Academics and Research / Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Graduate School of Professional Psychology celebrates 30th anniversary

Three decades ago, three professors in the University of Denver’s psychology department founded the Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP) to focus on preparing students for clinical practice. Launched in 1976, it was the third program of its kind in the country. GSPP will celebrate its 30th anniversary on Saturday, April 28, with an alumni reunion.

The daylong celebration includes a breakfast, campus tours, meetings with program directors and a picnic. The day culminates with a cocktail reception and dance at the University Club on Saturday evening. All alumni and friends of the school are invited to attend. 

In its 30-year history, the school has graduated more than 1,000 students.

The school focuses on scientifically based training for applied professional work, rather than on the more traditional academic-scientific approach to clinical training found at DU’s Department of Psychology. The main emphasis is on general clinical psychology with opportunities for specialization.

“There are two different training models in the psychology field,” says GSPP Dean Peter Buirski. “The traditional PhD trains students to be scientist-practitioners. Our mode trains students to be practitioner-scholars. Our students are trained to be consumers of psychological research, not generators.”

The Graduate School of Professional Psychology has offered a Doctor of Psychology degree since its inception. The program prepares graduates for careers in hospitals, mental health centers, schools, universities, youth centers, private health care organizations, independent practice, the armed services, business, the justice system and government.

In 1999, the school added a Master of Arts in forensic psychology in response to the growing interest in the application of psychological theory to the civil and criminal justice systems. GSPP also offers a Master of Arts in international disaster psychology to address the psychological and psychosocial needs of international communities impacted by disasters such as war, political violence, natural disasters and the AIDS epidemic.

Beginning in fall 2007, the school will offer a Master of Arts in sport and performance psychology, a program exploring the psychological factors that influence human performance.

“We have a strong national reputation for innovative programming,” Buirski says. “We’re continuing to build that reputation and increase the quality of our offerings.”

For additional information about the anniversary events, visit

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