School: California School of Professional Psychology
CIP Code: 42.2801
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, and psychodynamic, the trauma focused forensic experience, or the military & veterans psychology experience area.
Military & Veteran Psychology Experience Area
The Military & Veteran Experience area is provided as an option to students who would like to focus some of their education & training in this specific clinical area. The two aims of this experience area are:
1. To provide students with an understanding of military and veteran culture for therapeutic practice with veterans and military personnel and their families.
2. To familiarize students with evidence-based interventions and resources available to clinicians treating these populations.
Trauma Focused Forensic Experience
Forensic Psychology is “the professional practice by psychologists within the areas of clinical psychology, counseling psychology, school psychology, or another specialty recognized by the American Psychological Association, when they are engaged as experts and represent themselves as such, in an activity primarily intended to provide professional psychological expertise to the judicial system.” (Council of Specialties in Professional Psychology, https://www.cospp.org/forensic-psychology, downloaded January 1, 2019). Because of the high prevalence and widespread impact of trauma in forensic settings, we have developed a Forensic Experience that includes exposure to trauma-informed assessment and case conceptualization.
Aims and Competencies
Competence in performing forensic work requires specialized training and practice at the postdoctoral level and is dependent on underlying foundational competency in the science and professional practice of psychology. The aim of the Trauma Focused Forensic Experience (TFFE) is to prepare students who are interested in specializing in Forensic Psychology by augmenting their generalist training with foundational knowledge of the core principles of the application of psychology to the legal system, including:
1. foundations of the legal system (e.g., types of courts, expert witness requirements, responses to subpoenas);
2. basic legal principles that are relevant to Forensic practice (e.g., Constitutional rights, statutory provisions, case law);
3. differences in methodologies between general clinical assessment and forensic assessment;
4. assessment of insanity and competency (relevant laws, sample evaluation materials);
5. assessment issues in trauma populations;
6. ethical issues that arise particularly in forensic contexts;
7. sociocultural considerations relevant to forensic practice.
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:
- 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.
- To prepare students to evaluate and conduct research in clinical psychology, therefore contributing to the knowledge base in the field.
All students are expected to acquire and demonstrate substantial understanding of and competence in the following nine profession-wide competency areas:
- Ethical and Legal Standards
- Individual and Cultural Diversity
- Professional Values and Attitudes
- Communication and Interpersonal Skills
- 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.
In addition, all students are expected to possess discipline-specific knowledge in the following four categories:
- History and Systems of Psychology
- The basic content areas of scientific psychology, including affective, biological cognitive, developmental, and social aspects of behavior.
- Advanced integrative knowledge in scientific psychology.
- Research Methods, Statistical Analysis, and Psychometrics.
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.
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, email@example.com
California Board of Psychology
2005 Evergreen Street, Suite 1400
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 263-2699, firstname.lastname@example.org
Practice Directorate American Psychological Association
750 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
(202) 336-5979, email@example.com
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
Internship, Practicum, and/or Dissertation Information
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 ensure 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.
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.
Total Credit Units: 150
Total Core Credit Units: 138
Total Elective Credit Units: 12
Total Concentration Credit Units: 12*
*Concentration units are elective units
Writing Proficiency Assessment
Please refer to the Writing Proficiency Assessment requirement in the Academic Policies section for more information.
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.
All students must pass Competency Exams in Research Methodology (Research Design, Measurement, & Statistics) and Clinical Proficiency.
Timeline for competency exams are as follow:
- 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).
- Clinical Proficiency 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:
- Successful completion of the first two years of the general clinical psychology curriculum and the accrual of at least 60 units of graduate study
- Successful completion of the Writing Proficiency Examination
- Successful completion of all Competency Exams
- Status of academic standing is good (i.e., student is not on warning or probation)
- There are no incomplete grades on the transcript
- The Dissertation Proposal has been approved
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.
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.
- Earned a BA/BS degree in psychology. (A master’s degree will not fulfill this requirement.)
- 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:
- Abnormal Psychology or Psychopathology
- Experimental Psychology/Research Methods in Psychology
- Physiological Psychology, Learning/Memory, Cognitive Psychology, Sensation/Perception
- 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:
- 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.
- Abnormal Psychology/Psychopathology: Major disorders, personality disorders, sexual disorders, psychophysical disorders, adjustment reactions, alcoholism and drug abuse, child psychopathology, organic brain syndromes.
- 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).
- 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.
Family/Child Psychology Emphasis
Health Psychology Emphasis
Military & Veteran Psychology Experience Area
Requirements: (1) two courses designated for the experience area; and (2) one field placement focused on military personnel, veterans, and/or their families (Note: Students will need to apply and go through the regular application process for the related field experience placements, i.e., APPIC/APA internship application process. The program does not guarantee a field placement in the experience area.)
Course options include:
All alternate courses must be approved by the Program Director.
Trauma Focused Forensic Experience
At least one of the two required practicum placement involves 30% clinical contact with clients who are frequently seen in forensic settings (e.g., incarcerated individuals; patients in forensic hospitals or pretrial defendants; individuals diagnosed with a serious mental illness; children and families of divorce; clients with trauma histories).
Students are encouraged but not required to develop a research study or their dissertation in a forensic and/or trauma area.
12 units of elective are required if students do no select and complete an emphasis.
Students must take one Cultural Seminar Elective (PSY76100/PSY7610 ) and three General/Clinical Electives (PSY85000/PSY8500 ). All electives must be approved by the Program Director. Students are permitted to take 2 electives online with Program Director approval.
Academic Year 1 - Semester 1 (13.5 units)
Academic Year 1 - Semester 2 (15.5 units)
Academic Year 2 - Semester 1 (16 units)
Academic Year 2 - Semester 2 (17 units)
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 1 (15 units)
Academic Year 5 - Semester 2 (15 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)