College of Arts & Sciences Disaster Mental Health Institute

Academic Programs

Undergraduate Components
Graduate Components

Minor in Disaster

Doctoral Specialty Track in
Clinical/Disaster Psychology

Specialization in Disaster Response
for Psychology Majors

Graduate Certificate in
Disaster Mental Health

Disaster Response Minor

The undergraduate minor in Disaster Response requires 18 hours (15 required, 3 elective) of courses in disaster response, including both theoretical and practical course work. It provides skills useful in any career and to any citizen, as well as skills that will be useful to students hoping to pursue a career in mental health. This minor is not available to psychology majors (see Specialization in Disaster Response for Psychology Majors below).

Performance Requirements
Required and Elective Courses

Eligible Courses for Psychology Major Electives
Three of these courses are also acceptable psychology electives for psychology majors (at USD):

  1. Psychological First Aid
  2. Children and Trauma
  3. Introduction to Disaster Mental Health

Psychology Majors: Specialization in Disaster Response

Since the undergraduate Minor in Disaster Response is a psychology minor, psychology majors may not use it as a minor. The USD Department of Psychology will allow undergraduate psychology majors to complete a Specialization in Disaster Response. (Psychology departments at other campuses are also welcome to offer this specialization if they choose.) This specialization requires six hours beyond the 31 hours, which is the minimum requirement for psychology majors at USD.

Required and Elective Courses 

Doctoral Specialty Track, Clinical/Disaster Psychology 

Within the USD American Psychological Association-accredited doctoral Clinical Psychology Program in psychology, a doctoral specialty track in Clinical/Disaster Psychology is offered. 

Required and Elective Courses

If a student chooses all their elective courses from this pool of disaster courses, they only need to take nine hours beyond the minimum courses required for the doctoral clinical degree. Students in the specialty track are required to complete all requirements for the clinical doctoral degree as well as the requirements for this track. Doctoral students pursuing this specialty track are required to complete their thesis and/or their dissertations in a trauma- or disaster-related field of psychology.

Performance Requirement
A grade of "C" or lower in any course required for the doctoral specialty track in Clinical/Disaster Psychology will be unacceptable and will necessitate the student repeating the course if they wish to complete the specialty track.

Capstone Exercise
Students in the doctoral specialty track in Clinical/Disaster Psychology are required to complete a tabletop disaster response scenario simulation for the DMHI faculty and national figures in the field. This will provide a capstone measure of the student's mastery of Clinical/Disaster Psychology. The goal for this assessment is that all students will be evaluated by the national team members as superior to entry level disaster mental health personnel.