Master of Science (M.S.) Program in Clinical Psychology

Graduate study in the helping professions rooted in psychology and the Catholic tradition.

Academics

MS Clinical Program Requirements

Master of Science (M.S.) Program in Clinical Psychology

The following is an excerpt from the IPS Academic Catalog 2014-2015. Current students in the M.S. Clinical Program should direct any questions or concerns to the Director of the M.S. Clinical Program.

The Master of Science (M.S.) Program in Clinical Psychology is designed for students who wish to develop fundamental knowledge and skills in the field of clinical psychology, while recognizing the demand for practitioners who are informed and skilled in the integration of the Catholic faith and psychological science.

The Master of Science (M.S.) in Clinical Psychology is a rigorous 65-credit graduate program that is designed to be completed in two years and two summers of consecutive full-time study. The program provides a broad-based clinical experience for therapeutic work and emphasizes the academic, practical and personal knowledge that will enable each graduate to become competent in diagnosis, treatment planning, and psychological intervention with children, adults, couples, and families in ways that are consistent with the most prominent models of the psychological science and a Catholic understanding of the person, marriage, and family life.

Our faculty includes seasoned professionals, many of whom also engage in private practice. Thus, a balance between the academic and clinical components leads to a more practical training experience. A further strength of the program is that students progress through the course sequence in a cohort, encountering the same group of students in each class. This setting serves as both a resource and a support group for students, leading to a more robust learning experience.

In addition to their coursework, M.S. students are required to secure and complete a full-year externship during the second year of study. This experience provides opportunities for all M.S. students to apply and practice clinical skills under direct supervision of licensed professionals in a variety of mental health settings. This practicum experience enhances the professional opportunities for graduates at the master’s level and may provide some of the necessary qualifications for applying for licensure at the master’s level in some jurisdictions. However, no guarantee for licensing is implied, because licensing laws and requirements vary depending upon specialization and state. Students are directed to thoroughly research licensing requirements in the state of their choice.

Program Philosophy, Goals, and Objectives

The Institute adopts a modified version of the Practitioner-Scholar Model for the education and training of students that is based upon guidelines developed by the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology (NCSPP). The Department has identified six core goals embodying the competencies that are the foundation of the M.S. Program curriculum and that are further advanced for those who seek doctoral studies at IPS.

1) Foundations in Psychological Science and Research

Students will master the foundations of psychological science with respect to the knowledge of normal and abnormal behavior, personality and developmental aspects of the human person, as well as the history and systems of psychology and psychological measurement. Students will develop the basic skills necessary to become intelligent consumers of psychological research and to utilize their knowledge of psychological science and therapy-outcome research to plan treatment and select appropriate evidenced-based therapeutic interventions.

2) Integrity in Practice

Students will demonstrate knowledge and commitment to integrity in psychological practice, particularly as applied to the following areas: diversity, ethics, critical thinking, self-awareness and reflection, self-care, responsiveness to supervision, collegiality, and comportment in professional practice.

3) Assessment and Diagnosis

Students will demonstrate proficiency in the following areas of assessment and diagnosis: clinical interviewing, intake evaluation, the administration, scoring and interpretation of cognitive/behavioral tests, integrating multiple sources of test data and clinical interview information into a written report, diagnosing and developing a treatment plan.

4) Therapeutic Intervention

Students will demonstrate skills in therapeutic intervention by displaying competence in case conceptualization, treatment planning, building and maintaining the therapeutic relationship, psychotherapy skills, crisis management, and discharge planning.

5) Professional Roles

Students will demonstrate familiarity with the varied roles of the mental health professional, including the roles of the ethical psychotherapy practitioner, supervisor, and member of multidisciplinary treatment teams.

6) Clinical Practice from a Catholic Integrative Perspective

Students will master the foundations of a Catholic understanding of the human person, marriage, and family life. Students will be able to apply a Catholic integrative perspective to clinical practice.

Students seeking to enroll in this program should be aware that they will be expected to demonstrate an ability to understand and express complex theological, philosophical, and psychological ideas. In addition, students are expected to demonstrate the maturity, sensitivity, and professionalism necessary to function effectively in clinical settings.

Admission Requirements

Please refer to the Admission Section of the catalog for comprehensive information on the application process.

Admission to the Master of Science (M.S.) Program in Clinical Psychology requires that a student has completed a baccalaureate degree and graduated from a regionally-accredited academic institution with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.  In considering applications to the M.S. Program in Clinical Psychology, the faculty Admission Committee considers the following factors: cumulative undergraduate GPA and undergraduate record, (and graduate GPA if applicable), GRE scores, letters of recommendation, essay answers on the application, interview responses and presentation, clinical suitability, as well as TOEFL or IELTS scores (when applicable).

IPS recommends, but does not require, that applicants complete a minimum of 18 credit hours of coursework in basic psychology content areas (e.g. abnormal, developmental, experimental, physiological, and social psychology, statistics, tests and measures, learning and motivation, and/or personality theories) prior to entering the program. However, applicants with little or no previous coursework in psychology will be considered for admission. If admitted, such applicants will be required to take additional coursework offered by the Institute during the first year of their program to make up for these deficiencies.

For information on transferring credits to IPS, please refer to the Admission or Academic Policies section under “Criteria for Transfer of Credit.”

Degree Requirements

To earn the Master of Science (M.S.) in Clinical Psychology degree, students must complete 65 credit hours as outlined in the curriculum for the Master of Science (M.S.) Program in Clinical Psychology, with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, the satisfactory completion of the M.S. Clinical Practicum/Externship and the M.S. Comprehensive Examination, and demonstration of clinical skills as evidenced by successful Clinical Skill Probes.

Clinical Skill Probes: In courses that involve learning and demonstration of clinical skills, students will receive ratings on attainment of specific aspects of clinical practice and skills in addition to regular course grades. An example of the rating form is available in the M.S. Clinical Training Handbook.  The clinical courses at the master’s level include: PSY 516 Basic Interviewing; PSY 608 Cognitive / Behavioral Assessment; PSY 609 Adult Psychotherapy; PSY 610 Child Psychotherapy; and PSY 611 Marital Psychotherapy.

Full-time students can complete all required courses in two academic years and two summers.  Degree conferral is granted after the successful completion of all degree requirements.

M.S. Clinical students admitted to the Psy.D. Program are permitted to substitute up to12 hours of upper-level coursework in order to meet the degree requirements for the conferral of the M.S. Clinical Degree.

Clinical Externship

To ensure that students receive practical training in their clinical skills, all students are required to complete a full-year externship (practicum) at an IPS-approved mental health facility. During their externship, students must complete a minimum of 600 hours of supervised clinical practice, at least 25% of which must involve direct client contact. Students provide services under the supervision of on-site supervisors who must be licensed mental health professionals. Supervisors will provide regular feedback to the student and to the Director of the M.S. Program regarding the student’s progress.

At the end of their first semester of study, students request permission from the M.S. Program Director to apply for an externship. Their level of preparedness for an externship is evaluated on the basis of their grades and Clinical Skills Probes. Students who are approved to apply for an externship will receive guidance from the Director of the M.S. Program pertaining to the externship search and application processes. However, it is the sole responsibility of each student to secure an externship placement. Accordingly, if a student is unable to secure an externship for their second year, or if they are not permitted to apply for an externship at the end of the first semester of study, their program completion time will extend beyond the typical two-year sequence of full-time study.

M.S. Comprehensive Examination

The successful completion of the comprehensive examination process is required prior to graduation.

Written Comprehensive Exam: This examination is given once per year to students who have completed a minimum of 48 hours of coursework, and focuses on the ability to synthesize learning from across the curriculum. Questions are based on clinical cases presented to students and will require students to apply knowledge gained across the curriculum, focusing primarily on clinical issues with implications for integration with the Catholic view of the person.

The student’s responses are independently rated by two faculty members familiar with the content area of the question, and given marks of Pass with Distinction, Pass, or Fail in two areas (clinical psychology and integration) as appropriate to the question.  Should the two faculty-raters disagree, a third faculty member will independently score the question to determine the final rating.  Students are given feedback regarding whether they pass with distinction, pass, or fail, in each area. Failure of any part of the comprehensive examination necessitates retaking that part of the exam. The student must retake that part within the next year.

Curriculum

The M.S. Program in Clinical Psychology requires 65 credit hours and a non-credit course in library, information use, and research.  Students must also complete a Clinical Practicum/Externship and pass a comprehensive examination prior to graduation.  In addition to completing all coursework, clinical work, and M.S. comprehensive exam, students must also successfully complete any clinical skill remediation plans (see section Clinical “At-Risk”/ Termination/ Due Process Policy).There are no electives in the program. The typical course sequence for full-time students who plan to complete the program in two years and two summers would be as follows:

ACADEMIC YEAR 1

FALL

PSY 512  Law, Ethics, and Psychology

PSY 516  Basic Interviewing and Clinical Skills

PSY 597  Psychology Overview Seminar I (if required)

PSY 610  Child Psychotherapy

PHT 502  Philosophical and Theological Anthropology

LIB  500  Library, Information Use, and Research

SPRING

PSY 504  Psychological Measurement

PSY 507  Psychopathology

PSY 598  Psychology Overview Seminar II (if required)

PSY 609  Adult Psychotherapy

PSY 827  Cultural, Religious, and Individual Diversity in Clinical Practice

PHT 614  Practical Reasoning and Moral Character

SUMMER

PSY 611  Marital Psychotherapy

PSY 690  Professional Roles and Clinical Competencies in Counseling and Psychotherapy

PSY 820  Group Psychotherapy

 

ACADEMIC YEAR 2

FALL

PSY 500  History and Systems of Psychology

PSY 503  Personality Theories

PSY 608  Cognitive/Behavioral Assessment

PSY 691  M.S. Clinical Practicum/Externship I

SPRING

PSY 648  Diagnosis and Treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders

PSY 692  M.S. Clinical Practicum/Externship II

PHT 535  The Catholic Vision of Spiritual Maturity

PHT 635  Theology of Marriage and Family

WRITTEN COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION

SUMMER

PSY 605  Developmental Psychology

PSY 629  Career Counseling and Development: Theories and Techniques

 

Enrollment Status

Full-Time Status

Full-time students are students admitted to the M.S. Program in Clinical Psychology who are enrolled for a minimum of nine credit hours during the current semester.

Part-Time Status

The Institute encourages all students to maintain full-time status. Part-time students are defined as students admitted to the M.S. Program in Clinical Psychology who are enrolled for eight or fewer credit hours during the current semester. Approval for part-time studies is considered on a case-by-case basis only. Students should be aware that, because courses at IPS are offered once each academic year and often have pre-requisites, scheduling classes outside the established sequence could postpone eligibility for externship as well as graduation.  There is a five-year limit to complete the Master’s Program in Clinical Psychology.