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JD/PhD in Law and Clinical Psychology

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Drexel University's Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab develops, implements, and evaluates juvenile justice programming informed by research findings on adolescent development, procedural justice, and best practices

The Drexel University JD/PhD program in Law and Clinical Psychology is a cross-disciplinary course of study that combines the juris doctorate (JD) degree offered by the Thomas R. Kline School of Law with the doctoral (PhD) degree in Clinical Psychology offered by the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences. Students are simultaneously enrolled in the JD degree program and in the PhD in Clinical Psychology degree program to gain an appreciation and competency in both traditions — mastering the methods, languages and epistemologies of each. Graduates of our distinctive, integrated program carry a broader understanding of social issues than those trained solely in law or behavioral sciences.

Forensic psychology is an interdisciplinary field that merges psychology and law, and it is often applied in criminal justice, legal and policy arenas. From the principles of mental health assessment to legislative practices in juvenile justice, faculty in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences are experts on a range of forensic psychology clinical, research and public policy topics.

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Program Format

  • Full-time, on-campus, seven-year program.
  • Students are simultaneously enrolled in each degree.
  • 85 semester credits to complete the JD in Law.
  • 91 quarter credits to complete the PhD in Clinical Psychology.
  • Accredited by the American Bar Association and the American Psychological Association.


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Program Overview

The Drexel University JD/PhD Program in Law and Clinical Psychology is a cross-disciplinary program that combines the juris doctorate (JD) degree offered by the Thomas R. Kline School of Law with the doctoral (PhD) degree offered by the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences. Drexel University —a proven leader in multidisciplinary education— melds two exceptional, nationally accredited degree programs to provide students with an efficient and distinctive plan of study. Although some academic institutions may offer joint law and psychology degrees, these are typically ad-hoc and non-integrated programs. The JD/PhD program in Law and Clinical Psychology at Drexel represents the only fully integrated merger of these two professional degrees offered by a single university in the U.S. The JD degree is fully accredited by the American Bar Association, and the PhD degree in Clinical Psychology is fully accredited by the American Psychological Association.

Students are simultaneously enrolled in each degree program and earn their professional degrees in law and psychology over a total of seven years. Scholars complete 85 semester credits required for the juris doctorate (JD) degree from the law school, and 91 quarter credits required for the doctoral (PhD) degree in Clinical Psychology. The first year of the JD/PhD program is completed at the law school, and students in years two through six take courses at the law school and in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. The first six years involve intensive coursework in law and psychology, research assistantships, teaching assistantships, a co-op placement in a legal setting and 50 hours of pro bono service in the law, practica and completion of an empirical master’s thesis. The final year of the program is dedicated to a full-time pre-doctoral clinical internship and completion of a doctoral dissertation.


Career Outcomes

The JD/PhD in Law and Clinical Psychology program bridges the gap between law, which relies on special rules concerning evidence, proof and precedent in order to settle conflicts that require immediate resolution, and psychology, which views problems through an empirical lens, evaluating questions but rarely ending in a final verdict. Students gain an appreciation and competency in both traditions, mastering the methods, languages and epistemologies of each. Graduates carry a deep and broad understanding of social issues, enabling them to analyze existing policy and potential changes from a psycho-legal perspective.

Our distinctive, fully integrated program develops, cultivates and educates:

  • Scientist-practitioners who generate legally nuanced social science research to aid the legal system in making better empirically based decisions.
  • Lawyer-psychologists who help to develop empirically and theoretically sophisticated mental health policy by legislatures, administrative tribunals and the courts.
  • Highly skilled clinicians who promote the advancement of forensic psychology in criminal law, domestic relations, civil commitment and other areas.

Research Areas and Labs

Forensic psychology is an interdisciplinary field that merges psychology and law, and is often applied in other arenas such as public policy. From the principals of mental health assessment to legislative practices in juvenile justice, faculty in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences are experts on a broad range of forensic psychology research topics. The JD/PhD Program faculty conduct research and produce scholarship in a variety of psychology-law topic areas, including: mental health law, violence risk assessment, psychopathic personality, diversion and problem-solving courts, forensic mental health assessment, and juvenile justice reform. The department houses three faculty labs dedicated to clinical forensic psychology.

Dr. David DeMatteo’s Lab

Dr. Naomi Goldstein’s Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab

Dr. Kirk Heilbrun’s Lab


Faculty Accepting Students: 2022-2023

The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences is actively engaged in vibrant research initiatives to advance the science and practice of psychology. The JD/PhD Program core faculty publish widely in top-tier, peer-reviewed journals; are featured experts in national and international media; and are the recipients of major research awards.

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All Program Faculty

Click on each faculty member’s profile to learn more about their expertise, research interests and scholarship.

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Doctoral Dissertation

Students in our program complete theses on a wide range of topics, including: mental health law, violence risk assessment, psychopathic personality, diversion and problem-solving courts, forensic mental health assessment, and juvenile justice reform. More details regarding the thesis submission and binding process can be found on the Drexel Library website.

Drexel Library: Theses, Dissertations and Projects

Recent Dissertations

We proudly invite prospective students to review recent theses authored by our JD in Law and PhD in Clinical Psychology degree recipients.