Catalog 2016-2017 
    Jul 22, 2024  
Catalog 2016-2017 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Clinical Psychology: PhD, San Diego

The Clinical Psychology doctoral programs prepare students to function as multifaceted clinical psychologists through curricula based on an integration of psychological theory, research and practice. The Clinical Psychology PhD program is a practitioner and scholar oriented program. The Clinical Psychology curricula have four major areas of study: foundations of psychology, clinical and professional theory and skills, applied clinical research and professional growth. Students can follow their own clinical interests and further their individual career goals by selecting a specialized series of courses, research and field placements related to a particular area.

The San Diego PhD program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association (750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242; Phone: 202- 336-5979; Email:; Web:

Program Goals

The program is driven by two major goals. The first goal is to prepare students as effective professional psychologists who are skilled at evaluating psychological functioning and providing empirically supported interventions with diverse clients across a range of settings. The second goal is to prepare students to conduct applied research in clinical psychology, thereby contributing to the knowledge base in the field.

The program model is further specified through seven objectives which, in turn, correspond to specific program requirements:

Objective 1: To develop broad theoretical and scientific knowledge in substantive areas that provides the basis for the effective practice of clinical psychology.

Objective 2: To develop an understanding of psychopathology and psychological assessment, and to apply such knowledge in the evaluation of psychological functioning in a variety of settings with diverse populations.

Objective 3: To develop an understanding of the efficacy and models of application of psychological interventions in a variety of settings with diverse populations.

Objective 4: To develop an understanding of the legal, ethical, and professional principles of clinical psychology, and how to apply these principles in research and practice.

Objective 5: To integrate research findings and processes with clinical practice.

Objective 6: To develop research skills and knowledge, and the ability to review, evaluate, and synthesize empirical research.

Objective 7: To develop skills as an independent researcher and the ability to contribute scientific knowledge to the field of psychology.

Training Model: A Scholar-Practitioner Program

The Clinical Psychology PhD program offers a well-integrated model of education and training in which research and theory clearly inform clinical practice and in which observations made in the clinical arena inform research questions. The curriculum is a well-balanced articulation of the competencies required for productive scholarship and multiculturally sensitive, evidence-based, professional practice.

Multiculturally relevant knowledge and skills are highly valued by the San Diego clinical faculty and are infused throughout the curriculum. In addition, all clinical PhD students take a required course in multicultural competency development followed by one advanced, multicultural elective. Our selection of clinical practicum agencies afford excellent opportunities for our students to develop multi-culturally competent assessment and treatment skills. Similarly, the diverse community provides excellent opportunities for multicultural applied research, and many students take advantage of this opportunity for their dissertation.

Field Training

Students learn applied professional skills through formal coursework and through clinical training experiences supervised by faculty and professionals in the community. Each student is assigned a professional training advisor who, along with the student’s core faculty advisor, helps the student to formulate an individualized plan for practicum and internship training designed to insure (a) that training experiences are consistent with the student’s growing skill levels and professional goals and (b) that the student is exposed to a breadth of training experiences with a variety of clinical populations and professional role models.

Clinical practica are taken in the second (800 hours) and third (1000 hours) years of the program after students have mastered the prerequisite knowledge and skills that provide the foundations on which to build clinical competencies. In addition to obtaining training and supervised practice at a minimum of two distinct practicum placement sites, practicum students enroll concurrently in campus-based clinical consultation groups offered by core and senior adjunct faculty. These groups augment the supervision received at the agencies, insure integration of classroom and clinical knowledge, support evidence based practice, and allow faculty to directly assess the development of students’ clinical competencies.

The internship is the more extensive training experience for advanced students. All San Diego clinical psychology PhD program students apply for a full-time, APA accredited clinical internship that is taken in the fifth year of the program.

Students select their practicum placements from more than 80 agencies. Most of these facilities are within a 25-mile radius of the campus, but some are as far as 80 miles away for the benefit of advanced students who live in Orange County. These agencies have over 350 professional training positions. The Professional Training Office coordinates these experiences and provides continuous oversight to insure that students receive high quality clinical training experiences.

Students meet with their site supervisor each week a minimum of 10% of their time at the site. One of the hours must be individual supervision and the rest can be individual or group. Students keep a tally form which is signed each week by the supervisor.

Research Training

The knowledge and skills necessary to conduct independent clinical research are introduced during the first year of the program and built upon in the years that follow. Students select a core faculty member under whose direction the student participates in a first year Research Practicum experience. Students learn to design their own studies in the second year and simultaneously begin their enrollment in the dissertation research course sequence that continues through the completion of the dissertation. Students must complete their dissertation proposals prior to applying for the internship training experience.

Curriculum and Degree Requirements

The program is designed to be completed in five years, including a full-time internship. Students who complete courses during the summer or who transfer credit based on previous graduate coursework may shorten the time to degree completion. It is also possible to go through the program at a moderated pace and complete the requirements over six years. Students may choose to concentrate their elective courses within emphasis areas such as child/family, health psychology, forensics, multicultural, psychodynamic, applied behavior analysis, industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology, or assessment. The program also offers a Health Emphasis with dedicated course sequencing and expanded requirements such as required coursework in psychophysiology and biofeedback, clinical medicine, and health psychology interventions.

Students complete examinations as partial fulfillment of the requirements for admission to doctoral candidacy.

A score of 3.5 or higher on the Analytic Writing portion of the GRE general test or the GRE ScoreITNow Writing Exam, to be taken prior to the start of classes. (Note: this exam will not be used to decide admissions, but is solely a requirement for those admitted students intending to enroll). Students scoring below a 3.5, are also required to complete writing course(s) that is outside the required units of the program and approved by the program director and/or student advisor.

Curriculum Plan

Core Requirements

Fourth Year - Fall

Fourth Year - Spring

Half-Time Internship Option

Elective Emphasis Areas

All clinical PhD program students obtain solid generalist education and training. The PhD clinical program also provides advanced doctoral students with the opportunity to concentrate their elective choices in an area of special interest, if they wish to do so. There is no requirement to select an emphasis area, and students are allowed their choice of offered electives to suit their personal interests and aspirations. The Emphasis Area options prepare one to pursue further specialization at the postdoctoral level. Emphasis area elective courses are routinely offered for all emphasis areas. Descriptions and examples of curriculum options for the emphasis areas follow.

Family/Child Psychology Emphasis

The family/child psychology emphasis is designed for students who are interested in developing proficiency in evaluation, treatment, and research with children and families. Courses are presented from various theoretical viewpoints including family-systems, psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral and lifespan development. You can expect your courses to include the study of ethnic and cultural issues as they affect the individual and the family. Faculty research interests include family violence, child abuse and neglect, adolescent development, childhood social competence and peer relationships, pediatric and adolescent health psychology, child obesity, early childhood psychopathology, child resiliency, step families, and process and outcomes of family interventions.

Required courses for the emphasis area:

Additional Requirements:

Practicum or internship involving clinical work with children and families and associated consultation group [PSY 8551] that provides supervision focusing on children and families.

Dissertation research involving children or families.

Forensic Psychology Emphasis

The forensic psychology emphasis focuses on the relationship and interdependency of law, social science, and clinical practice. It provides the basic foundation for post-graduate training for a career in forensic clinical psychology. The emphasis requires the completion of an introductory course in forensics, which acquaints the student with the nature of the legal system and the varied roles of psychologists within it. This introduction also includes training in the basics of testimony the preparation of a defensible report; the appropriate presentation of one’s qualifications; the persuasive presentation of psychological science to a judge, jury, or within an amicus brief; and the increased ability to withstand cross-examination. Additional courses address psychological assessment, violence, and antisocial behavior and other clinical topics. Students also have the option of taking an organizational psychology advanced seminar addressing conflict management or dispute resolution. Students are expected to address an issue in forensic psychology in their dissertation. They are also encouraged, but not required, to procure forensic training in their practicum or internship.

Four courses are required to complete the emphasis area, two of which are mandatory:

The student will select two of the following offerings to complete the emphasis:

Additional Requirements:

It is expected that PhD dissertations will focus on a topic related to forensic psychology.

Psychodynamic Emphasis

The psychodynamic emphasis provides students with a coherent practical and theoretical framework to practice general psychology in a variety of settings with children and adults. The psychodynamic emphasis curriculum gives students exposure to coursework and supervision integrating object relations, self psychology, analytic psychology, existential psychology, and cognitive, science-based approaches to unconscious processes. Coursework and supervision prepare students for further professional development and specialization beyond the doctorate.

Students in the psychodynamic emphasis area are required to complete at least three courses among the psychodynamic offerings, complete at least one practicum with psychodynamic supervision, complete a dissertation in an area pertinent to psychodynamic theory, research or application.

  • PSY 8500 - Clinical Elective : Advanced Psychodynamic Interventions (3 units)
  • PSY 8500 - Clinical Elective: Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy with Adolescents (3 units)
  • PSY 8800 - Advanced Seminar : Theoretical Psychodynamic Issues (3 units)
  • PSY 8800 - Advanced Seminar: Object Relations (3 units)
  • PSY 8800 - Advanced Seminar: Research and Empirical Foundations of Psychoanalysis (3 units)

Students must also take at least one elective, which might include:

Additional Requirements:

BCBA eligibility also requires 1500 hours of supervised practicum experience. Students enrolled in the ABA Emphasis Area will be given priority for captive practica that meet eligibility requirements for BCBA certification.


All psychologists who offer direct services to the public for a fee must be licensed or certified by the state in which they practice. Applicants for licensure in the state of California must hold an earned doctoral degree in psychology, educational psychology, education with a specialization in counseling psychology, or education with a specialization in educational psychology from an approved or accredited educational institution. They also must have completed 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience (of which at least 1,500 must be postdoctoral) and have taken and passed the national Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) and the California Psychology Supplemental Examination (CPSE). In addition, they must submit evidence of having completed coursework in human sexuality, child abuse, substance abuse, spousal abuse, and aging and long-term care. Continuing education is required to maintain the license. CSPP doctoral course requirements are designed to fulfill the programmatic requirements for licensure in California, and in some cases they exceed the requirements.

Every state has its own requirements for licensure. Therefore, it is essential that all CSPP Clinical PsyD and PhD students who plan to apply for licensure in states other than California contact the licensing board in those states for information on state requirements (e.g., coursework, practicum and internship hours, supervision, or nature of the doctoral project or dissertation). Students seeking licensure in other states should plan ahead to ensure they meet all of those states’ requirements.

For further information on licensure in California or other states contact:

Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards
PO Box 241245
Montgomery, AL 36124-1245
(334) 832-4580,


California Board of Psychology
2005 Evergreen Street, Suite 1400
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 263-2699,


Practice Directorate American Psychological Association
750 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
(202) 336-5979,

APA Education and Training Outcomes

The CSPP San Diego Clinical Psychology PhD program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association (APA) and publishes the following outcome data as required by APA:

  • Time to Completion
  • Program Costs
  • Internship Placement Rates
  • Attrition
  • Licensure

Please visit the “About CSPP Programs” section of our website  to view these data.

Questions related to the program’s accredited status should be directed to the Commission on Accreditation:

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
American Psychological Association
750 1st Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202)336-5979

Clinical PhD Program Faculty: San Diego

Omar Alhassoon, PhD, Professor

Sopagna Eap Braje, PhD, Assistant Professor

Milton Brown, PhD, Associate Professor

Joanne Callan, PhD, Distinguished Professor

Constance Dalenberg, PhD, Distinguished Professor

Richard Gervitz, PhD, Distinguished Professor

Alan Lincoln, PhD, Professor

Veronica Perez, PhD, Assistant Professor

Irwin Rosenfarb, PhD, Professor

Monica Ulibarri, PhD, Associate Professor and Program Director

Donald Viglione, PhD, Distinguished Professor

For a detailed description of program faculty background and research interests, please see the alphabetical listing of faculty for the California School of Professional Psychology.