Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology

A new application system for the 2021-2024 Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology is now open. Please proceed to the Application Details tab for further information. The closing date for this programme is 1.00pm (GMT) Friday 5th February 2021.

The closing date for applications to the Clinical Psychology intake for 2021 is now closed.

The Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology is a 3-year research degree and professional training programme in clinical psychology. The course is fully accredited by the Psychological Society of Ireland.

The course runs over three calendar years and includes three interrelated elements:

  • 2,000 hours of research over 200-250 days
  • 500 hours academic coursework over 100-150 days
  • 3,000 hours of supervised clinical practice over 390 days

The central objective of the course is to train postgraduates to a level which will enable them to work safely, competently and ethically as a basic grade clinical psychologist and to provide a foundation for later specialization through continuing professional development. Postgraduates graduating from the course should be able to

  • provide assessment and treatment services to a wide range of client groups including children and adults with psychological problems and disabilities
  • use their academic knowledge to solve clinical problems and provide consultancy and teaching services to colleagues and clients
  • use their research skills to answer questions, raised within the health services, which require an empirically based answer.

Within the Clinical Programme, the psychologist's role is conceptualized as that of a professional scientist-practitioner who works within a shared care model of multidisciplinary health service delivery. The psychologist as a professional is guided by codes of ethics and practice such as those laid down by the Psychological Society of Ireland.

As a scientist, the psychologist brings knowledge of the findings of the science of psychology and the methods used to investigate problems scientifically to bear on clinical practice and health service delivery.

As a practitioner, the psychologist is skilled in specific assessment and intervention methods and is sensitive to the way in which personal psychological strengths and vulnerabilities impinge upon skilled clinical practice.

The importance of contributing a uniquely psychological perspective to multidisciplinary team practice is a central part of the clinical psychologists role.



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Applicants are selected on the basis of their academic record; their basic clinical skills and potential; their research skills; and their personal suitability for the role of clinical psychologist.

Academic requirements.

Applicants for the course must hold an honours degree in psychology or an honours diploma in psychology making them eligible for graduate membership of The Psychological Society of Ireland or the British Psychological Society. They must also hold a Masters degree in Psychology. In judging academic suitability for the programme, account is taken of the honours grade of the primary degree and also of additional degrees in related fields such as counselling or health psychology.

Relevant clinical experience requirements.

Applicants must have at least a year’s relevant clinical experience during which they have developed the basic clinical skills required for establishing working relationships with clients or patients on the one hand and professional colleagues on the other. Clinical skills and potential are judged by taking into account the way in which candidates have made use of the opportunities available to them to engage in relevant clinical experiences. Work as a psychological assistant, a care assistant, a nursing assistant, a research assistant on a clinical research project, or a post-graduate research degree where the project was conducted in a clinical area are typical examples of the types of experience that are considered to be relevant in this context. Completion of short courses and workshops which have contributed to the development of clinical skills are also taken into account in judging clinical skill and potential.

Research skills.

An applicant's research skills are taken into account in judging their suitability for the programme. In judging research skills, account is taken of completion of clinical or other research projects as part of postgraduate degrees; participation in clinical research projects; publication of research reports; presentation of research at conferences; development of computing skills; and of qualifications obtained in related fields such as research psychology or statistics.

Personal suitability for the role of clinical psychologist and working in health service organisations.

An applicant's personal characteristics relevant to the role of clinical psychologist and working in health service organisations are taken into account in judging their suitability for the programme. These include a knowledge of the role of psychologists within the HSE and other health service organizations; a commitment to public service provision; potential for developing a capacity for self-reflection; and potential for developing interpersonal skills essential for working in health service organizations. In judging personal characteristics account is taken of steps applicants have taken to learn about the role of clinical psychologists in the health service and to begin to develop as reflective practitioners. This includes participating in self-reflective workshops and personal therapy or counseling.

The Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology is a sponsored programme and the sponsorship entails the payment of a trainee clinical psychology salary for the duration of the programme.
To date sponsorship has also included the partial payment of fees on behalf of the sponsored trainee and health care agencies have made a 60% contribution towards fees on behalf of the trainee clinical psychologist for each of their three years on the programme.
Fees for the UCD Clinical Psychology programme are currently €15,160 per annum.
This breaks down as follows:
60% sponsor - €9,096
40% trainee - €6,064

Please note: these arrangements are all subject to review in light of current and future national developments in the funding of clinical psychology training. All offers of trainee clinical psychology places are made subject to funding.
Most sponsorships are HSE funded and trainee funded through such sponsorships complete placements of supervised clinical practice outside the greater Dublin area within the geographical area serviced by the sponsoring agency. Placements outside the sponsoring agency are only undertaken in exceptional circumstances and with the permission of the sponsor. An exception is usually made for the final specialist placement which may be undertaken outside the country. Successful applicants should therefore consider re-location to the sponsoring region or make arrangements to commute to that region.

A day per week over 3 years is set aside for research and the final six week academic block is set aside in third year for writing the final draft of the major research project. Psychologists in clinical training receive a minimum of 30 hours individual supervision for their thesis during their second and third years. In addition they complete coursework on research methods, statistics and computing listed below under academic course work. Altogether 2000 hours are available for research over 200-250 days, and postgraduates are expected to devote some evenings and some weekends to research.

The following projects are completed:
A 25,000 word report on a major doctoral research project. The research must make an original publishable contribution to knowledge in the broad field of clinical psychology. Before conducting the doctoral research project, postgraduates write and defend a 2000 word thesis proposal. When the 25,000 word report is complete, postgraduates summarize key findings in a publishable 4,000 word journal article.
Two 2,000 word service-based research projects are completed in the first year to demonstrate competence in both quantitative and qualitative research methods.

Academic coursework is covered in six six-week academic blocks each containing at least 36 half-day teaching sessions or approximately 100 hours coursework per block, except the final block which is reserved largely for writing the final draft of the major research project. Thus, overall there are 500 hours of coursework in the programme spanning 100-150 days. Academic courses are grouped into the following conceptual areas:

  • Child and adolescent clinical psychology
  • Adult clinical psychology (including the psychology of the older adult)
  • The psychology of intellectual disabilities
  • Neuropsychology
  • Personal and professional development

Four 4,000 word essays (one each in the areas of child and adolescent clinical psychology, adult clinical psychology, the clinical psychology of older adults, and the clinical psychology of intellectual disabilities) to demonstrate competence in systematically reviewing literature and drawing conclusions to inform clinical practice.
Three 4,000 word case studies (one each in the areas of child and adolescent clinical psychology, adult clinical psychology, and the clinical psychology of intellectual disabilities) to demonstrate competence in applying theory and research to clinical practice.

Each psychologist in clinical training completes six  4.5 month placements of supervised clinical practice. All placements contain a minimum of 65 days (or 500 hours) yielding a total of 390 days (or 3,000 hours). These placements provide training and clinical experience in the following areas:

  • Child and adolescent clinical psychology
  • Adult clinical psychology
  • The clinical psychology of intellectual disabilities
  • The clinical psychology of older adulthood
  • Specialist areas.

The fees for the Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology are €15,160 per annum

The current sponsorship arrangement includes a 60% payment towards the trainees annual fee (€9,096), the trainee is responsible for the shortfall i.e. 40% of the annual fee payment (€6,064).

Most trainees take a bank/credit union loan in order to fund their fee payments.


In a given year the programme is sponsored by one or more health service agencies. Sponsorship entails the payment of a ‘Trainee Clinical Psychologist’ salary over the three years of the programme, in return, the trainee signs a contract in which they agree to work for a further three years post graduation with the sponsoring agency.

The current trainee clinical psychology salary is as follows:

Point one:        €32,185 (year one)
Point two:       €34,730 (year two)
Point three:     €39,525 (year three)

Post graduation staff grade clinical psychologists earn approximately €48,000-79,000 (with long service increments (LSI’s)

Senior clinical psychologists can earn in excess of €86,000 with long service increments (LSIs) included.

All offers of trainee clinical psychology places are made subject to funding.

Intake for 2021

All offers of trainee clinical psychology places are made subject to funding.

For the September 2021 intake the application deadline is 1.00pm Friday 5th February 2021

After short-listing successful applicants will be called for first round interviews on Thursday 11th  and Friday 12th March and second round interviews on Thursday 18th  and Friday 19th  March (because of the global pandemic these dates are subject to review)

Each year we receive many excellent applications but are only able to offer places to a small number of applicants.  This means that there is a chance that you will not be selected this year.

Throughout the short listing and selection procedures candidates are rank-ordered in terms of suitability for the programme. Candidates who are not successful in obtaining a place on the programme one year should not interpret this to mean that they will be judged to be unsuitable if they reapply.

If you are not selected this year, our advice is for you to enhance your portfolio of relevant clinical experience and relevant clinical research over the coming year and reapply for the programme next year. As your portfolio of relevant experience expands it becomes more likely that your application will be ranked highly enough, in comparison with other applicants, to be selected. Many successful graduates of the programme made more than one unsuccessful application. 

How to Apply for the Clinical Psychology Programme 2021 – please follow these instructions carefully.

Step one:

Please download and carefully read the Application 2021 Notes and the 2021 Application form

Step two:

Obtain a payment reference for your application fee here.  You will need this in order to submit your application via the portal, the application fee is 50 euro.

Step three:

Fill in your application form (using the 2021 Notes as your guide).  Once your application is complete save it as one Pdf file naming it as follows: Surname, Forename (i.e. Smith, Mary), if you have not studied in UCD before you should include ID and transcripts (these should be included in the single pdf you are uploading).  Please set a password on this Pdf file and remember it for later. 

Step four:

Submit your application here via the Clinical Psychology Application Portal.  Once your application has been submitted please email the password which opens your Pdf file to under the subject heading Open File.

Programme Administrator, Muriel Keegan or or phone 7168120

Professor Alan Carr, and Professor Gary O’Reilly are Joint Programme Directors:
Professor Jessica Bramham, Academic Director
Dr. Keith Gaynor, Clinical Psychology Lecturer
Dr. Kathy Looney
, Clinical Psychology Lecturer
Mr. Paul Murphy, Clinical Psychology Lecturer
Ms. Sara Hollwey, Clinical Placement Director, and Director of Personal & Professional Development
Dr. Niki Nearchou, Research Co-Ordinator
Dr. Helen O’Connell, Clinical Placement Coordinator

Academic staff from the School of Psychology and clinical supervisors from the course placements are involved in teaching, research supervision and the supervision of clinical practice.

We welcome applications from Non-EU students for the Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology.   However as clinical psychology trainees are employees of the Health Service Executive (HSE) or other approved Health Care Agencies, we require that applicants have the right to work in Ireland without  restriction.  Non-EU applicants are therefore not considered unless they have a pre-existing right to work in Ireland for the duration of the course and the required three years after completion.  
Before you make an application to the Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology, you should visit the UCD International website to find out about visa requirements, scholarship opportunities and finance options for Non-EU students.  Please note all trainee clinical psychology places are subject to funding.
Please also note that the current Non-EU university fee for the Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology is €30,320 for each year of the programme.

The course is a full time doctoral level training programme in clinical psychology. Students complete 6 clinical placements under the supervision of a Senior Clinical Psychologist in child, adult, intellectual disability and specialist clinical settings.  They also complete 6 related academic teaching blocks and a doctoral level piece of research. 

Students on the doctoral programme in clinical psychology are required to fulfil different roles during their training, including academic and clinical practice roles.  Consequently the course is governed by the University’s Fitness to Practice and Fitness to Study policies as well its regulations on the completion of academic coursework and assignments. If a student encounters a difficulty they should discuss it with a member of the course team in the first instance, who will support the student and ensure where appropriate the matter is resolved locally, and where necessary will direct the student to the correct procedure or policy.