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
Older adults represent a substantial and growing proportion of the population, with unique health and mental health needs. The dramatic demographic shifts that our country, state, and region are experiencing suggest that the need for psychologists knowledgeable about aging processes will continue to grow dramatically over the next several decades. Indeed, older adults are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. By 2030, older adults will comprise 21% of the U.S. population, up from 17% in 2020. By 2060, the proportion will grow to 23% of the US population (Vespa, Medina, & Armstrong, 2020). The Baby Boomer cohort brings higher rates of mental disorders with them into later life, along with greater openness to mental health services. With increasing rates of social and role challenges, chronic illness, disability, and neurocognitive disorders int late life and related mental health problems, the burgeoning older adult population will have expanding needs for mental health services (Carpenter, Gatz, & Smyer, 2022). Notably, a growing database exists regarding the identification, assessment, and treatment of many mental health problems among older adults (Segal, Qualls, & Smyer, 2018).
Psychology, along with other health disciplines, lacks a workforce prepared to meet the needs of older adults. The UCCS program is an effort to address what has been termed a public crisis that demands urgent action including development of additional training programs (Moye, Karel, Stamm, Qualls, Segal, Tazeau, & DiGilio, 2019). An early survey (Qualls et al., 2002) found that the typical practicing psychologist provides services to fewer than 2 older adults per week with a combined ability to meet less than 60% of current demand. Only 3% of the psychologists reported that they devoted most of their professional time to older adult clients. This survey further revealed that fewer than 20% of psychologists had received any kind of formal coursework in geropsychology although the majority desired more training. A subsequent survey by the American Psychological Association found that only 4.2% of respondents identified geropsychology as their area of current focus (Michalski, Mulvey, & Kohout, 2010). In the most recent large-scale survey of licensed psychologists, only 1.2% of respondents identified geropsychology as a primary specialty (Moye et al., 2019). The American Psychological Association (2018) estimated a need for 16,540 full-time doctoral level geropsychology practitioners by 2030. We are nowhere near this capacity. An evaluation of the geriatric mental health professional workforce by leaders in the main disciplines (psychiatry, psychology, social work) recommended strongly that incentives be increased to draw people into training in geriatric mental health because of the projected crisis (Halpain et al., 1999).
Many areas of psychological and social functioning of older adults pose serious problems as well as significant opportunities to society. The need to assess accurately the risk of accidents while driving, risks of safety in independent living environments, and decision-making capacity are just a few of the problems that researchers must address. Other important topics include adaptations of work environments for older workers, long-term effects of disability and caregiving on family members, risk factors for elder abuse and exploitation, and efforts to promote early detection of mental health and cognitive disabilities. Lifelong health behaviors are the primary cause of the major chronic illnesses of later life, factors that are amenable to interventions that can save lives and reduce disability. Older adults also represent a rich resource for the workforce, social programs, intergenerational mentoring, and other meaningful contributions to society. Thus, psychologists knowledgeable about aging have many opportunities to contribute to many sectors of our aging society (e.g., policy, housing, social services, promotion of positive health behaviors, basic and applied research). We welcome your further interest in our program at UCCS.
Knowledge and skills in clinical psychology and basic scientific psychology are the foundations on which the geropsychology focus is built. Students in this program are preparing to be clinical psychologists first and foremost, with a focus on geropsychology as their curricular emphasis. Students entering this program are essentially agreeing to focus their work on aging 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 geropsychology, 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 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.
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 (Geropsychology) : Students will demonstrate competence in knowledge and skills of Geropsychology
• Objective 3-A Demonstrate knowledge and skills in professional practice consistent with competencies associated with graduate training within the Pikes Peak Model of Training in Geropsychology
• Objective 3-B: Demonstrate knowledge and skills needed to conduct empirical research in Geropsychology
Competencies Expected for Goal 3-A and 3-B Objectives:
Competence 1: Demonstrate knowledge and awareness of values and skills of other professions and service delivery systems
Competence 2: Demonstrate knowledge of theory and knowledge of effects of systems and environments on clinical work with diverse populations of older adults, and consultation strategies appropriate to them
Competence 3: Demonstrate knowledge of theory and research in biopsychosocial aspects of aging
Competence 4: Demonstrate knowledge of theory and skill of application of assessment instruments to diverse populations of older adults, including aging-specific instruments and application of general adult instruments to older adults
Competence 5: Demonstrate knowledge of theory and skill in using empirically supported clinical interventions appropriate for older adults
Competence 6: Successful completion of independent research in geropsychology
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
UCCS Aging Center
A significant and unique resource for training and research is the UCCS Aging Center, a nonprofit community mental health center and psychology training clinic. Since opening in January 1999, the UCCS Aging Center has provided mental health services to thousands of older individuals and families. The UCCS Aging Center is recognized in the community as a primary resource for senior mental health services and caregiver support.
The UCCS Aging Center also supports faculty and student applied research. Faculty conduct research on normal aging processes such as memory, decision-making, caregiving, personality, and bereavement, as well as abnormal processes characteristic of age-related illness (e.g., dementia, stroke, medical illness). Located in the new Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences, the UCCS Aging Center is an excellent site for recruitment of research participants. The UCCS Psychology Department now has dedicated research space in the Lane Center.
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 three to five students. Students may expect to be funded by research, teaching, or clinical assistantships and fellowships.
Faculty quality in aging is strong. Faculty productivity in aging research is high. Several million external dollars have been generated by the faculty, including grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Justice, and the Health Resources 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.
Leilani Feliciano, Ph.D.: Mental Health and Aging, Behavioral Medicine, and Behavioral Gerontology Lori James, Ph.D.: Cognitive Psychology of Language and Memory in Aging Dan Segal, Ph.D.: Diagnostic and Assessment in Geropsychology; Late-life Suicide Risk and Resilience; Late-life anxiety; Barriers to Mental Health Services; Personality Disorders Across the Lifespan Rachel Thayer, Ph.D.: Neuropsychology, Aging, Alcohol and Cannabis Use Rachel Weiskittle, Ph.D.: End-of-life Experiences, Adjustment to Loss, and Health Service Equity
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.
Please click here to see Application Materials and Procedures
The Comprehensive Examination Guidelines for the PhD Clinical Psychology Program with Curricular Emphasis in Geropsychology 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.
Council of Professional Geropsychology Training Programs (CoPGTP)
Our program has been a proud member of CoPGTP since its formation in 2007. Please click here for the Council of Professional Geropsychology Training Programs website.
Director of Clinical Training
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.