Psychology Doctoral Programs in Tennessee

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Pepperdine University
Online MFT Master’s Program - No GRE req.
Online Master of Arts in Counseling - No GRE req.
Pepperdine University
Online Master of Arts in Psychology - No GRE req.
Grand Canyon University
Online B.S. and M.S. in Psychology
Pepperdine University
Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis - No GRE req.
University of Dayton
Online Master of Applied Behavior Analysis
Capella University
Online BS, MS, PhD, PsyD in Psychology with over a dozen specialty options.
Southern New Hampshire University
Online BS, MS in Psychology with many different focus options.

There are several Doctoral Programs in Psychology in Tennessee, all of which are of high quality and some of which are world class. All of the programs listed below are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) and most offer students several types of financial support that allow students to complete programs with little or no student debt.

East Tennessee State University

College of Arts and Sciences

Founded in 1911 as a rural teacher college, East Tennessee State University became a part of the Tennessee public university system in 1963 and has become a well respected member of that system over the past several decades. East Tennessee State University (ETSU) has emerged from the shadow of its larger cousin to the southeast and has brought liberal arts, medical, business and pharmacy education to East Tennessee’s southern border of Appalachia. The Princeton Review listed ETSU as one of America’s “Best Value” colleges in recent years. ETSU works closely with the nearby James H. Quillen Veterans’ Administration Medical Center at Mountain Home where many of ETSU’s psychology doctoral students gain internships in clinical psychology practice.

Psychology, Clinical Psychology Concentration, M.A./Ph.D.

ETSU’s clinical psychology program focuses on research and clinical training that is interdisciplinary. The program operates according to a scientist-practitioner model that emphasizes rural behavioral health and includes psychology masters programs. ETSU maintains a cooperative relationship with the local community and surrounding region based on research but adapted for local culture. Every student completes a general clinical training curriculum in addition to the basics of psychology, resulting in a program that is highly structured in the first two years and is more highly structured than many other programs. Students are able to individualize their chosen programs through the choice of electives, research emphasis and the externships placements available to them. ETSU generally accepts six students in the doctoral program each year and students receive some type of stipend at least for the first two years of their programs. Student support includes not only a stipend but also tuition waivers in most cases. In the final two years of the program, student support includes community grants, teaching assistantships, community training or faculty grants. All enrolled students have received at least four years of student support over the history of the program.


  • East Tennessee State University’s Clinical Psychology PhD program received accreditation by the American Psychological Association (APA) effective April 17, 2012. The university is regionally accredited.

420A Rogers-Stout Hall
Box 70649
Johnson City, TN 37614
Phone: (423) 439-4703
Program Website

Tennessee State University

College of Education, Psychology Department

Tennessee State University (TSU) is located in the state capitol of Nashville. TSU is a land grant university and a historically black school. As such, it is the only publicly funded historically black university in the state. Founded in 1912, TSU gained university status in 1951. Tennessee State University now has more than 9,000 students who originate in 46 states and 45 countries. Today, the institution exists as a 1979 court ordered merger between Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee at Nashville, a traditionally white institution. The merger resulted in a downtown Nashville campus, making it more convenient for those living or working in or near the heart of Nashville.

Ph.D. in Psychology, Counseling Psychology Concentration

Tennessee State University’s counseling psychology concentration bases its training on a scientist-professional model with the goal of developing competent, ethical practitioners who have the multicultural perspective necessary for integrating science and practice regardless of setting or modality. This is a program that focuses on and balances research and practice to achieve the most beneficial results possible. The program supplies problem solving exercises designed to stimulate systematic inquiry through research with the goal of modifying theory and practice in professional psychology. With these goals in mind, Tennessee State University has designed its PhD program to provide a sound foundation in studying psychology as well as a broad range of practice in research methodology and the knowledge and skills useful in executing professional interventions in therapy approaches that include individual, family and group therapy. Students learn a variety of theoretical orientations including cognitive behavior theory (CBT) as well as psychodynamic, systems, integrative and interpersonal theories.


  • Tennessee State University’s PhD program with the counseling concentration is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). Its school psychology concentration at the PhD level also is accredited by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). Tennessee State University also is regionally accredited.

3500 John A Merritt Blvd
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
Phone: (615) 963-5157
Program Website

The University of Memphis

College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology

There are two systems for public higher education in the state of Tennessee. One is the University of Tennessee system that maintains several campuses throughout the state. The other is the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR). TBR oversees the function of institutions such as Middle Tennessee State University, East Tennessee State University and Tennessee Technological University, among others. The University of Memphis is TBR’s flagship institution of the TBR organization, which claims more than 80 percent of all Tennessee students attending Tennessee universities. The University of Memphis has a total student population of nearly 22,000, almost 4,000 of whom are graduate students.

Clinical Psychology PhD

University of Memphis’ doctoral program in clinical psychology has been accredited by the APA since 1972. The focus of the program is the scientist – practitioner model that strongly emphasizes research so the university favors applicants to this program who share a strong interest in research, both for their education program and for their future career goals. The clinical program maintains membership in an alliance of research oriented doctoral programs and internships, the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science. The three primary research areas on which the program focuses are Clinical Health Psychology, Child and Family Studies and Psychotherapy Research. The program is open only to those students who plan full time study. Students usually receive financial support throughout the program in the form of research assistantships in the early years and clinical practice in the later years of the program. Students also supply community service practice that offers a wide variety of settings including the student health clinic, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, federal prisons, the local VA Medical Center and other local and community agencies.

Counseling Psychology PhD

This is a four year program for full time students. Its goals include training psychologists who will focus on human development in mental health, career development, emotional and social learning and decision making. Students who enter with a master’s degree generally complete required coursework in three years and devote the fourth year to a predoctoral internship as they complete their dissertations. Though the counseling program is not as focused on research as the clinical program, it still operates according to the scientist-practitioner model and includes research in the program. A leading goal of the program is to develop practitioners who are able to help individuals and families achieve whole and rewarding lives. A focus of the program is to train individuals who can work in urban settings with diverse populations. The program admits seven or eight new students each year. Some financial support may be available to several of those students.


  • The University of Memphis is regionally accredited and its doctoral program in clinical psychology has been accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) continuously since 1972. The program is a member of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science and the school is regionally accredited. The APA first accredited the counseling psychology program in 1989.

Department of Psychology
202 Psychology Building
Memphis, TN 38152
Phone: (901) 678-2145
Clinical Psychology
Counseling Psychology

University of Tennessee – Knoxville

College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology

Blount College, the school that would become the University of Tennessee in the future, was founded in 1794 before Tennessee even became the 16th state in 1796. Known as East Tennessee University (ETU) beginning in 1840, the university received land grant designation in 1869. Today, the Knoxville campus is the largest and primary campus of the University of Tennessee system. Total student population at the Knoxville campus is nearly 28,000. Of those, 6,100 students are postgraduate students. U.S. News and World Report places the University of Tennessee – Knoxville (UTK) at 101 among all national universities and 46th among public institutions. The Knoxville campus is the site of the University of Tennessee Medical Center, a teaching and research hospital that serves all of east Tennessee, western North Carolina and southeastern Kentucky.

Clinical Psychology PhD

UTK’s Department of Psychology strives to balance research, practice, psychological assessment, teaching and psychotherapy. It achieves this balance through the use of “The Tennessee Model of Graduate Education in Clinical Psychology” that integrates practice and research ( UTK funds all clinical doctoral students in good standing at least for four years and generally for a fifth year as well. Base stipend can be as much as $18,025 that does not include the value of UTK’s waiver of tuition and fees, a combined savings of $13,864. In only one year of the past seven did fewer than 100 percent of all students in the program fail to gain an APA accredited internship. Most students finish the clinical program in either five or six years. These favorable outcomes can be traced in part to UTK’s rigorous student selection process. The program admits seven to nine students each year. Those new students are selected from the top 25 applicants who are invited to visit the campus and spend a day with faculty members and current students.

Counseling Psychology PhD

UTK’s Counseling Psychology program is the 20th oldest in the country in terms of APA accreditation and the third oldest in the Southeast. The program admits five or six students each year to maintain a total and highly diverse student population within the program at 25 – 30. The program operates according to a scientist-practitioner-advocate model that results in building balanced strength in research, practice and extensive psychological knowledge. The training approach produces graduates who are strong behavioral scientists who also are skilled in applying psychological research to counseling practice. The advocacy component focuses on social justice and multiculturalism so that graduates are able to truly serve a diverse client population.

College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling

School Psychology Program, Doctor of Philosophy Degree

UTK’s School Psychology program focuses on psychological practice within an education framework. The training model is a variation of the Scientist-Practitioner Model that emphasizes data, problem solving and intervention. Graduate students in the School Psychology program gain experience in field based training that includes assessment, intervention, consultation and research. The program strives to train students to view research and practice as equal components of effective operation. The school counseling program offers opportunity for graduate assistantships as well as fellowships for full time students. The School Psychology Program requires full time study.


  • All three of these doctoral programs have been accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) for varying lengths of time. The clinical program has been APA accredited since 1949. The APA has accredited the counseling program since 1980. It also accredits the school psychology program.

Department of Psychology
Austin Peay Building
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee 37996
Phone: (865) 974-3328
Psychology department
Clinical PhD program
Counseling PhD program

College of Education, Health and Human Sciences
535 Jane and David Bailey Education Complex
1122 Volunteer Boulevard
Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-3452
Phone: (865) 974-8145
Program Website

Vanderbilt University

College of Arts and Science, Department of Psychology

Founded in 1873, Vanderbilt University is a private research university located in Nashville, Tennessee’s state capital. The institution has been highly respected throughout its entire history. U.S. News and World Report ranks Vanderbilt as 17th among all national universities and the school is also included on our list of the Top 50 Universities to Earn a Psychology Degree. Further, the Academic Ranking of World Universities ranks Vanderbilt as 49th of the world’s best universities. Today’s name originates with “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt, who provided a $1 million endowment in an effort to heal the scars of the Civil War even though he had never been to the South at the time. Vanderbilt’s attractions include a highly ranked medical school and regional medical center teaching hospital.

Clinical Psychology PhD

U.S. News and World Report ranks Vanderbilt’s Clinical Science Program as 14th in the entire country. To say that Vanderbilt is selective in student selection is to commit gross understatement. The Clinical Science admits four to nine new students each year but receives nearly 400 applications to the Clinical Science program for an acceptance rate of less than two percent. All students begin with core training in research, coursework and clinical training. Beyond that, students are able to choose to concentrate in one of several areas if they choose. Those areas of concentration include psychopathology, developmental disabilities, clinical neuroscience, basic emotional processes, prevention and intervention, health psychology and quantitative analysis. Vanderbilt offers full student support including waiving the $41,000 annual tuition.

Vanderbilt’s Clinical Science program is fully accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Vanderbilt University
PMB 407817
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240-7817
Phone: (615) 322-0060
Program Website

The psychology graduate programs listed represent the types of degrees and quality of the breadth of PhD psychology programs available in Tennessee. All are well respected choices among Doctoral Programs in Psychology in Tennessee.

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