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Technical Standards

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Candidates for entry into the Clinical Psychology doctoral program must possess certain abilities and skills to function effectively and meet the ethical and technical requirements in a broad variety of classroom, laboratory, research and clinical settings. These essential functions are:

  • Observational skills
  • Communication skills
  • Motor skills
  • Intellectual-conceptual (integrative and quantitative) abilities
  • Behavioral and social attributes

Each candidate will be reviewed individually. The Admissions Committee requests that the candidate examine the required qualities and understand the school’s expectations prior to accepting an offer of admission.

Many handicaps can be accommodated reasonably and without undue hardship. The purpose of this document is to act as a benchmark for the capabilities and skills needed in a candidate for the Clinical Psychology doctoral program.

  • Observational: The candidate must be able to acquire a defined level of required information as presented through lectures, demonstrations and experiences in basic and applied psychology. Furthermore, a candidate must be able to observe a patient or research subject accurately, at a distance and close at hand, using their senses of sight, smell, touch and hearing. The candidate must be able to acquire information from written documents or electronic media, such as a computer monitor. The candidate must be able to visualize information from paper, films, slides or video. Such observation and information acquisition necessitates the functional use of visual, auditory and somatic sensation while being enhanced by the functional use of other sensory modalities. In any case where a candidate’s ability to observe or acquire information through these sensory modalities is compromised, the candidate must demonstrate alternative means and/or abilities to acquire and demonstrate the essential information conveyed in this fashion. If the alternatives are acceptable, it is expected that obtaining and using such alternative means and/or abilities shall be the responsibility of the student. Costs of necessary accommodations should be reasonable and will be borne by the university when not the responsibility of the student or otherwise funded.
  • Communication: A candidate must be able to speak, hear and observe by sight in order to elicit information, observe patients/clients, describe changes and perceive nonverbal communication. Communication includes verbal and recorded format (writing, typing, graphics or telecommunication). A candidate is expected to independently take paper, computer, practical and comprehensive examinations. A candidate must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with faculty, fellow students, staff, research subjects, patients, families and other members of the healthcare team. Communication includes speech and writing. The candidate must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form with all members of the healthcare team. Communication via electronic media (e.g., computer terminals utilizing a keyboard) is required.
  • Motor and Sensory Systems: It is required that candidates possess the motor skills necessary to directly perform basic clinical tests, diagnostic procedures and research procedures. Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium and functional use of the senses of touch and vision. This requirement also includes but is not limited to the use of an electronic keyboard. Candidates must be able to move freely and safely about a research or clinical setting and reach across desktops or on top of shelves. The student must be able to travel (utilizing public or private transportation) to clinical affiliate sites or to research sites. Furthermore, the student must perform moderately taxing continuous physical work, often requiring prolonged sitting or standing, over several hours.
  • Intellectual-Conceptual (Integrative and Quantitative) Abilities: The candidate must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, integrate and synthesize. In addition, the candidate must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures. Problem-solving, the critical skill demanded of all healthcare professionals, requires all of these intellectual abilities. The candidate must be able to perform these problem-solving skills in a timely fashion.
  • Behavioral and Social Attributes: The candidate must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to working with patients/clients and research subjects, and the development of mature, sensitive, ethical and effective professional relationships with co-workers. The candidate must be able to tolerate physically-taxing workloads and function effectively under variable levels of stress, which may at some points reach a high level of intensity for protracted periods. Some students will take courses that require them to be able to adapt to working with unpleasant biological substances (e.g., formaldehyde-preserved human tissue). Students must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in clinical problems and situations. The student must be able to critically evaluate their own performance, accept constructive criticism and investigate avenues to improve. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that will be assessed during the admissions and educational process. The student must consistently behave in an ethical and professional manner and comport themselves in a manner consistent with published Ethical Codes of Conduct relevant to their profession.

Note: If a candidate’s ability to acquire and communicate information through vision, hearing or sensory modalities is impaired, they must demonstrate alternative means and/or abilities to assimilate the information and demonstrate that the essential information can be conveyed in this fashion. If the alternatives are acceptable, it is expected that the obtaining and using of such alternative means shall be the shared responsibility of the student and the university. It must be a reasonable accommodation and not an undue hardship for the university.

An effort will be made to work out potential difficulties as long as this does not pose a threat to the well-being of patients, research subjects, other students, faculty, other healthcare team members or the candidate themselves.

If you have any questions about these standards or other policies as they pertain to the Americans with Disabilities Act, please contact the ADA Coordinator and Director, Academic Support at