The applications for the Ph.D. Clinical Psychology – Geropsychology and Ph.D. Clinical Psychology – Trauma Psychology programs are the same. We utilize a holistic approach to our admissions process in our doctoral program such that each applicant receives a review that takes into consideration an applicant's range of qualifications, professional, and personal experiences.
ALL application materials (online graduate application, personal statement, vita or resume, four letters of recommendation, and all transcripts) are due on November 15th for consideration of admission the following Fall.
Ph.D. Interview Day will be January 26, 2024. If you are chosen to interview, attendance is required.
Application requirements for the Ph.D. Clinical Psychology – Geropsychology and Ph.D. Clinical Psychology – Trauma Psychology are as follows:
Complete the online graduate application and pay the application fee.
Obtain four letters of recommendation from professors (or employers) through the online application.
Attach a personal statement describing your interests, background (including your educational, personal, cultural, economic, or social experiences that shaped your academic journey), and your career aspirations in an increasingly culturally diverse world.
Attach an up-to-date vita or resume.
Attach unofficial transcripts or submit official transcripts (see below) from EVERY college or university attended. If you are admitted to the program, official transcripts will be required.
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is strongly recommended for all applicants. Applicants do not need to submit the original application to the department. Instead, have your results sent to UCCS at school code 004509.
How to Submit Official Transcripts
Electronic Submission: Official transcripts can be submitted electronically if the issuing institution is contracted with a secured server. Electronic transcripts should be sent directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Mail: Any application materials that need to be mailed in should be sent to the following address:
Office of Admissions & Records
University of Colorado Colorado Springs
1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway
Colorado Springs, CO 80918-3733
Millions of Americans are affected by trauma every year. The combination of being at war for over a decade, increased incidence of natural disasters, continuing challenges of interpersonal violence, and a high lifetime probability of traumatic accidents the need for mental health professionals trained in trauma psychology has never been greater. Approximately 70% of adults will report having major traumatic exposure and close to 3 out of 4 children will experience a significant trauma each year (Finkelhor, 2005). The extensive trauma exposure has real emotional, physical, and financial costs. Every year, 2.34 million women will experience domestic violence; 4.8 million women and 2.9 million men will suffer intimate partner rapes in the U.S. (Kazdin, 2011). The financial costs associated with interpersonal trauma is astounding with sexual assault economic costs estimated at $127 billion, domestic violence $5.8 billion, general assaults $93 billion. Non-mental health care utilization for trauma survivors is also significant. A recent study found veterans with mental health challenges utilized from 46% to 146% greater physical medical care (Cohn, 2007). Even more startling, those with untreated post-traumatic stress disorder sought physical health care 71% to 170% more often than those without mental health challenges.
Veteran and active duty military health and wellness is particularly important for UCCS due to our location and commitment to our service men and women. An estimated 85,000 to 100, 000 military members live in the Pikes Peak region with their families. Approximately 78,000 veterans live in El Paso County, comprising close to 20% of the County's population. The recent Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have required multiple deployments and unique blast injury warfare that has increased the behavioral health needs of these warriors. Many return with psychological and/or physical challenges that exceed previous conflicts. The level of suicides in the military has reached record levels. The Peak Military Care Network Assessment Report (2011) for the local area stated that behavioral health and social service needs were critical, immediate, and long term. They suggested that these needs were taxing the current service delivery systems: "There is a shortage of qualified providers and/or practitioners in the community. Professional providers are burning out."(page 13). With upcoming military downsizing, the veteran population in El Paso County will escalate and compound the already high need for specially trained mental health professionals in Trauma Psychology. Our curricular track in Trauma Psychology is dedicated to the scientist/practitioner model of training doctoral level psychologists.
The curriculum will require at least five years of post-baccalaureate work on site to accomplish requirements of the doctoral degree. Students complete 120 hours of required and elective courses, a comprehensive exam, a dissertation of original scholarship, clinical practica, and a clinical internship (off site). The clinical curriculum requires specific coursework, required for licensure and accreditation, and an off site internship year. The program is not available for distance learning access. Students who enter the program with a B.A. or B.S. degree will earn an M.A. en route to the doctoral degree through the mechanism of the existing M.A. program.
Knowledge and skills in clinical psychology and basic scientific psychology are the foundations on which the trauma psychology focus is built. Students in this program are preparing to be clinical psychologists first and foremost, with a focus on trauma psychology as their curricular emphasis. Students entering this program are essentially agreeing to focus their work on trauma rather than sampling the variety of populations and problems that might form the elective offerings in another program.
This program adheres to the scientist-practitioner model of training in clinical psychology, commonly referred to as the Boulder model. Under this model, professional psychologists are trained to be both scientists and practitioners with the goal of enhancing the interplay between science and practice. In an emerging field, such as trauma psychology, it is of utmost importance that practitioners add to the existing knowledge base regarding application strategies that are effective, and that scientists be informed of applied issues in shaping their pursuit of knowledge.
The curriculum will require at least five years of post-baccalaureate work to accomplish requirements of the doctoral degree. Students complete 126 hours of required and elective courses, a comprehensive exam, a dissertation of original scholarship, clinical practica, and a clinical internship (off site). The clinical curriculum requires specific coursework, required for licensure and accreditation, and an off site internship year. Students who enter the program with a B.A. or B.S. degree will earn an M.A. en route to the doctoral degree through the mechanism of the existing M.A. program.
Timeline for program completion: Completion of the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program from the B.A. or BS starting point will typically take 5 years of residence on campus with the 6th year allocated for internship (Students should expect this time frame as the general rule pending unusual exceptions).
Doctoral students are also advised that this program requires students to work year round (12 months) during most years in the program, due to clinical practicum obligations and research obligations that often require work through the summer months. Clinical and research work are continuous without regard to the semester structures and students are funded to participate year round.
This program values and promotes self-awareness as a significant component of training in clinical psychology. Students in this program engage in self-awareness exercises within their courses and practicum training. They are also strongly encouraged to engage in their own psychotherapy during their training.
Required Coursework & Model Curriculum
Coursework: All students in the Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology are required to complete 120 credit hours.
Important Note about Personal Background Information
Be informed that doctoral training in clinical psychology requires a full-time clinical internship and typically includes community practicum placements in local agencies who partner with us for training opportunities. Many of these institutions require a legal background check to ensure all employees and trainee meet current standards. In addition, licensure boards usually require applicants to report on their legal background. As such, certain types of criminal backgrounds will prevent applicants from being able to complete program requirements or to attain licensure as a psychologist in some states. Please disclose relevant background information accordingly.
The Ph.D. program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association through 2029.
Consistent with the definition of health service psychology in the Standards of Accreditation, the clinical psychology PhD program at UCCS seeks to accomplish two broad training goals and one track-specific training goal:
Goal 1: Students will acquire the requisite knowledge and skills to prepare them for entry into the practice of clinical psychology
• Objective 1-A: Demonstrate knowledge and skill in clinical assessment
• Objective 1-B: Demonstrate knowledge and skill in psychological and psychotherapeutic interventions
• Objective 1-C: Demonstrate knowledge of the ethics of clinical practice, including ethical practice with diverse populations
• Objective 1-D: Demonstrate knowledge of clinical supervision and consultation that is commensurate with level of training
Competencies Expected for Goal 1 Objectives:
Competence 1: Demonstrate knowledge of empirically-based clinical assessment techniques
Competence 2: Demonstrate competency in application and use of empirically–based assessment techniques with diverse adult populations
Competence 3: Demonstrate knowledge of empirically-based psychological interventions and therapeutic techniques, and their theoretical base
Competence 4: Demonstrate competency and practical skills in the delivery of empirically-based psychological interventions and therapeutic techniques
Competence 5: Demonstrate competency at adapting interventions as needed, to be sensitive to culturally diverse ways of seeking assistance
Competence 6: Demonstrate understanding and use of appropriate ethical behavior in the application of clinical work
Competence 7: Demonstrate understanding and use appropriate professional standards for behavior in clinical work
Competence 8: Demonstrate knowledge of supervisory role and consultation processes
Goal 2: Students will be capable of conducting, evaluating, and disseminating research
• Objective 2-A: Develop attitudes and skills essential for lifelong learning, scholarly inquiry
• Objective 2-B: Develop knowledge and skills to conduct empirical psychological research
• Objective 2-C: Develop knowledge and skills to disseminate research effectively to professional and lay audiences
Competencies Expected for Goal 2 Objectives:
Competence 1: Demonstrate intellectual curiosity and skills in acquiring information
Competence 2: Demonstrate ability to review, integrate, and critically evaluate the literature in the field of scientific study
Competence 3: Demonstrate knowledge and skill in designing research, and collecting and analyzing data
Competency 4: Demonstrate ability to disseminate research to professional audiences
Competence 5: Demonstrate ability to disseminate scientific and professional knowledge to lay public
Goal 3 (Trauma Psychology): Students will demonstrate competence in knowledge and skills of Trauma Psychology
• Objective 3-A Demonstrate knowledge and skills in professional practice consistent with competencies associated with graduate training within the New Haven Competencies for Trauma Psychology
• Objective 3-B: Demonstrate knowledge and skills needed to conduct empirical research in Trauma Psychology
Competencies Expected for Goal 3A and 3B Objectives:
Competence 1: Demonstrate knowledge of theory and research in social/psychological, biological, and health-related aspects of traumatic stress (e.g., neurobiological developmental understanding of traumatic stress, psychopathological consequences of traumatic stress, strength based approaches to traumatic stress, social and cultural consequences of traumatic stress, review of all major theoretical approaches to traumatic stress).
Competence 2: Demonstrate knowledge of theory and skills in applying assessment instruments to diverse populations of trauma survivors, including trauma-specific assessments related to common psychopathology and strength adaptation related to trauma (e.g., Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depression, General Anxiety Disorder, Substance Abuse/Dependence Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Posttraumatic Growth).
Competence 3: Demonstrate knowledge of theory and knowledge of effects of systems and environments on clinical work with diverse populations of traumatized adults, and consultation strategies appropriate to them (e.g., working with combat veterans and their families, working with domestic violence survivors).
Competence 4: Demonstrate knowledge of major theoretical approaches to empirical research in trauma psychology. (Covered in Competence 1 section)
Competence 5: Demonstrate knowledge of theory and skill in using empirically supported clinical interventions for trauma in at least two practice settings.
Competence 6: Demonstrate knowledge of advanced statistical modeling of change (e.g., latent growth curve modeling, structural equation modeling, multi-level modeling).
Competence 7: Demonstrate knowledge of longitudinal research methodologies (e.g., multi-time point studies and management of missing data, cross lagged panel designs) and/or clinical research methods (e.g., randomized clinical trials conforming to Consort guidelines).
Competence 8: Successful completion of independent research project in trauma psychology demonstrating clear understanding and application of a contemporary theory of traumatic stress, sophisticated research methodology, and appropriate statistical analyses.
In alignment with APA Standards of Accreditation, students are expected to demonstrate competence in the full breadth of Profession Wide Competencies including:
Ethical and legal standards
Individual and cultural diversity
Professional values, attitudes, and behaviors
Communications and interpersonal skills
Consultation and interprofessional/interdisciplinary skills
Veterans Health & Trauma Clinic
The curricular track in trauma psychology in our Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program directly addresses a local community need as well as a national challenge regarding a paucity of trained mental health professionals in the area of trauma psychology. UCCS has made a commitment to the training needs of our trauma students by opening the Veterans Health & Trauma Clinic at the Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences. With a 2 million dollar grant investment the clinic is a state of the art trauma care provider utilizing evidence-based interventions and cutting edge technology assisted approaches. This clinic provides students with a unique opportunity to focus their training on the specific challenges faced by traumatized veterans and their families. In addition to seeing veterans and their families, students in the trauma psychology track will work with survivors of other traumas. Possible clinical training opportunities at the Veterans Administration in Colorado Springs, the UCCS Counseling Center, and TESSA (domestic violence center) provide unique, focused clinical experiences and direct clinical services to our community.
A significant resource for training and research is the UCCS HealthCircle Veterans Health and Trauma Clinic (VHTC), a trauma-focused psychological services training and research center. The VHTC was established in February 2014, as part of the Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences and through a generous gift by Ms. Lyda Hill. The VHTC clinicians are experienced in trauma psychology and have strong relationships with the military and civilian communities in Colorado Springs. Client referrals come from Fort Carson, the Veterans Administration, other clinics within the Lane Center, physicians, other therapists, and other community agencies working with trauma survivors in the Pikes Peak region. Students choosing a trauma psychology emphasis will spend two years of their training at the VHTC and receive supervision from VHTC providers with many years of experience providing mental health services to military service members, veterans, their families, and civilian adults and adolescents.
The VHTC also provides highly accessible research space that is dedicated for faculty and graduate students pursuing trauma psychology research. A state-of-the-art human computer interaction laboratory is available for monitoring real-time physiological reactions in response to trauma recovery websites and other web-based recovery tools. Research rooms are available at the Lane Center for other projects and a group room is available for focus groups and studies involving larger groups of participants. A trauma participant registry and a Lane Center-wide participant registry are being established to facilitate recruitment of research participants.
Applicants to the PhD degree program at UCCS are evaluated once each year (no rolling admissions). All application information must be complete and have been received by November 15th for a candidate to be considered for admission.
Applicants should have the following:
1. Completed UCCS Graduate School application form.
2. A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution will be considered (i.e., B.S. or B.A. degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university).
3. An overall average of 3.0 on a 4.00 point scale ("A" is equivalent to 4.0) or above in all undergraduate courses, and 3.5 or better on graduate coursework.
4. The GRE will not be required for Fall 2023 graduate student applications at this time. This applies to all psychology programs applications: PhD, MA Clinical, and MA Psychological Science.
5. An adequate undergraduate program in psychology including college-level mathematics, statistics, experimental psychology, and some background in the biological, physical, and social sciences.
6. Letters of recommendation from four persons familiar with the applicant's academic background and aptitude for graduate study and future performance as a psychologist.
7. Applicants should have career goals consistent with the program focus in Geropsychology or Trauma psychology. Promising students who do not meet all of the requirements may be considered as applicants.
NOTE: Students already holding the MA or MS in psychology from a regionally accredited institution may also apply to the PhD program. The master's degree must be commensurate with the MA program in Clinical Psychology at UCCS and involve the successful completion of an empirically-based thesis project. Students possessing a master's degree without an empirically-based thesis will be required to complete an empirically-based thesis before being admitted to doctoral candidacy.
Training and Graduate level courses completed prior to admission may be transferable into the program. Upon matriculation at UCCS, students may petition to have these credits applied toward their degree requirements. While such credits are not automatically transferred and must be approved by the Director of Clinical and an additional faculty member (typically the professor who teaches the course under petition). A review of their transcript and related materials will occur to determine whether specific courses or thesis requirements may be waived.
Although not set as a firm limit (exceptions may arise), a typical cohort will consist of two to four students. Students may expect to be funded by research, teaching, or clinical assistantships and fellowships.
Dr. Steven Bistricky, Assistant Professor, is a clinical psychologist whose research focusing on psychological vulnerability and resilience has been published in influential journals such as Journal of Traumatic Stress, Journal of Affective Disorders, and Psychological Bulletin. In addition to using traditional self-report methods, his research has also employed experimental information processing methods and clinical neuroscience.
Dr. Heather Littleton, Associate Professor, has primary research interests in the role of social-cognitive factors in recovery from trauma, particularly sexual assault, as well as predictors of risk taking behaviors and re-victimization following sexual assault. In addition, she is interested in the use of technology and alternative interventions to address and prevent PTSD/trauma.
Dr. Colin Mahoney, Assistant Professor, is a clinical psychologist whose research focuses on identifying risk, maintenance, and protective factors for the symptoms and diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders (SUDs) among women following exposure to interpersonal violence (i.e., sexual violence, intimate partner violence [IPV], community violence) and among men following exposure to combat trauma through (1) experimental, (2) prospective, and (3) qualitative studies.
Dr. Tom Pyszczynski, Distinguished Professor, is a social psychologist and a world leader in the area of Terror Management Theory. Dr. Pyszczynski recently published papers focusing on Anxiety Buffer Disruption Theory in order to understand the range of responses that traumatized individuals exhibit as they move forward in their lives.
Faculty productivity in trauma research is high. It is also possible for students to work in a cross-disciplinary way through the with National Institute for Human Resilience faculty from geography and computer science. Faculty have generated well over 5 million dollars in external funding with grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Department of Defense TATRC, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Graduate psychology courses are taught by faculty who are actively involved in nationally recognized research programs. Most faculty are also engaged in community involvement and/or clinical service delivery. Clinical students also benefit from placements under local experts whose services exemplify the training goals of the program.
There are two forms of housing available for graduate student: off-campus housing in apartments and houses, and on-campus dormitories.
Off-campus housing A housing survey of graduate and undergraduate honors students in psychology found that 50% of the students lived within 5 miles of campus (range = 1-12 miles) and that it took them 10 minutes or less to commute to campus (range 3 to 25 minutes). Several new apartment complexes are very close to campus. The average rent for an apartment in Colorado Springs is $1,553. The cost of rent varies depending on several factors, including location, size, and quality.
On-campus housing On-campus housing is available. See the Housing Village page for more information including information on the new apartment-style dorms.
Application Materials & Deadlines
The application deadline for Fall admission each year is November 15th. Virtual Ph.D. Interview Day will be on TBD for 2024.
Click here to see Application Materials and Procedures
The Comprehensive Examination Guidelines for the PhD Clinical Psychology Program with Curricular Emphasis in Trauma Forms are:
- Comprehensive Examination Portfolio Guidelines and Policy (GEROPSYCHOLOGY & TRAUMA)
- Approval to Sit for the Comprehensive Examination
Students wishing to take the Comprehensive Examination must complete this form and submit it to the Director of Clinical Training for their signature by January 20th (for Spring Exam) or August 20th (for Fall Exam) of the year they wish to sit for the Examination.
Note: Students are expected to be engaged full-time in the program throughout the calendar year.
Graduate Student Handbook
This handbook is designed to provide you with information about the program requirements, policies, and procedures. It supplements the information available on Graduate School website and the UCCS Student Code of Conduct. In order to be fully informed of all important requirements, you should peruse the website and read the documents in their entirety.
It is your responsibility to be informed of all relevant requirements and procedures. You are required to sign the written statement (at the end of this document) acknowledging that you have received, read, and agree to the policies and procedures detailed in this handbook. Please submit a signed version which will be sent to you electronically as soon as possible. An in-person orientation session is conducted for all entering students upon arrival on campus.
The Director of Clinical Training, as well as appropriate accrediting bodies oversees all applied clinical training matters, including coordinating internal and external practica, overseeing students’ clinical evaluations and supervisors’ evaluations, tracking students’ internship preparation and applications, and coordinating students’ clinical professional development. The DCT also provides higher level oversight of applied clinical training.
The Associate Director of Clinical Training is responsible for all aspects of the Clinical Psychology MA and PhD Trauma Psychology track including recruitment and admissions, curriculum, professional development, and assessment.