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ARCS Expands to Include Clinical Psychology as an Approved Program

Posted on Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Clinical Psychology has been approved by ARCS Foundation National as an approved discipline that can be considered for ARCS Scholar Award funding.

Advances in technology, statistical analysis, and imaging have moved some Clinical Psychology programs into the realm of hard science by providing quantifiable data, controlled conditions, and testability. Programs in this area of study will be evaluated similarly to other traditional “clinical” disciplines that ARCS has funded for years, such as Medicine and Nursing programs that must be rooted in research to be approved.

The addition of Clinical Psychology was requested by the San Diego ARCS chapter, vetted by the National University Relations Committee, and approved by the National Board in October 2023.

The first specific program to be submitted and approved for funding is a Clinical Psychology graduate program shared between UC San Diego and San Diego State University. The program is highly competitive and regarded as a leading program in this area in the United States. 

According to San Diego State University, this interinstitutional clinical psychology program emphasizes the integration of research and practice in training, activities, and experience, bringing together the resources and offerings of a Department of Psychology located in a College of Sciences (SDSU) and a Department of Psychiatry located in a School of Medicine (UC San Diego).

According to the SDSU website, the university “regards the development of research skills and attitudes as a basic feature in the training of clinical psychologists who will have duties encompassing teaching, research, diagnosis, treatment, consultation, and program evaluation and design, and who will need to apply research skills and knowledge to varied content areas and settings.” 

Acceptance of Clinical Psychology as a science is not new, according to two experts whom the University Relations committee consulted with. Dr. Robert Kaplan, Professor of Medicine and Research Director at the Clinical Excellence Research Center at Stanford University School of Medicine, says that the importance of behavioral science to achieving the nation’s goals has been realized. 

Dr. Cathie Atkins, San Diego ARCS Chapter Member and retired Professor and Dean of the College of Sciences at San Diego State University, states that the San Diego interinstitutional program uses scientifically rigorous methodology to integrate the empirical study of biological and neurological pathways.  Dr. Atkins explains that “Clinical psychology can be a very research-oriented and focused discipline, especially in how it is conducted at clinical research psychology programs such as the UCSD/SDSU Joint Doctoral Program.”

The ARCS University Relations committee works to ensure the consistency and quality of institutions, departments, and programs funded by ARCS. Maintaining consistently high standards relates to the ARCS mission of advancing science in America. The committee welcomes discussion of new, emerging areas of science that may qualify for ARCS approval.

ARCS Foundation supports top scholars at 50 approved institutions of higher education.