College of Arts & Sciences Clinical Psychology

FAQs

Listed below are some of the most frequently asked questions about our program. (Also included at the bottom of this page are some of the frequently UN-asked questions that people often have.) 

  1. What is the application deadline and what information is required?
  2. How many students do you admit each year?
  3. Do you require face-to-face interviews?
  4. Do you offer a terminal master's degree?
  5. Does your program permit part-time students or must they attend full-time?
  6. What if I have taken graduate courses elsewhere or earned a master's degree in another program at another university? Will any of these graduate credits or this degree transfer to your program?
  7. How are major advisors selected or assigned?
  8. What kinds of financial support (assistantships, fellowships, tuition reductions) are available to incoming graduate students in your program?
  9. What about continued funding for students beyond their first year in the program?
  10. What about financial aid?
  11. What about part-time jobs to supplement assistantships?
  12. What about computer facilities accessible to students in your program?
  13. What about office space for students?
  14. What about housing?
  15. What about health insurance?
  16. What is the average length of time to degree completion?
  17. How successful have your students been with the internship match process?
  18. What can you tell me about the Vermillion community and surrounding area?
  19. What about cultural diversity-is there any?
  20. Can I survive a winter in South Dakota?
  21. What is there to do in or around Vermillion besides study?
What is the application deadline and what information is required?

All application materials need to be received by December 15. See our Admissions page for a list of application materials required. Please note that the clinical psychology program no longer requires the GRE Psychology Subject Test. We strongly recommend the Subject Test for applicants without an undergraduate or graduate degree in psychology. The General GRE is still required. For more information, please visit the official GRE Website.

How many students do you admit each year?

Six to seven students are admitted each year. For more information about numbers of applicants and characteristics of our incoming classes, go to our Student Admissions, Outcomes & Other Data page.

Do you require face-to-face interviews?

After the clinical program admissions committee has completed the first round of review of completed applications, approximately 25-30 applicants are invited to attend one of two program visit/interview days in late February. If an invited applicant is unable to attend one of these two sessions, a phone interview is required. Please note, however, any applicant interested in talking with a clinical faculty member or graduate student, or in visiting the campus, is welcome to do so prior to submitting their completed application.

Do you offer a terminal master's degree?

No. The USD clinical psychology program is a doctoral program in which students earn a master's degree en route to their doctoral degree. We do not admit students who only plan to complete a master's degree. Thus, we judge an applicant's credentials based on their interest, commitment, and ability to complete doctoral level training.

Does your program permit part-time students or must they attend full-time?

Ours is a full-time program, requiring a minimum of four years in residence and one year of a full time internship at an approved site.

What if I have taken graduate courses elsewhere or earned a master's degree in another program at another university? Will any of these graduate credits or this degree transfer to your program?

The USD Graduate School regulations permit a maximum of nine semester hours of graduate credit to be transferred towards the M.A. degree in our program. That is, if a student is required to complete a master's degree at USD, nine credits from the previous master's degree may be applied to the USD master's program of study. These credits must have been completed in a regionally accredited institution, must have grades of A or B, and must have been taken within seven years prior to the time you receive your USD master's degree. Exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis.

If a student enters the program with a master's degree in psychology or closely related field that included completion of an empirical (research) thesis, it is likely that this student will not have to repeat another master's degree in our program. If the master's degree and thesis are approved by the clinical faculty, then the master's degree credits are also accepted (in essence, all credits from the approved master's degree will transfer). If prior psychology graduate courses duplicate required courses in our program, student may petition the faculty to waive the USD course. (See the Clinical Program Graduate Handbook for details about these policies: see section on "Coursework" and "Time in Program".)

How are major advisors selected or assigned?

A major advisor is the faculty person who directs your thesis or dissertation research, is your primary mentor and advisor, and provides evaluation feedback to you each year. Under our mentor model of admissions, clinical faculty are actively involved in the selection of the incoming students who will become members of their research teams. Therefore, all new students begin the program with a designated research mentor and advisor.

What kinds of financial support (assistantships, fellowships, tuition reductions) are available to incoming graduate students in your program?

All incoming grad students are guaranteed graduate assistantships. In the past few years the assistantship stipend has averaged around $7,000 per academic year (August through May). All students on graduate assistantships also receive a 2/3 in-state tuition reduction. This means that rather than paying the full out-of-state or in-state credit hour cost, students only pay 1/3 of the in-state tuition costs. For more information on graduate school tuition and fees, refer the Tuition, Fees, and Other Expenses page or to the USD Business Office.

What about continued funding for students beyond their first year in the program?

While we cannot guarantee funding for the entire time they are in the program, our track record for over the past 30 years is that we have been able to fund students for at least the four years they are in residence. We have also been able to assist students who have chosen to extend their time in the program, though this is a lower priority. Students in their second year in the program are often funded as research assistants, assessment teaching assistants, or instructors of record for undergraduate psychology courses. Typical assistantship stipends in the second year average $7,500 for the academic year. In training years three and four, graduate students are placed at external clinical training sites for two days a week of on-site supervised clinical work. Typical assistantship stipends for these experiences range from $9,000 to $15,000 per year. All students on graduate assistantships, including approved, paid clinical placements, receive the 2/3 in-state tuition reduction.

What about financial aid?

The majority of our graduate students pay for the additional expenses in grad school through financial aid/loans. For more info on graduate student financial aid, contact our Financial Aid Office.

What about part-time jobs to supplement assistantships?

A few students do some part time work on weekends or evenings, though this is very difficult to do in the first year of the program. Students must continue as full-time students and any part time work outside of the program must first be approved by the major advisor and cannot interfere with a student's progress in the program.

What about computer facilities accessible to students in your program?

There are computer labs on campus that are readily accessible to students. There are computers and printers located in our training clinic (the Psychological Services Center) for students to use to complete clinical paperwork. We have a few computers accessible to all grad students that are linked to the Internet and contain stats packages and are linked to department printers. There is wireless access in the building. There is also a copy machine in the building that students may use at a cost of 10 cents per page copied.

What about office space for students?

All students have assigned office space. Office spaces are organized such that students with the same research mentor are office mates. All student offices have Internet access.

What about housing?

USD has on-campus student housing that is reasonably priced. There are plenty of apartments and houses in the area that are a reasonable distance from campus and that are reasonably priced.  Information about off campus housing is available at Vermillionapartments.com. You can also check with any of the several local realty offices for more information. Our current students are also good resources for housing recommendations.

What about health insurance?

Health insurance is available (recommended, but not required) for students and their families. For more information, please visit the Student Health Services website. All International Students must purchase the health insurance policy through USD. 

What is the average length of time to degree completion?

On the average, it takes between 5-6 years to complete a Ph.D. in our program. For more specific info, check out our admissions and graduation information described on our program's student Admissions, Outcome and Other Data information pages.

How successful have your students been with the internship match process?

Our students typically do very well in the internship match process. Over the past few years we have had students who didn't receive a match on the official "match day", but were successful being matched during the post-match processes (Clearinghouse, Match II).  The Admissions, Outcome and Other Data site provides specific information on internship match and internship sites our students have attended.

What can you tell me about the Vermillion community and surrounding area?

Vermillion is a rural university community with a population of around 10,000. We are about one hour south of South Dakota's largest city (Sioux Falls; around 160,000 people) and about 35 minutes north of Sioux City, Iowa (around 80,000 people). Both of these cities have shopping centers and cultural events and varied restaurants. We are about 20 minutes east of Yankton South Dakota (around 15,000 people) which has a beautiful lake/resort area for biking, fishing, swimming, hiking, and boating. Check out the City of Vermillion website for more information.

What about cultural diversity-is there any?

Though perhaps less diversity than might be represented in urban areas, there is indeed cultural diversity represented in our program, the USD campus, and the Vermillion community. Our program infuses diversity throughout our coursework, research, clinical, and service activities. The diversity represented among our program's students, faculty, and staff includes differences in ethnicity, gender, age, geographic origins (e.g., where you were born, lived, etc.), sexual orientation, disability and religious/spiritual practices. The program has been recognized regionally and nationally for our commitment to diversity.

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Frequently "Un-Asked" Questions 

(Questions people have, but often don't ask because they don't want to be impolite or seem uninformed.)

Can I survive a winter in South Dakota?

Yes, people can easily survive the winters in South Dakota. Vermillion is actually near the southernmost tip of our state, so we tend to have milder, less snow-filled winters than most of the other parts of the state. If you've lived any place more northern than Vermillion, our winters will seem mild.  If you have only lived in placed with mild winters, than our winters will seem cold and long. Realistically, it can snow as early as early October and as late as mid-May, but in between those extremes can be some pretty mild/warm weather. A rural saying that applies to our area is "If you don't like the weather today, it's likely to change tomorrow..." Mid-December through January is probably our coldest/snowiest time of the season, where temperatures can dip to the -20s or lower with the wind chill. South Dakotans either find indoors activities or dress appropriately to enjoy the winter weather. It usually only takes one or two winters before you find yourself saying in February or March, "Gee, it's above freezing, I think it's time to bring out my shorts!"

What is there to do in or around Vermillion besides study?

Depending on your interests, there are lots of options. We currently have the DakotaDome and a state of the art Wellness Center, which provides indoor athletic facilities for just about anything athletic you would want to do (swimming, running, weight training, volleyball, etc.) or want to watch (intercollegiate football, basketball, indoor track, swimming).  USD's College of Fine Arts has outstanding theatre and music productions, and art exhibits on a regular basis during the academic year. The National Music Museum is an internationally recognized museum that is located on the USD campus (and is next door to our building).  There are beautiful recreational areas along the Missouri River for swimming, boating, fishing, camping, bird watching - all within 5-35 minutes away. There are opportunities to attend/participate in various ethnic/cultural events in and around our community, especially those offered through our Native American communities. Then of course, there are the eateries and bars that come along with a university community. If you feel the need for some "city life," Sioux Falls is 45 minutes to the north and Sioux City, Iowa, is 35 minutes to the south of Vermillion. For an even bigger city experience, Omaha, Neb. is about two hours to the south and Minneapolis, Minn. is about five hours to the northeast of Vermillion.

 

ContactUs  If you have additional questions
Barb Yutrzenka, Director
(605) 677-5353
Barbara.Yutrzenka@usd.edu

Pam Jurgensen, Secretary
(605) 677-5353
Pam.Jurgensen@usd.edu