy and assessment (Delta Autumn Consulting, Campbell Psychological Services), private practice settings focused on assessment and behavioral interventions for children (including those with autism spectrum disorder; Cardinal Consulting; Behavior, .Attention, and Developmental Disabilities Consultants), and outpatient settings within the university (University Counseling Center, UM Law School, UM Pharmacy School). More details about these sites can be found here. Additional practicum placements include administrative positions within the PSC and Psychological Assessment Clinic, as well as teaching positions (often as instructor of record for an undergraduate course) for those with academic career aspirations.

Clinical training culminates in completion of a year-long, full-time APA-accredited internship, which students apply for after they complete course work and master’s degree requirements, pass comprehensive examinations, and have their dissertation proposals accepted. Faculty assist students in selecting appropriate internship programs, and two of our faculty offer a weekly seminar focused solely on Internship Preparation. Our students have obtained internships at exceptional sites across the country, and we have an excellent record of placing students on internship. A list of recent internship placements can be found here.

The majority of our graduates over the last several years became post-doctoral fellows at university medical centers, VA medical centers, and counseling centers for their first position after graduation. From there, most stay on at those sites as full-time psychologists, are hired at other medical centers and other applied settings (eg, counseling centers, private practice), or obtain tenure-track faculty positions. Those seeking academic careers have obtained faculty jobs at institutions such as West Virginia University, Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Georgia, University of Nebraska, the University of Pittsburgh, Nova Southwestern University, Harvard School of Medicine, the University of Wyoming, Northern Iowa University, Eastern Washington University, Stephen F. Austin University, Brown University, University of Miami, North Texas State University, University of Mississippi Medical Center, University of Vermont, University of Louisiana-Lafayette, Duke University School of Medicine, Western Kentucky University, Metropolitan State University, Morehouse  School of Medicine, Southeast Missouri State, and Pittsburg State University.


Clinical Faculty and Their Research Interests (see faculty webpage for more information)

Kristin E. Austin, Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, 2016. Executive functioning, neurodevelopmental disorders (ADHD, ASD), comorbidity, differential diagnosis, and case conceptualization, clinical supervision and training
evidence-based assessment and treatment

Sarah A. Bilsky, Ph.D., University of Arkansas, 2019. Anxiety disorders, parent-child relationships, cigarette and alcohol use among parents and adolescents, health care utilization.

Lee M. Cohen, Ph.D., Oklahoma State University, 1999.  Health Psychology, Tobacco use disorders/smoking cessation. (Dean of the College of Liberal Arts)

Laura J. Dixon, Ph.D., University of Wyoming, 2014. Anxiety disorders, transdiagnostic vulnerability factors (e.g., anxiety sensitivity, distress tolerance) affecting anxiety and health-related conditions across the lifespan, exposure therapy.

Laura E. Drislane, Ph.D., Florida State University, 2017. Psychopathy, substance use disorders, and other externalizing problems, personality and personality pathology, dimensional models of psychopathology.

Laura R. Johnson, Ph.D., University of Louisville, 2003. Cross-cultural psychology and program evaluation (environmental education and service learning programs for youth).

Aaron Lee, Ph.D., University of Wyoming, 2016. Health psychology, behavioral factors and social support in chronic illness (diabetes, obesity, heart disease).

Stefan E. Schulenberg, Ph.D., University of South Dakota, 2001. Computer use in psychological assessment and psychotherapy, psychological test construction, adolescent psychopathology and assessment, empirical validation of meaning-related constructs, and clinical/disaster psychology. (Clinical)

Todd A. Smitherman, Ph.D., Auburn University, 2006. Behavioral medicine and health psychology, psychological factors and comorbidities in migraine and chronic pain, insomnia, and obesity. (Director of Clinical Training)

John Young, Ph.D., University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2008. Evidence-based services for children and adolescents, treatment dissemination, mental health care systems, clinical supervision.



The Department of Psychology is housed in the historic George Peabody Building. Classrooms, research laboratories, office space, and other facilities occupy 215,000 square feet of floor space. Graduate student desks and office space, a student-faculty lounge, faculty offices, and some research laboratories are located on the third floor. The departmental administrative offices and classrooms are located on the second floor. The ground floor contains most faculty research laboratories, a computer lab, and offices for teaching assistants and tutors.

The Psychological Services Center (PSC), located in Kinard Hall, is a 3,500 square foot independent community mental health facility operated by the Clinical Program. The purpose of the PSC is twofold: to provide psychological services to the community and the University, and to serve as a training facility for graduate students in the Clinical Program. The PSC houses a front office/waiting area, director’s office, file room, two graduate assistant offices, a large room suitable for conferences or for family or group therapy, and three therapy/assessment rooms. Therapy rooms are set up with state-of-the-art digital video and audio software that allows secure recording and direct observation. We were also one of the first university psychology clinics in the country to begin using electronic records systems for keeping client assessment and therapy notes, and we regularly use iPads to administer measures to clients.

In addition to the approximately 130 different tests and measurement instruments housed in our clinical test library, we maintain a large volume of evidence-based treatment manuals that graduate student clinicians can borrow to assist with treatment planning for their clients. In addition, the Psychological Assessment Laboratory within the PSC maintains computer equipment used to administer, score, and interpret a number of psychological tests for both clinical and research applications, including: the MMPI-2, MMPI-A, SCL-90, MCMI-III, MBMD, CBCL, CPT, WRAML and HRNTB. This facility also provides word processing and printing support for students who serve as examiners for the Psychological Assessment Clinic.

Other facilities both on and off campus are available for research support. The new physical education complex contains metabolic and exercise labs that are available for collaborative use. The physicians at the student health service and the pharmacology faculty have provided consultation for several Psychology Department projects. Staff at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi have supplied computerized pulmonary function testing, and several recent research projects have been conducted at or in conjunction with the following organizations: University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Oxford Neurology Clinic, Oxford Elementary School, North Mississippi Regional Center, Parkwood Hospital, Lafayette Elementary School, Lafayette High School, Bramlett Elementary School, and DeSoto County School System.


Financial Assistance

General tuition and fee information is available on the Graduate School website here. Historically we have been able to provide a full tuition scholarship (so that no tuition is owed), health insurance subsidy, and monetary stipend each year to every student while enrolled on campus and holding an assistantship, so long as they matriculate through the program in a timely manner. More specific information about costs associated with the clinical program can be found here. The amount of assistantship stipends vary depending upon the number of hours of work required, the funding agency, and whether it is a 9- or 12-month appointment. Most assistantships (clinical placements, research placements, teaching placements) require 10-20 hours of work per week and limit students to a course load of 12-13 hours per semester.

Financial aid is available from several sources. Each year 2-4 incoming students typically receive a Graduate School Recruiting Fellowship, which are selectively awarded.  These awards come with an additional $3,000 stipend each year for the first 4 years in the program.

Other forms of financial aid such as student loans and federal work-study are handled by the Office of Financial Aid. If you have questions about these other sources of funding, you are encouraged to contact that office for further information and the required application forms (


Program Manual

Policies and procedures of the clinical program can be found in the P&PManual 2023-2024


Consumer Information Disclosure document

The Consumer Information Disclosure (linked above) is a document describing our understanding of how well our doctoral program prepares you for licensure as a PhD psychologist across US states and territories. (The M.A earned en route to the PhD is not a terminal degree and is not designed to meet requirements for licensure for clinical practice at the masters level.)
Criminal Background Checks

Please note that the university will conduct a criminal background check before you begin seeing clients in our clinic, which may be repeated during a student’s time in the program. Some practicum sites, as well as many internship sites, will conduct background checks and drug screens. Criminal convictions may make you ineligible to participate in these experiences, impacting your ability to successfully complete course and program requirements. Criminal convictions may also prevent professional licensure.



The University transitioned to online courses in March 2020. As a supplement to their coursework, all clinical psychology graduate students were required to complete an intensive APA training in telehealth. At that time, our Psychological Services Center leadership team transitioned our clinic to be operational online, and all graduate students working in-person at external clinical placements began providing those services remotely. We are grateful that our community partners were able to ensure our students were still able to serve their agencies.

Our external clinical placements have resumed in-person services, and all courses for the academic year are in person.  Our Psychological Services Center provides in person assessment and therapy services with options for telehealth as well.

Please note that multiple external clinical practicum sites at which our graduate students accrue clinical hours, and many internship sites across the country, require the COVID-19 vaccine for students and trainees. Being unvaccinated may preclude participation in a practicum experience or internship due to the sites’ vaccination requirements, which may prevent or delay attainment of the PhD.


National Rankings of Doctoral Programs

Some applicants to doctoral programs may consider national rankings when deciding where to apply. Applicants are encouraged to carefully review the methodology used by any national ranking system. For instance, the approach used by the U.S. News and World Report relies simply on rankings of programs by administrators (click here for their methodology) and are thus purely subjective estimates of program reputation by those completing the survey; no specific metrics or objective data are used in the rankings (see additional critiques of these ranking systems by Malcolm Gladwell and John Byrne).

Less than 20% of psychology chairs and program directors completed the last iteration of the US News survey, the lowest of any health profession. As such, the rankings are not representative of the opinions of chairs and directors. The low response rate is due, in part, to the training council representing doctoral programs in clinical psychology, the Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology (CUDCP), passing a resolution in 1995 encouraging programs not to participate in the survey due to significant concerns about bias and subjectivity inherent in the ranking system.

Given these concerns, we strongly encourage applicants – and others – to ignore national rankings when considering the quality of a doctoral program in Clinical Psychology. We encourage applicants instead to consider if a program’s objectives and training opportunities align with their own goals and interests. A national ranking system will never be able to capture the individualized strengths and weakness of programs for individual applicants.


Questions related to the program’s accredited status should be directed to the Commission on Accreditation:
Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
American Psychological Association
750 1st Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 336-5979 / E-mail: