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Clinical Psychology
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Clinical Psychology
In the Counseling and Clinical Psychology Department

Program Information > FAQ


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Current & Prospective Students

Q: What is the application deadline?

A: The early deadline is January 15. The final deadline is April 15. Students are encouraged to apply prior to the early deadline. However, students are not penalized should they apply closer to the final deadline.

Q: Do you require GRE scores?

A: No. You are welcome to submit them, but they are not required.

Q: What do I need to apply?

A: Application Form and Fee; Personal Statement (No more than 3 pages); Résumé; Official Transcript(s); 2 Letters of Recommendation (at least one must be academic).

Q: What kind of research and/or clinical experience do I need to apply?

A: Previous research and clinical experience is not required to apply.

Q: Do I need a degree in psychology to be considered for this program?

A: No.

Q: Do I have to specify a professor with whom I would like to work?

A: No.

Q: Can I apply for spring or summer admission?

A: The program only admits new students in the Fall semester. If accepted, students with special permission from the Admissions office can begin their course of study the Summer before the Fall term of the year of their admittance.

Q: How many applicants are admitted?

A: This varies each year and is based on how many applications we receive.

Q: What is your cutoff score for the TOEFL?

A: Your score must be at least 100 on the computer test and 600 on the paper test.

Q: International students make up what percentage of the class?

A: This varies each year and is based on how many applications we receive.

Q: What are the requirements to complete the degree?

A: Each student is required to complete 36 credits worth of coursework. Additionally, students must submit a special project, which can consist of an extensive literature review of a particular area of interest or an empirical study.

Q: Can I transfer credits from a previous graduate level degree?

A: All transfer requests for credit must be submitted to the Office of Admissions.

Q: How much time does it take to complete the degree?

A: The shortest amount of time possible to finish the M.A. is three semesters (fall, spring, and summer) while the longest is five years. Most students complete the degree within two years.

Q: Is fieldwork a requirement for completion of the degree?

A: No. However, students are encouraged to seek out fieldwork while in the program. You can meet with the fieldwork coordinator to explore possibilities.

Q: Can this program be completed online?

A: No because most of the classes are not offered online.

Q: What is the difference between the General and Applied Tracks?

A: The Applied Track is more structured than the General Track with a core set of course requirements, though there is considerable room for choices/electives within the Applied track. The General Track is unstructured and requires only 18 credits to be taken within the clinical psychology department in contrast to 24 credits in the Applied Track. There is no difference in regard to the degree to be received upon graduation.

Q: I want to go to a Ph.D. program. Which track is best for me?

A: Either track would be acceptable. Your choice of track depends on how structured you want your academic experience here to be. The applied track, however, is specifically designed to reflect a curriculum of study in line with an advanced and focused study of Clinical Psychology.

Q: How do I get an advisor?

A: The program will assign an advisor for you when you enroll in the program.

Q: Where can I find a list of classes?

A: You can find one on the TC main website by clicking on our Department.

Q: What is the average class size?

A: The class size changes depending on whether it is an intimate seminar course or a large survey course. It can range from 8 to 50 people, but the average is between 20 and 30.

Q: Will I have the opportunity to work with faculty?

A: Yes. You will have the opportunity to apply to work in a faculty member’s lab. However, each faculty member is unique with regard to their availability to speak with individually or work in their laboratories.

Q: What is the difference between the clinical and counseling programs?

A: Please see the counseling program’s website for a description of their program. For specific questions about the clinical program, please schedule a time to meet with the program coordinators in both programs.

Q: Do you offer financial aid and/or grants?

A: Students can receive loans, but there are no scholarships or grants offered within our department for the MA degree. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid if you have any further questions.

Q: Will having an M.A. degree from TC facilitate my entry into the Ph.D. program?

A: The doctoral admissions process is the same for all applicants, whether a student applies directly from an undergraduate school, or brings a Masters degree from TC or elsewhere.

Q: Can I acquire a license to practice therapy with this degree?

A: No. This brief (36 credit) MA Program is not designed to prepare students for MA-level licensure in New York State. Most graduates are interested in ultimately studying for more advanced degrees.

Q: What can students do with this degree after graduation?

A: This program best serves students making career changes into the field of psychology, those who wish to integrate psychological principals into their current expertise, and especially for those who are pursuing advanced degrees such as a Ph.D. Graduated students have been known to work in research institutions and to strengthen their doctoral applications by clarifying their long-term goals.

Q: I was placed in the Masters Program after having been rejected from the Ph.D. Program. Is this common? Are all students not accepted to the Ph.D. program automatically placed in the Masters Program?

A: Only students whose credentials qualify them for admission into the MA program (but not the Ph.D. program) are invited into the MA program. Successful MA applicants meet standards regarding undergraduate grade point average, English proficiency (where relevant), have good personal statements and letters of recommendation.

Q: How many students are placed in the MA Program annually after having been denied admission to the Ph.D. program? How many apply annually? What is the proportion of accepted students to applicants?

A: The Admissions Office is the most reliable source regarding "numbers".

Q: How large is the entering class in the Masters Program approximately each year?

A: Approximately 80 students enter the MA program each fall.

Q: What types of positions can graduates find?

A: Graduates typically find employment in research centers, clinics, hospitals, social service agencies, and community colleges.

Q: Why is the program titled Masters in Psychology in Education?

A: The program called "Psychology and Education" has existed at Teachers College for many, many years. It was a program with almost unlimited choice of courses, but graduates reported that it was unstructured and that its usefulness was very limited. The program in Clinical Psychology recognized the need for an MA focused on academic clinical psychology. We took this risky title, and certain basic requirements (total number of credits, the "breadth requirement" and the Special Project) and used it to house the MA program in Clinical Psychology. The Personality and Psychopathology Track is actually the clinical track, and the General Track is close to the original "Psychology in Education Program".

Q: Is there a Masters Thesis to be completed?

A: There is a "Special Project" for which the MA Handbook outlines guidelines. The term "Masters Thesis" is not used, and college guidelines for the Masters Thesis are not applicable.

Q: In past years how many graduates from the MA Program have been accepted in to the Ph.D. Program annually?

A: Our own Ph.D. program is small. Nevertheless, as many as four MA students are successful applicants to our program in a single year. Most students apply to several programs for more advanced degrees, and many are successful in gaining admission.

Q: How many credits can be transferred from the MA Program to the Ph.D. Program?

A: Eighteen (18) credits from a Masters program can be transferred into the Ph.D. program.

Q: If I already have a Masters degree, either from TC or from another institution, must I still complete the Masters work and earn the Masters en passant while attending the Ph.D. program?

A: At Teachers College, the answer is "Yes". Other programs have widely different positions regarding this question.

Q: Where are the fieldwork and the research done in the Masters Program?

A: There is a very wide variety of placements in which our students are involved (see the Fieldwork section of this Handbook (pg.15) for their applied work. Students often become involved in research projects with faculty in our program.

Q: How do I go about finding a fieldwork placement?

A: You should work closely with the department’s Fieldwork Coordinator, Ms. Ayanna Ferguson (212-678-3320;, Box 102, Room 422E Thompson). The Program Assistants are also available to provide guidance.

Q: What types of research opportunities are available to students? How does a student find a research placement?

A: Every faculty member in the MA program is actively involved in research and has a research lab. More information on individual faculty research interests and uptown research opportunities are available in this Handbook.

Q: How do I find a supervisor for my special project? Must the supervisor be a full-time faculty member from the department or can the sponsor be a full-time faculty member in any department in the College?

A: The supervisor must be a full-time faculty member in the college; but not necessarily in the clinical program. You may also wish to discuss your decision with the Program Coordinator, Dr. Athan, or your assigned Program Assistant.

Q: What is the difference between the Applied Track and the General Track?

A: Both tracks lead to the ultimate obtainment of the MA degree. Students from either the track have historically gone on to pursue a doctoral degree in Psychology. However, each track provides unique opportunities depending on a student’s background and future goals. The Applied Track is structured and requires greater number of credits within the CCPX department to ensure a thorough education in applied psychology. The General Track is for students who wish greater flexibility in course selection, to integrate other disciplines, or to concentrate their training in a sub-speciality. Each track has its costs and benefits. It is up to you along with your advisor to select the appropriate avenue to match your goals. Once in the program if a student elects to switch tracks this may be readily done after a discussion with the Program Coordinator, by appointment. A Program Change form should be obtained from the Registrar’s office and brought to the appointment.

Q: How long does it take to complete the program?

A: It is a 36 credit program. If you are a full-time student you may be able to complete it in three semesters (including summer). If you are part-time it is very likely to take longer. Many students find that spending more than one year is highly useful. It may permit them to become closer with faculty members, become more deeply involved in clinical and research activities, and generally prepare to become stronger applicants for doctoral admission or employment. Up to five years are allowed for degree completion.

Q: Can I enter in the Spring?

A: No, new admitted students must begin their degree during the Fall semester.

Q: May I defer my admission?

A: There are a few, limited slots available for deferment and is generally not recommended as your place is not guaranteed and you may have to re-apply.