The programs extend and deepen disciplined knowledge of psychology, from its biological aspects through the psychology of individual and group processes to organizations and social systems. In keeping with GSAPP's philosophy of training, most courses require an experiential component that allows continuous integration of course work with supervised experience. In this way, professional students become competent in practitioner skills of assessment, intervention, and evaluation. Thus, courses in psychotherapy integrate the supervision of clinical cases with theoretical knowledge of the way people function cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally. Courses in program planning and evaluation require students to study general principles of program design while actually designing, implementing, and evaluating programs of their own. Courses in group relations and organizational diagnosis provide both theoretical and methodological bases for working with organizations.
Through course work and colloquia, students are introduced to the ethical and legal issues and to the special responsibilities inherent in the delivery of psychological services in the public, private, and not for profit sectors.
Formal instruction is coordinated with supervised practicum placements in a wide variety of settings throughout New Jersey, and also in New York and Pennsylvannia. GSAPP maintains liaisons with schools, psychiatric hospitals, clinics, businesses, and other agencies in which students provide psychological services under supervision. There are practicum placements that focus on public settings where groups such as the poor, elderly, and disadvantaged are served. A minimum of one day per week of field placement is expected during the first two years, with two full days of supervised practicum experience during the third year. An approved, full time internship is required in the fourth or fifth year.
Students are able to broaden their perspectives by taking courses in related areas offered by other schools and divisions in the university, such as the Graduate School New Brunswick, Graduate School of Education, Graduate School of Management, and the School of Management and Labor Relations, and at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey--Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway. Such courses are integrated into individualized programs of study.
GSAPP maintains a continual scrutiny of its curriculum and practicum placements to ensure that students are well trained in an evolving technology and prepared to deal with market forces.
Upon matriculation into a program, each student meets with a faculty adviser and completes a personalized program proposal that charts the student's planned didactic and experiential course of study during his or her years at GSAPP. The program proposal ensures that students meet specialization, departmental, and university requirements while selecting courses and experiences to meet their unique interests.
Both programs strive for a positive and supportive learning environment that provides flexibility, combining individual interests and required courses, with an array of support programs and activities.