2017-2018 Catalog 
    Oct 26, 2020  
2017-2018 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (San Diego)

School: California School of Professional Psychology

Modality(ies): On-ground

Calendar(s): Semester

Program Description/Overview

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 program is a practitioner and scholar oriented program. The 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.


Students may choose to concentrate their elective courses within emphasis areas such as child/family, health psychology, forensics, and psychodynamic.

Program Learning Outcomes/Goals


Through various academic and training activities, including psychology courses, practicum and internship placements, and supervised research experiences, the San Diego PhD in Clinical Psychology program strives to achieve the following aims:

  1. To prepare students to be effective professional psychologists who are skilled at evaluating psychological functioning and providing empirically supported interventions with diverse clients across a range of settings.
  2. To prepare students to evaluate and conduct research in clinical psychology, therefore contributing to the knowledge base in the field.

Program Competencies

All students are expected to acquire and demonstrate substantial understanding of and competence in the following nine profession-wide competency areas:

  1. Research
  2. Ethical and Legal Standards
  3. Individual and Cultural Diversity
  4. Professional Values and Attitudes
  5. Communication and Interpersonal Skills
  6. Assessment
  7. Intervention
  8. Supervision
  9. Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skills

The competencies are met operationally through various academic and training activities that include courses, practicum and internship placements, and supervised research experiences.  Multiple data sources are used to assess outcomes relative to these competencies. These competencies specify knowledge, attitudes, and skills that students are expected to achieve by the time they graduate from the program.

Discipline-Specific Knowledge

In addition, all students are expected to possess discipline-specific knowledge in the following four categories:

  1. History and Systems of Psychology
  2. The basic content areas of scientific psychology, including affective, biological cognitive, developmental, and social aspects of behavior.
  3. Advanced integrative knowledge in scientific psychology.
  4. Research Methods, Statistical Analysis, and Psychometrics.

Training Model

The 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 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.

Professional Behavior Expectations/Ethical Guidelines

The program requires all students to abide by the University Student Code of Conduct as well as the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct.

Program-Specific Admission Requirements

Applicants need to have an undergraduate and graduate (if applicable) minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. If the undergraduate or graduate (if applicable) GPA is below 3.0, applicant must submit a petition requesting an exemption from this requirement.


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.

Every state has its own requirements for licensure. Therefore, it is essential that all 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, asppb@asppb.org

California Board of Psychology
2005 Evergreen Street, Suite 1400
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 263-2699, bopmail@dca.ca.gov

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

Programmatic Accreditation

The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association.

Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association
750 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
Phone: (202) 336-5979
Email: apaaccred@apa.org
Web: www.apa.org/ed/accreditation

Internship, Practicum, and/or Dissertation Information

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 (1,000 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 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.

Credit Units

Total Credit Units: 150

Total Core Credit Units: 138

Total Elective Credit Units: 12

Total Concentration Credit Units: 12*

*Concentration units are elective units

Degree Requirements

Writing Proficiency Assessment

Please refer to the Writing Proficiency Assessment  requirement in the Academic Policies section for more information.

Program Meeting

During G1 Fall semester, students will engage in a semester long non-coursework, required Program Meeting taught by a Core Faculty member. This meeting is designed to assisting students to becoming acclimated to the full-time, doctoral level lifestyle. This meeting will provide students will vital tips, guidance and information pertinent to their success in the program.

Competency Examinations

All students must pass Competency Exams in Research Methodology (Research Design, Measurement, & Statistics) and Clinical Assessment & Therapy.

Timeline for competency exams are as follow:

  1. Research Methodology Competency Exam: Students are required to pass the exam prior to the fall of their G-3 year. Students who are on a moderated (less-than-full time) schedule must complete this exam by the time they complete 65 units (the equivalent of 2 years in the Program).
  2. Clinical Assessment & Therapy Competency Exam: Students are required to pass the exam prior to Fall of their G4 year. Students who are on a moderated (less than full-time) schedule must complete this exam before accumulating 95 units.

Failure to complete these exams within the stated time period will result in the equivalent of a ‘C’ or Marginal Pass grade for the purpose of evaluation of one’s academic record by Program Faculty and the Student Evaluation & Retention Committee (SERC). Students may not be advanced to doctoral candidacy until both exams are passed.

Advancement to Candidacy

Students may apply for Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy when all the criteria below have been satisfied:

  1. Successful completion of the first two years of the general clinical psychology curriculum and the accrual of at least 60 units of graduate study
  2. Successful completion of the Writing Proficiency Examination
  3. Successful completion of all Competency Exams
  4. Status of academic standing is good (i.e., student is not on warning or probation)
  5. There are no incomplete grades on the transcript
  6. The Pre-proposal meeting has been completed

Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy is an important event. The decision whether to advance a student is made collectively by the core faculty of the program. It signifies that the core faculty members have reviewed all aspects of the student’s professional preparation and performance and have collectively determined, in their best professional judgment, that the student has demonstrated sufficient competence, and is therefore qualified to enter the final stages of doctoral study. It is unlikely that a student will be proposed for advancement if serious doubts exist about professional suitability.

Student must be advanced to Doctoral Candidacy prior to submitting applications for the pre-doctoral internship in clinical psychology.

Prerequisite Courses

Applicants must have completed one of the following three options prior to matriculation. All coursework used to fulfill graduate entry requirements must have been completed prior to beginning the program. All coursework must have been taken at fully accredited institutions. Applicants should use the designated space in the online application to indicate how the graduate entry requirement will be met.

  1. Earned a BA/BS degree in psychology. (A master’s degree will not fulfill this requirement.)
  2. If the BA/BS degree is not in psychology, you must have completed coursework in the following four areas with a grade of “C” or better:
    1. Statistics
    2. Abnormal Psychology or Psychopathology
    3. Experimental Psychology/Research Methods in Psychology
    4. Physiological Psychology, Learning/Memory, Cognitive Psychology, Sensation/Perception
  3. Earned a score in the 80th percentile or better on the GRE Psychology Test. Official test scores are required for this option. Content for the coursework option is as follows:
    1. Statistics: The nature of normal distribution, principles of sampling theory, probability, simple statistics (t-tests, F-ratios, chi-square, r, non-parametric), introduction to analysis of variance. May be taken outside the psychology department.
    2. Abnormal Psychology/Psychopathology: Major disorders, personality disorders, sexual disorders, psychophysical disorders, adjustment reactions, alcoholism and drug abuse, child psychopathology, organic brain syndromes.
    3. Experimental Psychology: Introduction to scientific procedures and methods in psychology. Directed experience in research design and control, analysis, bibliographic and report writing techniques. May include a specific research techniques course in perception, physiology, learning, or complex behavior (social, cognition).
    4. Physiological Psychology: The study of human behavior from a physiological viewpoint. Sensorimotor systems, sleep, dreaming and attention, motivation, neural transmission and synaptic function, heredity, drugs, organic brain pathology. Must focus on the relationship between the psychological and physiological aspects of behavior.

Clinical and Research Experience is suggested, but not required.

Emphasis/Concentration/Track Requirements

Forensic Psychology Emphasis

Students must also complete one cultural elective related to forensic psychology. All alternate courses must be approved by the Program Director.

Psychodynamic Emphasis

All alternate courses must be approved by the Program Director.

Elective Requirements

12 units of elective are required if students do no select and complete an emphasis.

Students must take one Cultural Seminar Elective (PSY7610 ) and three General/Clinical Electives (PSY8500 ). All electives must be approved by the Program Director. Students are permitted to take 2 electives online with Program Director approval.

Curriculum Plan

Semester Calendar

Academic Year 3 - Semester 1 (12 units)

Academic Year 3 - Semester 2 (15 units)

Academic Year 4 - Semester 1 (10.5 units)

Academic Year 4 - Semester 2 (12.5 units)

Academic Year 5 - Semester 3 (8 units)

Half-Time Internship Option

Academic Year 5 - Semester 1 (7 units)

Academic Year 5 - Semester 2 (7 units)

Academic Year 5 - Semester 3 (5 units)

Academic Year 6 - Semester 1 (7 units)

Academic Year 6 - Semester 2 (7 units)

Academic Year 6 - Semester 3 (5 units)

Gainful Employment

For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program, please visit https://www.alliant.edu/media/gainful-employment-disclosure/Doctor_Philosophy_Clinical_Psychology.html.