Psychology Graduate Training in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD)

General Information about the IDD Psychology Program

One of eight graduate degree program areas of Ohio State University’s Department of Psychology, the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Psychology Graduate Program offers a clinical science model of training in the area of IDD, concerning children and adults with intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, and other related disabilities. Areas of emphasis include the diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems co-occurring with IDD, early intervention, problem (e.g., dangerous and destructive) behaviors, addiction, health disparities, and parent training. The hub of program activity is the Nisonger Center, a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) devoted to the interdisciplinary study of IDD. Relevant experience at the Nisonger Center can be gained through a number of clinical activities, including its Diagnostic and Developmental Clinic, Neurodevelopmental Psychiatry Study Program, and Behavior Support Services.

Program Orientation

The Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) area of the Psychology Graduate Program has a unique status among the eight areas in the Department of Psychology. Its faculty members are housed at the Nisonger Center and contribute to the missions of both the Department of Psychology and the Nisonger Center. The Nisonger Center is one of 67 federally funded University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) in the country. UCEDDs are interdisciplinary centers with a mission of conducting research, providing training, and offering clinical services to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. Administratively, the Nisonger Center falls under the OSU Office of Health Sciences. Although its Psychology faculty members are employees of the Nisonger Center, their tenure initiating unit (TIU) is the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The IDD program espouses the clinical science model of education and training. Students who graduate from this program will be well equipped to pursue a career in IDD psychology as a researcher, administrator, or clinician. They will have experience in conducting research, and they are expected to present results at professional conferences, and to publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals. They will be particularly knowledgeable in areas such as etiology of developmental disabilities (e.g., intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder), psychological characteristics of these populations, assessment and diagnosis, and prevention and treatment approaches. In addition to having experience in conducting scientific research and becoming knowledgeable in the abovementioned areas, students receive clinical training. Graduates are expected to be proficient in functional behavior analysis, diagnosis, and treatment of behavioral and/or mental health problems often encountered by children and adults with IDD. They develop solid knowledge and skills in evidence-based practice, and they have research skills to extend the boundaries and application of this knowledge. Graduates of the IDD program are well positioned for successful careers as clinical scientists in the field.

IDD Psychology is ideal for students who are interested in any area of research relevant to disabilities. Areas in which students have specialized in the past include instrument development, social supports, problem behavior and mental health problems, applied behavior analysis, and intervention. On a limited basis, admission is available within the IDD program for a joint IDD–Clinical track (APA-Approved). There are relatively few admissions for this specialization.

Program of Study

Students write a research-based master’s thesis in intellectual or developmental disabilities after two years of graduate study, then prepare for the Candidacy Examination (CE). Successful completion of the CE admits them to Ph.D. candidacy. The doctoral dissertation is based on research into an area of IDD psychology. Students in the clinical track are expected to complete a one year of pre-doctoral clinical internship.

Click here for the IDD Program Handbook

Financial Support

IDD students are eligible for University and Department funding. Research assistant positions are available through the OSU Nisonger Center and allied programs. 

IDD Psychology Faculty:

  • Andrea Witwer, PhD
    Director of Training for the Nisonger Center, LEND Co-Associate Director, IDD Psychology Faculty
    Developmental Clinics, IDD Psychology, LEND
  • Katherine Walton, PhD
    Program Director
    Early Learning Program
  • Luc Lecavalier, Ph.D.
    IDD Psychology
  • Marc J. Tassé, PhD Marc J. Tassé, PhD
    Director, Nisonger Center Professor, Department of Psychology Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health
  • Susan Havercamp, PhD, FAAIDD
    Program Director
    Health Promotion - Healthcare Parity, ODHP, LEND, Behavior Support Services